Joan of Arc's Letter to the Duke of Burgundy (July 17, 1429)




Joan of Arc's Letter to the Duke of Burgundy (July 17, 1429)

This is a letter sent to Duke Philip of Burgundy on July 17, 1429, while Joan was in Rheims for the coronation of Charles VII, reminding the duke of a previous letter asking him to attend the coronation.
Burgundy was one of the six secular Peers of the kingdom expected to attend such a function, along with a matching set of six ecclesiastic Peers; but the duke was allied with the English at the time and therefore supported Henry VI as king of France. In this second letter she also asks the Duke to "make a good firm lasting peace" with Charles.
An English translation is on the left; notes and commentary on the right. A transcription of the original language is also available.


English Translation Notes and Commentary
+ Jesus Maryn1
[in a later hand: "17 July 1429, at Rheims"]n2
Great and formidable Prince,n3 Duke of Burgundy, Joan the Maidenn4 requests of you, in the name of the King of Heaven, my rightful and sovereign Lord, that the King of France and yourself should make a good firm lasting peace. Fully pardon each other willingly, as faithful Christians should do; and if it should please you to make war, then go against the Saracens.n5 Prince of Burgundy, I pray, beg, and request as humbly as I can that you wage war no longer in the holy kingdom of France, and order your people who are in any towns and fortresses of the holy kingdom to withdraw promptly and without delay.n6 And as for the noble King of France, he is ready to make peace with you, saving his honor; if you're not opposed.
And I tell you, in the name of the King of Heaven, my rightful and sovereign Lord, for your well-being and your honor and [which I affirm] upon your lives, that you will never win a battle against the loyal French,n7 and that all those who have been waging war in the holy kingdom of France have been fighting against King Jesus, King of Heaven and of all the world, my rightful and sovereign Lord.n8 And I beg and request of you with clasped hands to not fight any battles nor wage war against us - neither yourself, your troops nor subjects; and know beyond a doubt that despite whatever number [duplicated phrase] of soldiers you bring against us they will never win. And there will be tremendous heartbreak from the great clash and from the blood that will be spilled of those who come against us.
And it has been three weeks since I had written to you and sent proper letters via a heraldn9 [saying] that you should be at the anointing of the King,n10 which this day, Sunday, the seventeenth day of this current month of July, is taking place in the city of Rheims - to which I have not received any reply. Nor have I ever heard any word from this herald since then.n11
I commend you to God and may He watch over you if it pleases Him, and I pray God that He shall establish a good peace.
Written in the aforementioned place of Rheims on the aforesaid seventeenth day of July.n12

Note 1: "Jesus, Mary" was a standard phrase used by her, appearing on her battle flag, rings, and most of her letters.
Note 2: This later note repeats the original date given farther below.

Note 3: This was a standard respectful form of address when sending a message to a nobleman.

Note 4: "La Pucelle" - "the maiden" or "virgin" - was her standard 'nickname', which she explained by saying that she had promised her saints to remain virgin "for as long as it pleases God". She was later canonized by the Church as a "Holy Maiden".

Note 5: The Islamic Saracens, frequently at war with Christendom, were considered by her to be legitimate targets for military action.

Note 6: Meaning that he should withdraw his troops from those portions of the kingdom that he had no rightful claim to, of course: the Duke was from a branch of the French Royal family and had inherited lands in France as well as the Empire.

Note 7: Referring to the Armagnacs, the faction which she supported against their opponents the Burgundians.


Note 8: Certain modern authors have erroneously claimed that she never clarified whom she meant by "the King of Heaven", although she in fact did so on many occasions, including this letter.





Note 9: This refers to an
earlier letter sent while on the march to Rheims.

Note 10: The Duke of Burgundy was considered by tradition to be one of the six secular Peers who should attend the coronation of a French King.

Note 11: The English had previously imprisoned one of her heralds at Orleans, and she was evidently concerned that the Burgundians were now doing the same.

Note 12: This closing line would have been contributed by the scribe.

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Translation and other content Copyright 2001 - 2004, Allen Williamson. All rights reserved.