François Pierre Guillaume Guizot.

A Popular History of France from the Earliest Times, Volume 3 online

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should do so," wrote Guy de Laval, on the 8th of June, 1429, to those
most dread dames, his grandmother and his mother; "my brother says, as
also my lord the Duke d'Alencon, that a good riddance of bad rubbish
would he be who should stay at home." And he describes his first
interview with the Maid as follows: "The king had sent for her to come
and meet him at Selles-en-Berry. Some say that it was for my sake, in
order that I might see her. She gave right good cheer (a kind reception)
to my brother and myself; and after we had dismounted at Selles I went to
see her in her quarters. She ordered wine, and told me that she would
soon have me drinking some at Paris. It seems a thing divine to look on
her and listen to her. I saw her mount on horseback, armed all in white
armor, save her head, and with a little axe in her hand, on a great black
charger, which, at the door of her quarters, was very restive, and would
not let her mount. Then said she, 'Lead him to the cross,' which was in
front of the neighboring church, on the road. There she mounted him
without his moving, and as if he were tied up; and turning towards the
door of the church, which was very nigh at hand, she said, in quite a
womanly voice, 'You, priests and church-men, make procession and prayers
to God.' Then she resumed her road, saying, 'Push forward, push
forward.' She told me that three days before my arrival she had sent
you, dear grand-mother, a little golden ring, but that it was a very
small matter, and she would have liked to send you something better,
having regard to your estimation."

It was amidst this burst of patriotism, and with all these valiant
comrades, that Joan recommenced the campaign on the 10th of June, 1429,
quite resolved to bring the king to Rheims. To complete the deliverance
of Orleans, an attack was begun upon the neighboring places, Jargeau,
Meung, and Beaugency. Before Jargeau, on the 12th of June, although it
was Sunday, Joan had the trumpets sounded for the assault. The Duke
d'Alencon thought it was too soon. "Ah!" said Joan, "be not doubtful; it
is the hour pleasing to God; work ye, and God will work." And she added,
familiarly, "Art thou afeard, gentle duke? Knowest thou not that I have
promised thy wife to take thee back safe and sound?" The assault began;
and Joan soon had occasion to keep her promise. The Duke d'Alencon was
watching the assault from an exposed spot, and Joan remarked a piece
pointed at this spot. "Get you hence," said she to the duke; "yonder is
a piece which will slay you." The Duke moved, and a moment afterwards
Sire de Lude was killed at the self-same place by a shot from the said
piece. Jargeau was taken. Before Beaugency a serious incident took
place. The constable, De Richemont, came up with a force of twelve
hundred men. When he was crossing to Loudun, Charles VII., swayed as
ever by the jealous La Tremoille, had word sent to him to withdraw, and
that if he advanced he would be attacked. "What I am doing in the
matter," said the constable, "is for the good of the king and the realm;
if anybody comes to attack me, we shall see." When he had joined the
army before Beaugency, the Duke d'Alencon was much troubled. The king's
orders were precise, and Joan herself hesitated. But news came that
Talbot and the English were approaching. "Now," said Joan, "we must
think no more of anything but helping one another." She rode forward to
meet the constable, and saluted him courteously. "Joan," said he, "I was
told that you meant to attack me; I know not whether you come from God or
not; if you are from God, I fear you not at all, for God knows my good
will; if you are from the devil, I fear you still less." He remained,
and Beaugency was taken. The English army came up. Sir John Falstolf
had joined Talbot. Some disquietude showed itself amongst the French, so
roughly handled for some time past in pitched battles. "Ah! fair
constable," said Joan to Richemont, "you are not come by my orders, but
you are right welcome." The Duke d'Alencon consulted Joan as to what was
to be done. "It will be well to have horses," was suggested by those
about her. She asked her neighbors, "Have you good spurs?" "Ha!" cried
they, "must we fly, then?"

