Andrew Lang.

The story of Joan of Arc, the maid of Orleans online

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vray, where they did not find Clermont and his
men, but did see the English soldiers far away,
marching by the side of the long line of wagons.

Instead of waiting hidden under cover till the
English passed by, and then rushing among
them unexpectedly, Stewart of Darnley cried,
*' Charge ! " and rode, with his lance in rest, at
the English front. The Scots were alw^ays in too
great a hurry to fight. The English saw them
coming, arranged the heavy wagons in a square,
and went inside the square, so that the Scots
could not get at them. Safe behind their carts,
the English archers shot down the Scots, who
thought bows and arrows rather mean weapons,
and wanted to cut down their enemies with the
sword. But they could not reach the English ; they
fell in piles of slain men round the square, and
Clermont, the French general who was to have


joined them, would not fight, and took away his
army. So very many brave Scots were killed,
with Stewart of Darnley at their head, and the
rest retreated sadly to Orleans, where they heard
the English hurrahing in their camp.

This was called the battle of Rouvray, or the
battle of the Herrings. It was fought on Febru-
ary 12, 1429. Joan went to Baudricourt, and told
him that a terrible misfortune had happened that
day to the army of the Dauphin, near Orleans.
The news could not possibly reach Vaucouleurs
for several days, for the distance between Vau-
couleurs and Orleans is great, and the roads
were dangerous, and might be beset by English
soldiers and by robbers, who would stop mes-
sengers. Joan had been told of the defeat by
her Voices.

At last, however, the bad news did come.
Joan had been right, the French and Scots had
been defeated on the day when she told Baudri-
court of it, February 12.

So Baudricourt saw there was something un-
common in this country girl, who knew what
was happening far away, and he lent her two
young gentlemen and a few men-at-arms to
guide her and guard her on her way to the Dau-
phin. Somebody gave her a horse, which, to the
surprise of all men, she rode very well. She had
her long black hair cut short and close, as soldiers
wore it ; she dressed in a gray doublet and black
hose, like a boy (she wore this kind of dress till


the end of her life) ; and then she rode through
the gate of Vaucouleurs, which is still standing,
and away to seek the Dauphin. This was on
February 23, 1429.

After riding for several days, Joan and her
company reached a little town called Fierbois,
near Chinon. Here was the chapel dedicated to
St. Catherine of Fierbois, who was a favorite
Saint of the French and Scots soldiers, and of
Joan. In the chapel was a book in which the
miracles of the Saint were written down. At
this very time a Scottish archer, Michael Hamil-
ton, from Shotts, was caught by some country
people, and was hanged by them. During the
night a voice came to the priest of the village,
saying, " Go and cut down that Scot who was
hanged, for he is not dead." However, the priest
was sleepy, and he did not go. Next day was
Easter Day, and the priest went to church and
did the services. After that, he thought he
might as well see about the Scot who was hang-
ing from a tree, and seemed quite dead. To
make certain, the priest took his penknife, and
cut the dead man's toe. On this the man gave
a kick, so the priest cut the rope, and took good
care of Michael Hamilton. When he was able
to ride, Michael went to this chapel of Fierbois,
and took the oath that he had prayed to St.
Catherine before he was hanged up, and now he
came to thank her for his escape at her chapel.
The book of the chapel is full of these strange



stories, and probably some of them were read
aloud to Joan, who could not read, and said that
she "did not know A from B.'' She attended
three Masses at Fierbois, and got some learned
clerk to write a letter to the King, to say that
she was coming. She also had a letter written
to her father and mother, asking them to pardon
her for going away without their permission.
Her father she was to see once more, her mother
she never saw again.

As to Michael Hamilton, you may believe ^his
story or not, as you like. Many of the other
stories told in the chapel book by Scots soldiers,
and French men and women, are just as curious.
I only know that the people made long journeys
to thank Madame Saint Catherine in her church
at Fierbois, and that their stories were written
down in the book there.



