Chapter 1 – Introductory
Section 1 – Recent Studies
The Beatification of Joan of Arc by Pope Pius X five hundred years after her birth has increased or emphasized the fame, which was its cause. Never was a beatification more ardently desired, it has been said; nor more enthusiastically welcomed. The extraordinary popularity of the Maid, strangely deepening and expanding in our day, has stimulated the study of the sources of her history, and inspired the writing of new biographies. They have been produced by believers of various creeds, and by unbelievers in any creed. We do not, of course, refer to lives, which dishonor the fair fame and the extraordinary career of the heroine – compositions so base and baseless, that they cannot arrest attention.
M. Quicherat’s publication, fifty years ago, of the two-fold Process, the documents, namely, regarding the condemnation and the rehabilitation, or justification of Joan, placed in the hands of the student the official reports, which, curiously enough, are the chief sources of her history – curiously; for the condemnation, which occupies the larger place, was grossly unjust and murderously hostile; yet Providence would have it so, that the victim’s answers were written, generally speaking, with substantial correctness.
Since Quicherat’s time many new documents have been discovered, new light has been thrown on the actors in the drama, the fifteenth century has been more profoundly studied, many fancies and fallacies have been dissipated. With regard to these last, it has been proved, for instance, that the so-called double retraction of Joan before her execution cannot be sustained, that she never gave any ground whatsoever for supposing that her mission ended with the crowning of the king at Reims; that this “gentle Dauphin” was in reality a man of blameless life, as Joan clearly thought and said he was, until after she had been withdrawn.
In 1840 the Society of the History of France, entrusted to one of its members, M. Jules Quicherat, the publication of the two Processes. He was a scholar of reputation, the director of the Ecole des Chartes; that is to say, a specialist in paleography, or the deciphering of ancient manuscripts. The publication was continued from 1840 to 1849. The first three volumes were devoted to the Processes – the Condemnation and the Rehabilitation; and in the remaining two volumes M. Quicherat published all other documents known to him and considered by him the sources of the Maid’s history. M. Quicherat came of a family of extreme revolutionary traditions and sentiments. He himself, though an upright and loyal man, and a sincere admirer of Joan of Arc, did not, however, share her faith; nor, it appears, any definite Christian faith at all. This mental condition influenced, unfortunately, his publication of the documentary evidence, and his own writings, retarding the heroine. He recommended the omission of several memoirs, and actually omitted them; because he considered them, as he said, theological or canonical. As a matter of fact, they were of great value, written by men of weight, learning and station. They not only furnish new matter, but they, perhaps chiefly, do justice to Joan’s mission; and if their value be ignored, or underrated, her history becomes a misrepresentation. The authors of the memoirs, men of highest position in Church and State at the time, examined in the most serious manner the mission of Joan. Such were the great prelate Pierre de Versailles, the saintly Cardinal Elie de Bourdeilles, Archbishop Gelu, the intimate friend of Charles VII, the distinguished Dominican Brehal, who were the soul of the Process of Rehabilitation. Of the writings of these men Quicherat gives a few inadequate passages, and occasional insufficient notes, notes, not always laudatory. Nor is the work actually done by M. Quicherat always exact, especially in his publication of the Process of Rehabilitation, which, naturally, is more worthy of respect than the work of the murderous Sanhedrin of Rouen. Quicherat wished to abridge the manuscripts of the second trial or Rehabilitation, but, unfortunately, follows his prejudice in the selection; and omits the more important manuscripts for those of far less value. In fact, Quicherat was the first to attempt to reinstate – to some extent–the unworthy Bishop of Cauchon, leaving the impression that he followed methodically the procedure of the Inquisition; while M. Quicherat depreciates the Process of Rehabilitation. But it is especially in his later work, Apercus Nouveau, that he disfigures the heroine whom he seems to admire. His omissions, his prejudices, his interposition of his own false theories and interpretations do wrong to the noble cause, which he treated. His work is incomplete on many grounds; he should have selected his materials better, and have published them without prejudice. Nor was his judgment infallible with regard to the manuscripts in his hands. For instance, he rejected as not being of original authority the Chronique de la Pucelle, justly valued by his colleague Vallet, and shown by him to have been written by a secretary of Charles VII, Cousinot de Montreuil. Various other documents have since come to light. M. Quicherat himself published the charming composition of the Registrar of La Rochelle. Later came the delightful pages of the Vatican manuscript by Delisle, the Belgian Chronicles, the Chronicle of the Cordeliers, the correspondence of Guistiniani in Morosini – all these were unknown when Quicherat edited his collection. There are many contemporary letters regarding Joan, written by the highest persons at the court of Charles VII; and of these not a few are in course of publication. There have been found various documents of local and general historical value, such as unedited lives of Joan, and an unpublished history of the University of Paris. Much work of investigation and publication remains to be done by scholars with intimate knowledge, historical, political, and religious, of the fifteenth century, who will edit the manuscripts with discretion, and with serious and adequate notes.
The most distinguished and conscientious work hitherto done is, unquestionably, that of Pere Ayroles, S.J.; who, coming fifty years after Quicherat, has spent more than twenty years of life in investigating the true sources of the life of Joan – for him a work of love. The praise of the Bishop of Orleans is not excessive when he calls P. Ayroles “the man best informed regarding Joan of Arc.” His work has been declared by eminent French scholars to be, what it truly is, “an imperishable monument,” of scrupulous authenticity. His fine volumes contain far more matter, and are far more serviceable, than those of M. Quicherat. P. Ayroles’ work is indispensable indeed. He shows, in particular, the nefarious part of the University of Paris, not only in the condemnation of Joan, but in the affairs of the Church at the time – its traitorous, destructive plots for fifty years before and twenty years after the execution of the Maid. No institution ever injured the Church more than did the decadent University of Paris. From its blows the Church has not yet recovered, and probably never will recover. Yet it was the University, which declared itself the Church in the condemnation of the heroine; and it was its officials and doctors, including Cauchon, who compassed her murder, without needing any instigation of Beaufort, Bedford, or Warwick.
In the interminable sessions of condemnation (the first trial), Joan revealed her whole soul and life. At the Rehabilitation, one hundred and twenty witnesses declared under oath, free of the terrors of Rouen, what they themselves had seen and heard. Thus the miraculous life is most luminous, authentic, and incontestable. In the words of Cardinal Pie, we have not only historical but juridical certitude as to the details. Her mission startled Christendom; and so we have a mass of contemporary writings – chronicles, histories, letters, poetry, municipal registers, etc., in France, Italy, Germany, Scotland. All these have been studied by Father Ayroles; and much of the matter has been reproduced.
He has discovered much of first class value, as the Letters of Justiniani in Morosini, and the correspondence of Archbishop Gelu. He has translated the memoirs of the Rehabilitation; collected and arranged many documents neglected or misplaced in injudicious collections; thrown a flood of light on the authors and actors in the scene; and justly estimated the value of printed books. His purpose has been fully achieved – to dissipate the fallacies and fancies of those who have misrepresented the Maid and her mission. He has made fully understood the examination and proofs of her mission before the officials of Charles VII; and shows Joan in her true surroundings, amidst the hostility of a court bishop or two, of faithless politicians, and of military captains. And, finally, he has proved the falsity of the Acts added by the unjust judge Cauchon to the pretended abjuration of Joan in the cemetery of Rouen. Not in vain does he name the first large volume of the five- Jeanne before the Church of her Time; for there he manifests her surrounded by the enthusiastic loyalty of the real Church of France. He reveals her, too, in the wider import of her frustrated mission, which was far other than the mere expulsion of the English soldiers and king from the soil of France. The scrupulous exactitude the indefatigable research of Pere Ayreks, have won him the title given in the Acts of the Process of Beatification – “the historian par excellence of Joan of Arc.”
Section, 2 – Joan, Her Own Historian
Jean Hordal, professor of law at the University of Pont-a-Mousson, in his Latin history of his glorious relative Joan, cites, in 1612, the names, and gives extracts from the works, of some one hundred and fifty authors who had written of the warrior Maid. These were historians, theologians, lawyers, poets, physicians. Among them are illustrious names, eminent in knowledge. But Joan was her own best historian. Without a friend, without counsel or aid of any kind save from heaven, the frank and simple-hearted peasant maiden reveals her whole life and soul before the unjust judges, who eagerly sought in the most obscure events and details of her short life the proofs of evil, in order to condemn her to death by fire. This is unique in human history. Nothing could be more luminous. And by a strange and benignant disposition of Providence, the scribe who wrote the questions and answers was honest; and, except perhaps in a few important instances, substantially correct.
From the beginning, Joan was a sign to be contradicted. The plotting courtiers were never quite in favor of her; the captains chafed under her leadership and success. The “gentle Dauphin,” whose cause she so chivalrously sustained, did not venture, or did not see his way, to adopt her bold program. The chronicles of her career were written by friends and foes.
The latter did not, and logically could not, accept her mission as supernatural; yet they portray substantially the great warrior figure, and admit her triumphs and popular fame. So, in a later time, in the really extraordinary revival of the memory and honor of Joan; in the great chorus of praise of Catholic, Protestant, and unbeliever; in the multitudinous biographies issuing from the press All are in fairly unanimous accord in exalting the virtues and exploits of La Pucelle.
Section 3 – The Church and Joan
It may be well, before approaching the actual career of Joan, to indicate some of the unjustifiable theories, or statements, made in her regard. One of these regards her relation with the Church in which she so fondly believed, and which she so devotedly obeyed. The light slur has frequently been uttered that the Church burned Joan. Again, that she was an illustrious example of free thought; of the right, as it is called, of the individual conscience to follow its own way, independently of an authoritative creed proclaimed from without. Such careless or prejudicial declarations are unjust to religion and injurious to the heroine of France. To the Catholic Church Joan’s allegiance never wavered. She began her mission with its solemn approval in the assembly at Poitiers. Throughout her whole career, nothing was more touching than the practice of her faith. To the Church and its Head she constantly professed entire submission. Even in the dark day of her condemnation and death, she pitifully implored that the Sacraments should be given her. And she died with the prayerful confidence of her childhood, appealing to the Pope from Caiaphas-like Cauchon. Pseudo-theologians, “who impudently called themselves the Church;” a band of traitorous partisans; foes of their king, their country, and the Church – such were the members of the Sanhedrin of Rouen. The University of Paris did not represent the Church of France, although it certainly influenced its destinies. The University and its party were notorious for their efforts to destroy the Divine organization and prerogatives of the Church; they were the authors and defenders of schism; the creatures of anti-popes, the fathers of Gallicanism. Rome denounced unhesitatingly he condemnation of Joan as soon as it could; that is, as soon as Charles VII began to move in the matter. And without this Roman Rehabilitation, the Maid would have remained a heroine of legend. Nothing was more imperatively demanded than this second sentence, which corrected the evidence and falsifications of Rouen; and, from the irrefragable testimony of those who had known Joan in childhood, in camp, and in her trial, presented her to the world forever in a light too resplendent to be obscured.
Chapter 2 – The Mission of Joan
Section 1 – General View
The appalling condition of France in the days of Joan of Arc is a matter of history; there was question of the existence of the nation. It had been chief amongst the Christian countries from the time of Charlemagne. Historically, through these ages, it had been the defender of the Church, and the heart of Christendom; and was so considered by European, and even by infidel, public opinion. There was question of preserving this France of Charlemagne and the Crusaders.
The assertions and life of Joan of Arc, show that she was far more than a patriot; or, if we wish, that she was a patriot of the truest and highest kind, who sought, not only the liberation of her native land from oppression, but, much more, its spiritual good, its moral and religious reformation. She was sent, she said, for the suffering and the poor, because of “the pity, which was in France.” She came to remove the cause of this by restoring the rightful king and driving out the invader. But she aimed at far more. Her reformation of a profligate and cruel army, her infusing of the spirit of faith and religious practice amongst the people, her re-uniting of selfish and dissident leaders for the common good – all this was much nobler and far more difficult than the expulsion of the English. Her desire to unite England and France, her inspiring of all Christendom in a time of dire public need, the conviction of the Christian nations as to what her vocation really was, her own attestation, with the support it had in her actual achievements, proved that Christendom, after France, would have followed her, to do, as she said, a fairer deed than ever had been seen in European history. Here we have the need and the possibility, the power and the assurance, of success. Caiaphas, Herod, and Pilate, came together against her, and made her great mission fail.
Section 2 – The Supernatural in the Mission of Joan
To treat Joan’s life as Renan does the Gospels is a violation of fact. To declare her life and work a natural phenomenon produced by the circumstances of the time is a direct contradiction of her own testimony and of the innumerable witnesses of her phenomenal deeds. We have unquestioned chronicles, judicial registers, letters, official documents civil and ecclesiastical, slow deliberate judgments of the chief minds of her age and country, the testimony of acquaintances of her younger and of her maturer years, the word of friend and foe, to discredit the light fancy of men, who, without hesitation or embarrassment, explain away everything.. Her stainless and most cautious sanctity of life, the prophecies so frequent on her lips, the superhuman work which she performed, all lead up to the culminating point of her mission, the proclamation upon which she insisted, that there was no cure for war-born France save in the union of her people under the sovereignty of the Christ “who loved the Franks.”
Joan’s professed mission was to have Charles VII rule his kingdom under the Christian law; or, in other words, she proclaimed “her Lord” the true king of her country; His social and political sovereignty was the ideal she proposed and toward which she strove. And what she proclaimed and desired for France, she would propose to all the Christian nations, then beginning to feel its need in face of national and religious dissentions, and of purely human or pagan “reasons of state,” instead of reasons of Christianity.
This is, of course, the Christian ideal and program, the reason of the Incarnation. Joan only insisted on it; and she insists on nothing more constantly and emphatically. It is “her Lord” who sends her. She is entirely sure of His presence and of His assistance. She acts and commands in His Name. To Him she attributes her victories and all her gifts and graces.
His kingly name and title are ever on her lips as in her heart. To the hard old soldier, Baudricourt, she says at her first visit “The kingdom does not belong to the Dauphin; it belongs to my Lord. However, my Lord wishes that the Dauphin be made king, and hold his kingdom in trust. He will be made king in spite of all his enemies; and it is I who will conduct him to receive his anointing.” The Dauphin will be
crowned, but by the aid and disposition of Heaven, and at the appointed time. The kingdom is given him to defend. In less than fifteen months the impossible thing was done. The king was crowned, and the tide of utter defeat turned to glorious victory.
Again, to the noble and gallant Jean de Metz she said, “Neither king, nor duke, nor the daughter of the king of Scotland (promised then to the French king’s son), can recover the kingdom; in me alone will France be saved. So my Lord wills, although it is not a deed to be hoped for from one of my condition; and I would far prefer to remain spinning beside my mother. He (her Lord) wishes it, and I must do it.” Arriving at Chinon she immediately announced all this to the king. The noble-hearted Duke d’Alencon was present at the long interview, with the unworthy La Tremoille. Joan requested the king to offer up his kingdom to the true Sovereign, the King of kings; and promised that His Divine Majesty would do for Charles VII the great things which He had done for his predecessors. She asked, moreover, “many other things,” which d’Alencon had forgotten. It was, finally, in obedience to this heavenly command of vassalage, that Charles consented to be led to his coronation, before the eyes of astonished France and of the world, by the hand of a peasant girl, one of the most lowly of his subjects. All this was meant by Joan when she said her banner was dearer to her than her sword. With the banner she led the soldiers to victory. When it touches the fortress wall she said, the English will be quickly vanquished. Her banner represented her heavenly mission and the sovereignty of Christ, whose name it bore. Hence she held it displayed, majestically and symbolically at the coronation. What could prove her words better than that she, a child, should lead the hitherto humiliated and powerless king through the midst of a hostile land to be crowned at Reims?
The reforms demanded by Joan at the court of Charles VII are mentioned, in part at least, by the chroniclers – a general amnesty for all the dissentient French partisans; the administration of kindly justice to the poor and to the rich; reparation for past crimes; the practice of religion, beginning with the king and court (these noble personages Joan made go to Confession and exhorted to Holy Communion) ; the reformation of the soldiery and of communal administration; finally, obedience to the commands which Joan would receive from “her Lord.” Such was the program of the Maid–the Gospel applied to the government and the morals of the people of lianas. How the Maid greatens in this vision of her! And how different she is from the peasant girl of free thought, who dreamed dreams and was stimulated to military surprise by the sight of a village raid perpetrated by some robber captain! She bore no hatred to the English; but requested them to depart without bloodshed; and over their dead and dying she wept with all the tender pity of a woman. It is a profanation to reduce Joan to the stature of a mere patriot. Such was not the view of Christendom, astounded at her exploits and virtues. Warriors thronged to her banner, even from beyond the limits of France, foreshadowing a crusade. What would have been her fame if she had been allowed to take Paris? What enthusiasm and confidence she would have aroused if she had expelled the English completely and rapidly, as she proposed to do? Such victorious exploits would have given the noble-hearted Joan an opportunity of leading a united Christendom in a campaign far greater than that of the Loire.
Section 3 – Her Prophecies
The author who believes little in the existence or possibility of prophecy or miracle, and the outright unbeliever, will always try to explain in a natural manner the manifested foreknowledge and the apparently superhuman deeds of Joan of Arc. Such explaining away often becomes trivial, and often entirely ridiculous.
Before referring to the prophecies of the Maid, it is well to premise that prophecy is not necessary a permanent gift, and that by its nature it is limited. In it is embraced the knowledge of secrets. Its purpose – and nothing is more evident in the history of religion – is to manifest Divine Providence, to prepare the minds of men for coming events, to turn aside evils, to conciliate public esteem, to show Divine approval and mission – all things of supreme consequence, if not of absolute necessity, when there is question of an envoy of God, with great and supernatural things to be accomplished. Provided the person favored with prophecy is also distinguished by heroicity of virtue, that is, practices the Christian virtues habitually in a heroic manner, or with heroic perfection, this gift is a great indication of sanctity, and is one of the chief grounds of canonization.
Minimizing in the matter of prophecy is unjust to Joan of Arc. As a matter of clear fact, she had the gift of prophecy in a rare degree; the gift was astonishing, every frequent, and indubitable. To accept this statement it is necessary only to read her life frankly and attentively. In fact beyond the frontiers of France, she was probably considered a prophetess even more than a warrior. At Domremy, before beginning her career, and at Vaucouleurs when imploring the aid of Baudricourt, she prophesied in the most definite manner, that, before one year had elapsed, she would cause the king to be crowned; that she would do so in spite of his enemies – and they were many and irresistibly powerful – that at mid-Lent Divine assistance (through her) would come. On February 12th she announced the defeat of Rouvray at the moment it occurred one hundred leagues away. This it was that finally decided Baudricourt to help her. The guides and guard feared to undertake the dangerous journey from Vaucouleurs to Chinon. Joan foretold they would meet no serious obstacle – a thing, which seemed miraculous enough. At Chinon she recognized the king whom she had never seen, even though he had disguised himself amidst the courtiers – however the light critics seek to deny the fact. She made known to Charles her knowledge of his supreme secret never revealed to any one, and uttered only to Heaven in a mental prayer. Other prophecies on that same occasion are recorded. To revictual (to re-supply with food VF) Orleans in siege seemed a sheer impossibility. We shall do it at our ease, said Joan, without one Englishman coming out of his entrenchments (fortifications VF). The indication and description of her sword; the prompt deliverance of Orleans, with a hundred accompanying prophecies, of the crossing of the river, the foretelling of her wound, of the safety of her herald, the death of Glasdale, of the total fight of the English before five days, of the taking of the Tourelles after one assault and her return by the bridge; her knowledge, too, of the secret council of the captains, and the losses at Fort Saint Loup – such and so constant was the prophesying of Joan. At Jargeau, foretelling the victory she inspired the assault against the advice of the captains; and although hurled from the scaling ladder by a large stone, she immediately spring up and took the town by storm. During the investment of Jargeau she saved the life of d’Alencon by warning him to remove from where he was standing; directly afterwards, another, taking his place, was slain. She had foretold also, to the tearful wife of this young nobleman that she would bring him back safe and sound. She foretold in a picturesque manner, but exactly, the extraordinary victory of Patay, urging her soldiers to press on boldly. The prediction of the coronation at Reims was one of the most extraordinary of all. On her way thither, she told the military council, which was about to turn back from Troyes, that, if the matter were left to her, the city would surrender in two or three days, as happened. The people of Reims, she said, would come forth spontaneously to meet the king. In the most desperate and hopeless moments she predicted the capture of Saint Pierre-le-Moustier. She foreknew the frustration of her mission, but assured that it would be accomplished after her death. Paris fell in 1436; the Duke of Orleans was released in 1440; Normandy and Guienne returned to their allegiance in 1450.
The prophecies of Joan were not always fulfilled, because they were frustrated by disloyalty or opposition. Her program was not followed; her own efforts were hindered; and hence it would have been a miracle if the deeds which she alone could do had been done without her. If such a thing indeed happened, her mission and her genius would have been of little avail. Historically speaking, when Joan was unhindered, all went well; when betrayed or set aside, things usually failed. And nothing could have been better or more admirable than this choice of a peasant girl to create and lead the armies of France, to the humiliation of a criminal and traitorous nobility.
Section 4 – Joan’s Pre-eminent Sanctity
One of the great promoters of the beatification of Joan and of the revival of popular enthusiasm in her fame, Cardinal Pie, Bishop of Poitiers, called her “the largest and completes, type of religion” – in the sense, namely, not only of personal Christian perfection, but, moreover, of confirmation of Christian morality and dogma by her life, and of the manifestation of Divine intervention in her great career. This is the important view of Joan; not the minutiae, sometimes despicable, of some biographers. Not the inspiring story of her brilliant campaigns; not the touching drama of her martyrdom; but the far higher and more important aspect of her life and mission – the re-establishment of the Christian constitution of states, justice, charity, piety, Christian law, and Christian ideals, such is the complete view of Joan, as of all saints, as of “her Lord” Himself.
In the brief span of her mortal course what contrasts of life, duty and occupation! From the pious solitude of her native village, from the utter simplicity and snowy innocence of her child life, she passed to court and camp, and there became the central figure. But she is ever the same- “simple as any peasant girl save in things of war.”She who loved her little companions, Mengette and Hauviette, at Domremy; who plied busily the distaff and needle, and led the placid animals to the village pasture, now speaks to king and nobles with an ease, confidence, and grace equal to their own. She loves the conversation of men of war. She mounts the war-horse and wields the lance in a manner, which fascinates the proud old soldiers. She sways the royal council, prophesies victory, marshals the lawless but now reformed veterans, inspires them with a sense of all-conquering courage, and in bold attack and hard siege leads them to irresistible victory. And in all this strangest transformation; her prayers and tears are as assiduous as in her native fields assiduous as in her native fields or village church; her angelic modesty more noticeable, noticed, and revered; her absolute detachment from any personal interest, unparalleled.
What Christian virtue could have burned more brightly than it did in the heart Joan, her sublime faith, her nearness to Heaven, her warm charity to all? Not an aspect of religion which was not seen in her – reverence for Divine worship and all things sacred, constant reception of the Sacraments, fear of offending God, or failing in creed or law. Her stainless modesty seems miraculous. It extinguishes the flame of desire in the hearts of her hard-fighting soldier-companions, as, fully armed, she sleeps beside them on the field. Yet no timid and cautious virgin ever took more precautions as to her female companions, when possible, and as to her place of rest. Her courtesy is as delicate and exquisite as that of a princess, and not unmingled with charming humor. Her fortitude is unequaled by the hardiest warrior of the royal army. Baudricourt will not abash her, nor the counsels of the captains dissuade, nor the- unparalleled dangers of journey, march, or desperate attack, ever make her feel a thrill of terror. She will weep over the dead, and for a moment when she is wounded; but this only shows she never lost the tenderness of the maiden. Her sobriety was so great that even at the close of the hard-fought day, she eats but a little bread steeped in wine. The people everywhere are intimately acquainted with all this; and so they venerate her as a saint, and kiss the stirrup of her saddle and the hem of her robe, and ask her to touch their rosaries. But she laughingly returns them with the gay word, that it will do just as much good if they touch them themselves.
Section 5 – Joan’s Military Genius
The transformation of Joan of Arc is unique. From a simple peasant maiden, she becomes, at the age of seventeen years, an accomplished captain of resistless leadership, a perfect horse woman, an intrepid soldier, a consummate general, inspiring the foe with terror. She performs magnificent exploits, with, as became a great commander, lightning rapidity. Armies flee, castles fall, cities open their gates. Perfidy alone – this was, she said, the only thing she feared – stays her victorious advance. She never mounted a horse until leaving Vaucouleurs to go to the king. A few days after, she so charmed d’Alencon in presence of the king by the skill with which she rode her horse and managed her lance, that he gave her a present of a warhorse. She now was much pleased with armor, and asked the king for good horses and arms.
D’Alencon, who was all nominal commander-in-chief of her army, said, “In all things, excepting war, she was simple as any young girl. But in war she was most expert, either in wielding the lance, or massing the army and preparing the battle. She made excellent use of artillery; and it was a subject of admiration for all to see her military skill and intuition. One would have thought her a captain of twenty or thirty years’ experience; and especially in the arrangement of the artillery, she was excellent on this point. “Her hostess at Bourges, Dame de Bouligny, said Joan seemed to know absolutely nothing beyond matters of war. Her simplicity and innocence were noticed by all, and very much increased the veneration she received. The Chevalier Thermes, who fought beside her, testified that in the leading of an army, in arranging the line of battle, in animating the combatants, there was no captain so skillful in the whole world even though he had passed his life in the art of war.
Her summons to surrender terrified the stubborn English veterans – the facts are undoubted. Recruiting became difficult, desertions frequent. In four months they lost the conquests of ten years. The Duke of Bedford sums up the cities – Reims, Troyes, Chalons, etc. Napoleon did nothing better in the same length of time, everything considered. The counsel of the chief s was often opposed to hers; but she swept them with her. In fact, she found it much harder to overcome the resistance of the leaders, lay and clerical, with whom she was allied, than to vanquish the English.
The opposition in the royal party to Joan is almost incredible. In her brief military career of about thirteen months, she was practically supreme in the leadership of the army for less than two months. During this short space, Orleans was delivered in nine days, after a siege of at least six months; Patay was won, and the campaign of the Loire completed in six days. From June 29th, 1429, to May 23rd, 1430, she was only tolerated, and had never sufficient help. She accompanied the army to Reims although the surrender of Troyes is due to her. It is still more manifest that she was merely tolerated in the campaign of the Ile-de-France. The failure at Paris was the work of Charles VII and his council. On the Haute Loire, in a series of sieges, she was placed under others; but the credit of taking Saint-Pierre-le-Moustier falls to her. In her last campaign she had only a few hundred men, and even then she was opposed and hindered up to her capture at Compiegne. Yet all this time she was full of activity, intelligence, and energy. In the beginning she quickly overcame the intrigues of the court at Chinon. The army of “old brigands” (Armagnac), pillagers and dissolute, was changed in a few days. Captains, proud, skeptical, and debauched, followed the peasant child. Etienne de Vignoles – called, from his brusque character, La Hire, an old Burgundian word for the snarl of a dog – practiced and praised pillage. Gaucourt, a man of fifty-seven years, was a distinguished leader. Such, too, was de Gontant; such, Sainte-Severe. The people and common soldiers’ worshiped Joan, and the captains obeyed. Dunois, the true, noble, and gallant soldier, was, twenty-five years after, still under the fascination of the warrior Maid. La Hire alone tried to release Joan at Rouen; but he was taken by the English, and soon escaped.
The military trials of Joan are thus summed up by General Canonge – bravery, example, humor and repartee, skill, foresight, grasp of the situation, activity and rapidity, astonishing endurance, extreme sobriety, horsemanship, used of arms, audacious and stubborn attack, ardor and prudence, humanity, knowledge of men and of the heart.
Chapter 3 – Christendom at the Time of Joan of Arc
Section 1 – General View
Joan was born almost at the close of the Great Schism of the West. This deplorable division of Western Christendom was due, at least indirectly, to Philip IV (le Bel) of France; who, making the Papacy practically an appendage of the French crown, aimed at making himself the arbiter of the Christian world. The great international power of the Pope, who was long the acknowledged judge and peacemaker of the Catholic nations, the defender of the oppressed, the educator and restrainer of kings, was defied and broken by Philip le Bel, and was never regained. The ill-omened monarch really began the Hundred Years’ War with England, which brought his country more than once to the very verge of destruction.
The Great Schism was the work of the French Cardinals, preponderant in the conclave and Roman Court since the days of Avignon. They desired to continue dominant, and make the Papacy French. In the very year of Joan’s birth there were three Papal claimants, one having been added by the Council of Pisa in 1409.
In 1417 Pope Martin V was elected, and the schism was over, ostensibly at least, and as far as the Head of the Church was concerned. But the effects have never quite ceased; the Papacy has never regained its prestige. The contesting claimants of the tiara, lacking authority, and wishing to conciliate the great to their respective causes, were unable to restrain the pretensions and abuses of kings and nobles. Of the antipope Clement VI, one of his adherents wrote: “He has so subjected the clergy to the great ones of the world, that each one of these seems to be Pope more than the Pope himself.” The powerful seized the Church benefices and dignities, and bestowed them on their favorites. These things were allowed by Popes in order to restrain the great from open schism. And thus it came to pass by degrees, that, “in the most Christian Kingdom and under the most Christian King, lay and married folk were heard to speak of ‘my benefice, my abbey, my monks’; no wonder that the abbeys and the monks became discredited.” Heresy, which had never since the time of Clovis f ound a home in Europe, was now acclimatized, and showed its character and consequences in the fearful excesses of the Hussites. In the following century Luther and others would divide Western Christianity probably forever. Even after the election of Martin V, the false Benedict XIII was still sustained by the ambition of Alfonso of Arragon, and by Count Armagnac. Pope Martin died on February 20th, 1431, as the trial of Rouen was beginning; and it is proved that Joan had never heard the name of his successor, Eugene IV.
The evil genius of Mahometanism had long been menacing and enslaving the Christian nations. In 1415, Mahomet, penetrating as far as Salzburg, had carried away thirty thousand prisoners. Adrianople had been their second capital since 1360. The threat of a sultan to make his horses feed on the altar of Saint Peter’s was by no means rash. The last emperors of Constantinople, with scarcely more than the city in their possession, gave, in their abasement, their daughters to the sultans, and followed them to war, even against the cities that wished to remain faithful. All Christian civilization had perished in Asia and Africa before the sword of Islam, which threatened Italy, torn by internecine war, and was still maintained in Spain through the dissensions of the Christians. There was sore need of a Godfrey de Bouillon, of a Charlemagne. Was the remedy promised by Joan of Arc when she spoke of a deed to be done more wonderful than had yet been seen in Christendom?
The time was pregnant, with great events. The discovery of new worlds, begun by Portugal, was soon to reach its climax in the possession of America. The age of printing was about to dawn. Meanwhile, Gallicanism, formulated and carried into practice by Philip le Bel, menaced, in the Councils of Constance and Basle, under the inspiration and support of the University of Paris, the very existence of the constitution of historic Christianity. The all-dominant mediaeval Papacy lost its international power; and the long discord of France with the center of Christendom was begun or emphasized.
Section 2 – England and France
England and France should have united for the defense of Christendom; instead, there was waged between them the War of a Hundred Years. As long as England was under English rule, the two nations were friendly. The invasion of William of Normandy was the root of the trouble, which reached its climax under Henry Plantagenet of the House of Anjou. The hostility between the two nations has never been since quite extinguished. The Hundred Years’ War was caused by Philip le Bel, and continued by his posterity. Philip’s three sons, each king for a short time, died early. But, previously, and during the reign of their father-in-law, Philip le Bel, the three wives of the royal sons were seized and convicted of adultery, or connivance threat – probably after the manner of the Templars-their husbands doing nothing in their defense. One was done to death, more or less slowly, in prison; another was divorced and imprisoned, and died soon after her inclosure in a cloister. The third, having been imprisoned, was finally released.
This was one of the many atrocious “affaires,” not always without shedding of blood, which happened in the days of this king, who was the murderer of the Templar Knights, as well as of Pope Boniface VIII. The “horrible scandal,” as Lavisse calls it in his History, was as obscure as the other horrible “affaires”; but during it, many men and women were tortured, and many suffered death. Historians have thought it probable that the sanguinary drama was really hatched by Isabelle, daughter of Philip le Bel and wife of Edward II of England. Her English title, given by the poet Gray, is notorious as well as deserved – the “She-wolf of France.” She became the mistress of Sir Roger Mortimer and murderess of her husband.
Philip le Bel seized the Duchy of Guienne by duplicity (as is generally admitted) from Edward I; and war began in 1294. This was the real beginning of the Hundred Years’ War. Peace was made in 1303. Edward II married Isabelle, the daughter of Philip; and Guienne was restored. This arrangement led to frightful calamities; and the independence of France was twice imperiled. In 1338, Edward III, whose claim to the French throne rested on his mother Isabelle (contrary to the Salic Law), contested the crown with Philip VI, son of Charles of Valois, who was the brother of Philip le Bel. The defeat of the French at Slugs (1340) and at Crecy (1346) by Edward III, and at Poitiers (1356) by the “Black Prince,” who made King John of France prisoner, extended and assured the dominion of England over a great part of the conquered country. Charles V of France and Du Guesclin, however, recovered nearly all the English had taken, save Calais and Bordeaux. Henry V, of the usurping House of Lancaster, renewed the claim to France; and defeated Charles VI at Agincourt in 1415. By the treaty of Troyes in 1420 the whole of France was ceded to Henry V, who entered Paris some months after, and died the following year at the age of thirty-four. Two months after him died the unfortunate French Monarch, Charles VI. His son, now eighteen years old, the “gentle Dauphin” of Joan of Arc, and afterwards, through her, King Charles VII of France, was now the rival claimant to the French throne, against the infant son of Henry V of the House of Lancaster.
Section 3 – Dissensions of the French Princes
It has been remarked that France created three claimants to the Papal throne, and now she was torn to pieces by three contending parties – French, Burgundian, and English. To sustain the schism in the Church she set one cardinal against another; now her royal princes shocked humanity by their murderous feuds. Her Gallicanism, which aimed at destroying the organization of the Church, saw its counterpart in the unparalleled excesses of the Parisian.
Charles VI was called to the throne in 1380 at the age of twelve, under regents (his uncles) and tutors who robbed the treasury. When he became mad (intermittently) in 1392, the first peer of the realm, Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, sought the chief post. After his death in 1404, his son, John the Fearless, had the same ambition. To secure his influence, he gave one of his daughters to the Dauphin Louis, Duke of Guienne; and his son Philip was married to Michelle, daughter of the king. The rival of John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy, was his first cousin, Louis, Duke of Orleans, the brother of the king. Louis was nearer to the throne, and claimed the right of regency. He was handsome, talented, fond of pleasure, and a favorite of Queen Isabeau, the ill-reputed wife of Charles VI. The bitterest hostility raged between the rival cousins. John accused Louis of imposing excessive taxation, and of wasting the public revenues. In 1407 the uncles of these two princes reunited them, even under the seal of Holy Communion received together. Three days after, on November 23rd, Louis was murdered in rue Barbette, in the evening, as he came from the quarters of the queen. John avowed the murder and retired from public view, but soon returned. In his name, John Petit, a great doctor of the University of Paris, and a great opponent of Papal prerogatives, justified and glorified the crime in a public discourse. Valentine de Milan, widow of Louis, vainly seeking justice, died of grief at Blois, on December 4th, 1408, recommending her sons to avenge their father. Her sons were Charles, Duke ‘of Orleans, eighteen years old, father of the future Louis XII; John, Count of Angou-leme, uncle of Francis I; and the Count des Venus, who died childless. With these was her husband’s illegitimate son, the gallant and noble-hearted soldier afterwards called Count Dunois, but now named in the unabashed speech of the time the Bastard of Orleans. This courteous, loyal, and princely leader, the soul of the defense of Orleans, was the glorious and most faithful companion of Joan of Are; after her death he retook Normandy and Guienne from the English.
In 1410 the Duke of Orleans wedded the daughter of Count d’Armagnac; and hence we have the murderous party-cry of Armagnac, as we have the equally murderous cry of Burgundy; both parties were almost equally traitorous, and both called in the invader from overseas. The federation formed by Count d’Armagnac was chiefly composed of royal princes. The most important matter was to obtain possession of the king and of the city of Paris. After atrocious ravages, in which the peasants were the chief victims, the peace of Bicetre was concluded on November 2nd, 1410; the leaders on both sides agreeing to quit Paris. The governor of the city was, however, really the lieutenant of Burgundy. In 1411 the Armagnac party began the civil war anew with the fury of wild beasts. They tortured the peasants to extort money, they outraged the women, and burnt the, country where they passed. The most horrible sacrileges caused them no scruple. They were excommunicated, and the feeble king offered protection to all who would slay them. The Parisian mob, inflamed by the Burgundians, inaugurated a reign of terror, said to have been more terrible than that of the later French Revolution. The Armagnacs then did what the Burgundians had done, and handed over their country to England by the treaty of the 8th of May, 1412. For John of Burgundy had raised an army of one hundred thousand men in Picardy, Flanders, and Hainault; and devastating the country as cruelly as did the Armagnac party, had gone secretly to, Calais to seek an alliance between one of his daughters and the heir of the English crown. Strengthened by seven thousand English recruits, he repelled his opponents, and sent his allies to live on the country as they returned to Calais. The Duke of Clarence, in accordance with the stipulations of the treaty with the Armagnacs, landed in France, and the second stage of the Hundred Years’ War began. In the same year that the two French parties were betraying their country to England, Joan of Arc, was born. Seventeen years later, on the date of the traitorous treaty, she began to roll back at Orleans the tide of the invasion.
Henry V, after the first troubles of his reign, demanded the hand of Princess Catherine of France, with several provinces as her dowry. Refused, he landed at Harfleur on August 14, 1415; and took it after six weeks. Agincourt followed on the 25th of October. The Duke of Burgundy, in an interview with Henry V and the Emperor Sigismund agreed to the partition of France, while his soldiers spared nothing in their ravages on both banks of the Somme. He himself laid waste the environs of Paris, invaded Beauce, and getting possession of the queen, instituted a form of government at Troyes. The efforts of Pope Martin V were fruitless for the union of the French parties. The horrors of the Burgundians, masters of Paris, in 1418, surpassed beyond measure all that had preceded, while John of Burgundy and Queen Isabeau entered the city in triumph. The legates of the Pope in vain appealed to the English king to make peace; but the two cousins, Burgundy and the Dauphin, came together, not without suspicion, to be reconciled at Montereau. During their interview on the middle of the bridge, John the Fearless was struck dead, after his career of crime, by one of the followers of the Dauphin. What was the cause, no one can say – whether a sudden altercation, or an attempt to seize the Dauphin, or malice aforethought. It has never been proved that the Dauphin had instigated the deed. Joan of Are, afterwards deplored the murder; and it was said figuratively, though not quite truly, that by the wound of the cleft skull, long after visible, the English entered France. At the date of the fatal interview of Montereau, the Dauphin was seventeen years of age; and Joan of Are, eight.
Immediately the ardently partisan University of Paris called for vengeance, and the Burgundians, its close allies, more enraged than ever, now led by Philip, son of John the Fearless, made closer their alliance with the English. To them the unworthy queen also appealed for revenge. A treaty recognizing Henry V as King of France was ratified at Paris, and proclaimed at Troyes, at that time practically the Burgundian capital, on Henry’s arrival there on May 20th, 1420. The demented king, Charles VI, was made to declare that Henry, to whom he gave his daughter Catherine, was his beloved son and heir, and regent of France while awaiting the crown. Paris was governed by the English, and its parliament proscribed the Dauphin Charles, as did his unnatural mother. There was a revival of patriotism amongst the French; some provinces, like Languedoc, returned to the national allegiance; and Thomas, Duke of Clarence, the brother of Henry V, was slain at the French victory of Bauge, March 22nd, 1421. On hearing this news, Henry landed again in France, took Meaux after a six months’ siege, but died on the 30th of August, at Vincennes, at the age of thirty-four. Charles VI, his insane father-in-law, followed him to the grave on the 22nd of October. John, Duke of Bedford, brother of Henry, was at the time regent of France; and after a treaty of friendship with the Duke of Brittany and his brother Richmond, or Richemont, wedded a sister of the Duke of Burgundy. Richemont married another. The Dauphin Charles was unable to make headway against the skillful politician and soldier Bedford, whose successes were crowned by the victory of Verneuil, August 17th, 1424, a day almost as disastrous for France as was Agincourt. The national party struggled in its decomposition for five years more, until Joan the warrior Maid rolled back the tide of English victory.
Chapter 4 – Charles VII
The king whom Joan of Are caused to be crowned at Reims has been the subject of much contemptuous speech. Nothing is easier than to reproach the monarch who abandoned to her fate the heroine to whom he owed his throne. Not without reason is he condemned for his disorderly life. To this is added ridicule because of his supposed personal appearance, his neglect of his royal functions, his lack of soldierly vigor. All this is not quite just.
Charles was born February 22nd, 1403. His two brothers, elder than he, died young and left no issue, though married. Owing to the unfortunate custom of the time, he was affianced at the age of eleven to a near relative, a child two years younger, Marie of Anjou; and because of his dissolute mother, passed into the family of his future mother-in-law, Yolande, an Arragonese princess, styled Queen of Sicily. He was married in April, 1422. He had won back Languedoc to his allegiance, but after the defeat of Verneuil, his party was terror stricken, and continued to disintegrate in every sense until the coming of Joan of Arc. Many of the princes went over to the English side, others retired to their own principalities as independent rulers; others extorted portions of the Dauphin’s domains. His revenues were robbed; even former friends calumniated him; scarcely one of his own obeyed him. A saying was current, that in France any one might take what he could hold. The Dauphin’s house lacked necessaries, as did he and the queen, in matters of food and clothing. Things grew steadily worse. But, according to the testimony of Archbishop Gelu, his friend and counselor, the prince’s patience and confidence failed, and he relied much on prayer and alms.