"No, surely," replied Joan: "but there will be need to ride boldly; we
shall give a good account of the English, and our spurs will serve us
famously in pursuing them." The battle began on the 18th of June, at
Patay, between Orleans and Chateaudun. By Joan's advice, the French
attacked. "In the name of God," said she, "we must fight. Though the
English were suspended from the clouds, we should have them, for God hath
sent us to punish them. The gentle king shall have to-day the greatest
victory he has ever had; my counsel hath told me they are ours." The
English lost heart, in their turn; the battle was short, and the victory
brilliant; Lord Talbot and the most part of the English captains remained
prisoners. "Lord Talbot," said the Duke d'Alencon to him, "this is not
what you expected this morning." "It is the fortune of war," answered
Talbot, with the cool dignity of an old warrior. Joan's immediate return
to Orleans was a triumph; but even triumph has its embarrassments and
perils. She demanded the speedy march of the army upon Rheims, that the
king might be crowned there without delay; but objections were raised on
all sides, the objections of the timid and those of the jealous. "By
reason of Joan the Maid," says a contemporary chronicler, "so many folks
came from all parts unto the king for to serve him at their own expense,
that La Tremoille and others of the council were much wroth thereat,
through anxiety for their own persons." Joan, impatient and irritated at
so much hesitation and intrigue, took upon herself to act as if the
decision belonged to her. On the 25th of June she wrote to the
inhabitants of Tournai, "Loyal Frenchmen, I do pray and require you to be
all ready to come to the coronation of the gentle King Charles, at
Rheims, where we shall shortly be, and to come and meet us when ye shall
learn that we are approaching." Two days afterwards, on the 27th of
June, she left Gien, where the court was, and went to take up her
quarters in the open country with the troops. There was nothing for it
but to follow her. On the 29th of June, the king, the court (including
La Tremoille), and the army, about twelve thousand strong, set out on the
march for Rheims. Other obstacles were encountered on the road. In most
of the towns the inhabitants, even the royalists, feared to compromise
themselves by openly pronouncing against the English and the Duke of
Burgundy. Those of Auxerre demanded a truce, offering provisions, and
promising to do as those of Troyes, Chalons, and Rheims should do. At
Troyes the difficulty was greater still. There was in it a garrison of
five or six hundred English and Burgundians, who had the burgesses under
their thumbs. All attempts at accommodation failed. There was great
perplexity in the royal camp; there were neither provisions enough for a
long stay before Troyes, nor batteries and siege trains to carry it by
force. There was talk of turning back. One of the king's councillors,
Robert le Macon, proposed that Joan should be summoned to the council.
It was at her instance that the expedition had been undertaken; she had
great influence amongst the army and the populace; the idea ought not to
be given up without consulting her. Whilst he was speaking, Joan came
knocking at the door; she was told to come in; and the chancellor, the
Archbishop of Rheims, put the question to her. Joan, turning to the
king, asked him if he would believe her. "Speak," said the king; "if you
say what is reasonable and tends to profit, readily will you be
believed." "Gentle king of France," said Joan, "if you be willing to
abide here before your town of Troyes, it shall be at your disposal
within two days, by love or by force; make no doubt of it." "Joan,"
replied the chancellor, "whoever could be certain of having it within six
days might well wait for it; but say you true?" Joan repeated her
assertion; and it was decided to wait. Joan mounted her horse, and, with
her banner in her hand, she went through the camp, giving orders
everywhere to prepare for the assault. She had her own tent pitched
close to the ditch, "doing more," says a contemporary, "than two of the
ablest captains would have done." On the next day, July 10, all was
ready. Joan had the fascines thrown into the ditches, and was shouting
out, "Assault!" when the inhabitants of Troyes, burgesses and
men-at-arms, came demanding permission to capitulate. The conditions
were easy. The inhabitants obtained for themselves and their property
such guarantees as they desired; and the strangers were allowed to go out
with what belonged to them. On the morrow, July 11, the king entered
Troyes with all his captains, and at his side the Maid carrying her
banner. All the difficulties of the journey were surmounted. On the
15th of July the Bishop of Chalons brought the keys of his town to the
king, who took up his quarters there. Joan found there four or five of
her own villagers, who had hastened up to see the young girl of Domremy
in all her glory. She received them with a satisfaction in which
familiarity was blended with gravity. To one of them, her godfather, she
gave a red cap which she had worn; to another, who had been a Burgundian,
she said, "I fear but one thing - treachery." In the Duke d'Alencon's
presence she repeated to the king, "Make good use of my time, for I shall
hardly last longer than a year." On the 16th of July King Charles
entered Rheims, and the ceremony of his coronation was fixed for the
morrow.

