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Jeanne d'Arc by Mrs. Oliphant

Part 2 out of 6

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spent by Jeanne in rest and in prayer. But the other leaders were not
so devout. They held a crowded and anxious council of war, taking care
that no news of it should reach the ears of the Maid. When, however,
they had decided upon the course to pursue they sent for her, and
intimated to her their decision to attack only the smaller forts,
which she heard with great impatience, not sitting down, but walking
about the room in disappointment and anger. It is difficult[2] for the
present writer to follow the plans of this council or to understand in
what way Jeanne felt herself contradicted and set aside. However it
was, the fact seems certain that their plan failed at first, the
English having themselves abandoned one of the smaller forts on the
right side of the river and concentrated their forces in the greater
ones of Les Augustins and Les Tourelles on the left bank. For all
this, reference to the map is necessary, which will make it quite
clear. It was Classidas, as he is called, Glasdale, the most furious
enemy of France, and one of the bravest of the English captains who
held the former, and for a moment succeeded in repulsing the attack.
The fortune of war seemed about to turn back to its former current,
and the French fell back on the boats which had brought them to the
scene of action, carrying the Maid with them in their retreat. But she
perceived how critical the moment was, and reining up her horse from
the bank, down which she was being forced by the crowd, turned back
again, closely followed by La Hire, and at once, no doubt, by the
stouter hearts who only wanted a leader--and charging the English, who
had regained their courage as the white armour of the witch
disappeared, and were in full career after the fugitives--drove them
back to their fortifications, which they gained with a rush, leaving
the ground strewn with the wounded and dying. Jeanne herself did not
draw bridle till she had planted her standard on the edge of the moat
which surrounded the tower.

Michelet is very brief concerning this first victory, and claims only
that "the success was due in part to the Maid," although the crowd of
captains and men-at-arms where by themselves quite sufficient for the
work, had there been any heart in them. But this was true to fact in
almost every case: and it is clear that she was simply the heart,
which was the only thing wanted to those often beaten Frenchmen; where
she was, where they could hear her robust young voice echoing over all
the din, they were as men inspired; when the impetus of their flight
carried her also away, they became once more the defeated of so many
battles. The effect upon the English was equally strong; when the back
of Jeanne was turned, they were again the men of Agincourt; when she
turned upon them, her white breastplate blazing out like a star, the
sunshine striking dazzling rays from her helmet, they trembled before
the sorceress; an angel to her own side, she was the very spirit of
magic and witchcraft to her opponents. Classidas, or which captain
soever of the English side it might happen to be, blaspheming from the
battlements, hurled all the evil names of which a trooper was capable,
upon her, while she from below summoned them, in different tones of
appeal and menace, calling upon them to yield, to go home, to give up
the struggle. Her form, her voice are always evident in the midst of
the great stone bullets, the cloth-yard shafts that were flying--they
were so near, the one above, the other below, that they could hear
each other speak.

On the 7th of May the fort of Les Augustins on the left bank was
taken. It will be seen by reference to the map, that this bastille, an
ancient convent, stood at some distance from the river, in peaceful
times a little way beyond the bridge, and no doubt a favourite Sunday
walk from the city. The bridge was now closed up by the frowning bulk
of the Tourelles built upon it, with a smaller tower or "boulevard" on
the left bank communicating with it by a drawbridge. When Les
Augustins was taken, the victorious French turned their arms against
this boulevard, but as night had fallen by this time, they suspended
the fighting, having driven back the English, who had made a sally in
help of Les Augustins. Here in the dark, which suited their purpose,
another council was held. The captains decided that they would now
pursue their victory no further, the town being fully supplied with
provisions and joyful with success, but that they would await the
arrival of reinforcements before they proceeded further; probably
their object was solely to get rid of Jeanne, to conclude the struggle
without her, and secure the credit of it. The council was held in the
camp within sight of the fort, by the light of torches; after she had
been persuaded to withdraw, on account of a slight wound in her foot
from a calthrop, it is said. This message was sent after her into
Orleans. She heard it with quiet disdain. "You have held your council,
and I have had mine," she said calmly to the messengers; then turning
to her chaplain, "Come to me to-morrow at dawn," she said, "and do not
leave me; I shall have much to do. My blood will be shed. I shall be
wounded[3] to-morrow," pointing above her right breast. Up to this
time no weapon had touched her; she had stood fast among all the
flying arrows, the fierce play of spear and sword, and had taken no

In the morning early, at sunrise, she dashed forth from the town
again, though the generals, her hosts, and all the authorities who
were in the plot endeavoured to detain her. "Stay with us, Jeanne,"
said the people with whom she lodged--official people, much above the
rank of the Maid--"stay and help us to eat this fish fresh out of the
river." "Keep it for this evening," she said, "and I shall return by
the bridge and bring you some Goddens to have their share." She had
already brought in a party of the Goddens on the night before to
protect them from the fury of the crowd. The peculiarity of this
promise lay in the fact that the bridge was broken, and could not be
passed, even without that difficulty, without passing through the
Tourelles and the boulevard which blocked it at the other end. At the
closed gates another great official stood by, to prevent her passing,
but he was soon swept away by the flood of enthusiasts who followed
the white horse and its white rider. The crowd flung themselves into
the boats to cross the river with her, horse and man. Les Tourelles
stood alone, black and frowning across the shining river in its early
touch of golden sunshine, on the south side of the Loire, the lower
tower of the boulevard on the bank blackened with the fire of last
night's attack, and the smoking ruins of Les Augustins beyond. The
French army, whom Orleans had been busy all night feeding and
encouraging, lay below, not yet apparently moving either for action or
retreat. Jeanne plunged among them like a ray of light, D'Aulon
carrying her banner; and passing through the ranks, she took up her
place on the border of the moat of the boulevard. Her followers rushed
after with that /élan/ of desperate and uncalculating valour which was
the great power of the French arms. In the midst of the fray the
girl's clear voice, /assez voix de femme/, kept shouting
encouragements, /de la part de Dieu/ always her war-cry. "/Bon cœur,
bonne espérance/," she cried--"the hour is at hand." But after hours
of desperate fighting the spirit of the assailants began to flag.
Jeanne, who apparently did not at any time take any active part in the
struggle, though she exposed herself to all its dangers, seized a
ladder, placed it against the wall, and was about to mount, when an
arrow struck her full in the breast. The Maid fell, the crowd closed
round; for a moment it seemed as if all were lost.

Here we have over again in the fable our friend Gamache. It is a
pretty story, and though we ask no one to take it for absolute fact,
there is no reason why some such incident might not have occurred.
Gamache, the angry captain who rather than follow a /péronnelle/ to
the field was prepared to fold his banner round its staff, and give up
his rank, is supposed to have been the nearest to her when she fell.
It was he who cleared the crowd from about her and raised her up.
"Take my horse," he said, "brave creature. Bear no malice. I confess
that I was in the wrong." "It is I that should be wrong if I bore
malice," cried Jeanne, "for never was a knight so courteous"
(/chevalier si bien apprins/). She was surrounded immediately by her
people, the chaplain whom she had bidden to keep near her, her page,
all her special attendants, who would have conveyed her out of the
fight had she consented. Jeanne had the courage to pull the arrow out
of the wound with her own hand,--"it stood a hand breadth out" behind
her shoulder--but then, being but a girl and this her first experience
of the sort, notwithstanding her armour and her rank as General-in-
Chief, she cried with the pain, this commander of seventeen. Somebody
then proposed to charm the wound with an incantation, but the Maid
indignant, cried out, "I would rather die." Finally a compress soaked
in oil was placed upon it, and Jeanne withdrew a little with her
chaplain, and made her confession to him, as one who might be about to

But soon her mood changed. She saw the assailants waver and fall back;
the attack grew languid, and Dunois talked of sounding the retreat.
Upon this she got to her feet, and scrambled somehow on her horse.
"Rest a little," she implored the generals about her, "eat something,
refresh yourselves: and when you see my standard floating against the
wall, forward, the place is yours." They seem to have done as she
suggested, making a pause, while Jeanne withdrew a little into a
vineyard close by, where there must have been a tuft of trees, to
afford her a little shelter. There she said her prayers, and tasted
that meat to eat that men wot not of, which restores the devout soul.
Turning back she took her standard from her squire's hand, and planted
it again on the edge of the moat. "Let me know," she said, "when the
pennon touches the wall." The folds of white and gold with the benign
countenance of the Saviour, now visible, now lost in the changes of
movement, floated over their heads on the breeze of the May day.
"Jeanne," said the squire, "it touches!" "On!" cried the Maid, her
voice ringing through the momentary quiet. "On! All is yours!" The
troops rose as one man; they flung themselves against the wall, at the
foot of which that white figure stood, the staff of her banner in her
hand, shouting, "All is yours." Never had the French /élan/ been so
wildly inspired, so irresistible; they swarmed up the wall "as if it
had been a stair." "Do they think themselves immortal?" the panic-
stricken English cried among themselves--panic-stricken not by their
old enemies, but by the white figure at the foot of the wall. Was she
a witch, as had been thought? was not she indeed the messenger of God?
The dazzling rays that shot from her armour seemed like butterflies,
like doves, like angels floating about her head. They had thought her
dead, yet here she stood again without a sign of injury; or was it
Michael himself, the great archangel whom she resembled do much?
Arrows flew round her on every side but never touched her. She struck
no blow, but the folds of her standard blew against the wall, and her
voice rose through all the tumult. "On! Enter! /de la part de Dieu!/
for all is yours."

