As the facts of the following story are so marvellous, it is very important that we should understand how they are authenticated. Joan of Arc was tried by her enemies before her death, and condemned. Many years afterwards she was tried again, – that is, her fair fame was put upon its trial – by Charles VII, and friendly witnesses bore willing testimony in her favour. The evidence given on both trials is among the historical records of France, and has lately been published in an accessible and readable form. In the course of the two investigations Joan’s whole life was brought out to view. Every fact, great and small, that related to her was most fully detailed. What was spoken by her friends seems, in general, probable and trustworthy; but we shall quote mostly from the report of her enemies; and all that tells in her favour, when adopted by men who hated and killed her, may be taken as proved beyond any reasonable doubt.
Joan’s early years
Joan of Arc was a peasant’s child, and born in the village of Domremy, in Lorraine. Her own account, at her trial, makes the year of her birth 1411, or the beginning of 1412. There is conflicting evidence as to her home occupations in early life. Hume represents her to have been a groom; others give her the more romantic character of a shepherdess. Her own testimony, which may be taken implicitly as to facts within her own knowledge, declares that, after she was grown up, she never tended cattle. But many of those who knew her in early life, her own cousin inclusive, speak of having seen her thus employed, without specifying her precise age; and some add that she went to plough sometimes with her father. Her education was that of the period in which she lived. From her mother she learnt to say the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer, with the “Ave Maria,” which goes along with them in the rudiments of Roman Catholic teaching. Reading and writing were no part of her accomplishments; but for spinning and sewing, she said upon her trial, she “did not fear any woman in Rouen.” She was remarkable for her extreme bashfulness, and was known among the neighbours for a kind-hearted creature, always ready to nurse the sick or relieve the stranger, and became a marked person in the little village of Domremy, for the gravity of her character and the ardour of her devotions. She went often to confession, and was sometimes seen to kneel and pray in the fields. When her day’s work was done, she would run to the church, and sometimes spend hours before the altar in prayer or silent contemplation. She used to call the sexton to account if he missed ringing the bell for prayers, and promised to give him something if he were more regular. Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret were her favourite saints, and she loved to deck their images with flowers, and to burn candles in honour of the Virgin.
The country immediately about Domremy, like the rest of France, was divided between the English and French factions, or the Burgundians and Armagnacs, as the other party was often called after a leading man on the national side, The people of Joan’s village, with one exception, were zealous royalists; but some of their neighbours were Burgundians; and the flame of her patriotism was kept alive by feuds and dangers such as civil war can hardly fail to bring in its train. The children had their fights; Joan’s own brothers were sometimes among the combatants, and came home with honourable wounds, and their tale of victory or defeat. On one occasion, war was presented to her in its sterner aspect. Domremy was taken possession of by a troop of the adverse party, and the inhabitants fled to a neighbouring town with so much of their property as they could carry with them. When they returned, .the church was a ruin; the enemy had burnt it; and from that hour, doubtless, rebellion would be associated with sacrilege in the mind of Joan, and the religious sentiment, which coloured her whole life, would be yet more closely blended with devotion to her Prince.
With scenes like these before her eyes, Joan grew up serious and thoughtful beyond her years. When she was thirteen she began to hear what she called her “Voices”. These, we are sure, were but the whispers of her own excited fancy; but to her they seemed as real as if some heavenly messenger had stood visibly by her side. With her fervent religious feelings there were mingled thoughts of her unhappy country, and earnest longings for its rescue. A prophecy had become current that France was to be saved by a woman, as it had been ruined by a woman; and her solitary musings, doubtless, began to shape themselves into some vague, dreamy hopes that she might be called to this glorious work. At any rate, strange as the phenomenon may seem, and assured as we are that she was no inspired prophetess, but a mistaken enthusiast, to her statements, so far as they describe her own convictions, we give implicit belief. Too simple to construct a plot, she was also too good to attempt deception; for, amidst all that was superstitious in her devotions, there was yet the trusting faith and love of a sincere Christian. We grieve perpetually, as we follow one so pure and single-hearted, to find the debasing element of Roman Catholic worship mixing itself with her holiest thoughts and feelings. Gladly would we hear less of the Virgin, and Saint Margaret, and Saint Catherine. But while she believed what her priest had taught her, we cannot doubt, looking at her meekness, her charity, her religious zeal, her noble self-devotion, that she had that better teaching which is vouchsafed to the humble, and that she served God, in her strange eventful course, according to her light.
Joan’s own account was as follows. She was in her father’s garden, on a summer’s day, at noon. She had fasted on the preceding day. She heard something on her right side, towards the church, and a dazzling light accompanied the sound. She was frightened at first, but still thought it was a good voice, and that it came from God. It charged her to be a good girl and go to church; and when she had heard it thrice, she made sure it was an angel speaking to her. Then, or shortly afterwards, Saint Michael stood visibly before her, and a crowd of angelic messengers were about him. “I saw them,” she said, when closely-pressed at Rouen, “with my bodily eyes as plainly as I see you; and when they left me, I wept, and longed that they would take me away too.” Saint Margaret and Saint Catherine were her visitants at another time, and they had rich and beautiful crowns upon their heads. Two and three times a week she saw the visions, or heard the voices. Then came messages as to her own calling and future destiny. She must not stay where she was, but must go to France, – that being the name by which the provinces forming the crown domain were specially designated. She would carry succours to her prince, and help him to recover his kingdom. She must go to Vancouleurs, and seek out Robert de Baudricourt, who commanded there, and he would give her some men to go with her. But I am a poor girl,” was her answer; a I know not how to ride, or to lead troops to battle.” “Thou shalt go to Monsieur de Baudricourt, captain of Vancouleurs,” was the reply, “and he will take thee before the King.”
During this period the maid was living alone in the world of her own pure thoughts and excited feelings. Providence seemed to be pointing out some path of heroic enterprise in which she was to walk, and the more steadily she looked at it, the more her gentle nature shrank from the first step of her fated journey. No creature was in her confidence. Her inward convictions grew in intensity and strength; but, as she felt herself to be chosen of God to work out the deliverance of France, it became her to watch most carefully lest by any indiscretion she should commit herself too soon. She did not consult with the priest, she says, for fear her secret should get abroad, and the Burgundians might hear of it, and make her journey to the prince impossible. She did not breathe it to her parents; for her father, she was sure, would never permit her to depart on such a mission. His suspicions had been excited some- how, – possibly by the interest which Joan must necessarily have taken in the events of the war, – by questions, it may be, from which she could not refrain when a stray soldier, or some traveller from a distance, passed through the quiet village of Doinremy; at any rate, he had dreamed that Joan would go along with the soldiers some day; and this was reported by her mother, with the addition that he had said afterwards to her brothers, “If I thought this girl of mine would ever come to that, I would let you drown her; and if you would not do it, I would drown her myself.” Amid perplexities and mental conflicts which such circumstances would necessarily occasion to a person intent only on doing right, Joan reached her seventeenth year. The fair city of Orleans, the last hope of France, was pressed more and more closely by the English armies. To save the kingdom, and to settle its rightful prince se- curely on the throne, became the passionate wish of Joan’s heart, to which every other feeling was subordinate. The voices became more explicit. Two things she was commissioned to do, and God and His saints would help her till they were done. She was to raise the siege of Orleans, and she was to conduct the Dauphin to Rheims to receive the crown of his ancestors.
Visit to Vancouleurs
Something must be done in obedience to these commands, and if no assistance can be got from her nearest friends, she must seek advisers elsewhere. It chanced that a brother of her mother’s lived between Domremy and Vancouleurs; so she contrived a visit to him, told him of the necessity that was laid upon her to begin her work, and begged him to assist her so far as to announce her mission to Baudricourt, who was to set her forward on her journey. Her earnestness and importunity prevailed; honest Durand Laxart was the first believer in her mission; and to Vancouleurs accordingly he went, and reported to the captain all he had heard from Joan of her visions, hopes and projects. “Box the girl’s ears, and send her home,” was the warrior’s reply. Joan, nothing daunted by this repulse, made her way to the town, and told her own tale to Baudricourt. At first she fared no better than her uncle; the old soldier had no mind to listen to the dreams of a peasant girl, and thought that, if France was to be saved, it must be by wiser heads and stronger arms. But having taken the first step, the Maid was proof against all discouragement. She took lodgings in the town, and talked freely of her mission to all comers. Whole days were passed at church; and her pure simple manners, coupled with the fervour of her devotions, commended her to many among the crowd. A gentleman, named Jean de Metz, met her in the street, and accosted her thus: “What is your business here, my child? We must make up our minds to see the king hunted from his kingdom, and must then turn English ourselves.” We have her answer on record; he swore to it in after years, and the words, we are sure, were the very echo of her thoughts at this crisis of her history; – “Ah! the Sire de Baudricourt does not heed me, or care for what I tell him; and yet I must be with the Dauphin before Mid-lent, though to reach him I should wear my legs through to my knees; for no one else in the world, neither king nor duke, can recover this realm of France. There is no help for it but in me. And yet I would rather stay at home, and spin by my poor mother’s side, for this is no work for me. But go I must, and do what I say; for my Lord so wills it.” “And who is your Lord? ” asked the gentleman. “God,” she replied. Her words sounded like the voice of inspiration to the astonished enquirer; and he promised, that very hour, that he would conduct her to the King.