It was solemn and emotional, as are all old national traditions which
recur after a forced suspension. Joan rode between Dunois and the
Archbishop of Rheims, chancellor of France. The air resounded with the
Te Deum sung with all their hearts by clergy and crowd. "In God's name,"
said Joan to Dunois, "here is a good people and a devout when I die, I
should much like it to be in these parts." "Joan," inquired Dunois,
"know you when you will die, and in what place?" "I know not," said she,
"for I am at the will of God." Then she added, "I have accomplished that
which my Lord commanded me, to raise the siege of Orleans and have the
gentle king crowned. I would like it well if it should please him to
send me back to my father and mother, to keep their sheep and their
cattle, and do that which was my wont." "When the said lords," says the
chronicler, an eye-witness, "heard these words of Joan, who, with eyes
towards heaven, gave thanks to God, they the more believed that it was
somewhat sent from God, and not otherwise."

Historians, and even contemporaries, have given much discussion to the
question whether Joan of Arc, according to her first ideas, had really
limited her design to the raising of the siege of Orleans and the
coronation of Charles VII. at Rheims. She had said so herself several
times, just as she had to Dunois at Rheims on the 17th of July, 1429; but
she sometimes also spoke of more vast and varied projects, as, for
instance, driving the English completely out of France, and withdrawing
from his long captivity Charles, Duke of Orleans. He had been a prisoner
in London ever since the battle of Agincourt, and was popular in his day,
as he has continued to be in French history, on the double ground of
having been the father of Louis XII. and one of the most charming poets
in the ancient literature of France. The Duke d'Alencon, who was so high
in the regard of Joan, attributed to her more expressly this quadruple
design: "She said," according to him, "that she had four duties; to get
rid of the English, to have the king anointed and crowned, to deliver
Duke Charles of Orleans, and to raise the siege laid by the English to
Orleans." One is inclined to believe that Joan's language to Dunois at
Rheims in the hour of Charles VII.'s coronation more accurately expressed
her first idea; the two other notions occurred to her naturally in
proportion as her hopes as well as her power kept growing greater with
success. But however lofty and daring her soul may have been, she had a
simple and not at all a fantastic mind. She may have foreseen the
complete expulsion of the English, and may have desired the deliverance
of the Duke of Orleans, without having in the first instance premeditated
anything more than she said to Dunois during the king's coronation at
Rheims, which was looked upon by her as the triumph of the national
cause.

However that may be, when Orleans was relieved, and Charles VII.
crowned, the situation, posture, and part of Joan underwent a change.
She no longer manifested the same confidence in herself and her designs.
She no longer exercised over those in whose midst she lived the same
authority. She continued to carry on war, but at hap-hazard, sometimes
with and sometimes without success, just like La Hire and Dunois; never
discouraged, never satisfied, and never looking upon her-self as
triumphant. After the coronation, her advice was to march at once upon
Paris, in order to take up a fixed position in it, as being the political
centre of the realm of which Rheims was the religious. Nothing of the
sort was done. Charles and La Tremoille once more began their course of
hesitation, tergiversation, and changes of tactics and residence without
doing anything of a public and decisive character. They negotiated with
the Duke of Burgundy, in the hope of detaching him from the English
cause; and they even concluded with him a secret, local, and temporary
truce. From the 20th of July to the 23d of August Joan followed the king
whithersoever he went, to Chateau-Thierry, to Senlis, to Blois, to
Provins, and to Compigne, as devoted as ever, but without having her
former power. She was still active, but not from inspiration and to obey
her voices, simply to promote the royal policy. She wrote the Duke of
Burgundy a letter full of dignity and patriotism, which had no more
effect than the negotiations of La Tremoille. During this fruitless
labor amongst the French the Duke of Bedford sent for five thousand men
from England, who came and settled themselves at Paris. One division of
this army had a white standard, in the middle of which was depicted a
distaff full of cotton; a half-filled spindle was hanging to the distaff;
and the field, studded with empty spindles, bore this inscription: "Now,
fair one, come!" Insult to Joan was accompanied by redoubled war against
France. Joan, saddened and wearied by the position of things, attempted
to escape from it by a bold stroke. On the 23d of August, 1429, she set
out from Compiegne with the Duke d'Alencon and "a fair company of
men-at-arms;" and suddenly went and occupied St. Denis, with the view of
attacking Paris. Charles VII. felt himself obliged to quit Compiegne
likewise, "and went, greatly against the grain," says a contemporary
chronicler, "as far as into the town of Senlis." The attack on Paris
began vigorously. Joan, with the Duke d'Alencon, pitched her camp at La
Chapelle. Charles took up his abode in the abbey of St. Denis. The
municipal corporation of Paris received letters with the arms of the Duke
d'Alencon, which called upon them to recognize the king's authority, and
promised a general amnesty. The assault was delivered on the 8th of
September. Joan was severely wounded, but she insisted upon remaining
where she was. Night came, and the troops had not entered the breach
which had been opened in the morning. Joan was still calling out to
persevere. The Duke d'Alencon himself begged her, but in vain, to
retire. La Tremoille gave orders to retreat; and some knights came up,
set Joan on horse-back, and led her back, against her will, to La
Chapelle. "By my martin" (staff of command), said she, "the place would
have been taken." One hope still remained. In concert with the Duke
d'Alencon she had caused a flying bridge to be thrown across the Seine
opposite St. Denis. The next day but one she sent her vanguard in this
direction; she intended to return thereby to the siege; but, by the
king's order, the bridge had been cut adrift. St. Denis fell once more
into the hands of the English. Before leaving, Joan left there, on the
tomb of St. Denis, her complete suit of armor and a sword she had lately
obtained possession of at the St. Honore gate of Paris, as trophy of war.