Yolande now negotiated the appointment of Arthur, Duke of Richemont, as Constable. He had inclined to the English side with his brother, the Duke of Brittany; but he loved them little. His rule in the name of the Dauphin was a tyrannical one, and equivalent to the latter’s abdication. Richemont appointed Giac, a ruffian, as first chamberlain. Amongst other crimes, Giac had murdered in a manner not to be described his pregnant wife in order to marry a handsome and wealthy widow. The Bishop of Poitiers protested against the robbery of the treasury; and Giac proposed to throw him into the river; but another chief counselor of the Dauphin imprisoned the Bishop, nor could the prince obtain his release until he paid a ransom of a thousand crowns. Personal encounters occurred at the very door of the Dauphin’s apartment. At last Richemont took Giac and drowned him. Such crimes in his presence caused the unfortunate prince to utter loud cries of anguish.
The Constable next put Tremoille over the royal household against the royal protest. This traitorous scoundrel continually blocked the enterprises of Joan of Arc; and, in the end, probably betrayed her. He was eighteen years older than the Dauphin, over whom he ruled for six years, until, at last, taken from his bed in the king’s castle of Chinon, he was stabbed, though not to death, and hurled from power. A favorite of Jean sans Peur, he married, in cold-blooded calculation, the Countess of Auvergne, widow of a royal prince, and ten years older than himself. He quickly got possession of her towns and fortresses, abandoned her in poverty, and when she died in 1423, his henchmen ravaged Auvergne in the name of the Burgundian cause. Tremoille was believed, with great probability, to have instigated the murder of Giac, in order to marry his widow; which he did five months later. He turned the Dauphin against Richemont, whose promises and administration had failed, and bought off for a large sum taken from the royal treasury the assassins employed by Richemont to kill him. The funds of the Dauphin disappeared rapidly under the hands of Tremoille, while he advanced to the prince sums at an enormous interest. He alienated portions of the royal domain, prevented taxation on his own estates, collected money on all merchandise passing his castles, employed common brigands in order to share their profits, and obtained from the unfortunate Dauphin letters of amnesty for all his misdeeds. The prince was reduced to misery so, extreme, that he pawned his mirror, after his cincture and helmet, and was in debt to his servants and tradesmen.
Early training and later misfortune had made Charles religious, pious, and moral. There is no serious authority to contradict the proofs of his piety and morality at this early epoch. The flippant historians who say that Charles used to pray for hours and go to confession daily in the midst of his excesses are in opposition with the chroniclers who knew the matter best – Gelu, Duclerc, Brehal, etc. His latest and best historian, de Beaucourt, accepts and sustains this view. The scandalous disorders of the last twenty years of his life had not yet been foreshadowed. Nor would Joan of Arc, who reproached the Duke of Lorraine as a prophetess, have gone to the court stained by the presence of the Sorel concubine. According to Beaucourt, it was only in 1442 or 1443 that Charles began his disorderly course; all his early years are illustrated with good deeds. His faith, piety, and sufferings were the cause of the laudatory titles bestowed on him by Joan of Are, and of her touching loyalty. In her last hour, under the shadow of death in the cemetery of Rouen, the friendless Maid interrupted with virile courage the unworthy preacher who blackened unjustly the fair fame of her “gentle Dauphin.”
Chapter 5 – Condition of the People
Berruyar, Bishop of Mans, a contemporary, wrote of the time when Joan of Are appeared, that France was a land of brigands, in which it was vain to appeal for justice. The war was conducted by razzias, (raids) the people of the invaded territory being dragged to the fortresses of lawless adventurers or brigand nobles – true dens of thieves – where, if not ransomed, they died of outrages to which they were subjected. The armies of the royal cause were composed of adventurers of many nations, drawn together by the hope of pillage. The Scots were numerous, and of such a reputation, that their annihilation at the battle of Verneuil was considered by the people a compensation for defeat. The Irish, who were many in the armies of England, enjoyed no better fame. The Lombards and other Italians were noted for leaving the battle to load themselves with booty. The Normans, fallen under English sway, complained to the king of the wholesale burnings of his soldiers; but received the answer, that such was the usage of war. De Morvilliers, president of the parliament of Paris under English rule, used to pierce the tongues of those who spoke against his manner of administration. The Armagnacs, or party of the French king, were no better than the Burgundians, and often worse. One military highwayman of their side, a Spanish adventurer named Rodrigo, left his name as a synonym for brutality. Yet, because useful to his party, he was able to marry an illegitimate daughter of the royal House of Bourbon, and became brother-in-law of the Count de Clermont. Another ruffian – samples these! – in the French cause, the Bastard of Vars, hung up on a tree as many as a hundred at a time who could not obtain their release by ransom. Finally, he was hung himself, also, in the midst of what he called the bunches of grapes. Outrages on women reached such a point of brutal baseness, that parents and husbands were forced to witness them. The lawlessness of the mercenaries was such that towns, even of their own party, refused, on the advice of their Bishops also, to admit them. Normandy, particularly, when taken by the English, was infested by brigands as by wolves. The English massacred them without pity (for they were especially hated by the brigands), and offered a reward for their capture or murder, just as is offered for the extermination of wild beasts. It is related, that in one year as many as ten thousand of these outlaws or their harborers were decapitated or hanged. Centuries did not suffice to obliterate the traces of such evils. The open country was so deserted that wolves entered at night into the streets of Paris. In this capital itself homes were abandoned by thousands. From the Loire to the Seine, says the contemporary Bishop Bassin, from the Seine to the Somme, the peasants were slain or driven away. Lands remained uncultivated year after year. He makes a long and fearful list, not at all complete, of desert provinces. A handful of people remained in towns which had contained several thousands; and the forests gained on the hitherto fertile fields so the saying ran, “The .English brought the woods to France.”
Meanwhile the English invaders pushed on their campaign. Montague, Earl of Salisbury, reputed the ablest English commander after Warwick, landed in France in 1428, ravaged the Beauce country and the neighborhood of Orleans, and laid siege to this city. He was killed however; and the command devolved on the Earl of Suffolk. To deepen the hopelessness of the French cause, an English convoy of supplies, chiefly herrings, it appears, because of Lent, defeated at Rouvray, on February 12th, 1429, a French army thrice its size, and with the advantage of choosing its own position. Then it was that the despairing Dauphin thought of abandoning the contest, and of fleeing even beyond the borders of France. North of the Loire, nothing remained to him but the fortress of Mont-Saint-Michel in Normandy and the devoted city of Tourney. In this dark hour Joan of Arc took the field. Her prophetic announcement of the disaster of Rouvray on the day on which it occurred finally decided the captain of Vaucouleurs to accept her story and her mission; so he gave her armor and a guard, and sent her, “come what may,” to the Dauphin at Chinon.
Chapter 6 – Joan’s Early Years
Section 1 – Her Birthplace
“I was born at Domremy,” said Joan to her judges at Rouen, “which forms one village with Greux; the principal church is at Greux.” The little village of three hundred souls, running along the highway and the placid Meuse, is still as small and poor as it was in the days of the Maid. The church beside which she lived is there yet, though changed; and portions of her cottage are built into the present house. The stream still flows beside it into the river but the cemetery, then by the cottage and church, has been transferred beyond the village. The fountain at which Joan and her childish companions used to drink has been identified. Near it stood the “fair May-tree;” and above still spreads the thick wood of oaks and other trees, the famous Bois Chenu.
The Meuse was the boundary between the Duchy of Lorraine to the east, and of Champagne to the west. Champagne, like Lorraine, followed the cause of Burgundy, which was on its southern border; hence Archbishop Gelu wrote to Charles VII, as if in warning, that Joan came from the country of Lorraine and Burgundy.
In fact the Lorraine country was considered to extend far beyond the limits of the actual duchy. For, in this broad sense, Barrois, Neufchateau, Vaucouleurs, and other territories, including even a part of Champagne, were in Lorraine land. Strictly speaking, however, and, especially, speaking politically and geographically, neither border of the Meuse belonged either to Lorraine or Champagne. The eastern side belonged to the principality of the Bishop of Toul, whose diocesan Joan was; and the western side, up to Domremy, belonged to the duchy of Bar. The little stream which separated the house of Joan, on the north, from the rest of the village, to the south, was the boundary between the Barrois ground and that of the castle of Vaucouleurs. This castellany (area) was the immediate property of the crown of France. This is clear from the document by which Charles VII, at the request of Joan, exempted from taxation Domremy and Greux. A few.years ago there was found in the archive Vaucouleurs an authentic copy of the act by which, at the instance of the Bishop of Toul, the castle and its dependencies were ceded to the king of France.
Greux, which formed one parish with Domremy, is about a third of a mile to the north. It was built in from the river up the rising ground. Destroyed in the Swedish invasion in the seventeenth century, it was rebuilt on the level land; but the site of the church and cemetery were preserved.
Joan often passed through here to visit her beloved shrine of Our Lady of Bermond, two miles away, solitary in the midst of the wood on the upland which looked down on the Meuse. In front of Domremy, and connected by a bridge, stood the Castle of the Island, as it was called, the possession of the Bourlemont family, the lords of Domremy. This was rented by the inhabitants in the time of Joan; and served, at times, as a refuge for their cattle. Seven miles south of Domremy, and almost encircled by the Meuse, was Neufchateau, dominated by the fortress of the Duke of Lorraine. And eleven miles to the north was the strong town of Vaucouleurs, crowned by its castle, which overhung it, and commanded the route to Germany. From here Joan of Arc started to visit the Dauphin, and relieve Orleans.
The valley of the Meuse is about a mile across at Domremy. Many streams make the river overflow in the rainy season; and thus the level land produced excellent hay, and could scarcely produce anything else. “The straggling river,” writes Andrew Lang, “broken by little isles, and fringed with reeds, flows clear in summer…. The long green tresses of the water weeds wave and float, the banks are gardens of water flowers, the meadows are fragrant with meadow-sweet. After the autumn rains the river spreads in shallow lagoons across the valley, reflecting the purple and scarlet of the vineyards.”
The sides of the valley, rising gradually, are covered with cultivated fields and gardens, with vineyards and fruit trees, and farther up, where they become steep, support the level oak woods. The scene is peaceful, and in season perfumed. The church of Saint Remi, apostle of the Franks, was very small, with a priest who depended upon Greux. Although situated almost in the center of the vast, rich diocese of Toul, it was one of the poorest of the parishes. Here for five years continued weekly, at times daily, the heavenly education of Joan of Arc. For seventeen years she embalmed with the virtues of heaven her native village. We have the testimony of more than thirty witnesses – nobles, priests, officials, soldiers, men and women, as to her pure and pious childhood.
Section 2 – Joan’s Family and Its Condition. Her House and Name
“My surname,” she said, “is d’Arc or Romee. In my country the daughters keep the surnames of their mothers.” Of her father, Jacques or James d’Arc, we know nothing before our acquaintance with him in Domremy. Her mother was known as Isabelle de Vouthon; that is, from the town of Vouthon, seven kilometers west of Domremy. A brother or uncle of her mother was parish-priest of Sermaize, thirty leagues away; and her mother’s brother, Jean de Vouthon, had a son a religious at Notre Dame de Cheminon.
He was probably assistant to his uncle or grand-uncle. This cousin became a military chaplain to Joan at the request of Charles VII. Peter and John, two of her brothers, fought with her. The husband of her cousin Mengotte, sister of her chaplain, was killed at the siege of Sermaize in 1423. Joan was then eleven years old. The widow married soon after. M. Luce fancifully sees in this death, a cause of Joan’s inspiration. The simple-hearted and upright Durand Laxart married Jeanne de Vausseuil, a cousin of Joan’s; and for this reason as well as for that of his age, he was called, according to popular usage, the uncle of Joan. He must have had much of the enthusiast and the hero in him. He was Joan’s first friend and helper, loyal and brave, so that he was ready himself almost alone to take her to the Dauphin at Chinon to begin her military career. He went to see Joan at Reims after the coronation. In the king’s letters conferring the state and title of nobility on the family of Joan, her three brothers are mentioned, but no sister. Yet Joan had one or several sisters. The witnesses at the second trial speak of them; and she herself speaks of a yet surviving sister to Dunois after the crowning at Reims. The one sister of whom we are certain, Catherine, had died before Joan left home. She was married it seems, to Colin de Greux, who appears as a witness to Joan’s life in the Rehabilitation. Jacquemin, her eldest brother, was already married in 1419, for he appears then as having a house of his own; hence he could not follow Joan to the war, for he had to provide for his father and mother. We find his grandson, Claude du Lys in 1502. Du Lys, of the lily, i.e. of the royal lily, or emblem, of France, was the name of nobility given to Joan’s family by the king. Jean, Joan’s. youngest brother, was made after the war provost of Vermandois and captain of Chartres – a post apparently too high for his simple birth and education; hence he was transferred to the provostship of Vaucouleurs. Pierre, the other brother who accompanied Joan, was taken prisoner; and when released, received from the duke of Orleans, the Ile aux Boeufs, an island in the Loire near Orleans.
All the witnesses who speak of Joan, especially the most intimate, such as her godparents, refer to her family as being poor. The word employed is laboureurs, poorer tillers of the soil, earning their living by constant labor in their little fields. There is nothing to disprove this. Joan’s father was one of the two who leased the abandoned Castle of the Island from its owner as a place of safety for the cattle; but each of the two had to find five securities. It may be remarked en passant that there is never mention of the people rushing to the Castle for protection from armed raiders. Again Joan’s father is called doyen of Domremy; but the word, in the time and circumstances, was equivalent to sergeant, serviens, i.e. one who served notices, summoned jurors, etc. Such public servants were often of quite lowly station.
The existence of the little home of Joan d’Arc, even though somewhat changed, enables us to reconstruct the domestic scene in which she moved. Montaigne visited the house, he says, in 1580; and was shown the escutcheon of nobility given by the king – a straight sword pointing upwards on an azure field, bearing a crown on its point, and having the golden fleur-de-lis at the sides. The house already enlarged, was bought in 1586 by the lady Louise de Stainville. The little garden, scene of her first vision, seems to have disappeared. But the cemetery remained on one side; and still, on the other, the modest home of the widow Musnier. The little neighbor, Simonin Mushier, was visited and consoled by Joan – as he said, “she raised his heart.” Before being repaired in 1818, ‘Joan’s home was in a neglected and ruinous condition; yet it attracted illustrious visitors, especially from over the Rhine. As the house now stands, an upper portion has been added, and, probably enough, a room on the ground, called the Room of the Brothers. The more authentic portions are the larger room in front of the entrance, apparently the living, and perhaps, the sleeping, room of the family; and the little chamber opening from this at the end opposite the entrance. This seems to have been the little sanctuary of Joan herself. It is in irregular rectangle, lighted imperfectly by a small window, which looks toward the church. In 1818 it still retained traces of the chimney and fireplace; and here Joan would often pass the night while she gave her bed to the poor.
Kneeling in the actual church of Domremy, we are sure, notwithstanding the restorations, to be on the sacred ground bedewed with Joan’s tears in her long and frequent supplications. The small edifice has been enlarged by a choir and gallery; and its original easterly liturgical direction has been changed. The present door is where the sanctuary was, and the altar is near where stood the door through which Joan so often entered. It is no longer possible to trace the resting place of her relatives and friends; the cemetery has disappeared. In 1550 we find Claude du Lys, a grand nephew of Joan, parish priest of her native church. He leaves a legacy for the chapel of Our Lady of La Pucelle, where he wishes to be buried amidst his relatives. It appears that before him there were other priests of his family in charge of Domremy.
The holy water and baptismal fonts are very likely the same as in Joan’s day. Here she was baptized by the parish-priest M. Jean Minet, as she believed, she said; but if so, M. Minet must have died in her infancy; for the Abbe Front is given as the pastor during her childhood and early youth.
The “beautiful May tree,” or fairy beech, so fatal to Joan in the murderous council of her calumniators at Rouen, stood at about two thousand yards south of Domremy, and near the road and the fountain from which the little children drank on their holiday rambles. The tree stood about half-way between Domremy, where some of the Bourlemonts, lords of the place, lived, and the family castle farther south; it thus served as a family rendezvous.
Joan was singularly endowed with common sense. She believed in no fairies, even in earliest childhood; and, as she became famous, was extraordinarily shrewd in discovering fraud in persons and things deemed preternatural. All the historic documents agree that she was never seen alone before the May tree, nor did any idle rumor accuse her of lonely visits. Only when she left for the war, some word was reported to her by her brothers, to the effect that her inspiration came from the fairies. This she strenuously denied. She said at Rouen that after she had begun to hear her Voices she took the least possible part in childish amusements. If she sang, she seldom or never danced; her godmother said she did not dance at all. She wreathed at the May tree garlands for Our Lady of Domremy; but, while she sometimes hung garlands on the tree as other children did, she never hung them there in honor of any saint. Only once did she hear her Voices near the fountain; nevertheless she heard them day and night, at least four or five times a week for five years. As to the famous Oak wood, standing far above the tree and fountain, she never heard that it was the haunt of fairies; and never heard of any prophecy while at Domremy, that a wonderful maiden would come from that woodland border. It was only afterwards in France that she was told of such a prophecy; nor did she then believe it. It may be explained that the expression “to go into France” was an ordinary one at the time, and had reference to what was really the heart of France, the peculiarly royal domain of the Ile de France, the country, namely, around Paris. “To go into France,” was said in places always and entirely French, and directly under the crown or royal family. Joan never heard her Voices, as far as we can know, in the oak wood; nor does any document state that she passed through it. We may be sure, however, that she did, when visiting almost ever Saturday her beloved shrine of Our Lady of Bermont. Some of her imaginative historians, slow to admit angelic visitation, find the awakening of her military spirit and genius in the mystic solitude of the oak woods, so awesome to the Celtic soul (which Joan had not); and in the insinuating rustle of forest leaves, and the hollowed ringing of evening bells, the source, and sole reality, of all Joan’s visions.
It is as impressive as remarkable that Joan invariably gives her name as La Pucelle, the ‘Little Maiden.’
Only once, as far as we have any document to show, does she give the name of d’Arc: that is, in the first session of her trial at Rouen. Even then she says she was called d ‘Arc or Romee. La Pucelle was the name she gave when she first saw the Dauphin. So in her letters always, and conversation, sometimes putting the name of Jeanne before La Pucelle. Her Voices called her Jeanne La Pucelle, Daughter of God. All documents attest that she was universally known by the name of La Pucelle. Even Cauchon, in his charge at Rouen, said she was “commonly called La Pucelle ;” and the name or title continues to be used in all the Process and documents of the trial. Moreover, before leaving Domremy, she was known and called by this delightful and heavenly name. As to the title, “Maid of Orleans,” it is never found in any contemporary document.
Section 3 – Her Birth and the Chronology of Her Life
Joan was born on the night of the Epiphany, wrote Perceval de Boulainvilliers, counselor and chamberlain of Charles VII, to the Duke of Milan, brother of the ill-starred Valentine; who died of grief because of the murder of her husband, the Duke of Orleans, by the Duke of Burgundy, John the Fearless. The year of her birth, 1412, may be considered sufficiently certain from the most trustworthy documents.
“I am about nineteen years old,” said Joan, at her trial, February 21, 1431 – exactly nineteen years and forty-five days from January 6, 1412. The seventh of the twelve Articles of Rouen says that she left home at the age of seventeen; and the Promoter at the Rehabilitation said she died at the age of about nineteen.
The first apparition seems to have been in the summer of 1424 – Joan says “in the summer.” In her journey from Vaucouleurs to Chinon, February 23rd to March 6th, 1429, she said her heavenly visitors had been coming for four or five years. Four years as a minimum would bring us to 1425 – February or March; therefore to the preceding summer, of 1424. Other words of hers confirm this year. At Rouen she constantly keeps to the statement that the visions began when. she was “about thirteen years” – in her thirteenth year. Thus she agrees with Alain Chartier, secretary to Charles VII. Thus, too, Boulainvilliers, who says Joan had been visited by her Voices for nearly five years when they became more urgent as Salisbury pressed on his campaign in France; he laid siege to Orleans in October, 1428. Towards the Ascension, 1428, Joan goes to Baudricourt at Vaucouleurs. On the 4th or 5th of May, eve of the Ascension, she strikes her first blow at Orleans by the seizure of the bastille of Saint Loup. On the eve of the Ascension, May 14th, 1430, she is made prisoner at Compiegne.
Now in 1424, the Ascension fell on the 1st of June. Joan was fasting, she said, on the eve, May 31st. And so we may conclude with probability that the Prince of the Heavenly Host descended to see the little child, who had already, so long before the prescribed age, begun to fast.
It may be convenient to refer her to the flight of the people of Domremy with their cattle to Neufchateau, nine miles to the south. It is the only flight we read of; and so we conclude that Joan’s vocation did not come from fierce and frequent razzias, which she witnessed, and from the lurid fires of flaming villages. Once, indeed, the church was injured by fire, and some houses of the village were burned, at least, in part. But the people, if they fled, must have promptly returned, for they continued to go to Mass at the neighboring church of Greux. We cannot even say that the church and houses were burned by the armed band, the rumor of whose approach caused the fear and flight of the people. In 1425 one such band drove off the cattle of Domremy; but seven or eight men sufficed to bring back the cattle, even from the strong castle, or retreat, of the raiders. Witnesses speak of only one such fear and flight; and it squares well with the driving off of the cattle in 1425. Joan was then fourteen years of age. We have the testimony of Boulainvillie’rs that the family of Joan suffered no misfortune during her years with them; and all that we know of life at Domremy – the uninterrupted cultivation of the fields, the happy family reunions of the Bourlemonts, the childish play at fountain and May tree – confirm his words.
We are told by all that testified at Joan’s Rehabilitation that she remained only four or five days at Neufchateau, and always with her parents; and that she was longing to get back to her home. There is, indeed, a statement in the Process of her trial that she spent fifteen days at Neufchateau. She may have returned thither later, to visit, let us suppose, one of her godmothers, who resided there. Or, perhaps a better explanation is that the scribe at Rouen made a mistake in his Roman numerals when copying them – a thing not at all inevitable. In any case there is no foundation for the silly story that Joan’s ecclesiastical trial at Toul for alleged breach of promise, as the villainous D’Estivet charged, occurred at this date. There was clearly no time for such. The real time of this plot of her parents to keep her at home appears to have been when she had left Domremy, and was staying some weeks at Vaucouleurs, after her first visit to Baudricourt, May 13th, 1429.
Chapter 7 – The Unfolding of the Flower – Joan’s Manner of Life at Domremy
Section 1 – As She Appeared to Others
The Pontifical Delegates appointed for the public vindication of Joan after her death, having failed to find the information procured by Cauchon at Domremy regarding her childhood and early youth, determined to send thither a committee of prudent and venerable persons, in order to gather the most trustworthy testimony possible. We have in consequence an unparalleled array of witnesses of every station of life, poor and wealthy, simple and learned, who, under oath, declare all they knew of their marvelous little compatriot. If Joan had been yet living, she would have been forty-five years of age. So, of the adult generation of her day, there are several witnesses. Those who were children, are now, at the trial, of mature age. We have the testimony of thirty-four sworn witnesses – relatives, neighbors, acquaintances, peasants, soldiers, nobles, priests – who tell what they knew personally. The appointed committee heard witnesses at Domremy, Vaucouleurs (where Joan’s brother was then provost) and at Toul, the seat of the Bishop. It is noticeable that the oath is frequently repeated in the course of individual testimony.
The general outline of Joan’s young life is traced by those who knew her intimately with remarkable uniformity. The simple outward facts of her pure and pious childhood were hidden from no one. She was distinguished by special goodness and piety, very gentle and compassionate, simple and confiding, yet prudent and intelligent, extremely modest, loving labor, never impatient, not without girlish timidity, yet most constant in duty. Nothing whatsoever foreshadowed the dauntless warrior Maid who rushed into the thickest of the fierce affray. She was unusually pious at home and in the field. Morn and eve she was at Divine service in the church if she could be. She was seen frequently at Confession and Holy Communion. She used to kneel in the fields at the sound of the Angelus, or when the bell called to the church. Here she was often seen retired in a corner, or kneeling upright or lying prostrate on the ground and bathed in tears before the Crucifix or the statue of Our Lady of Sorrows. Yet she was joyous; although her companions sometimes made fun of her for her piety – it is the only reproach we ever hear made. “Every one loved her,” said the old man, Jean Morel. Her neighbor and intimate acquaintance, Isabellette Gerardin, testified that Joan was “simple, good, pure, devout, fearing God.”
She loved to give alms, and gave the poor shelter for the night. She used to lie by the fireside and give her bed to the poor. She was not often seen on the roads, but was frequently seen in the church, whither she loved to go; and as she did not dance, she was often criticized. She was fond of work, spinning, turning up the ground with her father, doing whatever housework needed to be done, and sometimes watched the cattle.” Money – and she had not much – left over from charity, she gave for Masses. Perrin, the sacristan, she gently chided for carelessness in ringing the evening Angelus; and promised presents of wool, etc., if he were more exact. She helped her three brothers in their toil in the fields; and became in turn the little village shepherdess watching the united flocks. This, however, was an exceptional employment; and as she grew older it became rarer. We must, then, renounce the poetic legend that Joan was a shepherdess. She was usually in the house as the years advanced; and was very good at spinning and sewing. She had special friends amongst the children; but preferred the company of women of prudence and piety. The dearest joy of her childhood was a weekly pilgrimage to the beloved shrine of Our Lady of Bermont. On Saturdays she used to carry garlands there, and place lighted candles on the altar. The sanctuary stood at the edge of the great oak wood, where its ruins still are seen.
At the foot of the hill was a spring, from which the children drank on their holiday rambles. Near it stood a beautiful beech-tree, the Beau Mai, or fairy tree, under the shade of which the children ate their little loaves on Laetare Sunday, probably in commemoration of the multiplication of loaves, recorded in the Gospel of that Sunday. Around the Beau Mai the little ones danced, and on its branches hung garlands of flowers. Two hundred years after, Joan’s biographer, Edmond Richer, saw the tree and the same joyous games.
Of the sinlessness of Joan’s life we have, besides the testimony of so many witnesses, her own direct, frank, and simple declaration before her judges at Rouen. Although her heavenly guides, Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret, told her to confess frequently, she never remembered she said, that she had committed any mortal sin; and “May it please God,” she added, “that I never may do so.”Her Saints came to her up to the hour of her death; and she believed, that if she were in mortal sin, they would not come.
It is not true to say that Joan knew nothing of her faith but the Pater, Ave, and Credo. Her entire life shows the contrary. She was very well instructed, indeed, in all that concerned the excellent ordering of a Christian life, and in the doctrines and practices of the Church. Would that all Christians know the mysteries of Our Lord’s life as she did!
Who know Heaven better? She knew at the age of twelve what a vow of virginity meant; and she understood the position and authority of the Pope far better than Bishop Cauchon and all the Doctors of the University of Paris. The witnesses declared that she was “sufficiently instructed in the Catholic faith as girls of her age and condition usually were.” She herself said that her mother was her only teacher; and the mother was best.
Joan went sometimes in the evening to sew with her little friends in their humble homes; and if they were ill, she had a special gift of consoling them. She had two little companions who were especially dear, Mengette and Hauviette. They used to sew, spin, and do the housework together. Hauviette heard the parish-priest say that Joan went to Confession too frequently; and often she saw her blush when people said she was too pious. This little friend, when she heard that Joan had gone away, wept bitterly; for, she said, “I loved her very much for her goodness, and because she was my companion.” But she bade good-by to Mengette, and commended her to God, as she herself was going away to Vaucouleurs. Jean Waterin, who was employed as a laborer by Joan’s father, tells how, when others amused themselves in free moments in the field, Joan went aside to pray, and they made fun of her.
“I grew up with Jeanne La Pucelle,” said Simonin Mushier, “and I know she was good, simple, devout, revering God and the Saints. She loved the church and places consecrated to God, and frequented them much. She used to console the sick, and used to give alms to the poor. I know this by experience; for when I was a child, she came to see me when I was sick, and raised up my heart.” He tells how she used to break the clods of earth in the field with a spade or hoe, and guided the plow beside her father.
Thus by rude toil was the hardy little maiden prepared for the harder life of camp, and battle. How we love to contemplate the saintly youthful figure preparing the ground in spring with her father and brothers, or in prayerful solitude watching flock or herd, or in autumn in the toil of the harvest! In fancy we see her kneeling as the church bell rings over village and field, or leaving her occupation to attend Divine worship. The parish-priest said he saw her there whenever he performed the sacred functions; and that he thought she went too often to Confession – because, no doubt, she had so little to confess. She declared under oath at Rouen that she obeyed her parents always and in all things, except in the matter of the marriage which they tried to force her to, citing her even before the Bishop; and in the matter of her vocation to save her country. When the rumor spread that she was going away, because she had already been to Vaucouleurs, her parents kept her, she said, “in great subjection,” but she still obeyed them.
Her faith had nothing of the mere child in it; it was astonishingly strong and robust. “I would do nothing,” she said, “against the Christian faith; and if the priests pointed out anything in my life against the faith established by Our Lord, I would at once renounce it.” “Would that Heaven had given me a child like this,” said the Chevalier Albert d’Ourches, who had known Joan as she began her military career.
Section 2 – Her Heavenly Visitors
The whole course of Joan’s life was inspired and guided in all its details by her heavenly visitors, Saint Michael, Saint Catherine, and Saint Margaret. She was more in communion with heaven than with earth. Her own unwavering assertion, a hundred times repeated, and the otherwise inexplicable series of extraordinary events, reveal the supernatural guidance that never failed. Joan’s honesty of thought and speech have never been questioned. Her singular good sense, and even shrewdness when needed; her freedom from any tinge of superstition or craving for the preternatural; her great and decided reserve and prudence when speaking of her ” Voices ” – whether to friends or foes – all this makes as certain as human testimony can make the fact of heavenly guidance from her childhood to the hour of death. Her Voices, or Saints, appeared and spoke several times each week; often daily; and in critical, fateful moments, almost constantly. Deny her declaration regarding these Voices, and we have no longer Joan of Arc, but a girl without sense, continually under gross illusion, yet doing everything well and perfectly, and performing a succession of martial deeds unsurpassed in human history. Ever wisest in counsel and most prudent in action, foretelling constantly what was about to come to pass, changing the course of French and English history, crowning her hopeless king and expelling the irresistible invader-explain all this on the theory of illusion, if you can.
The heavenly visits began in her thirteenth year. At her trial in Rouen, when she was nineteen years of age, she said. “It is now seven years since one day in summer, near noon, in the garden of our house, on the right hand side, towards the church, Saint Michael appeared,” the first of all her supernatural visitors. He was not alone, but accompanied by many angels of paradise. “I saw them with my bodily eyes as well as I see you yourselves (judges of Rouen). When they went away I wept, and wished indeed they would take me with them.” She told her judges that there were many things told by her Voices which she would not reveal; and when Bishop Cauchon insisted, she simply told him to pass on to something else. “I have told my king,” she said; “but I have no permission to tell you.” Her courage, self-possession, and wit are delightful.
They asked her if Saint Michael were clothed. She answered, “Do you suppose God could not give him something to wear?” And when they foolishly inquired if he had any hair on his head, she retorted, “Why should they have cut it off?” “I will answer,” she continued, “what concerns your Process; but you have no more, even though you cut off my head.” That very day of her trial, she admitted, her Voices had spoken to her at morning, noon, and evening Angelus.
When Saint Michael first appeared, she was very much frightened. After a third visit she knew it was Saint Michael. “The Voice was venerable,” she said; “and has always protected me well, and I have understood it well. It taught me to lead a good life and frequent the church; and it told me that I must of necessity go into France.” Two or three times a week the Archangel came, telling her, no doubt fully enough about “the pity that was in France” – the fearful state of the unhappy country; and that she would raise the siege of the city of Orleans, and that Robert Baudricourt of the fortress of Vaucouleurs would give her guides to lead her. After her first heavenly vision she made a vow of virginity “for as long as it would please God.” Incidentally we learn from her answer to her judges that she was fasting on that day of her vision (when she was not yet quite thirteen years of age), which appears to have been the eve of the Ascension. They asked then also whether she had fasted all the actual Lent, notwithstanding all the ill-treatment she endured in her prison at Rouen. She answered affirmatively. Joan often spoke of the strength given her by Saint Michael, the Prince of the heavenly host. It was needed for her heroic career, her invincible constancy, her fearful martyrdom. The heavenly visitants came in the fields, the church, the sanctuary of Bermont – wherever her duty or piety called her – never in the mysterious oak wood.
The Angel of the Incarnation, Saint Gabriel, also visited and imparted fortitude to Joan. But most frequent of all the visits of Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret. These were promised by Saint Michael, and the little disciple was bidden obey them in all things. The philosopher Saint Catherine of Alexandria, so popular in the East, and in the West in the Middle Ages, confounded the Roman Emperor Maximin and all his wise men. After the horrors of imprisonment and torture, she was beheaded at the age of eighteen. Saint Margaret of Antioch had to flee from a pagan home for the sake of her faith. Her heroic constancy in preserving her virginity brought on her fearful sufferings. Uninjured by the flames into which she was cast, she was beheaded, about the age, apparently, of Joan of Arc. These two Saints appeared to Joan with crowns of ineffable splendor. They were charged specially with her formation and protection. They showed the greatest familiarity to their little sister of earth, so that she embraced them with unutterable affection, and touched them with her rings. Her parents and her brother had given her two rings, on which were engravers the names of Our Lord and His Mother. These she loved to look at. At the close of her days, Cauchon, her unjust judge, took one; the Burgundian traitors, the other. She used to offer votive candles and garlands for the statues or altars of her beloved patron Saints. When they were long absent, she prayed, and they came. When afflicted at resistance to her mission, she used to retire to pray, and her Voices consoled and counseled her. She speaks of her great joy at the presence of the saints; and “she was wonderfully thrilled,” said Dunois, when she spoke of their visits and message. They promised to bring her to heaven – it was all she asked. And she did nothing, she repeatedly affirmed, without their command. She would have preferred, she solemnly declared, to be torn apart by wild horses than to go into France on her mission without the command of God.
Chapter 8 – Joan Enters on Her Military Career; She Goes to Vaucouleurs
At length her Voices became imperative. The need of her country was extreme; its cause, but for her, hopeless. She must leave the peaceful home of pious childhood, her parents and brothers, the persons and the places that she had known so long and loved. She was only seventeen. Durand Laxart, called her uncle, the first and one of the staunchest and truest believers in her mission, invited her to his house under pretense of assisting his sick wife, Joan’s own cousin, and then conducted her to the fortress of Vaucouleurs, in order to persuade the hardened old captain, Robert de Baudricourt, to give her a guard to seek the king. Laxart’s call to Joan was probably not later, according to the documents, than December, 1428. Joan says she stayed with him a week before going to Vaucouleurs. Laxart says she stayed six weeks altogether in his house. Poulengy affirms that Joan returned to Domremy after her first visit to Vaucouleurs. So we have four or five weeks for her second sojourn at her uncle’s, when he went himself several times to Baudricourt. Then Joan herself came to stay at Vaucouleurs, in the house of Henri le Charron. Here she remained three weeks. Meanwhile occurred her pilgrimage to the famous shrine of Saint Nicholas, and the interview with the Duke of Lorraine. In all, there must have been at least eight weeks between her departure from Domremy and her journey “into France,” 23rd February, 1429. Hence she left home toward the end of December. In this interval her father and mother came to Bury, Laxart’s home, and to Vaucouleurs. At this time they made a last attempt to restrain Joan by having her cited before the Bishop of Toul for breach of promise. The charge was baseless. Her knightly companion, Jean de Metz, says he accompanied her to Toul, naturally enough to see how the affair would end and so test the alleged mission of the Maid. He then left her, although she had to make four leagues to Nancy, in answer to the invitation of the Duke of Lorraine. De Metz must have returned to tell Baudricourt of the result of Joan’s trial before her Bishop. The desire of the Duke of Lorraine to see Joan, and have her pray for his recovery, shows that her reputation was already becoming great. On her way Joan made a pilgrimage to the famous shrine of Saint Nicholas du Port. Bertrand de Poulengy, her other knightly companion, puts this pilgrimage before the visit to the Duke. Alain and Laxart led her to the Duke, and bravely wished to bring her to the king. But she saw it was impossible and returned.
She had put on male attire furnished by Laxart and Poulengy; but when she returned the people of Vaucouleurs, convinced of her mission, gave her a fitting outfit.
Vaucouleurs was the only place on the Meuse that held out for the king of France. It was commanded by a rough captain named Robert de Baudricourt, whom Joan tells us she knew when she saw him for the first time, for her Voice said to her when in his presence, “It is he.” He laughed at her, however; and “repelled” her rudely enough, recommending Laxart to take her home and have her flogged. He was evidently not much better than his fellows of the time, since he thought of handing over the pure-hearted Maiden to the bestiality of his soldiers. Her snowy innocence, however, abashed him. She determined, too, to remain in Vaucouleurs until Heaven would open a way to the king and the city of Orleans. So her uncle Laxart took her to the house of a friend, Henri le Charron, who, with his wife, Catherine le Royer, tells us that Joan prayed and worked in their house as she used to do in Domremy. She used to go to the church of Saint Mary each morning; and after the Masses, she descended into the crypt, where, supposing herself to be alone, she prayed with many tears before a venerated statue of Our Lady. Finding no one to help her to reach the king, her interior sufferings were so great as to be compared by her hostess to the pains of childbirth. Then it was that Alain and Laxart offered to go with her.
Opportunely came the invitation of the Duke of Lorraine, whom Joan went to see at Nancy.
Charles II, Duke of Lorraine, had been from youth a favorite of the Duke of Burgundy. He became a bitter enemy of the Duke of Orleans and France, and remained a consistent supporter of the traitorous cause, which had invited the English invader. His early career, however, had been honorable and glorious, before the bitter feuds of Armagnac and Burgundian had desolated France. He was a patron of letters, and had been a devoted defender of the faith. His exploits in Tunis and Hungary had merited for him the hand of the saintly princess, Margaret of Bavaria. But later on, he scandalously abandoned her for a low-born concubine, by whom he had five children. When he died, in 1431, the people of Nancy dragged the unfortunate woman through the streets, and killed her in the most revolting manner. When Joan of Arc visited him, he questioned her about the recovery of his health. She knew nothing of that, she replied; but would recommend him to God if he gave her an escort to reach the king. She warned him as a prophetess to take back his lawful wife; but nothing came of the visit. About the 12th of February she returned to Vaucouleurs.
When she first came to see Robert de Baudricourt, two noble-hearted soldiers serving under him were impressed by her appearance and story – Jean de Metz and Bertrand de Poulengy.
The former, Seigneur of Novelonpont or Nouillonpont, was thirty years of age when he offered to guide Joan to the king. He was ennobled in 1449; and the royal patent speaks of his gallant and honorable life, and his gratuitous service in the wars of his country. He followed Joan through her campaigns, which he survived for he is mentioned as living at Vaucouleurs in 1455. Of the other brave and faithful knight, Bertrand, we know almost nothing beyond his own testimony in favor of Joan of Are at her Rehabilitation.
On the very day, it seems, of Joan’s return to Vaucouleurs, she approached de Baudricourt, and announced the terrible defeat of Rouvray, which occurred on that very day, one hundred leagues away; and she foretold disasters yet more terrible if she were not sent on her Heaven-appointed mission. De Baudricourt soon learned, probably from a royal courier, Collet de Vienne, the confirmation of the fatal news, and determined at last to furnish Joan with the means of beginning her mission. Before setting out, Joan sent a message to her parents, and, as she says, obtained their forgiveness. They were moved, no doubt, by the popular conviction of her extraordinary destiny. She wore male attire by the sheer necessity of her situation as well as for the sake of modesty; but she understood from her Voices that it was fitting she should assume it. Jean de Metz, who used to visit her in the house of Henri le Charron, speaks of her “poor garments of a red color,” to replace which the people of Vaucouleurs gave her complete male attire, and presented her with a horse. Bertrand de Poulengy specifies that it was Jean de Metz and himself, aided by some others of the town, that provided Joan with a tunic and other garments of a soldier; with “spurs, boots, a sword, and such like things; and, moreover, with a horse.” “Then,” he continues, “Jean de Metz and myself, with Jeanne, escorted by Julien, my servant, and Jean de Honnecourt, the servant of Jean de Metz, in company with Collet de Vienne and Richard the Archer, set out to go to the Dauphin.”
Joan had made an extraordinary impression on the two knights. Her intense earnestness, her unhesitating declaration that she was sent by God, her knowledge of the state of France and of particular things just then occurring, such as the betrothal of the infant son of Charles VII to the infant Margaret of Scotland – these, and perhaps signs more conclusive of her mission, moved the knightly companions to risk all, even life, in her cause. She said to de Metz that she must be en route to the king before mid-Lent, even though she wore her feet off; that this was the command of God, although naturally she would prefer to remain spinning with her mother. Then the gallant soldier took her by the hand, and pledged his knightly word to lead her, under the guidance of God, to the king. “When do you wish to go?” he asked; and she said, “To-day rather than to-morrow, or to-morrow rather than the day after.” The captain of the fortress, Robert de Baudricourt gave her a sword – the only arm she had, she says; made her escort swear to guide her safely; and sent her on her way with the soldierly word, which shows he risked not a little, “Go, whatever comes of it!” Thus in the evening of February 23rd, 1429, Joan and her little company set out on a journey that never will be forgotten.
Chapter 9 – Joan Goes to the King at Chinon
Section 1 – Across France
Their route was long, difficult, and dangerous; and the hardy soldiers were not without apprehension. But Joan bade them fear not, for they would pass safely through. No one but this prophetess would have said so. They had to make their way, more than one hundred and fifty leagues, through territories held by their English and Burgundian foes; whose outposts or garrisons were so numerous, that no road was free from danger, and Joan’s escort had to make its way as best might he, at night. Through Champagne, Bourgoyne, Nivernais, Berri, and Touraine – all held by foes or brigands – must they ride. They had to face the wintry floods and pathless forest; sometimes riding the long night through. “Several times we had reason to fear,” aid Bertrand de Poulengy; “but Jeanne always told us to be at our ease; because, when we would come to Chinon, the Dauphin would receive us well.” “While riding beside her,” said Jean de Metz, “I used to ask the Maid whether she would do what she said; and she always bade me to be without fear; that she was ordered to do it; that her brethren of paradise guided her in all she did; that already for four or five years her brethren of paradise and her Lord, namely God, had told her she must go into the war in order to recover the kingdom.” “Each night,” affirms Bertrand, “Jean de Metz and myself slept beside her fully attired in her military equipment, with no thought but one of extreme reverence. She wished to hear Mass; but in a hostile land there was no time to stay; only twice could they yield to her wishes.