The Maid had other words to say, "/Renty, renty/, Classidas!" she
cried, "you called me vile names, but I have a great pity for your
soul." He on his side showered down blasphemies. He was at the last
gasp; one desperate last effort he made with a handful of men to
escape from the boulevard by the drawbridge to Les Tourelles, which
crossed a narrow strip of the river. But the bridge had been fired by
a fire-ship from Orleans and gave way under the rush of the heavily-
armed men; and the fierce Classidas and his companions were plunged
into the river, where a knight in armour, like a tower falling, went
to the bottom in a moment. Nearly thirty of them, it is said, plunged
thus into the great Loire and were seen no more.

It was the end of the struggle. The French flag swung forth on the
parapet, the French shout rose to heaven. Meanwhile a strange sight
was to be seen--the St. Michael in shining armour, who had led that
assault, shedding tears for the ferocious Classidas, who had cursed
her with his last breath. "/J'ai grande pitié de ton âme./" Had he but
had time to clear his soul and reconcile himself with God!

This was virtually the end of the siege of Orleans. The broken bridge
on the Loire had been rudely mended, with a great /gouttière/ and
planks, and the people of Orleans had poured out over it to take the
Tourelles in flank--the English being thus taken between Jeanne's army
on the one side and the citizens on the other. The whole south bank of
the river was cleared, not an Englishman left to threaten the richest
part of France, the land flowing with milk and honey. And though there
still remained several great generals on the other side with strong
fortifications to fall back upon, they seem to have been paralysed,
and did not strike a blow. Jeanne was not afraid of them, but her
ardour to continue the fight dropped all at once; enough had been
done. She awaited the conclusion with confidence. Needless to say that
Orleans was half mad with joy, every church sounding its bells,
singing its song of triumph and praise, the streets so crowded that it
was with difficulty that the Maid could make her progress through
them, with throngs of people pressing round to kiss her hand, if might
be, her greaves, her mailed shoes, her charger, the floating folds of
her banner. She had said she would be wounded and so she was, as might
be seen, the envious rent of the arrow showing through the white
plates of metal on her shoulder. She had said all should be theirs /de
par Dieu:/ and all was theirs, thanks to our Lord and also to St.
Aignan and St. Euvert, patrons of Orleans, and to St. Louis and St.
Charlemagne in heaven who had so great pity of the kingdom of France:
and to the Maid on earth, the Heaven-sent deliverer, the spotless
virgin, the celestial warrior--happy he who could reach to kiss it,
the point of her mailed shoe.

Someone says that she rode through all this half-delirious joy like a
creature in a dream,--fatigue, pain, the happy languor of the end
attained, and also the profound pity that was the very inspiration of
her spirit, for all those souls of men gone to their account without
help of Church or comfort of priest--overwhelming her. But next day,
which was Sunday, she was up again and eagerly watching all that went
on. A strange sight was Orleans on that Sunday of May. On the south
side of the Loire, all those half-ruined bastilles smoking and
silenced, which once had threatened not the city only but all the
south of France; on the north the remaining bands of English drawn up
in order of battle. The excitement of the town and of the generals in
it, was intense; worn as they were with three days of continuous
fighting, should they sally forth again and meet that compact, silent,
doubly defiant army, which was more or less fresh and unexhausted?
Jeanne's opinion was, No; there had been enough of fighting, and it
was Sunday, the holy day; but apparently the French did go out though
keeping at a distance, watching the enemy. By orders of the Maid an
altar was raised between the two armies in full sight of both sides,
and there mass was celebrated, under the sunshine, by the side of the
river which had swallowed Classidas and all his men. French and
English together devoutly turned towards and responded to that Mass in
the pause of bewildering uncertainty. "Which way are their heads
turned?" Jeanne asked when it was over. "They are turned away from us,
they are turned to Meung," was the reply. "Then let them go, /de par
Dieu/," the Maid replied.

The siege had lasted for seven months, but eight days of the Maid were
enough to bring it to an end. The people of Orleans still, every year,
on the 8th of May, make a procession round the town and give thanks to
God for its deliverance. Henceforth, the Maid was known no longer as
Jeanne d'Arc, the peasant of Domremy, but as /La Pucelle d'Orléans/,
in the same manner in which one might speak of the Prince of Waterloo,
or the Duc de Malakoff.
[1] Their special mission seems to have been a demand for the return
of a herald previously sent who had never come back. As Dunois
accompanied the demand by a threat to kill the English prisoners
in Orleans if the herald was not sent back, the request was at
once accorded, with fierce defiances to the Maid, the dairy-maid
as she is called, bidding her go back to her cows, and threatening
to burn her if they caught her.

[2] I avail myself here as elsewhere of Mr. Lang's lucid description.
"It is really perfectly intelligible. The Council wanted a feint
on the left bank, Jeanne an attack on the right. She knew their
scheme, untold, but entered into it. There was, however, no feint.
She deliberately forced the fighting. There was grand fighting,
well worth telling," adds my martial critic, who understands it so
much better than I do, and who I am happy to think is himself
telling the tale in another way.

[3] She had made this prophecy a month before, and it was recorded
three weeks before the event in the Town Book of Brabant.--A. L.


JUNE, JULY, 1429.

The rescue of Orleans and the defeat of the invincible English were
news to move France from one end to the other, and especially to raise
the spirits and restore the courage of that part of France which had
no sympathy with the invaders and to which the English yoke was
unaccustomed and disgraceful. The news flew up and down the Loire from
point to point, arousing every village, and breathing new heart and
encouragement everywhere; while in the meantime Jeanne, partially
healed of her wound (on May 9th she rode out in a /maillet/, a light
coat of chain-mail), after a few days' rest in the joyful city which
she had saved with all its treasures, set out on her return to Chinon.
She found the King at Loches, another of the strong places on the
Loire where there was room for a Court, and means of defence for a
siege should such be necessary, as is the case with so many of these
wonderful castles upon the great French river. Hot with eagerness to
follow up her first great success and accomplish her mission, Jeanne's
object was to march on at once with the young Prince, with or without
his immense retinue, to Rheims where he should be crowned and anointed
King as she had promised. Her instinctive sense of the necessities of
the position, if we use that language--more justly, her boundless
faith in the orders which she believed had been give her from Heaven,
to accomplish this great act without delay, urged her on. She was
straitened, if we may quote the most divine of words, till it should
be accomplished.

But the Maid, flushed with victory, with the shouts of Orleans still
ringing in her ears, the applause of her fellow-soldiers, the sound of
the triumphant bells, was plunged all at once into the indolence, the
intrigues, the busy nothingness of the Court, in which whispering
favourites surrounded a foolish young prince, beguiling him into
foolish amusements, alarming him with coward fears. Wise men and
buffoons alike dragged him down into that paltry abyss, the one always
counselling caution, the other inventing amusements. "Let us eat and
drink for to-morrow we die." Was it worth while to lose everything
that was enjoyable in the present moment, to subject a young sovereign
to toils and excitement, and probable loss, for the uncertain
advantage of a vain ceremony, when he might be enjoying himself safely
and at his ease, throughout the summer months, on the cheerful banks
of the Loire? On the other hand, the Chancellor, the Chamberlains, the
Church, all his graver advisers (with the exception of Gerson, the
great theologian to whom has been ascribed the authorship of the
/Imitation of Christ/, who is reported to have said, "If France
deserts her, and she fails, she is none the less inspired") shook
their hands and advised that the way should be quite safe and free of
danger before the King risked himself upon it. It was thus that Jeanne
was received when, newly alighted from her charger, her shoulder still
but half healed, her eyes scarcely clear of the dust and smoke, she
found herself once more in the ante-chamber, wasting the days, waiting
in vain behind closed doors, tormented by the lutes and madrigals, the
light women and lighter men, useless and contemptible, of a foolish
Court. The Maid, in all the energy and impulse of a success which had
proved all her claims, had also a premonition that her own time was
short, if not a direct intimation, as some believe, to that effect:
and mingled her remonstrances and appeals with the cry of warning: "I
shall only last a year: take the good of me as long as it is

No doubt she was a very great entertainment to the idle seigneurs and
ladies who would try to persuade her to tell them what was to happen
to them, she who had prophesied the death of Glasdale and her own
wound and so many other things. The Duke of Lorraine on her first
setting out had attempted to discover from Jeanne what course his
illness would take, and whether he should get better; and all the
demoiselles and demoiseaux, the flutterers of the ante-chamber, would
be still more likely to surround with their foolish questions the
stout-hearted, impatient girl who had acquired a little of the
roughness of her soldier comrades, and had never been slow at any time
in answering a fool according to his folly; for Jeanne was no meek or
sentimental maiden, but a robust and vigorous young woman, ready with
a quick response, as well as with a ready blow did any one touch her
unadvisedly, or use any inappropriate freedom. At last, one day while
she waited vainly outside the cabinet in which the King was retired
with a few of his councillors, Jeanne's patience failed her
altogether. She knocked at the door, and being admitted threw herself
at the feet of the King. To Jeanne he was no king till he had received
the consecration necessary for every sovereign of France. "Noble
Dauphin," she cried, "why should you hold such long and tedious
councils? Rather come to Rheims and receive your worthy crown."

The Bishop of Castres, Christopher de Harcourt, who was present, asked
her if she would not now in the presence of the King describe to them
the manner in which her council instructed her, when they talked with
her. Jeanne reddened and replied: "I understand that you would like to
know, and I would gladly satisfy you." "Jeanne," said the King in his
turn, "it would be very good if you could do what they ask, in the
presence of those here." She answered at once and with great feeling:
"When I am vexed to find myself disbelieved in the things I say from
God, I retire by myself and pray to God, complaining and asking of Him
why I am not listened to. And when I have prayed I hear a voice which
says, 'Daughter of God, go, go, go! I will help thee, go!' And when I
hear that voice I feel a great joy." Her face shone as she spoke,
"lifting her eyes to heaven," like the face of Moses while still it
bore the reflection of the glory of God, so that the men were dazzled
who sat, speechless, looking on.

