Joan of Arc's Journey to Chinon
by Jean de Metz & Bertrand de Poulengy
On February 23, 1429, Joan of Arc left the town of Vaucouleurs to travel to Chinon to see Charles VII. The journey was around 400 miles and much of it was through territory controlled by her enemies so it was quite a remarkable feat that she was able to accomplish the trip in only eleven days. The two Knights that escorted Joan, Jean de Metz and Bertrand de Poulengy later described the journey at Joan's trial of rehabilitation (nullification) as follows:
Jean de Metz:
"When Joan the Maid arrived at Vaucouleurs, I saw her dressed in a poor clothing, in women's clothing red in color. She lodged in the house of one named Henri Leroyer. 'What are you doing here, my dear?" I said to her. "It is not fated that the King be driven from the kingdom; and that we all shall become English?" And the Maid answered me: " I am come here to this royal town to speak to Robert de Baudricourt, to ask him that he may escort me or have me escorted to the King: but Robert cares neither for
me nor for my words. Nevertheless, before the middle of Lent, I must be with the King - even if I have to wear down my feet to the knees! For there is no one in the world - neither kings, nor dukes, nor the daughter of the King of Scotland, nor any others who can restore the kingdom of France; and he will have no help except through me; but, althought, I would much rather stay with my poor mother and spin for this is not my proper station. It is, however, necessary that I should go, and do this, because my
Lord wills that I should do it." And when I asked her who her Lord was, she told me it was God. Then I pledged my faith to her, touching her hand, and promised that, with God's guidance, I would conduct her to the King. I asked her when she wished to start. "Rather today than tomorrow, and rather tomorrow than later," she said. Then I asked her if she could make this journey, dressed as she was. She replied that she would willingly take a man's dress. Then I gave her the dress and equipment of one of my men. Afterwards, the inhabitants of
Vaucouleurs had a man's suit made for her, with all the necessary requisites; I also procured for her a horse at the price of about sixteen francs. Thus dressed and mounted, and furnished with a safe-conduct from the Sieur Charles, Duke de Lorraine, she went to visit the said Lord Duke. I accompanied her as far as Toul. And when she returned to Vaucouleurs, the first Sunday in Lent (Quadragesima) and it will be, if I mistake not, twenty-seven years from that day to the next coming Lent. I and Bertrand de Poulengey, and two of his servants,
and Colet de Vienne, the King's Messenger, and the Archer Richard, escorted the Maid to the King, who was then at Chinon. The journey was made at the expense of Bertrand de Poulengey and myself. We traveled for the most part at night, for fear of the Burgundians and the English, who were masters of the roads. We journeyed eleven days, always riding towards the said town of Chinon. On the way, I asked her many times if she would really do all she said. "Have no fear," she answered us, "what I am commanded to do, I will do; and my brothers in
Paradise have told me how to act: it is four or five years since my brothers in Paradise and my Lord - that is, God - told me that I must go and fight in order to regain the kingdom of France." On the way, Bertrand and I slept every night with her - Jeanne being at my side, fully dressed. She inspired me with such respect that for nothing in the world would I have dared to molest her; also, never did I feel towards her - I say it on oath - any carnal desire.
...On the way she always wished to hear Mass. She said to us: "If we can, we shall do well to hear Mass." But, for fear of being recognized, we were only able to hear it twice. I had absolute faith in her. Her words and her ardent faith in God inflamed me. I believe she was sent from God ; she never swore, she loved to attend Mass, she confessed often, and was zealous in giving alms. Many times was I obliged to hand out to her the money she gave for the love of God. While we were with her, we found her always good, simple, pious, an excellent Christian, well behaved, and God fearing. And so we escorted her to the King, to the town of Chinon, as secretly as we could."
Bertrand de Poulengy:
Joan the Maid came to Vaucouleurs, I think, about Ascension Day. I saw her speaking to the Captain, Robert de Baudricourt. She told him that "she came to him in the name of her Lord; that the Dauphin must be compelled to persevere and to give battle to his enemies, that the Lord would give him succor before the middle of Lent; that the kingdom belonged not to him, the Dauphin, but to her Lord; that her Lord would have the Dauphin to be made King and hold the kingdom in trust; that she would make him King, in spite of his enemies, and would
conduct him to his coronation." "But who is this Lord of whom you speak?" asked Robert of her. "The King of Heaven," she replied. After that she went back to her father's house, accompanied by one of her uncles, named Durand Laxart of Burey le Petit. Later, towards the begining of Lent, she came back to Vaucouleurs to ask for an escort, so as to go to the Dauphin. Then Jean de Metz and I offered to conduct her to the King - at that time the Dauphin. After a pilgrimage to Saint-Nicolas, she went to seek the Lord Duke de Lorraine, who had sent her a safe-conduct and asked to see her. She then returned to Vaucouleurs and lodged in the house of Henry
Leroyer. Then Jean de Metz and I, aided by many others of Vaucouleurs, saw to it that she gave up her woman's dress, which was of a red color and wore a tunic and man's dress spurs, leggings, sword, and all the rest. And also we got a horse for her. Then we started with her to seek the Dauphin, together with Julian, my servant, Jean de Honecourt, servant of Jean de Metz, Colet de Vienne, and Richard the Archer. As we left Lorraine, the first day, fearing to be taken by the Burgundians and the English, we traveled all night. Jeanne said to me and to Jean de Metz, while we were journeying, that it would be well for us to hear Mass; but while we were
in the enemy's country, we could not, for fear of being recognized. At night, Jeanne slept beside Jean de Metz and myself, fully dressed and armed. I was young then; nevertheless I never felt towards her any carnal desire: I should never have dared to touch her, because of the great goodness which I saw in her. We were eleven days on the road, during which we had many anxieties. But Jeanne told us always that we had nothing to fear, and that, once arrived at Chinon, the noble Dauphin would welcome us. She entirely abstained from swearing and I felt myself inspired by her words, for she seemed to me a messenger of God; never did I see in her any evil,
but always she was as good as if she had been a saint. We took our road thus, and, without great difficulty, gained Chinon, where the King - then Dauphin - was staying.