JOHN OF ORLEANS, Count of Angoulême and of Périgord (1399-1467). Document signed ('Jehan'), Rouen, 1 April 1445.
Officialising his release thanks to the Earl of Suffolk from 32 years' imprisonment in the hands of the English, and noting his gratitude to Suffolk, and Suffolk's own sense of obligation to John's illegitimate half-brother, Jean de Dunois, the Bastard of Orleans, whose captive he himself had been; with a certification by Pierre de Caves, Angoulême's secretary. On vellum, one membrane, approx. 260 x 295mm (a little stained and cockled).
'Nous Jehan, Conte d'Angoulesme, Certifions que le premier Jour davril mil quatre cens quarante & cinq apres pasques, Nous estans en la ville de Rouen es mains des Anglois ou nous avions este hostâge & pleige l'espace de trente deux ans & plus, fusmes mis es delivrance & elargissement de nostre personne par le moyen & ala poursuite du Conte de Suffolk, du coste desdiz Anglois. Lequel Conte de suffolk a nostre partement de lui de ladite ville de Rouen nous merciasmes de la grant peine & diligence quil avoit eue & prinse à faire nostre dicte delivrance, delaquelle lui seul estoit principal cause et moyen, en nous Reputant à tousiours mais, tenuz à lui et aux siens. Lequel Conte de suffolk nous Respondit et dist que tout ce quil avoit fait tant ala delivrance de nostre très cher seigneur et frère monsieur le duc dorleans que ala nostre, il lavoit fait de tresbon cuer, non pas seulement pour amour de mondit sieur et de nous, mais singulierement et principalement il lavoit fait pour lamour de.nostre trescher, & bienaime frere le Pastard dorleans, Conte de dunois, duquel il avoit este prisonnier, et pour le plaisir quil lui avoit fait, lui estant en ses mains ... '
John of Orleans had been delivered to the English in 1412 as a hostage against the payment of an indemnity of 210,000 écus due under the treaty of Buzançais. He was joined in his captivity three years later by his brother, the poet Charles, Duke of Orleans, a captive at the Battle of Agincourt. John shared his brother's interest in book culture, and continued to build his personal library in exile: indeed, on his release, he took with him a copy of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales (now in the BnF). In spite of his protestations in the present document, his release owed just as much to his payment of a substantial ransom as to the kindness of the Earl of Suffolk. After his release, John went on to take part in the liberation of Guyenne from the English, under the command of Jean de Dunois. John’s liberator, William de la Pole, later 1st Duke of Suffolk (1396-1450), a leading English commander in the Hundred Years’ War and prisoner of Charles VII from 1429 to 1431, was himself the third husband of Alice Chaucer, granddaughter of the poet; he features largely in Shakespeare’s Henry VI, parts 1 and 2. The present document is transcribed in Etienne Charavay. Jean d'Orléans, comte d'Angoulême. Notice (Paris: 1876), p.16.