The result was that Charles kindly promised to set out as soon as the
road between him and Rheims should be free of the English, especially
the towns on the Loire in which a great part of the army dispersed
from Orleans had taken refuge, with the addition of the auxiliary
forces of Sir John Fastolfe, a name so much feared by the French, but
at which the English reader can scarcely forbear a smile. That the
young King did not think of putting himself at the head of the troops
or of taking part in the campaign shows sufficiently that he was
indeed a /pauvre sire/, unworthy his gallant people. Jeanne, however,
nothing better being possible, seems to have accepted this mission
with readiness, and instantly began her preparations to carry it out.
It is here that the young Seigneur Guy de Laval comes in with his
description of her already quoted. He was no humble squire but a great
personage to whom the King was civil and pleased to show courtesy. The
young man writes to /ses mères/, that is, it seems, his mother and
grandmother, to whom, in their distant château, anxiously awaiting
news of the two youths gone to the wars, their faithful son makes his
report of himself and his brother. The King, he says, sent for the
Maid, in order, Sir Guy believes, that he might see her. And
afterwards the young man went to Selles where she was just setting out
on the campaign.

From Selles, he writes on the 8th June, exactly a month after the
deliverance of Orleans:

"I went to her lodging to see her, and she sent for wine and told
me we should soon drink wine in Paris. It was a miraculous thing
(/toute divine/) to see her and hear her. She left Selles on
Monday at the hour of vespers for Romorantin, the Marshal de
Boussac and a great many armed men with her. I saw her mount her
horse, all in white armour excepting the head, a little axe in her
hand. The great black charger was very restive at her door and
would not let her mount. 'Lead him,' she said, 'to the cross which
is in front of the church,' and there she mounted, the horse
standing still as if he had been bound. Then turning towards the
church which was close by she said in a womanly voice (/assez voix
de femme/), 'You priests and people of the Church, make
processions and prayers to God for us'; then turning to the road,
'Forward,' she said. Her unfolded standard was carried by a page;
she had her little axe in her hand, and by her side rode a brother
who had joined her eight days before. The Maid told me in her
lodging that she had sent you, grandmother, a small gold ring,
which was indeed a very small affair, and that she would fain have
sent you something better, considering your recommendation. To-day
M. d'Alençon, the Bastard of Orleans, and Gaucourt were to leave
Selles, following the Maid. And men are arriving from all parts
every day, all with good hope in God who I believe will help us.
But money there is none at the Court, so that for the present I
have no hope of any help or assistance. Therefore I desire you,
/Madame ma mère/, who have my seal, spare not the land neither in
sale nor mortgage . . . . My much honoured ladies and mothers, I
pray the blessed Son of God that you have a good life and long;
and both of us recommend ourselves to our brother Louis. And we
send our greetings to the reader of this letter. Written from
Selles, Wednesday, 8th June, 1429. This afternoon are arrived M.
de Vendôme, M. de Boussac, and others, and La Hire has joined the
army, and we shall soon be at work (/on besognera bientôt/)--May
God grant that it should be according to your desire."

It was with difficulty that the Duc d'Alençon had been got to start,
his wife consenting with great reluctance. He had been long a prisoner
in England, and had lately been ransomed for a great sum of money;
"Was not that a sufficient sacrifice?" the Duchess asked indignantly.
To risk once more a husband so costly was naturally a painful thing to
do, and why could not Jeanne be content and stay where she was? Jeanne
comforted the lady, perhaps with a little good-humoured contempt.
"Fear nothing, Madame," she said; "I will bring him back to you safe
and sound." Probably Alençon himself had no great desire to be second
in command to this country lass, even though she had delivered
Orleans; and if he set out at all he would have preferred to take
another direction and to protect his own property and province. The
gathering of the army thus becomes visible to us; parties are
continually coming in; and no doubt, as they marched along, many a
little château--and they abound through the country each with its
attendant hamlet--gave forth its master or heir, poor but noble,
followed by as many men-at-arms, perhaps only two or three, as the
little property could raise, to swell the forces with the best and
surest of material, the trained gentlemen with hearts full of chivalry
and pride, but with the same hardy, self-denying habits as the sturdy
peasants who followed them, ready for any privation; with a proud
delight to hear that /on besognera bientôt/--with that St. Michael at
their head, and no longer any fear of the English in their hearts.

The first /besogne/ on which this army entered was the siege of
Jargeau, June 11th, into which town Suffolk had thrown himself and his
troops when the siege of Orleans was raised. The town was strong and
so was the garrison, experienced too in all the arts of war, and
already aware of the wild enthusiasm by which Jeanne was surrounded.
She passed through Orleans on the 10th of June, and had there been
joined by various new detachments. The number of her army was now
raised, we are told, to twelve hundred lances, which means, as each
"lance" was a separate party, about three thousand six hundred men,
though the /Journal du Siège/ gives a much larger number; at all
events it was a small army with which to decide a quarrel between the
two greatest nations of Christendom. Her associates in command were
here once more seized by the prevailing sin of hesitation, and many
arguments were used to induce her to postpone the assault. It would
seem that this hesitation continued until the very moment of attack,
and was only put an end to when Jeanne herself impatiently seized her
banner from the hand of her squire, and planting herself at the foot
of the walls let loose the fervour of the troops and cheered them on
to the irresistible rush in which lay their strength. For it was with
the commanders, not with the followers, that the weakness lay. The
Maid herself was struck on the head by a stone from the battlements
which threw her down; but she sprang up again in a moment unhurt.
"/Sus! Sus!/ Our Lord has condemned the English--all is yours!" she
cried. She would seem to have stood there in her place with her
banner, a rallying-point and centre in the midst of all the confusion
of the fight, taking this for her part in it, and though she is always
in the thick of the combat, never, so far as we are told, striking a
blow, exposed to all the instruments of war, but injured by none. The
effect of her mere attitude, the steadiness of her stand, under the
terrible rain of stone bullets and dreadful arrows, must of itself
have been indescribable.

In the midst of the fiery struggle, there is almost a comic point in
her watch over Alençon, for whose safety she had pledged herself, now
dragging him from a dangerous spot with a cry of warning, now pushing
him forward with an encouraging word. On the first of these occasions
a gentleman of Anjou, M. de Lude, who took his place in the front was
killed, which seems hard upon the poor gentleman, who was probably
quite as well worth caring for as Alençon. "/Avant, gentil duc/," she
cried at another moment, "forward! Are you afraid? you know I promised
your wife to bring you safe home." Thus her voice keeps ringing
through the din, her white armour gleams. "/Sus! Sus!/" the bold cry
is almost audible, sibilant, whistling amid the whistling of the

Suffolk, the English Bayard, the most chivalrous of knights, was at
last forced to yield. One story tells us that he would give up his
sword only to Jeanne herself,[1] but there is a more authentic
description of his selection of one youth among his assailants whom
the quick perceptions of the leader had singled out. "Are you noble?"
Suffolk asks in the brevity of such a crisis. "Yes; Guillame Regnault,
gentleman of Auvergne." "Are you a knight?" "Not yet." The victor put
a knee to the ground before his captive, the vanquished touched him
lightly on the shoulder with the sword which he then gave over to him.
Suffolk was always the finest gentleman, the most perfect gentle
knight of his time.

"Now let us go and see the English of Meung," cried Jeanne,
unwearying, as soon as this victory was assured. That place fell
easily; it is called the bridge of Meung, in the Chronicle, without
further description, therefore presumably the fortress was not
attacked--and they proceeded onward to Beaugency. These towns still
shine over the plain, along the line of the Loire, visible as far as
the eye will carry over the long levels, the great stream linking one
to another like pearls on a thread. There is nothing in the landscape
now to give even a moment's shelter to the progress of a marching army
which must have been seen from afar, wherever it moved; or to veil the
shining battlements, and piled up citadels rising here and there,
concentrated points and centres of life. The great white Castle of
Blois, the darker tower of Beaugency, still stand where they stood
when Jeanne and her men drew near, as conspicuous in their elevation
of walls and towers as if they had been planted on a mountain top. On
more than one occasion during this wonderful progress from victory to
victory, the triumphant leaders returned for a day or two to Orleans
to tell their good tidings, and to celebrate their success.

And there is but one voice as to the military skill which she
displayed in these repeated operations. The reader sees her, with her
banner, posted in the middle of the fight, guiding her men with a sort
of infallible instinct which adds force to her absolute quick
perception of every difficulty and advantage, the unhesitating
promptitude, attending like so many servants upon the inspiration
which is the soul of all. These are things to which a writer ignorant
of war is quite unable to do justice. What was almost more wonderful
still was the manner in which the Maid held her place among the
captains, most of whom would have thwarted her if they could, with a
consciousness of her own superior place, in which there is never the
slightest token of presumption or self-esteem. She guarded and guided
Alençon with a good-natured and affectionate disdain; and when there
was risk of a great quarrel and a splitting of forces she held the
balance like an old and experienced guide of men.