The first night they found hospitality at the abbey of Saint Urban, southwest of Domremy. Then they pushed on over the Aube, Seine, and Yonne to Auxerre. ” There I assisted at Mass,” said Joan, “in the great church; and at that time I often heard the Voices.” Thence on to the famous sanctuary of her patroness Saint Catherine at Fierbois, forty kilometers from Chinon. Here she heard three Masses in one day, and sent on letters to the king, assuring him that she came with heavenly assistance, that she had many good things to tell him; and that she would recognize him in the midst of his courtiers. One of the great patrons of the shrine of Saint Catherine was the famous Marshal Le Meingre de Boucicaut; who, made prisoner at Agincourt, died a captive in England in 1421. The sword which the Voices told Joan to seek for in the ground behind the altar of Fierbois was probably that of the Marshal or of some ancestor.
“I had the greatest faith in the words of the Maid,” said Jean de Metz; “and her words inflamed my heart with the love of God. I believe she was sent by God. She loved to hear Mass and give alms, and I myself used to put money into her hand for the poor. Instead of any form of oath she used to make the sign of the cross.”
She was now approaching the Loire, many branches of which she had crossed; and she was approaching the King’s Castle of Chinon, on another tributary of the river, far to the southwest of Orleans. She had thus practically traversed the entire country from east to west in eleven days.
According to local tradition, Joan passed a night at Ile-Bouchard. Next day, having heard Mass, – for it was Sunday, – she easily reached Chinon towards mid-day, as she said; and dismounted in front of the church of Saint Maurice, at the foot of the rising-ground on which the castle stood. It was the 6th of March, 1429, the fourth Sunday of Lent.
Section 2 – With the King at Chinon
Joan is truly her own best and most reliable historian, and as such she is received by posterity. We read with the utmost satisfaction her own account, often minutely detailed, of her life and exploits. This we have in her answers to her judges at Rouen.
She says that after refreshment at a hotel, she ascended with her escort the straight, narrow, stony road, still traversed, which led to the outer most of the triple line of fortifications. The royal stronghold consisted, in reality, of three castles, separated by moats, deep and wide, over which drawbridges were thrown. The castle of Saint George was toward the northeast; that inhabited by the king, in the middle; and that of Coudray to the southwest. Here had dwelt the English Plantagenet kings, Henry II, Richard the Lionhearted, and John. From this last the fortress was taken by Philip Augustus. Saint Louis and succeeding kings of France made their abode within its walls. Until the days of long-range artillery it was almost impregnable. To-day its imposing ruins look down on the fair valley of the river Vienne, with its wood-embosomed, richly cultivated fields. An outer flight of steps leads up to the great throne-room, of which the dimensions can still be traced. The fireplace and chimney are sustained by a portion of the wall. Here Joan of Arc revealed her mission to the king.
Jean de Metz and Bertrand de Poulengy were known at court. They explained the mission of the Maid, and described their daring journey. Joan was not admitted immediately into the royal presence; but was provided with lodgings in the house of a good woman near the castle, the woman being, apparently, in the employ of the royal household. Here Joan remained for two days. She prayed unceasingly, and was visited by the Angel who had appeared to her from the beginning – the Archangel Saint Michael. She was visited, too, by many from the court, and asked many questions. At first she did not wish to answer and begged to be brought to the king. Her manner and answers, the letters of Robert de Baudricourt, as well as the story of her companions, impressed the court of Charles VII; and it was determined that she should be received in the presence of king and courtiers late in the evening of the 8th of March. This, according to Simon Charles, one of the chief counselors of Charles VII, was sooner than had been first determined.
The scene was brilliant and splendid. Joan says there were more than three hundred cavaliers – the flower of French chivalry – while the great hall was brightly illuminated by more than fifty torches. She was conducted into the presence of this illustrious assembly by Prince Louis de Bourbon-Vendome, the ancestor of the Bourbon kings of France and other countries. We are told by the Augustinian Friar Paquerel, Joan’s confessor, that Prince Charles de Bourbon pretended to be the king. But Joan went straight to Charles VII; saluted him with great reverence and addressed him, says his secretary, Alain Chartier, as if she had been bred at court. Joan herself affirms that she knew the king by the indication of her Voices.
Thus recognized, the king led her to the end of the throne room, the courtiers retiring to the other extremity. Here she revealed to Charles VII a secret of his own heart, known only to himself – a secret, in fact, which he could not reveal. This interview was altogether extraordinary, according to Joan’s own words. The heavenly light which so often had graced her visions appeared to her as she entered the hall. An angel accompanied her; and was then or later accompanied by many of the heavenly host, who were seen, Joan declares, by the king and some of the assembly. At this moment, according to Count Dunois and others, Joan seemed to be transformed. The king, too, shared something of this transformation, for his joy was noticed by those who saw him. “There were fair revelations made to him then,” said the Maid. The angel promised him deliverance, and the recovery of all France by aid of Joan herself – which shows the extent of her mission.
It appears from her own testimony, that, before her arrival. at Chinon, she did not know what the promised sign would be which would make the king accept her mission. The sign she would reveal to no one but to him. Nor could she, for it regarded his doubt of his own legitimacy, and therefore of his right to the throne of France. It seems clear, however, from Joan’s words, that it was thought best to reveal it under oath to some of Charles’ chief counselors, in order that they might fully understand the grounds on which Charles approved of the Maid’s mission.
The vision of angels was spoken of publicly and chronicled at the time. In the royal patent of nobility given to Guy de Cailly it is stated that he also had seen the vision.
Paquerel asserts he had the story from herself, that on the day she was admitted to the Castle of Chinon, she was most grossly insulted by a cavalier, as she approached. “In the name of God,” she said, “you blaspheme Him, and you so near death.” Within an hour he was drowned. The name of the man has come down in contemporary writings. We frequently meet this expression of Joan, “In the name of God,” when, in her public career, she urged some deed, or made some announcement in the name of Heaven. It was her inspired way of speaking; for, according to her soldier companions she never swore; and, for all oaths, used to make the sign of the cross. She abhorred oaths, said her confessor, and became very angry when she heard them, reproving severely and converting effectually the leaders and soldiers who so offended. No witness of Joan’s career is more interesting than Paquerel. He met her mother and some of her escort from Vaucouleurs at the famous place of pilgrimage, Puyen-Velay; who persuaded him to go to Chinon to see her. He met her at Tours, and she received him gladly, and confessed to him next day. She became extremely attached to him, and begged him never to leave her.
He used to sing Mass before her and her military array, and never left her until she was taken prisoner at Compiegne. He tells that at her first interview in the great hall of Chinon, the king asked her name. “Gentle Dauphin,” she answered, “my name is Joan the Maid (or Little Virgin), and the King of Heaven an-nounced by me that you be crowned in the city of Reims. And I tell you on the part of My Lord (of Heaven), that you are the true heir of France and son of the king. He sends me to lead you to Reims.”
The princely d’Alencon was, of all the great personages of the court and cause, the most esteemed by Joan. To her he was always her “Beau Due” (Fair Duke). His attractiveness and nobility of character, his valiant military career from boyhood, his royal blood by his father’s side and mother’s, his descent from noble soldiers slain in war for their country’s freedom, the interest of his young and gentle wife, also of royal descent, his absolute loyalty to Joan – all these reasons made the young Duke of Alencon dear to the warrior Maid. His father, commander of the French army at Agincourt, Was slain there, after having struck down the Duke of York and cloven the crown on the helmet of Henry V. Born in 1409, he had married Jeanne d’Orleans, of royal descent, daughter of Prince Charles d’Orleans, a captive in England since the fatal day of Agincourt. The young Duke himself, taken from amongst the dead at the disastrous defeat of Verneuil, remained long a prisoner of the Duke of Bedford; but was set free for a ruinous ransom in October, 1427. As the ransom was not quite paid before the relief of Orleans, he could take no part in raising the siege. He made use of his position as commander-in-chief of the royal army and lieutenant of the king, to second always the plans of Joan of Are, and never opposed her.
The Duke d’Alencon tells, that, while shooting quails on his estates at Saint Florent, northwest of Chinon, on the Loire, he heard the news of Joan’s coming to the king. He went the next day to see her. As she saw him approach she asked who he was. The king answered it was the Duke d’Alencon. “You are welcome,” she said; “the more princes of the royal blood we have, the better.” Then the king led her into an apartment of the castle, with d’Alencon and La Tremoille. Joan made several requests of the king. One of these was to offer the kingdom to the King of Heaven, and He would do for King Charles the glorious things done for his ancestors. Several other requests d’Alencon did not remember. These are written, however, by other trustworthy chroniclers. She demanded a full amnesty for all who would return to the royal obedience, the administration of justice to the poor as to the rich – in fact a general reformation of the land.
D’Alencon said the royal interview continued from the hour of Mass until dinner.
Then the king walked out into the fields; and Joan, mounted on a war-horse the first time in her life, and carrying a lance, so astonished and charmed the king and duke by her skill, that the latter made her a present of a charger. Joan says that the Duke d’Alencon saw, at her interview with the king, the angel who brought the crown; and from her words we gather, that to him also the secret sign given to the king was revealed.
After her first interview with the king, Joan was lodged in the Coudray tower within the Castle; and a page, Louis de Coutes, fourteen or fifteen years of age, was given to wait upon her during the day. At night Joan’s female companions came to stay with her. Louis testified at the Rehabilitation, that many nobles of high estate came to converse with Joan; and that he often saw her kneeling in tears when she was alone.
Section 3 – At Poitiers and Tours Her Sword and Banner
Ordinary prudence compelled the king ands counselors to have Joan’s mission approved by the university faculties and the parliament of Poitiers. Joan, who burned with desire to relieve Orleans, which was pushed to the last extremes of defense, says she was examined during three weeks at Chinon and Poitiers. The examination was long and minute – her knowledge of religion, her whole manner of life, were subjected to the most rigid scrutiny. Sharp-witted women, including the wise and virtuous princess Yolande, the mother-in-law of the king, were employed to find out all about the Maid and her history. Neither her good humor nor her clear common sense forsook her. She felt that precious time was being wasted, and there had been proofs enough of the much-needed favor of Heaven. Her quick, witty temper shines out, as, for instance, when she told the Limousin Doctor, that the Angel spoke better French than he. Meanwhile, thus scrutinized by examiners and visited by the notable people ‘of Poitiers, Joan is life was as simple and pious as at Domremy.
Amongst other chroniclers, Alain Chartier, the king’s secretary, and de Boulainvilliers, the royal Councilor, write of the astonishment caused by Joan’s answers to the examiners on abstruse and difficult subjects. Monstrelet, a hostile Burgundian, notes the change from suspicion to full confidence in her mission. Seguin, one of the examiners, says that Joan spoke “Magno Magno” – in an exalted manner – of the visions and commands of Heaven. That is, as one inspired; and not, as the words have been mistranslated, “haughtily.” Joan never showed haughtiness; on the contrary, it was her humility, girlish simplicity, her tears and prayers, that made an impression at Poitiers, as elsewhere. We are told, absurdly enough, that she showed anger when she saw the priests coming to question her, while she clapped a cavalier on the back and welcomed him. Thibault the cavalier in question, says not a word of any sign of impatience; but that Joan touched him on the shoulder, and wished there were many such as he. She wearied of waiting and long examinations while the defenders of Orleans were being slain, and the city in danger of starvation and every outrage that would follow its capture. Every day, says the Councilor de Boulainvilliers, she begged the king with tears to let her advance against the English. Her time was short, she added; for she “would last” only a little more than a year. This prophecy was recorded at the time, and was repeated publicly.
The Commission of Poitiers, which examined Joan contained many illustrious names. It was presided over by the Chancellor, Regnault de Chartres, Archbishop of Reims. He was the ecclesiastical superior of the unjust and unworthy Bishop Cauchon, who condemned Joan at Rouen. Hence she repeatedly appealed to the decision of Poitiers, which was fair and legal, and based upon evidence indisputable and most detailed. Strangely this evidence of Poitiers disappeared, and before the Rehabilitation, which, probably, points to treason somewhere. There was plenty of it, and in high places. Treason, Joan used to say, was the only thing she feared.
The Commission decided that no evil was found in Joan; but, on the contrary, many and great virtues; that the promised sign of the delivery of Orleans ought to be accepted, and Joan provided with the means of accomplishing her mission.
If Joan was at Poitiers on the 22nd of March, as her most careful historians declare, her famous letter to the English must have been written there, for it bears this date. It seems to have been made public with the decision of the Poitiers commission, in order to explain the Maid’s mission, and win popular support. It was not sent to the English from Blois for more than a month afterwards. There appears to be no doubt of the solemn proclamation at Chinon of the approval of the Doctors of the University of Poitiers and of the Parliament; for in the document as made public it is said that the Maid had been under examination and supervision for six weeks. She was back at Chinon in Easter week, she says; having been partially provided at Poitiers with a military equipment, according to the Chronique de la Pucelle. Alencon tells that he was now ordered by the king to get ready provisions and a convoy to relieve Orleans. He was sent to the Queen of Sicily, the Princess Yolande, the king’s mother-in-law, to procure her assistance. All being ready, he returned to the king for money; which was collected.
According to the Chronicle of Perceval de Cagny, Joan, soon after her return, went to visit the young Duchess of Alencon at Saint Florent. Heaven alone knows, writes the Chronicler, the joy she brought to the tearful wife and mother of the duke. “When I was about to leave my wife to go with Joan to the army,” says the duke, “she felt the greatest alarm, for I had but lately been released from captivity for an enormous sum: ‘Fear not,’ said Joan to the Duchess, consoling her by a prophecy; ‘I will bring back your husband safe and sound; and perhaps in better health than now.’ ” Joan remained with them four or five, days. And ever after that, continues de Cagny, she was.near to d’Alencon, and more familiar with him than with any other.
According to Joan’s page, Louis de Coutes, Joan was brought to Tours, famous for its manufacture of armor, twenty or thirty miles northeast of Chinon, on the Loire. Here she was lodged with the wife of Councilor Dupuy. Louis was now assigned definitely to Joan’s service as. a page, with another named Raymond. “From that moment,” he says, “I was always with her until she arrived before Paris. “With the pages, others were appointed to constitute her military household (êtat de maison). John de Metz was her treasurer; and he and Bertrand de Poulengy were presented with expensive sets of armor. Her special guard and guardian was her equerry, John d’Aulon, the most prudent and courteous of cavaliers.
He was taken prisoner with her, and served her in captivity. Many confidential charges had been entrusted to him by Charles VII; and at the Rehabilitation of Joan he was Seneschal of Beaucaire.
“While in Tours or Chinon,” said Joan at Rouen, “I sent for a sword which was behind the altar in the church of Saint Catherine of Fierbois. It was quickly found, all covered with rust. It was marked with five crosses; and was not far under ground, as well as I remember.” Her Saints told her where the sword was, and that it was God’s command that she should carry it. She did so up to the retreat from Paris; when she broke it on the shoulders of a bad woman who followed the army. The priests cleaned the sword, and gave her a sheath; as did, also, the people of Tours. One of these sheaths was of vermilion velvet; the other, of cloth of gold; but Joan had a very strong one made of leather.
Her banner, she said, she loved forty times better than her sword; because her Saints told her she must carry it in the name of Our Lord; it represented her cause. She carried it, she said, in order not to kill. She never even wounded any one; although she acknowledges she gave some hard knocks. It was made at Tours – a white banner, strewn with lilies, bearing the figure of Our Lord with His Five Wounds, and His Sacred Name and that of His Mother. Its approach often terrified the English foe; and it was borne by her, or before her, until it was taken at Compiegne. Another banner with a representation of the Crucifixion was carried by the priests.
Section 4 – Joan’s Attire and Appearance
The Clerk of La Rochelle describes Joan’s attire as she arrived at Chinon. She was dressed as a man, with black doublet or tunic, to which the hose, or tight-fitting trousers, were attached. She wore a short robe of coarse dark-gray cloth, and a black cap on her dark hair, which was cut round at the neck, after the manner of soldiers. At Tours the king had a complete suit of ‘white’ armor made to fit her. The term “white” means that there was no painting or gilding. Joan’s was the usual style of armor of that time, when the coat-of-mail, made of woven rings of steel was strengthened with metal plates, and was giving place to complete steel-plate armor. The knight was incased in steel from head to foot; there being just two small apertures to see through when the visor of the helmet was drawn down over the face. The head and chest of the war-horse were similarly protected by steel; and the flanks by thick leather, toughened by boiling. The great danger for the rider was that of being unhorsed, when he was rendered almost powerless. To assist him to rise, as well as to carry a portion of his arms or armor, he had two or three assistants.
So was Joan accoutered. Her accusers at Rouen describe her, when taken prisoner, as wearing a tabard, or rich cloak, open at the sides. Presents of rich cloth or lace were no doubt often made to her, such as we read of as being presented by order of the Duke of Orleans.
No authentic portrait of Joan’s physical appearance has come down to us; and we have descriptions absolutely contradictory. D ‘Aulon, her equerry’s words are the most trustworthy. She was handsome and well formed, he says. And Perceval de Boulainvilliers, the king’s chamberlain, who must have often spoken to her, declares she was not without beauty and was of a virile attitude. “I never,” he continues, “saw such strength to bear fatigue and carry armor. She can continue six days and nights without detaching a single piece.” Her voice was womanly, but could resound as a trumpet in battle. It was so touching in tone, that even the hardened wept when leaving her, and the sorrowful were filled with consolation. She herself often wept when insulted, when she saw the dead and dying, when she received Holy Communion, when in prayer, and so on. Yet all agree she was not melancholy, but joyous and enthusiastic. Although she could scrawl her name, perhaps under guidance, she knew, she said, neither A nor B. Yet she knew more than they could gather from all their books.
Tradition speaks of her dark, melancholy eyes, large and beautiful.
Guy de Laval, who was intimately acquainted with Joan, wrote of her to his mother, “I saw her mount on horseback, equipped with white armor, save her head. She held a little hatchet in-her hand. Her horse, a great black charger, would not let her mount at her lodgings. ‘Bring him,’ she said, `to the Cross’ (before the church). There he became perfectly quiet.” Her brother, he notices, was with her, wearing, also, white armor. The two brothers probably came to Tours with her confessor Pasquerel, and followed her to war.
Tours, a city loyal and generous to her king, was dear to Joan of Arc. Hither she returns after the relief of Orleans. The citizens used to reward the bearer of the news of Joan’s triumphs – at Orleans, Jargeau, Patay, Reims, etc.; and when she was taken captive, public prayers and works of penance were offered to Heaven for her.
Chapter 10 – The Land, The Parties, and The Men
Section 1 – When Joan Comes
So helpless, so pitiable, was the condition of France at the time, that it was not the English only who meditated its disruption. The Prince of Orange on the southwestern border of Dauphine, and the Duke of Savoy, were waiting to take their share. Restrained by the career of the Prophetess of France, they invaded Dauphine where she was taken prisoner. But they were beaten off at the Battle of Authon on June 11th, 1430. When Joan came to the king at Chinon, the Loire was considered the actually boundary between the English and French possessions. That is, from the sea to where the early tributaries of the river approach those of the Saone about forty miles north of its junction with the Rhone. This meast that about one half of France was under the English flag. A great part was directly ruled by England; and here the English leaders claimed and received principalities for themselves. A great part also, directly obeyed powerful princes, such as the Dukes of Burgundy and Brittany.
A portion of Anjou, Touraine, and Blois, north of the Loire, were loyal to King Charles of France. But the English were acknowledged below the river mouth, south of Nantes. A few isolated outposts, such as impregnable Mont Saint Michel in Normandy, the city of Tournay, and heroic Vaucouleurs, held out for their lawful sovereign.
Henry VI of England was acknowledged in French and Belgian Flanders, Artois, Picardy, Normandy, Brittany, Ile de France with Paris, Maine, almost all the Duchy of Orleans save the city, in the south the rich and extensive territory’ of Bordeaux north and south of the Gironde and Garonne, and south of that the territory which stretched almost to the Pyrenees. On the eastern side, Henry of England was acknowledged in Champagne, Barrois, Burgundy, and Nivernais. The Duke of Burgundy had drawn into the English coalition the powerful House of Luxembourg and the Duke of Lorraine.
Section 2 – The Parties, National and Anti-national
After the humiliating and disastrous defeat of Rouvray, or the Herrings, the French king was abandoned in great part by the nobles. Some, taken captive, signed away their territories for freedom; others took up arms against the base sway of the actual ruler, La Tremoille. The royal prince Charles of Orleans was a prisoner in England, as was his brother, John, Count of Angouleme.
The Duke de Bourbon, taken prisoner at Agincourt consented to buy his liberty by accepting English dominion. His son Charles, Count of Clermont, had revolted against Tremoille, and caused the loss of Rouvray by his senseless conduct, for which he showed no regret. He was a brother-in-law of the Duke of Burgundy, and mingled in all the interminable attempts at insincere treaties of peace, which spoiled and made profitless the mission of Joan of Arc. Louis de Bourbon, Count of Vendome, of the cadet branch, fought with the Maid.
The leader of the antirational party and chief ally of the invader was the Duke of Burgundy. He was of royal descent, and was almost an independent king, treating with the English very much as an equal. After Joan’s victories had driven the foreigner from Champagne, he obtained from his English allies a promise of this territory, which bound together his possessions of Artois and Flanders with Burgundy proper. He drew to the English side the powerful house of Luxembourg, the Duke of Lorraine, with a long line of powerful feudatory nobles. It is worth noting that one of these was a brother of La Tremoille, who took good care of the latter’s property when conquered by the English.
Rene, Duke of Bar, brother-in-law of King Charles of France, made his submission to the invader either through fear or policy.
The very powerful Duke of Brittany, had changed sides several times, and was now with his country’s foes.
Henry VI of England was a child of nine years when Joan appeared. Cardinal Beaufort of Winchester, uncle of the king, had long been chancellor. Humphrey, Duke of Gloster, was regent of England; and the Duke of Bedford was regent of France. Both were uncles of the young king. Bedford was a great captain, diplomatist, and administrator. By matrimonial alliances, by power of arms, by skillful policy, his power kept steadily growing until Joan came. His wife was Anne, sister of the Duke (Philip) of Burgundy, who contributed not a little to keep the Burgundians united to the English; and of whose much regretted death, three years later, the consequences were soon seen.
Thomas de Montague, Lord of Salisbury and Perehe (in France), perhaps the best of the English commanders, was slain at Orleans. His cousin, the Duke of Warwick, Richard de Beauchamp, another distinguished soldier, was in charge of the trial of Joan at Rouen. Thomas Baron Scales, many-titled in conquered France, died in the Wars of the Roses. John Fastolf, a soldier of brilliant service, victor of Rouvray, was a favorite of Talbot. Degraded from the Order of the Garter because of the defeat of Patsy, he was rehabilitated, and finally retired to his estates.
William Pole, Lord of Suffolk in England and Dreux in France, commanded at Orleans and was made prisoner at Jargeau with his brother, after another brother had been slain. When exiled by Henry VI in order to save him, he was murdered aboard ship. Glasdale, a Scotchman, (who was on the English side VF) as was Bishop Kirkmichael of Orleans,(who was on the French side VF) remained the chief warrior at the siege, after the death of Salisbury. He (Glasdale VF) had risen from the ranks; and with his brother had reached a prominent station. His brutal insults to the Maid were quickly punished by his tragic death in the Loire. John Talbot, the English Achilles, who had been Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, fought through the French wars, and was slain, at the age of eighty, at the battle of Castillon, which ended the English sway in France.
Joan of Arc, the prophetess of victory, condemned the insincere and fruitless negotiations with the Duke of Burgundy, telling the plain truth that peace could be obtained only at the point of the lance. The disastrous war dragged on until the peace of Arras in 1435, by which Burgundy was detached from the English cause. His submission was made on conditions bitter and humiliating for Charles VII; and the evils done by his family were enlarged in a new field when his granddaughter carried her immense estates over to the House of Austria – the cause of age-long strife between France and the Empire. Henry VI of England lost all his possessions in France except Calais; and in the deluge of evils that swept over England in the Wars of the Roses, having become subject to insanity, was deprived of his crown long before he was murdered in the tower of London. The mission of Joan of Arc, we may well believe, would have quickly expelled the invader from France, and reduced the power of Burgundy to reasonable limits.
Section 3 – Some of the Men with Joan
Of all the royal princes, one of the noblest was John Count Dunois, then only twenty-seven years of age, but already famous as a soldier. He was the commander at Orleans when Joan arrived to relieve the city. Next to him was Raoul de Gaucourt, in arms for his king from the age of thirteen. He took part in all the great events of the time up to his death in 1461. He fought with the Maid of Orleans; saved Dauphine at Authon in 1430; and, after a second English captivity, entered Rouen with King Charles in 1449. One of the first companions of Joan, and who continued with her up to the attempt on Paris, was Gilles de Rais, Marshal of France, and then only twenty-five years old. He squandered his extraordinary fortune; and in his vanity spared no effort to attract attention. He confesses of himself, whether truly or not, horrors the most extreme. He was (hung and then VF) burnt to death at Nantes ten years after, but died repentant.
One of the chief figures on the French side was Regnault de Chartres, Chancellor of the kingdom. He was Archbishop of Reims for thirty years, during which time he scarcely ever visited the see confided to him. On the contrary, he appears in all the affairs of the court, and was prominent also in those of the universal Church. It is supposed that King Charles’ refusal to support the Council of Basle was due to him; as was, probably also, the king’s Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges, which largely enslaved the Church of France. The Archbishop was elevated to the Cardinalate at the Council of Florence in 1439. He quitted Orleans with La Tremoille after the defeat of Rouvray. Although he recognized Joan’s providential mission, he was little in her favor, and systematically opposed her as time went on. His futile policy of treaties with the false Duke of Burgundy, his procrastination – not to use a harsher word – only prolonged the sanguinary conflict, threw away the apparently certain hope of victory, and finally succeeded in dissolving the most patriotic army France had ever had. He went personally, and fruitlessly, to meet the Duke of Burgundy at Senlis. When Compiegne declared itself loyal to King Charles, La Tremoille claimed its governorship, and accepted as his lieutenant his relative and ally, Guillaume Flavy, who was, also, it is said, chosen by the people. The archbishop was in complete harmony with La Tremoille – a thing not much to his credit.
Both actually attempted to hand over Compiegne to the Duke of Burgundy, but the city steadfastly refused its consent. A letter has come down to us written by the archbishop after the capture of Joan of Arc, saying that she was justly abandoned by Heaven, for she wished always to do her own will.
One of the best and bravest of Joan’s captains was Etienne de Vignoles, called La Hire. He with his two brothers, Amade and Arnaud, were amongst the first to join the Maid. La Hire figures everywhere in the front of the fight. After the crowning at Reims he was made Count of Longueville in Normandy, and of all else he could win with his sword. One of his great feats was the capture by scaling of the supposedly impregnable castle of Château Gaillard on the Seine in Normandy, seven leagues from Rouen. He died at Montauban in 1444.
Chapter 11 – War In Joan’s Time. Her Army
Section 1 – Manner of Warfare
In the Middle Ages military service was amongst the chief duties of the nobility. The order of nobles had been created to promote order and justice in the fiefs, and to defend the king, the country, and all national causes. Each powerful feudatory nobleman brought in his train, his vassals and their liegemen. The soldiers were the nobles, as was just and natural; and none were ever braver or nobler. From them we have all the grace and nobility of Christian chivalry, which has so leavened and elevated our modern civilization – faith, honor, courtesy, valor, defense of the weak.
Their manner of warfare was worthy of them. Nothing is easier than to ridicule in contrast the mechanical slaughter of modern soldiers in field or trench by long-range cannon. War in the Middle Ages demanded the greatest skill and bravery. The choosing of the ground, the arrangement of the army, the manner of attack, ruses of war, the conduct of sieges, ect., gave full scope to the genius of the captain.
Cannon, too – and there was a great variety of it – played a much more important part than is generally thought. It was invented fifty years before the campaigns of Joan of Arc, and had often decided the fate of town and castle. In the fifteenth century the arms of the preceding age were employed with those of modern use. The knight, mounted and steel-clad, was followed by his squire, page and valet, who assisted him in the fray and chained the prisoners. The English archers, strong, cool, and brave, shot so swiftly their long, heavy cloth-yard shafts, tipped with iron, that they penetrated the armor of the knights, and often decided the hard-fought field. Each archer carried a stake, pointed at each end and shod with iron, which being set in the ground, formed a stockade which repelled or threw into disorder the knightly cavalry.
As the ages grew, mercenaries began to be employed under the leaders who recruited them. These chiefs were usually needy nobles, who sought fortune rather than fame. The mercenaries, often ill-paid, were the scourge of the country, off which they lived. They had an evil reputation; and in the beginning of the fifteenth century went by the name of brigands. There was, moreover, a municipal soldiery, which really consisted of the citizens themselves, trained and armed for self-defense. They were despised by the proud nobles, whose trade was war and who gloried in rich and well-fashioned armor.
The arms of the citizen soldiers were often very primitive. These men followed Joan of Arc with unrestrained enthusiasm, and were her chief support at Orleans and in other places. They carried the banner of the city or of their patron saint.
Although strong castles had been battered by cannon before the campaigns of Joan of Arc, they were still taken by assault. France bristled with the fortresses of the noble families They were usually situated on a height and surrounded by a moat. The cities were protected by strong ramparts with towers, in which were set the engines of war, and surrounded by trenches or moats, often double, wide and deep, and easily, if not always, filled with water. On the outer edge of the moat was the boulevard, an earthwork with parapet, for the defense of the fortress proper. It united the outward defenses, and insured the communications of the defenders. The strong gates were furnished with bridges that could be raised at need, and portcullis, made of stout wooden bars toothed with iron, which could be lowered. Before the invention of cannon the ordinary way of reducing a city was by the starvation of its inhabitants. The heroism shown by defenders of ancient cities and castles is rarely paralleled in modern warfare. The besiegers surrounded the beleaguered place with a line of counter-fortifications, to prevent the bringing of food or reinforcements, and the escape of those within.
In attack the moats were filled up at points to be passed over, and the walls were scaled by means of ladders on which the assailants endeavored to protect themselves by forming a sort of roof with their shields; while there rained on them from above stones, shafts, boiling liquid, etc.
Captives taken in war were very valuable; but if not able to ransom themselves, were hanged or knocked on the head. The captain of the band received one-third of all the booty or ransom; the king, another third.
Section 2 – Joan’s Army
As the royal cause had been abandoned by very many of the nobles, the greater part of the king’s forces was composed of bands of adventurers, foreigners constituting the larger portion – Spaniards, Lombards, Scots, etc. Scotland had long been the recruiting ground for the armies of the French kings. Levies of as many as six thousand men are said to have been raised at one time. These were gathered and led by nobles of the blood royal – by the son of the Regent, Albany; by the High Constable of Scotland; by Sir John Stewart of Darnley. The unfortunate Charles of France, not only paid out his treasure lavishly, to pay them, but also signed away his states – for instance Touraine – so that there was a saying amongst the people that France was divided between the English and Scotch. The Battle of Bauge in 1421, was won chiefly by the Scotch.
They fell in great numbers at Crevant and Verneuil. We find them again at Rouvray, where the Constable and his son perished. There were many Scots with Joan; and they took a very prominent part in the plot to hand over the city of Paris. A Scot penetrated into her prison at Arras, in order to show her a portrait of herself, probably painted by him. Scots were chosen as the special bodyguard of the king; and the name of the Scottish Guard long remained, even though no Scot was any longer numbered in it. An important part of the garrison of Orleans was Scottish. But after the siege had been raised, we rarely hear them mentioned.
Chapter 12 – The City of Orleans at the Time of the Siege
Orleans is situated in the heart of France – a position typical of its importance to the royal cause, and indeed of the noble loyalty and courage of its citizens. It is built on the north bank of the Loire, where the river, coming up in a northwesterly direction, bends, almost in a right angle, to the southwest and the sea, midway in its course. A great commercial river is this bond between many provinces. The surrounding country is flat, although Orleans is built on slightly elevated ground. In 1429 its walls enclosed perhaps one-fourth of the present city; but, without the walls, there were very extensive suburbs, considered the most beautiful in France, containing a population almost equal to that of the city – perhaps in all some twenty thousand. The fortifications were quadrilateral, about twenty-five thousand or twenty-seven thousand feet along the river, seventeen thousand feet perpendicular to it. These were pierced by five gates – the Paris gate on the north, Burgundy on the east, the Bannier gate was at the northwest, the Renard gate west. The southern gate opened on the bridge which spanned the Loire, the farther end of which bridge, across the river, was guarded by the famous Tourelles, or Little Towers. The walls, six or seven feet thick, rose to the height of twenty to thirty feet; and were defended by nearly forty towers, three stories high, and thirty or forty feet in diameter. These stood at distances of about one hundred and eighty feet from one another. Around the walls was a moat, forty feet in width, and from eighteen to twenty feet in depth. The bridge,which spanned the Loire near where the present one stands, was about one thousand feet in length, and eighty feet wide. At the sixth of its nineteen arches, from the city side, stood the tower of Saint Anthony, named from a hospital for strangers that was built on an islet below. The tower was protected by the boulevard of the Beautiful Cross, so named from a large and magnificent cross erected near. At the eighteenth arch were the celebrated Tourelles – two strong towers united by an arched construction, under which passed the bridge. The nineteenth arch was reached by a drawbridge, raised and lowered from the Tourelles. Thus the water of the river passed between the Tourelles and the southern bank. The approach on this southern side was strongly defended by a stockade boulevard, sixty feet long and eighty feet wide, surrounded by a moat wide as itself. Beyond this, began the suburb of Portereau; in which, two hundred feet from the bridge, stood the church and monastery of Saint Augustine. Other churches stood farther off. There were several islands in the river in those days. The bridge rested in midstream on a narrow island, as long as itself, thus forming a cross. The larger Ile aux Toiles stretched along the southern shore eastward from near the Tourelles. And farther east, the much larger Ile aux Boeufs approached the northern shore. The eastern suburbs of the city nearly reached this island. At the other, or western side of the city, in the middle of the stream, was the Ile Charlemagne, with its fortifications. At a considerable distance beyond the city’s eastern suburbs was Saint Loup, standing four hundred feet over the waters of the Loire. It was a convent of Cistercian nuns, but was turned into a strong fort by the English. This was the first position carried by Joan.
The old soldier, Raoul de Gaucourt, was administrator of Orleans for its captive duke; and William Cousinot, author of the great Chronicle of the Maid, was Chancellor. Several writers of the time state that because of his captivity, a chivalrous promise had been made to the duke by the English, to the effect that his possessions of Orleans would be inviolate. The city advanced sums of money to insure its safety, and Dunois had lately treated of the matter with the invader. But the Duke of Bedford would not, and no doubt could not, leave behind him the powerful city unconquered.
The citizens meanwhile set themselves most actively to prepare the defense. Clergy and laity contributed large sums of money. The towers, gates, and moat were repaired or strengthened. Public supplication was made to Heaven; and the relics of the Saints were carried in procession. Cannons were cast – seventy-one of different calibers were set on wall and tower during the siege. In October (1428) the king sent John de Montesclere, a cannonier, who soon became famous as John of Lorraine. Various cities contributed money, powder, arms, etc. As Salisbury approached the Loire, the parliament at Bourges voted a large sum of money, notwithstanding the general misery.
Chapter 13 – The Siege Until The Coming of Joan
The Duke of Bedford had returned from England in 1427, determined to push on the conquest of France. For the time, extraordinary preparations were made in England. The chief point of attack was, naturally, and apparently necessarily, the Loire and Orleans. At the end of March, 1428, Thomas de Montague, Earl of Salisbury, allied to the royal family, made a contract with the government to enter France in June with six hundred men-at-arms, six knights bannerets, thirty-f our knights bachelors, and seventeen hundred archers; he finally gathered twenty-five hundred combatants. The Duke of Bedford added to the English host at Paris four hundred lancers and twelve hundred archers, making up an army of some five thousand men. In March, 1429, the feudal levies of Normandy were added. About the middle of August, Salisbury began the campaign, and wrote at the beginning of September that he had already reduced forty towns, castles, and fortified churches. This brought him to Janville, about twenty miles north of Orleans. Janville made a fierce resistance – the hardest in his experience, Salisbury said. Its walls, flanked with towers, surrounding the great central donjon, were guarded by a double moat. The gallant garrison, few in numbers, were mercilessly massacred by the victor. Then he summoned Orleans to surrender; but met a flat refusal.
Meung, eighteen kilometers southwest of Orleans, with its most useful bridge over theLoire, submitted immediately; and was strongly fortified. The celebrated sanctuary of Our Lady of Clery was only six kilometers, distant. The Catholic Salisbury sent his soldiers to pillage it, and “do other evils without number.” Beaugency, father down the stream, followed Meung. Here, too, was a bridge. Finally, by taking La Ferte-Hubert, the English made themselves quite secure in the Beauce county, around Orleans on the north. Then Salisbury turned east and crossed to the southern bank. Forty-seven kilometers away from Orleans was Sully, the property of La Tremoille. His brother, a Burgundian partisan, took charge of it. Jargeau was nearer – at seventeen kilometers; and Chateauneuf, the favorite residence of the Duke of Orleans, was between. All were occupied. Thus the invader was firmly established below the river and city, in the possessions of King Charles of France. On the 7th of October, a demonstration was made against the suburb of Portereau, opposite Orleans; and on the 12th Salisbury here set his camp. The French burned the church and monastery of Saint Augustine, and worked day and night to strengthen the boulevard at the end of the bridge. The English occupied and strongly fortified the still serviceable ruins of Saint Augustine; and thence commenced to cannonade the Tourelles, the bridge, and the city. Even women fought with extreme heroism, pouring down boiling oil, burning cinders, etc., on the assailants of the boulevard; and repelling at the point of the lance the foremost of the foe. The place was, however, ruined; and the French retired to the Tourelles, raising the drawbridge behind them. The Tourelles, battered by English cannon, had to be abandoned. It was quickly occupied by the foe, and repaired, the Scot Glasdale being put in command. The French retreating, had broken down one or two arches of the bridge, and fortified themselves a little farther on in the boulevard of Belle Croix. The Earl of Salisbury had ascended the Tourelles, and stationing himself at a window between a knight and Glasdale was observing the bridge and city, when a cannon ball, shot through the window, killed the knight, and hurled a fragment of wall against the head of the Earl. His eye was knocked out, his cheek torn, and he himself cast to the ground. Removed in secrecy to Meung, he died there on November 3rd.
The Duke of Bedford arrived at Chartres, forty or fifty miles away to the north, and sent reinforcements. In November and December the besiegers secured their positions on the southern side of the river. Thus the city was cut off from King Charles and his states. Next day after the fall of the Tourelles, Dunois, La Hire, Boussac, and other captains came to encourage the people. Probably by their advice, the suburbs on the northern side were destroyed, including twenty-two churches. The French cannon began to annoy the English; and, in particular, the culverin of John of Lorraine, picked off many a besieger. This was a long slender piece, which threw leaden balls to a great distance. At Christmas there was an armistice; and at the request of Glasdale, Dunois sent a corps of musicians to play in the English camp.
Talbot, Scales, and others arrived with reinforeements on the 1st of December; and on the 30th twenty-five hundred more soldiers came. The English occupied the height of Saint Laurent-les-Orgerils, a strong position on the river, west of the city, and nearly at the end of the faubourgs. A bastille, or tower, nearly opposite, on Ile Charlemagne, facilitated communications with the southern bank, on which stood the fort of Saint Prive, and thus with the defenses which cut off the city on the south – the Tourelles, Saint Augustine, and Saint Jean-le-Blanc, at the eastern end of Ile-aux-Toiles. This was done in the midst of hard fighting – sorties, hand-to-hand combats, and many examples of individual bravery.
The siege had lasted about four months, when the terrible defeat of Rouvray on February 12th overwhelmed with consternation the French king, court, and city of Orleans. On Ash-Wednesday an immense convoy of three hundred wagons left Paris to provision the army besieging Orleans. It was protected by fifteen hundred Anglo-Burgundian troops, with a thousand men of the communes, under Sir John Fastolf, and the Provost of Paris, Simon Morhier. King Charles, at the urgent prayer of his people, appealed to Charles de Bourbon, Count of Clermont. With the latter came many nobles of Auvergne and Bourbonnais, numbering at least four thousand men as they arrived at Blois. Many others had come to Orleans, to join in the attack on the convoy. Fifteen hundred, amongst whom were many Scots under Sir John Stuart of Darnley and his brother, went out from the city to join Bourbon at Rouvray. The latter, one of the chronicles says, was so confident of victory, that he ordered no quarter to be given. La Hire, with the Stuarts and others, advanced to reconnoiter, and saw the long line of wagons slowly advancing. They sent couriers repeatedly to Bourbon to allow them to attack before the English could form for battle. But the vain and inefficient French commander bade them wait for him, and proceeded to confer knighthood on his nobles. Fastolf immediately arrayed his men behind a barricade of wagons and the usual stockade, the knights in the center, protected by archers.
The arrow-flight of the French van left the English immovable. Stuart of Darnley dismounted to fight on foot; others imitated him; others pushed on their horses. But the English shafts and stockade threw them into confusion; and the troops, issuing from their improvised defenses, cut the French army to pieces. Some four hundred French knights were slain, and with them the two Stuarts and their Scottish soldiers. Dunois was wounded and thrown from his horse, but was re-seated and saved. Bourbon, informed of the fortune of the battle, made no attempt to help, although he had men enough still to snatch victory from the now scattered English. He rode into Orleans at midnight. Only one Englishman lost his life, says the partisan Monstrelet; probably disdaining to mention the drivers and camp-followers. On the 18th of February Bourbon abandoned the city, accompanied by its Scottish Bishop Kirkmichael, with the Archbishop of Reims, and the noble host of two thousand unwounded knights and others who had turned their backs to the foe. La Hire went out, too, but promised and intended to return. Two months later came Joan with the long-expected convoy.
Things had come to such extremes after Rouvray, that the citizens invited the Duke of Burgundy to take possession of the city. Pleased with the proposition, he went personally to the regent at Paris; but he was rather brusquely refused. The English soldiers had carried on the siege and their victory seemed assured; they would not allow the Duke of Burgundy to gather the fruit. Piqued at his failure, the duke ordered his adherents to quit the camp before Orleans. According to the most careful writers, they could not have been very numerous, for there was an armistice between King Charles and Burgundy, and during the investment there is scarcely mention of any but English besiegers. The Duke of Bedford now asked for two hundred lancers and twelve hundred archers from England, and urged the young king to come to France to be crowned.