Joan’s sobriety and caution
Joan’s fame, it seems, had reached the Duke of Lorraine, who was then suffering from illness. A person of her pretensions, he thought, might effect a cure which his physicians had attempted in vain, and he sent for her and accordingly. She answered that she had no light from heaven upon that matter; but charged him, as a Christian man, to put away his mistress and take back his wife. Let him help her to the Dauphin, she added, for her mission was to him, and him only; and then she would thank him, and pray for his recovery. This anecdote is worth preserving as a specimen of the Maid’s perfect truthfulness and simplicity. She could never be seduced to pretend to powers which she had not. Even to win a powerful friend at that particular time she would not tamper with her mission. A troop of horse to guard her, and a letter from a great prince of France to ensure an audience with the King, she would gladly have bought at any price. Had she parleyed with the Duke, and given him some pretended charm, she might probably have been far upon her journey in a day. But God, she always said, had not spoken to her on matters of that sort. She had received from Him no gifts of healing. In one character, and in one only, did she ever pretend to be exalted above the crowd; and no solicitations from princes or from meaner men could induce her to wander a step beyond the path which she supposed to be marked out for her.
Baudricourt, it is said, had communicated in the meantime with the Court, and had the royal permission to send on the Maid. At the command of her Voices she now assumed male apparel, and wore it ever afterwards. The captain gave her a sword for a parting present, but distrusted her too much to advance money for her journey. Among the people some were found more hopeful or more generous, who subscribed sixteen francs for the purchase of a horse; and, thus provided, she began her journey of a hundred and fifty leagues. Jean de Metz, and another gentleman of kindred spirit, bore her company, with two attendants and two men-at-arms.
Journey to Chinon
It was in the month of February, 1429 that this little party rode out of Vancouleurs. Some months, therefore, had elapsed since Joan’s first visit to Baudricourt, which took place about Ascension Day in the preceding year. In the interval, it seems, she had been at home for a while, and afterwards returned to her uncle. The parting with her parents took place, not at Domremy, but at Vancouleurs. They pursued her thither, when the news of her intended journey reached them, and were “almost out of their senses,” she says, when they found that prayers and tears could not turn her from her purpose. This would be a sad parting, and a sore conflict, for one like Joan; but One Voice was to her more authoritative and commanding than those which she had obeyed from childhood; and no prophet ever felt more sure of his mission than she did when she took this work in hand. Her judges, on her trial, were sensitively alive to this breach of filial duty, and asked her whether she had done well to leave her parents against their will. She answered that in all things else she gave them reverence, and even for this act, which displeased them once, she had received their pardon. “But did you not sin in doing as you did?” she was asked again. “When God commanded,” was her simple and pertinent reply, “it was right for me to do it. When God bade me, if I had had a hundred fathers and mothers, and had been a king’s daughter, I would, nevertheless, have left my home.”
The journey, besides being long and toilsome, had difficulties and perils of its own. The greater part of it lay through country possessed by the enemy, or made unsafe by the disorders which follow in the train of war. English troops had to be escaped, and French brigands. High roads were avoided as much as possible. Rivers were forded at one time, and thick forests were traversed at another. Joan never lost heart. Toils and dangers went for nothing now that her great end was gained. Her only trouble was that the men pushed on too fast, and would not let her stop for mass at every town they came to. Still her Voices were with her, and blessed her journey. “God cleared her way for her,” – “her brothers of Paradise told her what to do,” – were the comfortable sayings with which she cheered her own spirit, and tried to sustain the hopes of her companions. Many, however, by their own confession, were their doubts and misgivings as they travelled onward. More than once the thought entered their minds that Joan was a witch, who might lawfully be made away with; but, then, what agent of darkness could be so clothed with purity? who but a saint of God could be always ready for devotion?
Interview with the King
Charles was at Chinon, between Tours and Saumur, in the valley of the Loire. The party halted a few leagues from that place, and, having announced their object, waited the King’s permission to go forward. This was readily granted. Recent disasters, especially the battle of Herrings, fought just as Joan had left Vancouleurs, made the situation of the Royalists yet more desperate, and strange remedies might well be tried when the emergency was so fearful. After three days she was admitted to the royal presence, singled out Charles at a glance from the crowd of courtiers, and embracing his knees, announced herself as “Joan, the Maid,” sent by Heaven to succour him and his kingdom. “Most noble Dauphin,” she added, “God sends you word by me that you shall be consecrated and crowned at Rheims; and you shall be the Lieutenant of the King of Heaven, who is the King of France.” Her solemn assertions, in God’s name, that Charles was the true heir of France, that the crown was his by right, and that God would give it him, seem to have chimed in with the train of his own thoughts; for he had been discouraged by a long tide of evil fortune, and had connected them with the suspicions which hung about his birth. The words which Joan chanced to use reassured him upon this point, and made him more willing to receive her as a prophetess. Still hope and fear were mixed together in the minds of the men of that age, when any person of supernatural pretensions claimed a hearing. He might come from heaven or from hell; and if it were a lying spirit that spoke by him, then guilt would be contracted and loss incurred by those who believed the revelation. Churchmen must settle this question: it was too profound for any but holy and learned men who could interpret the will of Heaven with something of authority.
Examination at Poitiers
So the Maid was carried to Poitiers, where there was a famous university; and priests and monks and doctors of theology plied her with hard questions, which were answered with admirable promptitude and discretion. All that fell from her, says an old chronicle, was spoken “grandement et notablement, though in all things else she seemed the simplest shepherd-girl that you could see anywhere.” She told her story with simple dignity. Her Voices, – the Saints, – Michael, the Archangel, – the Lord Himself, – had bidden her to go to Orleans, and had promised that, when the enemy was driven from thence, she should lead the Dauphin to Rheims, to receive the crown of France. From this story she never varied: at Vancouleurs, at Chinon, at Poitiers, she claimed to be a prophetess to this extent and no more; her credit was staked on the accomplishment of these two predictions; yet, when they were uttered, Orleans was all but lost, and between that place and Rheims there was not a single fortified place held by the King’s troops. In vain the doctors multiplied their interrogations, and tried her with new tests; in vain, one after the other, they quoted to her wise saws, and explained their doubts with much parade of learning. “There is more in God’s books than in yours,” she told them: “I don’t know A or B, but I come on behalf of the King of Heaven, and my business is to raise the siege of Orleans, and to crown the King at Rheims.” “But what need is there for men-at-arms?” they said; “if God will deliver France, He can do it of His own will.” “The men will fight,” she answered, “and God will give them victory.” They demanded some proof that God had spoken by her: without a sign the King’s troops must not be endangered. “Alas! it is not at Poitiers,” was the Maid’s reply, “that I am to show you signs; give me soldiers, be they few or many, and lead me to Orleans, and there you shall have signs that will prove my words.”
Joan’s services accepted
The decision of the theologians left the King free to employ the service of Joan. They reported her faith to be sound, and her reputation without a stain. Her words were those of a good Christian, and her manner of life was holy and devout. So she had a body-guard assigned to her, including a brave knight of mature age, a page of noble birth, and six men of meaner rank, one of whom was a brother of her own. Under the direction of her Voices she had a white banner prepared, which figures largely in her history. This she loved “forty times more than her sword;” for her mission, she maintained all through, was not to kill, but to lead brave men to battle, and to cheer them on in God’s name. The banner had a white ground besprinkled with the lilies of France: the Saviour, too, was pictured upon it, holding the world in His hands, with attendant angels, while the words ” Jesus, Maria,” in legible characters, declared to friends and foes in whose name she fought.
Meanwhile the reputation of the Maid was spreading far and wide. It had already reached Orleans, and greatly encouraged Dunois, who was in command there, and was sorely pressed by the besiegers. The admiration of the common people was raised to enthusiasm by her look of modesty and words of gentleness, coupled with her assumed character and saintly reputation. Even rude warriors, whom long years of irregular warfare had hardened and corrupted, could not resist her influence. She would have none enrolled among her troop who had not first confessed themselves. Men, to whom cursing had become like their mother-tongue, restrained themselves in her presence; and the licence and disorder of the camp were checked by her indignant rebukes. Levies went on in the meantime, and an army for the relief of Orleans began to muster at Blois. Six thousand men were assembled by the middle of April; and when the Maid gave them a meeting there, in white armour, with her head uncovered, seated on a black charger which she managed with graceful ease, the past misfortunes of France were forgotten; the hearts of men and officers beat high with hope, and they made sure, like herself, of coming victory.
Letter to the English commanders
From Blois Joan wrote, or rather dictated, a letter to the English generals, charging them in God’s name to save bloodshed by retiring peaceably to their own country. War had no delights for her, and she would neither fight herself, nor encourage others to fight, till the stern necessity was forced upon her. The letter has something of the “heroic style” about it, as Michelet says, mingled with a “French vivacity” which reminds him of Henry IV. One thing is quite plain, – its simplicity marks it for her own; and it is interesting to see how the enduring records of her story coincide with the reports which reach us from so many witnesses of her words and deeds. “King of England,” she writes, “and you, Duke of Bedford, calling yourself Regent of the kingdom of France, render up to the Maid, who is sent hither by God the King of Heaven, the keys of all the good towns of France which you have taken and plundered. . . . And as for you, archers and men-of-war, of gentle blood or otherwise, before the town of Orleans, get you gone to your own country; and if you fail to do so, then hear what I have to tell you of the Maid, who will come presently to do you hurt. King of England, if you won’t do this, I am chief commander (chef de guerre), and wherever I shall find your people in France, I will make them go, whether they will or no; and if they refuse, I will have them all killed. I am sent here by God, the King of Heaven, to meet you bodily, and put you out of France. If they will do this that I tell them, I will show them mercy. Do not think, then, that you shall hold this kingdom of France. I call God to witness, the King of Heaven, the Son of the Holy Virgin, Charles, the true heir, shall have it. This is revealed to him by the Maid, and he shall enter Paris, and many a good companion with him.”