This latter crisis occurred before Beaugency on the 15th of June, when
the Comte de Richemont, Constable of France, the brother of the Duc de
Bretagne, a great nobleman and famous leader, but in disgrace with the
King and exiled from the Court, suddenly appeared with a considerable
army to join himself to the royalist forces, probably with the hope of
securing the leading place. Richemont was no friend to Jeanne; though
he apparently asked her help and influence to reconcile him with the
King. He seems indeed to have thought it a disgrace to France that her
troops should be led, and victories gained by no properly appointed
general, but by a woman, probably a witch, a creature unworthy to
stand before armed men. It must not be forgotten that even now this
was the general opinion of her out of the range of her immediate
influence. The English held it like a religion. Bedford, in his
description of the siege of Orleans and its total failure, reports to
England that the discomfiture of the hitherto always triumphant army
was "caused in great part by the fatal faith and vain fear that the
French had, of a disciple and servant of the enemy of man, called the
Maid, who uses many false enchantments, and witchcraft, by which not
only is the number of our soldiers diminished but their courage
marvellously beaten down, and the boldness of our enemies increased."
Richemont was a sworn enemy of all such. "Never man hated more, all
heresies, sorcerers, and sorceresses, than he; for he burned more in
France, in Poitou, and Bretagne, than any other of his time." The
French generals were divided as to the merits of Richemont and the
advantages to be derived from his support. Alençon, the nominal
commander, declared that he would leave the army if Richemont were
permitted to join it. The letters of the King were equally hostile to
him; but on the other hand there were some who held that the accession
of the Constable was of more importance than all the Maids in France.
It was a moment which demanded very wary guidance. Jeanne, it would
seem, did not regard his arrival with much pleasure; probably even the
increase of her forces did not please her as it would have pleased
most commanders, holding so strongly as she did, to the miraculous
character of her own mission and that it was not so much the strength
of her troops as the help of God that got her the victory. But it was
not her part to reject or alienate any champion of France. We have an
account of their meeting given by a retainer of Richemont, which is
picturesque enough. "The Maid alighted from her horse, and the
Constable also. 'Jeanne,' he said, 'they tell me that you are against
me. I know not if you are from God (/de la part de Dieu/) or not. If
you are from God I do not fear you; if you are of the devil, I fear
you still less.' 'Brave Constable,' said Jeanne, 'you have not come
here by any will of mine; but since you are here you are welcome.'"

Armed neutrality but suspicion on one side, dignified indifference but
acceptance on the other, could not be better shown.

These successes, however, had been attended by various /escarmouches/
going on behind. The English, who had been driven out of one town
after another, had now drawn together under the command of Talbot, and
a party of troops under Fastolfe, who came to relieve them, had turned
back as Jeanne proceeded, making various unsuccessful attempts to
recover what had been lost. Failing in all their efforts they returned
across the country to Genville, and were continuing their retreat to
Paris when the two enemies came within reach of each other. An
encounter in open field was a new experience of which Jeanne as yet
had known nothing. She had been successful in assault, in the
operations of the siege, but to meet the enemy hand to hand in battle
was what she had never been required to do; and every tradition, every
experience, was in favour of the English. From Agincourt to the Battle
of the Herrings at Rouvray near Orleans, which had taken place in the
beginning of the year (a fight so named because the field of battle
had been covered with herrings, the conquerors in this case being
merely the convoy in charge of provisions for the English, which
Fastolfe commanded), such a thing had not been known as that the
French should hold their own, much less attain any victory over the
invaders. In these circumstances there was much talk of falling back
upon the camp near Beaugency and of retreating or avoiding an
engagement; anything rather than hazard one of those encounters which
had infallibly ended in disaster. But Jeanne was of the same mind as
always, to go forward and fear nothing. "Fall upon them! Go at them
boldly," she cried. "If they were in the clouds we should have them.
The gentle King will now gain the greatest victory he has ever had."

It is curious to hear that in that great plain of the Beauce, so flat,
so fertile, with nothing but vines and cornfields now against the
horizon, the two armies at last almost stumbled upon each other by
accident, in the midst of the brushwood by which the country was
wildly overgrown. The story is that a stag roused by the French scouts
rushed into the midst of the English, who were advantageously placed
among the brushwood to arrest the enemy on their march; the wild
creature terrified and flying before an army blundered into the midst
of the others, was fired at and thus betrayed the vicinity of the foe.
The English had no time to form or set up their usual defences. They
were so taken by surprise that the rush of the French came without
warning, with a suddenness which gave it double force. La Hire made
the first attack as leader of the van, and there was thus emulation
between the two parties, which should be first upon the enemy. When
Alençon asked Jeanne what was to be the issue of the fight, she said
calmly, "Have you good spurs?" "What! You mean we shall turn our backs
on our enemies?" cried her questioner. "Not so," she replied. "The
English will not fight, they will fly, and you will want good spurs to
pursue them." Even this somewhat fantastic prophecy put heart into the
men, who up to this time had been wont to fly and not to fight.

And this was what happened, strange as it may seem. Talbot himself was
with the English forces, and many a gallant captain beside: but the
men and their leaders were alike broken in spirit and filled with
superstitious terrors. Whether these were the forces of hell or those
of heaven that came against them no one could be sure; but it was a
power beyond that of earth. The dazzled eyes which seemed to see
flights of white butterflies fluttering about the standard of the
Maid, could scarcely belong to one who thought her a servant of the
enemy of men. But she was a pernicious witch to Talbot, and strangely
enough to Richemont also, who was on her own side. The English force
was thrown into confusion, partly, we may suppose, from the broken
ground on which they were discovered, the undergrowth of the wood
which hid both armies from each other. But soon that disorder turned
into the wildest panic and flight. It would almost seem as if between
these two hereditary opponents one must always be forced into this
miserable part. Not all the chivalry of France had been able to
prevent it at the long string of battles in which they were, before
the revelation of the Maid; and not the desperate and furious valour
of Talbot could preserve his English force from the infection now.
Fastolfe, with the philosophy of an old soldier, deciding that it was
vain to risk his men when the field was already lost, rode off with
all his band. Talbot fought with desperation, half mad with rage to be
thus a second time overcome by so unlikely an adversary, and finally
was taken prisoner; while the whole force behind him fled and were
killed in their flight, the plain being scattered with their dead

Jeanne herself made use of those spurs concerning which she had
enquired, and carried away by the passion of battle, followed in the
pursuit, we are told, until she met a Frenchman brutally ill-using a
prisoner whom he had taken, upon which the Maid, indignant, flung
herself from her horse, and, seating herself on the ground beside the
unfortunate Englishman, took his bleeding head upon her lap and,
sending for a priest, made his departure from life at least as easy as
pity and spiritual consolation could make it on such a disastrous
field. In all the records there is no mention of any actual fighting
on her part. She stands in the thick of the flying arrows with her
banner, exposing herself to every danger; in moments of alarm, when
her forces seem flagging, she seizes and places a ladder against the
wall for an assault, and climbs the first as some say; but we never
see her strike a blow. On the banks of the Loire the fate of the mail-
clad Glasdale, hopeless in the strong stream underneath the ruined
bridge, brought tears to her eyes, and now all the excitement of the
pursuit vanished in an instant from her mind, when she saw the English
man-at-arms dying without the succour of the Church. Pity was always
in her heart; she was ever on the side of the angels, though an angel
of war and not of peace.

It is perhaps because the numbers engaged were so few that this flight
or "Chasse de Patay," has not taken a more important place in the
records of French historians. In general it is only by means of
Fontenoy that the /amour propre/ of the French nation defends itself
against the overwhelming list of battles in which the English have had
the better of it. But this was probably the most complete victory that
has ever been gained over the stubborn enemy whom French tactics are
so seldom able to touch; and the conquerors were purely French without
any alloy of alien arms, except a few Scots, to help them. The entire
campaign on the Loire was one of triumph for the French arms, and of
disaster for the English. They--it is perhaps a point of national
pride to admit it frankly--were as well beaten as heart of Frenchman
could desire, beaten not only in the result, but in the conduct of the
campaign, in heart and in courage, in skill and in genius. There is no
reason in the world why it should not be admitted. But it was not the
French generals, not even Dunois, who secured these victories. It was
the young peasant woman, the dauntless Maid, who underneath the white
mantle of her inspiration, miraculous indeed, but not so miraculous as
this, had already developed the genius of a soldier, and who in her
simplicity, thinking nothing but of her "voices" and the counsel they
gave her, was already the best general of them all.

When Talbot stood before the French generals, no less a person than
Alençon himself is reported to have made a remark to him, of that
ungenerous kind which we call in feminine language "spiteful," and
which is not foreign to the habit of that great nation. "You did not
think this morning what would have happened to you before sunset,"
said the Duc d'Alençon to the prisoner. "It is the fortune of war,"
replied the English chief.

Once more, however it is like a sudden fall from the open air and
sunshine when the victorious army and its chiefs turned back to the
Court where the King and his councillors sat idle, waiting for news of
what was being done for them. A battle-field is no fine sight; the
excitement of the conflict, the great end to be served by it, the
sense of God's special protection, even the tremendous uproar of the
fight, the intoxication of personal action, danger, and success have,
we do not doubt a rapture and passion in them for the moment, which
carry the mind away; but the bravest soldier holds his breath when he
remembers the after scene, the dead and dying, the horrible injuries
inflicted, the loss and misery. However, not even the miserable scene
of the Chasse de Patay is so painful as the reverse of the dismal
picture, the halls of the royal habitation where, while men died for
him almost within hearing of the fiddling and the dances, the young
King trifled away his useless days among his idle favourites, and the
musicians played, the assemblies were held, and all went on as in the
Tuileries. We feel as if we had fallen fathoms deep into the
meannesses of mankind when we come back from the bloodshed and the
horror outside, to the King's presence within. The troops which had
gone out in uncertainty, on an enterprise which might well have proved
too great for them, had returned in full flush of triumph, having at
last fully broken the spell of the English superiority--which was the
greatest victory that could have been achieved: besides gaining the
substantial advantage of three important towns brought back to the
King's allegiance--only to find themselves as little advanced as
before, coming back to the self-same struggle with indolent
complaining, indifference, and ingratitude.

