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Item - BSL - 1452 French Plea

Price $2400



Marguerite of Orleans, daughter of Louis de France, Duke of Orleans
The Most Pious Woman of the Fifteenth Century


Document Specifications: The document is in exquisite condition - demanding to be in a top museum or the highest quality private collection. It is a superb example of fifteenth century calligraphy and Middle French Language. Written on behalf of the Countess Marguerite d'Orleans, one of the most pious woman of the fifteenth century, by the Priest Confessor, Robert Blondel, to the King of France, Charles V, and a poet in his own right. It measures approximately 12¼" x 12¼" (305mm x 305mm) not counting the paper tail seal. It is one page vellum folded at the bottom with an attached paper tail seal and notarial attestation by G. Munet. Document is handwritten in Middle French likely dictated by Robert Blondel and comes with a printed French language transcription and complete English translation.


Robert (Robére) Blondel notarized signature by
 G. Munet


Tetzel's Indulgence Box

Prices for Letters of Indulgence
Robbing a church and perjury - 9 Ducats
Murder - 8 Ducats

Countess Marguerite D'Orleans

Royal Chaplain and noted
 15th Century Poet Robert Blondel

Marguerite's Book of Hours


The Franciscan Convent (Convent des Cordelières) of Nogent L'Artaud
Raising a Razed Convent July 30th 1452

Marguerite d'Orléans was born circa 1390. She was the daughter of Louis de Valois, the Duke of Orléans, and of Valentine de Milan, and the granddaughter of the King of France, Charles V, "The Wise". She married Richard de Montfort, the Count d'Éstampes, son of Jean IV de Montfort, Duke of Brittany and Jeanne d'Evreux, Princess of Navarre. Marguerite d’Orléans, becoming a widow, lived for a long time at Longchamp and in other monasteries with her daughters Marguerite and Madelene. She was by all accounts an incredibly pious woman. The Book of Hours of Marguerite d'Orleans, a defining example of the Illustrated Prayer Book of the Fifteenth Century, was made for her so that she might practice her devotion on a daily basis. She obtained a declaration from the Cardinal of Estouteville that sheltered her liberty and that of her daughters as they moved among the convents and religious monasteries of northern France. She finally retired to the Abby at Guiche, order of Sainte Claire near Blois, where she died April 24, 1466 at the age of sixty.  She was buried in the habit of Saint Francis as had been her request.

The Book of Hours
of Marguerite d'Orléans — The illustration shows the combined arms of Brittany and Orléans appearing behind the lady praying to the Virgin and indicate that this book was produced for Marguerite d'Orléans. This is one of the most exquisite examples of fifteenth-century French illumination, this book of hours was executed in a complex series of stages, its decoration inspired by diverse sources and artists. The artist's decorative genius is affirmed most strongly in the imaginative borders. It is likely that the Royal Chaplain and Poet Robert Blondel had an influence in its production.

Historical Note

The Hundred Years War between France and England lasted from 1337 to 1453 and was fought to determine who would rule France and be foremost in the north of Europe. Initially the English were victorious (Edward III won at Crecy and Henry V at Agincourt, a victory immortalized by Shakespeare). However, the tide turned when the powerful Henry died and a teenaged girl, Joan of Arc, had visions that she would lead the French army and drive the hated enemy from her country. She defeated the English at Orleans, lifted their siege of that city and had the Dauphin Charles crowned King of France at the cathedral in Rheims. In 1431 she was burnt at the stake and ascended into history and sainthood. Although the English chance for victory perished with Joan, it was not until 1451 that they actually left France to bring an end to the active war making. They had brought destruction to much of northern France, and with their departure, the work of reconstruction could proceed.

This is a one page folio document on vellum, dated July 1452, in the name of Marguerite of Orleans, daughter of Louis de France, Duke of Orleans, and niece of King Charles of France, concerning measures to be taken to repair the Convent of Les Cordelières at Nogent L'Artaud, of which she was the guardian. The document states that the convent had been fired and burnt and almost totally destroyed by the English, “the ancient enemies of this Kingdom." This event, it recites, occurred "long ago," likely during Henry's invasion or Joan of Arc's campaigns circa 1430. Marguerite continues: "When these things came to our notice and awareness, we told them ... to form the said convent to a good rule and observance of religion; it was convenient to restore and repair the said place." She then provides that the nuns shall be placed in other convents during the repairs where they can maintain their religious practices. The property of the convent she puts into trust with the rents and profits being reserved for the repair work. As this income will be insufficient to cover all of the expenses, Marguerite orders the custodian to solicit contributions from the King and nobles of France, and to obtain “from our Holy Father the Pope ... great pardons and indulgences," these to be sold to the faithful and nobility to raise additional funds. Nogent L'Artaud lies to the east of Paris and just south of Chateau Thierry, the great battlefield of World War I. Joan of Arc passed through the town on her way to Paris for her unsuccessful attempt to take the city. She possibly saw this convent, in ruins or ablaze. Superb and in particularly clean and bright condition for a 550 year old document, with a fancy notarial signature and paragraph at the bottom by the scribe, G. Munet. In French, comes with a printed French language transcription and complete English translation.


1 page folio document on vellum, dated July 30, 1452
Text as Follows:



Essentially Indulgences were Letters of Forgiveness authorized by the Pope and remitting or excusing some particular sin that had been committed. This letter could be "purchased" by a donation - in cash, jewels or other property - to the Catholic Church - and it obviated the need for the sinner to repent, mend their ways, or suffer any further theological constraints, sufferances or penitences - essentially a "Get Out of Sin Free Card". Indulgence, as associated with penance, had developed and changed over the centuries. Sinners were to show remorse and declare that to the priest in confession in order to receive absolution and punishment. Buying letters of indulgence could replace the punishment. This went against the popular and theological belief that an endless 'church treasure' had accrued and been passed down from Christ through his holy suffering on behalf of man. it was this treasure of forgiveness and the expiation of sins which the bishops and priests were supposed to distribute to the sinful masses.

By the late Middle Ages, the practice of selling indulgence had degenerated into impenetrably murky financial and political transactions. In response to the wildly growing financial needs of the Papal Court, church institutions were given the rights to sell letters of indulgence as punishment for sin. This was particularly notable with the sale of the Peter Indulgence (indulgence money used to finish building St. Peter's Basilica in Rome), started by Pope Julius II in 1507. Instructions were written up for indulgence merchants so they would know how to sell indulgences. Johann Tetzel, an infamous Dominican monk, used these instructions to work his way through towns and villages in Germany where he ostentatiously sold indulgences. It was said that Tetzel could sell indulgences for the sins of already deceased friends and relatives as well as for sins one was going to commit in the future!

During the spring of 1517 Martin Luther's congregation in Wittenberg, Germany often bought letters of indulgence rather than going to confession. Buying letters of indulgence as punishment for sins was a popular way to clear one's conscience. These people then wanted Luther to absolve them, even though they felt no remorse for the sins they had committed and had no intention of changing their ways. That hit the Catholic Confessor hard. Luther believed that because we are sinners, yet love God, we need to carry remorse for our sins around with us throughout our whole lives. Yet here was the Church of Peter promising to scoff at the idea that people must experience sorrow and remorse, because its followers had the opportunity to buy indulgence which allowed them to have a clear conscience. Luther's repugnance at this blatant usurpation of the sin-an-divine-forgiveness cycle of Christ's sufferings in part led to his 95 Theses and the development of Protestantism.


 Offered by Berryhill & Sturgeon, Ltd.

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End of Item - BSL - 1452 French Plea

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