The cordon of investment was drawn tighter around Orleans, and the Journal of the Siege notes the decreasing supplies of food sent in. The Burgundian Monstrelet states, that at the end of seven months siege the English had enclosed the city in a ring of sixty fortifications. The very valuable Chronique de la Pucelle, and others, say that there were thirteen large forts, which commanded every road. A wide space of three kilometers, between the fort of Saint Pouair on the north and Saint Loup on the river, to the east, which opened into a country well secured under English control, after having been ineffectually closed by trenches, was finally secured by the enormous fort of Fleury. So when Joan approached the city, the blockade was complete, and the people, as we are told, were very short of bread.
It is said that thirty thousand people were within the walls, which raises the population to about twice the normal. The difficulty of sending in food must have been very great, for Joan gave as a sign of her mission the sending in of a convoy safely to relieve the people.
There is no certainty as to the actual number of besiegers. The Burgundian Monstrelet puts them at eighteen thousand; the most reliable chronicles on the side of the French king, at ten thousand; Wyndecken, who contradicts himself, at three thousand. The army of defenders varied at various times. After Rouvray and the departure of Charles de Bourbon, the defenders, we are told, were few. The Maid is said to have brought in two thousand to increase the force of two thousand five hundred already holding the city.
Chapter 14 – Joan comes to Orleans
Section 1 – The Convoy Made Ready at Blois. Joan’s Letter to the English
When they spoke to her at Poitiers of the great difficulty of sending provisions into Orleans, she answered, “In the name of God, we shall put them there at our ease, without a single Englishman leaving his fortifications.” It was another of her many prophecies. “She spoke wondrously of matters of war, says the Chronique de la Pucelle, referring to this time; “and rode in armor as if she had been trained from childhood.”
The Chronicle of Tournay says that Joan left Chinon for Blois on April 2nd; she could arrive there next day. The journey through Blois to Orleans is northeast along the river, Blois being at about two-thirds of the way, and within forty miles or so of Orleans. It is on the north bank, and was the only place with a bridge in the hands of the French. Between it and Orleans, the English held Beaugency and Meung, with their bridges. Joan remained some days at Blois while the convoy was being prepared, and the soldiers and captains assembled.
She had her confessor Pasquerel make the standard of the priests, with the representation of Our Lord Crucified. Her own was blest in the church of Saint Savior. Around it, morn and eve, at Joan’s request the priests gathered with her and the soldiers, to sing hymns and anthems. She allowed no one to take part in these devotions but such as had confessed. And it was one of the marvels of her brief career that the reformation of the careless soldiers was almost instantaneous and general. She banished evil women from the camp, and exhorted with effect the men to go to confession.
It was a formality of the time to summon the foe to surrender, in order to prevent the effusion of blood. With Joan it was more than a formality. She desired that the English would recognize her supernatural mission and depart, or unite with the French in a much-needed Crusade for the defense of Christendom. After a victory she never asked of them any harder terms than before; and she wept over their dead, as over those of her country.
There is a tone of royalty and inspiration in this summons to the English king and nobles to quit France at the word of the little peasant prophetess of Lorraine. There is no senseless pride, but the clear and intense consciousness of a Divine mission in a crisis of supreme importance, and the equally intense determination to expel the invader from her country.
The letter begins with the Sacred Names of Jesus and Mary, as religious women even now write their letters. It became famous, and was shown to many during the month between the writing and dispatching, in order to make known Joan’s mission. It was read to her by her accusers at Rouen at least three times, and each time she pointed out three expressions which were not hers. “Surrender to the Maid” should have been “surrender to the king”; and the words “body for body,” and “I am leader of the war,” were not employed by her. These do not affect the substance of her letter or her vocation. Twice, after the reading at Rouen, she predicted the loss of Paris to the English before seven years, and their total expulsion at last, as she predicts in her letter. This document is of extraordinary significance in its relation to the mission of Joan.
“King of England; and you, Duke of Bedford, who call yourself regent of the Kingdom of France; and you, William de la Pole, Count of Suffolk; John Lord Talbot, and you, Thomas Lord Scales, who call yourselves lieutenants of the said Duke of Bedford, give heed to the King of Heaven, and yield up to the king the keys of all the good cities which you have taken and violated in France. The Maid is come on the part of God to rescue the royal blood. She will make peace, if you leave France, and pay for what you have held. And you, archers, companions of war, gentle and otherwise, return to your country on the part of God; if not, you will quickly see the consequence to your great loss. King of England, God has sent me to drive all your forces out of France. You will never have the Kingdom of France. The King of Heaven, the Son of Mary, gives it to the true heir, King Charles, who will enter Paris in fair array. If you heed not this message of Heaven, you will suffer such things as have not been seen in France for a thousand years.”
Such is, in substance, the proclamation of the Maid by her herald; which, she said, she dictated entirely herself, but had shown to some of her, own party.
Section 2 – The Revictualing of Orleans
The two marshals of France, de Rais and de Boussac-the latter, Lord of Ste. Severe, a gallant soldier, who abandoned neither Orleans nor the Maid, but f ought with her in all her campaigns – Admiral de Culan, the fearless La Hire and de Lore, appointed to conduct the convoy to Orleans, having come to Blois with the Chancellor Archbishop, the army of three thousand, – so numbered by saner critics, with a train of sixty wagons of provisions and four thousand head of cattle, issued from Blois, probably on the morning of the 27th of April; and crossing the bridge over the Loire, began the march by the southern side, in order, no doubt, to avoid the English outposts at Beaugency and Meung, and the mass of their troops in the strong fortifications around the northern side of Orleans. At the head was Joan with the priests, with banners displayed, chanting the Veni Creator and other hymns; it was not a very martial-looking vanguard. Joan’s page, Louis de Coutes, says she ceased not to exhort the men to confess, and she received the Blessed Sacrament herself in presence of the army. The confessor Pasquerel says that two nights were passed on the way; and the page adds, that Joan was “painfully wounded” by sleeping on the ground in full and unaccustomed armor. Thus on the evening of the 28th they were in front and in view of Orleans, probably from the heights of Olivet, about two kilometers south of the river. They approached the bank, and the English evacuated the fort of Saint Jeanle-le-Blanc, which was near. Seeing the river between her and the city and the main body of the English, Joan “was very angry and began to weep,” says the Chronicle of Tournay. “She wept much,” adds Wyndecken; “for she thought her army, shriven and full of intense fervor, would be led straight against the foe.” The Chronicle of the Feast of May says the river was in flood, and the wind down-stream; so the boats could not be brought across from the city. Joan said the wind would presently become favorable, as it did in effect. The convoy advanced five or six miles farther up, to the Ile-aux-Bourdons, and Dunois came over from the city with the boats, borne up-stream by the sails. With him came Nicolas de Giresme, commander of the Knights of Rhodes, who, soon after, passed first, fully armed, to the attack of the Tourelles, over the insecure boards thrown across the broken arch of the bridge. All were astonished at the change of wind; and the prophecy of Joan made an ineffaceable impression on the mind of Dunois. De Gaucourt, governor of the city, declared in his testimony for the Rehabilitation of Joan, that she predicted in express terms the change of wind.
Joan was, however, angry, and reproved the courteous, and no doubt reverential, Dunois for not leading her straight against the enemy. “The counsel of God our Lord,” she said, “is better than yours. You thought to deceive me, and you have deceived yourselves; for I bring you the help of the King of Heaven, who has had pity on the city of Orleans.” Dunois had heard all about the Maid; for when she passed through Gien, on her way to the king at Chinon, she was spoken of at Orleans; and he sent two of his knights to the king for fuller information. As a matter of fact, the reputation of Joan had already passed far beyond the boundaries of her country; and her prophecies, yet unfulfilled, were passing into history.
When Dunois and the captains with him saw Joan’s army, they thought it quite incapable of resisting the English and entering the city.
“The English,” Dunois said, “were very much stronger.” He endeavored to persuade Joan to let them return to Blois for further reinforcements, and to enter Orleans herself, in order to encourage the people, who desired intensely to see her. She did not easily consent; her men were ready, full of ardor, and not afraid of death; it was better to lead them at once against the foe. She yielded, however, and sending back her standard and the priests, she passed over the river with Dunois, bringing her squire and page. Meanwhile, the provisions, put on the boats at Ile-aux-Bourdons, passed down with the stream, in front of the strong English bastille of Saint Loup, upon which an attack was made from the city, in order to distract the garrison. It was estimated, that, at this time, the French troops in Orleans were not more than three thousand, being only one-third of the English numbers.
To avoid tumult, and perhaps needless danger to her companions, Joan resolved to enter Orleans at nightfall. She crossed the river in front of Checy, and going two kilometers farther, she waited in the castle of de Reuilly. The much honored host became one of the most trusted and devoted of her friends. In the hottest of the attack on the Tourelles, he fought beside her; and it was here, probably, he saw Joan’s angels.
So distinguished did he become, that Joan begged the king to raise him to the rank of the nobility.
This seems to have been done very soon, even before the battle of Patay. And in the patent of nobility, the king says he rewards him for his “extreme fidelity” to the Maid, and refers to the vision of angels, adding that he had received the whole story from Joan herself. Henceforward, Guy de Cailli, Lord of Chateau de Reuilly, bore on his escutcheon three heads of angles.
Section 3 – Joan Enters the City
Dunois, with knights and soldiers, went out to meet the Maid at Checy. Marching back unattacked, past the English fort of Saint Loup, the inspired and inspiring company reached the eastern, or Burgundian, gate at eight o’clock. Joan was in full armor, and mounted on a magnificent white horse. As she entered the city, Dunois, richly accoutered, rode at her left; she was, plainly, the hope of Orleans. Many nobles, with captains, squires, and soldiers, followed in her train. She was met by the multitudes of the city, carrying torches, who received her with transports of joy, as if an angel had descended from heaven for their relief. The Maid looked upon them all – men, women, and children – with much affection, says the Journal of the Siege; and they pressed forward with extraordinary enthusiasm to touch her and the horse on which she rode. In the presence of the crowd, a pennon of her standard caught fire from a torch; but she spurred her charger, and turning to the banner put out the flame with a grace as knightly as if she had long since followed the wars. With unrestrained jubilee the citizens conducted her across the city; but she insisted on first paying a visit to the cathedral to thank God. Then she was lodged in the mansion of the treasurer, Jacques Boucher, on the western border of the city, not far from the English fort of Saint Laurent. Her host received her with joy, accompanied by her brothers, the gentlemen who came with her from Vaucouleurs, and their servants. She had not eaten all day in the strain and excitement; and now they offered her supper. She put some wine in a cup; filled it with as much more water; and dipping in it a few mouthfuls of bread, ate only this much. Then she retired with the wife and daughter of her host.
Chapter 15 – Joan Raises the Siege
When Joan entered Orleans, all but two hundred lancers of her force returned with the leaders to Blois to bring up another convoy of provisions. They promised to return by the north bank, through the Beauce country, despite the English garrisons at Beaugency and Meung, and their strong forts around Orleans. At Blois, however, the French war council was far from being decided or unanimous. The chiefs spoke, and apparently with intent, of returning to Chinon or home. Dunois sent a letter, which confirmed their courage, but had finally to go himself.
Joan had entered the beleaguered city on Friday, April 29th. On Saturday, the last day of the month, La Hire, Florent d’Illiers, and several knights and squires, with some armed citizens, all now inspired with fearless ardor, flung their banners to the breeze; and issuing northwards from the city without informing Joan, attacked the English at their strong fort of Saint Pouair so fiercely that these fell back to the cover of their defenses. A cry went up through the city to prepare straw and faggots to fire the English quarters. But the stubborn foemen raised their much-feared battle shout and made ready their array. Seeing which, the French withdrew. It was a long and hard skirmish, with cannon, says the chronicler; and many fell on both sides.
As evening fell Joan sent two heralds to the English, demanding the release of the messenger who had brought her letter from Blois; while Dunois threatened to kill all the English prisoners, as well as envoys who had come from England to treat of ransom. Contemporary writers say Joan assured the heralds they would return in safety, as they did. They told, at their return, of the insulting words of the English leaders, and their menace to burn Joan if they could catch her. At nightfall she went to the French fort of Belle Croix on the bridge, and summoned Glasdale and his men at the Tourelles to surrender to God and be gone. Glasdale, in particular, called her by the vilest names. This she felt bitterly, and wept. She did not deserve the names, she said; and as for her insulator, he would soon die a bloodless death. He was drowned at the taking of the Tourelles.
On Sunday, first of May – the month of Joan’s triumph, capture and death – Dunois, La Hire, and the other captains consulted Joan regarding the manner of the city’s defense. It was decided that Dunois, with d’Aulon and others, should depart with a guard for Blois, to bring up reinforcements and food.
When they were ready to move out, Joan mounted; and, accompanied by La Hire with a band of soldiers, put herself between Dunois’ party and the English forts; he thus passed unattacked. On the same day (Sunday) Joan rode through the city with a troop of knights and squires, to be seen by the people and to encourage them; for in their desire to see her, they almost broke open the doors of the house at which she stayed. The streets were so thronged that it was difficult to pass along; but her appearance and horsemanship fascinated the people. On that day, also, she summoned the English to depart at the Croix Morin, northwest of the city. On the following day, Monday, May 2nd, she boldly rode out, and leisurely reconnoitered the English positions, followed by a delighted and fearless multitude of the townspeople. It was the eve of the patronal feast of the cathedral of the Holy Cross, and Joan assisted at the first vespers of the solemnity. On the feast of the morrow (May 3rd) she was in the procession through the streets, in which were carried the relics of the Holy Cross. On Wednesday, the 4th, she sallied out with de Villars, Florent d’Illiers, La Hire, with many other captains and five hundred men, to cover the entry of Dunois and de Boussac with the convoy. The immobility of the hitherto victorious English soldiers is astonishing, and their fear is attested by all the contemporary chronicles. The word of Dunois is evidently true, “From the summoning of them by Joan to surrender, four or five hundred Frenchmen could resist any force the English could send; whereas, heretofore, two hundred English routed from eight hundred to one thousand Frenchmen. ‘
This 4th day of May Joan’s work began in earnest. After dinner, says d’Aulon, Dunois came to visit her where she was lodged. He said that many trustworthy reports had come of the approach of Sir John Fastolf with men and food sent by the English regent from Paris. Joan’s face was radiant at the news. “I command you in the name of God,” she said with gay familiarity to Dunois, “to let me know when Fastolf appears; for if you do not, I will have your head.” Her gallant commander assured her she would get the first news. Then, as he left the house, Joan and her hostess sought to rest, while d’Aulon stretched himself on a couch. But he had hardly closed his eyes when Joan roused him hurriedly, saying that her Voices bade her go against the foe; but she knew not whether against Fastolf or the forts. She knew nothing of the attack being made on Saint Loup. D’Aulon armed her quickly as he could; but before he could follow, she dashed into the street, made a page dismount from his horse, sprang into the saddle, and galloped straight eastward to the Burgundian gate, the fire flying from the stones as she sped, the old chronicles take care to relate. She afterwards said her Voices told her where to go.
Here she paused to ask who was the wounded man that was being carried in. And when she heard he was one of the defenders, she said, as d’Aulon came up, “I never yet have seen French blood shed without my hair standing on end.” As they passed through the streets and the gate, they heard cries that it was going ill with the French. They soon came up with a strong French force, fifteen hundred men under Dunois and several nobles. All turned to the strong English fortification of Saint Loup for an immediate assault. Its defenders fought hard for three hours; but the French were irresistible. The place was stormed, one hundred and fourteen English soldiers were slain and forty made prisoners, then the whole place was burned and razed to the ground. The French losses were very few; and none, it is said, after Joan had come up. The Chronicle of the Maid says that some Englishmen were taken in the towere vested as priests, no doubt, in order to escape. These were about to be slain, when Joan saved them, saying that everything belonging to the church should be respected – thus teaching a fear and horror of sacrilege, so common in war.
Daring the assault on Saint Loup, Lord Talbot sent a strong force to help it from Saint Pouair, m the northwest of the city. The bells of Orleans gave the alarm; and de Boussac and other leaders with six hundred men hurried out against them, at sight of whom the foe withdrew.
It was an evening of jubilee in Orleans as Joan entered with her victorious troops. All the bells rang out in joy and triumph; and there was thanksgiving and the multitudinous singing of hymns in every church. The English invader heard it all, and feared the more; “for there was no such joy yesterday and the day before.”
Pasquerel, Joan’s confessor, relates, that, because of the many English soldiers slain without confession, Joan bitterly lamented their fate; and she herself immediately confessed. She bade him warn all the men-at-arms to confess their sins, and thank God for the victory; and that if they did not, she would not accompany them. On that same day, the eve of the Ascension, she told him the siege would be raised before five days would have passed, and that not an Englishman would remain outside the walls. In the evening she said to him that on the morrow, in honor of the feast of the Ascension, she would not wear armor nor engage in combat; but that she would receive Holy Communion; as, in effect, she did.
On Ascension Thursday she had public announcement made, that no one should go out of the city to fight without confession, and that all evil women should be banished from the French camp: “It was done as Joan ordered.” On each of these days of conflict she herself went to confession. On Ascension Day she again wrote to the English to depart without bloodshed.
“You have no right to be here,” she wrote; “depart or I will cause you such a defeat as never shall be forgotten.” Then, taking an arrow, she attached the letter to it, and bade an archer shoot it into the English camp, while she cried out to them, “Read; there is news.” They called her by the vilest name; “at which she sobbed and shed an abundance of tears.” Soon she was consoled, and said she had news of her Lord.
It is not always easy to harmonize the different contemporary accounts of the deeds of Joan, as the observers saw different scenes, and each describes what impressed him most. The chiefs held a council on the feast of the Ascension, and called in Joan only at the end. Even then they wished to conceal from her the plan of battle, and even their intention to cross the Loire, and attack on the south side. Joan was annoyed, and would not sit down, until Dunois soothed her and revealed more or less the decision of the council. By clearing the foe from the south side, communications would be assured with the king and the loyal provinces. But the feat was difficult to accomplish; for the English commander could attack the French soldiers as they crossed the river, and could reinforce his own men, who were strongly entrenched. It was decided by the French leaders to make a diversion against the English on the north side of the city during the crossing of the stream; but Joan led them straight to the forts on the south.
“On the morning of Friday, May 6th,” says Pasquerel, “I got up very early, heard Joan’s confession, and sang Mass for her and her people in the city of Orleans. Then they set out for the attack, which lasted from morning until the evening.” Joan crossed with about four thousand men, and at the head of the soldiers proceeded straight to the first fort, Saint Jean-le-Blanc. This was either taken, or evacuated and burned by the English as they fell back to Saint Augustine. Many of her party had been halted in the river at Ile-aux-Toiles for lack of boats, or had fallen back from the attack. Followed by only a small number of men, amongst whom were Dunois, de Boussac, and La Hire, she advanced and set her standard over the moat of the boulevard, or encircling earthwork, of Saint Augustine. An English cheer announced reinforcements from Saint Prive, farther down-stream; and Joan’s men, to her great affliction, ran back towards the river. There was nothing to do but to follow them. The English, too, followed in numbers, shouting insults. Suddenly she turned on them; the French began to follow; and the English retired to the cover of their fort. D’Aulon’s account is that Joan and La Hire, having retired to the island, took each a horse, re-crossed immediately to the south side, mounted instantly, and setting their lances in rest, rushed upon the enemy. When Joan had planted her banner on the boulevard, de Rais quickly joined her. He was followed by many others, who attacked with such fury that the bastille of Saint Augustine was taken by assault. Within they found many English slain; and because her soldiers forgot their danger in cupidity of plunder, Joan burned the whole place. She had been wounded in the foot, and was, much against her will, brought back to Orleans at night. She left her men besieging the Tourelles and its outworks at the end of the bridge.
The opposition of some of the captains to Joan is revealed by various chroniclers. For instance, Jean Chartier, the official historiographer, tells of their purpose to exclude her from the councils of war; they felt humiliated at the leadership of the peasant girl. Joan, he says, almost always came to a decision different from that of the captains. They did not wish to see her armed or mounted, strange to say, even to save her country. On the night of this victory of the 6th, Pasquerel relates, that “a valiant and notable knight came to the lodgings of Joan, to persuade her not to attack the Tourelles on the following day, because the captains disapproved.” What moral courage the heroine needed to disregard the leaders! The English position was, moreover, very strong and stoutly defended. But Joan answered without hesitation, “You have been at your council, and I have been with mine.
Believe me, the council of the Lord will prevail, while that of men will be brought to naught.” Then, turning to Paquerel, she said, “Rise early tomorrow, earlier than today. Remain always near me; for to-morrow I shall have much to do – much more than I have ever had in my life. To-morrow the blood will gush from my body above the breast.”
“Saturday,” he continues, “I arose at dawn and celebrated Mass. Joan went straight to attack the fort of the bridge, which was held by the Englishman (Glasdale). The attack lasted without interruption from morning until sunset. – In the assault of the afternoon, Joan, as she had foretold, was struck by an arrow above the breast. She began to fear and wept; but, as she said, she was consoled. Some soldiers, seeing her so severely wounded, wished to employ a charm. But she said she would rather die than do a sinful thing. Then they put on the wound olive oil and lard. After which, she confessed to me with tears and lamenting. She returned to the assault, calling out, “Glasdale, Glasdale, surrender to the King of Heaven. You called me a bad woman; but I have much pity on your soul and the souls of your companions.” Then she saw Glasdale fall into the river; and, moved with compassion, she began to weep with great sobs for the soul of Glasdale and the other Englishmen, who, in great numbers, perished in the avatar. On that day all the English beyond the bridge either were taken prisoners, or lost their lives.” Thus far Pasquerel.
Yet in the morning of that great day, de Gaucourt was at the gate of the city to prevent the Maid’s departure, and the attack on the Tourelles was begun without the aid of the royal officers.
Many more details of the taking of the Tourelles are given by the chroniclers. The preceding night (of Friday) was one of anxious fear for Joan lest the English would attack her men during the night. On the contrary, they burned their fort of Saint Prive, and retreated across the river to the fort Saint Laurent. When offered food in the morning after her Communion before crossing the river, she refused to eat until evening, saying they would have Englishmen to share their supper. All the French captains thought that the English position at the Tourelles could not be taken within a month, even with twice the number of their soldiers. “I will take it to-morrow,” she said; -’and return by the bridge.” The bridge just then was broken down at the southern end. At seven in the morning on Saturday she had the trumpets sounded for the assault as she arrived at the place of combat. Immediately the attack began furiously. As it progressed the captains in the city, passing along the bridge to the broken arches, rained a hail of death on the Tourelles with cannon, culverins, and arrows.
They brought planks to cover the broken space, and so pass over to the English position. Assault after assault was made by Joan’s soldiers, attempting to fill up the moat, fire the place if possible, and fix their scaling-ladders. In one of these furious attacks Joan was shot with an arrow clear through the shoulder. She herself drew it out, and had -the wound stanched with cotton. Meanwhile as evening fell, Dunois and the others thought it impossible to succeed, and were about to sound a retreat. Joan assured them they would soon take the place; and mounting her horse, rode aside to pray. She quickly returned; and dismounting, took her standard and advanced with the prophecy that as soon as it touched the wall, the place would be theirs. “Fierce and marvelous” was the assault; no soldier there had ever seen another like it. Joan set the scaling-ladders and bade her men go in. Meanwhile, the cannonade from the bridge was so sustained that the English could not show themselves on the walls. They fought, however, with the most stubborn, bravery; and when their ammunition began to run short, defended themselves with stones and with their lances. At length, unable to hold the boulevard, they attempted to get into the Tourelles over the drawbridge. This broke under them; and falling through fully armed, Glasdale and many others perished. The French on the bridge attempted to throw planks across the broken arches. The gallant Knight of Rhodes, Nicolas de Giresme, attempted the impossible feat of passing over.
He succeeded, and was followed by others. Then the Tourelles, assailed on both sides, quickly fell; and of five hundred English knights and squires, reputed the best, only two hundred remained alive as prisoners, who passed over the bridge with Joan, as she had foretold. It was almost night, and all the bells pealed at her command, and in each church there was thanksgiving to God. Her wound was carefully dressed; but for supper she had only a little bread dipped in wine, and she retired to rest.
Through all this fierce affray Talbot and Suffolk made no attempt whatsoever to help their hard-pressed comrades.
The Registrar of La Rochelle, a respectable chronicler, says that Joan after taking the Tourelles, warned Talbot to depart; for if he remained until Monday, she would do him much harm, On Sunday, May 8th, at sunrise, the English evacuated the remaining forts, leaving most of their cannon and baggage; and drawn up in order, remained for an hour in view of the French, who had issued in force, horse and foot, from the city, at the same time. Joan forbade the army to attack; because she said, it was not pleasing to Our Lord to fight on that sacred day. She assembled the priests, who sang hymns; and, in presence of both armies, two Masses were celebrated in the open air. When they were said, she asked what way the English were going; and being told that they were marching away, she said, “Let them go; will you have them another time.” Their abandoned forts were pillaged and destroyed, the cannon being removed to Orleans. Suffolk with a part of the English troops went to Jargeau on the Loire, nearly five leagues east of Orleans; while Talbot, Scales, and others, led their men to Meung, four and one-half leagues to the west, or rather southwest, and Beaugency, about two leagues farther down-stream. La Hire and Ambrose de Lore, with one hundred lancers, hung on the rear of the retreating foe to see their course, and then returned. On that Sunday of triumph there were processions in the streets of Orleans, and in them were blended in a common joy noble and plebeian; knight, squire, and citizen. On Monday or. Tuesday (May 9th or 10th) Joan bade good-by to the people, who wept with joy, and offered themselves and all they possessed to help her in her campaign.
Chapter 16 – The Campaign of the Loire
Section 1 – Joan Goes to Meet the King
After Orleans had been relieved, some of the French troops returned to the towns of which they had formed the garrison. Some disbanded; for food was scarce, and money scarcer. The brave and skillful Dunois, with de Boussac and others, wished to follow up the advantage given them by victory, and marched on Jargeau, the next strongest place held by the English, twelve miles or so west of Orleans. The attack, or skirmish, lasted three hours; but Dunois had no means of crossing the moat flooded from the river, and withdrew.
Meanwhile Joan had gone to Blois, on the 9th or 10th of June, with many of the nobles, and, apparently, a part of the army. It had mustered at Blois, thirty-five or forty miles below Orleans on the Loire before the siege. She was on her way to the king, to urge his coronation at Reims. It was the second great stage of her prophecy and career. Her sign was her triumph at Orleans; then she was to lead the king to Reims; for she said “she would last – or live – little more than a year.”
After two or three days at Blois, she went almost as far more southwest on the river, to Tours, whither the king came on June 13th from Chinon, farther southwest, to meet her.
It is not altogether in accordance with history to represent, at this period, King Charles of France as a puppet, or a do-nothing. In the midst of treason and poverty, he seems to have done what he could. His acceptance of the aid of Joan of Arc was a piece of master-policy. After Orleans, he published officially everywhere her peerless deeds, attributing the victory entirely to her, and justly declaring that he seconded her efforts as well as he could. Now he met her at Tours as a saint and conqueror. In the midst of the glittering array, he uncovered his head as she approached, bowed low with joyous gratitude, and raised her up as she bent before him, while he loudly proclaimed her praises and those of his valiant captains.
They remained two weeks at Tours; and, naturally, there was much deliberation as to the course to be pursued. The princes of the blood and the royal captains proposed a campaign in Normandy – perhaps to get rid of the leadership of Joan; or because Normandy was so wasted and so determinedly held by the English. Others proposed to clear the Loire of the invaders, and not leave them in the rear. And this Joan approved of when she had finally induced the king to undertake the march to Reims. But she herself, eagle-like, had urged Reims immediately for the crowning, and Paris directly after – a plan, which would undoubtedly have succeeded; then she could have driven the English into the sea. The king dispatched his messengers to call in the noble leaders, as well as those that had been at Orleans and those that had not. He then moved southwest, about thirty miles to Loehes on June 23rd, where preparations were being made for the attack on Jargeau. Here there was further delay, and the ardent Joan wearied of it. Dunois was with her to help on her cause. He represents her knocking at the door of the king’s chamber, where he sat with his nobles; and embracing his knees, as was her way, while she begged him to hold no more councils, but go at once to Reims; for once crowned, she said, his enemies would decline. The English understood this master-stroke, for Bedford urged the crowning of .he boy-king of England in France. As at Vaucouleurs, Joan felt the pain and sting of desire to accomplish her mission.
Section 2 – Preparation for the Campaign
The letter of the two Lavals represent Joan with the king at Selles, on June 5th, forty or miles northeast from Loches, on the way the rendezvous at Romorantin, some few miles farther on. The two young Briton noblemen had come to join Joan, and were willing to sell or mortgage their possessions in order to equip themselves.
Their grandmother, to whom they wrote as well as to their mother, was the widow of the famous knight Du Guesclin. And it was probably on this account that Joan received them so graciously and gracefully. She poured them out a cup of wine, and said they would soon drink more at Paris. She had sent to the grandmother a small gold ring; wishing, she said, that it were better. The older of the brothers, Guy, was about twenty years; the younger, Andre, eighteen. Andre had, however, been made a knight at the age of twelve on the field of Gravelle, in 1423. Both followed Joan to Reims; and we find Guy later under the walls of Paris. Both rose to lofty station; and their sister became the wife of Louis Vendome, from whom sprang the Bourbon branch that gave Henry IV to France. The Lavals were immensely impressed by the manner and appearance of Joan. Fully armed in steel, she seemed to them something divine. On the same day on which they saw her she went on to Romorantin. These were the days of Joan’s high tide of favor and admiration. At Loches, as at other places, the people crowded around her to kiss her hands and feet. Reproved, or warned, by one of her ecclesiastical examiners at Poitiers, that this was encouraging idolatry, the lowly, simple-hearted Maid said that it was only the grace of Heaven kept her from being vain of it.
The king had now appointed d’Alencon to the chief command, with the express order, we are told, that he should follow implicitly the program of Joan of Arc.
This young nobleman – he was only twenty-two years of age – willingly and faithfully did. There were now at Romorantin about two thousand men-at-arms; and with these Joan began her march to Orleans, just as Fastolf was leaving Paris with five thousand to reinforce the English garrisons on the Loire.
Section 3 – The Taking of Jargeau
She entered Orleans on June 9th, and the grateful and enthusiastic city quickly made ready her war train against Jargeau. This strong town was on the south bank of the Loire, about twelve miles east of Orleans, and held by the Earl of Suffolk with about seven hundred men. Its fortified bridge communicated with the northern shore.
The Accounts of the city of Orleans give interesting details of the preparation of the siege train – cannon (one required twenty-four horses to draw it), scaling-ladders, powder, rope, a forge, etc. D’Alencon estimated his command at six hundred lancers; which, with bowmen, artillery, etc., would be over two thousand. There were many citizen soldiers; and these with Dunois’ forces would probably make six or seven thousand. With the combined force were the old leaders – de Boussac, de Culan, La Hire, d’Illiers, Xaintrailles, etc. But there had not been unanimity in their counsels.
For some wished to wait for Fastolf, and go directly against him, when he came; some returned home; and it was only Joan’s influence that held the rest together.
On June 11th the French forces marched on Jargeau, arriving in the afternoon before the town. The citizens rashly attacked the English garrison before the regular troops came; but were beaten back, and some were slain. Joan immediately rushed to help them, her banner floating on the breeze; the English were repelled, and the faubourgs of the town were occupied. As night fell Joan summoned Suffolk to surrender, but to no purpose. Early next day, Sunday, June 12th, the trumpets announced the assault, which soon became furious. A tall, strong Englishman, clad in armor, caused great loss to the French by hurling on them heavy stones as they attempted to scale the fortification. D’Alencon summoned the famous cannonier, John of Lorraine, who, with his culverin, shot the Englishman in the breast, and he fell dead out over the wall. D’Alencon himself was warned by Joan to step aside, for a cannon was pointed at him from the wall. Almost immediately a gentleman from Anjou, stepping imprudently into the place of the duke, was killed, his head being struck off with a cannon-ball. Suffolk proposed an armistice of fifteen days; his purpose being to wait for Fastolf’s reinforcements. Joan answered that if they wished to leave immediately and without arms, they might do so; while her captains angrily called to La Hire to break off the parley.
Assault after fierce assault had lasted for hours, when Joan called on the “fair Duke of Alencon” to advance with her and lead in storming the walls. He hesitated, judging it rashness to make the attempt. Joan gently chided him. “Gentle Duke,” she asked, “are you afraid? Do you not remember I promised your wife to bring you back safe?” Then he accompanied Joan as she sprang into the moat where the fight was fiercest, and attempted to ascend a ladder. A stone, hurled at her, struck her to the ground. But she was up in a moment. “Go up boldly,” she cried, “and in upon them; the place is ours.” So it was. The English could resist no longer, and attempted to cross the bridge over the Loire. The Earl of Suffolk’s brother, Alexander, was slam; and the earl himself, pursued by Guillaume Regnault, surrendered to him after having conferred on him the dignity of knighthood. Another brother of the earl and many of the leaders were made prisoners. The unrestrained victors pillaged the town and even the churches before Joan knew of it; for there was so much booty stored away. Many prisoners, too, in the hands of the gentlemen were slaughtered by the municipal soldiers; and still more, it would appear, on the way to Orleans, because of a dispute regarding the ransom.
Joan, to save Suffolk and the others, had them sent by water to Orleans during the night. About four or five hundred English soldiers lost their lives; and not more than twenty of the French, it is said. That night the army marched back to Orleans, for the hostile forts lay on the other side.
Section 4. – Meung, Beaugency and Patay
Meung was twelve miles west, or rather southwest, of Orleans, with a fortified bridge over the Loire. Beaugency, with another bridge, was about half the distance farther down. Joan immediately proposed to attack these. On June 25th the bridge of Meung was taken; and leaving a guard, Joan went on to Beaugency, whence Talbot had gone with forty lancers and two hundred archers to Janville, twenty miles north of Orleans, to meet Sir John Fastolf. The faubourgs were taken without a blow, and the garrison capitulated. Hither came Arthur, Duke of Richemont, the former Constable, with four hundred lancers and eight hundred archers, his entire force numbering, it seems, over two thousand men, to join the army of Joan. D’Alencon was strictly forbidden by the king to accept his aid, and threatened to resign rather than do so. But the tact and patriotism of Joan prevailed, she taking the responsibility, and promising to obtain Richemont’s pardon. He swore fealty to King Charles, and added his imposing force to Joan’s army.
Talbot, in order to save Beaugency, advanced to attack the bridge of Meung; but being informed of the surrender, he retired slowly northward, willing to offer battle in a favorable position. The French cavalry, under Dunois and La Hire, hung like a cloud upon his rear, in advance of their main body. Joan ardently desired to be in the van with the cavalry; but d’Alencon and Richemont retained her with them. On the 18th of June Talbot had gone about twelve miles north of Meung through the Beauce country, which was wooded; and so the French approached without seeing him. They were near Patay when a deer startled by the advancing cavalry rushed towards the English line and was greeted with shouts. La Hire announced their presence to the French leaders, and asked Joan what to do. “Ride hard upon them,” she said; “and you will have good guidance. Strike hard, and they will soon run.” From the morning she had foretold the victory and the pursuit. “You will need good spurs,” she said, “to overtake the English.”
Talbot, seeing his position, halted his rearguard, in order to give Fastolf time to form the main body. But La Hire struck the English guard like a wolf, before they could form their array or set their usual stockade. Talbot, vainly essaying to re-form them, was taken prisoner.
Meanwhile Fastolf endeavored to draw up his army between a monastery, or church, and a wood; but as Joan, Alencon and Richemont threatened the left wing they broke and fled. Dunois put the English losses at four thousand: much more than half that number were slain. In the wild pursuit, Joan saw an English prisoner struck on the head by his captor, and knocked senseless. She dismounted instantly and took the dying man’s head on her lap, while she burst into tears, and called a priest to hear his confession. The vanquished fled to Danville, fifteen or twenty miles to the northeast; but the fortress closed its gates, and submitted to King Charles.
Chapter 17 – Joan Leads the King to be Crowned
Section 1 – Slow to MoveDear Michelle
The campaign of the Loire was ended in a week. At its close, by the sweeping victory of Patay, the English power on the Loire was hopelessly broken, and the army destroyed or unavailing. The garrisons abandoned and fired their strong places in the Beauce country, north of Orleans – Mt. Pipeau, Saint Simon, Saint Sigismond, etc.; and the towns surrendered to King Charles. Adherents flocked to Joan at Orleans, and the city was gaily decorated for the expected visit of the king; but he remained at Sully, a possession of Tremoille, more than twenty miles southeast, on the Loire. Thither went the Maid on June 20th, and induced the king to come by Saint Benoit to Chateauneuf. He was here on the 22nd; and there was much deliberation with the captains regarding the pursuit of the campaign. The Maid and some of the most distinguished nobles had striven hard to reconcile the king and the Duke of Richemont. At first Charles yielded; but La Tremoille made him refuse absolutely. This majordomo was the deadly foe of Richemont, as the latter was of him. King Charles retained, moreover, dark memories of Richemont’s tyranny when he was Constable of France. It was one of the conditions announced by Joan for the accomplishment of her mission that there should be a general amnesty for the French princes when they returned to their allegiance, and that there should be a cordial reconciliation of all. The ex-Constable was reconciled later, and became the continuator of Joan’s mission in driving the English from France. He became Duke of Brittany two years before his death in 1458.
From Chateauneuf the king returned to Sully, and Joan to Orleans, to arouse the enthusiasm of the people and the soldiers for the march to Reims. “She drew to the king,” says Cousinot, “all the men-at-arms, and was supplied with arms, food, and wagons.” The muster (gathering VF) place was Gien, a few miles southeast of Sully, on the Loire; and hither came King Charles.
In the early morning of June 24th the Maid said to the Duke d’Alencon, “Sound the trumpet and mount; it is time to go to the king and put him on the road for his coronation at Reims.” They arrived at Gien the same day, and were received joyously by the king, who held high festival in their honor, while all the brilliant gathering conversed with astonishment about the success of the recent campaign. Joan urged an immediate departure for Reims; but there were three towns held by the English south of them on the river – Bonny, Cosne, and La Charite; and these were summoned by King Charles to surrender. He sent Admiral de Culan to Bonny the nearest, which yielded on the 26th; the others were, for the moment, left unmolested.
There were great deliberations, says the chroniclers; during which the queen, Marie of Anjou, came to Glien, in order to accompany the march and be crowned. But the plan of Joan met much opposition. It is clear that many were unwilling to follow her; amongst whom were several royal captains and nearly all the politicians, including the Chancellor Archbishop, and especially La Tremoille. This double-dealer “trembled for his position” at court. He had many and powerful enemies, who would be glad to see him fall. But he had a party, too, of men like himself. He supplied money – a prime necessity – to the king, although at enormous interest; and the unfortunate monarch, abandoned by fortune, by his mother, and by his nobles, had submitted to the influence of La Tremoille, which, after all, was scarcely more discreditable or more fatal than that of the princes of the royal blood.
The opposition referred to never ceased. A difficulty was raised by many, and by the king himself, regarding the character of the country through which they should pass to reach Reims. A march of eighty leagues through towns and fortresses held by the Anglo-Burgundian armies seemed rash; the army, moreover – probably about twelve thousand men – was not provided with siege guns or commissariat. When all this was said to Joan, she answered, “I know the difficulties on the way; but I make no account whatsoever of them. I will lead the king to be crowned, no matter what enemy opposes.”
Drawn by the fame of the Maid, multitudes of volunteers of every rank and condition kept pouring in to Glien – so many, that the weak and narrow Tremoille, alarmed at the number, sent many away. So great was the enthusiasm, that, in the word of Jean Chartier, “all France could easily have been won back.” Nor is there any reason to doubt his declaration. Nobles, captains, gentlemen, the common people – all wished to serve with the Maid, without pay and in any position. To them she was the envoy of Heaven. Gentlemen without money for knightly equipment served as common soldiers. Noblemen adopted the banner and blazon of Joan. Great barons and nobles, hitherto craven or disloyal, came to the king or wished to come. Amongst these, was, for instance, Rene, Duke of Bar, the king’s brother-in-law, who had done homage to the Duke of Burgundy and the English king. He joined the royal standard soon after the coronation. The conviction was clearly becoming general that the days of English dominion in France were numbered.
All that was needed was faith in the Maid. But the craven and dubious court circle around Charles VII were unworthy of the great opportunity, and they rejected it.
The queen was sent back to Bourges in Berri, far south of Orleans. Joan must have grieved over it; but she never wavered. On June 25th she wrote to the faithful citizens of Tourney in Flanders, the only city which remained loyal in the north of France. “I invite you,” she said, “to the coronation of our noble King Charles at Reims, where we will arrive soon.”
The council still lingered; and Joan angered by the delays, and hopeless of harmony, boldly crossed the Loire with a part of the army and many captains. She went on twelve miles on the road to Auxerre, as an eagle teaching its young to fly. There were “many councils” still; but the king followed on the 29th with “a fair company.“ “On his way,” says de Cagny, “all the fortresses on the right and left surrendered to him.”
Section 2 – What Might Have Been
After the fatal field of Patay, cities such as La Rochelle rang their bells for joy and lighted bonfires. There was a riot in Paris; and the English regent, the Duke of Bedford, left the city for Vincennes, through fear of the fickle populace. In his efforts to recruit an army there was not much success, and the Picards, particularly, had begun to desert. It was probably the time to strike at Paris.
But Joan knew the heart of France, and the far-reaching influence of the crowning. Besides, her Voices had traced the way by Reims to Paris; it was an eagle’s course and campaign, and sure to succeed. The towns were wavering; and, at the appearance of Joan and the king, yielded. The province of Champagne was hers after the submission of Troyes; and it submitted at a, mere show of force. An official or governing group occasionally mocked at the Maid, as at Troyes and Reims; but the people soon welcomed her enthusiastically. If Charles’ council had been wise or efficient, or he himself sufficiently confident and daring, Joan’s oft-repeated words would have been undoubtedly true – he could have easily and quickly regained all France. She was the best politician and soldier of them all.