When Joan reached Chinon, she was lodged with
a lady who was very kind, and she waited to see
the Dauphin. His advisors were not sure that
he ought to see the Maid at all ; but probably he
was curious, and at last she was brought to the
castle, and led up the stairs to a great hall,
where were many men in splendid dresses. The
castle is in ruins now, and the hall has no roof
over it, but you can still go in and see the walls,
and empty windows, and the great fireplace. A
man plainly dressed was in the crowd of magni-
ficent courtiers in silk and gold embroidery.
Joan went straight up, and kneeling on one knee,
said, " Fair Sir, you are the Dauphin to whom I
am come." But the man pointed to a knight,
very richly dressed, and said, "That is the

" No, fair Sir," said Joan ; " it is to you that
I am sent."

The Dauphin, for the man was the Dauphin,
was surprised at this, for she had never seen
him before. He allowed Joan to come to the
castle and talk to him, but he was not sure that
she was not an impost er, or a silly girl.



Joan tells the King her secret. — Page 27


One day, however, she took him aside, into a
corner where nobody cotdd hear what they were
talking about. When their, conversation ended,
the Dauphin looked very grave, and Jeanne
looked very glad. She had told him something
that made him believe in her.

What had Joan told to the King? It was
known at the time that she had told him some-
thing that amazed him, for it is mentioned in a
letter written a few weeks later by Alan Ghartier,
a famous poet. But nobody knew the secret :
Joan would never let any one know. When she
was a prisoner among the English, the French
priests and lawyers tried to make her speak, but
she would not. It was her King's secret.

Eight years after Joan was dead, a very strange
thing happened. A woman who said that Joan
had not died, and that she was Joan, came to
Orleans with Joan's brothers. The people of
Orleans, who had known the Maid very well,
believed that this woman was Joan come again,
and feasted her and gave her presents. Then
she was taken to the King. He himseK was
puzzled, and said, " Maid, my dear, I am glad to
see you again. Do you remember the secret be-
tween you and me ? "

Then this false pretender to be the Maid con-
fessed that she knew nothing.

When the King was old, he revealed the
secret to a friend.

On that day when they went apart together at


Chinon, Joan reminded him of the secret prayer
which, as I told you, the Dauphin had made
when alone, asking that he might know whether
he really was the son of the late King, and him-
self the rightful King of France.

" You are the rightful King," Joan said.

When the Dauphin heard her words, he made
things go on quicker. Priests were sent to Joan's
village to find out if she had been a good girl
when she was at home. Then she was taken to
Poitiers, to be examined by many learned men,
priests and lawyers. They tried to perplex her
by their questions, but she was straightforward,
and told them how the Voices had come to her.
One man asked her to give a sign by working a

" I have not come to Poitiers to give signs,"
said Joan ; " but let me go to Orleans, and you
shall see what I will do."

She never professed to work miracles. She
wanted to lead an army to Orleans, and the sign
to be given was the defeat of the English, and
the rescue of the besieged town.

For six weary weeks the learned men and
priests examined Joan, and tried in every way to
find some fault in her answers.

At last they drew up a report and signed it,
saying that ^Ho doubt the Maid would be to
resist the Holy Spirit." What they were afraid
of all the time was that Joan might be advised
by spirits, to be sure, but evil spirits or devils.


The English and the French lawyers on the Eng-
lish side, declared that Joan was possessed by
devils. They thought that, because they could
not deny her powers; but, as she was not on
their side, her powers could not come from God,
but from Satan. To think in that way is common :
people always believe that their own side is the
right side. But nobody ever heard of evil spirits
taking possession of any one who was really
good ; and no man could ever find any single
bad thing in Joan the Maid.

So now the Dauphin began to collect an army
to march with Joan to Orleans. Of course he
ought to have done that before, even if there had
been no Joan. It was a shameful thing that a
strong town, full of brave men, should be taken
by four thousand Englishmen, without an effort
by the French to drive the English away. But
the French had lost all heart and courage : the
brave Dunois himself said that a large force of
French would run away from a little company of
English. All that the French uf the Dauphin's
party needed was courage and confidence. As
soon as they believed in Joan they were full of
confidence. They could not turn their backs as
long as a girl of sixteen ran forward in front of
them, through the rain of arrows, and bullets, and
cannon balls, waving her banner, and crying
" Come on ! "

At this time Joan prophesied that she would
be wounded by an arrow at Orleans, but not to


death. So a Flemish ambassador at Chinon wrote
to the magistrates of his town at home, and his
letter was copied into the town council's book,
before the Maid went to the war.

