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French at the same time received an accession of the like number,
under the command of Arthur de Richemont, the Constable of
France.

It was now the policy of the combined chiefs to overtake the
English army in its retreat; and on the i8th of June they came up
with it near the village of Patay. So dispirited were the English
so subdued by their late reverses so awe-stricken at the idea
of the maid's supernatural powers, that they offered but slight
resistance to the impetuous attack of the French. Fastolf, who
had been on former occasions renowned for his bravery, was one
of the first to flee an act for which he was afterwards deprived of
the Order of the Garter. Lord Scales, Lord Hungerford, and other
Englishmen of rank, fell into the hands of the conquerors, and
even the brave Talbot surrendered to Saintrailles. The loss of
the English in this battle was reckoned at between 4000 and 5000



JOAN OF ARC,

men, of whom between 2000 and 3000 were killed, the remainder
being taken prisoners. It is an extraordinary fact, though on all
hands accredited, that the French lost but one man, an esquire
in the company of the Count of Armagnac. Joan of Arc performed
in this battle prodigies of valour; but as soon as the victory was
decided, and while the French soldiers were eagerly pursuing the
fugitives, she busied herself in staying the carnage, and, like a
true woman, in tending the wounded, and in affording religious
consolations to the dying.

The maid, with the chief captains of the army, repaired to Sully,
to render to Charles an account of the victory. Saintrailles, in a
chivalrous spirit, requested to be allowed to release his prisoner,
the brave Talbot, without ransom a permission which was gra-
ciously awarded to him. The aspect of affairs was now so pleasing,
that though doubts and difficulties still lay in the way of Charles's
expedition to Rheims, he at least listened to Joan's entreaties with
patience and attention.

Collecting 10,000 or 12,000 men at Gien, Charles commenced his
march, accompanied by Joan and his bravest captains, and with
little difficulty took Troyes and several other towns in his way.
On the .evening of the i6th of July, Charles made his triumphal
entry into the city of Rheims, accompanied by a vast retinue, and
followed by the whole army, the Maid of Orleans riding at his side,
and being the chief object of attraction to the people. It was at
once decided that the coronation should take place without delay;
and short as the time was for preparation, everything was in readi-
ness on the following morning. The tide of fortune so clearly
turned, that a crowd of strangers hastened to the city to witness
the solemnity about to take place, while a great number of men-at-
arms came to offer their services to the king.

Before the coronation, Charles received knighthood from the
Duke d'Alengon : and early in the morning, the princes and prelates
who had accompanied the king in this prosperous journey assembled
in the cathedral of Notre-Dame, where the ceremony was to take
place. But not one was looked on with such wonder and respect
as was Joan of Arc, for to her was attributed all the successes which
had brought about this happy result Thus, during the whole of
the solemn ceremony, she stood close to the altar, with her banner
unfurled in her hand.

Immediately the holy rites were concluded, the maid threw herself
on her knees before the crowned monarch, her eyes streaming with
tears, and her whole deportment testifying the most lively emotion.

' Gentle king,' she exclaimed, ' now is fulfilled the pleasure of
God, who willed that I should raise the siege of Orleans, and conduct
you to receive here the anointing oil, shewing you to be the king
to whom belongs the kingdom.'

It is evident that she now looked upon her mission as fully



MAID OF ORLEANS.

accomplished, and would willingly have retired from the gaiety of the
court and the triumphs which attended her. The very day of the
coronation, Joan dictated a letter to the Duke of Burgundy, which
is still preserved in the archives of Lille. It is too long to translate
entire; but in it she endeavours, by many religious persuasions,
to draw back the duke to his allegiance, advising him, if he must
play the warrior, to go and fight the Saracens.

During her sojourn at Rheims, the young heroine had the happi-
ness of meeting her father and her uncle Laxart, who had been
drawn thither to enjoy her triumph. At this time, the maid was
at the summit of her glory; yet was she in no way elated by the
homage she received, or changed in her deportment from that of the
simple modest peasant-girl. When some one said to her: 'Not in
any book are .such great things related as those you have done,'
she answered : ' The Lord has a book in which not every scholar
can read, however learned he may be. I am only God's minister.'