There was a court clique, which was despicable. They did not wish to go to Reims; they proposed a retreat at the first show of resistance at Troyes; and their folly culminated at Paris when they did actually turn back, abandoning the Maid, and breaking down a bridge by which she could attack the city. They then actually retreated to the Loire! Yet, Joan was not broken-hearted at all this. Still she fought; fearing, she said, no foe but treason.
The Duke of Burgundy was, seemingly, almost as undecided as Charles VII. He had had friction with the English. His ambassadors appeared at the coronation at Reims.
There had been various armistices and appearances of reconciliation with the king of France. But, after the coronation he joined the regent Bedford at Paris through sheer spite or conscienceless insincerity. The delays of the French court proved fatal. Bedford and Burgundy being reconciled, Cardinal Beaufort, the English king’s uncle, made peace with Scotland, and sent against Catholic France a military force enlisted for a crusade against the anarchical heretics of Bohemia. With these troops came a strong band of men recruited by Sir John Radcliffe; and the combined army reached Paris on the 25th of July. Tremoille’s selfish hostility and Archbishop Regnault de Chartres’ negotiations with the false Burgundians ruined the cause of France and sacrificed the peerless Maid. Yet the impulse she gave really ruined the English cause.
Section 3 – Joan’s Manner of Warfare
Joan rode with the army fully equipped as a knight. It was usual to wear a rather long tunic over the armor, and sometimes under it. An ample cloak, or loose robe, was also worn. The captive Duke of Orleans, whose territory was the first freed by Joan from the foe, and whose liberation was one of the objects of her mission, presented her with very rich and costly robes of his own colors–green and crimson, as if making her his champion. After the assassination of his father, the green, at first vivid, was turned to brownish; and after Agincourt, where he was made prisoner, became darker – the green of the vanquished. The nettle, the badge of his family, was embroidered on the robe.
When in the field, Joan slept in full armor; and in houses, always with a female companion. We have oft-repeated testimonies that her appearance made chaste the hearts of soldiers, both noble and lowly. In her campaigns she was accustomed to go into a church in the evening, accompanied by the priests – and with these there were mendicant friars – who sang hymns and anthems to Our Lady. Her confessions and communions were constant, often daily. It cannot be denied that the whole army was reformed, although there was occasionally an outbreak of violence or disorder. When she broke her sword on the back of a bad woman who got into the camp, the king is reported to have chided her and recommended a stick; not, as has been so foolishly and unjustly said, because he was depraved, but because, as he himself explained, the sword was pointed out to Joan by her Voices. She became very angry, she was horrified, the chroniclers relate, when she heard any profane speech, and especially any profanation of the holy Name of God. Etienne de Vignoles (La Hire), one of her first friends in need and one of the truest, the gallant and fearless soldier, used “to swear like a trooper.” But Joan reformed him, and made him swear by his baton.
Her page, Louis de Coutes, says he frequently heard her reprove d’Alencon, her “fair Duke,” for swearing. In general, he continues, no one swore in her presence in the whole army without being reprimanded. “She made vehement reproaches,” confesses d’Alencon, “to those guilty of profanity, and especially to myself, who swore sometimes. Her presence was enough to make profane words die upon my lips.” Dunois, who completed her work, took Paris, and conquered Normandy and Guyenne, tells that her custom was every day at the hour of vespers to retire to a church. She had the bells rang for half an hour; then she assembled the priests to sing the evening service. D’Aulon, her constant companion, said that no one was ever more chaste than Joan. “How much I would desire,” she said to the Archbishop of Reims, “that it were the good pleasure of God my Creator to allow me to retire and quit the army. I would go and serve my father and mother in watching over their sheep, with my sister and brothers, who would have great joy in seeing me.”
On the march she sometimes rode at the head of the army, sometimes with the king, and sometimes in the rear. If there were a cry of alarm, she was first at the place of danger, whether she was on foot or horseback. “It was beautiful to hear her talk of war, and to see her marshal soldiers.”
The impression made by Joan on the noble hearted Dunois was life-long. He rose to the height of glory under Charles VII, becoming the most influential of all in court and camp. He was a man of transparent faith and virtue. On his portrait in the château of Beaugency is read the prayer, three times repeated, “Cor mundum crea in me, Deus”- “O God create in me a clean heart.” He wished to be buried at Notre Dame de Clery, where his tomb is pointed out. He died in 1456, at the age of fifty-one; having been, therefore, twenty-six or twenty-seven, in the days of Joan, in 1429.
Section 4 – A Bloodless March Through Foes
The army marched or rode from (lien, fifty miles due east to Auxerre; before which it encamped on July 1st. Summoned by King Charles to surrender, it “yielded not full obedience”; which seems to mean that there was hesitation, or doubt, rather than hostility, and which is still further proved by the fact that the city was left in the rear unmolested. Perhaps it feared the conduct of the soldiers, and, probably, still more the vengeance of the Duke of Burgundy. Joan and the captains wished to take the city by assault; and Joan said it could be easily done. But the citizens began to make terms, promising such obedience to the king as would be rendered by Troyes, Chalons, and Reims. They put into the itching palm of Tremoille a douceur of two thousand gold crowns, to leave the city inviolate; and sold much needed provisions to the army.
Many captains were indignant, and did not conceal their complaints against the favorite and some of the other councilors. After three days the army marched away northeast to Troyes, which was distant some fifty miles or more. On the border of Champagne the town of Saint Florentin submitted as they advanced; and, according to de Cagny, all the fortresses along the march acknowledged King Charles at the summoning of Joan. She was herself the first to hold parley at the barriers; at times she sent some one her party to bid them surrender to the King of Heaven.
At Brienon – I’Archeveque, King Charles wrote to the people of Reims, inviting them to prepare for his coronation after the manner of his ancestors. Pausing little on the way, the army reached Saint Phal on the 4th, four leagues southwest of Troyes. It was the possession of Etienne de Vaudrey, Count of Joigny, an ardent Burgundian. Joan must have easily taken the fortress, the ruins of which are still seen in the cultivated fields. From here Joan wrote a most remarkable letter to the citizens of Troyes – a delightful, warm-hearted invitation: “My very dear and good friends – if you wish to be – the Maid commands you, and makes known to you in the name of the King of Heaven your duty to acknowledge the gentle king of France, who will soon be at Reims and Paris. . . .
Loyal Frenchmen, come to meet your king; for I assure you we will enter all the towns that belong to France.”
Troyes was, apparently, rebellious. The citizens sent a copy of her letter to Reims, telling that the enemy was at their gates. They were determined, they said, to keep their oath to the Duke of Burgundy and King Henry of England, and exhorted Reims to fight with them to death. In their letters and proclamations they mocked Joan, and gave her an opprobrious name. To Chalons they wrote in the same tone.
On the morning of July 5th the ‘royal army encamped before Troyes. It was the capital of Champagne, and had served as an English capital in France after the signing of the treaty, which handed over France to the invader. On the day of the treaty fifteen hundred burgesses swore in the Cathedral to observe it, and had renewed their oath a little before Joan came. It had witnessed, or made, the pomp and circumstance of the marriage of the “gentle Dauphin’s” sister Catherine, daughter of the unfortunate Charles VI, with the English King, Henry V. The city, like Rheims and Chalons, had remained steadfastly attached to the Anglo-Burgundian cause. Within it just now there were five or six hundred combatants, we are told by Cousinot, who bravely came out to meet the king’s soldiers. The latter attacked them with little hesitation, and drove them back.
There was much hunger in the royal army, the chronicler goes on to say; thousands had been for days without food, and they ate eagerly the ears of wheat and the new-ripening beans sown by the advice of Friar Richard. This was a sensational preacher, who, returning, according to his own story, from the Holy Land in 1428, had preached in Troyes during Advent. “Sow beans,” he urged every day; “for he who is to come will come soon.” The crop of beans was an extraordinary one, and was providential for the starving soldiers of Charles VII. Richard had preached through the country, and was in Paris in April of 1429. His discourse each day lasted from five to eleven in the forenoon, in presence of an audience numbering six thousand. Antichrist, he said, was already born; and in the year 1430 there would be wonders greater than the world had seen before. He found, however, that the theological faculty of Paris was about to proceed against him, and he departed suddenly and silently in the night. At first he was on the Burgundian side, as far as he entered into politics. But after his interview with Joan, under the walls of Troyes, he followed the Maid until December, 1429, or January, 1430; when he left her because she would not recognize the visionary Catherine of La Rochelle.
Joan said at Rouen, that Friar Richard was sent by the citizens of Troyes, she thought, to test whether she was sent by Heaven or not.
He approached her, sprinkling holy water. “Come on boldly,” she said; “I shall not fly away.” This was on Tuesday, July 5th, the day of the coming to Troyes. Richard carried back Joan’s letter to the citizens; but they made no answer, and prepared to defend their walls. On Friday (8th) the royal council, frightened by the rebel temper of Troyes, were about to decide upon a retreat, when Robert le Magon, Lord of Treves reminded them that they had begun the march at the instance of Joan, and it might be well to consult her. Meanwhile, “she knocked very loudly at the door of the council chamber”; and, having entered, the Archbishop summed up the dangers and difficulties of a forward march. She turned to the king, and asked – very naturally – whether they would believe what she had to say. The king said they would consider any helpful recommendation she had to make. Whereupon she said, “Gentle king of France, this city is yours; remain two or three days more, and it will surrender through love or fear.” The Archbishop said they would remain six if she were sure of success. Immediately she sprang into the saddle and went through the ranks of the army, hurrying them all – knights and men-at-arms – to bring up faggots, doors, tables, windows, to shelter the assailants and fill up the moat. She planted the cannon, such as they had; and pitched the tents nearer to the walls. She labored with a diligence so marvelous, says Dunois, that two or three men-at-arms, the most famous, and most accomplished, would not have equaled her. She advanced the siege work so much during the night that seeing this, he continues, the Bishop and burgesses, trembling with fear, came out to treat of their submission with the king. And they afterwards told, that, from the time that Joan gave the counsel to attack, the people lost heart, and sought refuge in the churches. Under the impulse of Joan’s stern argument, the citizens, says Cousinot, acknowledged that Charles was their lawful king and that Joan had been doing extraordinary things. The king agreed to let the English and Burgundian soldiers go free with whatever they possessed. He granted a general amnesty; and confirmed the ecclesiastical appointments made under the patronage of the English king. The soldiers claimed a right to take their prisoners with them; and were leading them away, when Joan, aroused to indignation, forbade it. She stationed herself at the city gate, declaring, “In the name of God they shall not be taken.” The king then paid their ransom, and they were freed.
On the 10th of July about nine o’clock in the morning – the day after Joan’s prophecy – the king entered the city in state with his nobles and captains brilliantly equipped and mounted. But Joan, prudent warrior, had gone before, and stationed the archers along the streets. The army remained outside under Ambrose de Lore; and marched off next day (11th), “to the great joy of the citizens, who swore to be henceforth good and loyal subjects of King Charles.” For his services the Bishop, hitherto not on the French side, received later from Charles letters of nobility for his family. Their march was straight on, northeast to Chalons, forty or fifty miles away. Joan’s prophecy was that the Burgundians would be “stupefied” at the fall of Troyes; and such was precisely the effect. Chalons and Reims followed immediately, and Champagne was the King’s.
On the march to Chalons, Joan rode in full armor at the head of the troops. From Bussy – Lestrees, on the 13th, the king sent on his promise of amnesty to the people of the city; and on the 14th, seeing the approaching army, “a multitude” of the citizens went out with their Bishop to meet the king and tender their allegiance. The army passed the night in the city; and Charles set his officers in charge, as at Troyes.
Here occurred the touching incident of the visit of five or six of her old friends of Domremy to Joan. Jean Morel, her godfather, hearing of her fame and of the crowning of the king through her heroic campaigns, came to Chalons to see her. She made him a present of a red garment, which she wore – one of the rich presents made to her, we may suppose. Gerardin d’Epinal, another of her godparents, came, also, to see her, with four of his fellow villagers.
They had a familiar conversation, full of confidence, during which she said to Gerardin, that the only thing she feared was treason.
Next day (the 15th) the army promptly resumed its march; and the king passed the night at the chateau of Sept-Saulx, the property of the Archbishop of Reims, four leagues from the city. Hither came a committee of the citizens to offer their allegiance; and the same day the king issued a proclamation, annulling all acts done in the city by English authority. On the afternoon of that day (the 16th) the king entered the city in the midst of popular acclaim; and all prepared with the greatest diligence for the coronation of the morrow.
Reims had not been, however, so loyal a little before. Its Burgundian captain, the Seigneur de Chatillon, being absent, was consulted quickly on the 8th of July, the people, or at least some of them, declaring their loyalty to him and their Anglo-Burgundian masters. He came to the city with other lords, and promised relief in five or six weeks; whereupon, the people refused to admit his soldiers, and he went away. The rapid march of the royal army disconcerted the foe, and Joan’s deeds struck them with terror.
Chapter 18 – The Crowning
On Sunday, July 17th, perhaps the most famous, and certainly the most remarkable, coronation in the history of France was accomplished with military promptitude in the cathedral of Notre Dame at Reims. It began at nine o’clock in the morning and continued until two in the afternoon. Notwithstanding the short and hurried preparation, everything was made ready with regal splendor. The pomp of court and army, the multitudinous acclaim of the enthusiastic people, the flush of victory, and the hope of complete conquest – all enhanced the historic scene and event. Four of the chief military officers, in full armor and rich garments, mounted on their war-chargers and carrying each his unfurled banner, went to seek the sacred ampoule, or cruet of oil, which was believed to have had a miraculous history, and which had been used by Saint Remi at the coronation of the converted Clovis, king of the Franks. Unless anointed with this sacred oil, the kings of France were not considered to have begun their reign.
The Marshals of France, de Rais and de Boussac, the Admiral de Culan, and the Seigneur de Gravelle, having taken the usual oath to guard the venerated cruet, accompanied the abbot of the monastery of Saint Remi back to the gate of Saint Denis, at which the Archbishop, in richest vestments, and surrounded by his canons, received it, and bore it to the high altar of the cathedral. According to the Angevin Letter, the knights and abbot rode into the cathedral, and presented the ampoule to the Archbishop at the entrance to the choir. Joan stood near the king, holding her banner in her hand; for, as she said at Rouen, it deserved this honor since it had been through the hardships of war.
Six secular, or temporal, peers of France, and six spiritual – that is, Bishops – used to grace the crowning of the kings of France. The dignity of the secular peers had been absorbed by the crown; there remained but one, the rebel Duke of Burgundy. His place was taken by the Duke of Alencon. But, for the occasion, the five vacant places were filled by the Count of Clermont, the Count of Vendome, the two Lavals, and La Tremoille. The Seigneur d’Albret, acting as Constable, bore the royal sword. The six spiritual peers of France were the Archbishop of Reims, and the Bishops of Chalons, Laon, Soissons, Beauvais, and Noyon. The last two were Anglo-Burgundians. The Bishop of Soissons returned to his allegiance after the coronation. Of the peers, the Archbishop of Reims and the Bishops of Chalons and Laon, were present; and the places of the absentees were taken by the Bishops of Seez, Orleans (Mgr. Kirkmichael) and Troyes. The Duke d’Alencon knighted the king; and when the crown was set on his head, by the Archbishop, the sounding of the trumpets and the thunderous cheers of the people were, say the eye-witnesses, such as almost to rend the cathedral roof. Then Joan, in a flood of hot tears (says Cousinot), knelt down and embraced the king’s knees and kissed his foot. “Now, gentle king,” she said, “is the will of God accomplished, who wished you to be crowned as the lawful king of the realm of France.” So full of simplicity, joy, and affection was her manner, that all who were present were moved to tenderness. De Rais, one of the Lavals, and La Tremoille were made counts – the last, of Sully; and many were made knights either by the king, or by d’Alencon and Bourbon. The noblest Frenchman of them all, or one of the noblest, Dunois was, soldier fashion, made Count of Longueville, in the English possession of Normandy. He was, moreover, to be count of whatever else he could get in that disputed province, which he recovered later for France.
Three Angevins, subjects of Queen Marie of Anjou, writing from Reims to her and her mother Queen Yolande after the crowning, say that the ambassadors of the Duke of Burgundy arrived on the 16th, and that it was hoped that a peace had been concluded between the duke and King Charles. This hope was illusive.
Thus in three months, by marvelous deeds, did the Maid bring her king to his coronation. It was only six months since she left Domremy; but her fame, meanwhile, had become worldwide. Her father came to see her at Reims as she entered the city, July 16th; and seems to have remained until September 5th. It is possible that he was with her in the campaign which followed the coronation. We can imagine their conversation about Domremy and Greux; and perhaps it was her father who suggested her request to King Charles to exempt the two villages from taxation – a favor granted on July 31st. The king gave Joan’s father a present of sixty French pounds; and the city of Reims paid his expenses. It is possible that her “Uncle” Laxart, her first faithful friend in her enterprise, was present, too, at Reims; for he says himself he recounted all Joan’s life to the king, without mentioning, however, the place of his interview.
Chapter 19 – After the Coronation
Section 1 – Duplicity and Treason
The movement of the royal troops after the coronation has been variously styled the campaign of the Ile de France, the campaign of dupes, or of stupidity; but better, in all probability, the campaign of traitors. The glamour of victory, the glory of the crowning, hid for a while the baseness of what has been called the inner council of Charles VII. The inner council was La Tremoille. Regnault de Chartres, the court archbishop, figures in it, it is true. But the statement that he was a creature of La Tremoille is not without foundation; for he was made definitely Chancellor of France the year before Joan’s campaigns began; and we may be sure that, if he were not chosen by the-favorite, he was not chosen without his approval. Both, moreover, entertained a very good understanding, one with the other. There were some royal captains, too, who opposed Joan. Whoever they were they obeyed La Tremoille. However we may explain this man’s influence with the king, the latter gains little credit by the campaign after the coronation.
He was not a soldier, it is clear enough; neither had he the courage, faith, or common-sense to follow the Maid, and save his people from their ruthless foes. We are rudely shocked to find that Charles VII wished to retreat, began, in fact, the retreat of his army, at the first sight of the English troops, or at the first rumor of their advance; and to find furthermore, that he could not see through the self-seeking falsehoods and measureless duplicity of the archtraitor, Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy. This man, who was the chief cause of the indescribable woes of France; and without whom, as Bedford acknowledged, neither Paris, nor any other portion of France, would remain in English hands, was endeavoring to make his vast possessions an independent, or almost independent, state. His hatred of the French cause seemed implacable, even after the death of his sister, Bedford’s wife. Great was his joy when his soldiers captured the pure-hearted patriot, Joan of Arc; and shameless beyond time and measure his base sale of her blood to the English invader of his country.
Burgundy had gone to Paris in the first days of July to meet Bedford, and to fan the hatred of the Parisian mob against their lawful sovereign. On the 10th, the citizens renewed their traitorous oath to the English regent. Meanwhile he sent ambassadors to propose peace, or at least an armistice, to Charles VII at Reims.
His object was to gain time for the English recruits to arrive, and to gather his own army to help them. He basely deceived the Duke of Savoy by inducing him to propose terms of peace to the king of France. The inner council of Charles VII made a disastrous truce of two weeks with Burgundy’s ambassadors after the coronation at Reims; and this act of political chicanery wasted the precious days of the victorious and enthusiastic army. In this agreement, Burgundy (gave a VF) lying promised to deliver up Paris to King Charles in fifteen days. The grossness of the deceit soon became apparent; yet the truce was renewed, and for a long period, at Compiegne on August 28th. By this the campaign of Charles was paralyzed; and Burgundy was allowed to defend Paris against the king of France, and – what was worse – against Joan of Arc. What wonder she failed? She could not make victorious a man who would not accept victory even from Heaven. The duped and faint-hearted king forbade Joan to attack the capital; and had her dragged away, and ran away himself to the Loire! The clever politician Bedford availed himself to the utmost of the stupidity of Charles VII, of the treason of his council, and of the ambition and duplicity of Burgundy. So he astutely made the latter, during the truce, his lieutenant in Paris and Ile de France, both weakly held and thus retained.
Section 2 – Advance and Retreat
Joan wished to advance rapidly on Paris immediately after the crowning; and so it seemed to be decided. The Angevin Letter, referred to before, said the king would leave Reims on the 18th of July. He did not leave, however, until the 21st, while Cardinal Beaufort was marching from Calais with his crusaders. The two weeks’ truce gave Burgundy time to meet him, and gather an army. Joan, in her testimony at Rouen, speaks of her interview with the ambassadors at Reims. She desired peace with Burgundy, she told them; but the English did not want peace; it would be obtained only at the point of the lance. It was these ambassadors, probably, who took her letter to the Duke of Burgundy; she knew how important it was to detach him from the English alliance. In her letter she exhorts him to make peace; she prayed and humbly supplicated a French prince not to make war on his country; let him know, however, for his good, that if he does, he will never gain a single battle. She had written to him, she says, three weeks before, inviting him to the coronation; but Philip the Good returned no answer to either letter.
From Reims, Charles VII, following the custom of his predecessors after their coronation, made a pilgrimage to a saint of royal blood, Saint Marcoul, at Corbigny, six leagues north of Reims. Saint Marcoul was invoked for the cure of King’s evil (scrofula); and it was believed that he communicated his power to the kings as they visited his tomb. From Corbigny, Charles turned west, some twenty-five miles, to the little fortified town of Vailly, a possession of the Archbishop, four leagues from Soissons, farther west, and the same from Laon, which was to the north. The, army remained here one whole day. Laon sent in its keys gladly to the king. So did Soissons, however ravaged by the Armagnacs in the days of Charles VI, 1414. The horrible sacrileges and cruelties of the sack were believed to have been avenged on the fatal day of Agincourt. With all its poverty, the city received the king as fittingly as possible on July 23rd. The royal army had now entered that ancient division of the country called the Isle of France; so called because mostly, and perhaps at one time entirely enclosed by the four rivers, the Aisne, Oise, Seine, and Marne. It corresponds with the modern departments of Oise, Seine, Seine et Oise, and parts of Seine et Marne, Eure et’ Loire, and Aisne. Here were the towns of Laon, Soissons, Compiegne, Senlis, Chateau-Thierry, Meaux, Paris, Provins, etc.
Charles remained three days at Soissons, while the five thousand Englishmen under Cardinal Beaufort and his nephew Bedford entered Paris on the 25th. To Soissons came the news of the submission of Chateau-Thierry, Provins, Coulommiers, Crecy-en-Brie, and many other places.
All cities and towns between Reims and Paris had opened their gates. It was a thousand pities that Paris was not taken, as it undoubtedly could have been taken by a quick direct blow immediately after the coronation. It was weakly defended, with the fortifications in bad condition. The English were detested, and the Burgundians not loved, whereas King Charles had many ardent partisans within the walls.
The royal army, instead of striking straight along the Marne to Paris, had gone up northwest, and at Soissons was at a distance of sixty miles from the capital. Now it turned senselessly due south to Chateau-Thierry on the Marne, avoiding Paris. Here the army remained all day drawn up in order of battle expecting an attack from the English. But Bedford came not; he probably thought, probably knew that there was no need of fighting. On the evening of that day, July 29th, Chateau-Thierry was needlessly occupied by the royal army. After two days the march was resumed, going southeast to Montmirail, on the first of August. Thence southwest to Provins, where there was a pause of two or three days. The slow, erratic, cowardly march kept Joan and her inspired army always at a safe distance from Paris – about fifty miles away.
The king was clearly giving up the campaign; and the faithful towns, which had just thrown off the Anglo-Burgundian yoke, were becoming terror-stricken.
They sent piteous message after message. Reims was particularly alarmed; for Burgundy kept partisans here for a year after the coronation, and was laboring hard to get possession of the city. One of the touching letters of Joan is an encouraging answer to the appeal of the citizens. It is dated August 5th, “from the fields, on the way to Paris.” “My dear and good friends,” she writes, “good and loyal French people of Reims, doubt not in the royal cause. I will never abandon you as long as I live.” Burgundy, she continued, had obtained a truce, and promised to deliver up Paris in fifteen days; therefore, they must not be surprised if she did not enter it so soon. The truce pleased her not, and she was not quite determined to keep it. If she did, it was only to save the king’s word – she evidently saw through the treason. She would keep, however, she said, the royal army together for the fifteen days. La Tremoille and his party, including his relatives, fattening on the profits of the two camps, feared the army, and wished to dissolve it. It was becoming dangerous to the position of this low-lived creature. A few days later we hear of Joan being heart-sick, no doubt, wishing she could be buried with the good people of Crepy-en-Valois, and wishing that Heaven would allow her to return to her lowly home and watch her father’s sheep in Domremy. But this was only a passing wish. Her superhuman loyalty, never failed; not even ingratitude, opposition, rejection, and treason, could shake her determination to save France. Paris must be taken, and the English driven out of the country. This was her mission, and she was determined to accomplish it. It was, very probably, some sorrowful word like the above, escaping from her heart; or her word to the king as she knelt before him at Reims; or, perhaps, the frustration of her mission by her king and his council, that gave Dunois the impression that she did not speak definitely of any other mission of Heaven save the deliverance of Orleans and the crowning of the king. After this, she seemed to fail, English courage revived, the war and the woes of France continued for twenty years. The condition of the recovered provinces and towns near the Anglo-Burgundian border became pitiable. They were trodden by both armies; for the truces were not respected, nor did they include the English, who were constantly assisted by the Burgundians one way or another.
While the craven council held the army at Provins, and other places, the fame of Joan was hardly diminished. She summoned fortress after fortress, and was obeyed. She used to leave the main body of the troops, to win allegiance to the king along the route. French officers were put in charge, and the recovered places were never lost.
Meanwhile the skillful statesman and soldier, the Duke of Bedford, saw that a strong demonstration against the French would probably frighten them, discourage the loyal towns, discredit Joan of Arc, and gain much credit for the English cause. He issued from Paris with ten thousand men, and marched to Melun, about forty miles west of Provins. But that was quite enough; he knew that his work was being done better and more safely for him by the French themselves; and so he returned to Paris.
Some of the king’s company, says Cousinot, wished to return to the Loire; and the king, also, wished it very much. So arrangements were made to march due south, and cross the Seine at Bray. The English, as if sure of victory, occupied Bray overnight and captured or slew the first Frenchmen who came to the bridge, and then broke it down. The French Army did not venture to cross; but turned valiantly back–ito the great joy of d’Alencon, de Bourbon, Rene de Bar, Laval, Vendome, and their breave comrades, and most of all, of Joan of Arc.
Chapter 20 – To Paris!
Section 1 – Advancing to Battle. Joan’s Position. Joy of the People
Joan testified at Rouen, that, from the first days of August, the direction of the campaign was taken out of her hands; she had to follow the captains. “Henceforward,” says the Chanoine Debout, “the vilest political chicanery hinders and seeks to annul her work.” Mr. Andrew Lang, a careful student of the Maid’s career, is not far from the truth when he affirms as an irrefutable statement, that the “inner council” of Charles VII deliberately sacrificed Joan of Arc to the Duke of Burgundy. Her success and the fulfillment of her predictions were made impossible by the nefarious refusal of the chiefs of the country to co-operate with her, or avail themselves of her services.
On August 5th, the French Army turned back from Provins northwest to Coulommiers, which it reached on August 7th; thence northeast to Chateau-Thierry again, where there was a halt made for two days, the 9th and 10th.
In those days an insulting letter (dated August 7th) was sent by “John of Lancaster, Regent, and Duke of Bedford, to Charles of Valois, who was accustomed to be called the Dauphin of Vienne, who is unjustly contriving new enterprises against the crown and lordship of the most high and excellent prince, and Bedford’s sovereign lord, Henry, by the grace of God, true, natural, and lawful, king of France and England.” He accused Charles VII of the most infamous conduct, particularly for having in his train a disorderly woman dressed as a man, a superstitious seducer of the people who was abominable according to the Scriptures. He challenged Charles to battle anywhere he pleased; although a few days later he took good care to decline it, and marched safely back to Paris.
The French Army went forward northwest, through La Ferte, and arrived on the 11th at Crept’-en-Valois. Here the joy of the people was extraordinary. They uttered loud shouts, and wept with gladness, and came in procession singing the Te Deum to meet the king. Joan was greatly moved, and wished to be buried in the midst of the warm-hearted people. The advance of the French Army aroused the Duke of Bedford, and he left Paris at the head of his troops, moving northeast toward Mitry-en-France, below Dammartin. He took up a strong position, which French outposts, under Etienne de Vignoles (La Hire), “a valiant man-at-arms,” were sent to reconnoiter. The English showed no desire to move, while their position seemed too strong to be attacked. Night came; and next day Bedford withdrew, and the French returned toward Crept’.
Section 2 – A Drawn Battle
On August 14th the French Army advanced southwest towards Senlis, and stopped two leagues from there at the village of Baron. Here came on the 15th news that the Anglo-Burgundians were approaching on the opposite side of Senlis. Ambrose de Lore and Xaintrailles were ordered to mount and reconnoiter. They departed immediately; and riding quickly, saw on the highway of Senlis great clouds of dust arising. They dispatched a courier rapidly to the king, while they still went on nearer, and dispatched another messenger. The royal army then began to form in the open fields. It was the feast of the Assumption; and that morning at dawn, Joan, d’Alencon, and their troops, “put themselves in the best state of conscience they could.” When Mass was said, they mounted their horses. At Vesper hour Bedford’s host, not far from Senlis, began to cross the stream at a point so narrow that only two horsemen could ride abreast. Then de Lore and Xaintrailles rode swiftly back, and the French approached to attack the English while crossing. But they were already over. Skirmishes began, “and there were many fair passes of arms.” ‘Twas near sunset. The English host remained in its position, the river and a marshy pond at their rear, and thick thorny hedges on the flanks.
All night they continued to work at their defenses, setting their stockade, forming a barricade of wagons, digging trenches and forming breastworks. The English formed one compact body, the archers in front under Bedford and his nobles. Behind these were the Picards on the right, the English on the left, the two banners of France and England being displayed. There were some eight hundred Burgundians; and one of these, Jean de Villiers, carried the standard of Saint George. Before the battle, the Duke of Bedford knighted the Bastard of Saint Pol; and many other Burgundians received a similar honor from other noblemen.
On the morning of the 16th the French disposed their battle line.
The main body was under d’Alencon and Vendome. Rene de Bar commanded a second corps; while a third division, in form of a wing, was under the command of the marshals, de Rais and de Boussac. A strong body of skirmishers, thrown forward, was led by Dunois, d’Albret, and Joan. De Graville had the archers. The king was near the army, with de Bourbon, La Tremoille, and a numerous band of knights and squires. There was hard skirmishing all day, but it was impossible to draw the English from their strong position. Seeing which, the Maid, with the vanguard, advanced standard in hand, so near that she struck the English fortifications.
A herald was sent to say that the French would draw back, and give their foes room to choose their ground. But the English would not move. Toward evening a large number of Frenchmen joined together and advanced to the Anglo-Burgundian front. The skirmishing grew fiercer, clouds of dust rendering undistinguishable friend and foe. Monstrelet says no quarter was given, and that there were counted about three hundred slain. At last, as night fell, the French withdrew to their camp, their king to Crept’. The Maid, d’Alencon, and their soldiers remained, we are told, all night on the field; and, in the early morning, retired toward Montepilloy, where they remained till noon, at which hour it was evident that the English had definitely retired.
There was an amusing incident of this battle when Sire de La Tremoille, well fed, expensively groomed, and mounted on a fat charger, made up his mind to take part in the affray. They gave him a lance, and he actually advanced to within striking distance. Here, at the beginning of danger, his horse fell, and the warrior would have been killed or held for ransom, if he had not been promptly rescued, a thing accomplished, we are told, with much difficulty, more, in fact, than it was worth.
Section 3 – Further Successes and Vain Negotiations
The day after the encounter at Montepilloy, the strong city of Compiegne, to the north, on the Oise, sent in its keys. Before going thither, the king sent the two marshals, de Rais and de Boussac with their troops, to summon Senlis to surrender, which it did; and Count de Vendome was put in charge. Town after town, territory after territory, was offering allegiance, Joan being “greatly diligent” on the march to reduce them to submission. Valois, North Brie, the north of Ile de France, with Beauvais city and territory, soon after hoisted the French flag; while the army was about to enter Picardy, now waiting for King Charles. From Beauvais was driven out its incumbent, Bishop Cauchon, “an extreme Englishman (Anglais ex-tréme).”
The condition of the country was becoming dangerous for the haughty Duke of Burgundy. Monstrelet, the Burgundian historian, shows how near Duke Philip was to conclude a truce at Arras about the middle of August, while the royal army, taking city after city, was about to expel the invader, and impose its conditions on the rebel duke. From Arras the negotiations were continued at Compiegne, and here concluded on the 28th of August, when Joan had already left for Paris. Regnault de Chartres, the Chancellor, actually tried to hand over Compiégne to Burgundy; but the people steadfastly refused to be betrayed.
The governorship of the place was claimed and obtained by La Tremoille, and handed over to Guillaume Flavy, as his lieutenant. Flavy was a creature of the Chancellor Archbishop. From the conelusion of the truce Charles VII recognized the Duke of Burgundy as actual governor of Paris, and did not wish that he should be attacked.
Section 4 – Joan Leaves Compiegne. Message of Count d’Armagnac
King Charles was at Compiégne on the 18th of August. Here it appeared, says de Cagny, who was a captain under Alencon, that he was satisfied with the favor Heaven had shown him, and did not wish to go any farther. Here, in effect, he made the fatal truce with Burgundy, which was to last until Christmas, but was prolonged until Easter. It seems to have been kept secret for the moment.
Joan was heartsick at the king’s delay; and, as at Gien, she resolved to go before him, like an eagle alluring its young to fly. She called Alencon, saying, “Fair duke, get your soldiers ready with those of the other captains; for, by my staff, I wish to get a nearer view of Paris than I have had.” As the exultant troops were about to march, and Joan was getting into the saddle, a messenger came from Count d’Armagnac, to ask her, which of the three claimants of the Papacy he should follow. “I’ll tell him after Paris,” she said – not quite so curtly, for for she would not offend him. She would ask, she said, her Lord when she had more time to reflect. For her own part, she affirmed she would obey the Pope who was at Rome. How often she appealed to him in her hour of sorrow!
Speaking of this incident, Joan said the messenger would have been thrown into the water if he had not promptly gotten away. “Not by me,” she added; but, no doubt, by her soldiers, who were annoyed by the delay. Perhaps they knew Count Jean d’Armagnac! Jean, brother-in-law of the Duke of Orleans, was the son of Count Bernard, who had formed the Armagnac party to avenge the House of Orleans against that of Burgundy. Count Jean had abandoned the legitimate Pope, Martin V; and with King Alfonso of Arragon became a fanatical follower of the Antipope, Benedict XIII. He sustained also his intruded successor, the so-called Clement VIII. Pope Martin V had excommunicated d’Armagnac, freed his, subjects from allegiance to him, and gave his territory to the king. Alfonso abandoned the antipope, and the latter resigned his claims soon after the coronation of Charles VII. Armagnac’s letter was just to cover his plight and serve as an excuse for his return to the Pope. He soon submitted. Joan declared under oath at her trial that she never had given any instruction or advice regarding the rival claimants of the Papacy.
Section 5 – Joan Marches
On Tuesday, August 23rd, she left Compiegne with “a fair company” and full of ardor, for the capital seemed about to fall, and even Normandy was ready to fall into their hands – at least so thought the Duke of Bedford.
On the way they picked up a part of the troops sent to take Senlis; and on the following Friday, the 26th of the month, Alencon and his company were lodged in the town of Saint Denis, five miles north of Paris. This had been the burial place of the kings of France from the days of Dagobert. King Charles, learning that Joan, d’Alencon, and their soldiers were in Saint Denis, “came, to his great regret, to the city of Senlis: it appeared he had received counsel in a contrary sense to the will of the Maid, Alencon, and their band.” So wrote de Cagny. About the same time Bedford left Paris for Normandy, so great seemed the danger that this province would fall into the hands of the French. He put over Paris Louis de Luxembourg, Bishop of Therouanne, self-styled Chancellor of France for the English, with an English knight, and Simon Morhier, who called himself provost of the city. An English guard of only two thousand men, it is said, remained for its defense. Then King Charles, at the end of August, moved to Saint Denis, and victory seemed to smile on the banner of France.
Chapter 21 – The Fight for Paris
Arrived at Saint Denis, the Maid and d’Alencon stationed their troops in the neighboring villages; Monstrelet mentions Aubervilliers and Montmartre. Immediately, “great” skirmishing, says Cousinot, began around the walls. It was continued every day; and, sometimes, two or three times a day. Joan took much fearless pleasure in reconnoitering the city, usually with d’Alencon, to see where an attack could be made. She must have realized well her chances of success; for she was far too sharp a soldier to risk a forlorn hope. A bridge was built across the Seine on the western side, giving access to Saint Germain, etc. In these days, Joan took the castles of Bethemont and Montjoie, and perhaps other places. No one in the city ventured outside the gates except the skirmishers.
The whole army was needed for the attack; and so d’Alencon went to Senlis on September 1st to urge the king to come. He promised to follow next day; but failed; and on the 5th d’Alencon went again, and succeeded in bringing his Majesty to Saint Denis – “to dine.”
Meanwhile “all, of every condition,” were saying, “she will put the king in Paris, if he does not prevent her.” The Maid had determined to attack the gate of Saint Honore, on the west, or rather northwest, of the city. A little to the north of it was an eminence, later called the Butte or Knoll of Saint Roch. To this, from its rallying point at La Chapelle, midway between Saint Denis and the city, the army moved at eight O’clock, on the morning of the f east of the Nativity of Our Lady, September 8th. They had already performed the religious duties of the day, as we may understand from the words of Joan at Rouen. And when some one, perhaps not over-zealous, reminded her of the feast, she laconically said, “All days are good for battle.” It appears from the chronicles, that the army was well provided with all required to storm the city – wagons of faggots to fill the moats, six hundred and seventy ladders, etc. At the knoll, and protected by it from the cannon of the city, remained one division under d’Alencon, as a guard against a surprise attack on the rear from the Saint Denis gate, on the north of the city. The party destined for the assault, composed, it seems, of volunteers, were led by the Maid, de Rais, and de Gaucourt. It was near midday, when some advanced barriers were fired, and the Parisians were driven into the city, probably causing the panic, which drove the citizens to the churches, or caused them to shut themselves up in their houses. The assault, beginning quickly after, was “fierce and long,” all admit; and the Parisian cannon well served and effective. The boulevard, or breastwork, before the gate, was soon taken; and the Maid, carrying her banner, descended amongst the first into the outer moat, which was dry. Here she seems to have been accompanied and followed by many combatants. Instantly she sprang on the mound or wall between the outer and inner moat; and here, as it seems, alone, or accompanied only by her standard-bearer, she coolly endeavored, for a considerable time, to fathom the water at various points, under a hail of bolts and arrows. She urged the soldiers to fill up the moat; but she was poorly seconded. Her standard-bearer was now shot through the foot, and as he opened his visor to see or staunch the wound, he was shot between the eyes, to the immense grief of the heroine. Sunset had come, when the Maid, still urging on her soldiers, was shot in the thigh by a bolt, aimed at her with gross insult from the walls. She stood her ground, and called her countrymen to the assault. The men were wearied with the long, fierce, and profitless battle; and de Gaucourt and others took the unwilling Maid away. They put her on a horse, and she returned to La Chapelle, bitterly protesting that the city could have been taken. Here the soldiers, more bitter than Joan, spoke openly of the cowardice of the king, saying that he did not wish to take the city.
How had they noticed it? And why was not Joan informed about the moat? And why did the soldiers hold back? There were very many present at the attack, or near it, who had arranged fool’s or traitor’s truce, with the Duke of Burgundy, a few days before. They bore exalted names – the Chancellor Archbishop, Regnault de Chartres, the Bishop of Seez, Rene, Duke of Bar, Counts Clermont and Vendome, d’Albret, La Tremoille, d’Harcourt, de Treves, de Gancourt. “Some who were with her at the assault,” says Cousinot, “would be glad if evil befell Joan.” “If well conducted, the attack would have succeeded,” testifies the Journal du Siege. “La Tremoille called the soldiers back from Paris,” writes the Herald of Berri. “The captains did not agree; some councilors of the king recalled the troops,” the Chronicle of Tournay affirms. The notary, Pierre Cochon (not the bishop), states that Joan’s soldiers were on the point of gaining the ramparts – they had only to set the ladders, when they were hindered by La Tremoille.
Joan said at Rouen that she was asked by the captains to make a demonstration, or feint on the city – perhaps they and she expected a surrender, through love or fear; but she herself determined to storm Paris. So did Alencon and the daring spirits that understood her. The king had already determined to retreat, hence his hesitation.
The men who made the truce were evidently not of Joan’s way of thinking.
She was probably told, as they led her away in the gloom of night, that there would be an attack next day; and so the means and material of war remained under the walls, or near. Next morning, she arose early, though wounded – the wound healed in five days – and begged Alencon to sound the trumpets, and return to the assault, affirming she would never leave the city unconquered. The “Fair Duke” and some captains were willing to go with her. And while they were speaking, there came out from the city the Baron de Montmorency with fifty or sixty gentlemen to join the Maid. But Rene de Bar and Count Clermont came from the king, to forbid an attack, and with order to bring Joan with them. As the company went back, the hardier spirits, Joan, Alencon, and some others, entertained the hope, that, on the following day, the 10th, they could attack the city from the other side, by means of the bridge which they had constructed. Hearing of the project, the “gentle gentle Dauphin,” Charles VII, had men labor all night to take the bridge apart, and so kill the last hope of victory.
Joan’s Voices had been silent, leaving the assault on Paris to her own initiative – they could not tell her to lead soldiers against the command of the king, however much a fool. Subsequently, they encouraged her to stay at Saint Denis – in hope, no doubt, of winning yet.
But, finally, they gave her advice to depart. Sadly she hung up her white armor as a votive offering at the shrine of Saint Denis, for his name, she said, was the battle cry of France. Soon the English came, and took it as a trophy to Paris. Failure meant that God was no longer leader of the royal host; and Joan’s unparalleled prestige had lost its magic. She knew better than all others what the check at Paris meant, as she knew best what the victory would mean; hence she persistently refused to retreat from the walls. Through the long twilight of eighteen more mouths must she go before she stands in the shameful splendor of the pyre at Rouen.
