Joan of Arc & Charles VII: First Meeting
"Very illustrious Lord Dauphin, I am come, being sent on the part of God, to give succour to the kingdom and to you." Joan of Arc's first words to Charles VII
The first meeting between Joan of Arc and Charles VII is one of the legendary events in the life of Joan. According to the history Joan was able to recognize Charles and located him in a crowd even though she had never before met him or had any idea what he looked like. This first meeting took place at the castle in Chinon on or around March 7th of 1429 and an eyewitness, Simon Charles an emissary of the court, described it as follows:
"Informed that she was coming, the King retired behind some others. Nevertheless, Joan recognized him very well and made him reverence. She conversed long with him. And after hearing her, the King appeared joyful."
That Joan was not dazzled at all by the pompous surroundings of the royal court is also remarkable and must have greatly impressed all who witnessed the first meeting. Raoul de Gaucourt, master of the king's household, later recalled the event: "I was present in Chinon when Joan came there. I saw her present herself before the majesty of the King with great humility and simplicity, poor little shepherdess that she was and I heard her say to the King: 'Very illustrious Lord Dauphin, I am come, being sent on the part of God, to give succour to the kingdom and to you.'"
The circumstances of the first meeting seem to have become public knowledge rather quickly and soon began to take on greater proportions like the
retelling given by French poet Jean Cahrtier in his Chronique de Charles VII:
"Then Joan, who had come before the King, made the bows and reverences customary to make to the King, as if she had been nurtured at court, and this greeting done she said, addressing the King: 'God give you life, gentle King.' Whereas she knew him not and had never seen him. And there were present several lords, dressed with pomp and richly dressed more so than the King. Wherefore he answered Joan: 'I am not the King' and pointing to one of the lords said: 'There is the King.' To which Joan responded: "In God's name, gentle dauphin, it is you and none other.'"
Joan herself gave testimony about the first meeting at her trial simple saying: "After dinner I went to the King, who was at the castle and I recognized him among many others by the counsel of my Voices . I told him I wanted to make war on the English."
The other remarkable part about the first meeting involves a secret that Joan told Charles in private that caused Charles to have great confidence in Joan that she was indeed sent by God to give him aid. Joan would never reveal this secret even though she was badgered about it repeatedly at her trial. The best testimony that exists about this secret was given by Joan's personal chaplain Father Pasquerel at her Trial of Rehabilitation:
"The Count of Vendome conducted Joan to the King and led her into the King's chamber. When he saw her he asked Joan her name and she replied: "Gentle Dauphin, I am Joan the Maid, and to you is sent word by me from the King of Heaven that you will be anointed and crowned in Reims and you will be Lieutenant to the King of Heaven who is King of France.' And after other questions put by the King, Joan said to him again. 'I tell the, on behalf of Messire, that thou art true heir of France and the King's son, and He has sent me to thee to lead thee to Reims, that thou may receive thy coronation and anointing, if thou will.' That heard, the King told those who were present that Joan had told him certain secrets that none knew or could know, excepting only God; that is why he had great confidence in her. All this I heard from Joan's mouth, for I was not present."