The sight of Joan's father and uncle probably recalled forcibly
to her mind the dear ties of home, and the pleasures of a peaceful
country-life. Besides, her mission seemed finished, and henceforth
there was nothing to detain her at court. It was now that she
entreated the king to allow her to return to Domremy; but Charles
was so anxious still to keep her near him, that she dared not, or
would not, refuse him. Conscious of the influence of her name
and her presence, there is no wonder at this desire on his part ; but
it is certain that Joan's entreaties were urgent, and that she consented
to remain very much against her will

A marked change was observable in the maid from this period.
She still displayed the same courage in action, and the same forti-
tude in pain ; but she no longer opposed her own opinions to those
of the French chiefs, and seemed no longer assured that she was
acting under the especial guidance of Heaven. With the view we
have taken of Joan's character, all this agrees most naturally. She
had proposed to herself but two objects the raising of the siege
of Orleans, and the coronation of the Dauphin ; and now that they
were so happily accomplished, her mind, previously strained to its
highest pitch, must naturally have sought an interval of repose. To
us there is scarcely anything more touching in her whole career
than this home-sick yearning for ' green Lorraine' and its quiet joys,
after the fever of battles and the flush of triumph. Alas, that the
longings of her simple faithful heart were not gratified ! Alas, that
the heroic self-denying girl should have been the victim of selfish
policy !

Charles remained but three days at Rheims, setting out on the
2Oth of July on a pilgrimage of thanksgiving to the tomb of a certain
saint, situated about five leagues distant. The little town of Vailly
speedily submitted; and the more important towns of Laon and
Soissons sent deputations, bearing their keys to the king. Charles



JOAN OF ARC,

went first to Soissons, where he was received with the liveliest
demonstrations of joy, and where, during his stay of three days,
he received the happy tidings of the voluntary submission of various
other places. He then proceeded to Chateau-Thierry, which was
defended by a hostile garrison ; but the towns-people were favourable
to the French, and when the maid appeared at the head of a division
of the royal army, either real fear or superstitious terror prevailed,
for the garrison offered terms of capitulation, and obtained per-
mission to carry away their arms and baggage.

Charles remained at Chateau-Thierry some days ; and it was here
that Joan obtained from him a boon by which she was fondly
remembered for nearly four centuries. She declined all honours
and presents for herself, beseeching only that henceforth her native
village might be free from any kind of impost ! The official
document granting this privilege bears the date of July 31, 1429;
and until the storm of the Revolution, which swept away many
a touching memorial, the registers of taxes, still keeping the name
of Domremy on their list, wrote always against it : ' Nothing, for
the maid's sake !'

The marches and successes of the king and the royal army soon
brought them near Paris, and the people of the capital, who were
of the English or Burgundian party, began to tremble. However,
the return of the Duke of Bedford, who had gone to Normandy
on the affairs of that province, inspired the Parisians with fresh
courage, especially as he was accompanied by a large body of
archers and men-at-arms. In a few days, they had still further
reinforcements, so that the English commander found himself at
last at the head of 10,000 men. No longer dreading the French
army, he made his way to Montereau, where he arrived on the
yth of August, and whence he despatched a letter of defiance to
Charles.

' Your master,' said the king to the herald who brought the
letter, ' complains that he cannot find me ; but he need not com-
plain much longer, for I am seeking him.' It was during the march
to Paris that a circumstance occurred not altogether creditable to
Joan's command of temper. The victories of the French had
rendered the soldiers insolent and unruly, and the Pucelle could
no longer maintain that moral discipline on which she so constantly
insisted. On one occasion, her wrath was so great, that she struck
one of the soldiers, whose proceedings incensed her, with the flat
of her sword ; in which somewhat ignoble, though very characteristic
action the weapon broke. It was the sword found in the church
of Fierbois, and supposed to have been miraculously described by
her. It is related that the king was much annoyed at this catas-
trophe, and blamed Joan for not using a stout stick instead of
this famous weapon.