Chapter 22 – The Great Retreat and After
Section 1 – The Retreat
Before starting on his hasty retreat, King Charles wrote to “his good towns” in the neighborhood, that he did not wish to overburden them with the presence of his army, but that he had determined to retire to the Loire, without, however, renouncing the design of coming back. He put Count Clermont in charge of the Isle-de-France and the Beauvais territory. The Count, however, seeing the devastation of the country by both armies, resigned. The French soldiers, left to defend the faithful territory, being unpaid, got out of hand, and committed nameless depredation on their own people.
The chronicler Cousinot seems to lay stress on Charles’ royal leisureliness. He began his retreat “after dinner” at Saint Denis, on September 13th; and, at the end of it, “went to dinner” at Gien, on Wednesday, the 21st. It was a rapid march, and is said to have been disorderly – southeast to Provins, south to near Sens, southwest to Chateau-Renard, nearly west to Montargis, nearly south to Gien on the Loire. Joan, “to her great regret,” went in the royal train. With what indignation she must have entered Gien, whence she had begun her triumphal march to Reims on June 29th!
“So were broken,” writes the soldier de Cagey, “the desires of the Maid; and so was disbanded the army of the king.” The most enthusiastic army France had ever seen was dissolved immediately. But the patriotic Maid, though grieving over the renouncement of victory, and over the avoidable sufferings of the people, was by no means broken in spirit ; nor did she cease to be an object of reverence and a source of inspiration to the people. She knew she had a mission from Heaven; and that, whether by her or others, it would be accomplished.
Section 2 – Joan Parted from Alencon. Subsequent Movements
D’Alencon was too much of a soldier either to remain at the idle, inglorious court, or to be allowed the title of commander-in-chief, when the army, as a matter of fact, was non-existent. In his place we shall, henceforth, find the Sire d’Albret, the half brother of La Tremoille, and one of those who had arranged the Burgundian truce. D’Alencon went to his possession of Beaumont, where his wife and mother awaited him; and we shall no more find the brave and noble soldier battling with Joan.
Very likely under the inspiration of Joan, he resolved to do something, if possible, with the troops which had followed him, before they had utterly disappeared. Normandy was the chief seat of English power, where the invader had endeavored to establish himself securely. Its nearness to the sea made it easy of approach. But the province had been devastated in the most fearful manner; and many there were who would welcome a French Army. Guerrillas, or robbers, were numerous; and were savagely sacrificed by the English when caught. So little secure was Normandy, that the Duke of Bedford left Paris, to prevent its revolt or occupation. Alencon determined to invade Normandy, and requested that the Maid might accompany him; urging that multitudes would flock to her standard who would not otherwise move. “But Regnault de Chartres (the Chancellor Archbishop), Sire de la Tremoille, and Sire de Gaucourt, who at that time governed the person of the king, refused absolutely.” No wonder the “fair Duke” nursed a bitter grudge in his heart.
The king then “passed his time in Touraine, Poitou, and Berri,” all loyal provinces, secure below the Loire. Joan was with him, apparently handed over to the guardianship of La Tremoille. She was courteously treated; the court was grateful for what she had done. To all appearances, it was quite content with what it had itself done, and intended to do no more.
From Glien she wrote to encourage the people of Troyes, and gave them news of herself, particularly of her wound at Paris. We find her at Sully on September 26th, and at Seller on October 1st – two abodes of the favorite.
Section 3 – Joan at Bourges
On the 3rd of October, Joan went to Bourges, and was lodged by d’Albret in the house of a great lady of the court, Marguerite de la Touroulde, wife of Regnier de Bouligny, chief financier, or treasurer, of Charles VII, in the first twenty-five years of his reign. This “upright and prudent” woman testified at the age of sixty-four as to what she knew of the Maid while with her. Marguerite had gone with Queen Marie to meet the king at Seller; and Joan lived with her most intimately for three weeks. They talked much together, and their chief work seems to have been the performance of exercises of devotion. They went to Mass and matins, and Joan went to confession “very frequently.” Except in matters of war Joan seemed to this lady of the court to be entirely ignorant-a simple peasant girl of the Meuse side. When Marguerite said that Joan could never fear to fight since she knew she would not be killed in battle, the Maid answered that she was exposed to danger as the others, and knew no more than they of the time or place of death. Many women came to the house to have Joan bless or touch rosaries, medals, etc., but Joan laughed, and bade them touch them themselves; it would do just as much good. She was “very generous in almsgiving, and took the greatest pleasure in helping the poor; for she was sent, she said, for them.” Dame Marguerite firmly believed in Joan, who appeared to her to be “innocence itself.” We recall the testimony of d’Aulon, her equerry, that, though “handsome and well-formed,” Joan never awakened any disorderly thought in the bosom of her “soldier companions.’
Section 4 – Joan Unmasks Catherine of La Rochelle
Joan had met this adventuress, both before and after the siege of La Charite, at Jargeau and Montfaucon in Berri. Catherine asserted that a white lady in cloth of gold told her to go through the “good towns” with heralds from the king, demanding gold, silver, concealed treasure, to pay Joan’s soldiers. The Maid told her to go home to her husband and children. Joan’s Voices told her that all this woman’s story was sheer folly. This she wrote to the king, and afterwards told him by word of mouth. She watched one or two nights with the pretend to see the white lady, who for the nonce failed to appear. Brother Richard, known to us since the siege of Troyes, countenanced Catherine; and both ceased to be Joan’s friends. Catherine calumniated the Maid during her trial at Rouen.
Section 5 – The Taking of Saint Pierre-le-Moustier
This fortified place was about eighty miles southeast of Bourges, and about thirty south of La Charite, on the upper Loire, here flowing directly northward. La Charite and this place were held by two freebooters, nominally, at least, for Burgundy. Perrinet Gressart, or Grasset, had made La Charite his capital, whence he raided the surrounding country. He had captured even La Tremoille, as he passed to negotiate with Burgundy; and held him for ransom. The Maid was not able to expel Grasset from his lair, as we shall see. He kept it even after the treaty of Arras, by which Burgundy submitted to his sovereign; and he finally acknowledged Charles VII on conditions very favorable to himself. Grasset had no children; so he provided handsomely for his nieces, even by noble marriages. One of these, Etiennette, of noble birth, was married to Francis de Surienne, called the Arragonese, a Spanish adventurer allied to the house of Borgia. Grasset looked upon him as his adopted son, and made him his lieutenant in charge of Saint Pierre-le-Moustier. Joan had driven de Surienne from Saint Pierre before November 9th; for on that day she wrote the news to the city of Moulins. D’Aulon, who was present, tells the story of the siege. When the place had been invested some days, an assault was made and failed, for the town was well defended and probably Joan’s little army was none too well provided with the means of success. In the repulse d’Aulon was, like Achilles, wounded in the heel by a bolt, or arrow, and could not stand, but moved as best he could on crutches. He saw Joan standing near the wall with a few companions; no doubt, her brothers amongst them. Fearing danger to her, he got on horseback, and went toward her, asking what she was doing, and why she had not followed the others. Taking off her helmet, Joan said she was not alone, but had fifty thousand of her people with her. Now, no matter what she said, continues d’Aulon, there were with her at the moment only four or five soldiers. “I am certain of it,” he affirms, “as were others who also saw her. I then told her to go back as the others had done.” But she quickly told him to get faggots and hurdles to bridge the moat; and called loudly to the soldiers to do so. They obeyed instantly. “I was astonished,” adds d’Aulon; “for the town was taken immediately, with little difficulty.”
Section 6 – Failure at La Charite
Joan’s Voices neither sanctioned nor forbade this campaign on the upper Loire; they couldn’t very well. But the Maid herself did not approve; she wished to fight in France proper, as it was then known. She simply obeyed the king. How much the king and La Tremoille were interested in the matter appears from the fact that Joan had to make most of the preparations. She wrote to Moulins, Clermont, Riom, and perhaps other places, for supplies. Neither supplies nor men were adequate. The army seems to have consisted of foreigners, who were not paid; and, what was worse, they had not sufficient food. D’Albret, who was commander, admits it. Joan might have refused to move; but such was not her character. Marshal de Boussac joined her. The siege dragged on for a month – to mid-December; when the Maid, after the loss of a great part of her artillery, withdrew. The court showed no displeasure; nor had it much reason therefor. In fact, the family of Joan was ennobled soon after. The campaign was not quite fruitless; for Joan captured several other places besides Saint Pierre.
Section 7 – The Ennobling of Joan’s Family
The king’s letter of ennoblement is dated from Meung-sur-Yevre, near Bourges, December, 1429. It is altogether special in form. The king recognizes Joan as an envoy of Heaven, and ennobles her rather as an act of gratitude to God than as a reward for her inestimable services. Not only is Joan made noble, but her parents also, and all the members of her family, with their posterity, male and female. We find grandnephews of Joan’s mother claiming and receiving the title of nobility in virtue of this grant of Charles VII.
The Maid’s brothers took the name of du Lys (of the Lily), the badge of the kings of France. The arms of the family was an upright sword unsheathed on a blue shield, bearing a crown on the point, with two golden lilies, one on each side. Joan herself had not requested this honor; nor did she ever bear any badge save that of her own incomparable chivalry.
Section 8 – Winter and Spring
Idle and chagrined Joan spent the rest of the winter of 1429 and the spring of 1430. She revisited some of the scenes of her prowess. She was at Jargeau, it is said, on Christmas Day; and on the 19th of January, at Orleans, the city, which never ceased to love her. Heliote, the daughter of the painter of Joan’s banner, was about to marry in February; so Joan asked a gift for her from the city of Tours. In March she wrote, or signed, at Sully, the remarkable letter to the Hussites, and two to the city of Reims. The first was; no doubt, composed in great part, by Pasquerel, the Maid’s confessor, who made a Latin translation of it. She refers to the destructive heresies of the Hussites and their unspeakable brutalities, threatening to abandon the English campaign, to go against them, and repay them what they had done. On the 16th and 28th of March she answered the letters sent to her in their distress and danger by the people of Reims. She bade them fear no Burgundian threats; they would have no siege; but if there should be danger, she would come so quickly to help them that their foes would not have time to put on their spurs. In the second letter she says they will soon hear news enough of her; that is of the resumption of her campaign in Ile-de-France.
Chapter 23 – Joan’s Last Campaign
Section 1 – She Comes to Lagny. Defeat and Execution of Franquet d’Arras
Joan, like an eagle uncaged, left the court at Sully at the end of March, 1430. She did not acquaint the king, nor bid him good-by – a significant thing. She gave some pretext of a pleasure trip – war for France was her pleasure – as she departed with several companions-in arms, including her equerry d’Aulon, and, no doubt, her brothers. She went rapidly nearly straight north to Lagny, near Paris. Lured by the rumor of French fights and the steady progress of the royal cause. Her old companion-in-arms, Etienne de Vignoles (La Hire) was doing heroic things in Normandy, where he had taken the strong town of Louviers and the famous castle Gaillard. Another brave companion of hers, Ambrose de Lore, commander at Lagny, stoutly and successfully defended this place and Saint -Celerin against the English. Here, too, were Foucault and Kennedy, and “many gallant soldiers,” in at least considerable part Scottish.
Just as she arrived, a child of three days, apparently dead, was brought to the church of Our Lady, where the maidens gathered to pray for its life. Joan was begged to come. And as they prayed the infant gave signs of life, was baptized, and died. Joan never said that the child was really dead, although it was “black as her shoe.”
It was probably soon after, that the free-booting Anglo-Burgundian captain, Franquet d’Arras, began to devastate the Isle-de-France. He led a veteran band of four hundred men, in part, if not all, English. Promptly Joan took the field with about the same number of men, Scots and other soldiers of the garrison, under Foucault and Kennedy. Having come up with the English, who had dismounted and were protected by a hedge, Joan’s force, horse and foot, in good order, at once fell upon them. Nearly all the English were slain; and on the French side there were also dead and wounded. The leader was brought to Lagny; and Joan asked to have him exchanged for Jacquet Guillaume, an innkeeper near the gate of Paris at which an insurrection against the Anglo-Burgundians was to have begun. It was discovered in Passion week, and some of the prisoners were executed on the eve of Palm Sunday and on the following days. Whether Guillaume was one of these, or had died in prison, we do not know. But the news of his death had come; and, there upon, the bailiff said that Joan would do great if she allowed so great a criminal as Franquet to escape.
He was then handed over to the city authorities who, after a two weeks’ trial, executed him. He himself confessed that he was “a murderer, a robber, and a traitor.”
Section 2 – The Prediction of Joan’s Capture
About the 20th of April, apparently, Joan went directly south, twenty-six miles or so, to Melon on the Seine, either to defend it against the English, or, possibly, to help to capture its island fortress. The Herald of Berri tells the story of the expulsion of the Anglo-Burgundian garrison. They had gone out to Yevres to steal cattle and, therefore, it seems to have been after Lent. While they were absent, the townspeople closed their gates, and besieged the castle, which stood on an island in the Seine. While Joan was viewing the fortifications, Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret revealed to her that she would be taken captive before the feast of Saint “John, June 24th. In point of fact, she would be made prisoner a month sooner. They told her not to fear, that so it was destined; but God would be with her, and she would do His Will. Joan tried to learn from her heavenly friends the time and the place; but they would not tell: she must seek only the Divine Will. Then she begged that, when taken, she might die promptly, “without the long torment of imprisonment.” Her Saints soothed her, and mercifully concealed the hard reality
Although the day was near, and the consequence fearful, Joan never flinched, no more than if she had been assured of a happy death in extreme old age. She explained at Rouen, that, if left to herself, she would avoid the place and time of death foretold; but that, finally, no matter what it cost, she would always obey her Voices.
Section 3 – The Position of Burgundy and the English
Judging from the correspondence of the Duke of Burgundy with the English, things looked black for their united cause at this time. He scarcely exaggerated the sufferings and isolation of Paris; no one ventured outside its walls. He advised the sending of a large army from England, a blow at Reims, a campaign on the Loire, but especially the capture of Compiegne, in order to relieve and protect Paris. He had a bitter grudge against this strong and most important city, because it refused to accept his sway, when Charles VII and his council handed it over to him.
Meanwhile the love and terror of Joan’s name had scarcely diminished. The English were slow to enlist, and were deserting at home, as the Burgundians, and, in particular, the Picards, were in France. Chastelain, a Burgundian chronicler, wrote of her about this time that people knew not what to think of her; her foes feared her, and her friends worshiped her.
The Duke of Bedford, writing later to the English king, attributes justly all the evils done him to the Maid. Before she came, “all things prospered” for him; but so great a change was soon wrought, that those yet under English allegiance in France could neither till nor trade, but were driven to extreme and unbearable poverty.
Neither fear nor love, however, seemed to affect Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy. His party has harassed their countrymen during the truce, which served him merely as a time of preparation for war.
On April 23rd the boy-king of England landed at Calais, with the purpose of being crowned king of France at Reims; and soon an Anglo-Burgundian army was advancing toward the Oise and Compiegne.
Chapter 24 – The Siege of Compiegne
Compiegne, the Orleans of the Oise, is about forty miles northeast of Paris, which it threatened, and in some sense commanded. It barred Burgundy from the Ile-de-France. Few cities were more loved by Joan. Hither she came four or five times, in the interest of the city and of France. The council of Charles VII did not intend to fight against the Duke of Burgundy; but Joan did, and so did Compiegne. She won the fight, even though it cost her life.
Compiegne is on the eastern bank of the Oise – which flows southwest – about two miles below its confluence with the Aisne, which flows westward. Near the confluence was Choisy, on the north bank of the Aisne. Nearly opposite, the Aisne mouth, fell in the Aronde, flowing eastward to the Oise. About twenty-one kilometers west from the Oise, on the Aronde, was the fortress of Gournay, on the northern bank. Much nearer, on the same river, only four miles west of the Oise, was Coudun, which became the headquarters of the Duke of Burgundy during the siege of Compiegne.
The Duke of Burgundy, about to begin the war, appointed Peronne, fifty miles north of Compiegne on the Somme, as the rendezvous of his army. A part, too – the artillery, it is said – gathered at Montdidier, southwest of Peronne, and much nearer to Compiegne. He visited both places before the advance.
We find Joan at Senlis on April 24th, asking quarters for her thousand horsemen. Louis de Bourbon-Vendome was in command; but he refused to receive her; there was place for only thirty or forty, was the answer. She then appears to have distributed her men between Crepy, Lagny, and Compiegne. Mention is made at this time of her visits to various places, recruiting and watching Burgundy’s war-cloud on the Somme.
On the 20th of April, John de Luxembourg left Peronne with the vanguard, and crossed the Oise, to clear the country of the French outposts. The Duke of Burgundy followed on the 23rd, and apparently went to Montdidier; for from here, according to Monstrelet, he advanced on Gournay. This place belonged to his brother-in-law, Charles de Bourbon-Clermont, whose folly caused the disaster of Rouvray field. In command of Gournay was Tristan de Magnelers, who, seeing that he could not resist the Burgundian, offered to capitulate on August 1st if Charles VII or his friends did not meanwhile send a force against the Anglo-Burgundians. Having obtained the place, the duke went back with his army to Noyon, which was favorable to his party.
After a week, he determined to take the town and castle of Choisy, on the Aisne, near Compiegne. This was across the Oise, which he bridged.
Seeing Compiegne threatened, Joan came straight to help it. Here she found Clermont, who was commander of the army, and Regnault de Chartres, Archbishop of Reims. They agreed to attempt the relief of Choisy. Some one planned a brilliant coup-de-main to cut the communications of the Burgundians. On their southward march, they had crossed the Oise, or the Divette, at Pont-l’Eveque, a short distance southwest of Noyon. This place, because of its importance, was held by nearly two thousand English soldiers under Montgomery and Stewart. A surprise attack was dangerous because of the Anglo-Burgundians at Noyon. But it was planned at Compiegne, and Joan went with her old companion-in-arms, Xaintrailles, and others. They had no artillery, being accompanied by only a few wagons with scaling-ladders and hurdles to bridge the moats. They arrived as day was breaking, probably on May 15th, having gone up eighteen miles on the west bank of the Oise. They immediately scaled the walls, and fell upon the garrison. The English fought stubbornly, holding out until assistance came from Noyon. Then the French retired, protected by a rear guard, unparsed.
Some days after, another attempt, or ostensible attempt, was made to prevent the fall of Choisy.
And here we are in the midst of mysteries. It is well to remember, that, as Joan herself says, since her Voices foretold her approaching capture, and left her to her own initiative in military movements, she usually followed the advice of the captains – no doubt, fearing to bring disaster on her friends. She was here on Clermont’s ground and that of the Archbishop. Her abandonment by both soon after, and her condemnation by the Archbishop in his letter, proves that she was no great friend of either. Choisy was almost beside Compiegne, and was connected with the Compiegne neighborhood by a bridge over the Aisne. Count Clermont and the Archbishop did not attempt the bridge. Compiegne had a well-protected bridge over the Oise, which would bring the French troops to the rear of Burgundy. They did not cross. There were other bridges over the river we are told. No use was made of them. But, to Joan’s astonishment, as a recent military critic says, the army was sent eastward twenty miles to Soissons. For what? Ostensibly, to get in the rear of Burgundy at Choisy, by a forty miles’ march instead of two. Soissons, a French city, refused to let them pass; why did they not force it? At worst, they could turn back. But – greatest wonder of all – the French Army is disbanded, said some; it is ordered, said others, to the south of France – a lesser mystery; for the Prince of Orange had designs on Dauphiny.
Clermont had put over Soissons an adventurer named Bournel, a traitor, who was actually making arrangements with Burgundy to hand over the city, as he afterwards actually did. Bournel closed the gates, and refused to allow the army to enter; he allowed, however, “the lords and their servants.” Joan went in with Vendome and the Archbishop; and these two, while she was within, either disbanded the army, or sent it south. What must have Compiegne and the other loyal cities have thought? Joan, nevertheless, returned with the Archbishop to Compiegne with two or three hundred soldiers. Amongst them was Xaintrailles.
Choisy was surrendered on the 16th to the Duke of Burgundy by Louis Flavy, brother and lieutenant of Guillaume, the captain of Compiegne.. The Duke leveled to the ground the old battered castle. Then he proceeded to his headquarters at Coudun on the Aronde, where he was joined by the Earl of Arundel. On the 20th of May, he began to invest Compiegne on the western, or river side, by occupying the opposite bank of the Oise. At Clairoix, two miles up, at the junction of the Aronde, he posted John de Luxembourg with the Flemings and Burgundians; opposite the city, at Margny, he set the Picards; and two miles below, the English, under Montgomery.
Joan had left Compiegne about the 13th, and gone to Lagny, then back to Crept’-e-a-Valois, to gather defenders.
Count Clermont and the Archbishop, valuing a whole skin more than the safety of the city, had departed. Xaintrailles and her other old soldier friends had gone, too. But she, in spite of all cowardice and treason, hearing at Crept’ of the investment of the city, gathered her three or four hundred men together; and when they said they were too few even to make their way through the Anglo-Burgundian skirmishers, now on their side of the river, Joan made the soldierly reply, “By my staff, there are enough of us. I will go and see my friends at Compiegne She started with her band during the night of May 22nd; and keeping to the east of the river, entered Compiegne, through the neighboring forest, at dawn on the 23rd. It was to be the last day of her fighting and her freedom.
Chapter 25 – The Sortie and Capture of Joan
We seek with yearning interest the details of Joan’s last fight and of her falling into the hands of the Burgundians. Alain Bouchard, advocate of the parliament of Rennes and author of the Annals of Brittany, says that he himself heard at Compiegne from aged men what they had heard and seen as children on the morning of Joan’s capture. This story has been ridiculed; but the criticism is more ridiculous than the story. Old men often forget; but it would be exceedingly strange if two of them invented the story they told. They were present in the church of Saint James when Joan heard Mass and received Holy Communion. Then she told the little gathering that she was betrayed and sold, and would soon be put to death.
She had ridden hard with her company all the preceding night; nevertheless, they made a sortie on the day of their arrival in Compiegne. Did Flavy, the commander, order it, or did he allow it? Military critics are astonished. What good could it do? And what hope to escape destruction?
As a matter of fact, before Joan could vanquish the Picards whom she attacked in front of Domremy, both the Burgundians and English came up, and she was hopelessly over matched.
There was prepared in 1500, by order of Louis XII, at the suggestion of Admiral de Graville, what is called the “Abridgment of the Process,” with biographical notes on the Maid. The writer says he had read in many chronicles that Joan was much opposed to the sortie from Compiegne. Naturally she would be; for she was surprisingly prudent in her ardor. Why was a sortie made so late as five in the afternoon? Why did the portcullis fall and the drawbridge open when only Joan and a few brave companions remained outside? What fear for the city if a few more English or Burgundians got into the city? They would have an unpleasant time. No matter how viewed, the more carefully we view it, the stranger this fateful event appears.
The fuller details of the combat are from Joan herself, and the two Burgundian chroniclers, Monstrelet and Chastellain; the latter, a man of great literary reputation, historiographer to the Duke of Burgundy, and honored by Charles VII. His account is all the more valuable because he probably saw Joan of Arc.
About five, then, in the afternoon of May 23rd, the Maid, in full armor, over which she wore a rich robe of crimson cloth of gold, and mounted on “a dappled gray war-horse, very beautiful and spirited” with banner floating over her band of some four hundred men, rode through Compiegne, and over the bridge which spanned the Oise. They passed out by the fatal boulevard, or fortification at the end of the bridge, which was guarded by a drawbridge and portcullis. They quickly swept along the road, or causeway, half a mile long through the marshy meadows, straight to the Picard fort at Margny, under Baudot de Noyelle. The Picards, taken by surprise, were having an unequal fight, when, “as luck would have it,” if luck it was, John de Luxembourg himself was coming to visit de Noyelle, and saw from a distance the furious affray. He immediately called his Burgundians from Clairoix, two miles north, and swiftly they came, falling on the flank and rear of Joan’s men. These fought like heroes, as Joan did, animating her soldiers. “Strike hard,” she is reported to have said; “it depends upon yourselves to win.” It seemed as if she would win. Twice, she said, she drove them back to the quarters of the Burgundians, which seems to have been a long distance – and once more (as she was retiring) she drove them back over half the causeway. They were retiring in good order, fiercely fighting. Joan was guarding the rear, “greatly endeavoring,” says Monstrelet, “to support her friends and bring them back safely.” “The Maid,” says Chastellain, “above the nature of woman, bore the brunt of the fight, and strove hard to save the company, remaining behind the company, remaining behind as a valiant captain.” But now came up the English from Venette, two miles below, and rushed on the flank of her troop. The fierce attack seems to have forced her into the fields from the road. But she rallied and encouraged her band; which now mingled with English and Burgundians, reached the boulevard at the end of the bridge. Here, says from hearsay the French captain, de Cagey, the combat was hottest. Joan was hemmed in by her foes. A Picard archer, seizing her cloak, dragged her down prostrate on the ground. Her companions devotedly defended her, and endeavored to have her remount; but she was taken, and asked to give her word of surrender as a prisoner. Her answer is, probably, the proudest of her life. “I have sworn and given my faith to another than you (to God and her king), and I will keep my word.” The portcullis of Compiegne bridge fell sharply, the drawbridge was raised, and the Bastard of Wandonne quickly took the Maid back to Margny, and guarded her there until the end of the fray. Her brother was taken, too; her gallant d’Aulon, who had never left her, and a few others. All the English, Picards, Burgundians, etc., gathered round their prey, and “aised great shouts, and gave themselves up to transports of joy,” says Chastellain, “because of the capture of the Maid.”‘
The Duke of Burgundy came up at the end of the fight, and approached the Maid. Some words were said; but what they were no one remembers; nor, perhaps, cared to remember.
“Who was happy that day?” asks the Burgundian historian. “It was he – Phillip the Good. Immediately he wrote an account of the capture, and sent the good news as far as Brittany and Savoy. His story is not truthful; but it shows the character of the chef merchant of the blood of Joan of Arc.
Chapter 26 – Was Joan Betrayed?
When we consider how she had been long since treated by her own party, the question seems superfluous. Joan herself never uttered a single word against any one who supported the French cause, no matter how blame-worthy he might have been. If there were Judases around her, she acted toward them as Our Lord did toward His Judas. Two months before her captivity, she had said at Chalons that she feared nothing but treason. She must have had some reason for her word. There is no doubt that the French politicians, who to Joan’s policy preferred futile negotiations with the Burgundians, had many persons amongst the latter with whom they kept a good understanding. Tremoille, for instance, had a brother in the opposite camp. The idea of negotiation was not renounced, and it was condemned by Joan by word and act.
How little the friend of La Tremoille, the Chancellor Archbishop of Reims, thought of Joan, is seen from his letter announcing her capture to the people of Reims. Joan, he says, was justly punished for her pride, – her love of fine clothes, and her self-will.
Then he announces the coming of a shepherd boy from the diocese of Mende, who declared the same things as Joan, whom he – the Archbishop – condemned. The French court, or council, disgraced itself by apparently taking up this idiotic creature, until he fell into the hands of fell the English, who drowned him in the Seine.
Very respectable authors, some of them contemporaries, openly accuse La Tremoille and Flavy of having betrayed the Maid at Compiegne – the author of the Abridgment of the Process, the Chronicle of Tournay, Bouchard, Morosini, etc. Flavy was a man of reprobate character; friends and foes declare he had committed more crime than could be imagined in a human being. In ambush he seized a marshal of France, Rieu de Rochefort, and dragged him from prison to prison until he died. By some exalted patronage, he was amnestied for this deed. He wrung money from those whom he was appointed to defend. He murdered his father-in-law and mother-in-law, in order to obtain their property. The outraged wife contracted a criminal alliance with a knight, Messire de Louvain, and both hired a barber to cut Flavy’s throat. Because he was slow to die, the wife smothered him. In the registers of the city there is scarcely a word about Joan of Arc. Were the scribes restrained by official fear? As a last, or later, straw, it may be noted that Cauchon visited Compiegne while negotiating the sale of the Maid. After the death of Regnault de Chartres in 1444, the question of Flavy’s guilt came up in the parliament. The accused pleaded sickness as an excuse for not attending. Extracts of the defense are published by Quicherat. Here it is said that all who entered Compiegne with Joan on the morning of the 23rd of May, left the city immediately after her capture. However we may explain the action, or inaction, of the forces in the city, they did nothing to help her as she fled toward the boulevard.
Chapter 27 – Joan in Captivity. From Compiegne to Rouen
Joan passed the first night of her captivity at Clairoix, in the midst of the Burgundians under John of Luxembourg, whose prisoner she was. Promptly she was led to the castle of Beaulieu in Picardy, some ten miles or so north of Compiegne. She was determined to escape if she could; she was never in any prison, she declared at Rouen, from which she would not have tried to get free if possible. She cleverly planned to lock her guard in the tower, and so recover her liberty. But the porter of the castle saw and prevented her. God, she said, did not wish her to escape, and her Voices told her she would not be delivered until she had seen the king of England. She was then transferred to the more secure prison of Beaurevoir. Joan spent about two weeks in Beaulieu, where her old equerry and now fellow captive, d’Aulon, was allowed to wait upon her. Speaking to her one day he said that Compiegne, which she loved, would now fall into the hands of the foe. “It will not be so,” she answered. “No town of France given back, by the King of Heaven to the gentle King Charles will be lost, it only he take care to guard it.”
It was a fair prophecy and with fuller fulfillment; for he took little care to guard Compiegne.
Gilles de Roye, an author of weight, and subject of Burgundy, says that Joan was brought to Noyon to be shown as a curiosity to the newly wedded duchess of Philip the Good. The duchess Isabel came here on June 6th; and Joan was probably on her way to Beaurevoir. This strong castle of the Luxembourgs was much farther north, or rather northeast, still in Picardy, on the frontiers of Vermandois and the Cambrai country. Still visible are the moats, though partly filled, the base of the towers, and an esplanade, now under cultivation. Benignant Providence had so disposed that Joan should spend four months here with kindly jailers. They were the aunt and wife of John of Luxembourg. The former, now advanced in years, was godmother of Charles VII, and had been remarkable for the piety of her life. The wife had been allied, by a former marriage, to the house of Bar; and her heart was with the cause of France. Several priests were attached to the chapel of the castle, the religious functions being frequent and solemn. Mass was chanted each day, and the office on feast-days. These were Joan’s consolation. The ladies of the castle offered her female clothing; but Joan said she had not the permission of Our Lord to wear it, and that it was not yet time. “If I ought to take woman’s dress,” she added, “I would have done so for these ladies sooner than for any others in France, except my queen.” She had here an opportunity of proving to her friends that it was not yet prudent or timely to lay aside her warrior costume. Sire Aymond, Seigneur of Macy, a knight, testified at Joan’s Rehabilitation, when he was about fifty-six years of age, that he had often seen Joan in prison and spoken to her. He was in the employ of John of Luxembourg. Here at Beaurevoir he attempted the indecent familiarities of a rough soldier – poor Joan, no wonder she shrank from their prison – but she repelled him instantly “with all her strength.” He never lost the impression of her sacred modesty. To his mind she was a perfect Christian, and surely in paradise. He visited her afterwards at Rouen with Luxembourg, in the presence, or company, of the Earls of Stafford and Warwick. Luxembourg doesn’t gain much credit from the interview. He said to Joan that he had come to ransom her if she would swear not to carry arms any more against the English and their French friends. But she told him plainly that he had neither the will nor the way to set her free. She knew, she declared, that the English would kill her in hope of possessing France after her,death. But France they will never possess, she continued, even if they had a hundred thousand more godons (g-d-s = God dams VF) than they have. Whereupon Stafford half-drew his dagger, as if to stabe her; but Warwick restrained him.
Joan living was much more profitable. De Macy tells things of great importance, especially how fictitious was Joan’s alleged retraction.
Cauchon mentions his journey to Beaurevoir and Flanders while endeavoring to purchase Joan of Arc. His purpose was, we may suppose, to counteract the influence of the ladies of Luxembourg’s family. The Duke of Burgundy was then apparently in Flanders. Cauchon had business with him.
Luxembourg’s aunt was approaching death. On September 10th, she made him her heir; and on the 13th of November she breathed her last. It is probably this that caused the transfer of Joan, on September 29th, to Arras, which belonged to the Duke of Burgundy. She was aware of the intended change, as she was of her sale to the English; and in her terror of falling into English hands, she sprang from the lofty tower of the castle of Beaurevoir. She herself describes the incident. When she understood that she was about to be given up to the English, her terror was so great that she could scarcely control it. She was tormented, too, by fear of the fall of Compiegne; for she knew the temper of Burgundy and dreaded a massacre. Her Voices forbade her constantly to leap from the high tower; but she pleaded, and her prayer was touching. Would God let perish a people so loyal as those of Compiegne? Saint Catherine promised they would be relieved.
“If so,” Joan urged, “I would wish to be with them.” She must be patient, answered Saint Catherine; she herself will not- be set free until she sees the English king. “Truly,” said Joan, “I do not wish to see him.” At length; terror overcame her; and commending herself to God and the Blessed Mother, she let herself fall from the tower. Whatever means she employed, it broke, according to the story of a chronicler. She was preserved from death, by Saint Catherine, she learned afterwards; no bone was broken; but she was found unconscious, and for two or three days could not eat or drink. Saint Catherine came to console and strengthen her; told her to take courage; to confess her fault and it would be forgiven; and that Compiegne would be delivered from all danger before Martinmas. Then she began to eat, and was soon well. Although she preferred death, she said, to captivity in the hands of the English; yet she denied that she had any thought of despair or suicide. There was just the bold, brave hope that she could save herself and once more lead her host to victory.
The conduct of the siege of Compiegne had been given over to John of Luxembourg; for the Duke of Burgundy was gone to gather in the inheritance left by his deceased cousin, the Duke of Brabant. The Duke of Vendome made a solemn public vow to Our Lady in the cathedral of Senlis, and marched with de Boussac to the relief of the city. Luxembourg drew up his army to prevent their approach.
But from Compiegne sallied forth garrison and citizens on his rear, assisted by some of Vendome’s troops, who had passed around the Burgandians. A fort was stormed, and the French Army entered the city. Then passing over the river in boats, they occupied the ground where Joan had been takers captive. The siege operations were broken up; the English withdrew, and John of Luxembourg followed. The city was free on the 25th of October, two weeks before Saint Martin’s Day, as Saint Catherine had promised.
On the 29th of September, Joan was changed to Arras in Artois, northwest of Beaurevoir; and thus came directly under the control of the Duke of Burgundy. She remained probably a month. Here she was urged, out of friendly motives, by Sire de Pressy and, others, to assume female attire. At Arras a Scot brought to Joan his portrait of her – she said it resembled her – representing her in armor, presenting a book to the king as she knelt before him. The friendly stranger may have brought files, too, to enable her to cut her way to freedom. For when questioned at Rouen whether files had been given her at Arras, she asked, “Did they find any with me? I have no more to say.” Perhaps she was weary of their foolish questions.
The money voted by Normandy, or by its authorities, as the price of Joan, was gathered slowly, coming in only at the end of October. Then Joan was handed over. She was sent westward a much longer stage, to the strong castle of Crotoy by the sea, at the mouth of the Somme. On the way she passed a night at the castle of Drugy, which belonged to the nearby abbey of Saint Riquier. There the monks and the chief people of the place came to express their sympathy for Joan. From Abbeville, quite near, a city loyal at heart, the ladies came to see and honor the captive. She thanked them with much feeling, kissed them, and bade them adieu. At Crotoy, where she remained nearly two months, she found unexpected consolations. Here a priest was kept prisoner, because of his loyalty to France, as it appears, Dr. Nicolas de Quiefdeville, Chancellor of the cathedral of Amiens, “a very remarkable man,” says de Macy. He said Mass every day, heard Joan’s confession, and gave her Holy Communion. He spoke of her afterwards in the highest terms of praise. Joan seems to have been still at Crotoy on the 21st of November, from letters of the University of Paris to Cauchon and the English king, demanding that she be tried at Paris, and regretting that she had not fallen into the University’s own hands. On leaving Crotoy about mid-December, Joan said she saw Saint Michael, who did not afterwards appear to her up to the time of her trial. She was regretted at Crotoy, for she had imparted much consolation there. From the castle walls she passed the wide mouth of the Somme in a boat with guards; went through Saint Valery on the opposite side ; then along the coast by Eu to Dieppe. Thence she was taken directly south to Rouen. It had been a long, hard, circuitous journey from Compiegne to Rouen; but it was the last on earth. Her passion, long and bitter, was about to begin. During the five or six months she had yet to live all her terror would be more than justified – in the words of Mr. Lowell, “in constant physical distress, at nearly every moment of the day and night in danger of the foulest indignity and outrage, for weeks in daily danger of the rack, daily subjected to the keenest mental torture which experts could devise, with death at the end. During all this time, her every word and act were watched by the shrewdest of her enemies, eager to catch her in error by fair means or by foul, and more than once these enemies believed themselves successful. It is plain, at any rate, that Joan’s successes from her capture to her death were not helped by generals or soldiers, by friends or enthusiastic crowds. As to the aid of man she stood alone.”
Chapter 28 – Joan’s Last Prison
Joan was imprisoned in the fortress of Rouen, a place of enormous strength, situated near the walls of the city, with towers one hundred and fifty feet high and forty feet in diameter, the walls being twelve feet thick. She may have thought on entering that her deliverance was near; for the boy-king of England, whom Saint Catherine said she was to see, had been residing here since July of that year, and continued to reside during her entire captivity. The prison of Joan looked” toward the fields,” said Aymond de Macy; although Massieu, who was apparitor, or usher, at the trial, calls it a camera media, or middle chamber; that is, we may suppose, in the interior of the castle. It was a dark room, approached by eight steps. There was apparently nothing in it, by way of furniture, save a bed, on which Joan was chained by the feet to a large beam. We cannot give the name of furniture to an iron cage, in which Joan was enclosed in wild-beast fashion from her arrival in Rouen to the beginning of the trial; that is, for the space of two months, from the closing days of December to February 21st. In this she stood, chained by the hands, feet and neck.
She was guarded by five English soldiers, who are described by a name, which leaves no doubt as to their character – they were pillagers of houses, who committed nameless outrages on the people of the country. Their conduct toward Joan showed what they were. These men the intruded judge, who was really the prosecutor, Bishop Cauchon, made swear to guard Joan well, which, from the sense and circumstances, means that she must have no hope of escape. Three of these men were in the room day and night, and two at the door.
In ecclesiastical trials the accused should be placed in an ecclesiastical prison; and women should be guarded by women. Such prisons there were in Rouen, attached to the courts of the Archbishop. Joan saw the interior of none of these. She begged to be sent there; and once they promised her the -desired boon in order to make her retract, as they said. ” Oh, men of the Church,” she exclaimed, “take me to your prison, out of the hands of the English.”
The soldiers amused themselves by tormenting her with the threat of approaching death. They mocked her, and attempted to do her immoral violence. Hence she would not, and could not, renounce male attire – no longer, in fact forbidden in the Bible, since we are not under the Old Law. At night she drew her garments as tightly as possible around her for safety. Except these precious guards, no one was allowed to see Joan, unless authorized by Cauchon.
Traitors, however, and spies, were introduced, to deceive her by false counsel, or by obtaining an incriminating confession. The traitorous Loyseleur, a priest – to our Christian shame, be it said – so deceived Joan that she confessed to him. He had, in fact, asked to be appointed her confessor, and was the only one approved by Cauchon.
De la Pierre, who was most intimately acquainted with the circumstances of Joan’s trial and prison, swore at the Rehabilitation that Joan declared publicly “the great wrong and violence” done her by the English when she had assumed female attire after the so-called abjuration. And he saw her sorrowful face bathed in tears, disfigured and outraged to such a great extent that he had great pity for her. Ladvenu, a similar witness, said that the simple Maid revealed to him that they had tormented her with violence in the prison; that they had beaten her; and that an English milord – Warwick is the only one suspected – had attempted to violate her. She was, by the way, committed to his charge. The great and pious Bedford, canon of the cathedral of Rouen, looked on concealed while his wife subjected the Maid to a. physical examination. She complained extraordinarily, said Toutmouille, of the violence done her in prison by the jailers and others who were allowed to enter. “We do not know, writes Mr. Andrew Lang, “that Philip of Burgundy would have sunk to the depths of shame that were reached by the Duke of Bedford and the Earl of Warwick….. When an earl thus forgot himself, we may imagine the ribaldry of her daily and nightly companions, “five English houcepailliers of the basest degree.”
Chapter 29 – Some of the Sanhedrin
With Bishop Cauchon we are already acquainted. He had no more right to judge Joan than had the Khan of Tartary. He appointed himself; and whatever authority was lacking was conferred, in intent at least, by the University of Paris and the king of England. Neither had he any ecclesiastical jurisdiction. That Joan was taken prisoner at Compiegne was no more a reason for Cauchon to judge her anywhere, and least of all out of his diocese, than that which the University of Paris had for judging the Pope. Fecit, tamen, as Saint Augustine says of Pontius Pilate: they did it, nevertheless.
The unworthy bishop’s superior, the archbishop of Reims, had approved as of heavenly origin what Bishop Cauchon condemns as meriting death by fire. The cathedral chapter of Rouen had no more right to hand over Joan for trial to Cauchon, her deadly enemy, than had the child unborn. There was scarcely a form, or aspect of justice, that he did not violate, no matter what other false Frenchmen may have later said. Let them read the list of illegalities–there is no difficulty in finding them.
And it is an unvarnished falsehood to say that the procedure of the French Inquisition was the same as that of the Sanhedrin of Rouen.
Thomas Courcelles was especially chosen by Cauchon. He was one of the six doctors sent by the University of Paris to examine the Maid. All through the trial he was very exact in his task, and very well paid in the sum of one hundred and thirteen livres. Courcelles was one of the few in favor of subjecting Joan to torture. M. Quicherat calls him, and truly enough, “the father of Gallican liberties”; for probably no one dictated more articles than he in the schismatical council of Basle. He was the foe of Pope Eugene IV, and supporter of the antipope Felix V.
Erard, another of the doctors, preached at Joan in the cemetery at Rouen a discourse of extreme and unworthy violence. He was one of those who brutally tried to force Joan to sign a lying retraction. He had been rector of the University of Paris; and, like his brethren, was as antipapal as he was anti-French.
Nicolas Midi, another of the Paris envoys, the last to preach at Joan before her execution, is supposed to have been the author – and calumniator – of the famous, or infamous XII Articles, sent from Rouen to Paris as a summary of the trial, and in which the defense is mutilated, or omitted.