Jeanne had given the signs that had been demanded from her. She had
delivered Orleans, she cleared the King's road toward the north. She
had filled the French forces with an enthusiasm and transport of
valour which swept away all the traditions of ill fortune. From every
point of view the instant march upon Rheims and the accomplishment of
the great object of her mission had not only become practicable, but
was the wisest and most prudent thing to do.

But this was not the opinion of the Chancellor of France, the
Archbishop of Rheims, and La Tremouille, or of the indolent young King
himself, who was very willing to rejoice in the relief from all
immediate danger, the restoration of the surrounding country, and even
the victory itself, if only they would have left him in quiet where he
was, sufficiently comfortable, amused, and happy, without forcing
necessary dangers. Jeanne's successes and her unseasonable zeal and
the commotion that she and her train of captains made, pouring in, in
all the excitement of their triumph, into the midst of the madrigals--
seem to have been anything but welcome. Go to Rheims to be crowned?
yes, some time when it was convenient, when it was safe. But in the
meantime what was more important was to forbid Richemont, whom the
Chancellor hated and the King did not love, to come into the presence
or to have any share either in warfare or in pageant. This was not
only in itself an extremely foolish thing to do, which is always a
recommendation, but it was at the same time an excuse for wasting a
little precious time. When this was at last accomplished, and
Richemont, though deeply wounded and offended, proved himself so much
a man of honour and a patriot, that though dismissed by the King he
still upheld, if languidly, his cause--there was yet a great deal of
resistance to be overcome. Paris though so far off was thrown into
great excitement and alarm by the flight at Patay, and the whole city
was in commotion fearing an immediate advance and attack. But in
Loches, or wherever Charles may have been, it was all taken very
easily. Fastolfe, the fugitive, had his Garter taken from him as the
greatest disgrace that could be inflicted, for his shameful flight,
about the time when Richemont, one of the victors, was being sent off
and disgraced on the other side for the crime of having helped to
inflict, without the consent of the King, the greatest blow which had
yet been given to the English domination! So the Court held on its
ridiculous and fatal course.

However the force of public feeling which must have been very frankly
expressed by many important voices was too much for Charles and he was
at length compelled to put himself in motion. The army had assembled
at Gien, where he joined it, and the great wave of enthusiasm awakened
by Jeanne, and on which he now moved forth as on the top of the wave,
was for the time triumphant. No one dared say now that the Maid was a
sorceress, or that it was by the aid of Beelzebub that she cast out
devils; but a hundred jealousies and hatreds worked against her behind
backs, among the courtiers, among the clergy, strange as that may
sound, in sight of the absolute devotion of her mind, and the saintly
life she led. So much was this the case still, notwithstanding the
practical proofs she had given of her claims, that even persons of
kindred mind, partially sharing her inspirations, such as the famous
Brother Richard of Troyes, looked upon her with suspicion and alarm--
fearing a delusion of Satan. It is more easy perhaps to understand why
the archbishops and bishops should have been inclined against her,
since, though perfectly orthodox and a good Catholic, Jeanne had been
independent of all priestly guidance and had sought no sanction from
the Church to her commission, which she believed to be given by
Heaven. "Give God the praise; but we know that this woman is a
sinner." This was the best they could find to say of her in the moment
of her greatest victories; but indeed it is no disparagement to Jeanne
or to any saint that she should share with her Master the opprobrium
of such words as these.

At last however a reluctant start was made. Jeanne with her "people,"
her little staff, in which, now, were two of her brothers, a second
having joined her after Orleans, left Gien on the 28th of June; and
the next day the King very unwillingly set out. There is given a long
list of generals who surrounded and accompanied him, three or four
princes of the blood, the Bastard of Orleans, the Archbishop of
Rheims, marshals, admirals, and innumerable seigneurs, among whom was
our young Guy de Laval who wrote the letter to his "mothers" which we
have already quoted and whose faith in the Maid we thus know; and our
ever faithful La Hire, the big-voiced Gascon who had permission to
swear by his /bâton/, the d'Artagnan of this history. We reckon these
names as those of friends: Dunois the ever-brave, Alençon the /gentil
Duc/ for whom Jeanne had a special and protecting kindness, La Hire
the rough captain of Free Lances, and the graceful young seigneur, Sir
Guy as we should have called him had he been English, who was so ready
to sell or mortgage his land that he might convey his troop
befittingly to the wars. This little group brightens the march for us
with their friendly faces. We know that they have but one thought of
the warrior maiden in whose genius they had begun to have a wondering
confidence as well as in her divine mission. While they were there we
feel that she had at least so many who understood her, and who bore
her the affection of brothers. We are told that in the progress of the
army Jeanne had no definite place. She rode where she pleased,
sometimes in the front, sometimes in the rear. One imagines with
pleasure that wherever her charger passed along the lines it would be
accompanied by one or other of those valiant and faithful companions.

The first place at which a halt was made was Auxerre, a town occupied
chiefly by Burgundians, which closed its gates, but by means of
bribes, partly of provisions to be supplied, partly of gifts to La
Tremouille, secured itself from the attack which Jeanne longed to
lead. Other smaller strongholds on the road yielded without
hesitation. At last they came to Troyes, a large and strong place,
well garrisoned and confident in its strength, the town distinguished
in the history of the time by the treaty made there, by which the
young King had been disinherited--and by the marriage of Henry of
England with the Princess Catherine of France, in whose right he was
to succeed to the throne. It was an ill-omened place for a French king
and the camp was torn with dissensions. Should the army march by,
taking no notice of it and so get all the sooner to Rheims? or should
they pause first, to try their fortune against those solid walls? But
indeed it was not the camp that debated this question. The camp was of
Jeanne's mind whichever side she took, and her side was always that of
the promptest action. The garrison made a bold sortie, the very day of
the arrival of Charles and his forces, but had been beaten back: and
the King encamped under the walls, wavering and uncertain whether he
might not still depart on the morrow, but sending a repeated summons
to surrender, to which no attention was paid.

Once more there was a pause of indecision; the King was not bold
enough either to push on and leave the city, or to attack it. Again
councils of war succeeded each other day after day, discussing the
matter over and over, leaving the King each time more doubtful, more
timid than before. From these debates Jeanne was anxiously held back,
while every silken fool gave his opinion. At last, one of the
councillors was stirred by this strange anomaly. He declared among
them all, that as it was by the advice of the Maid that the expedition
had been undertaken, without her acquiescence it ought not to be
abandoned. "When the King set out it was not because of the great
puissance of the army he then had with him, or the great treasure he
had to provide for them, nor yet because it seemed to him a probable
thing to be accomplished; but the said expedition was undertaken
solely at the suit of the said Jeanne, who urged him constantly to go
forward, to be crowned at Rheims, and that he should find little
resistance, for it was the pleasure and will of God. If the said
Jeanne is not to be allowed to give her advice now, it is my opinion
that we should turn back," said the Seigneur de Treves, who had never
been a partisan of or believer in Jeanne. We are told that at this
fortunate moment when one of her opponents had thus pronounced in her
favour, Jeanne, impatient and restless, knocked at the door of the
council chamber as she had done before in her rustic boldness; and
then there occurred a brief and characteristic dialogue.

"Jeanne," said the Archbishop of Rheims, taking the first word,
probably with the ready instinct of a conspirator to excuse himself
from having helped to shut her out, "the King and his council are in
great perplexity to know what they should do."

"Shall I be believed if I speak?" said the Maid.

"I cannot tell," replied the King, interposing; "though if you say
things that are reasonable and profitable, I shall certainly believe

"Shall I be believed?" she repeated.

"Yes," said the King, "according as you speak."

"Noble Dauphin," she exclaimed, "order your people to assault the city
of Troyes, to hold no more councils; for, by my God, in three days I
will introduce you into the town of Troyes, by love or by force, and
false Burgundy shall be dismayed."

"Jeanne," said the Chancellor, "if you could do that in six days, we
might well wait."

"You shall be master of the place," said the Maid, addressing herself
steadily to the King, "not in six days, but to-morrow."

And then there occurred once more the now habitual scene. It was no
longer the miracle it had been to see her dash forward to her post
under the walls with her standard which was the signal for battle, to
which the impatient troops responded, confident in her, as she in
herself. But for the first time we hear how the young general,
learning her trade of war day by day, made her preparations for the
siege. She was a gunner born, according to all we hear, and was quick
to perceive the advantage of her rude artillery though she had never
seen one of these /bouches de feu/ till she encountered them at
Orleans. The whole army was set to work during the night, knights and
men-at-arms alike, to raise--with any kind of handy material, palings
faggots, tables, even doors and windows, taken it must be feared from
some neighbouring village or faubourg--a mound on which to place the
guns. The country as we have said is as flat as the palm of one's
hand. They worked all night under cover of the darkness with
incredible devotion, while the alarmed townsfolk not knowing what was
being done, but no doubt divining something from the unusual
commotion, betook themselves to the churches to pray, and began to
ponder whether after all it might not be better to join the King whose
armies were led by St. Michael himself in the person of his
representative, than to risk a siege. Once more the spell of the Maid
fell on the defenders of the place. It was witchcraft, it was some
vile art. They had no heart to man the battlements, to fight like
their brothers at Orleans and Jargeau in face of all the powers of the
evil one: the cry of "/Sus! Sus!/" was like the death-knell in their