From the heights of St Denis, the king beheld his ancient capital ;



MAID OF ORLEANS.

and an assault was given, in the month of September, on the same
ground now occupied by the Rue Traversiere. But though the per-
sonal exertions of the maid were as great as on former occasions, a
spirit of fear and distrust seemed to have crept in among the troops,
and her efforts were far from being ably seconded. Even the ardour
of the king was cooled, and he did not himself approach nearer than
St Denis. Joan, however, led her troops across the first ditch with-
out much difficulty; but, contrary to her expectations, she found
the second, which was deeper and wider, full of water. It is aston-
ishing that no one had apprised her of this obstacle, for it must have
been familiar to many of the soldiers. Not easily disconcerted, she
called loudly for fagots and fascines ; and meanwhile endeavoured
with her lance to sound its depths, and discover where they had
best risk a passage.

A part of the inhabitants of Paris had already sought sanctuary in
the churches ; while, along the ramparts, the English and Burgun-
dians passed to and fro in haste and consternation. Joan called
out to them to surrender ' to the king of France ;' but they replied
only with insulting words and by a shower of arrows. Her standard-
bearer fell dead at her side, and she herself received a serious wound
in the leg, which compelled her to take refuge on the sheltered side
of the little hill which separated the two ditches. She resisted for a
long time all entreaties to withdraw further from the scene of action ;
and from the ground where she lay, helpless and suffering, con-
tinued to urge on the soldiers. Not till the evening drew on, and
the Duke d'Alengon himself came up to point out to her the neces-
sity of postponing any further attack, did she suffer herself to be
removed.

The retreat of the French was not interrupted. Probably, the
garrison of Paris had sufficient judgment not to drive their oppo-
nents to any desperate measures. They were allowed to gather up
their dead, which, in their haste, they burned in one huge pyre, instead
of burying. Joan, disheartened by this failure, which she looked
upon as a warning from Heaven, determined to retire from the war.
She even went so far as to suspend her armour above the tomb of
St Denis, and consecrate it to God. But she could not resist the
persuasions of the chiefs, who, knowing the influence of her presence,
prevailed on her to remain with the king. Not that any further
attempts were at present projected. Charles was without money,
and far from the provinces which could supply his need. His
soldiers were dispirited by their late reverse, and the Duke of Bed-
ford was returning to Paris with his vast reinforcement. Discord
reigned in the council; some of the chiefs declaring that the attack
on Paris had been against their advice, and others protesting, that
if it had been persevered in with more constancy, it would have
succeeded. Many murmured against the maid : in fact, the only
point on which they could agree was to lead back the troops across



JOAN OF ARC,

the Loire, and disperse them to winter-quarters. The king accord-
ingly went southwards, and forming a court around him, passed the
winter at Bourges, or in its neighbourhood. It was during this time
that Charles ennobled the Maid of Orleans and all her family. ' To
testify and render thanks/ say the letters-patent, which bear the
date of 'December 1429, ' to the Divine wisdom, for the numberless
mercies he has vouchsafed through the hands of his chosen minister,
and our well-beloved maid, Joan of Arc of Domremy.' The king
granted armorial bearings to Joan's brothers, a sword bearing a
crown of gold on its point, with the fleurs-de-lis of France by its
side. It was the design of this coat of arms which induced the
family subsequently to change the name of Dare for that of Dulys,
or Dalys.

Nor was this all. The monarch insisted that henceforth Joan
should wear the richest clothing, and that she should keep up a state
equal to the rank of a count. ' She had,' says a contemporary
writer, ' besides several ladies attendant on her person, a chamber-
lain, an equerry, and many pages and valets. She was treated by
the king, the nobles, and the people as a sort of divinity.' All this
looked like gratitude ; and it is very possible that a taste of ill-
fortune had gone far to make Charles feel the magnitude of her
services. But all these honours in no way altered the character of
the maid. She was still the simple-hearted girl, now in this season
of rest chiefly devoting herself to the exercises of religion.

In the spring of the following year, the king's troops, accompanied
by Joan, passed the Loire on their way to the northern provinces ;
but it is a remarkable fact, and one really quite unaccountable, that
Charles neither headed them in person, nor intrusted the command
to any noble or experienced chief. Joan was now associated with a
set of men little removed from coarse adventurers, ill supplied with
money and ammunition, and scarcely able to maintain any disci-
pline. Nevertheless, in several skirmishes she gained the advantage,
and the enemy seemed as much struck with the terror of her name
as ever.

JOAN'S REVERSES OF FORTUNE.