Estivet, the prosecutor, canon of Beauvais, whence he was driven with Cauchon, was, of all this group, the lowest. His language resembled that of the English soldiers to Joan at Orleans.
The clergy of Rouen had been won over by the Duke of Bedford, who showed them many favors. On October 23rd, 1430, when the price of the Maid was being handed over, he was admitted into the body of canons of the cathedral of Rouen. The religious orders, especially the Benedictines, were very numerous. We find them, unfortunately, cutting an evil figure in the trial of Joan. Gilles Duremort, abbot of Fecamp, and member of the English royal council, received the sum of one thousand livres for his share in the iniquitous transaction. He was an intimate friend of Bishop Cauchon, and was afterwards made bishop of Coutances. He did not reside in his monastery, but in his fine palace at Rouen; as did his fellow-religious of like character, Nicolas Leroux, abbot of Jumieges, and Pierre Miget, prior of Longueville.
Several Englishmen took part in the Process, especially at decisive points. Of these was William Hayton, a bachelor in theology, secretary of the king and member of the royal council, who voted for Joan’s death.
“What a spectacle,” says Father Ayroles, “to see this unlettered girl of nineteen years, weakened by the torments of her prison, defending herself unaided against an army of men, who were reputed to be depositaries of human and divine knowledge, banded together to drag from her some incriminating word!” What a shocking scandal for the gentle, pious peasant maiden from fair Domremy! It was an evil time; a time of schismatics and anti-popes, when king and nobles intruded into the highest ecclesiastical positions their illegitimate sons or unworthy favorites. Relaxation of discipline was notorious, and all the excesses of the next century, the sixteenth, naturally followed.
Chapter 30 – General View of the Trial
If we consider the length of this trial and the number of persons officially connected, one way or another, with the conduct of it, and the lofty station of many of these, it is one of the very important causes in history. If we consider the motives which impelled the tribunal; that is to say, the series of brilliant victories which practically caused the expulsion of the English, victories due to the marvelous leadership of a peasant maiden, this becomes one of the greatest historical trials. But if we take into consideration the malice and skill of the accusers, from judge to usher, and the wisdom, prudence, superhuman courage and ability of the simple, peasant, warrior girl, we have a case entirely unique.
The trial was, practically, presided over, or directed, by the Earl of Warwick for the English boy-king, who was present in the castle. He was sure of the sentence, which he desired, and never failed to keep it in view. Cardinal Beaufort, granduncle of the king, who appeared but little, but did appear at the most solemn moment, and who ordered Joan’s ashes to be thrown into the Seine, cannot be shown not to have been the chief ecclesiastical official in the matter.
The illustrious University of Paris was the watchdog, or rather perhaps the bulldog. It was really this decadent body that conducted the trial and passed sentence.
It was a disgusting, wearisome trial; even the reading of it makes the headache. A general view may help to clear the foggy atmosphere. A preliminary meeting was held by Cauchon on January 9th. From January 13th to February 20th, some eight meetings were held to form the tribunal and prepare the process, or charges. The examination of Joan began on February 21st, and continued to the 27th; and from the 1st to the 25th of March, with a few days’ interruption. Sometimes the sessions were held both morning and evening, the poor, weary, ill-treated prisoner defending herself against perfidious, envenomed questioners, who having failed to find testimony against anything in her life, now endeavored to wring her condemnation from her words. She protested she would answer only what concerns the Process, and nothing against her king, even if her head is to be cut off. The poor child saw much more in the king of France than he personally was worth, and she was right.
The questions regarded chiefly her revelations, her use of male attire, and her predictions. Of these last she made some new ones, most distressing for the court. She demanded most earnestly, nay most piteously, the offices and Sacraments of the Church, to which they would prove her unfaithful. And with truly diabolical art they sought to confuse her as to the meaning of “the Church.” But she remained ever on solid ground – a far surer-theologian than the “venerable and discreet persons” who examined.
There were actually seventy heads of accusation, drawn up by Estivet. These were read to her by Courcelles on the 27th and 28th of March. A supplement was added on Holy Saturday, the 31st. An abridgment of the seventy heads, called the XII Articles, was prepared for distribution and consultation, especially with the University of Paris. These, when read in a private session, were found to be incorrect; but no change was made. Joan never heard them. Here her words were changed literally and in sense, and her explanations were omitted. They were sent to Paris on April 14th, with doctors who were to expand them orally. After a month the University approved of them, condemning Joan’s revelations as “either pernicious impostures, or works of Belial, Satan, and Behemoth.” So on with the rest; Joan was declared guilty of blasphemy, heresy, suspicion of idolatry; she was a traitor, and seditious, deceitful and cruel, scandalous, capable of impiety towards her parents – not a vile word is missing. The gentlemen of the University congratulated congratulated the boy-king on his good work in this trial, and they recommended to his royal favors the doctors who brought the precious Articles to them from Rouen. Finally they offer their services for any further good work of this kind.
Their letter to Cauchon is much more contemptible. He would be illustrious forever by this great battle against the poor Maid, who was, evidently, very important in their eyes; and in his lordship’s fame would share the three “most famous doctors, our students,” who had borne the weighty Articles from Rouen to Paris.
Joan sickened over it all. In the first days of April she was in danger of death. The English wished to throw her alive into the fire; but it was wiser to wait and cure her for it. From the 5th of April to the 2nd of May, there is nothing in the Process, but a caritative, administered in prison – that is, a threat of death unless she abjured her alleged errors; which means that she was invited to deny the known truth, and what was to her the word and work of God. The caritative was made stronger on May 2nd near the great hall. On the 9th an attempt was made to terrify Joan by the exhibition of the instruments. Lohier, a famous canonist, passing through Rouen, was drawn into the case. He pointed out some illegalities -and fled. Canon Houppeville was thrown into prison, and was in danger of death. Canon Fontaine escaped. De la Pierre, a Dominican, making clear an answer of Joan in order to show her orthodoxy, was threatened with death. The theological doctors of Normandy were consulted. Many of these referred the matter back to Cauchon’s tribunal, as being quite competent. Most of them made concessions. Some condemned the Process, and referred it to Rome – for instance, the Bishop of Avranches. These favorable opinions Cauchon forbade his officials to read. On the 19th of May, the decisions of the University of Paris were applauded in a numerous assembly; and a new caritative was given to Joan. It was decided that, if she did not retract, there was room for a declaration of heresy. The caritative failed on Joan, and the end soon followed.
During this interminable trial there were twenty-seven sessions of the court. The judge, self-appointed, was the Anglo-Burgundian Bishop Cauebon. His assistant judge was Lemaitre, the Vice-Inquisitor of France, a Dominican Friar, who entered into the Process against his will, but served throughout because appointed by his superior, who was thus responsible, although he took care to remain at a distance. The trial, then, was not the work of the French Inquisition, nor did it follow the procedure of the Inquisition. Fontaine was to take Cauchon’s place when the latter was not present. With these there were in all one hundred and thirteen assessors, or consultors, who, while called upon for counsel, had no decisive vote, that is to say, the judge regarded the advice, or did not, as he pleased; generally, he was sure of it. These assessors never sat all together at any one time. Sixty-four was the largest number ever present; thirty-one sat only once; more than eighty were the progeny, henchmen, representatives of the University of Paris. The most assiduous of all was Nicolas Midi, ex-rector of the University, afterwards stricken with leprosy.
The officials appointed, at the trial of Rehabilitation of Joan, to examine this proces verbal, or evidence – let us retain the word – chiefly the evidence, more or less fairly written, of Joan herself, branded it as illegal, unfair, and mutilated, giving the reason, that there was no liberty. The notaries testify to the violence done them. Manchon, for instance, declares that he was often reproached by Cauchon and the assessors, who wished him to write according to their ideas, forbidding him to write what they disapproved of. Manchon insists on his own honesty, however; although he admits he could not always resist the powerful pressure brought to bear on him. The XII Articles were not a correct summary of the evidence, as he pointed out; yet no correction was made in this ominous document, which was sent to Paris, and was fatal to Joan. Colles (Boisguillaume), his fellow-notary, says that Estivet was constantly accusing the notaries of not writing what they were told. Several witnesses at the Rehabilitation testified to the unfairness of the trial, affirming that it was conducted in a spirit of hatred and injustice, to please the English, who were determined to burn Joan. Some there were, however, who would not say that the Process was unfaithful; while others said-that the notaries wrote honestly, as, de facto, they appear to have done substantially, with some grievous faults. De la Pierre, while testifying to the notaries’ fidelity, admits that Joan’s appeal to a General Council of the Church was not written, because it was forbidden by Cauchon. Manchon, whatever his weakness, is, of all, most worthy of pardon. He was the chief recorder of the trial, and has given us substantially the glorious figure of the Maid. Hence it was that he felt the weight of English hostility.
The formula of abjuration in the Process contains fifty lines; but that read to Joan, which she is said to have signed, contained only seven or eight. The session of the 28th of May, which was triumphantly supposed to have proved her relapse, would, if truthfully written, only prove the shamelessness of her judges. Such defects, illegalities, falsifications, run all through the proces verbal; and give reason to hesitate before accepting its statements, particularly in points in which the judges were most desirous to obtain Joan’s condemnation. Lefevre testified that he was not summoned to the trial after the sermon in the cemetery of Saint Ouen; yet the Process asserts that he took part in the condemnation of Joan on May 29th.
There were sessions of the court, numerous and important, held without the presence of Joan, the accused. The account of the proceedings, as given in the Process, is short and suspicious looking; we have only too many reasons to think that it was curtailed and arranged by Cauchon to suit his own purposes. Lemaitre came to the court only on the 14th of March; yet on the 12th he is put down as having been already present at many sessions. Ladvenu, whose prior he was, says he often went with him to the trial; but in the minutes it is said that Ladvenu was at only three or four sessions. In the proses verbal there is no admission of tumult, cross questions, violent reproof of persons who showed fairness or favor. The answers of Joan are often written without the questions, which elicited them. Yet the pure and noble figure of Joan emerges radiant from the obscure and confused scene, notwithstanding injustice and condemnation. Many witnesses said she seemed inspired. She herself affirmed (for instance, in the sessions of March 31st) that she had answered nothing save with the counsel of her Voices, who used to speak to her even in the courtroom. She often asked for a delay to answer, that she might have the help of her heavenly friends. They spoke to her daily and nightly, often several times.
Chapter 31 – Preparing for the Trial
Where Joan had spent Christmas we do not know. What thoughts must have crept into her lonely heart of fair Domremy and of childhood! Whatever joy there may have been at Christmas, her New Year was certainly about to have less. On the 3rd of January, that is soon after her coming to Rouen, the boy-king of England (resident in the castle of Rouen, and therefore near his prisoner), is made to say in a formal document that, at the instance of his royal council (of which Bishop Cauchon was one of the most influential members), and at the prayer “of the Reverend Father in God (Cauchon), our friend and faithful councilor, the ecclesiastical judge and ordinary of the said Jeanne (which he was not), and at the exhortation of the Doctors and Masters of our beloved daughter, the University of Paris,” he hands over Joan for trial, as if he had a right.
In the Process, which is written in the name of Cauchon, for he speaks in it all through, he says, that, on January 9th, he assembled in the hall of the royal council, near the castle, the abbots of Fecamp and Jumieges; Miget, prior of Longueville; Roussel, treasurer of the church of Rouen; Venderes, archdeacon of Eu; Barbier, licentiate in theology and canon law; Couppequesne, bachelor in theology; and Loyseleur, a Master of arts. They agreed that information should be taken regarding Joan – a step legally necessary. The bishop said that some information had been already taken, and more would be, forthwith. Cauchon states in the minutes of the meeting, that, with the advice of his assessors, the following officers were appointed. “The venerable and discreet person, Jean d’Estivet, canon of Rouen and Beauvais,” was made prosecutor. Guillaume Colles, called Boisguillaume, and Guillaume Manchon, notaries of the archbishop of Rouen, were retained for their official functions. Jean Fontaine was to supply the place of the judge, if absent. And Jean Massieu was made apparitor, or usher, to carry out the judge’s orders, and present the prisoner before him.
On January 13th the judge held a meeting in his own house, at which were present the abbot of Fecamp, Venderes, Couppequesne, Fontaine, Loyseleur, and Hayton, an English priest and councilor of the king. The bishop says in the Process, that information had been received, and was read at the meeting; but no one has ever known anything about it. On the 23rd there was a session of the same assessors under the presidency of Fontaine, in the absence of Cauchon. It is stated in the minutes, that articles of indictment, drawn up upon information received, were approved.
But of information or articles there is no record; they are not in the Process. In the trial of Rehabilitation it was testified, that the information procured by the bishop in Domremy and its neighborhood was so favorable to Joan, that he never made it known.
On the 13th of February to these counselors was made the important addition of six doctors of theology from the University of Paris; Beaupere (a man of many benefices) Midi, and Maurice, who held canonries in Rouen, and were ex-rectors of the Paris University; Courcelles, the great foe of Papal prerogatives, who had been twice rector; Touraine, Texier, and Feuillet, Friars Minor.
In a session on February 19th, Bishop Cauchon said that, in view of the information received from the boy-king, the cause of the Maid should be introduced. The counselors “deliberated long and maturely”; and, apparently, approved; for the case was taken up. Of this preliminary information, legally required for a trial, nothing is known; it is a fatal lacuna. Loyseleur and Manchon, who, if it existed, must have seen, and, probably, written it, remembered nothing about it at the trial of Rehabilitation. The judges at this second trial found no trace of it.
In these first five sessions, therefore, we find no basis for a Process against the Maid. Cauchon never ventured to show any.
He does not say that the assessors agreed that there was ground for a trial; but that, after having heard them, he instituted it.
In this session of February 19th Cauchon made a bold move quite in harmony with his and his English employers’ plan, to make the French Inquisition responsible, at least in part, for the trial and condemnation of Joan of Arc. “Out of respect for the Apostolic See,” he summons “the venerable and discreet person,” Jean Lemaitre, of the Order of Preachers, Vice-Inquisitor of France, to become his yoke-fellow in judgment. The discreet man said he was quite willing to fulfill his duty as Vice-Inquisitor, but that Cauchon was judging a case outside his own diocese, and in virtue of his diocesan authority. He did not see how this was quite correct. However, on the 20th he said that the bishop might go ahead, while he himself -was waiting for the authorization of his principal, the Inquisitor.
Chapter 32 – The Examination of Joan
There are two parts in this Process, or course of legal proceedings against Joan. First, the examination of witnesses – the only one is the Maid herself – in order to incriminate her; this lasted from February 25th to Palm Sunday, March 25th; and its purpose was to prepare, or procure, an indictment. Secondly, we have the Process proper, which opened on the 27th of March with the charge, or indictment, of Estivet, contained in seventy Articles. This closed on May 24th in the cemetery of Rouen by the condemnation of Joan to perpetual imprisonment on bread and water. On the 28th the trial re-begins as a process of relapse; it was but the simulacra of a trial with judicial forms.
On February 20th Massieu, the apparitor, was ordered to produce in court, “the woman Jeanne, called the Maid, vehemently suspected of heresy for her notorious misdeeds against the Faith.“ Joan answered, says Massieu, that she would willingly appear – it was her only hope of getting out of prison – but she asked that an equal number of assessors be chosen from the French party with those from the Anglo-Burgundian.
This was refused; and her right to a defender, or legal advocate, was denied. She begged to be allowed to hear Mass before the trial began; but this, too, was refused, on the ground of her alleged crimes and the indecency of her male attire. On this same day Pope Martin V died in Rome.
We may recall that the story of Joan’s life is made up chiefly from her own declarations during this trial; but the story of the trial itself is quite incomplete without the additional testimony of the thirty-four witnesses who tell of it at the second trial, or Rehabilitation.
From the insults and hardships of her prison Joan appears at her first interrogatory, in the royal chapel of the castle of Rouen at eight A. M. on February 21st. She sees before her forty-two assessors, all graduates in theology. Fifteen are doctors; there are five graduates in civil and canon law; and five others are Benedictine abbots. The judge read the letter, purporting to be of the boy-king, giving Joan up to judgment; then a document by which the chapter of Rouen undertook to give territorial jurisdiction to Bishop Cauchon. The latter, according to his own account, summed up the charge, and bases his procedure on Joan’s “many acts against the Faith,” on the command of the English boy-king, and on the counsel of the wise. He declared Joan’s crimes were known throughout Christendom. The very opposite was true. He persistently called her a mulier, a woman, in order not to give the common title of La Pucelle.
Yet he knew she was a virgin warrior; the Countess of Bedford was his witness. The promoter of the Rehabilitation trial declared that Cauchon forbade the notaries to write this testimony to Joan’s stainless purity. The arbitrary and illegal refusal of assistance at the Divine Offices to one who was not found guilty reveals the character of the judge and judgment.
When asked to take on oath to answer truly, Joan paused. “I know not what you will ask,” she said. “You may ask things which I will not answer. My revelations to the king I will not tell to save my life. My apparitions, my secret counsel, tell me not to do so. In a week I will know what answer to give.” This steadfast loyalty, this noble independence, this heroic fortitude, we see in Joan all through the trial; just as we shall find ad nauseam the constant effort of the accusers to make Joan swear absolutely to reveal everything, and to submit unconditionally to them, as not only her judges, but as representing the Church. Nor must we take the words written in the proses verbal as being always and exactly the words of Joan. An abridged form, a slight color of words, will give an answer, which is unfair to the accused.
With the understanding that she was only to tell what regarded her trial, and not revealed secrets, Joan took the oath kneeling, her two hands on the missal. Then she was asked about her parents, home, and childhood. She said her mother had taught her the Pater Nos-ter, Ave Maria and Credo; but when asked to say the Our Father, ” I will, “ she answered, “in confession.” Pasquerel, her confessor, testified that Joan confessed daily before her captivity. Toward the end of the session the judge said to Joan, “As bishop, I forbid you to leave the prison.” “I accept not this prohibition,” she answered. “I have never given my word not to escape; every prisoner has a right to do so. Oh, how much I suffer from the weight of these chains,” she exclaimed. In a week, she said, she would have counsel; and on the 1st of March it came with splendid prophecy. The bishop adds in his proses that he handed her over to the brutal guard.
The session, or interrogatory, of February 22nd was held at eight o’clock in the morning, in the presence of forty-eight assessors, in a room off the great hall of the castle. This room continued to be the usual place of meeting. Beaupere, an “eminent professor,” questioned Joan. She would answer only what regarded the Faith. “If you were well informed,” she continued, “you should wish me out of your hands. I have done nothing but by revelation.” To the question of age when she left home, however the question was put, she answered, “I cannot tell you.” This was perhaps a protest very much abridged, as we know, from the witnesses, she often made. She refused to tell why she assumed man’s clothing; but acknowledged afterwards it was by counsel of her Voices. Then she recounted her revelations up to her stay at Saint Denis, near Paris. “Did you attack Paris on a feast-day?” “I think it was a feast-day.” “Was that well done?”‘ “Pass on.”
This session was tumultuous, according to the witnesses. There were many confused and confusing questions and interruptions. We have only a skeleton resume of it. There was “a very great tumult” says Manchon; they interrupted nearly every word of Joan when she spoke of her apparitions. There were present, he continues, three or four secretaries of the English king, who wrote as they pleased the explanations of Joan; they omitted her defense, and everything favorable to her. Manchon then declared he would not act as notary in a trial of this kind. The place of session, he says, was changed, and the door was guarded by two English soldiers. Complaints, he continues, were made that he had not written the answers of Joan correctly. Cauchon and Estivet did their work spontaneously. The others were afraid to refuse. There was not one who, did not tremble. Warwick and Cauchon were angry with La Fontaine and the two Dominicans, Ladvenu and de la Pierre, for their visit to Joan and exhortation to submit to the Church. The first escaped, and the other two were in danger. Houppeville was imprisoned for refusing to take part in the trial.
Lemaitre was much displeased at his task, and took little part in the matter. Chatillon showed some interest in Joan’s case, saying she was not obliged to answer, or some such word. There occurred thereupon “a great tumult,” and Cauchon peremptorily told Chatillon to hold his tongue. Another spoke to Joan, and gave her some advice regarding submission to the Church, about which she was much confused. The bishop’s reprimand was more emphatic: “Hold your tongue in the name of the devil.” So Manchon says. Another, by some kindly word, enraged the Earl of Stafford, who drew his sword, and pursued the man to a place of sanctuary.
Manchon tells of Loyseleur’s perfidious visits to Joan, feigning to be of her own country and cause. In the next room, the two notaries were made listen through an opening. Warwick and Cauchon told them to write Joan’s answers; but Manchon objected. She was harassed, he says, with questions daily for hours. She was very simple, and appeared unable of herself to meet her adversaries. She had a splendid memory; and when her foes changed and confused the questions, she would say, “I have already answered.” Neither Manchon nor his companion dared to make a correction in the XII Articles, which were pointed out to be faulty and unfair. The whole Process was written out only after Joan’s death. Yet upon the Articles were based the deliberations of the University of Parish, and of the Norman clergy. In the beginning, when Joan was questioned, concealed notaries – amongst them Loyseleurwrote as they pleased. Between Manchon and the other notaries there was so much difference in the proces, that “a great discussion” arose over the matter. For five or six days, at the beginning of the trial, the judges spoke to Manchon in Latin, telling him to change what he had written. The three most opposed to Joan, in the questioning, adds Manchon, were Beaupere, Midi, and Touraine.
On the 24th of February there was a large assembly – sixty-three assessors – in the same room, off the great hall. Again Cauchon admonished Joan to answer all questions truly. She qualified her testimony as before. She warned the judge of the character of his work, and complained of her distress. It was enough, she said, to swear twice in one trial. Cauchon made the demand for an absolute oath no less than six or seven times; and Joan at length agreed to answer fully all that concerned the trial. “All the clergy of Paris and Rouen cannot condemn me without any right,” she protested. “I have been sent by God. I have nothing to do here.” We have only an. outline of this important session, in which, very probably, Joan uttered the words in which she rejected Cauchon as her “mortal enemy.” “The king has appointed me,” he retorted; “and I will judge.” The king was a boy, and the bishop was one of the chief members of the council; that is to say, he appointed himself.
In answer to Beaupere Joan said she had not tasted food or drink from the afternoon of the preceding day; it was Lent, and she observed the ancient rigorous fast. “How long since you heard your Voices?” “To-day and yesterday I heard them.” “At what hour yesterday?” “Three times–in the morning, at the hour of Vespers, and at the evening Ave Maria.” The Voices awaked her, and she sat up, and joined her hands to thank God. They told her to answer boldly in her trial. Again she warned the judge of his danger of doing injustice, and of his punishment; for she was sent by God. “Did the Voice tell you not to answer!” “I won’t tell you. If the Voice told me not to reveal, what have you people to do with it? I have much more fear of displeasing the Voices than of displeasing you. “Is God displeased if you tell the truth?” “The Voices told me to reveal certain things to the king, not to you. Last night I was told many things for his good; and I wish he knew them, though I should have to go without wine until Easter. He would be much happier at his dinner.” The examination pushing questions about the Voices, she declined to answer. “Are you in grace?” “If not, may God put me in it. Nothing on earth would pain me more than not to be in it. If I were in sin, I believe the Voices would not come.” There were questions about her childhood, the May tree, etc.
“Would you like to have woman’s dress?” “Give it to me, and I will go away. Otherwise I will take it. I am content as I am. God wishes it so.”
On February 27th, fifty-four assessors were present in the usual place. There is the selfsame insistence ad nauseam on answering everything that will be asked. Joan returns her usual answer. “You ought to be content,” she said. “I have sworn enough.” Beaupere asked how she had been since the last session. “I have been as well as I could expect,” she replied. “Have you fasted each day in Lent?” “Does that concern your Process?” “It does.” “Yes. I have fasted all the Lent.” Asked again, as ever, about her Voices, she said she had heard them in the courtroom, and again on entering her prison. She would answer only by consultation with her heavenly visitors. Warwick himself and Cauchon expressed, according to Manchon, their admiration at her manner of speaking of her, Voices and their revelations. “Was it Our Lord told you to take male attire?” “That is a small matter,” she replied; “it is a point of little importance. It was no one on earth told me.”
There was much questioning over her sword and banner, all to prove her guilty of superstition. Her brothers, she said, were in possession of her last sword, her horses, and things, which were hers, valued in all twelve thousand crowns.
The session of March 1st was particularly interesting because of the startling prophecies made by Joan. There were fifty-eight assessors present. We have recurring constantly the question of an unconditional oath. “As regards the Process, I will tell the truth,” said Joan, “as if I were before the Pope of Rome.” “What do you think of him? Is he the true Pope?” “Are there two?” she cleverly asked. Then she was questioned regarding the message from Count Armagnac. “As for me,” concluded Joan, “I believe in the Pope of Rome, and obey him.” After the reading of her letter to the king of England, she said, “Before seven years the English will lose a greater pledge than Orleans. They will lose all they have in France. They will suffer a greater loss than ever was seen in France, by a great victory sent by God to the French. . . . I wish it would come before Saint John” (the time of her promised deliverance). She probably said more; the Process seems elliptical. “Did you say it would come before Saint Martin’s Day?” “I said you will see many things before Saint Martin. It may be that England will bite the dust.” Paris was taken five years and forty-three days after. The great victory of Castillon was won on July 17th, 1453, the twenty-fourth anniversary of the crowning at Reims. All but Calais was lost to the English. Here there are omissions, apparently, and disorder in the Process. Perhaps she announced the capture of Rouen; it occurred a little before Saint Martin’s Day, several years later. D’Aulon, her faithful guardian, figured prominently at the taking of Rouen and the royal entry into Paris. He held the bridle of the king’s horse, as if representing Joan. Her Saints told her the king would have his kingdom in spite of his foes. Yet another promise there was – she would tell it before three months – her Saints promise to lead her to Heaven by a great victory. “I would die,” she said, “were it not for the revelation which comforts me daily.”
The harassing cross-examination; ever recurring, about the sign she had given to the king, about his crowning, and the revelations made regarding him, forced her, in order to conceal her secret, to give an allegorical answer, speaking of a crown a thousand times richer than that of Reims, to be given him if he waited.
On the 3rd of March there were forty-one assessors. And there were some important new ones. These were the deputies sent by the University of Paris to the Council of Basle, which opened on this very day. Notwithstanding the extreme partisan zeal of the University in Church matters, the deputies went out of their way, and were late for the Council, for the sake of helping in the condemnation of Joan of Arc.
In this session there was much drivel about superstition, the mandrake plant, the appearance and clothing of the saints. Again efforts to prove the superstitious use of the banner, sword, ect. Her frequent answer is “I have told you before. Pass on. This is regards not your Process.” They question the reverence of the people, the child of Lagny, the hackney of the Bishop of Senlis, Friar Richard, Catherine of La Rochelle, Beaurevoir. The Bishop’s hackney was taken without Joan’s approval. It was paid for; and in fact, sent back; because it was useless for the campaigns.
Chapter 33 – A Change of Procedure
When Joan had gone out from the session of March 3rd, Bishop Cauchon announced his purpose to have an abridgment of the case written. Up to this, Joan stood well, and had won the admiration of a prejudiced audience. A Dominican remarked that he had never heard a woman of her years cause so much embarrassment to her examiners. “A great English lord exclaimed, ‘How well she speaks! She is a good woman. Why is she not English?’ ” Even Loyseleur was struck with admiration.
Six days were taken to prepare a summary of the case in the house of Caiaphas (Cauchon). Fontaine was deputed to take his place. Of this summary we know nothing.
On the 10th of March, there were only two chosen assessors, Midi and Feuillet; and there was a change of tone in the Process. The session was held in Joan’s prison. There were questions about Compiegne. Did they ring the bells when she went out on the sortie? I Did the Voices tell her to go? Again comes up the standard. Joan gives us some interesting information.
She rode over the bridge at Compiegne on what she calls a demi-coursier – a half-charger, or war-horse. But she had five coursers and more than seven riding horses. They were given by her king or his people. Her king had given ten or twelve thousand soldiers. But there was very little need of money for the war.
In this session Joan said, that, on the promise of her Voices, she would free the Duke of Orleans before three years, if not hindered. She explained that she would take so many prisoners – and she asked her king for leave to do so – that she could ransom or exchange him. If not, she would go to England to negotiate the matter.
On March 13th, in the prison session the name of the Dominican Lemaitre, the Vice-Inquisitor, appears with that of Cauchon. Henceforth, the acts of the trial are in the name of both. The everlasting question of the sign to the king and the mystical crown comes up again. Here Joan says that the promises made to the king of France were conditional, depending on his giving the means of accomplishment to Joan. Her consistency and prudence, especially in view of her circumstances, are extraordinary. She puts off insidious questions; she gives general answers, etc. Says Father Ayroles, “Nothing shows better the inspiration of Joan in her trial than her answers regarding the sign given to the king, her numerous prophecies, and her conformity of thought and speech with the spirit of the Church in the matter of revelations.” The examiners introduced irrelevant, annoying questions; but -she answered, “I know nothing of these things.”
On the 14th of March, she speaks of Beaurevoir and Compiegne. Her Saints come each day in light. The noise around her and the disorder of the guard prevent her hearing. She asked her heavenly counselors for three things – success in her expedition, help from God for France, especially to keep the faithful towns; and her own salvation. Wearied, she asks a copy of the Process if she is to be sent to Paris, in order to escape “the annoyance” of so many questions at another trial.
She believed that her Saints, when they spoke of her martyrdom, referred to her torture in prison and on trial. Her statement, that she believed most firmly the promise of salvation made by the Saints, brought the question of the possibility of her sinning any more. Of that, she said she knew nothing; she left the matter to Our Lord. It depended, she said, on her keeping her vow, and dispensed from no precaution to avoid sin. This revelation of her life, virtues, motives, is a perfect picture.
On the 15th of March came up the question of submission to the Church. There was no reason for it; Joan had ever been most faithful and submissive. It was a snare and one of the worst. The Church, for the University of Paris, was the University of Paris itself.
Read its pompous and unceasing self-praise. For the University of Paris there was nothing on earth equal to the University of Paris. It toiled hard and persistently to make the Pope submit to “the Church.” It took an efficient hand in the creation of antipopes and schismatical Councils. Possibly, some of the doctors at Rouen, and those who stood in awe or fear of them, thought that the representatives of the University were really the representatives of the Church. Joan of Arc knew better – to her cost. For her, many, at least, of the men of the illustrious University were, as she said, her mortal enemies. She referred them to Poitiers. There she had been approved by the national Church of France. At Rouen, she was chained amidst vile soldiers, and her blood was eagerly sought by a band of unworthy churchmen, who were, in her eyes, and in fact, a lot of Anglo-Burgundian traitors. Now, if these men were the Church, or really represented it, it was clear that Joan would have to renounce her mission, declare all her heavenly messages to be diabolical, betray her country and the people that she loved. She loved France for its Christian mission more than for itself. For this reason, her king was sacred in her eyes – an administrator of the country for Christ. This renunciation she dare not make; her paschal communion could not be made under such a condition. But if she denied not what she knew to be true, and renounced not what she knew to be sacred, she would be found guilty by the Church of Rouen. If she denied that this was the Church, so much the worse for her.
Joan, with great wisdom, renounced everything that there might be against the Christian faith in her words and acts. “We demand,” said her judges, “that you now submit to the Church all your acts and words.” “I will answer no more for the present,” replied the prudent Joan. They confused, and in fact deceived, her by the distinction between two Churches – triumphant and militant. She was certainly having a rough experience of the Church militant. She said she understood not the distinction. “I wish to submit to the Church as a good Christian, affirmed the loyal and prudent Maiden.
She desired to hear Mass; that was Catholic enough. “Would she prefer to retain male attire than to hear Mass?” “Assure me,” she said, “that I can hear Mass; then I Will answer.” They promised if she put on woman’s dress. “Make me a dress long, down to the ground,” she continued, “and I will hear Mass; then I will take man’s dress again.” “Would you take absolutely woman’s dress to hear Mass?” Mark how insidious the question! “I will ask counsel in this,” she replied; “but I beg for the honor of God and Our Lady to let me hear Mass in this good city. Make me the dress of a bourgeois’ daughter, and I will hear Mass.
Then I will beg you as much as I can to let me retain my own (male attire) and so hear Mass.” She declared that Our Lord told her to wear man’s dress.
Cauchon, to humiliate her and discredit or deny her mission, offered her the garments of a Lorraine peasant girl. Joan had been accepted by her king and ennobled. She had had him crowned, and she was rapidly, as an envoy of Heaven, winning back his kingdom. She saw through Cauchon’s mean trick, and asked the garment of a bourgeois’ daughter. This was modesty; she deserved that of a noble.
Again on March 17th, there is a return, as usual, to the angelic visions, and the stupidity of the question, “Will you submit to the Church?” “As to the Church,” said Joan, “I love it, and would sustain with all my power the Christian faith. I should not be kept from going to the church and hearing Mass. As for the good works I have done, I have to look to Heaven for them.” Then she adds a prophecy of a great event coming which will shake nearly all France – like her own great deeds. She does not speak of a victory here, but refers to the treaty of Arras, which was to take place four years and a half after, and by which Burgundy would be detached from the English invaders.
Poor Joan! She had learned the hard lesson, that the salvation of France and Frenchmen depended, in part at least, on themselves.
But she did not yet fully understand, as her Great Master did, what it was to be slain for the truth; and still less, what it was to be called a blasphemer, being true, and this by Churchmen.
The testimony of the witnesses is true; that her examiners meant to utterly harass poor Joan with idiotic repetition of the same questions, in conjunction with the outrages of her prison. It is astonishing they did not apply torture. It was proposed by Cauchon; but only two or three were in favor of it. Again, in this session Joan has to hear, ” Will you submit to the Church?” As to the Church militant and the Church triumphant, she said, “In my opinion they are but one – Our Lord and the Church. Why do you make a difficulty about this?” Her theology was immeasurably sounder than that of the University of Paris, which created the schismatical Council of Basle, condemned the Ecumenical Council of Florence, and even rejected the decisions of its own antipopes.
They explain, or pretend to explain, the Church militant and triumphant. Joan submits to God and His Saints. As for the Church militant, she answers, “Not yet!” She added, though, “I would rather die than disobey Our Lord, and I believe He would not let me fall so low, even if a miracle were required. For nothing in the world will I swear not to take arms and not to take male attire, and this is to please Our Lord. If you make me disrobe in trial (they had done it before; the Countess of Bedford knew), I demand of the ministers of the Church a long female robe.”
She would not renounce her mission, Heaven-appointed. To change her manner of dress would mean such renouncement in the eyes of her Anglo-Burgundian captors and judges. She would obey her Lord first, even though it cost her life. At the stake she consecrated and sealed her mission, as He did on the Cross.
In another long evening session, Joan appealed to the Pope. That this lovely picture, painted by herself and copied by her foes, should have been committed to history, testified by oath, her own and that of a cloud of eyewitnesses, is unparalleled in the annals of humanity.
Chapter 34 – Between The Examinations and The Trial
At the end of Joan’s examination, the case for the prosecution was complete. She had been subjected to fifteen harassing interrogatories and now she fell so ill that two physicians, Typhaine and de la Chambre, were brought from Paris. The indictment gives a summary of four sessions held during Passion Week; but there are no minutes of them. Bishop Cauchon reunited his assessors to form a charge. Only six or seven séances were followed by all of these, except Midi, Touraine, and Feuillet. Extracts made from the evidence had been prepared, the judge announced; and would be distributed for consideration. What they were, and by whom, we know not.
On the 22nd of March, there were present, in the house of the bishop, twenty-two doctors and other graduates in theology, amongst them several religious – Carmelites, Dominicans, Franciscans, also Hayton; It was resolved to put the extracts in the forms of articles of indictment, for more mature deliberation. At the close, the bishop added, “With the help of God, we hope to proceed in such a manner that the case will be carried on to the glory of God and the exaltation of the Faith, without any defect in its procedure.” Amen, Joan might have responded. All this procedure, however, allowed Cauchon to prepare the accusation as he pleased.
On Saturday, 24th, there was a smaller number of assessors in the prison, with the two judges. The whole Process was read to Joan by Manchon, Estivet offering to prove if Joan should deny. She was put under oath, not to add anything but what was true to her former answers. Then she asked to have all read without interruption – she had had enough – and to consider as correct what she would not deny. She added a word or so, here and there; for instance, that she would go home if she got woman’s dress; afterwards, she would see what was best.
On the 25th March, Palm Sunday, Cauchon and four others went to the prison. Joan begged for Mass, because of the solemn days of Holy Week, and to receive Communion. The old condition of dress came up, and Cauchon offered her peasant attire. She said she was not allowed to change her dress. The stupid judge who demanded it should have put her somewhere else than with unrestrained, immoral soldiers, who were her deadly foes. He insisted upon the change of dress; but Joan said she could not change it, even for the favor of Holy Communion. She wished to do the Easter duty, and in woman’s dress if they wished; but she would not definitely renounce her usual clothing – and this through sheer necessity of protecting herself from indecent violence, and in order not to disavow or renounce her mission at the bidding of the traitorous foes of her country, and finally because Our Lord forbade her to change.
This session is to be vehemently suspected. We have no minutes of it. The most was made against Joan of her alleged refusal to renounce male attire even for the sake of performing her Easter duty. Finally, the only witnesses in the case were foes.
Chapter 35 – The Trial
There were preliminaries on Monday in Holy Week, March 26th, in the house of Cauchon, as, long ago, in the case of Judas, in the house of Caiaphas. The Vice-Inquisitor was present, with the six Masters of Paris, with Chatillon, Fontaine, Marguerie, Venderes, Loyseleur, all in the views of the presiding prelate. The trial proper was decided on; and the articles prepared were to be read to Joan.
On March 27th there were thirty-eight assessors present, amongst them two English priests, Brewster and Hayton. Estivet brought in Joan, who was to be excommunicated if she did not answer, and under oath. Then he, being sworn, declared that, not hatred, but pure love of the Faith made him propose the articles of indictment. Joan thanked the bishop for his alleged desire of her good (in his speech to her), and she thanked him and all for what they said about the Faith. She expressed her gratitude for their offer of a counsel, or advocate, now, at last; but she declined the favor, she knew its purpose, declaring that she would not depart from the counsel of her Lord.
Courcelles read the charge to Joan, i. e., the seventy heads of accusation. It has been remarked that, in the two sessions of the 27th and 28th of March, one could not have read the whole composition which it had taken fifteen interrogatories to prepare. In the charge actually read, or rather actually written, we find answers given by Joan on the 31st of March and the 18th of April! The indictment is really an accusation without basis of proof. In the closing words of the exordium, the judges are called upon to condemn Joan as a sorceress, a heretic, and a blasphemer. The two physicians, Tiphaine and de la Chambre, are present as assessors, which seems to show that Joan was yet very ill.
The first article proclaims the right of the tribunal. Joan answered that the Pope, the Bishops, and other ecclesiastics, were the defenders of the Faith – “But as to me,” she continued, “in what concerns my acts, I submit to the Church of Heaven, to God, the Blessed Virgin, and the Saints of Paradise. I believe I have not failed in the Christian faith nor do I wish to fail.” In the original French, we have “I demand,” followed by a line. Here, it appears certain, must be placed Joan’s appeal to the General Council of the Church, at the recommendation of Manchon, La. Pierre, and Ladvenu, who went to the prison to instruct her in the meaning of the “Church.” Fontaine disappeared soon after, and La Pierre was in danger; nor does he come on the scene again until the 12th of April.
In this session, thirty of the seventy articles were read. Joan denied each charge, or refers to what she said before, or appeals to Our Lord, and sometimes adds a word of explanation.
On March 28th, Wednesday in Holy Week, the remaining forty articles were read in presence of twenty-five assessors. The seventieth article declares that “all these facts are true, notorious, manifest. . . . The accused has repeatedly avowed them.” Joan denied this article, and referred to what she had said before. The articles contained the most absurd statements about Baudricourt, Catherine de la Rochelle, etc., without any foundation whatsoever.
After the session of Tuesday in Holy Week, extreme threats were made against Fontaine, La Pierre, Manchon, and Massieu. On Holy Saturday, March 31st, there is a return to the question of submission to the Church. The only Church from which there was the slightest hope of justice or aid for poor Joan in that dark hour, as she well knew, was the Church of Heaven, to which she had appealed. In this session of March 31st, she declares she will submit if she be not asked impossibilities; that is, to deny her life, revelations, and deeds. “If the Church commands what is against God’s command, I will not obey.” The only Church capable of such a command was the Church of Rouen. “If the Church militant,” she continued, “tells me my revelations and acts are diabolical, I leave it to Our Lord.”
“Do you obey the Pope and prelates of the Church?” “I do.” The ecclesiastical lawyers of the Rehabilitation found Joan’s answers in this matter irreproachable. Her false judges wanted her to consider them as the Church and allow them to condemn her, and make her retract.
The physician de la Chambre testified under oath to Warwick’s desire to have Joan’s life saved for her burning. She cost much, the Earl said; he would not have her die a natural death. He objected to bleeding, lest she should commit suicide. Joan was bled, however; and improved. Estivet came in afterwards, de la Chambre says, and called Joan vile names, which irritated her extremely, so that she relapsed into fever, and the physician forbade the immoral scoundrel to abuse her. De la Chambre remembered Joan’s denial to the bishop that he was her judge.
On Easter Monday, April 2nd, and the two following days, the XII Articles were drawn up. The judges of the Rehabilitation brand them as “false, perfidious, calumnious, fraudulently composed on a pretended juridical examination, and on the alleged answers of the accused.”
On the 18th of April, an attempt was made to have Joan make a retractation. She was ill in the prison – so ill that she believed herself in danger of death, and begged for Confession, Holy Communion (“her Savior,” she said), and burial in holy ground.
Cauchon and others pressed submission to the Church; that is, to them, who had condemned her. She proclaimed her faith in the Church and her love for it.
Next Beaupere, Touraine, Midi, and Feuillet, were dispatched with the XII Articles to Paris, provided with a document bearing the name of the English boy-king, in which he was said to send them “to his beloved daughter, the University of Paris,” and ordered all expenses paid. They were sent, be it noted, not only to the University, but also to Bedford and to the members of the royal council that happened to be in Paris.
