Two trials from the Criminal Register of the Châtelet

The only edition of the texts translated below is H. Duplès-Agier, Le registre criminel du Châtelet de Paris du 6 septembre 1389 au 18 mai 1392, Paris, 1861, 1864, 2 volumes. For the most thorough study of them available in English see Bronislaw Geremek, Margins of Society, Cambridge 1987. For a paper in progress on this material see the file "transparence" under miscellaneous on this web page.

Agnes, wife of Jean Poulain. 28 January 1390-91.

In the year of grace 1390, Saturday the twenty-eighth day of January, before the honorable and wise gentleman Jean Truquan, lieutenant of monsieur the provost, in the presence of master Dreue d'Ars, prosecutor, Miles de Rouvroy, Nicolas Bertin and Hutin de Ruit, examiners for the king our lord in the Chatelet of Paris, Agnes, wife of Jean Poulain, was arrested and compelled to appear in public judgement at the said Chatelet; the prisoner was detained in the said Chatelet under suspicion of having taken and wrapped a burning coal in a linen cloth, and having taken it and carried it to the house of Jean Miserelle, who was living in the town of Gif, and with this coal having lit a fire that almost burned the house to the ground, and the fire went as far as the crest of the roof of this house. Which prisoner, having sworn on the holy Gospel of God to tell the truth about what was said, and about other things that were asked, said and affirmed by oath that she was born in the land of Britanny, very close to the town of Dol, and that, about twenty years ago, she had come to live in the land of Chateaufort, and there had earned a living by carding and spinning wool to the best of her ability and knowledge, and she had lived together with her husband in the said place of Gif, where, after about seven years, they married each other. After having made several modifications and denials in regard to the said accusation, she acknowledged and confessed that it was true that last Tuesday, at about the hour of vespers, she who is speaking was seated at the door of her home, going about her business, when she saw pass in front of her the above mentioned Jean Miserelle, her neighbor. This Miserelle did not greet her, and therefore she who is speaking thought that this Miserelle was angry with her who is testifying, and she went towards him and said: "Miserelle, why don't you deign to talk to me? What have I done to you? Are you angry with me? I would like to know the reason, since you usually speak to my husband and to me, and we have often drunk, eaten, and gone hunting together, and when you wished, in our home, we have gotten along well together. If you don't tell me, I shall be very angry with you." To her who is testifying Miserelle replied: "I have nothing to reply, or to say to you. If I have bad feelings towards you, and if I wish to give no reply whatever to your questions, what can you do about it? I shall not speak to you, or give you any greeting, if I wish, and I shall not tell you whether I have good or bad feelings towards you. Let me go about my business, and you go about yours, and leave me in peace." Having heard Miserelle's reply, she who is speaking, in a rage, said these words to him: "I would like you to know that since you have bad feelings towards me, you will not get away with it scot-free." And then she, provoked by the devil, like a madwoman, entered her house, went to the fire, took a large burning coal, which she who is speaking took and wrapped in a linen cloth as well as she could, and she took it in her hands, and in this condition went out of her said home with the said cloth tied up thus, with the burning coal in it. She who is speaking threw it onto the thatched roof and between two drains of the house of the said Miserelle, next to and facing the house of her who is speaking, and she returned to said home to go about her own business. As soon as she who is testifying went out of her said house she saw and perceived that the fire was burning along the roof of the home of the said Miserele, and therefore, to bring help, she shouted loudly, "Fire, fire!" At which cry several people living in this town put out the fire, and because the people and the justice of the said town suspected that she had set the fire in the said home, she was arrested and imprisoned in the town of Chateaufort, and transferred from the said prison to the Chatelet of the king our lord in Paris, in which place, for the reasons given above, she is still a prisoner. And she said, when questioned on this subject, that no other reason than the one she offered had driven her to set this fire. When she had said this, the said prisoner was returned to the prison from which she had been taken.

Monday, the thirtieth day of January, before monsieur the provost, in the presence of master Dreu d'Ars, lieutenant, Martin Double, king's advocate, Andrieu Le Preux, prosecutor of the said lord in the Chatlelet, Michel Marchant, Jaques du Bois, advocates in the said Chatelet, Miles de Rouvroy, Ernoul de Villers, Nicolas Bertin, Hutin de Ruit and Geoffroy Le Goibe, examiners, Agnes, the wife of Jean Poulain, named above, was brought to public judgement in the Chatelet, after having sworn on the holy Gospels that she would tell the truth about everything she said, without force or constraint. She repeated and remained firm in the confession written above by her, made earlier, which was read to her word-by-word, and she affirmed by oath that this was true, and had been made by her knowingly in the form and in the manner written above, and she said that it was true.

