Andrew Lang.

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

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geau, where the Earl of Suffolk was the English
captain ? Joan said that she and the young Duke
of Alencon would make their minds easy on that
point, and would begin by taking Jargeau, where
the French, without Joan, had fought already



Joan is wounded by the arrow. — Page 38


and been beaten. The Duke was newly married
to a young wife, who was anxious about him, but
Joan said, " Madam, I will bring back the Duke
to you, safe and well ! "

So they rode away, six hundred lances, with
some infantry, and slept in a wood. The Duke
of Alencon has left an account of all that they
did. Next day Dunois and other captains joined
them with another six hundred lances, so that,
with the infantry, they would be about five
thousand men. Some of the captains thought
they were not strong enough, as Jargeau had
thick walls and towers, and cannon. But Joan
insisted on fighting, and first she led her men to
drive the English from the houses lying under
the walls on the outside, which is dangerous
fighting, as all the garden walls would protect
English cross-bowmen, and men with muskets,
who could shoot in safety, many of them from
windows of houses, at the French in the open.
The French, however, drove the English from
the houses and gardens, and brought up their
cannon, and fired at the town.

In these days cannon were small, and shot
small balls, which did not carry far, and could
do no damage to thick stone walls. There were
no shells, which explode, but there were a few
very large iron guns, like Mons Meg in Edin-
burgh Castle. Out of these they shot huge,
heavy stone balls, and if one of them fell into a
street, and broke, the splinters flew about


dangerously. But, somehow, they seldom did
much harm, besides Joan's army had none of
these great guns, which are not easily dragged

So for days the French fired at the town, and
it is to be supposed that they broke a hole, or
breach, in a part of the wall, for they decided to
rush in and take the place sword in hand.

" Forward, fair Duke ! '' said Joan to the Duke
of Alencon, who rather thought that they had
not made a good enough breach in the wall.
** You know that I told the Duchess I would bring
you back safe? But do not stand there,'^ she
said, *' or that English cannon on the wall will
kill you.''

The Duke moved from the place where he was,
and a gentleman named de Lude went to it, and
was killed.

So Joan saved the Duke, as she had promised.

Then they ran together to the wall, and Joan
was climbing up a ladder, when a heavy stone
thrown by the English struck her helmet, and
she fell.

She rose again at once, crying, " Forward, we
shall take them all," and the English z'aa
through the streets to the bridges, the French
following and cutting them down, or taking them
prisoners. It is said that the Earl of Suffolk
surrendered to Joan, " as the bravest woman in
the world." If this is true, she might have made
a great deal of money out of his ransom, that is,


the price which, a prisoner paid for his freedom.
There is another story that Suffolk was taken by
a squire, and that he dubbed him knight before
he surrendered, as it was more honorable to yield
to a knight. This is more likely to be true, for
the English thought that Joan was a witch.
Now, as Suffolk was general of all the English
forces on the Loire, he woidd not choose to sur-
render to a lass of sixteen, whether he believed
in witches or not. Besides, he could not dub
Joan a knight.



The Maid had now driven the English away from
Orleans, and had taken a strong town which they
held, a thing the French, without her, had failed
to do. She was next to beat their army in the
open country and in fair field. We know most
about this battle from a book written by a gentle-
man named Pierre de Cagny, who rode with the
Duke of Alen9on and knew what happened, and
wrote all down very soon afterwards. He says
that the Maid placed a garrison of soldiers to
keep Jargeau, and then rode to Orleans with the
Duke, where the townspeople gave a great feast
to her and her friends. But she did not stay long
to be petted and praised at Orleans. In the
evening she said to the Duke, " I am going, after
dinner to-morrow, to see the English at Meun.
Have the men ready to march." She easily made
Meun surrender, and then her guns fired at the
town of Beaugency.

Then news came to Joan that the whole Eng-
lish army, under Talbot and Sir John Fastolf
(who cannot be Sir John Falstaff in Shakespeare,
for the fat knight was dead), were marching
against her. Now Sir John FastoK, though a



very brave captain, thought, like the fat knight,
that ** discretion was the better part of valor."
He wished to be cautious, and to avoid a battle,
for he saw that the French were in high spirits,
while the English soldiers had lost heart. This
is told in the book written by a knight named
Jean de Wavrin, a Burgundian. He was, like all of
them of Burgundy, on the English side, and he
rode under the banner of Sir John Fastolf.