From the 13th of September, 1429, to the 24th of May, 1430, she continued
to lead the same life of efforts ever equally valiant and equally
ineffectual. She failed in an attempt upon Laemir. Charite-sur-Loire,
undertaken, for all that appears, with the sole design of recovering an
important town in the possession of the enemy. The English evacuated
Paris, and left the keeping of it to the Duke of Burgundy, no doubt to
test his fidelity. On the 13th of Aprils 1430, at the expiration of the
truce he had concluded, Philip the Good resumed hostilities against
Charles VII. Joan of Arc once more plunged into them with her wonted
zeal. Ile-de-France and Picardy became the theatre of war. Compiegne
was regarded as the gate of the road between these two provinces; and the
Duke of Burgundy attached much importance to holding the key of it. The
authority of Charles VII. was recognized there; and a young knight of
Compiegne, William de Flavy, held the command there as lieutenant of La
Tremoille, who had got himself appointed captain of the town. La
Tremoille attempted to treat with the Duke of Burgundy for the cession of
Compiegne; but the inhabitants were strenuously opposed to it. "They
were," they said, "the king's most humble subjects, and they desired to
serve him with body and substance; but as for trusting themselves to the
lord Duke of Burgundy, they could not do it; they were resolved to suffer
destruction, themselves and their wives and children, rather than be
exposed to the tender mercies of the said duke." Meanwhile Joan of Arc,
after several warlike expeditions in the neighborhood, re-entered
Compiegne, and was received there with a popular expression of
satisfaction. "She was presented," says a local chronicler, with three
hogsheads of wine, a present which was large and exceeding costly, and
which showed the estimate formed of this maiden's worth." Joan
manifested the profound distrust with which she was inspired of the Duke
of Burgundy. There is no peace possible with him," she said, "save at
the point of the lance." She had quarters at the house of the king's
attorney, Le Boucher, and shared the bed of his wife, Mary. "She often
made the said Mary rise from her bed to go and warn the said attorney to
be on his guard against several acts of Burgundian treachery." At this
period, again, she said she was often warned by her voices of what must
happen to her; she expected to be taken prisoner before St. John's or
Midsummer-day (June 24); on what day and hour she did not know; she had
received no instructions as to sorties from the place; but she had
constantly been told that she would be taken, and she was distrustful of
the captains who were in command there. She was, nevertheless, not the
less bold and enterprising. On the 20th of May, 1430, the Duke of
Burgundy came and laid siege to Compiegne. Joan was away on an
expedition to Crepy in Valois, with a small band of three or four hundred
brave comrades. On the 24th of May, the eve of Ascension-day, she
learned that Compiegne was being besieged, and she resolved to re-enter
it. She was reminded that her force was a very weak one to cut its way
through the besiegers' camp. "By my martin," said she, "we are enough; I
will go see my friends in Compiegne." She arrived about daybreak without
hinderance, and penetrated into the town; and repaired immediately to the
parish church of St. Jacques to perform her devotions on the eve of so
great a festival. Many persons, attracted by her presence, and amongst
others "from a hundred to six-score children," thronged to the church.
After hearing mass, and herself taking the communion, Joan said to those
who surrounded her, "My children and dear friends, I notify you that I am
sold and betrayed, and that I shall shortly be delivered over to death; I
beseech you, pray God for me." When evening came, she was not the less
eager to take part in a sortie with her usual comrades and a troop of
about five hundred men. William de Flavy, commandant of the place, got
ready some boats on the Oise to assist the return of the troops. All the
town-gates were closed, save the bridge-gate. The sortie was
unsuccessful. Being severely repulsed and all but hemmed in, the
majority of the soldiers shouted to Joan, "Try to quickly regain the
town, or we are lost." "Silence," said Joan; "it only rests with you to
throw the enemy into confusion; think only of striking at them." Her
words and her bravery were in vain; the infantry flung themselves into
the boats, and regained the town, and Joan and her brave comrades covered
their retreat. The Burgundians were coming up in mass upon Compiegne,
and Flavy gave orders to pull up the draw-bridge and let down the
portcullis. Joan and some of her following lingered outside, still
fighting. She wore a rich surcoat and a red sash, and all the efforts of
the Burgundians were directed against her. Twenty men thronged round her
horse; and a Picard archer, "a tough fellow and mighty sour," seized her
by her dress, and flung her on the ground. All, at once, called on her
to surrender. "Yield you to me," said one of them; "pledge your faith to
me; I am a gentleman." It was an archer of the bastard of Wandonne, one
of the lieutenants of John of Luxembourg, Count of Ligny. "I have
pledged my faith to one other than you," said Joan, "and to Him I will
keep my oath." The archer took her and conducted her to Count John,
whose prisoner she became.

