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The Anthology Document ‘Charles VII institutes a commemoration of the fall of Cherbourg and recovery of Normandy’ was written by or on behalf of Charles VII to the Bishops of all the major cities in France. The letter was to announce Charles VII intentions to celebrate the successes of his army at Cherbourg and the subsequent recovery of the duchy of Normandy from the English. In his letter Charles VII is thanking God for his armies successes and in order to do this he is requesting or announcing that a celebration take place in October of the same year and then annually on 12th August in order to commemorate the return of the French lands of Normandy. Furthermore Charles VII asks that the church solemnise the date of 12th August in their records so God would be pleased and “so that this event will not be forgotten in the future” (Anthology, 2007, page 23).

It is important to note the date of this letter as it is dated 30th August 1450, just mere weeks after the fall of Cherbourg and Normandy from English control. This adds context to the letter and historians can gain insight into how Charles VII and his supporters were feeling at this time. There is a large emphasis on thanking God in this letter and Charles VII contributes all the honour of the victory. It is also important to note that this view of Charles VII’s victory as divine is echoed in a letter sent by Joan of Arc to Philip the Good, duke of Burgundy in 1429 whereby Joan asks Philip to cease his allegiance with the English and return his loyalty and allegiance to France. Joan advises Philip that he would not only be fighting against his own people the French but also God “all those who fight against the holy kingdom of France fight against Jesus, king of Heaven” (Anthology, 2007, page20).

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Charles VII makes many references to the battle for control being divine and God’s wishes many times throughout the letter and is a statement in itself in the power of faith during the fifteenth century, his claims that he “can see no cruelty or inhumanity nor terrible evils…more credible that this is a divine miraculous work” (Anthology, 2007, page 22) is another thank you to the divine powers of God. Charles also states that it took a short time to carry out the recovery of Normandy when in fact it took almost thirty years from the Treaty of Troyes to the eventual expulsion of the English.

In summary historians can learn a great deal about how Charles VII and his supporters saw the recovery of Normandy as divine, in the way that he gives all thanks to God and is requesting that the church hold “solemn masses”. One gets the impression that faith in and thanks to God was more important than the battle itself.

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Kylie Garcia

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