White armor was made for Joan to wear, and
a Scottish painter made a banjier with sacred
pictures for her to carry : his daughter was a
great friend of Joan.

The Maid said that, as for a sword, if they
dug in the ground behind the altar at the chapel
of St. Catherine, in Fierbois, they would find a
buried sword, which she wished to carry ; and it
was found, old and rusty, with five crosses on
the blade. The Duke of Alencon, a young cousin
of the King's, who had been a prisoner of the
English, saw Joan riding one day, and was so
pleased with her grace and good horsemanship,
that he gave her a very good horse, and became
one of her best friends. "My fair Duke" was
what she used to call him. Every one said that
Joan's manners were as gentle and courteous as
those of the greatest ladies, though she had been
brought up in a poor cottage. Everything that
she did was done in the best way and the



When Joan's army was gathered, with plenty of
good things, and pow^der and shot, in wagons,
for the people of Orleans, she gave orders that
no loose people should follow them. The soldiers
must not drink and play dice and cards. They
must pray, and must never swear. One of the
generals, the brave La Hire, asked that he might
be allowed one little oath, so she said he might
swear "by his baton," the short staff which he
carried as a leader. Then Joan mounted, and
rode at the head of the army out of the gate of
Blois. The French Commander at Orleans,
Dunois, had sent to say that they must march
up the bank of the Loire opposite to that on
which Orleans stands, for the English were very
strong, with many fortifications, on the road on
the Orleans side and would stop them. Dunois
seems to have thought that Joan's army should
go above the town, and be ferried across with
the supplies for the city — for the English held
the bridge — but that they could not cut their
way through the main body of the English army
on the other side of the river. But to go straight
through the English where they were strongest



was what Joan had intended. Therefore she was
angry when she arrived at the place where
Dunois was waiting for her, and saw that the
river lay between her and the town of Orleans.
Yon may think that her Voices should have told
her that she was marching on the wrong bank of
the river: however, they did not. She asked
Dunois why he had ordered them to come by the
road they took. She said,

*' I bring you better help than has ever come
to any town or captain, the help of the King of

Dunois himself has left this account of what
Joan said, and, as she was speaking, the wind
changed. It had been blowing in such a way as
to make it hard for the boats to carry Joan and
the provisions across the river, but now it went
about, and they crossed easily, some way above
the town. As for the army, Joan ordered them
back to Blois, to cross by the bridge there, and
march to Orleans again, past the forts and
through the midst of the English.

Once across the river, Joan mounted again j
with her banner of Our Lord and the Lilies in
her hand, and with Dunois at her side, and rode
to the town. They passed an English fortress,
the Church of St. Loup, in safety, and the people
came out to meet them. Night had fallen, and
the people who crowded round the Maid were
carrying torches. One of these set fire to the
fringe of her banner and made her horse plunge ;


She crushed out the flame with her left hand.— Page 33


but she crushed out the flame with her left hand
in its steel glove, and reigned in her horse easily,
while the people cheered, and the women wished
to kiss her hand, which she did not like, think-
ing the honor too great. It was a beautiful sight
to see the Maid ride into Orleans town. From
that hour there was no more fear among the

Dunois said, " till that day, two hundred Eng-
lish could scatter eight hundred or a thousand of
our men, but now they skulked in their forts
and dared not come out against us." This is an
extraordinary thing, for Talbot, who led the
English, was the bravest captain living. Jeanne
sent to him a letter to bid him break up his
camp and go away. The English laughed, and
one day, when Joan went out to speak to them,
they called her ill names, so that she wept for
shame. But, somehow, the English had certainly
lost heart, or they had some reason which we do
not know, for merely defending their fortresses.