After these things had been done, monsieur the provost asked the said councilors for their advice and opinions on what was to be done with the prisoner. Considering the condition of the prisoner, and the confession written above, made by her, and the treacherous act, they all were of the opinion that because of what she had done, for the reasons given above, she could not be spared the punishment of being burned, which she had well deserved, Having heard these opinions, and in consideration of the said trial, the provost condemned the said Agnes, prisoner, to this punishment.

Which judgement was executed Tuesday the seventh day of March, 1390.

And there was no other business.


Catherine, wife of Henryet Du Roquier 8 Oct 1389

In the year of grace 1389, Friday the eighth of October, in judgment in open court, before Master John Truquam, lieutenant, in the presence of Master Dreue d'Ars, prosecutor of Chatelet, John de Bar and John Soudant, examiner at the Chatelet, Katherine wife of Henryet du Roquier, prisoner in the Chatelet, was arrested and brought to trial, accused of being a public and common procuress, and also of having recently sold, engaged and delivered a young girl named Margot, sister of the said husband, who was an apprentice in his home, to a knight, who took her virginity. The which Katherine, under oath and in sworn testimony, said and affirmed in full conscience that she knew the said Margot her sister, and that, more than one half year before, she had been sent to her by her father and mother to learn the art and trade of embroidery. The which girl she had since that time and until the present time well and carefully looked after, in accordance with what is reasonable; and since the time that she had been given to her, she held and still holds in good conscience that she is a good girl and a virgin, which she relates and says of this Margot, sworn and examined first and in her presence. She also said that she is a poor lone woman, deprived of her husband, whom she had married in the city of Avignon four and more years ago, not wise in the ways of the city of Paris, since she came from the land of Arragon, and when her husband married her in that land, he told her that he would bring her to live in the city of Compiegne, in the home of his father. After they had lived there for some time, her husband decided to live in Paris, approximately a year or two ago, in the rue des Estuves. There, at about last Easter, he left her all alone, and went to live with and serve the count of Boulogne, his master, for whom he is a cook..

Margot Du Roquier, approximately 18 years old, living in the home of the said Katherine, wife of the said Henryet du Roquier, her brother, born in the city of Compiegne, sworn and examined by oath to tell the truth in the case concerning the imprisonment of the said Katherine, said and affirmed by oath and in the presence of this Katherine, that, about the time of last Easter, her father brought her to the city of Paris to see the said Katherine her sister; when they saw her, her said father asked this Katherine if she wished to take in her protection and tutelage her who is speaking; she agreed and promised to watch over her well and devoutly, and to teach her the art of embroidery. Afterwards, on a day one eats meat, otherwise there is no record of the day or the time, the said Katherine said to her that Sir John Braque, knight, had asked her to speak to him about a room that he wanted to rent for his stay; and for this purpose, in the company of her sister, she went to the home of the said knight, and when they had climbed the stairs to a room in the home of the said knight, he and the said Katherine spoke together a long time; then the said knight called her who is speaking to one side, and asked if she would like to be his beloved, and she replied to him that she would not, that she would have nothing to do with him, saying: "Sir, for God's sake, let me go!" Then the said sister said to her who is speaking that she should do what the knight wanted. And then the said Katherine pretended to cry, and the said knight promised to give her, as a gift towards her marriage, 30 francs. This knight soon after this went out of the room, leaving in it her who is speaking and Katherine, with a servant, whose name she does not know, to whom the knight had given orders to make a dinner for these women in this room. The servant in charge of the household set the table, brought them drink and food, but she who is making the deposition did not want at all to eat, angry that she might have to do the will of the said knight, even though she was asked several times, both by the said Katherine and by this servant if she would like to drink and to eat. She also said that soon after supper this knight returned into said room, commanded said chamber-servant to make up a bed for Katherine in the room next to his own, and he sent them out of said room, and told her to lie with him and in his bed, which command she dared not disobey, and therefore that night she lay with this knight, who deflowered her and knew her carnally, and he did this twice. And the next morning the said knight rose first, and gave to her who is speaking two francs, telling her that she should think that she had done well, and that she should return to the home and company of this Katherine.

