Letter of St Colette to King Charles VII, regarding the proposed foundation at Corbie
c 1445

To our King and Sire

Jesus Christ

The most useless handmaid of Jesus Christ and your unworthy servant who prays for you, Sister Colette, a poor religious of the Order of Saint Clare, humbly begs your assistance.

For about a year, the Lord and Lady of Saveuse, moved by devotion and by the singular affection they have for our poor Order, have had the wish to form and construct a convent and monastery of the said Order of Saint Clare and of our manner of living,within the town of Corbie, and for this reason have obtained a bull and mandate from our Holy Father the Pope, and in order to carry it out in accordance with the instructions contained in it, presented it to my Lords, the Abbot and Prior of the convent of Saint Peter in the aforesaid Corbie as was necessary, praying and requesting them that they humbly agree to obey and give their consent. My Lord the Abbot replied saying that it was not his intention to contradict the bulls of our Holy Father, and that he had always shown himself content with them, and that the citizens, peasants and inhabitants of this town were also satisfied, and very much wished and desired it. But the above mentioned Prior and convent would in no way give their consent,although the said Lord and Lady of Saveuse offered and proposed to render back to them and make restitution of all financial interests which might be affected by this venture in what ever manner necessary. After this proceeding and offer, and with the consent of the said Abbot, the said Lord and Lady, the authority of the Holy Father, started building the said convent of Saint Clare. They have already laboured greatly and at great expense over it, as much in accomplishing the work as in provision of materials.

To hinder the work already begun on the wall, the said religious have obtained a mandate invoking the law of trespass from part of your Parliament, by reason of which they have forced the work to come to a stop. This has done great harm and retarded the work of God and the good already begun. Since then they have obtained yet another warrant in virtue of which my Lord de Saveuse and his followers are forbidden as regards this cause or matter in hand, whether with the authority of bulls or otherwise, to treat with the said religious except in your own Parliamentary court.

When the Duchess of Burgundy was informed of the difficulties and opposition, through pity and compassion for our poor Order, as she has written to you, she wrote several times to them and remonstrated with them, and even begged and requested them to be willing at last to give their consent; but to do this under any circumstances, they would finally in no wise agree. As the request is a devout one, and concerns chiefly the honour of God, the increase of his divine service and the salvation of the souls he has created and redeemed, we come back to you as our last and sovereign refuge in this poor world.

We beg in this your kind, devout and merciful assistance, as that following the most noble and Christian Kings who have preceded you, as you have always been accustomed to do without looking to creatures but purely and chiefly to the Creator, it will please your most kind grace to show us humble and cordial charity, granting this boon and so providing for the good work begun that it may be enabled to come to a speedy fulfilment. In this way God can be served with all readiness for the pure love of Jesus Christ, in reverence for his woeful death and sacred Passion. May it please you to redeem (text missing)...the place and the site where the said convent is to be. This place was given to us a long time ago as a gift for the love of God. Moreover, by the authority of your royal majesty and your absolute power, may it please you by a special favour to give leave and authorisation for the perfecting and finishing of the said convent, notwithstanding the said complaint of dispossession, giving and assigned as a propitious and fitting judge your bailiff of Amiens, or some other person to represent the interests of (the monks of the abbey). In no way do we wish to refuse them their rights and we want to render and restore to them all that is duly claimed and judged right, and even more. What disadvantage do they actually expect of this? Let them understand that these poor religious will have no claim at any time to have lordship or jurisdiction, neither rent, nor rating, nor revenue, but will live simply on alms in accordance with the evangelical counsel if Jesus Christ our Lord.

May it please you to agree to this through your grace and generous mercy, in all pity and compassion. It will also be a cause of goodness and favour for you and you will put the poor Order under an obligation to pray ever more and more for your high and holy intention a thing we would wish always to do with all our hearts as God well knows. Already your good and noble assistance the convents of the city of Puy in Auvergne and of Amiens in Picardy have been founded. Without it we could have done nothing so far, as I believe is also the case with many other good works in your noble realm.