On the day after Joan entered Orleans she
wanted Dunois to sally out of the town with his
men and assail the English. He did not think it
wise to do so, and Joan went up to her own room.
Suddenly she rushed down and csked her page
why he had not told her that the French were
fighting, she did not know where. It was at the
fort and Church of St. Loup, which Joan had
passed on her way into Orleans. On this side,
namely, farther up the river, above the town, the



English were weakest, as they did not expect to
be attacked on that side. The French were
victorious : when they saw Joan ride np they
were filled with courage. Joan saw a French-
man strike down an English prisoner : she dis-
mounted, laid the poor prisoner's head in her
lap, and did her best to comfort him.



The Dauphin had given Joan a gentleman of
good character to be with her always, and take
care of her. This gentleman was named Jean
d'Aulon, and, as he has left an account of what
Joan did at Orleans, we give what he said. On
the day after Joan took the fortress of St. Loup
from the English, she led her men to attack
another English work on the farther side of the
river. They coidd not cross by the bridge, of
course, for the English held the strong building,
Les ToureUes, at the bridge end, the place where
the Earl of Salisbury was killed by the cannon
shot ; moreover an arch of the bridge had been
broken, lest the English should cross. So they
went in boats to an island in the middle of the
river, and then made a bridge of boats across
the other branch of the Loire. But they found
that the English had left the place which they
meant to attack, and were in a much stronger
fortress. The French, therefore, were returning
to their boats, when the English rushed out of
the second fortress to attack them when off their
guard. But Joan and her friend La Hire, who
had crossed the river with their horses, saw the



English, coming on, and put their lances in rest
(a kind of support for the level spear), and
spurred their horses at their enemies. The rest
of the French, followed Joan, and drove the
English, back into their fortress. Meanwhile
d'Aulon, and a Spanish gentleman on the French
side, took each other by the hand, and ran as fast
as they could till they struck their swords against
the outer fence, or strong wooden palisade of
the English. But in the narrow gateway stood
a tall and very strong Englishman, who drove
back the French. So d'Aulon asked a Frenchman,
a good shot, to aim at the Englishman, whom
he killed, and then d'Aulon and the Spaniard
ran into the gateway, and held it, while Joan and
the rest of the French rushed in, and all the
English were killed or gave themselves up as

By this time the French army which went
down to Blois to cross the bridge, had returned
to Orleans, and gone past the English fortresses
without being attacked. So there were now many
fighting men in Orleans. Next day, therefore,
Joan insisted that they should attack the strong-
est of all the English forts, Les Tourelles, at the
end of the bridge farthest from the town. The
generals thought this plan too dangerous, as the
fortress was so strong ; but no doubt Joan was
right, because the English on the town side of
the river could not cross over to help their coun-
trymen. If they crossed in boats, they would


be shot, and cut down as they landed. If the
French generals did not tinderstand that, Joan
did. She was full of confidence. A man asked
her to wait for breakfast, and offered her a big
trout caught in the Loire. She said, " Keep it
for supper. I will bring back an English

Sirisoner to help to eat it. And I will come back
y the bridge.'' Now the bridge, we saw, was
broken. D'Aulon heard her say this, and no doubt
he wondered what she meant. He understood
her, at night.

So Joan caused the gate to be thrown open,
and the town's people, who were very eager,
rushed to the river bank, and crossed in boats.
The regular soldiers followed, and all day long
they attacked the walls, carrying ladders to climb
them with, while Joan stood under the wall,
waving her banner, and crying " Forward ! '^
But from behind the battlement, the English
kept shooting with arrows and muskets, so that
many of the French were killed and a strong
Englishman threw down the ladders as they
were pushed to the top of the walls. There
were five or six hundred of the best of the Eng-
lish in this castle, under two leaders whom the
French call " Bumus " and " Glasidas." The name
of " Glasidas '' was Glasdale ; we do not know
who " Bumus " was ! So all day companies of the
French and Scots, carrying ladders, and with
banners flying, went down into the deep ditch
below the wall, and were shot or driven out.