The English, as might be expected, poured scorn upon this summons, and it became necessary for the Maid to do more than send words of defiance against the enemy. Her first adventure in war was to accompany a convoy of provisions which had been collected at Blois, and was intended for the relief of Orleans. The complete success of the expedition, coupled with the rumours which had preceded her coming, had its effect both on friends and foes. She had proclaimed herself chef de guerre to the English generals, and, acting in obedience to her Voices, she began at once to assume the tone of command. Dunois, the brave commander of the garrison, gave her a meeting on the banks of the Loire, as the party approached the city; and to him she complained that the leaders of her party had gone against her orders, and kept the South side of the river, where the enemy was in least force. “I had so advised them,” said the general, “and my most skillful officers did the same.” “But the counsel of my Lord,” she answered, “is wiser than that of men. You thought to deceive me; but you are deceived yourselves, for I bring you the best help that was ever given to knight or city. It is given not for any love of me, but out of God’s pure goodness, who has listened to Saint Louis and Saint Charlemagne, and had pity on this town.”
Entry into Orleans 29 April 1429
It was night when Joan entered Orleans, but the whole city was astir, and its people came forth in crowds to welcome their deliverer. Men of war marched by her side, and plenty came in her train; so no wonder that to the half-famished inhabitants, radiant as she was with youth and hope, she seemed like an angel from heaven. Women flocked about her to touch her garments, her charger, or her white standard; but to all of them she spoke with her sweet, modest air, and gentle tones, bidding them hope in God, and not in any human instrument. After her day’s march she would not retire to rest till she had committed herself and her countrymen to the Divine protection; so she led the way to the cathedral, and there “Te Deum” was chanted by torchlight.
The Maid’s presence completely altered the position of affairs before a single blow was struck. For weeks past, rumour had been busy with her name, and a mingled tale of truth and fiction was sure to reach the English camp. Vague alarms began to take possession of the minds of the soldiery, and damped their zeal and courage. “Two hundred English skirmishers would have chased five hundred French but lately,” says the old chronicle, recounting the change of feeling in the two parties; “and now two hundred of the last would have been more than a match for four hundred English.” The leaders disguised their apprehensions, but were no longer eager for battle; so five days after the arrival of the first convoy, a second, with a larger force and a more abundant supply, came in from Blois, and Suffolk kept his men close within their forts, while an armed troop, headed by Dunois and the Maid, joined their friends outside, and carried them triumphantly within the walls.
Joan’s first fight, May 4
The same afternoon, Joan saw fighting for the first time, and did her part as bravely as if war had been her trade. Not anticipating that there would be any occasion for her services before the morrow, she had retired to her lodging for an hour’s repose. While she slept, a portion of the army, accompanied by a goodly company of towns-people, flushed with their recent successes, made an unpremeditated sally, and pushed on to one of the principal English forts, called Saint Loup. There, however, the besiegers met them in considerable force, and the attacking party, being weak and ill-commanded, were soon repulsed. Presently the Maid was in the street, riding full gallop over the stone pavement, “so that the sparks flew about her.” Her Voices had roused her, she said; her Voices guided her to the place of combat; her Lord had told her all. Certain it is that she had started suddenly from her bed, had called for her squire, and armed herself in haste; then, complaining that the blood of France was being shed and they never told her of it, made her way straight to the gate of Burgundy. There she met her routed country-men, followed closely by their pursuers; but her white standard, borne aloft, became a rallying-point for the fugitives. Their courage revived; the tide of battle was presently turned; and the contest was renewed within the English lines. The Maid was in the thickest of the fight, and neither Dunois, who had joined her as she issued from the city, nor the bravest captain among his followers, showed themselves more cool and self-possessed in the face of danger. Before the day was over, the great bastille was won, with a loss to the English of eight hundred men. The story was current in Orleans that not a Frenchman had been wounded after Joan led the attack; and, true or false, rumours of this sort were readily believed, and raised the popular enthusiasm to the highest pitch. The besiegers, on the other hand, after the events of that day, could no longer affect to despise the Maid. Their troops were beaten and disgraced; the spell of victory was broken. They mocked her, and called her foul names, when presently afterwards she stood beneath one of their great towers, and bade them depart in God’s name; but really their hearts began to melt within them, and the panic was such throughout their camp that the leaders were completely bewildered, and knew not what to decide as to their future course.
A brief interval was given them; for the day which followed these events was the Feast of the Ascension, and most religiously was it kept by the good citizens of Orleans. Its churches resounded with mingled cries of thanksgiving and supplication, Joan setting the example, and charging her companions at arms to prepare for what God might send them, by repentance and confession. But the next day, Friday, saw the fighting renewed. Contrary to the Maid’s advice, it was resolved to attempt the fortifications on the left bank of the Loire, where the enemy was weakest. For this purpose, the attacking party, headed by Joan and the principal officers, went down the river in boats, and took up their position on a little island separated by two boats’ length from the shore. One of the forts, or bastilles, as they were called, was speedily surrendered by the English; and the French commanders, contented with this success, were drawing off their troops, when the besiegers, having the advantage of numbers, became assailants in their turn, and pursued their enemies to the river side. In the insolence of triumph, it seems, they called after the Maid, and applied to her some scornful epithets; but as soon as she could disengage herself from the rout, she faced round, and put their courage to the proof. The white standard was again displayed; the voice of command again arrested the flying host. Joan herself advanced “a grand pas” against the enemy, and “the question now was which of her countrymen should best keep pace with her.” In the fervour of the moment, all danger was forgotten; no account was taken of disparity of numbers; the principal bastille, in which the English had concentrated their forces, was stormed and taken; and the conquerors took up their position for the night before the last stronghold of the enemy which remained to them on the southern bank of the Loire. Joan, who had fasted all day (it was Friday), and who had received a slight wound in her foot, was persuaded with difficulty to return to the city, and take a night’s rest at her lodgings.
Last sortie from Orleans, May 7
The next day, the 7th of May, was yet more glorious for the Maid from Orleans and France. Seven only had passed since she entered Orleans, and already she began to be impatient that the enemy were beneath its walls. They were still in strength on the right bank, and, while that was the case, the generals were unwilling to make any serious attack on the remaining bastille, called Les Tournelles. They would wait for reinforcements which could now be poured in without difficulty, and then they would have troops enough to storm the enemy’s forts without leaving the city more defenseless than prudence would warrant. When this decision was announced to Joan, she answered, “You have been to your council, and I have been to mine. Be sure that my Lord’s design will come to pass, and that of men will come to nought.” “I shall have much to do to-morrow,” she added, – “more than I have done yet. I shall be wounded, and lose blood. We must be ready betimes in the morning.” So at sun-rise she presented herself at the gate of Burgundy, and demanded to be let out that she might complete the work which had been so well begun on the previous day. The officer, who kept guard there, did not recognise the Maid as chef de guerre, and refused to obey her orders. “You are a bad man,” she said, ” but whether you choose or not, the men-at-arms shall come out, and shall be conquerors to-day, as they have been before.” A crowd collected, and the people were on her side; so the soldier was obliged to yield to their threats, and the Maid went forth, followed by a mingled crowd of soldiers and townsmen. They rushed tumultously to the boats, crossed the river, and began, with more of courage than of skill, to assail the formidable bulwark of which the besiegers still kept possession. Dunois, and his captains, were too generous not to second the Maid when they found the attack was well begun; so they followed in her track, and fought gallantly by her side. On the opposite bank of the Loire were some of England’s best captains, Suffolk, Talbot, Fastolf, and others; but their men would not stir against “the sorceress;” dismay had spread through their ranks and turned brave men to cowards; go they looked on in silence, while Gladsdale and his company of five hundred, the flower of the English army, defended their post with heroic bravery.
Joan was always for rapid onsets and easy triumphs. Delays did not enter into her reckoning. Prolonged resistance seemed almost like defiance of the will of heaven. When the fighting had lasted for many hours, and her friends were suffering severely from the English archers and artillery, she seized a scaling ladder, jumped into the ditch, and was in the act of mounting, when an arrow struck her between the neck and the shoulder, and, piercing the flesh, showed its point some inches beyond the wound. The Maid was frightened in the first instance, and shed tears; but she soon recovered herself, saying that she had seen her saints, extracted the arrow with her own hands, had the wound hastily dressed, and was able to remount her horse. The day, however, wore on; the French were dispirited, and Dunois was for sounding a retreat. “Wait awhile,” cried Joan; “we shall enter presently; let your people rest, and give them something to eat and drink.” For herself, she retired to pray; and then, assured of victory, gave orders for a fresh assault. Presently Joan, whom the English had seen struck down and carried away, was beneath the walls, cheering on her friends; and as night drew near, the enemy were wearied and disheartened. Then came a fresh body of assailants from the town, and, crossing a broken bridge on planks, attacked the fort on the side which had been supposed impregnable. Resistance grew fainter; Gladsdale and his bravest followers were among the slain; and at last, after a desperate day’s fighting, when two hundred only of the defenders survived, the fort was carried.
Joan’s return to the city was a march of triumph. The victory was decisive, and the credit of it, in the judgment of her countrymen, was all hers. Every thing had gone well since she entered Orleans. The city had a store of provisions; the enemy was panic-struck; fortifications, which it had taken the enemy months to construct, had been destroyed or captured in as many days. The Maid, nothing elated by these brilliant successes, gave God the glory. Again the aisles of the old Cathedral sounded with the midnight hymn of praise; and they, who had joined in the same act of worship but eight days before, would muse, in solemn thankfulness, upon the strange course of events by which the Maid’s promises had been all fulfilled, and their own hopes surpassed.