Hitherto, the Maid of Orleans had been generally successful in
her schemes and enterprises. Her strong mind and enthusiasm
had carried her over every difficulty. A change, however, now came
over her fortunes. Compiegne, a fortified town on the river Oise, in
the north of France, being besieged by the English and Burgundian
forces, and in danger of falling into their hands, Joan, with a chosen
band, threw herself into it, to the great joy of the despairing inhabit-
ants. On the day after her arrival, having resolved on attacking the
enemy, with her usual impetuosity, and not reckoning on any steady
rebuff, she sallied out unexpectedly from the beleaguered city, and



MAID OF ORLEANS.

at first drove everything before her ; swarm after swarm, however,
coming to the rescue, she saw the error of her movement, and
gave the signal for retreat ; choosing, however, with her customary
intrepidity, the post of honour, the last of the rear-guard.

The English and Burgundians pursued the fugitives with all the
vigour induced by the knowledge that Joan was among them. They
had recognised her standard, and knew her by her embroidered coat
of crimson velvet ; and were endeavouring to throw themselves in
her path, and thus cut off the retreat of the French, who, alarmed at
this movement, pressed tumultuously towards the gate of the town.
Fearing that, under cover of this disorder, the enemy would force an
entrance, the barrier was only partially opened ; and at the moment
that the discomfited party was pressing for admission in terror and
wild disorder, the Burgundians made a furious charge upon this
struggling body. Many threw themselves into the Oise, heavily
armed as they were ; others were taken prisoners ; and in a few
moments Joan found herself surrounded by the enemy. She per-
formed prodigies of valour to escape being taken ; but it seemed
that the French, paralysed by fright, retained no sense beyond the
instinct of individual self-preservation. No way had been made to
lead the heroine through the narrow barrier ; though, had she
chosen any less honourable post in the retreat than the rear, she
would in all probability have been saved. And now, in the peril of
life and liberty, the heroine of Orleans struggled alone against
thronging numbers. At last an archer in the train of John of
Luxemburg seized her by her velvet coat, and dragging her from
her horse, she was disarmed by Lionel of Vendome, who chanced to
be near her.

She was first conducted to the quarters of John of Luxemburg,
whence she was transferred, with a numerous escort, to the castle
of Beaulieu. Here, however, she made an attempt to escape, by
breaking a passage through the wall ; but was discovered, and sent,
in consequence, to the castle of Beaurevoir, where, it is said, she was
kindly received by the wife and sister of Luxemburg.

So great was the joy of the besiegers, that one would have thought
they had gained some glorious victory, or that all France had sub-
mitted to their arms. They seemed to have feared nothing but the
inspired maid. By order of the Duke of Bedford, the Te Deum, or
Thanksgiving to God, was impiously chanted in great solemnity
both in England and Burgundy, for having made this terrible enemy
the simple Maid of Orleans their prisoner. The grief of the
French, on the other hand, was equally extreme, mixed with accu-
sations against the officers and governor of Compiegne for having

permitted the heroic Pucelle to be led into captivity.

23



JOAN OF ARC,



FATE OF THE UNFORTUNATE MAID.

Joan of Arc, as a prisoner of war, was, according to usage, entitled
to respectful treatment, though retained in the safe custody of her
enemies. The English, however, resolved to set aside this principle
in warfare, on the plea that the Pucelle was in league with demons,
and should be brought to trial for this terrible offence. The univer-
sity of Paris, a body of men in the English interest, was the first to
propose this mode of inquiry, and demanded that Joan should be
interrogated on her faith by the Bishop of Beauvais, in whose diocese
she had been taken. The bishop, who had already planned the trial
and death of the maid with all the zeal of a servant of the church
and of the English, seconded this demand, and strengthened it by
an offer of ten thousand francs to John of Luxemburg for a delivery
of his illustrious prisoner.