Now the great Dunois, the most famous of the
French leaders, tells xis what Joan did. It was
about one o'clock in the afternoon, when the
thing that she had prophesied happened to her.
A bolt from an English cross-bow passed through
her armor between the collar-bone and the
shoulder-blade, and stood out six inches behind
her shoulder. She was carried out of range,
and the arrow was drawn out. Another witness
says that a soldier wished to sing a magical song
over the wound, to heal it, but she would not
allow this to be done, and went back into the
battle, hurt as she was. She cried a little.

They fought on : they had begun in the early
morning, and it was eight o'clock, and past sun-
set, when Dunois said that they could not take
the fort that day, and wished to call off the sol-
diers from the ditch. But Joan came to him,
and asked him to wait a little while. She
mounted her horse, and rode to a vineyard, and
there she prayed, " for half a quarter of an hour."
Then she rode back, and went through the hail
of shot and arrows to the edge of the ditch, while
d'Aulon covered her, he says, with his shield.
She saw that a soldier had taken her standard
into the ditch. She seized the standard, and it
waved so that all her men saw it, and rushed up ;
" We shall take the fort," said Joan, " when my
standard touches the wall." The wind blew the
banner fringe against the wall, and the French
made one more rush, they climbed the ladders,

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they tumbled into the fort, and the English were
slain or taken, and Glasdale, their leader, who
tried to cross to another tower by a plank, fell
into the river and was drowned.

Then Joan crossed back to Orleans by the
bridge, as d* Anion heard her say that she would,
when she set out in the morning. For the town's
people laid a beam across the broken arch, and
on this she walked over, after winning so great
a victory by her own courage. For Dunois says
that the English were terrified when they saw
her under the wall again, in the growing dark-
ness, and that they had no more heart to fight.

Joan was very tired ; she had her wound
dressed by a surgeon, and, for supper, she had
four or five little pieces of toast, dipped in weak
wine and water : that was all she ate, Dunois
says, all that long day.

Early next morning the English left their
forts, and drew up in line of battle. Joan had
put on a very light shirt of mail, made of steel
rings, because her wound did not permit her to
wear the usual armor made of heavy steel plates.
She said that the English must be allowed to go
away, and must not be attacked.

Thus the town of Orleans was delivered on
8th May, and ever since, to this day, they keep
a festival on 8th May in every year, and rejoice in
honor of the Maid. All the expense and labor
of the English in the seven months' siege had
been turned to waste by Joan in four days,


France was free, soutli of the Loire, and Joan
had kept her word, she had shown a sign at

It sounds like a fairy-tale, but it certainly
happened. Joan made the French able to do
what they did merely by giving them courage.
Her army would not have come together if she
had not given them something to believe in — her-
self. She thought that she led about 10,000
men ; but it is not easy to be sure of the numbers.
The English, if they were only 4,000, could not
resist the new army and the old garrison of Or-
leans, if the French had faith in themselves ;
and Joan gave them faith. At the same time the
English seem to have arranged their army in a
very foolish way. About 1000 were on the
farther side of a river which the 3000 on the
right bank could not, or did not try to cross, to
help their friends. The larger part of the Eng-
lish army might have attacked one of the gates
of Orleans, and frightened Joan's army, who
would have come back across the river to defend
the town. The English in the fortress at the
farther end of the bridge would then have been
safe. But the English on the right bank did
nothing at all, for some reason which we do not



After Orleans was quite safe, and when Talbot
had led the English army to the town of Meun,
Joan wanted to take the Dauphin to Rheims, to
be crowned and anointed with the holy oil, and
made King in earnest. But the way was long,
and the road passed through towns which were
held by friends of the English. So the Dauphin
loitered about in pleasant castles near the Loire,
in the bright May weather, and held councils,
and wondered what he ought to do. Then Joan
rode with the brave Dunois to Loches where the
Dauphin was. Some lords and priests were in
the room with him, but Joan went straight in,
and knelt before him, saying, " Fair Dauphin, do
not hold so many weary councils, but come to
Rheims, and take your crown."

So they said that they would think about it,
but was it safe to leave English armies behind
them, at Meun, where Talbot was, and at Jar-

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Online LibraryAndrew LangThe story of Joan of Arc, the maid of Orleans → online text (page 2 of 5)