The siege raised, May 8
Then came the concluding scene of this marvellous story. While the church bells in Orleans were ringing their peal of rejoicing through the night, the English leaders were in council, and the resolve was taken to raise the siege. To cover the shame of their defeat they determined to offer battle first; so when the morning came, they drew up in line beneath the city walls. The French captains would have accepted the challenge, but Joan forbade it. It was Sunday, the 8th of May. “For the love of God, and the honour of his blessed day,” she cried, “do not begin the battle. It is the good pleasure of God to let them depart, if they will. Should they attack you, defend yourselves with all your might, and you shall be masters.” Then, while the enemy retired in good order, the townsmen from the walls watching their retreat, and blessing themselves that their good city was safe and free, the Maid had an altar prepared, and mass was celebrated in the open air, and priests were gathered from the churches to chant their hymn of victory.
Half, then, of Joan’s mission was accomplished. Had her advice been followed, it is probable that a fortnight, instead of two months, would have sufficed for the other half. The troops, who turned their backs on Orleans were in no fighting humour; and, on the other hand, the newly-kindled enthusiasm of the French was likely to spread further and wider, if no time were given for it to cool. The Maid pressed an instant march to Rheims, and “her heroic folly,” says Michelet, “was the height of wisdom.” “Come, gentle Dauphin,” was her entreaty to the King at Tours, a few days afterwards, “come and receive your noble crown at Rheims. I am greatly pressed that you should go there. Do not doubt that you shall be anointed as you ought to be.”
Battle of Patay, June 18
But other counsellors prevailed. The ground must be cleared as they went along; the enemy must be driven from the fortresses which lined the banks of the Loire; all must be done prudently where so much was at stake. Joan was vexed and grieved, but still remained with the army, and did her best for France. Some weeks were spent in marches and sieges, during which period some places were gained, and nothing lost; but on the 18th of June, the English commanders, Talbot and Fastolf, having united their forces, gave battle near the village of Patay, and sustained a decisive defeat. “Shall we fight, Joan?” the Duke of Alencon had asked, when he saw the English drawn up for action. ” Have you some good spurs?” was her reply. “Shall we have to fly then?” said the general. “Oh no,” answered the Maid; “in the name of God, go at them; for they will be routed and fly as fast as they can; and you will want spurs to follow them.” Her words came true. The English fought like men under a spell. Captains, whose names had been a terror to France, fled in terror from the field. Talbot was taken prisoner, and two thousand of his soldiers were slain. England had seen no such day since she first laid claim to France nearly a century before.
March to Rheims
The story of the month which followed the victory of Patay is admirably told by Michelet. It seems fitting that a Frenchman should describe the burst of enthusiasm which carried Charles triumphantly to Rheims, and re-inaugurated the monarchy within its stately Cathedral. We shall, therefore, prefer his rapid sketch and glowing words to any tamer version of our own.
“It was now or never the time to venture on the expedition to Rheims. The politicians wanted to remain still on the Loire, and make sure of Cosne and La Charite; but this time they talked in vain; no timid counsels could now be listened to. Every day brought people flocking in from all the provinces, attracted by the fame of the Maid’s miracles, and believing only in her, and in her purpose forthwith to convey the King to Rheims. There was an irresistible outburst of the pilgrim and crusading spirit. The indolent young King himself at last yielded to the popular flood, and suffered himself to be borne along by that vast tide that set in towards the north; and off they started all together, willingly or perforce, King and courtiers, – the politic and the enthusiastic, – the mad men and wise men. They were twelve thousand when they began their march, but their numbers augmented continually as they advanced; every hour brought them additional strength, and those who had no armour followed the holy expedition in plain doublets, as archers, or sword-and-buckler men, even though they were of gentle blood.
“The army marched from Gien on the 28th of June without attempting to enter it, that town being in the hands of the Duke of Burgundy, whom there were reasons for treating with favour. Troyes had a mixed garrison of Burgundians and English, who ventured to make a sortie on the first appearance of the royal army. There seemed small chance of storming a town so well guarded, and that, too, without artillery. On the other hand, how was it possible to advance, and leave such a place in their rear? The army was already- suffering from scarcity. Were it not better to return? The anti-enthusiasts were triumphant.
“There was one old Armagnac councillor, the president Macon, who was of a contrary opinion, well knowing that, in such an enterprise, prudence was on the side of enthusiasm, and that men must not reason in a popular crusade. ‘When the King undertook this march,’ he said, ‘he did it not by reason of the number of his forces or the abundance of his money, nor because the achievement seemed to him possible. He undertook it because Joan told him to advance, and be crowned at Rheims, and that he would encounter little resistance by the way, such being the good pleasure of God.’ The Maid then presented herself at the door of the council room, and assured them they would be able to enter the town in three days. ‘We would wait six!’ said the Chancellor, ‘if we were sure what you say is true.’ ‘Six? you shall enter to-morrow.’
Troyes taken, July 9
“She seizes her standard; the whole army follow her to the ditch, and they throw into it all they can lay their hands on, – faggots, doors, tables, rafters, – with such rapidity that the townspeople thought the ditches would very soon disappear altogether. The English began to be dazzled and bewildered as at Orleans, and fancied they saw a cloud of white butterflies fluttering round the magic standard. The burghers, on their part, were in great dread, recollecting that it was in Troyes the treaty had been concluded which disinherited Charles VII, and fearing that an example would be made of their town. Already they were taking refuge in the churches, and crying out that the town must surrender. The fighting men, who desired nothing better, parleyed, and obtained leave to depart with what they had.
“What they had was chiefly prisoners, French- men. Charles the Seventh’s councillors, who had drawn up the capitulation, had stipulated nothing with respect to those unfortunate persons. The Maid alone thought of them. When the English marched out with their prisoners in irons, she stood at the gates, and cried out, ‘In God’s name they shall not carry them off.’ She stopped them, in fact, and the King paid their ransom.
“Master of Troyes on the 9th of July, Charles made his entry into Rheims on the 15th, and was crowned on the 17th. The Archbishop anointed him with oil out of the holy ampulla brought from Saint Remi (according to the national legend, a dove had brought it from heaven, and it had been used at the coronation of Clovis and all his successors). In conformity with ancient usage, he was lifted up to his seat by the ecclesiastical peers, and served by the lay peers, both at the coronation and the banquet. All the ceremonies were completed without any omission or abridgment, and Charles was now the true King, and the only King, according to the notions of the times. The English might now crown Henry, if they would; but that new coronation could never, in the eyes of the two nations, be more than a parody of the other.”
Coronation at Rheims, July 17
During the ceremony, the Maid stood near the altar, with her standard in her hand. The gentlemen of the royal suite supplied, as well as they could, the places of the great peers of France who ought to have been present; but to Joan every eye was turned. “She, in fact, under God,” says the old chronicle, “was the cause of that same crowning, and had gathered that noble assembly; and if any one had seen her fall upon her knees before the King, and then clasp his legs and kiss his feet, shedding warm tears the while, he must have had his heart moved within him. Many, indeed, could not refrain from tears, when she said, ‘Gentle King, now is accomplished the pleasure of God, who willed that you should come to Rheims to receive your crown, thereby showing that you are the true King, to whom the kingdom of right belongs.’”
The Maid had accomplished wonders in war, and now tried the yet harder task of reconciling sworn foes. That day of Jubilee, the memorable Sunday which witnessed the anointing of Charles, was a fit time for earning the blessing of a peace-maker; so, with characteristic simplicity and hopefulness, she addressed a letter to the Duke of Burgundy in the following terms: “Mighty and redoubtable Prince, Joan, the Maid, requires, in the name of the King of heaven, my sovereign Lord, that the King of France and yourself shall make a good, firm, and lasting peace. Forgive one another cordially and entirely, as good Christians ought to do; and if you will go to war, go against the Turk. Prince of Burgundy, I beg and pray and demand of you, as humbly as I may, not to make war any more against the holy kingdom of France, and to command an immediate and speedy retreat to all your people that are in any places or fortresses of the said kingdom. As for the gentle King of France, he is ready to make peace with you, saving his honour; so the matter rests with you. And I would have you know, from the King of heaven, my rightful Lord, for your safety and your honour, that you shall not win the battle against loyal Frenchmen, and that all those who war against the said kingdom of France, war against Jesus, King of heaven and all the world, and my rightful Lord. I beg and pray you, as on my knees, not to give battle, nor war against us, you and your people and your subjects; for take my word for it, whatever number of people you shall bring against us, they shall not have the better of us; and it will be a great pity that we should have fighting, and that the blood of those who come against us should be shed. I sent letters to you three weeks ago by a herald, that you might be present at the King’s coronation, which is to take place this present Sunday, the 17th day of July; but I have had no answer from you, and have heard no news of my herald since. I commend you to God, praying Him, if He pleases, to have you in His keeping, and that He will bring about a happy peace.”