During this negotiation, the captive maid made another attempt
to escape. She leaped from the tower of her dungeon, but was
seriously injured in her fall, and was taken up senseless by her
guards. As soon as she was sufficiently recovered, she was removed
to Arras, and thence to the castle of Crotoy, a fortress at the mouth
of the Somme. Thus transferred from a party of French, auxiliaries
of the English, to the English themselves, Joan felt she had no
longer any mercy to expect. At Crotoy she had the consolation of
meeting a fellow-prisoner, a priest, who regularly performed for her
the offices of religion, and whose society seemed greatly to comfort
her. Yet she still believed herself to be visited by supernatural
beings, and declared they had reproached her for her attempt to
escape from Beaurevoir, as an act of despair and distrust of their
guidance ; but that she had humbled herself in penitence, and
received pardon.

During the time of Joan's captivity, her countrymen had not been
idle. The garrison of Compiegne had compelled the Burgundians
and English to raise the siege ; and this deliverance was followed
by the recapture of several other places. The brave Saintrailles
gained a complete victory, and took a great number of prisoners ;
and the famous Barbegau defeated the enemy on two important
occasions. All this no doubt incensed the English yet more bitterly
against the heroic maid. To her they attributed all their troubles.
When she appeared on the scene of action, they were at the height
of their glory and prosperity; and they believed that, while she lived,
there would be no change in the tide which she had turned. More-
over, they thought that if they could brand her as a sorceress, the
stigma would cling to Charles VII. and his partisans, whom she had
so much assisted ; and that thus discredited in popular opinion, even
those most loyally inclined would shrink from rendering them assist-
ance. So great, indeed, was their fury against the unhappy girl,



MAID OF ORLEANS.

that they actually burned a poor woman at Paris simply for saying
that she thought Joan a good Christian, and that she had been sent
from God.

After six months passed in a dreary and harsh imprisonment, Joan
was conducted to Rouen, where at that time the young king, Henry,
and his court were assembled. Here she was confined in the great
tower of the castle the only tower which now remains, and which
is yet shewn as her prison. She was now treated with the most
determined cruelty. Heavily ironed, her feet in the daytime were
fixed in iron stocks ; and at night a chain was passed round her
waist, so that she could not move upon her wretched bed ! Five
English archers were appointed her guards, three remaining in her
chamber, and two being stationed at her door. Certainly the extra-
ordinary pains they took to keep safe their captive, prove how much
they dreaded her escape. Not only from her coarse and brutal
guards was she exposed to every species of insult ; even her captor,
John of Luxemburg, accompanied by Warwick and Strafford, did not
blush to visit her in prison, and triumph in her misery. Yet this
was the age of chivalry, and Joan was a woman, and a fallen foe !
one who, enduring the foulest wrongs at the hands of so-called
Christian knights and nobles, would have received, among the pagan
ancients, the honours due to the most devoted patriotism ! Luxem-
burg jestingly told the poor captive he had come to release her,
if she would promise never to take arms again. ' Do not mock
me,' she replied with dignity ; ' I know that you have neither the
will nor the power. The English will kill me, believing that, after
my death, they will gain the kingdom of France ; but were there a
hundred thousand more of them than there are, they should not
conquer.' It is said that her words so irritated Strafford that he
drew his dagger, and would have struck her, had not his hand been
stayed by the Earl of Warwick.

There was at this time no Archbishop of Rouen ; but the Bishop of
Beauvais, who was wholly devoted to the English interest, and was,
as it has been seen, Joan's determined enemy, presented a petition,
praying for her trial, on the ground that she had been made prisoner
within the jurisdiction of his diocese. He was himself appointed first
judge, assisted by Jean Lemaitre, vicar-general of the Inquisition ;
and the office of public accuser was intrusted to Estivet, a canon
of Beauvais. This tribunal, which was directed to hold its sittings
at Rouen, was also attended by nearly a hundred doctors of divinity,
who, though not allowed to vote in the decision, were expected to
give their counsel and assistance if required.

It was a most subtle proceeding thus to try Joan by an ecclesias-
tical tribunal ; for, had they considered her simply as a prisoner of
war, it would have been hard to say of what crime she could be
guilty that should prevent her being ransomed or exchanged for
some English captives ; and yet they had no right to treat her as a



JOAN OF ARC,

subject, which now they were doing : but, at a time when all ideas
of justice were more or less confused, there is no wonder that might
held the place of right.

The judges, at this mockery of a trial, were predetermined to con-



Online LibraryWilliam ChambersChambers's miscellany of instructive & entertaining tracts (Volume 4) → online text (page 3 of 58)