Was she betrayed and delivered up, as she had predicted? Did William de
Flavy purposely have the drawbridge raised and the portcullis lowered
before she could get back into Compiegne? He was suspected of it at the
time, and many historians have indorsed the suspicion. But there is
nothing to prove it. That La Tremoille, prime minister of Charles VII.,
and Reginald de Chartres, Archbishop of Rheims, had an antipathy to Joan
of Arc, and did all they could on every occasion to compromise her and
destroy her influence, and that they were glad to see her a prisoner, is
as certain as anything can be. On announcing her capture to the
inhabitants of Rheims, the arch-bishop said, "She would not listen to
counsel, and did everything according to her pleasure." But there is a
long distance between such expressions and a premeditated plot to deliver
to the enemy the young heroine who had just raised the siege of Orleans
and brought the king to be crowned at Rheims. History must not, without
proof, impute crimes so odious and so shameful to even the most depraved
of men.

However that may be, Joan remained for six months the prisoner of John of
Luxembourg, who, to make his possession of her secure, sent her, under
good escort, successively to his two castles of Beaulieu and Beaurevoir,
one in the Vermandois and the other in the Cambresis. Twice, in July and
in October, 1430, Joan attempted, unsuccessfully, to escape. The second
time she carried despair and hardihood so far as to throw herself down
from the platform of her prison. She was picked up cruelly bruised, but
without any fracture or wound of importance. Her fame, her youth, her
virtue, her courage, made her, even in her prison and in the very family
of her custodian, two warm and powerful friends. John of Luxembourg had
with him his wife, Joan of Bethune, and his aunt, Joan of Luxembourg,
godmother of Charles VII. They both of them took a tender interest in
the prisoner; and they often went to see her, and left nothing undone to
mitigate the annoyances of a prison. One thing only shocked them about
her - her man's clothes. "They offered her," as Joan herself said, when
questioned upon this subject at a later period during her trial, "a
woman's dress, or stuff to make it to her liking, and requested her to
wear it; but she answered that she had not leave from our Lord, and that
it was not yet time for it." John of Luxembourg's aunt was full of years
and reverenced as a saint. Hearing that the English were tempting her
nephew by the offer of a sum of money to give up his prisoner to them,



Online LibraryFrançois Pierre Guillaume GuizotA Popular History of France from the Earliest Times, Volume 3 → online text (page 10 of 32)