Joan’s purity and longing for home
Not yet, however, were labours at an end. Her country was still far away from “a happy peace”; and to the Maid herself it never came. With war and all its frightful evils she was to be conversant through all her remaining days of liberty. Yet, in the camp, surrounded by rude warriors, whom she found it easier to lead to battle than to restrain from evil, she kept her pure, gentle nature unsullied. After all her triumphs and successes, she had nothing of the soldier spirit kindled within her. She wore a charmed sword, blessed as she thought by Saint Catherine, but she seldom used it. When it was necessary for self-preservation, she would use the lance which formed the handle of her standard, or a little battle-axe which she carried by her side; but her business, she thought, was not so much to strike and kill, as to show her countrymen the path to victory. Military licence found no favour in her eyes, and at times, when food was scanty, she preferred denying herself to living on the enemy. Her confessor, Pasquerel, who testified that he verily believed she was sent of God, as she was “full of all the virtues,” mentions that she would never touch what had been procured by plunder. For the dying, too, he said, she had a special care, and when life still lingered in some of the enemy, as they lay helpless in the field, would send priests to confess them. After she had given Charles his crown and half his kingdom, instead of loving the strange, unnatural life to which Providence had led her, she was longing to be back again in her cottage home; and, in the midst of the most exciting scenes, while keeping company with the captains and heroes of France, would talk, like a banished child, of Domremy and her aged parents. “What a good and pious people,” she exclaimed one day, shortly after the coronation at Rheims, when a crowd of peasants met the King in one of his marches, with tears of joy, and greeted him with a Te Deum and other hymns of praise, – “what a good and pious people are these; when my time comes, I should like well to die and be buried here.” Where do you suppose that you shall die, and when?” asked Dunois, who rode by her side. She answered that she knew not, that it would be as God should please, and then added, “I have done what my Lord commanded me, which was to raise the siege of Orleans, and to have the gentle King crowned; and now I wish they would send me back to my father and mother, to look after their sheep and cattle, and do what I was wont to do.”
The men of France, however, would not spare her. Much was to be done before their country could be won back from its invaders, and her presence with the army seemed to be the pledge of certain victory. The risk and the loss were hers, and the gain was all theirs; but the King’s entreaties were a law to poor Joan, and her own wishes were surrendered to the supposed necessities of the kingdom. She went with the army as before; she was impetuous and fearless as ever; she witnessed the progress of the royal cause with the most intense delight; but there was no longer the same confidence as when she left Blois to relieve Orleans, or set forward towards Rheims with the crown of France filling her thoughts and dreams. Her Voices were far less express and frequent, it seems, henceforth; she had a less definite course of action; she was less clear and resolved in her own mind, and more swayed by the counsels of others. In the last stage of her active career, commencing from this period, she was like a victim going to the sacrifice, and seems to have had many misgivings as to her coming fate.
Attempt on Paris, September 8
In the weeks which followed, “the roads grew smooth before the King; the towns threw open their gates, and lowered their drawbridges.” The English, on the other hand, had almost disappeared from the country of which they were lately masters. Paris was still theirs, but their diminished forces made them tremble even for that. Cardinal Beaufort, who then ruled England in the name of Henry VI, came over with reinforcements, and Bedford, thus strengthened, twice offered battle, which Charles declined. At last, while the English armies were guarding Normandy, he made a dash at Paris, hoping to carry it by assault; but his friends in the city were not strong enough to declare themselves, and he met with a repulse which seriously damaged his cause. Unwillingly, it seems, the Maid had advanced beyond Saint Denys. This was sacred in her eyes as the place where the kings of France were buried, and, whenever she could, she loved to linger on holy ground. But when it was resolved to advance, she led the assailing party herself, crossing one ditch, and trying with her lance the depth of a second which was under the very walls. She was near enough to call to the soldiers on the ramparts, and cried out, like one who was speaking with the authority of heaven, “Give up this city to the King of France; “but they answered her with foul reproaches and a shower of arrows. One of them wounded her in the thigh, and the faithful squire, who carried her standard, was struck down by her side. Still, undaunted by the pain of her wound, and thinking that faith and courage might overcome all obstacles, she bade her countrymen cross the deep fosse and scale the high wall, trusting to God’s favour and protection. For some time she lay stretched upon the ground, while her friends were in full retreat, and it was not till late at night that the entreaties of the Duke of Aleneon prevailed upon her to return to Saint Denys.
Fifteen hundred men were wounded in this attack; but, what was far worse, the Maid’s name was damaged by defeat, and her promises were less trusted for the future. The assault was made on the 8th of September, which is kept holy by the Roman Catholic Church as the day of the Virgin Mary’s Nativity; and the citizens of Paris were attending high mass when the alarm was given. This fact was turned against her. Enemies and friends alike talked of the profanation of the holy season, and said that Joan, by advising or sanctioning it, had brought the wrath of heaven upon the King and his cause. Many were sure to turn against her from jealousy and ill-will; and others, who followed her most blindly, would begin to doubt and waver, as soon as some decided check was given to her career of conquest. In fact, the retreat from Paris seems to have been the first stage in that downward course which terminated in her imprisonment and death.
She was ennobled, however, before Joan she was disgraced. At Rheims, doubtless, on his Coronation day, Charles would have given any honours that she sought. But such prizes as common men covet were nothing to her. Badges and titles of distinction, – broad lands or heaped-up gold, – would have seemed to her cheap as dirt compared with the privilege of having favoured the right cause, and helped the King to his throne. So, for months afterwards, she remained, simply, “Joan, the Maid,” and never desired to be known by any other name to her own age or to posterity. But in December, to lighten his own burden of obligation, the King granted a patent of nobility to Joan herself, her father, mother and brothers. The document recounts the singular goodness of God in sending to him such special favours by the hand of Joan, and “the praiseworthy, most welcome, and most seasonable services which she had rendered to his kingdom, services which he hopes to see continued and enlarged as time shall serve.” Wherefore, to commemorate what God hath done, and to give the world a proof of his royal liberality, he wills that she and her near kindred shall rank to all intents and purposes as if they had been nobly born, and that all the rights of nobility, of what kind soever, shall descend after them to their posterity, male and female. At Joan’s own request, another favour was granted which she valued at a higher rate, namely, immunity from taxation for her native village. With the nobility, who lived in a world far away from her own humble sphere, she did not desire to be numbered; but it pleased her well to be able to offer some boon to those among whom she had spent her childhood. So in the Collector’s books for that particular department, for three centuries afterwards, there appeared no sum opposite Domremy; but, instead of it, the expressive words, “Nothing, for the Maid’s sake.”
Joan’s last days of liberty
During the winter that followed the events which we have been describing, the details relating to Joan’s history are much scantier than we could wish. She seems to have spent her time with the army; but few enterprises of great importance were undertaken, and little advantage was gained on either side. We know only that she was unspoiled. Her piety and simplicity were still the same. She pretended to no knowledge of the future beyond what her Yoices gave her by special revelation when her country’s need seemed to call for it. When women brought her crosses and chaplets to touch, she would answer, “Why not touch them yourselves, good people; it will do quite as well.” For the poor she retained a special kindness, and loved to mingle with children in the country churches who were preparing for their first communion. When she spoke humbly of her work, and some replied that nothing like it had ever been heard before, or even read in books, “My Lord,” she answered, “has a book which no clerk can read, be he ever so clerk-like in his learning.”
Her capture, 23 May 1430
With the return of Spring, military operations were renewed with more vigour. The town of Compiegne had surrendered in the preceding summer to the King, and was now attacked by the Duke of Burgundy, who hoped to recover it. The Maid gallantly came to its rescue, and in her usual fashion turned assailant at once, making a sortie that very day which took the besiegers by surprise. They speedily rallied, however, and became pursuers in their turn. Then Joan took the post of danger, and tried to protect the rear; but in so doing she was shut out of the town when the gates were May 23 closed, and captured. The men of France, 1430. wno should have been willing, every one of them, to buy her life with theirs, left her a prey to the enemy. The governor of Compiegne, some say, had sold her, and took this method to complete his wretched bargain. At any rate, she was left, when others for whom she had periled life were safe within the walls; and being recognized by her costume, which had become familiar by this time to English and Burgundians, she was surrounded and made a prisoner. Popular tradition still points out the spot where an archer of Picardy seized her and dragged her from her horse, glad enough to secure such a prize, and astonished, perhaps, to find that it could be won so easily.
Her capture took place on the 23rd of May, 1430. Her execution took place on the 1st of June in the following year, and during that weary interval the Maid had to endure the tortures of many martyrdoms. Seldom have there been a rise and a fall like hers. From Domremy to Rheims, – from Rheims to Rouen, – what a wide gulf does there seem in each instance! But the details of the second stage are as sad as the record of the first is romantic and inspiriting. She seemed to have enemies every where, and friends nowhere. Too simple and single-hearted to make or court a faction, she had trodden her steep, rough path by herself, had stood alone on the lofty pinnacle of fame, and now was hurled from it without one interposing arm or protesting voice. The basest passions were at work to destroy her. Some feared to let her live, after seeing what her name and influence had wrought for their overthrow. Some hated with a cruel hatred the girl before whom their armies had fled in terror and disgrace. Some longed to discredit the royal cause by representing its champion to be an agent of the devil. Some were lusting after worldly gains to which they were to be helped at the cost of the poor captive Maid.