I tell you generally how we come to know the
things done by the Maid, to show that the story
is true, as the people who described it were
present, and saw what happened.

The other English captains thought Sir John
rather too cautious, and Talbot said, "By St.
George, I will fight if I have only my own few
men with me ! ** Next morning the English rode
out with banners flying, and again Sir John said
that they were too few, and that they were risk-
ing all that Henry V. had gained in France. But
Talbot and the rest would not listen to him, so
the trumpets blew, and the horsemen rode on
towards Meun, which Joan had taken. When
they came to a place about three miles from
Meun, and three from Beaugency, they saw the
banner of the Maid, with Our Lord and the Lilies
of France, and the banners of the Duke of Alen-
con, and Dunois, and La Hire, and young Pothon
de Xaintrailles, a very gallant boy, waving over
the ranks of 6000 men.

The English then did what Henry V. had


taught them to do. They dismounted from their
horses to fight on foot, and made each bowman
plant his sharp stake in front of him, to stop a
cavalry charge. This plan usually succeeded.

The French were fond of charging with their
cavalry at full speed, and then were usually shot
down in heaps by the English bowmen, whom
they could not reach, as they were safe behind
their fence of pikes. Then the dismounted Eng-
lish would rush out, sword in hand, among the
disordered French cavalry.

You see this was much like part of the battle
of Waterloo, when the French cavalry many
times rode at the English squares, and could not
break through the bayonets, while the English
were shooting at them — not very straight !

By this plan of fighting the English had often
defeated the French, and usually defeated the
Scots, who generally made a wild rush at them.
At the battle of Duplin, soon after Robert Bruce
died, the English archers shot from each flank
till the Scots, as they charged, fell dead in heaps
as high as a tall spear. But Dunois, and the fair
Duke, and the Maid knew this plan. They sent
a herald to bid the English go home to bed ; it
was late ; " to-morrow we shall have a nearer view
of each other."

The English, therefore, went off to Meun,
where nobody resisted them except the French
soldiers who guarded the bridge over the Loire.
The English meant to beat the French from the


bridge with their cannons, cross the river, and
march to help their friends in Beaugency, which
had not yet yielded to Joan. The English would
thus take Joan'^ army between two fires, that of
Beaugency, and that of Talbot's army.

But that very night the English in Beaugency
lost heart, and yielded to the Maid, being allowed
to march away with their arms and horses. Joan
now bade the French captains go with her army,
and look for Talbot's and Fastolf's force, who
would hear of the surrender of Beaugency, and
retreat to Paris through the country called La

"But how are we to find the English?" the
French leaders asked Joan : for they would be in
a wild, empty country covered with forests.

" Ride forth," she said ; " we shall take them
all. As to finding them, you shall have a good
guide .' "

They had a strange guide, as you shall hear.

The English were marching along, in front
was their advanced guard, under a knight who
carried a white banner. Next came the guns,
with the wagons full of provisions. Third was
the main body of the army, under Talbot and
Fastolf ; and last rode the rear-guard. When
they were near a place called Pathay, their scouts
galloped in, with news that they had seen the
French army. The English halted, and sent out
more scouts, who rode back with the same news.

So Talbot sent his advanced guard, the guns


and the wagons behind some tall hedges. The
main body of the English army was being placed
at the end of a long lane between two thick
hedges, and Talbot set five hundred of his best
archers to lurk behind these hedges, between
which the French would have to pass before they
could attack the centre of his forces. If the
French once entered this long lane, they would
be shot down, and fall into such confusion among
their own fallen men and wounded horses, that
they would neither be able to go forward nor
back, and would all be killed or taken prisoners.
The French of Joan*s army could not see what
Talbot was doing, and the trap he had set, nor
where his army was, the country being covered
with wood and bracken, and the English being
concealed by the swelling of the ground. How-
ever, they rode forward fast, and would have
been between the fire of the two hidden lines of
English bowmen in a minute, when, lo and be-
hold ! they had " the good guide " that Joan had
promised them ! As they rode they roused a
stag from the bracken where he was lying : the
stag rushed forward into the concealed lines of
English archers, and they, being hunters like
Eobin Hood's men, forgot to lie still, and raised
a view halloo, and shot at the stag. Then the
foremost riders of the French heard them, and
knew where the English were lying in ambush.
When Talbot saw that his ambush was foimd
out, he hurried the main body of his army up to