The session of May 2nd was more solemn, apparently, and longer than any preceding. There were sixty-four assessors, and, all told, probably seventy persons. Cauchon sums up the march of the trial, and asserts that “the object of all their desires” was to make Joan retract. Hitherto, all had been in vain. But now, before so solemn a gathering, they thought there might be more hope. Jean de Chatillon, Archdeacon of Evreux, recalled certain more important heads of fault. Chatillon exhorted Joan to correct her errors, according to the advice of the doctors. “Read your book (finish your harangue),” she said, “and I will answer. I leave all to God my Creator. I love Him with my whole heart” Again the idiotic “Will you submit to the Church?” “I believe sincerely the Church here below,” she replied; “but my acts I leave to God. I believe the Church cannot err or fail. I submit to God, who commanded me to do what I have done.” “Have you no judge on earth? Is the Pope not your judge?” “I will tell you no more (it was as superfluous as useless, she knew). I have a good Master, Our Lord.” “If you do not submit to the Church you are a heretic.” “I will tell you no more, even if in sight of the fire.” “Would you not submit to the Pope, Council, Cardinals, if they were here?” “You will have no more.” “Do you wish to submit to the Pope?” It would have been capital for them if she said no. But she replied, “Bring me to him, and I will answer him.” We have here a truncated text for our information, as appears from its form, abbreviations, etc.
The question of dress came up again. Will she not change for Holy Communion? She answers she will change for Holy Communion, if immediately she may resume her male attire. She would wear it until her mission be accomplished. We may suppose from the words in the original French that other reasons were given. The next question was a clever one. “Would you submit to the Church of Poitiers?” She answered, “Do you wish to take me in this way, and draw me to you?” “To you” is probably emphatic; they would add, “Have not we as much right to judge as the ecclesiastics of Poitiers?”
Joan told them, that, the day of the Holy Cross (May 3rd), Saint Gabriel came to comfort her. This occurred probably after the last interrogatory, on the eve of the feast.
Chapter 36 – The Question of Torture
It was the eve of the Ascension, the 9th of the sweet May month when Joan was made to contemplate the instruments of torture then in use. It was the anniversary of the beginning of her career at Vaucouleurs – her first meeting with Robert de Baudricourt. On this day began her first and greatest victory at Orleans, when she took the fort of Saint Loup. It was the anniversary of her capture at Compiegne; and probably of her first vision at Domremy. Her old friends were present with Bishop Cauchon – Erard, Loyseleur, Hayton, and three or four others, with the apparitor in charge of the instruments of torture. This was Parmentier, who was not a priest. With him was his assistant. The scene was in the great tower. Parmentier and several others testified afterwards, that it was the common saying of the people of Rouen, that all the evil done to Joan came solely from English and Burgundian hatred of her.
In the tower, then, Joan was told, that she had concealed many things; let her consider the danger of torture. She answered, “If you dislocate my members, and make my soul leave my body, I will tell you nothing. If I were to say anything else, I would tell you had it by torture.” She had asked her Saints about submission to the church of the ecclesiastics who urged such submission. The Voices assured her that her Lord was the judge of all her mission; let her look to Him. She had asked her Voices if she will be burned. They answered, that she must leave the matter to her Lord – He will aid.”
“Will you submit to the archbishop of Reims?” A strange question! Had they been in communication with him I He certainly was, with the Burgundians, and probably with the English. “Bring him here,” said Joan; “he will not venture to deny what I have said.” She would not disavow her career – Voila le noeud! This was the Gordian knot Cauchon was trying to get her to cut. At the end of the session, he thought that, for the moment, torture would be useless, and so put it off.
On May 12th the bishop asked the opinion of twelve assessors in his own house. Only three were for torture, Loyseleur, Coureelles and Morel; the idea, therefore, was given up.
Now were dispatched three Parisian doctors to the University, which approved of all that had been said and done. The distinguished seat of learning praised the manner of the trial, and writing to the king and Cauchon, urged the hastening of the sentence and its execution; delay
Would be dangerous; all western Christendom had become infected by this woman Joan.
Two of the messengers were remunerated with additional canonries in Rouen – Beaupere on September 30th, 1430, Midi on May 31st, 1431. This decision, or approval, of the University justified every excess, and it was unhesitatingly accepted at Rouen.
On the 23rd of May, Wednesday in Pentecost week, Cauchon and Lemaitre went to the room adjoining Joan’s prison. Amongst the assessors was Louis of Luxembourg, bishop of Therouanne, brother of John de Luxembourg, who had sold Joan. Pierre Maurice read the indictment without stopping, so that Joan could speak only at the end. She merely repeated her determination not to disavow her revelations or her career. Thereupon, the judge announced that the sentence would be passed on the morrow. It was the twenty-fourth interrogatory.
Chapter 37 – The Pretended Abjuration
All the solemn trial of Joan had resulted in nothing but an admirable revelation of her character and life. To achieve at least his first purpose – that of discrediting Joan and Charles VII – Bishop Cauchon must make Joan deny her mission and revelations and abjure her acts. This is what he endeavored to do on May 24th.
The promoter, or defender, of the cause of Joan at the trial of Rehabilitation affirmed that the abjuration of Joan was prepared beforehand. The scene was in the cemetery at Rouen – a curious place. Two platforms were erected. On the one reserved for the ecclesiastics there were five bishops, Cardinal Beaufort, de Luxembourg, de Mailly of Noyon, William Andwick, Bishop of Norwich in England, and guardian of the king’s private seal, and His Lordship of Beauvais. With these were eight abbots, two priors, twenty-seven graduates in theology or law, and many others. On the see, and platform was Joan and Erard, who was to preach violently at her. His text was from Saint John xv, “The branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abide in the vine.” Joan, he said, by crimes and errors manifold was separated from the vine; that is, the Church. There is only a short and dry analysis of the sermon in Manchon’s minutes. Richer, an authority, who had read the original text characterizes it as “full of impostures and violence.” At the end, the preacher turned to Joan, and said, “Here are Messeigneurs the judges, who have often demanded your submission to the Church regarding your deeds and words. “I will answer,” replied the courageous Joan. “In what concerns my submission to the Church, I have told them to submit all my words and deeds to Rome, to our Holy Father the Pope, to whom, after God, I appeal. My words and acts have been inspired by God.” “Will you retract what is found blameworthy in your words and acts?” “I refer the matter to God and our Holy Father the Pope.” “That is not enough,” said Erard. Be his words noted well: “We cannot interrupt the trial to seek the Pope so far away. The bishops are also judges in their own dioceses. You must submit to our Holy Mother the Church and people here in their judgment on your acts and words:” Erard unmasks the whole matter; nothing could be clearer. “And, thereupon, Joan received a triple admonition.” Then, says the written account of the trial, when the reading of the sentence began, Joan declared she wished to obey in what the Church and the judges demanded, and made an abjuration substantially as follows; since the men of the Church said her revelations were false, she did not wish further to believe them, but left all to the judges and Holy Mother Church. The French translation says, that when Bishop Cauchon had read the greater part of the sentence handing Joan over to the secular arm, that is to death, she spoke of submitting to the judges; that she then repeated the abjuration such as we find it in the Process; and that she signed it with her own hand. These things are not in the minutes of the affair; and it is clear they give no true idea of what happened. The story of the witnesses is quite different.
Bishop Cauchon had come with two written sentences; one delivering Joan to the civil power, i. e., to fire, if she did not retract; the other, condemning her to perpetual imprisonment, if she retracted. The English, who thought the trial excessively long, expected to have Joan handed over to them on that day. It would seem that there were a great many in the assembly who believed her innocent, The bishop, perhaps, would not venture to hand her over to death against the opinion and wish of the crowd.
According to the testimony of Massieu, Erard presented to Joan a formula of abjuration, while she protested she understood not what abjuration meant, and said she would ask counsel regarding it. Witnesses tell of the preacher’s long-continued efforts to make Joan consent in order to save her life. Those around cried out to her to do as she was told and save, herself. Loyseleur, who had treacherously gained her confidence, acknowledged afterwards, that, as Joan was ascending the platform, he advised her to take woman’s dress as she was ordered; that it would do no harm; otherwise, she should die. Joan resisted long. Boisguillaume and La Chambre testified that she did not know what the abjuration meant. A great murmur meanwhile arose in the crowd. Bishop Cauchon read slowly, and made a long pause before concluding; so that many of the audience complained of the delay, and of his wish to receive the abjuration. According to Bishop de Mailly, who was present, Lawrence Calot, a clergyman in the suite of Cardinal Beaufort, publicly accused Bishop Cauchon of favoring Joan. According to Manchon, Calot called the bishop a traitor. The bishop called him a liar, and demanded instant reparation, and threw down his paper on the ground. According to Massieu, Joan finally said, “I leave all to the universal Church; if the clergy and the Church tell me I should sign the paper, I will do so.” ” Sign immediately,” said Erard: “if not, you will end your life to-day in the flames.” The executioner was near, his wagon loaded with wood for the fire; he was awaiting the handing over of the victim. Joan answered, according to Massieu, that she preferred to sign rather than be burned. Then Bishop Cauchon asked Cardinal Beaufort what to do; and he answered, “Admit her to penance.” The bishop laid aside the first sentence, and took up the second. According to Mapsieu, Erard offered a formula of abjuration to Joan; but Aymond de Macy says Calot drew it out of his own sleeve. Massieu read the words, and Joan repeated. Then a great tumult arose; the English were enraged, and Joan’s friends rejoiced; in consequence “many stones were thrown.” De Macy states that Joan for signature made a sort of circle in mockery; then Calot took her hand and made her write something, what it was, he did not remember; but in the Process it is the name Jehanne, followed by a cross – “I do not remember,” said Manchon, “that the abjuration was ever explained or shown to Joan beforehand.” Boisguillaume agrees with him, and believes she did not understand the formula. If signed, it was signed through fear – not freely. Massieu assures us she understood neither the formula nor the danger she was in. Even in the story of the Process, she says she wished to sign only in so far as the paper was examined by the clergy and the Church, and it was declared and insisted upon that it was her duty to sign. Moreover, they had deceived her by the promise of an ecclesiastical prison to be given her after signing. She laughed while signing, said Manchon. The same is repeated by Canon du Desert. It was said by many, affirms de Mailly, that the abjuration was only a mockery; that Joan laughed at it, and little attention to it, and did not consider it serious. She signed at the prayer of those present. The Process of Rehabilitation declares the abjuration “pretended, false, perfidious, extorted through fear, not seen beforehand nor understood by the Maid.”
After all this, it is hard to say that the Maid abjured. Massieu, who read the formula to her, testified, that in it Joan promised not to bear arms more, nor wear man’s dress, nor her hair cut short, and many other things he did not remember. But he knew, he said, for certain that the entire formula was not more than eight lines, and that it was not that given in the Process. Taquel, the third notary, who was near and saw everything, gives the same testimony. So do La Chambre and Miget.
The longer formula of abjuration given in the Process, which consists of some fifty lines, makes Joan accuse herself of “mortal sin in lying about her revelation, and seducing by her stories, practicing superstitious divination, blaspheming God and His Saints, violating the Divine Law, the Scripture, and Canon Law, wearing dissolute and indecent dress, cruelly shedding human blood, despising God and His Sacraments, causing sedition, adoring evil spirits, becoming schismatic, and sinning in many other ways against the Faith.” She is made to swear to Saint Peter, to the Pope, and to Monseigneur of Beauvais – a curious combination and deceptive – never to return to the things condemned.
One says naturally in reading this that a greater piece of knavery was never seen. No one with any knowledge of the trial would dream for a moment that this infamous document was honest. On the following Monday Joan would declare that she never meant to deny her revelations by the abjuration, and that she never knew such a thing was demanded of her. The minutes of Manchon have no word of this abjuration; the story was written a long time after. According to him, this long, fraudulent formula was written out at the instance of the assessors, after one of the sessions preceding the scene in the cemetery. It begins with the words, “Every one that has erred”; whereas, Taquel assures us the formula said to have been signed by Joan begins with “I Joan – ”
The danger of relapse is spoken of at the beginning of the longer act of abjuration; and some have seen here an indication of a criminal plot to declare Joan relapsed should she again proclaim her mission, as she was sure to do; for the bishop and his associates knew that Joan had no chance of life from the English.
The second sentence, namely of condemnation to prison, was read by Bishop Cauchon instead of the first. “Relying on the famous declaration of the University of Paris,” it accuses Joan more briefly of the excesses mentioned in the formula of abjuration; and condemns her “to perpetual imprisonment on the bread of affliction and water of sadness – ” just plain bread and water.
Chapter 38 – The Quitting and Resumption of Male Attire
It was a flagrant violation of law and justice to deny to Joan enclosure in an ecclesiastical prison after her condemnation. She pitifully begged the fulfillment of the promise; but Bishop Cauchon said, “Take her back whence she came.” The English, meanwhile, were exasperated by the less extreme sentence; and on the way from the cemetery to the castle, Joan was the object of derision to the pages under the eyes of their masters. The leading Englishmen poured out invectives against the bishop and his doctors; they even unsheathed their swords. Warwick exclaimed, “The king’s business goes badly.” To whom the answer was made, “Do not worry: we shall have her yet.”
On the same day, Thursday, Lemaitre, Midi, Loyseleur, Courcelles, La Pierre, and others, went to Joan’s prison, to warn her she would receive no mercy if she fell back, and to bid her put on woman’s clothing. The official story is that Joan unhesitatingly obeyed – the story was written after, and in view of a pretended relapse. The bad faith of her judges shines luridly through all this. But much more thought the brutal outrages committed on Joan in prison when .she had resumed female attire. – La Pierre was moved to pity at sight of her disfigured, tear-stained face. “Much wrong and violence was done her,” he says. “She was beaten and treated with violence,” testifies Ladvenu: and a vile English milord – Warwick – attempted to violate her – in order, it would seem, to deprive her of her vaunted title of virginity. “She complained in a manner which astonished,” says Toutmouille, “of the oppression and violence done her in prison by the guards and the men sent in to her.” Joan declared publicly that it was on this account she resumed her former dress, which she did on the feast of the Blessed Trinity.
Massieu testified in his triple deposition that woman’s dress was taken from her in the morning, and male attire left near her. She asked in vain to have woman’s dress returned. Having to leave the room, she was forced by the circumstances to put on man’s clothing. Afterwards she would not change, because, say Ladvenu and Manchon, of the danger to her purity. Joan was chained; without the connivance of the English soldiers she could not have taken her, former attire. Friday or Saturday, when Cauchon learned she had reassumed her former clothing, he sent Beaupere and Midi to urge her to change. The key of the prison could be found; and the English in the courtyard threatened to throw them into the river and pursued them when they ran away. Others had a like experience, and speak of from eighty to one hundred English soldiers present. From the accounts of brutality suffered by Joan, we may suppose by Joan, we may suppose that Warwick was not the only one guilty of bestiality.
Chapter 39 – Interragatory of May 28th
On the morning after Holy Trinity, May 28th, the judges Cauchon and Lemaitre, with La Pierre, verified in the prison Joan’s change of dress. The bishop called, not assessors who were acquainted with the whole story of the alleged abjuration, but new men, thoroughly acquired to the English side; and with these were taken the old henchmen of whom the Judge was sure. Manchon was so afraid to enter the castle, that he went under the safeguard of Warwick. The procedure which, ensued cannot be called a trial; and the official account of it is evidently false. According to this, Joan acknowledged she had re-assumed her former dress without compulsion, and for the reason that it was more suitable in the presence of man – that, in fact, she had just taken it. Nor had she ever understood any oath said to have been taken to the contrary. Moreover she is represented as saying, that she had acted thus, because they had broken their promise to her to hear Mass, to receive Communion, and be kept in a prison of the Church. Then she was made to say that she would submit to their decision if she be allowed these things, adding the condition of a female companion in the prison.
Manchon wrote this story; but his testimony is not the same at the trial of Rehabilitation. Then he testified that Joan gave, as the reason of her wearing the apparel of man, the sheer necessity of safeguarding her virtue, the violation of which had been attempted by the guards. Neither had she “just taken” her former dress; for she had assumed it on the preceding day. How shall we qualify the sentence that condemned her to die by fire for thus protecting her innocence?
In the Process, which we regard now with particular suspicion, Joan says the Saints reproached her with the great betrayal of her abjuration. Even such as it was according to the story, it may be admitted that Joan was not without fault. She had given occasion of scandal to many by even a seeming act of abjuration. She was warned beforehand by her Saints, she is made to say, of the fault she would commit. They told her to answer the preacher boldly, for he preached falsehoods. And this is a very doubtful statement, to say the least of it. “If I say that God did not send me, I shall be lost.” Her Voices told her to confess her fault. “And the crown?” some one puts in idiotically. She said she never intended to deny her revelations. Whatever she said or did in the cemetery was through fear of death by fire. But she “revoked nothing that was true.
I have done nothing against God or the Faith, whatever they made me revoke. I did not understand what was in the paper of abjuration- At the moment of abjuring, I did not intend to renounce anything except in as far as it was displeasing to Our Lord. If the judges wish, I will take woman’s dress; but for the rest I will do nothing.”
This official account is incoherent, and evidently truncated and confused. At the close, the bishop said, “We left the said woman, determined to proceed against her in accordance with reason and law”; which says Father Ayroles, were never more basely trodden under foot. As the bishop went out, he is reported to have called aloud to an English group there present, “Farowelle, farowelle; it is done; have good cheer.”
Chapter 40 – The Sentence and Execution
On May 29th Bishop Cauchon convoked forty-one graduates in theology or law in the chapel of the archiepiscopal residence. They came to judge the accused in her absence! The judge reviewed the work of “the worthy mother, the University of Paris,” and the others in the trial, and described Joan’s “immovable constancy in her damnable resolve.” Then he tells the story of the abjuration and relapse in his own sense in a manner utterly unjust to Joan and false in fact. The opinion of those present being asked, Gilles Duremort, Abbot of Fecamp, recommended that the abjuration be again read and explained to Joan (a thing very significant) and an effort be made to make her repent. If she did not, then she might be handed over to the civil authority with a recommendation for mercy. Thirty-eight out of the forty-one assessors adopted the view of the abbot. On the following morning, since she could not before, Joan protested against the sentence. Tiphaine is set down as giving his vote, although he himself denied it afterwards, or said he remembered nothing of it.
Joan was summoned to appear on May 30th, the eve of the feast of the Blessed Sacrament, at eight o’clock m. the morning, in the old market place to hear her sentence. There was an early call at her prison. Between six and seven, John Toutmouille and Martin Ladvenu, Dominican priests, were sent to announce to Joan the bitter death she should that day undergo. She burst into piteous tears, abandoned herself to uncontrollable emotion, and began to tear her hair. “Will they treat me so horribly?” she sobbed. “And must my body which has never been violated be burned to ashes?” In the midst of her agonized sobbing, she continued, “I would prefer to be beheaded seven times than to be burned so.” She lamented most sorrowfully over all the wrong that had been done her; and as Cauchon entered, she exclaimed, “Bishop, I die through you.” He was unabashed, and went on persuading her to repent. In her unrestrained anguish, she appealed to God against him.
In what are called posthumous information, we have various baseless stories of Joan’s last hours. These are unsigned documents, inserted at .the end of the official Process, and intended to lessen the guilt of Cauchon and his associates. In these it is made to appear that Joan, after condemnation, declared that her Voices had deceived her. The posthumous information, are of absolutely no value, and are condemned as such in the Rehabilitation trial.
They contradict the sworn testimony of the witnesses to whom they are attributed.
Ladvenu heard Joan’s confession on that last morning of her life; and, in palpable selfstultification, Bishop Cauchon allowed Holy Communion to this relapsed and condemned heretic! The Blessed Sacrament was, it seems, to be brought, by another self-stultification, without stole or lights. At which Brother Martin Ladvenu was indignant, and sent for a stole and lights. Joan received Holy Communion with intense devotion and “a torrent of tears.” After this the good friar remained with her to the end.
Taquel, the notary, tells that Joan, on that morning of Communion, poured out her heart in such prayer to God, Our Lady, and the Saints, that even Loyseleur, amongst others, wept. As he went out, it is said, he was in danger of being slain by the English soldiers.
Joan passed out of the castle gate; and in the midst of eight hundred English men-at-arms (according to Massieu), bearing axes and swords, proceeded to the place of execution. She wore the dress of her sex, and on her head a miter of mockery, or fool’s cap, ornamented with the legend, “Joan, who called herself the Pucelle, liar, dissolute, idolator, heretic,” and other such fair words. A countless multitude. (innombrable) had gathered from all the neighboring country, says the bishop of Lisieu, and covered the roofs of the houses.
On the way, Joan “made such pious lamentation,” Massieu relates, “that Brother Martin could not restrain his tears. She recommended her soul to God and the Saints so devoutly, that all who heard her wept.”
The official account says that the judges were in the market place, near the Church of Saint Savior, about nine o’clock. There were present with Bishop Cauchon two other bishops, de Luxembourg and de Mailly, with many other churchmen. Three stages had been erected – one for the judges, one for the prelates, and the fatal third for the wood to burn Joan. She was first made to ascend a scaffold, or elevated Stage, in sight of all; and, “for her salutary warning and for the edification of the people, a solemn sermon was delivered by the distinguished doctor in theology, Nicolas Midi.” He took his text from I Cor. xii, “If one member suffer anything, all the others suffer with it.” Joan listened calmly to the discourse and the sentence. In this Cauchon accuses her of all crimes, possible and impossible, mentioned before; especially of pretended repentance and relapse. And “in the name of the Lord, amen,” he declares her a heretic, and cuts her off from the Church as a rotten member, and hands her over to the civil power.
After the sentence, Joan gave way again to an agony of grief. She lamented and prayed. Touchingly loyal to the last she said, that whether her works were good or evil, her king was not to blame.
She denied that she was a heretic or schismatic; and she maintained the truth of her revelations to the last. Bishop de Mailly withdrew, in order not to see her die. As he went away, he saw many persons in tears. Ladvenu said that nearly all who saw her wept.
The sentence pronounced, Joan descended from the stage on which she had been placed; and without any sentence having been pronounced by the civil authority she was led to the executioner, who received the brief command, “Do thy duty.” Miget states that several English men-at-arms seized her, and led her, “with fury” to the pyre. The executioner told of the cruel binding to the stake on the plaster platform, which was so high that the flames hardly reached it; and this moved the rough man to much pity for Joan. She knelt, and with tears begged pardon of all, and uttered her forgiveness for those who were guilty of her death. She prayed much – for half an hour, it is said – with indescribable devotion. Of the priests she begged Masses for the repose of her soul. An English soldier, hearing her ask for a crucifix, made a cross of a piece of wood, and handed it to her. She pressed it most devoutly to her heart; but begged La Pierre to bring a crucifix from the neighboring church. This she embraced long, until they bound her. Then as the fire rose up, she bade the priest go down from the platform, and begged him to hold up the crucifix straight before her eyes until she died.
She invoked her beloved Saints, and especially Saint Michael, who had been her life-long friends, and who had promised to lead her to Heaven from her victory of fire. They, who had come every day in her need, were with her now in the torturing flame, and quickly made her exult with triumph in the fiercest of all her battles.
The English were growing harshly impatient for Joan’s death and their own dinner. As Massieu was consoling her in her last agony, some of their captains cried out, “Priest, do you mean to have us dine here?” Some of them laughed at the death scene; but many of them also wept. As the flames ascended. Joan never ceased to call aloud to “her Lord” and her Saints. At last, as she bowed her head, and yielded up her pure soul to God, the sacred name of Jesus, uttered in a loud voice, was the last word on her lips. When the body was consumed, the English ordered the executioner to Scatter the fire, so that the crowd could see where the ashes lay. And La Pierre deposed that this man, almost immediately after the execution, came to him and Ladvenu as if in despair. He told them that notwithstanding the oil, charcoal, and sulfur, thrown on them, the entrails and heart of Joan could not be burned – which he regarded as an evident miracle. He told another the heart was quite intact and full of blood. But he was ordered to gather up the ashes, and with the heart and entrails throw them into the Seine. It was the last insult to one of the bravest, purest, noblest, that ever breathed our mortal air.
Chapter 41 – After The Death of Joan
Tressart, a secretary 6f the English king, cried out after Joan had died, “We have burnt a saint.” It was the opinion of many. La Pierre testified that an Englishman, a bitter foe of the Maid, who swore he would himself lay a faggot on the fire to burn her, appeared, after witnessing her death, to be beside himself. He was taken into an inn near the old market to be cared for, and professed the deepest repentance, affirming that, at the last breath of Joan, he had seen a white dove issuing from the flames.
A Dominican, Pierre Bosquier spoke against the sentence of death, and was called up before Bishop Cauchon as a favorer of heresy. He made public reparation, and was condemned to prison on bread and water.
The prelate added his false posthumous information to the official record of the trial. And in the name of the boy-king of England, letters were sent to all the Christian kings and princes containing a notoriously false account of Joan and her trial, in order that those noble personages “might preserve the Christian people from culpable superstitions.”
To those directly under the king a similar document was transmitted, with orders to publish it everywhere. When this was done in Paris, the Inquisitor, a Dominican friar, at the end of a solemn procession, recounted in the same nefarious manner the life and death of Joan. The bad consciences of the judges, and of the accessories to the judicial murder, were more honest. They obtained from the English government letters of amnesty and protection for what they had done. The king promised to pay the expenses of any who might be cited before the Pope or the General Council; and, going to a further extreme, calls on all his subjects to help the aforesaid persons “against the Pope or the Council.”
The University of Paris wrote to the Pope, describing the great deed they had done against the mulierculam, “the despicable little woman,” taken prisoner in the diocese of Beauvais. They wrote also to the College of Cardinals. The only thing worthy of notice in these letters is their impudence as contrasted with the obsequiousness, which fills the University’s dispatches to the English king, to Philip of Burgundy, and John of Luxembourg.
It was a common saying, testifies Boisguillaume, the notary, that all who had part in the dark deed of Joan’s condemnation were publicly noted, and that they had an evil fate. One might, perhaps, hesitate to believe this.
Yet the statement is not without truth. Midi died a leper, but some years after. Cauchon died suddenly while being shaved, ten years later. Bedford died at forty in Rouen, four years after the death of Joan. His wife, Anne of Burgundy, died at the age of twenty-eight, one year after Joan; and the Duke’s hasty nuptials with another led to an estrangement which turned Burgundy back to French allegiance, at the treaty of Arras, concluded at the time of Bedford’s death. John of Luxembourg, who sold Joan, died without issue, ten years after her; and curiously enough, his widow had to put forward her loyalty to France, in order to save her states from confiscation. Luxembourg’s nephew and heir was beheaded as a traitor. His brother, the bishop, became archbishop of Rouen and Cardinal, and perpetual administrator of the cathedral of Ely in England. But he died soon after John; and the house of Luxembourg was left without -heirs. Erard, the preacher, pensioned by the English, died in exile amongst them eight years after Joan’s martyrdom. Charles le Temeraine, the only legitimate son of Philip of Burgundy, perished tragically at the gates of Nancy, after the defeats of Granson and -Morat, leaving an only daughter, who, by her marriage, transferred her vast estates to the Austrian Crown, and bequeathed two centuries of war to France. The Wars of the Roses avenged Joan of her English foes, from 1454 to 1485. It was a dark and dreadful history of assassination of princes and by them, of the slaughter of the nobility of England, and of her people. King Henry VI, the boy-king of: Joan’s story, lost the two crowns of France and England, and was assassinated in the Tower of London in 1471. The chief cause of all this evil to England was Warwick the “king-maker,” who married the heiress of the sonless Warwick of our story, and who was himself the son of the Earl of Salisbury, the English commander slain at Orleans. Warwick “the king-maker” was himself slain at the Battle of Barnet. The Plantagenets yielded their throne to the ignoble Tudors, who, in the person of Henry VIII separated England from the unity of western Christendom a century after Joan’s sacrifice. Finally, the holy mother University of Paris, grown more and more decadent, was clipped of its privileges, and like better-behaved people, was subjected to the authority of the French parliament by King Charles VII.
Regnault de Chartres, the non-resident archbishop of Reims, remained until his death in 1444 Chancellor of Charles VII. He was present at the Council of Constance; but had nothing to do with the factious assembly at Basle. To him and to Gerard Machet, the king’s confessor, is attributed Charles VII’s fidelity to the true Pontiff, Eugene IV. But the archbishop was not free of blame for the evil legislation called the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges, which fettered the Church of France, and brought so many evils in its train. Charles VII never would support the pesudo Felix V, Duke of Savoy; and for this Regnault de Chartres was proclaimed Cardinal in the Council of Florence 1439.
La Tremoille was hurled from power, two years after Joan’s death, by Richemont, whose partisans took him from his bed, at Chinon, while the king was there, and stabbed him dangerously in the affray. He had to disgorge some of his treasure for his ransom. He died in 1446.
Chapter 42 – Did Joan Die a Martyr?
The sanctity of Joan and her Beatification do not rest on the question of her martyrdom. Her Canonization will be amply justified without it. Yet there are many defenders of her claim to the martyr’s crown. Who dies for any virtue dies a martyr. Did she die for the preservation of her purity? The resumption of male attire for virtue’s sake was the direct cause of her condemnation. The larger cause was her refusal to abjure. But as far as the English were concerned, and the Burgundians, the cause of her death was her victorious campaign for France; and this, for her, was a work ordained by Heaven. For her mission she died. Would she have been spared if she abjured her Voices and her mission, and quietly dropped out of sight? What ever Cauchon might do – and he could not be trusted – the English would never have let the Maid go free; nor, in all likelihood, have let her live even as a captive. The hate of her great foes of France -the University and its party- was caused by Joan’s opposition to their ambitions, plans, and plots. In the general tradition of Christians since her day, Joan is often spoken of as a martyr. Her Voices spoke of her martyrdom – and this is important to remember.
Chapter 43 – What Did Her Party Do To Save Joan?
After abandoning Joan, it is not surprising that the poltroon Court of Charles VII made no effort to save her. Of her old companions in arms, only the undaunted La Hire and Xaintrailles attempted to rescue her at Rouen. They failed, and were made prisoners. Public prayers were offered for her at Orleans and other places, and collects were inserted in the Mass. The Bishop of Embrun urged Charles VII to spare no means or effort to save Joan. The Chronicle of Morosini says twice that Charles did make strenuous efforts with the Duke of Burgundy and the English, threatening terrible reprisals, especially on the women of England ! The Chronicle, which is really a budget of news from various pens, is of very unequal value, and at times utterly absurd. Cauchon and the University of Paris hint, in their murderous letters, of rumors that Charles VII was endeavoring to ransom Joan. But as far as historical documents go, it is hard to deny the statement, that neither king, court, nor captains, gave any sign of help. A few enemies were friendly; but as for the rest, Joan of Are in her passion was as completely abandoned as her beloved Savior was in His.
Chapter 44 – The Rehabilitation
Charles VII entered Rouen on the 20th of November, 1449. Victory had made him grateful, or made him believe more firmly in Joan of Arc. On February 15th of the following year, he appointed a commission to review and annul Joan’s trial, now nearly nineteen years after her death. In 1451 Cardinal d’Estouteville, sent as Legate by Pope Nicolas V to repair the evils of war and schism, and to unite England, France, and Savoy against the Turks, who were then threatening Constantinople, took up the work in the name of the Church. His examination of witnesses began at Rouen, as did that of Charles VII. Five years after, Pope Callixtus III appointed, at the petition of Joan’s family, the commission to which is due her second trial of Rehabilitation. (Now called “The Trial of Nullification” VF)
Her father and oldest brother were dead. Her mother was living at Orleans, supported by the city. Near her was her second son, Pierre, who had been captured with Joan and wasx long a prisoner. The Duke of Orleans gave him as his property the Ile-aux-Boeufs, near Orleans in the Loire. John, his younger brother, and fellow-soldier, was provost of Vaucouleurs. A worthier Archbishop of Reims, Jean Juvenal des Ursine, was made President of the commission, with two delegates, Guillaume Chartier, Bishop of Paris, and Richard Olivier, Bishop of Coutances. Evidence was taken in Domremy, Vaucouleurs, Rouen, Paris, and Orleans, for this justification of the name and fame of the Maid; and some of the most eminent ecclesiastics of the time were engaged in it.
It was a strict and formal process of law. On November 7th, Joan’s aged mother and her two brothers presented themselves in mourning in the cathedral of Notre Dame at Paris. Great ladies gathered round the mother, broken with years and sorrow; and the highest nobles of France encircled her sons. A large and brilliant body of ecclesiastics accompanied the archbishop of Reims and Jean Brehal, the Inquisitor. The mother and sons knelt in tears before the Prelates, and read with sobs the Pontifical Rescript addressed to them. The emotion in the church spread quickly to the multitude outside, so that the commission was obliged to hold its session in the sacristy.
On the 17th of November, the formal work of the commission was opened. The University of Paris sent its advocate, the famous Mangier, to induce the commission to confine its indictment to the two judges of Joan and the promoter. The Bishop who condemned her was dead. Whether his associate, Lemaitre, was alive or not, no one seemed to know. Estivet had long gone to his account. It was a time of amnesty; and the University recreants, as well, as others, were shielded.
The commission proceeded to hold sessions in Rouen with the utmost publicity and solemnity. Then appeared the heirs of Bishop Cauchon; not to defend his memory, but to safeguard their inheritance. The witnesses, many, of whom had not been guiltless in Joan’s first trial, now condemned it unconditionally. Times had changed, and allegiance with them; and the lavish English expenditure of money, which played so decisive a part in throwing Joan into the flames, had long since ceased.
No trace could be discovered of the information taken at Domremy by order of Bishop Cauchon; so they were now taken anew by the Papal commission. Old friends of Joan reappeared. Her godmothers and godfathers, her companions, priests who had known her, Laxart her uncle, nobles of her neighborhood, John de Metz, who had been made by Charles VII Lord of Novelomport, and Bertrand de Poulengy, her guide through France. Depositions at Orleans and Paris recall the triumphant career of the Maid. D ‘Aulon, her noble guardian, was heard at Lyons. Pasquerel, her confessor; Louis Coutes, her page; Dunois the brave; Gaucourt and other companions in arms and victory; and noble d’Alencon, her commander –in –chief.
The history of Joan’s passion and martyrdom are due entirely to the Pontifical commission. Here we have the invaluable testimony of Manchon, Massieu, Ladvenu, and La Pierre. Even Courcelles testified at Paris, although his memory, like his conscience, failed him sadly. In all, one hundred and twenty-one witnesses contributed to paint the chaste and peerless picture of the Maid.
The sentence of Rehabilitation was pronounced on July 7th, 1456; first before a small audience in the great hall of the archiepiscopal residence at Rouen; and immediately after, with splendor in the cemetery; and on the morrow, the 8th, with like pomp in the old market place. It “annulled the process of condemnation, the abjuration, the sentence, and all the effects that followed therefrom”; and restored the name and fame of the dead Joan, to be worshiped through the years. On the 20th of July it was promulgated in Orleans; and both cities erected monuments to the heroine. These were wrecked by the Huguenots and by the revolutionists of 1789.
Chapter 45 – Joan Through The Vista of The Years
Like all true fame, this everlasting and unparalleled personification of virtue, religion, patriotism, loyalty, and noble war, has grown greater with the years. She was at the heart of the social and political life of a great people, and her France never can forget, and never has forgotten. She was always glorified by Catholics, and even by Protestants. Her Rehabilitation was really the foundation of her canonization. Orleans, the freed, honored her annually by a solemn festival and procession. She was venerated as a Saint in local martyr-ologies. The question has often been asked, why was she not canonized sooner? Rome does not introduce causes of canonization unless solicited; she moved when France petitioned. The fame and power of the University of Paris, the reconciliation of Burgundy with the king, unwillingness to offend Catholic England, the character of the court and courtiers of Charles VII – all contributed to the delay. It was only in our own day the question of Joan’s canonization was really taken up. In 1869 Mgr. Dupanloup, Bishop of Orleans, supported by twelve other Bishops, petitioned Pope Pius IX to canonize the peerless Joan.
The movement spread and deepened, due not a little to the advocacy of Bishops Pie and Freppel. In 1886 hundreds of bishops from many countries urged the cause of Joan at Rome. Cardinal Howard succeeded Cardinal Bilio as ponent of the beatification of the warrior Maid.
Chapter 46 – Joan’s Beatification
Begun by Bishop Dupanloup, a preparatory investigation was continued at Orleans from 1874 to 1888; and the cause was introduced at Rome, under Leo XIII, in January, 1894. In the examination of the heroicity of Joan’s virtues, came up the question of the abjuration at Rouen. That it was no real abjuration was admitted by the Congregation of Rites in November, 1901; and the decree of heroicity was published under Pius X in 1904. The proof of the three required miracles was admitted in December, 1908. The first in order of presentation was the instantaneous cure at Orleans in 1900 of a Benedictine, Sister Teresa, after a novena made in honor of Joan of Are. The nun suffered from ulcer of the stomach for three years, and was at the point of death. The second occurred in 1893 in the little town of Faverolles, in the diocese of Evreux. Sister Julie, of the Sisters of Providence, suffering greatly from ulcer of the breast, was carried to the church to invoke Joan of Arc, and was cured the same day. The third miracle happened in Fruges, a small town in the diocese of Arras.
Sister Jeanne Marie, of the Congregation of the Holy Family, was afflicted with hopeless tuberculosis of the bones. On the fifth day of her prayer to Joan she was cured.
It was on the Feast of the Holy Family, January 24th, 1909, that Joan was beatified by Pope Pius X. And finally, on March 18th 1919, in the Vatican Hall of the Consistory, thirteen Cardinals and twenty-two Consultors recorded their placet to Joan’s canonization and Pope Benedict XV asked for prayers that his decision might be enlightened by the Holy Ghost. This decision was announced by His Holiness on March 26th to be in the affirmative. As an inevitable sequel the canonization of Joan was assured.
Chapter 47 – Canonization – Saint Joan of Arc
The immortality of the saints does not consist only in everlasting life: it endures forever on earth. And not in the heavenly fame of sanctity, nor in the unceasing inspiration of their exalted lives, but in their presence, and their living influence for good – “they shall judge nations, and rule over people” (Wis. iii, 8). Perhaps to Joan, too, is given that realm of France, which she fought so gloriously to save, as “the Father hath disposed” it, according to her, to Him whom she served so nobly (St. Luke, xxii. 29). Even now they are proclaiming her “the Saint of France” – no longer simply the Maid. Stranger still, her ancient foes of Albion, whom she never hated; the Scots, who fought with her – a mighty host, join with enthusiastic France, with drum and cannon, which she loved – join in measureless procession, to enwreathe her statues, and proclaim her praise, as if, victory even now were due to her. All this is happening as the bells of peace are ringing after five years of world-war. Joan, has been much invoked during the anguish blood, and tears of these dark and fateful days.
Explain it how we, may, the tide of invasion rolled no farther than that battle line traced by Joan on the Meuse, Marne, and Oise.
Joan’s immortality has grown with time, until now, when, after 500 years, the Church, which was to her indeed the kingdom of God, and its head, to whom she appealed from the unjust and immolating fire of Rouen, have set upon her the imperishable crown of sainthood. For the treason of the captains and the unworthy clerics, for rejection like that of the Master, for the vile insult and brutal captivity, for calumny and death-dealing condemnation, for ignominy and the remorseless flame, comes the crown of life and light at last. To-morrow France will light her festal fires, and wreathe her fading garlands, and sound all her joyous bells and warlike bugles amidst the thunder of her cannons, for Joan; while Domremy, Orleans, and Rouen will thrill with joy: and perhaps some angel will give back again to the ancient abbey of Saint Denis her sword and banner, and white, untarnished armor. Rome has spoken the last word—Joan is the “Saint of France,” although the solemn proclamation is reserved a few days more, till stricken France can recollect herself in joy.
The process of Joan’s canonization was accomplished much more quickly than was anticipated. Her French advocates evidently hastened the great affair on account of the horrible war and its foreseen conclusion. For it was easy to see how much the faith of France would benefit by the canonization of the Warrior Maid.
At Rome, on the 27th of March, 1919, there was a general assembly of the Congregation of Rites at the Vatican in presence of the Pope, to examine the miracles presented for the canonization. There were present thirteen Cardinals and twenty Consultors, in a session, which lasted three hours. On the following Wednesday, His Holiness announced his decision: he accepted the miracles, and communicated the decisive fact to Cardinal Amette. On April 6th, the Decree of acceptance was solemnly read in the Hall of Consistory. It was filled with invited guests, especially from France. Amongst these were the representatives of 200,000 widows of the great war, who had come to pledge to the Holy See the loyalty of the bereaved mothers and their children. It was Passion Sunday, and well it befitted the tragedy of the Maid and of France.
The Holy Father made a beautiful address, to which the eloquent Bishop of Orleans, Mgr. Touchet, responded. One of the miracles, the cure of Teresa Belin, had occurred at Lourdes, but at the intercession of Joan, thus linking, in French hearts, the Immaculate Mother with the Virgin Warrior.
The Acta S. Sedis of May 1st published the Decree, in which the Holy Father recalled the injustice which men so often commit in the name of patriotism.
Abusing the word, they condemn, as hostile to their country, the Catholic Church, which makes patriotism a virtue. The heroic Joan of Arc was the type of Christian patriotism. Yet her marvelous deeds had been foolishly attributed to natural causes, whereas her whole career lucidly proved the contrary.
On Sunday, May 18, 1919, Paris hastened to honor the “Saint of the Fatherland.” Two hundred thousand were in procession, yet the vast multitude was in perfect order. There were delegations from Alsace-Lorraine and from Poland; from the Union of Fathers and Mothers (of the Slain); from the Veterans of sea, and shore; from the National Federation of old soldiers, the ‘Naval League, the Patriotic League of Frenchwomen, from the School Association; there were deputies and municipal councilors at the head of the League of Patriots, with officers, soldiers, and boy scouts.
Through vast applauding multitudes the long line advanced. The statues of Joan on the route were covered with rich garlands, while the working people offered their lowlier bouquets. The whole way was brilliant with the flags of France and her allies.
The national celebration was on June 1st, Sunday within the Octave of the Ascension, which is the day of Joan’s festival since her beatification. The capital again hung out its flags; the churches and many private houses displayed the banner of Joan. At Orleans the British troops, headed by a Scottish band, took part in the procession and placed wreaths on Joan’s monument, while an English Commander made an address.
Commenting on the national festival, an English Protestant newspaper said: “As an historical and mystical figure, Joan of Are occupies a unique position in the annals of France. Her name is the inspiration of her country; her life and deeds, one of the great romances of history…. The summit of her achievement was her purity of character and simple patriotism: these have become the great inspiration of France.”