Joan sold to the English, November 1430
She was first in the hands of one Jean de Digny, a vassal or the Duke of Burgundy, who was glad of an opportunity of doing what would please his Lord, having his eye upon an estate to which the Duke’s influence might help him. Burgundy, just then, was anxious to be on good terms with England for the sake of his trade; and gladly negotiated for the sale of the Maid to her bitterest enemies, the price being equivalent to a prince’s ransom, ten thousand livres. But, even then, some plea was necessary for getting rid of a prisoner of war by violence; so an ecclesiastic was found, one Cauchon, Bishop of Beauvais, to claim her as being taken within his jurisdiction, and suspected of heresy and witchcraft; he, too, having his private ends to serve, for the arch- bishopric of Bouen was vacant, and to please Cardinal Beaufort was the surest path to promotion. Thus fear and hatred were leagued together, – ambition and covetousness went hand in hand, – leading men of three different countries were combining their efforts, – and the end which they had in view was the destruction of one pure-minded, heroic girl, whose only fault it was to have loved her King, and served her country, with a devotion that put colder loyalty to shame. Under such circumstances the end could not be doubtful. She was formally surrendered to Cauchon, as the proper person to take judicial cognizance of offences against religion; and with him was associated the Vicar of the Inquisition in France, an obscure Dominican, to give the tribunal a more dignified and impartial character.
Months were consumed in these negotiations, and in the interval the poor Maid was a solitary prisoner in the castle of Beaurevoir, at no great distance from Compiegne. The latter place was still in the hands of the King’s friends, but close pressed by the English. The rumours of its distress reached her in her captivity, and true as ever to the great principle of her life, she longed for freedom that she might do battle once more for France. Her mind was bewildered, it seems, between the passionate desire to deliver the besieged loyalists, and fear of doing any thing forbidden to compass an end so precious; till, at last, one day, when she was unguarded at the summit of a lofty tower, in a fit, not of desperation, as she said herself, but of enthusiastic hope, expecting to be borne up and preserved by an act of divine power, she threw herself headlong from the walls. No miracle was wrought to save her; she found herself presently on the ground, not free to make straight for Compiegne, but severely hurt, so as to be re-captured without difficulty. The action passed for an attempt at self-destruction; and while the ladies of Ligny nursed her tenderly, her enemies elsewhere gloried in this supposed blot on her saintly character.
Joan’s trial at Rouen, 9 January 1431
It was not till the 9th of January that the proceedings were opened at Rouen, and the first appearance of Joan before the Court was on the 21st of the following month, just nine months after her military career had ended. The indictment charged her that, having “discarded all modesty, and being a person of wonderful and monstrous depravity,” she had worn garments unsightly to be seen, and suited only to the other sex; moreover, that she “had proceeded to such a pitch of presumption as to do, say and publish abroad many things contrary to the Catholic faith;” – that, in matters of this sort, both in the said diocese of Beauvais, and in many other parts of the kingdom, she had been a grievous offender; – that the Bishop, accordingly, as became his pastoral office, had determined to make inquisition into the charges aforesaid; – that John of Luxembourg and the Duke of Burgundy, moreover, “piously desiring that all things might be done for the increase of religion,” and the King of England, besides, (i animated by the liveliest zeal for the orthodox faith,” had seconded his wishes, and delivered up the said woman into his hands, to be dealt with according to the laws and usages of the Church. More than forty assessors were mustered, including Abbots, Priors., Canons, Doctors of Theology, and Licentiates in Civil Law; and before a host like this, the poor Maid had to stand up, without ad- vocate or friend, to answer for herself. Let it be remembered that everything relating to the trial, comes from the judicial documents drawn up by her accusers. All, therefore, that goes to prove Joan’s perfect rectitude of purpose, is certified to us, as few things are, or can be, in any historical inquiry. When the Secretary sat in court, and noted down what she said from day to clay, he little thought what a monument he was building up to the prisoner’s fame. But there it is; and as we read what he has written, we marvel successively at her self-possession, her conscientiousness, her pertinent replies, and never-failing patience. She speaks unreservedly at one time, and cautiously at another; but never, by her speech or silence, is there any effort to conciliate her judges. The good sense and good faith are always on the Maid’s side; the trifling puerilities, and lack of wisdom and fairness, are all on theirs.
The first dispute between them was about her oath. Being required to swear upon the holy gospels that she will tell the truth concerning all the things respecting which she should be interrogated, she takes her ground as one not free to tell abroad all that has been revealed to her in times past. “I don’t know what you mean to ask me about,” she said. “Perhaps you will ask me what I ought not to tell you. All that relates to my father and mother I will tell you, and what I did when I had taken my journey into France. But there are revelations which I have received from God, which I never told to any living man, except my King, and would not tell, even if I were to have my head cut off.” “But at any rate,” it was replied, “you may swear to tell the truth about matters which concern our faith;” and to this the Maid was sworn, upon her bended knees, with both hands upon the Missal. The same scene was renewed on the second day with the same result; yet on the third day the attack was renewed on the old ground. “You must swear absolutely and without conditions of any sort,” said the presiding judge, “to give true answers to all that we shall ask you.” “I have sworn twice already,” she said; “that is enough, and you may well dispense with more.” “You lay a heavy load upon yourselves in this matter, and press me more than you ought to do.” “You might command me to tell what I have sworn not to tell; and then I should have the guilt of perjury which you would not wish.” It was evident enough that her very scruples on the subject were a better security for truth-telling than twenty oaths lightly taken; but with dogged resolution, as if to tease and worry their victim, the men plied her with threats and admonitions. Joan was as firm as they, and with better reason. “I am ready to swear to tell the truth about all I know relating to this inquiry,” she said again; and so the matter concluded for that time.
When this point was settled to the satisfaction of the court, they questioned her about her birth, her religious teachers, her childhood and her early youth. All was told with the greatest frankness and simplicity; – her home pursuits, – her visit to her uncle and journeys to Vancouleurs, – her repulse by Baudricourt, – her importunity and subsequent success, – her journey to Chinon, and meeting with the King. “I saw Saint Michael first,” she said, “when I was thirteen, and he had many angels with him. I saw Saint Margaret and Saint Catherine afterwards. I knew them because they told me who they were. I did all at their bidding, and when I knew the King at Chinon, it was because they prompted me.” Such had been her unvarying testimony since she first left her native village and declared that she had a work to do for France; and word for word it was repeated once again before captious and hostile judges.
Joan, a heretic or a witch
Two questions naturally arose out of her story: First, did she see the saints, or not? and secondly, if she did not really see them, did she believe her own story, or try to pass a lie upon the world for truth? Was she a cheat who aimed at notoriety, and cared not how it was won? or a dreamer of dreams whose fancies had shaped themselves into forms, which to a person of her impassioned temperament had all the appearance of reality? This last conclusion, it seems quite impossible for any candid mind to resist. All the evidence tends that way, and there is no single circumstance which gives the smallest plausibility to the other supposition. A third question, however, perplexed the minds of the men who tried her. “Was she a heretic or a witch?” In either character she might be burnt; but they thought it important to settle which badge of infamy should be fastened upon her before they gave sentence in the Church’s name. Still, upon their theory, as it seems to us, nine tenths of their questions might have been spared; and a much shorter process would have been more humane to Joan, and less discreditable to themselves. It did not much signify, surely, how Joan knew Saint Catherine from Saint Margaret, – whether they were of the same age, and were dressed alike, – whether she saw any thing but their faces, – whether they had rings in their ears, and long flowing hair under their crowns, – whether they had wings or arms, – whether they both spoke together or in turns; yet such was the style of the examination often through half a day, while the poor Maid listened, and tried to recall the visions of the past, and answered some questions affirmatively, and some with hesitation, as one fearful to speak a syllable beyond the truth. “I can’t remember now;” – “I knew once, but it is forgotten;” – “I told them at Poitiers about this; I remembered then; you can send there and learn what I said;” – ” Pray, spare me, and pass on to something else;” – were some of her simple, touching replies at times like these.
All that had been reported by friends to her honour, or invented by enemies to bring scandal on her name, was turned against her with ingenious, persevering malignity. “Did you know,” asked her judges, “that people on your side had masses celebrated, and prayers offered up, to do you honour?” “If they had any religious service on my account,” was her answer, “I never told them; and if they prayed for me, surely they did nothing wrong.” “But did they not believe firmly that your mission was from God, and did they believe well in thinking so?” “I do not know what they believed,” said Joan; “their own hearts can tell that best; but if they thought I was sent of God, they were not mistaken.” But did you not know what was in the hearts of your people when they kissed your feet and hands and garments?” “Many, doubtless, were pleased to see me; poor people especially would come about me to embrace me, because I never did them wrong, but took pleasure rather in helping them when I could.”
Her Voices, it seems, had not left her: they were with her in prison. She says, on one occasion, that she had heard them the day before, – that they woke her in the morning, – that some things were said which she did not understand, but, when she was wide awake, they told her to answer boldly, – that she sat upon her bed, and with clasped hands begged for their help and guidance, and they gave for answer that God would help her. Her courage seems to have grown, and her spirit to have kindled, as she recalled the scene; for after describing it particularly, she said to the Bishop, “You call yourself my judge; take care, then, what you do; for am truly sent from God, and you are running into danger;” – “I believe firmly, as firmly as I believe that God redeemed us from the pains of hell, that the Voice came from God.” Then came the nice distinctions and refinements of men who had their own theories about angels and spirits, and thought the poor Maid must understand them too. “Was that Voice you speak of,” they said, “a single angel, or did it come immediately from God, or was it the voice of some saint, male or female?” te The voice came from God,” she answered; ” I believe I don’t tell you quite plainly what I know; for I am more afraid of doing wrong by saying what may displease the Voices than I am of answering you.”