the hedges. Sir John Fastolf 's men were spurring
their horses on to join their advanced guard, but
the English knight of the white banner who led
thought that Fastolf's cavalry were French, and
that the French were attacking his men both in
front and rear. So he and his company ran away
leaving the lane unguarded. Thus, when the
battle began, Talbot was defeated by Joan's
cavalry, and taken prisoner, and 2200 of the
English were killed or taken before Fastolf came
up. He and his horsemen then rode away as fast
as they could, to save their lives, and for this
behavior Sir John got into very deep disgrace,
though, according to Wavrin, who was with him,
he really could have done nothing else, as Tal-
bot was beaten before he could arrive. As
Wavrin had taken part in the flight, he had to
make as good a defence of Sir John as he could.
At all events, Joan and her party won a very
great victory, the battle of Pathay.

Now look what Joan had done. She drove
the English from Orleans on 8th May. Then the
Dauphin took to holding long and weary coun-
cils, and she did not get another chance to fight
the English till about 4th June, so nearly a
month of her one year of time was wasted. On
11th June she took Jargeau, on 15th June she
took Meun, on 17th June she took Beaugency,
and on 18th June she destroyed Talbot's chief
army at Pathay !

The Duke of Alencon tells us that he himself


heard Joan tell the Dauphin, again and again,
that " she would only last for a year, or not much
longer, and that he must make haste." She had
four things to do, she said : to drive the English
in flight, to crown the King at Rheims, to deliver
Orleans, and to set free the Duke of Orleans, who
was a prisoner in England.

She did drive the English in flight, she did
save Orleans, she did have the Dauphin crowned.
But the French would not make haste. The
Dauphin was always slow, and the stupid poli-
tical advisers who never fought but only talked,
made him more slow, and, when Joan's year was '
over, for her prophecy was true, she was taken
prisoner by the English. Therefore they were
not driven quite out of France till about twenty
years or more after the end of the year of Joan
the Maid. It was not her fault. She knew that
her time was short, and she told them to make
haste. When she was asked how she knew
things that were to happen, she said that her
Voices told her, " my Council," she called them.
But there was a French noble. La Tremoille, the
King's favorite, and he was jealous of Joan and
Dunois and the Constable of Brittany, an enemy
of his, who had now come to ride under Joan's

This Tremoille, and others, did not want to
fight, and hoped to make friends with the Duke
of Burgundy, whose army, though really French,
fought on the side of the English. Now the one


chance was to keep hitting the English hard and
often, while they were shaken by their defeats,
and before they had time to bring a new host
from home. In England there was an army
ready, which had been collected by Cardinal
Beaufort, to fight the Hussites, a kind of warlike
Protestants who were active in Germany. As
soon as Joan had beaten the English at Orleans,
they made up their minds to send this new army
of theirs to protect Paris, where most of the
people, and the University, were on the English
side. They also made an arrangement with
James I. of Scotland, so that they had nothing to
fear from the Scots coming over the Border to
attack them. The English were able to do all
this because La Tremoille and his friends advised
the Dauphin to loiter about, instead of making
haste, as Joan desired, to keep on beating the



We may think that Joan's best plan would have
been to attack the English in Paris at once, while
they were still in a fright, after their great defeat
at Pathay. But she thought that if the Dauphin
was once crowned, and anointed with the holy
oil, at Rheims, the French who were of the Eng^
lish party would join him more readily. Robert
the Bruce, in the same way, had himself crowned
at Scone, which, in Scotland, was the usual place
for coronations, when he had only very few
followers, and very little chance of beating the
English. Rheims is a long way farther from Or-
leans than Paris, on the north-east. But Joan
had made up her mind to drag the Dauphin to
Rheims to be crowned.