She who is making this deposition, when the said knight had left that room, got up and went into the room where the said Katherine had slept, and she found her there fully dressed. And to this Katherine she said that this knight had given her two golden francs, which she gave to her, and she put them in her purse. This done, she who is speaking and the said Katherine left the home of the said knight, and they came to the home of this Katherine, at which she has continually remained from the time she was devirginated, from last Easter to the present, without having been with any man whatever, except the said knight. Four or five days after he had deflowered her, he sent his servant in charge of the household to get her, and, since the time previously mentioned, she had been with him three or four times, of which the first two times that she went there after she had been devirginated, he gave her one franc twice, which she gave to the said Katherine, and at the other times he had given her nothing. She also said that, out of the money mentioned, the said sister Katherine bought her hose, shoes, dresses; beyond that she got nothing, except what she told her the first time she returned from having been with the said knight, when that Katherine had her bathed, she had spent about seven francs. She said furthermore that since that servant in charge of the household of the said knight came looking for her the first time after she had been devirginated, to go to the home of that knight, the said Katherine had sent her to him once or twice, whether she were willing or not, and that when she said that she did not want to go there, she berated her who is speaking very much, and because she did not want to go, she beat her once or twice.

After the said Margot had given the testimony just described, the said lieutenant asked of this Katherine whether what the said Margot had spoken and sworn was true, and she acknowledged that it was true that she had brought her said sister Margot with her to the said knight, and that when she went to his home, she went with the intention of renting a room for his stay. When she had spoken a long time with this knight, she wanted permission to leave, to return to her own home to rest, but he did not give her leave, saying that it was too late, and that the next day he would have her and her said sister brought by his people to her home. During that night this knight asked Margot to be his amie, but because she and the said Margot did not wish to satisfy entirely the wish of the said knight, he said to them that if they did not satisfy his will, he would hand them over to his servants, who would take their pleasure with them. At these words, and because this knight promised to her who is speaking and to the said Margot, her sister, that he would give 30 francs for the advancement of her marriage, it is true that she said to her said sister that it would be better to do the willand pleasure of the said knight than that he hand them over to his said servants. She also said that on that night she knew very well that this knight lay with her said sister, and that the next day she told her that he had given her two francs, which she who is speaking put in her purse, and with which she bought for her dresses, hose, and shoes, and she also spent 7 francs two or three days after they had returned from the home of said knight, when she and her sister bathed. Furthermore, she said that since that time this knight had sent his servant in charge of the household for her, whom she had sent to him sometimes with this servant in charge of the household and sometimes entirely alone, without having rebuked, beaten, or struck her in any way.

Item, Saturday the 16th day of October, in the year 1389, in open court, before Master John Truquam, lieutenant, with Master Dreu d'Ars, prosecutor of Chatelet present, together with Jean Wilquin,Pierre Alespée, Hugues Le Grand, Jacques du Bois, Michel Marchant, Guillaume Rabigois, advocates in the said Chatelet, Pierre Picot, prosecutor, Robert Petit-Clerc, Jean de Bar, Jean de Tuillieres, Nicolas Chaon, examiners in this Chatelet, Jean Pastourelle, Jean Cherpentier, Jean Salmon, Guillaume Lomoy, Jean du Chesne, Denisot de Beloy and Henri Le Grand, prosecutors in the said Chatelet, said trial took place, and the confessions transcribed above were made. All these people deliberated and were of the opinion that, in the light of the confession of this Margot, to whom the said Katherine was related, and also in the light of the confession of the said Katherine, that this Katherine had deserved and ought to be pilloried as a prostitute, and burned there for her crimes, except for the said masters Pierre Alespée, Guillaume Rabigois, Hugues Le Grant, Jean Salmon, Henry Le Grand and Jean Wilquin, who said that she should only be pilloried. When the opinions were heard and the trial concluded, this Katherine was condemned by the said lieutenant to be pilloried and burned as a procuress, and, in addition, at the said place of pillory, the reason for which the said judgement against the said Katherine was to be cried out.

Which judgement was executed at the usual place, Saturday, the twenty-third day of October, 1389.