Joan’s patience and cleverness
The marvel is, that human patience could hold out against the teazing of the doctors, with their infinitely small questions a dozen times repeated. Eight times in as many days, sometimes twice in the same day, during the month of March, she was put upon this sort of rack; and yet, strange to say, she did not turn on the men who baited her, and say, “I am sick and weary of these childish follies; you know all about me that you need to know; you can kill me, if you like, for I am but a helpless woman; but, God helping me, I will not speak another word.” She went on answering, and her answers were marvellous for their discretion at one time, and for their promptness at another. When the inquiries were most irrelevant, she either brought back her judges to the point from which they had wandered, reminding them that her oath was not binding beyond certain limits, and that to statements wholly unconnected with the matter in hand she would not commit herself; or else she met the grave old gentlemen with some quick-witted retort, without any thing of rudeness or passion, which must have flashed like lightning, almost, on their bewildered intellects. “Was Saint Michael naked, when you saw him?” they said one day; “Do you think the Lord had not enough to find him clothes?” answered the Maid. “Did Saint Margaret talk English?” inquired the wiseacres; “Why, she was not on the English side,” Joan reminded them; “how should she talk their tongue?” “Do Saint Margaret and Saint Catherine hate the English?” was another query; “They love what our Lord loves,” said the pure-hearted girl, “and hate what He hates.” “Does God hate the English, think you?” “How He esteems their souls I cannot tell,” Joan replied, with the charity which never failed her; but added, with her true French heart, in the face of men who were all on the English side, “I know well they shall all be driven out of this land, except those who perish in it.”
The doubtful points of her life were recurred to again and again, and were strangely coupled, sometimes, with supposed irregularities in military transactions, as if poor Joan, besides being the router of armies, had been presiding judge on courts-martial, and supreme arbitress in every disputed question of campaigning morality. “Were you in mortal sin, when you let a prisoner of war be put to death; – and again, when you rode on that horse which belonged to the Bishop of Senlis; – and again, when you wore man’s clothes; – and again, when you attacked Paris on the festival-day; – and again, when you threw yourself from the tower of Beaurevoir?” For the trifling and the serious, in interrogatories of this sort, the Maid was alike prepared. “The prisoner was a bad man, and was judged for past crimes by the proper officers.” “The Bishop got his horse back again; besides it was but a poor steed for military purposes.” Then,” for her man’s dress, she had done what she did at God’s bidding and in His service; and when He pleased, her male attire should be put off again.” “If she did wrong in assaulting Paris, that was the Church’s concern, and she would confess gladly to a priest.” “At Beaurevoir, when she perilled her life by leaping from the tower, she did not well, she thinks; on the contrary, it was ill done; but it was in charity to the poor suffering townsmen the venture was made, and on that point she made sure that she had a pardon from God.”
More than once the trap was so laid as to render it difficult for her to make her ground good without seeming to exalt herself unduly. As far as her Voices went, she claimed to have favours and privileges of no common kind. Did she, then, think herself beyond the reach of danger? Her heavenly visitants encouraged her, she said, to martyrdom by the hope of Paradise. Was it out of the question, then, that she should commit mortal sin? “I know nothing about it; I leave that to the Lord,” was her reply; and again, when asked whether she knew herself to be in a state of grace, she gave a reply frank and modest like herself: ” If I am not, I pray God to bring me to it; and if I am, may He keep me in it. I should be the most wretched creature on earth if I thought I were not in God’s favour. Besides, if I were in a state of sin, the Voice, I think, would never come to me; and I should be glad enough to have all the world understand it as well as I do.”
Refuses to condemn herself
When the ingenuity of the judges was exhausted, and it was difficult find new questions wherewith to perplex or tease her, the case against poor Joan seemed but a weak one, and the Court lacked courage to condemn her. Again and again, the poor Maid was pressed to condemn herself, or at any rate to leave the whole matter of her pretensions and doings to be decided on by the Church. Submissive and docile in other things, upon one point she was immoveable. Her mission must not be questioned. She had guides who had sent her on her way, higher than any earthly teacher. Doctor, Bishop, Pope were no court of appeal, when the saints in heaven had spoken. So she stood out bravely, and answered nobly, “I love the Church and would support it with all my power, as a Christian ought to do; and reason there is none why I should be kept, as I am, from going to church and hearing mass. As to the good works I have done, I must refer myself to the judgment of the King of Heaven who sent me.” “But what of the Church?” said the churchmen; “will you not submit your words and deeds to her decision?” “Our Lord and the Church are one,” she said in her simplicity. But when she was told that she must distinguish between the glorifie d Church in heaven, and the militant Church, consisting of Pope and Cardinals, and Bishops and Clergy, and faithful men to boot, she went back to her old point: her convictions were more to her than all the nice distinctions of learned men. “I came,” she said, “to the King of France on the part of God, the blessed Virgin, the Saints in Paradise, and all the victorious Church on high; to that Church I submit all that I have done, and all that I shall do; and as to the Church militant, I will give you no other answer.”
On Good Friday and Easter Sunday, when the churches of Rouen were thronged with worshippers, she was in her prison fastened to a post by a heavy chain. No mass for her, and no communion, though her longings for them were of the intensest kind. On the intervening Saturday, being the last day of March, Joan was called upon for her final answer to a very long indictment, comprised in seventy articles, and filling one hundred and twenty printed pages Some she had already admitted; some she had denied; upon some she had made judicious and appropriate comments; some she had asked time to consider, that her reply might be given with more of calmness and deliberation. The question about referring herself to the judgment of the Church was one of these; and her well weighed decision is worth quoting from the original document. “As to that which is demanded of me, I do refer myself to the judgment of God’s Church on earth, provided it shall not require of me an impossibility. And that which I have now in my thoughts I call an impossibility; namely, that I should retract what I have said upon the trial as to my visions and revelations, or what I have done by the command of God. I will not retract it for any body. And for that which God sent me to do, or shall command henceforth, I will not fail to do it for any man living.” Here issue was joined, then; she must be dealt with as wicked laws or unscrupulous judges might determine; but to her own degradation the Maid would never be consenting.
Bedford presses for a conviction
Meanwhile, the Duke of Bedford grew impatient, and pressed for a condemnation which should dishonour the King of France as having been helped by a witch. Joan had been seriously ill during Passion Week, and it was feared that the English might lose their prey. Cauchon, the Duke’s willing instrument, was told that it was time this business was settled; affairs of state must not be kept in suspense while they were letting a worthless girl, who had allied herself to the devil, carry on this idle war of words from week to week; he looked to have his pleasure done, and that speedily. The Bishop stirred himself, and appealed to the lawyers first, whom he found refractory, then to the chapter of Rouen, who did not love him well enough to decide promptly as he wished. At last, the university of Paris was tried; and while an answer was expected from that quarter, the judges did their utmost to bring Joan to confession. On the 18th of April, when she was brought very low by illness, the Bishop, and half a dozen doctors with him, went to her prison, according to their own story, that they might “lovingly exhort, and gently admonish her.” To her entreaty that, in her extremity, if her sickness went on to death, she might have the last rites of the Church, and be laid in consecrated ground, they answered that these things were for good Catholics, and she must prove herself one by submission. Afterwards they tried her with other weapons. The rack was carried into her prison; and men stood by ready to put her to the torture; and, thus confronted, the poor Maid was exhorted to confess the truth. But the spirit was still strong even in that enfeebled frame. They might tear her limb from limb, she said; but she could not vary her story. The angel Gabriel was with her the week before. She was well assured that God had ruled her in all that she had done, and the devil had no power in her. The decision of that day is worth giving in the Court’s own words. “When we saw the obstinacy of her spirit, and the fashion of her answers, we, fearing that the torture would do her little good, determined to delay the infliction of the same until we had taken further counsel on the subject.”
Judgment against Joan, May 19
The longest things must have an end, and so even this weary trial did not against last for ever. The reply of the university came at length, and was read out on the 19th of May. It was as decisive in its tone, and as peremptory in its conclusions, as Cauchon himself could wish. The judges had done all things well; and for poor Joan, they decreed that she was either a willful, wicked liar, or in alliance with Belial, Satan, and Behemoth; that her story reflected very much on the dignity of angels; that some of the articles proved her to be much given to superstition, a dealer in enchantments, a most unscrupulous story-teller, and a vain boaster; that she was a proved blasphemer and despiser of the holy sacraments, unsound in the faith, and a follower of heathen customs, if not an actual idolater; that she was a crafty and cruel traitress, thirsting for human blood; moreover, a most undutiful and unruly daughter, tampering with the divine command which prescribed piety at home; and, lastly, to crown the whole, a schismatic and apostate, who had very bad notions about the unity and authority of the Church.
Had they burnt her the next day, the judges would have spared something of their own dignity, and. would have been pronounced by posterity not a whit more cruel and unjust. Or if they had kept her in prison to receive monthly lectures on orthodoxy from the doctors, threatening her with death if she did not recant her errors, they might have been supposed to wish well to her soul, though they were wretched, narrow-minded bigots who could not read a character like Joan’s. But they took pains to heap infamy on themselves. They parleyed with her, – pretended to pardon her upon conditions, – tried her again on the plea that she had broken faith, – and then burnt her, apparently, without any formal sentence, as one who had troubled them too long, and must be put out of the way for peace’ sake. History lives, however, thank God, though men die; and all their mean paltry arts, now that the whole tale is known, recoil upon themselves. One only wonders why they tormented her so long if they meant to play her so foul at last; but, certainly, if they had wished to give dramatic interest to her story, they could scarcely have contrived it better. We see hard-hearted men of power arrayed against one gentle, friendless maiden, – trickery and fraud met by guileless innocence, – traitors to their country conspiring to destroy the most loyal subject in France, – judges shrinking from the last act of cruelty lest the world should cry shame upon them, while the prisoner bravely stood to all she had said and done, declaring, with simple, straightforward honesty, that duty called her to it.