The Dauphin was lingering at Gien, which is
some distance soath of Orleans, instead of being
at the head of his army, and in the front of the
fighting, where he should have been. His lazy
and cowardly favorites told him that it was a
long way to Rheims, and on the road there were
several towns with strong walls, and castles full
of Englishmen and Burgundians, who would not
let him pass.



Joan answered that she knew this very well,
and cared nothing about it : all the towns and
castles would yield and open their gates. So she
left the Dauphin to do as he pleased, and went
away with her company into the country. The
Dauphin had no money to pay his troops, but
men-at-arms came in, himdreds of them, saying
that they would fight for the love of the Maid
and of chivalry. No doubt they would have been
very glad to crown her^ in place of the stupid
Dauphin, but the French law did not allow it ; and
Joan wanted nothing for herself, only to make
France free, and go back to her mother, as she said.
However, the Dauphin, who was grateful in his
lazy way, made her and her brothers, Peter and
John, nobles, and gave her a coat-of-arms, a
Bword supporting the Crown, with the Lilies of
France on each side, and changed their name to
du Lys. But Joan never used her coat-of-arms,
but bore a Dove, silver, on a blue shield. Her
brothers were with her, and seem to have fought
very well, though in most ways they were quite
ordinary yoimg men.

When Joan went away, the Dauphin made up
his mind at last to march to Rheims, going first
to Troyes, a strong town on the road. All the
castles and fortresses on the way, instead of re-
sisting him, submitted to him, as Joan had said
that they would. At Troyes, where he came on
8th July, the English garrison, and the people
of the town who were on the English and Bur-


gundian side, wanted to oppose him. They
fought on the 8th and 9th of July. The Dau-
phin's advisers did not want to fight, the brave
Dunois tells us, but Joan said, " Gentle Dauphin,
bid your army besiege the town, and do not hold
these long councils, for in three days I will bring
you into the town." Then down she went to the "
great ditch or fosse round the town, and worked ,
harder, says Dunois, than two or three of thej
most famous knights could have done. The peo-
ple of Troyes then yielded to Joan, and they had
a great feast in the city, which they needed, for
the army had been living on soup made from the
beans in the fields.

Then they went on to Rheims, and the Arch-
bishop, and all the people came out to meet them,
with shouts of joy. On the 17th July the Dau-
phin, with Joan and all his nobles, went to the
Cathedral, and there he was crowned and
anointed and made King in earnest, Joan stand-
ing beside him with her banner in her hand.
This was her happiest day, perhaps, and the last
of her great days. She had done so much ! In
the beginning of May there was every chance
that the English would take Orleans, and sweep
across the Loire, and drive the Dauphin into
Spain, or across the sea to Scotland, and France
would have been under the English for who
knows how long. But in two months Joan had
driven the English behind the walls of Paris,
and her Dauphin was King indeed.


Tien the Maid knelt at the King's feet and
wept for joy, in the great Cathedral, among the
splendid nobles, and the lights, and the bright
colored coats-of arms, and the sweet smoke of

*' Gentle King," she said, calling him " King "
for the first time, "now is the will of God ful-
filled ! " and the knights themselves wept for

Somewhere in the crowd was an elderly coun-
tryman in his best clothes, Joan's father, whom
now she saw for the first time since she left her
village, and for the last time in her life. The
King asked her to choose a gift and reward, and
she asked that the people of her village, Dom-
remy, should be free from paying taxes, and they
were made free, and never paid taxes again, for
three hundred years. On the book of the ac-
counts of money paid by every town and village
of France is written, after the names of Domremy
and the village nearest it, Greux,

Nothing. For the saJce of the Maid,

The paper in which the King ordered that
they should pay nothing may still be seen, dated
the last of July 1429.

How glad the people at Domremy must have
beeo when Joan's father came home with the
good news !

This was the last glad day of the Maid.


As she i-ode to Rheims, some people from
Domremy met her and asked her if she was
afraid of nothing.

"Of nothing but treachery," she said, and,
from this day, she me.t treachery among the
King's advisers, who held long councils, and did
not fight.

