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A Fairies' Tree Described by Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc, properly Saint Joan, was born January 6, 1412 in the village of Domrémy in northeast France. Her father was Jacques d'Arc, a peasant farmer. She died May 30, 1431 at the age of 19. After leading a French army to victory over the English she was captured by the Burgundians, the allies of the English in France. She was turned over to the English who charged her with heresy and witchcraft. She was tried, convicted and sentenced to death. The English burned her alive. She was later absolved of the charges and in 1920 the Pope declared her to be a saint.

Below is her description of a fairies' tree, more properly grammatically a fairy tree:

Not far from Domrémy there is a tree called the Ladies Tree, and others call it the Fairies' Tree, and near it is a fountain. And I have heard that those who are sick with fever drink at the fountain or fetch water from it, to be made well. Indeed I have seen them do so, but I do not know whether it makes them well or not. I have heard, too, that the sick, when they can get up, go walking under the tree. It is a great tree, a beech, and from it our fair May-branches come; and it was in the lands of Monseigneur Pierre de Bourlemont. Sometimes I went walking there with the other girls, and I have made garlands under the tree for the statue of the Blessed Virgin of Domrémy.

I have often heard it said by old people (they were not of my own elders) that the fairies met there. My godmother even told me that she had seen fairies there, but I do not know whether it was true or not. I never saw any fairies under the tree to my knowledge. I have seen girls hang wreaths on the branches; I have sometimes hung my own with the others, and sometimes we took them away with us and sometimes we left them behind.

I do not know whether, after I reached years of discretion, I ever danced at the foot of the tree; I may have danced there sometimes with the children; but I sang there more than I danced.


Willard Trask (compiler and translator), Joan of Arc: In Her Own Words, B.O.O.K.S & Co., New York, 1996.

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