Last days of Joan, May 23
Three scenes taken from the last ten Last days of the Maid’s life will bring our narrative to a conclusion. On the 23d of May, behind the beautiful church of Saint Ouen, Cardinal Beaufort, with two judges and thirty-three assessors, took their seats on a raised platform, while Joan stood on another, amid ushers and torturers. The executioner was in a cart beneath, and a doctor, noted for his eloquence, stood by her side. The proceedings began with a ser- mon, and the text was this, – “The branch cannot bear fruit of itself except it abide in the vine.” The practical application was very obvious, that the Maid must submit herself to the Church, that being the vine, according to the doctor’s exposition. She referred herself to God and the Pope, in the first instance; but on being told the Pope was a long way off, and that Bishops were his proper representatives, she was silent for a while, and gave no answer to a monition thrice repeated. Then, for a few moments, that noble spirit bowed beneath the storm. While Cauchon was in the act of reading out the sentence of death, she said, as her enemies report, that she would be submissive to the Church in all things, and would not uphold her visions any longer if holy men pronounced them a delusion and a cheat. A bit of parchment was produced containing a few lines, quite different from the recantation published in her name, and when the Maid had drawn a circle and a cross upon it, she was pardoned on two conditions, first, that she should wear proper clothes, like a decent woman, and, secondly, that she should pass the rest of her days in prison, “eating the bread of tears and the water of affliction,” as one mercifully spared by the Church.
That day week, Joan was again before her judges, dressed like a man. The enquiry or rather dispute, which followed, seems almost childish amid such tragic scenes; but there it is, and a singular conclusion we must pronounce it to this most extraordinary trial. She chose to wear man’s clothes, she said; they suited her best, while she was living among men; she did not understand that she was pledged never to resume them. Faith had not been kept with her, for she hoped to have the communion when she recanted in the previous week; besides, her Voices had reproved her for her sin in denying the truth to save her life. “God had sent her,” she now repeated; “and for her recantation, she could but say that it was forced from her by fear. Now, she would dress like a woman, if her judges pleased; but rather than lie in prison any longer, she would do penance once for all, and die.” The fact seems to be that she was entrapped into resuming her male attire. She could never have got her armour again, if it had not been purposely put in her way; nay, worse, a witness swore on the second trial, when the secrets of the prison-house came to light, and the foul deeds of her accusers could be safely reported, that she was left before her guards with the choice of her old dress or none, so that her modesty might be outraged or her promise broken.
All, then, was ready for the sacrifice, the judges, certainly, no less eager than the victim. The next day but one was appointed for the execution; a few hours’ warning was all that was given to the Maid, and we do not like her the less for shrinking at last from the flames, after braving death a hundred times in the battle-field. When her last hope expired, she burst into tears, and said she would rather lose her head seven times over than be burnt. Alluding to the cruel insults she had received in prison, she said, “If I had been in the Church’s keeping, and guarded by her officers, things would not have come to this sad end. I appeal to God, the great Judge, for they have injured me most foully.” Eight hundred Englishmen, armed with swords and lances, conducted her to the fish market of Rouen. She wept and bewailed her fate, but uttered no word that reflected on her King, or threw a doubt upon her mission. The Bishop of Beauvais began to preach to her, – exhorted her to penitence, – bidding her care for her soul, though the poor body was condemned; but she needed not man’s exhortations at a time like that, for her spirit was calm again, and her death was of a piece with her life. She poured forth many supplications to the blessed Trinity, invoked the Virgin and all the saints, called upon friends and enemies to pray for her, and gave hearty forgiveness to all who had done her wrong. For something like half an hour, says an eyewitness, this scene continued, and, while it lasted, hard hearts were melted into pity. Cardinal Beaufort wept; the Bishop of Beauvais wept; hundreds, to whom her name had been odious hitherto, – citizens of Rouen by the thousand, who were all English in heart, – went away, and said that her end was saintly.
The pile on which she was to suffer was raised to an immense height, that she might be a spectacle to the vast assembled multitude, – possibly, too, that her dying testimony might not reach any friendly ear. It was heard, however, and is recorded thus: “My Voices were of God; my Voices did not deceive me.” A good monk stood near her, till, on Joan’s own warning, he retired from the advancing flames, and then held up the cross before her eyes, which he had fetched for her from the neighbouring church. “I heard her in the flames,” he said nearly twenty years afterwards, “calling on the saints to help her. And when she rendered up her spirit, she bowed her head, and pronounced the name of Jesus, in token that she had fervent faith in God, as we read of Saint Ignatius, and many of the holy martyrs.” The same witness reported that, before the day was over, the executioner came to him ” overwhelmed with sorrow and contrition,” and saying that he feared that his sin would never be forgiven. An Englishman, who had vowed to throw a faggot on the burning-pile, kept to his purpose; but his hatred was presently turned to terror; for the demeanour of the Maid so wrought upon his excited mind that he felt like one condemned and forsaken, declaring to his friends that, as Joan sank into death, he saw a dove soar upwards from her ashes. An honest citizen of Rouen declared, in later days, when men could speak what they thought, that he heard all about the Maid’s execution, but was not pre sent at it; for himself, on account of the rumours which had reached him of her piety, he could not bear the sight. “The whole people,” he said, “whispered among themselves that foul wrong was done her. I met one returning from the place of punishment, a secretary of the King of England; and he spoke with pain and bitter sorrow of all that had been done that day, exclaiming, ‘We are all lost; for we have burnt a saint.’”
Thus lived, and thus died, the Maid of Orleans. Frenchmen shall not admire her virtues more heartily than we, nor declare more freely that her murder is a part of our inheritance of shame. But if their historians shall remind us, as Michelet has done % in a tone of insolent triumph, that we English prompted the crime for our own selfish and malignant purposes, we will reply that Cauchon, the basest of Joan’s enemies, was no Englishman, – that the wretch who sold her belongs not to us, – that Charles VII., who owed more to the Maid than king ever owed to subject, made no attempt at her rescue, – that the citizens of Rouen, who stood still and saw her burnt, were not our ancestors, but the ancestors of the very men who cry shame upon us, – and when we have told them all this, we may fairly call upon our revilers to repent of their share in the deed as heartily as we repent of ours.
The English expelled
Modern Frenchmen, as might be expected, have done justice to their heroine. “That glorious creature,” said one of the wisest of them lately (Guizot), at a banquet in Rouen, “without a parallel in the history of the world, – with a nature half angelic, half heroic, – for ever destroyed what the successors of William of Normandy laboured to effect in France;” and we shall understand only a part of Joan’s greatness unless we add that the work which she began, the deliverance of France, was carried on and completed by other hands. The nation was roused, and never sank back again into despondency, till it had won its own soil, and recovered its ancient fame. For twenty years the tide of conquest hardly ever turned, while town after town, and province after province, were wrested from the English.
16 December 1431
A few months after Joan’s death, Bedford, hoping to strengthen his party in Paris, brought over our Henry VI, then a boy of ten years, and had him crowned there; but the townsmen looked on silently and coldly, and could not help connecting the utter poverty and wretchedness of their fair city with the ruinous wars entailed on them by the invaders. Long possession had made the English insolent and imperious, and no pains were taken, even at that critical time, to enlist the popular feeling on their side. They had acted the part of hard, exacting masters throughout; and now the ceremony of inaugurating the sovereign was performed in the English mode, Cardinal Beaufort placing the crown on the child’s head with his own hands. The triumphing, however, was short; for in less than five years, when the English garrison was reduced to fifteen hundred men, the Constable Bichemont appeared before the walls of Paris with a much larger force; the citizens gladly opened their gates; and the King of France had his own again.
Yet more important, however, to the national cause, was the peace of Arras, concluded in the year 1435 between Charles and the Duke of Burgundy. Philip the Good, as he was called, the prime mischief-maker through years of disaster and defeat, grew weary of the English alliance; and, after exacting hard terms from the King, and securing some important advantages for himself, consented to become the ally of France, though the name of vassal, for his own life and the King’s, was to be renounced.
The people received the news of this reconciliation with transports of joy. The man who, to avenge his private quarrel, had tried to degrade France to the level of an English province, had repented of his errors, and would do his utmost to repair them. The treaty of Troyes was cancelled at last, and the badges of a long and disgraceful servitude were disappearing one by one. Even the trophies of Agincourt were given back; for the Duke of Orleans, the King’s cousin, one of the prisoners of that terrible day, was released from his twenty-five years’ captivity, and, as a pledge of better times, married a niece of the Duke of Burgundy, the son of his father’s murderer. The King, meanwhile, displayed, occasionally and by fits, a vigour and activity of mind which astonished both friends and foes; the monarchy was strengthened by many internal improvements; and the power of the great lords and vassal-princes was reduced within more reasonable limits.
The prostrate nation, in fact, gathered up its strength, and became greater, more united, and more powerful, than ever. Even Normandy was conquered, which England had so long regarded as her own, like Kent and Middlesex; the rich province of Guienne, the Garden of France, which Eleanor had brought as her marriage portion to our Henry II three centuries before, was another prize, – Bourdeaux, the capital town, in which the Black prince bad been more at home than in London, being the last place that held out in the South of France; and in twenty years from the death of Joan of Arc the English possessions in France were reduced to the single town of Calais. Such were the fruits of Agincourt; such the results to England of a war which had spread desolation through the towns and provinces of France, while the young grew old, and a fresh generation were reared to middle life.
“But what good came of it at last?”
Quoth little Peterkin.
“Why, that I cannot tell,” said he,
“But ’twas a famous victory.”