As she rode from Rheims towards Paris, the
people shouted roimd her, and she said that
they were kind people, and she would like to be
buried in their cathedral — she, who was never
to be buried in the earth.

"Joan," said the Archbishop, "in what place
do you expect to die ? "

" Where God pleases, for of that hour and that
place I know nothing more than you do. But
would to God that now I might take off my ar-
mor, and go home to my father and mother," for,
as she had seen her father, she was longing for
her mother more than ever.

After this, the people about the King, and the
King himself, did not obey Joan and all went



The Frencli should have followed the Maid
straight to Paris, as she bade them do. But they
went here and went there, and one day their
army and that of the Duke of Bedford met, but
did not fight ; and another day there were skir-
mishes between the English and the Scots, " who
fought very bravely," says the Burgundian
knight, Enguerrand de Monstrelet, who wrote a
history of those times. The strong town of
Compiegne, which had often been taken and re- "
taken, yielded to Joan's army, and the King
stayed there, doing nothing, which was what he
liked, and the Duke of Burgundy gave him ex-
cuses for loitering by sending ambasssadors, and
pretending that he would give up Paris, for at
this time there was no English garrison there.
The poor people of the town were on the side of
Joan and the King, and now, when the English
were out of the great city, was the time to take
it. But the King kept hoping to make peace
with the Duke of Burgundy, so Joan, with her
friend the Duke of Alencon, went to Saint Denis,
quite close to Paris, where the Kings of France
used to be buried : Saint Denis was the Saint of



France, as Saint George was the Saint of Eng-
land, and Saint Andrew of Scotland. There
fought the Duke and the Maid, but the King
came on very slowly, while Joan was in the front
of battle every day, at one gate of Paris or
another. At last, by often going to him, and
urging him to come, Alencon brought the King
to Saint Denis, but not before a strong new Eng-
lish army had arrived in the town, of which the
walls and towers were very high and thick.

Then Joan led on her men and the Duke's,
with her banner in her hand, and cried them on
to break down a gate called the Porte St.

Percival de Cagny, who rode under the
standard of Alencon, was in the battle, and he
says, " The fight was long and fierce, and it was
wonderful to hear the noise of guns and culverins
from the walls, and to see the arrows fly like
clouds. Few of those who went down into the
dry ditch with the Maid were hurt, though many
others were wounded with arrows and stone
cannon balls, but, by God's grace and the Maid's
favor, there were none but could return without
help. We fought from noon till darkness began.
After the sun set, the Maid was wounded by a
bolt from a cross-bow in the thigh, but she only
shouted louder to * come on and the place was
ours.' But when it was dark and all were weary,
men came from the King and brought her up
out of the ditch against her will."


Next day the Maid rose early, and went to the
Duke of Alen9on, who never failed her The
trumpets blew, and a new ally came, the Baron
de Montmorency, with sixty gentlemen and their
men-at-arms, and they were riding to attack
Paris again when the King sent messengers to
forbid them to do as their hearts desired. So
they had to go to see him at Saint Denis. But
the Duke of Alen9on was having a bridge of
wood thrown across the river Seine, at a new
place, and they meant to cross by that bridge
next day, and attack Paris again.

Shameful to say, the King had that bridge
taken to pieces during the night, and when
Joan and the Duke led their men there next day,
they found only the river, which they could not
ford. So the King of France saved Paris from
d'Alen9on and the Maid.

Richard I. of England would have battered
down the Paris gate with his own battle-axe ;
Henry V. or James IV. of Scotland, or Prince
Charlie, would have been foremost in the fight ;
but this King of France, Charles VII., unworthy
of his country and his ancestors, sneaked off to
his pretty town of Gien, on the Loire.

" And thus was the will of the Maid broken,
and the army of the King,'' says Percival de

The Duke of Alencon kept his men together,
and told the King that, if he would let the Maid
ride with him, they would march into Normandy,


and attack the English where they were strongest.
But the King would not hear of it, and the
Maid, with almost a broken heart, hung up her
armor at the altar of Saint Denis, in his
Cathedral. Half of her year was spent, and the
King made her stay with him in the towns on

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Online LibraryAndrew LangThe story of Joan of Arc, the maid of Orleans → online text (page 3 of 5)