While the soldiers within the walls were thus trembling and drawing
back, the bishop and his clergy took the matter in hand; they sallied
forth, a long procession attended by half the city, to parley with the
King. It was in the earliest dawn, while yet the peaceful world was
scarcely awake; but the town had been in commotion all night, every
visionary person in it seeing visions and dreaming dreams, and a panic
of superstition and spiritual terror taking the strength out of every
arm. Jeanne was already at her post, a glimmering white figure in the
faint and visionary twilight of the morning, when the gates of the
city swung back before this tremulous procession. The King, however,
received the envoys graciously, and readily promised to guarantee all
the rights of Troyes, and to permit the garrison to depart in peace,
if the town was given up to him. We are not told whether the Maid
acquiesced in this arrangement, though it at once secured the
fulfilment of her prophecy; but in any case she would seem to have
been suspicious of the good faith of the departing garrison. Instead
of retiring to her tent she took her place at the gate, watchful, to
see the enemy march forth. And her suspicion was not without reason.
The allied troops, English and Burgundian, poured forth from the city
gates, crestfallen, unwilling to look the way of the white witch, who
might for aught they knew lay them under some dreadful spell, even in
the moment of passing. But in the midst of them came a darker band,
the French prisoners whom they had previously taken, who were as a
sort of funded capital in their hands, each man worth so much money as
a ransom, It was for this that Jeanne had prepared herself. "/En nom
Dieu/," she cried, "they shall not be carried away." The march was
stopped, the alarm given, the King unwillingly aroused once more from
his slumbers. Charles must have been disturbed at the most untimely
hour by the ambassadors from the town, and it mattered little to his
supreme indolence and indifference what might happen to his
unfortunate lieges; but he was forced to bestir himself, and even to
give something from his impoverished exchequer for the ransom of the
prisoners, which must have been more disagreeable still. The feelings
of these men who would have been dragged away in captivity under the
eyes of their victorious countrymen, but for the vigilance of the
Maid, may easily be imagined.

Jeanne seems to have entered the town at once, to prepare for the
reception of the King, and to take instant possession of the place,
forestalling all further impediment. The people in the streets,
however, received her in a very different way from those of Orleans,
with trouble and alarm, staring at her as at a dangerous and malignant
visitor. The Brother Richard, before mentioned, the great preacher and
reformer, was the oracle of Troyes, and held the conscience of the
city in his hands. When he suddenly appeared to confront her, every
eye was turned upon them. But the friar himself was in no less doubt
than his disciples; he approached her dubiously, crossing himself,
making the sacred sign in the air, and sprinkling a shower of holy
water before him to drive away the demon, if demon there was. Jeanne
was not unused to support the rudest accost, and her frank voice,
still /assez femme/, made itself heard over every clamour. "Come on, I
shall not fly away," she cried, with, one hopes, a laugh of confident
innocence and good-humour, in face of those significant gestures and
the terrified looks of all about her. French art has been unkind to
Jeanne, occupying itself very little about her till recently; but her
short career is full of pictures. Here the simple page grows bright
with the ancient houses and highly coloured crowd: the frightened and
eager faces at every window, the white warrior in the midst, sending
forth a thousand rays from the polished steel and silver of
breastplate and helmet: and the brown Franciscan monk advancing amid a
shower of water drops, a mysterious repetition of signs. It gives us
an extraordinary epitome of the history of France at that period to
turn from this scene to the wild enthusiasm of Orleans, its crowd of
people thronging about her, its shouts rending the air; while Troyes
was full of terror, doubt, and ill-will, though its nearest neighbour,
so to speak, the next town, and so short a distance away.

A little later in the same day, the next after the surrender, Jeanne,
riding with her standard by the side of the King, conducted him to the
cathedral where he confirmed his previous promises and received the
homage of the town. It was a beautiful sight, the chronicle tells us,
to see all these magnificent people, so well dressed and well mounted;
"/il feroit très beau voir./"

The fate of Troyes decided that of Chalons, the only other important
town on the way, the gates of which were thrown open as Charles and
his army, which grew and increased every day, proceeded on its road.
Every promise of the Maid had been so far accomplished, both in the
greater object and in the details: and now there was nothing between
Charles the disinherited and almost ruined Dauphin of three months
ago, trying to forget himself in the seclusion and the sports of
Chinon--and the sacred ceremonial which drew with it every tradition
and every assurance of an ancient and lawful throne.

Jeanne had her little adventure, personal to herself on the way.
Though there were neither posts nor telegraphs in those days, there
has always been a strange swift current in the air or soil which has
conveyed news, in a great national crisis, from one end of the country
to the other. It was not so great a distance to Domremy on the Meuse
from Troyes on the Loire, and it appears that a little group of
peasants, bolder than the rest, had come forth to hang about the road
when the army passed and see what was so fine a sight, and perhaps to
catch a glimpse of their /payse/, their little neighbour, the
/commère/ who was godmother to Gerard d'Epinal's child, the youthful
gossip of his young wife--but who was now, if all tales were true, a
great person, and rode by the side of the King. They went as far as
Chalons to see if perhaps all this were true and not a fable; and no
doubt stood astonished to see her ride by, to hear all the marvellous
tales that were told of her, and to assure themselves that it was
truly Jeanne upon whom, more than upon the King, every eye was bent.
This small scene in the midst of so many great ones would probably
have been the most interesting of all had it been told us at any
length. The peasant travellers surrounded her with wistful questions,
with wonder and admiration. Was she never afraid among all those risks
of war, when the arrows hailed about her and the /bouches de feu/, the
mouths of fire, bellowed and flung forth great stones and bullets upon
her? "I fear nothing but treason," said the victorious Maid. She knew,
though her humble visitors did not, how that base thing skulked at her
heels, and infested every path. It must not be forgotten that this
wonderful and victorious campaign, with all its lists of towns taken
and armies discomfited, lasted six weeks only, almost every day of
which was distinguished by some victory.
[1] The former story was written in 1429, by the Greffier of Rochelle.
"I will yield me only to her, the most valiant woman in the
world." The Greffier was writing at the moment, but not, of
course, as an eyewitness.--A. L.


JULY 17, 1429.

The road was now clear, and even the most timid of counsellors could
not longer hold back the most indolent of kings. Jeanne had kept her
word once more and fulfilled her own prophecy, and a force of
enthusiasm and certainty, not to be put down, pressed forward the
unwilling Court towards the great ceremonial of the coronation, to
which all except those most chiefly concerned attached so great an
importance. Charles would have hesitated still, and questioned the
possibility of resistance on the part of Rheims, if that city had not
sent a deputation of citizens with the keys of the town, to meet him.
After this it was but a triumphal march into the sacred place, where
the great cathedral dominated a swarming, busy, mediæval city. King
and Archbishop had a double triumph, for the priest like the monarch
had been shut out from his lawful throne, and it was only in the train
of the Maid that this great ecclesiastic was able to take possession
of his dignities. The King alighted with the Archbishop at the
Archevêché which is close to the cathedral, an immense, old palace in
which the heads of the expedition were lodged. There is a magnificent
old hall still remaining in which no doubt they all assembled,
scarcely able to believe that their object was accomplished and that
the King of France was actually in Rheims, and all the prophecies
fulfilled. The Archbishop marched into the city in the morning;
Charles and his Court, and all his great seigneurs, and the body of
his army, in which there were many fighting men half armed, and some
in their rustic clothes as they had left their fields to join the King
in his march--poured in in the evening, after the ecclesiastical
procession, filling the town with commotion. Jeanne rode beside the
King, her banner in her hand. It was July, the vigil of the Madeleine,
and every church poured forth its crowd to witness the entry, and the
populace, half troubled, half glad, gazed its eyes out upon the white
warrior at the side of the King. Her father and uncle were there to
meet her at the old inn in the Place, which still proudly preserves
the record of the peasant guests: two astonished rustics, no doubt,
were thrust forth from some window to watch that incredible sight--
Jacques who would rather have drowned his daughter with his own hands,
than have seen her thus launched among men, gazing still aghast at the
resplendent figure of the chevalière at the head of the procession.
This was very different from what he had thought of when his village
respectability was tortured by the idea of his girl among the
troopers, yet probably the rigid peasant had never changed his mind.

We are told by M. Blaze de Bury of an ancient custom which we do not
find stated elsewhere. A platform was erected, he tells us, outside
the choir of the cathedral to which the King was led the evening
before the coronation, surrounded by his peers, who showed him to the
assembled people with a traditional proclamation: "Here is your King
whom we, peers of France, crown as King and sovereign lord. And if
there is a soul here which has any objection to make, let him speak
and we will answer him. And to-morrow he shall be consecrated by the
grace of the Holy Spirit if you have nothing to say against it." The
people replied by cries of "Noël, Noël!" It is not to be supposed that
the veto of the people of Rheims would have been effectual had they
opposed: but the scene is wonderfully picturesque. No doubt Jeanne too
was there, watching over her King, as she seems to have done, like a
mother over her child, at this crisis of his affairs.

