During the Wars of Religion in France, the social, customary, political, and material conditions of communication were so complicated that at times powerful figures such as Catherine de Médicis and Jeanne d’Albret found it almost impossible to understand certain messages, or to decide whether they should be believed even if they had been conveyed by trustworthy couriers. This difficulty existed even when they were reading aloud from texts that they held in their own hands, sent by recognized correspondents who signed their letters in their own names. In order to understand how this could have been possible, we have to imagine the circumstances in which letters and memoirs were written at this time, and how these were related to practices of speaking, reading aloud, and sending information orally via trustworthy couriers known for their prodigious memories. Language in this context was rarely accepted as a transparent medium for describing states of affairs, devoid of hidden agendas, ruses, and what potential readers might perceive as possible plots against them. The identities of the people who wrote or enunciated given versions of events, as well as of those for whom these enunciations were pronounced or even “performed” in the presence of others, produced intersubjective scenes of writing and reading that had diverse effects on the understanding of official and extra-official dispatches. Contradictory injunctions both to remember and to forget coming from different sources—royal decrees, printed histories of atrocities, written and spoken memoirs, published discourses—played an important role in all of this writing, while these discursive forms or “formations” interacted with a more general functioning of memory in a culture that was as collectively oral as it was scribal.1 The world in which these women lived was hence given its shape by the constant production of language in different categories: hand-written notes, private, semi-private, and public conversations, formal speeches, reports delivered orally, letters, pamphlets, and books read aloud in different kinds of gatherings. I will examine the public domain they inhabited in terms of its structuring in discourse and writing conceived as collective, intersubjective practices, and in terms of the relative “subject positions” entailed in such a discursive social structure, which these noble women were called upon to occupy as part of their performance of their identities.2 This essay will focus upon the exchanges of information between Catherine de Médicis and Jeanne d’Albret in three “scenes” that reveal many of the elements of memory’s functioning in the complex social sphere that they occupied. The first scene describes the general difficulties of communication between these two women caused by the material conditions of letter writing at the time. The second is the story of the dog and the “purloined” letter that appears in my title, which is in the ample discours that the Queen of Navarre published in 1570 in order to justify her actions to the royal family after she had taken refuge at La Rochelle with other Protestant leaders. Finally, the third scene discusses the arrival of Jeanne d’Albret at the royal court in Blois and later in Paris for the marriage of her son in the winter of 1572, shortly before her death, a scene that was described both in her correspondence and in Simon Goulart’s monumental Mémoires de l’estat de France sous Charles IX of 1578.