Joan of Arc's Letter to the citizens of Rheims (August 5, 1429)





Joan of Arc's Letter to the citizens of Rheims (March 16, 1430)

This is a letter sent to the city of Rheims on March 16, 1430. The reverse is addressed: "To my very dear and good friends, men of the Church, bourgeois, and other inhabitants of the town of Rheims" ("A mes treschers et bons amis gens deiglise bourgois et aultres habitans de la ville de Rains").
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
Very dear and well-beloved and those whom I greatly desire to see, Joan the Maidenn1 has received your letters mentioning that you fear facing a siege;n2 please know that you will not, if I can intercept them [i.e., the enemy] soon; and if it should so happen that I do not intercept them and they come against you, then shut your gates, for I will be with you shortly. And if they are there I will make them put on their spurs in such haste that they won't be able to do so; and lift [any siege] so quickly as to be immediate.1 I won't write you anything else for the present, except that you should always be obedient and loyal.n3 I pray God to have you in His care. Written at Sully the 16th day of March.n4 I would send you some additional news which would make you quite happy, but I fear that the letters would be seized along the way and they [the enemy] would see this news.

[signed] Jehanne [Joan]n5

Note 1: "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 2: The citizens had good reason to worry. According to a Burgundian document considering their military options during this time, it was suggested to attack Rheims after a preparatory campaign to take Laon and Soissons to the northwest of the city. Their English allies were hoping to duplicate Charles VII's traditional coronation at Rheims by likewise crowning the young Henry VI in such a manner.

Note 3:
"Bons et loyals", a standard phrase meaning faithful to one's lord.

Note 4:
She was staying in the Royal chateau at Sully-sur-Loire during this time, much against her inclination according to Perceval de Cagny.

Note 5:
Written as a signature in a different hand than the body text of the letter. As expected from someone just learning to write, this second known signature is an improvement over the first on
9 November 1429.

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Translation Copyright 2004, Allen Williamson. All rights reserved.