That night there was little sleep in Rheims, for everything had to be
prepared in haste, the decorations of the cathedral, the provisions
for the ceremonial. Many of the necessary articles were at Saint Denis
in the hands of the English, and the treasury of the cathedral had to
be ransacked to find the fitting vessels. Fortunately it was rich,
more rich probably than it is now, when the commonplace silver of the
beginning of this century has replaced the ancient vials. Through the
short summer night everyone was at work in these preparations; and by
the dawn of day visitors began to flow into the city, great personages
and small, to attend the great ceremonial and to pay their homage. The
greatest of all was the Duke of Lorraine, he who had consulted Jeanne
about his health, husband of the heiress of that rich principality,
and son of Queen Yolande who was no doubt with the Court. All France
seemed to pour into the famous town, where so important an act was
about to be accomplished, with money and wine flowing on all hands,
and the enthusiasm growing along with the popular excitement and
profit. Even great London is stirred to its limits, many miles off
from the centre of proceedings, by such a great event; how much more
the little mediæval city, in which every one might hope to see
something of the pageant, as one shining group after another, with
armour blazing in the sun, and sleek horses caracoling, arrived at the
great gates of the Archevêché: and lesser parties scarcely less
interesting poured in in need of lodging, of equipment and provisions;
while every housewife searched her stores for a piece of brilliant
stuff, of old silk or embroidery, to make her house shine like the

Early in the morning, a wonderful procession came out of the
Archbishop's house. Four splendid peers of France, in full armour with
their banners, rode through the streets to the old Abbey of Saint Remy
--the old church which Leo IX. consecrated, in the eleventh century,
on an equally splendid occasion, and which may still be seen to-day--
to fetch from its shrine, where it was strictly guarded by the monks,
the Sainte Ampoule, the holy and sacred vial in which the oil of
consecration had been sent to Clovis out of Heaven. These noble
messengers were the "hostages" of this sacred charge, engaging
themselves by an oath never to lose sight of it by night or day, till
it was restored to its appointed guardians. This vow having been made,
the Abbot of St. Remy, in his richest robes, appeared surrounded by
his monks, carrying the treasure in his hands; and under a splendid
canopy, blazing in the sunshine with cloth of gold, marched towards
the cathedral under the escort of the Knights Hostages, blazing also
in the flashes of their armour. This procession was met half-way,
before the Church of St. Denis, by another, that of the Archbishop and
his train, to whom the holy oil was solemnly confided, and carried by
them to the cathedral, already filled by a dazzled and dazzling crowd.

The Maid had her occupations this July morning like the rest. We hear
nothing of any interview with her father, or with Durand the good
uncle who had helped her in the beginning of her career; though it was
Durand who was sent for to the King and questioned as to Jeanne's life
in her childhood and early youth; which we may take as proof that
Jacques d'Arc still stood aloof, /dour/, as a Scotch peasant father
might have been, suspicious of his daughter's intimacy with all these
fine people, and in no way cured of his objections to the publicity
which is little less than shame to such rugged folk. And there were
his two sons who would take him about, and with whom probably in their
easier commonplace he was more at home than with Jeanne. What the Maid
had to do on the morning of the coronation day was something very
different from any home talk with her relations. She who felt herself
commissioned not only to lead the armies of France, but to deal with
her princes and take part in her councils, occupied the morning in
dictating a letter to the Duke of Burgundy. She had summoned the
English by letter three times repeated, to withdraw peaceably from the
possessions which by God's will were French. It was with still better
reason that she summoned Philip of Burgundy to renounce his feud with
his cousin, and thus to heal the breach which had torn France in two:


High and redoubtable Prince, Duke of Burgundy. Jeanne the Maid
requires on the part of the King of Heaven, my most just sovereign
and Lord (/mon droicturier souverain seigneur/), that the King of
France and you make peace between yourselves, firm, strong and
that will endure. Pardon each other of good heart, entirely, as
loyal Christians ought to do, and if you desire to fight let it be
against the Saracens. Prince of Burgundy, I pray, supplicate, and
require, as humbly as may be, fight no longer against the holy
kingdom of France: withdraw, at once and speedily, your people who
are in any strongholds or fortresses of the said holy kingdom; and
on the part of the gentle King of France, he is ready to make
peace with you, having respect to his honour, and upon your life
that you never will gain a battle against loyal Frenchmen and that
all those who war against the said holy kingdom of France, war
against the King Jesus, King of Heaven and of all the world and my
just and sovereign Lord. And I pray and require with clasped hands
that you fight not, nor make any battle against us, neither your
friends nor your subjects; but believe always however great in
number may be the men you lead against us, that you will never
win, and it would be great pity for the great battle and the blood
that would be shed of those who came against us. Three weeks ago I
sent you a letter by a herald that you should be present at the
consecration of the King, which to-day, Sunday, the seventeenth of
the present month of July, is done in the city of Rheims: to which
I have had no answer, nor even any news by the said herald. To God
I commend you, and may He be your guard if it pleases Him, and I
pray God to make good peace.

Written at the aforesaid Rheims, the seventeenth day of July,

When the letter was finished Jeanne put on her armour and prepared for
the great ceremony. We are not told what part she took in it, nor is
any more prominent position assigned to her than among the noble crowd
of peers and generals who surrounded the altar, where her place would
naturally be, upon the broad raised platform of the choir, so
excellently adapted for such ceremonies. Her banner we are told was
borne into the cathedral, in order, as she proudly explained
afterwards, that having been foremost in the danger it should share
the honour.

But we have no right to suppose that the Maid took the position of the
chief actor in the pageant and stood alone by the side of Charles, as
the exigencies of the pictorial art have required her to do. When,
however, the ceremony was completed, and he had received on his knees
the anointing which separated him as king from every other class of
men, and while the lofty vaults echoed with the cries of Noël! Noël!
by which the people hailed the completed ceremony, Jeanne could
contain herself no longer. The object was attained for which she had
laboured and struggled, and overcome every opponent. She stepped
forward out of the brilliant crowd, and threw herself at the feet of
the now crowned monarch, embracing his knees. "Gentle King," she cried
with tears, "now is the pleasure of God fulfilled--whose will it was
that I should raise the siege of Orleans and lead you to this city of
Rheims to receive your consecration. Now has He shown that you are
true King, and that the kingdom of France truly belongs to you alone."

Those broken words, her tears, the cry of that profound satisfaction
which is almost anguish, the "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant
depart in peace," which is so suitable to the lips of the old, so
poignant from those of the young, pierced all hearts. It is added that
she asked leave to withdraw, her work being done, and that all who saw
her were filled with sympathy. It was no doubt the irresistible
outburst of a heart too full; and though that fulness was all joy and
triumph, yet there was in it a sense of completed work, a rending
asunder and tearing away from life, the end of a wonderful and
triumphant tale.

There is a considerable controversy as to the precise meaning of that
outburst of emotion. Did the Maid mean that her work was over, and her
divine mission fulfilled? Was this all that she believed herself to be
appointed to do? or did she expect, as she sometimes said, to /bouter/
the English out of France altogether? In the one case she ought to
have relinquished her work, and in not doing so she acted without the
protection of God which had hitherto made her invulnerable. In the
other, her "voices," her inspiration, must have failed her, for her
course of triumph went no farther. It is impossible to decide between
these contending theories. She did speak in both senses, sometimes
declaring that she was to take Paris, sometimes, her intention to
/bouter/ the English out of the kingdom. At the same time she betrayed
a constant conviction that her office had limitations and must come to
an end. "I will last but a year," she said to the King and to Alençon.
The testimony of Dunois seems to be the best we can have on this
point. He says in his deposition, made many years after her death:
"Although Jeanne sometimes talked playfully to amuse people, of things
concerning the war which were not afterwards accomplished, yet when
she spoke seriously of the war, and of her own career and her
vocation, she never affirmed anything but that she was sent to raise
the siege of Orleans and to lead the King to Rheims to be crowned."

If this were so was she wrong in continuing her warfare, and did she
place herself in the position of one who goes on her own charges,
finding the mission from on high unnecessary? Or in the other case did
her inspiration fail her, or were the intrigues of Charles and his
Court sufficient to balk the designs of Heaven? We prefer to think
that Jeanne's commission concerned only those two things which she
accomplished so completely; but that in continuing the war, she acted
only as a well inspired and honourable young soldier might, though no
longer as the direct messenger of God. She had as much right to do so
as to return to her distaff or her needle in her native village; but
she became subject to all the ordinary laws of war by so doing,
exposed herself to be taken or overthrown like any man-at-arms, and
accepted that risk. What is certain is, that every intrigue sprang up
again afresh on the evening of that brilliant and triumphant
ceremonial, and that from the moment of the accomplishment of her
great work the failure of the Maid began.

These intrigues had been in her way since her very first beginning, as
has been seen. At Orleans, in the very field as well as in the council
chamber and the presence, everything was done to balk her, and to
cross her plans, but in vain; she triumphed over every contrivance
against her, and broke through the plots, and overcame the plotters.
But after Rheims the combination of dangers became ever greater and
greater, and we may say that no merely human general would have had a
chance in face of the many and bewildering influences of evil. Charles
who was himself, at least at this period of his career, sufficiently
indolent and unenterprising to have damped the energies of any
commander, was, in addition, surrounded by advisers who had always
been impatient and jealous of the interference of Jeanne, and would
have cast her off as a witch, or passed her by as an impostor, had
that been possible, without permitting her to strike a blow. They had
now grudgingly made use of her, or rather, for this is too much to
say, had permitted her action where they had no power to restrain it:
but they were as little friendly, as malignant in their treatment of
the Maid as ever, and more hopeful, now that so much had been done by
her means, of being able to shake her off and pursue their fate in
their own way.

The position of Charles crowned King of France with all the
traditional pomp, master of the Orleannais, with fresh bands of
supporters coming in to swell his army day by day, and Paris itself
almost within his reach, was very different from that of the
discredited Dauphin at Chinon, whom half the world believed to have no
right to the crown which his own mother had signed away from him, and
who wasted his idle days in folly to the profit of the greedy
councillors who schemed and trafficked with his enemies, and to the
destruction of all his hopes. The strange apparition of virginal
purity, energy, and faith which had taken up and saved him against his
will and all his efforts had not ceased for a moment to be hateful to
La Tremouille and his party; and Charles--though he seems to have had
a certain appreciation of the Maid, and even a liking for her frank
and fearless character, apart from any faith in her mission--was far
too ready to accept the facts of the moment, and probably to believe
that, after all, his own worth and favour with Heaven had a great deal
to do with this dazzling triumph and success: certainly he was not the
man to make any stand for his deliverer. But that she was an auxiliary
too important to be sent away was reluctantly apparent to them all. To
keep her as a sort of tame angel about the Court in order to be
produced when she was wanted, to put heart into the soldiers and
frighten the English as she certainly had the gift of doing, no doubt
appeared to all as a thing desirable enough. And they dared not let
her go "because of the people," nor, may we believe, would Alençon,
Dunois, La Hire, and the rest have tolerated thus the abandonment of
their comrade. To dismiss her even at her own word would have been
impossible, and it is hard to believe that Jeanne, after that
extraordinary brief career as a triumphant general and leader, could
have gone back to her father's cottage of the village, though she
thought she would fain have done so. If we are to believe that she
felt her mission to be fulfilled, she was yet mistress of her fate to
serve France and the King as seemed best.

And we have no evidence that her "voices" forsook her, or discouraged
her. They seem to have changed a little in their burden, they began to
mingle a sadder tone in their intimations. It began to be breathed
into her mind though not immediately, that something was to happen to
her, some disaster not explained, yet that God was to be with her. It
seems to me that all the circumstances are compatible with a change in
Jeanne's consciousness, from the moment of the coronation. It might
have been a grander thing had she retired there and then, her work
being accomplished as she declared it to be; but it would not have
been human. She was still a power, if no longer the direct messenger
from Heaven; a general, with much skill and natural aptitude if not
the Sent of God; and the ardour of a military career had got into her
veins. No doubt she was much more good for that, now, than for sitting
by the side of Isabeau d'Arc at Domremy, and working even into a piece
of embroidery for the altar, her remembrances and visions of camp and
siege and the intoxication of victory. She remained, conscious that
she was no longer exactly as of old, to fight not only against the
English, but with intimate enemies, far more bitter, whom now she
knew, against the ordinary fortune of war, and against that which is a
thousand times worse, the hatred and envy, the cruel carelessness, and
the malignant schemes of her own countrymen for whom she had fought.

This, so far as we can judge, appears to be the position of Jeanne in
the second portion of her career; perhaps only dimly apprehended and
at moments, by herself; not much thought of probably by those around
her, the wisest of whom had always been sceptical of her divine
commission; while the populace never saw any change in her, and
believed that at one time as well as at another the Maid was the Maid,
and had victory at her command. And no doubt that influence would have
endured for some time at least, and her dauntless rush against every
obstacle would have carried success with it, had she been able to
carry out her plans, and fly forth upon Paris as she had done upon
Orleans, carrying on the campaign swiftly, promptly, without pause or
uncertainty. Bedford himself said that Paris "would fall at a blow,"
if she came on. It had been hard enough, however, to do that, as we
have seen, when she was the only hope of France and had the fire of
the divine enthusiasm in her veins; but it was still more hard now to
mould a young King elated with triumph, beginning to feel the crown
safe upon his head, and to feel that if there was still much to gain,
there was now a great deal to be lost. The position was complicated
and made more difficult for Jeanne by every advantage she had gained.

In the meantime the secret negotiations, which were always being
carried on under the surface, had come to this point, that Charles had
made a private treaty with Philip of Burgundy by which that prince
pledged himself to give up Paris into the King's hands within fifteen
days. This agreement furnished a sufficient pretext for the delay in
marching against Paris, delay which was Charles's invariable method,
and which but for Jeanne's hardihood and determination, had all but
crushed the expedition to Rheims itself. It was never with any will of
his or of his adviser, La Tremouille, that any stronghold was
assailed. He would fain have passed by Troyes, as the reader will
remember, he would fain have delayed going to Rheims; in each case he
had been forced to move by the impetuosity of the Maid. But a treaty
which touched the honour of the King was a different matter. Philip of
Burgundy, with whom it was made, seems to have held the key of the
position. He was called to Paris by Bedford on one side to defend the
city against its lawful King; he had pledged himself on the other to
Charles to give it up. He had in his hands, though it is uncertain
whether he ever read it, that missive of the sorceress, the letter of
Jeanne which I have quoted, calling upon him on the part of God to
make peace. What was he to do? There were reasons drawing him to both
sides. He was the enemy of Charles on account of the murder of his
father, and therefore had every interest in keeping Paris from him; he
was angry with the English on account of the marriage of the Duke of
Gloucester with Jacqueline of Brabant, which interfered with his own
rights and safety in Flanders, and therefore might have served himself
by giving up the capital to the King. As for the appeal of Jeanne,
what was the letter of that mad creature to a prince and statesman?
The progress of affairs was arrested by this double problem. Jeanne
had been the prominent, the only important figure in the history of
France for some months past. Now that shining figure was jostled
aside, and the ordinary laws of life, with all the counter changes of
negotiation, the ineffectual comings and goings, the meaner half-seen
persons, the fierce contending personal interests--in which there was
no love of either God or man, or any elevated notion of patriotism--
came again into play.

Jeanne would seem to have already foreseen and felt this change even
before she left Rheims; there is a new tone of sadness in some of her
recorded words; or if not of sadness, at least of consciousness that
an end was approaching to all these triumphs and splendours. The
following tale is told in various different versions, as occurring
with different people; but the account I give is taken from the lips
of Dunois himself, a very competent witness. As the King, after his
coronation, wended his way through the country, receiving submission
and joyous welcome from every village and little town, it happened
that while passing through the town of La Ferté, Jeanne rode between
the Archbishop of Rheims and Dunois. The Archbishop had never been
friendly to the Maid, and now it was clear, watched her with that half
satirical, half amused look of the wise man, curious and cynical in
presence of the incomprehensible, observing her ways and very ready to
catch her tripping and to entangle her if possible in her own words.
The people thronged the way, full of enthusiasm, acclaiming the King
and shouting their joyful exclamations of "Noël!" though it does not
appear that any part of their devotion was addressed to Jeanne
herself. "Oh, the good people," she cried with tears in her eyes, "how
joyful they are to see their noble King! And how happy should I be to
end my days and be buried here among them!" The priest unmoved by such
an exclamation from so young a mouth attempted instantly, like the
Jewish doctors with our Lord, to catch her in her words and draw from
her some expression that might be used against her. "Jeanne," he said,
"in what place do you expect to die?" It was a direct challenge to the
messenger of Heaven to take upon herself the gift of prophecy. But
Jeanne in her simplicity shattered the snare which probably she did
not even perceive: "When it pleases God," she said. "I know neither
the place nor the time."

It was enough, however, that she should think of death and of the
sweetness of it, after her work accomplished, in the very moment of
her height of triumph--to show something of a new leaven working in
her virgin soul.

One characteristic reward, however, Jeanne did receive. Her father and
uncle were lodged at the public cost as benefactors of the kingdom, as
may still be seen by the inscription on the old inn in the great Place
at Rheims; and when Jacques d'Arc left the city he carried with him a
patent--better than one of nobility which, however, came to the family
later--of exemption for the villages of Domremy and Greux of all taxes
and tributes; "an exemption maintained and confirmed up to the
Revolution, in favour of the said Maid, native of that parish, in
which are her relations." "In the register of the Exchequer," says M.
Blaze de Bury, "at the name of the parish of Greux and Domremy, the
place for the receipt is blank, with these words as explanation: /à
cause de la Pucelle/, on account of the Maid." There could not have
been a more delightful reward or one more after her own heart. It
would be a graceful act of the France of to-day, which has so warmly
revived the name and image of her maiden deliverer, to renew so
touching a distinction to her native place.

We are told that Jeanne parted with her father and uncle with tears,
longing that she might return with them and go back to her mother who
would rejoice to see her again. This was no doubt quite true, though
it might be equally true that she could not have gone back. Did not
the father return, a little sullen, grasping the present he had
himself received, not sure still that it was not disreputable to have
a daughter who wore coat armour and rode by the side of the King, a
position certainly not proper for maidens of humble birth? The dazzled
peasants turned their backs upon her while she was thus at the height
of glory, and never, so far as appears, saw her face again.



The epic so brief, so exciting, so full of wonder had now reached its
climax. Whatever we may think on the question as to whether Jeanne had
now reached the limit of her commission, it is at least evident that
she had reached the highest point of her triumph, and that her short
day of glory and success came to an end in the great act which she had
always spoken of as her chief object. She had crowned her King; she
had recovered for him one of the richest of his provinces, and
established a strong base for further action on his part. She had
taught Frenchmen how not to fly before the English, and she had filled
those stout-hearted English, who for a time had the Frenchmen in their
powerful steel-clad grip, with terror and panic, and taught them how
to fly in their turn. This was, from the first, what she had said she
was appointed to do, and not one of her promises had been broken. Her
career had been a short one, begun in April, ending in July, one brief
continuous course of glory. But this triumphant career had come to its
conclusion. The messenger of God had done her work; the servant must
not desire to be greater than his Lord. There have been heroes in this
world whose career has continued a glorious and a happy one to the
end. Our hearts follow them in their noble career, but when the strain
and pain are over they come into their kingdom and reap their reward
the interest fails. We are glad, very glad, that they should live
happy ever after, but their happiness does not attract us like their

It is different with those whose work and whose motives are not those
of this world. When they step out of the brilliant lights of triumph
into sorrow and suffering, all that is most human in us rises to
follow the bleeding feet, our hearts swell with indignation, with
sorrow and love, and that instinctive admiration for the noble and
pure, which proves that our birthright too is of Heaven, however we
may tarnish or even deny that highest pedigree. The chivalrous romance
of that age would have made of Jeanne d'Arc the heroine of human
story. She would have had a noble lover, say our young Guy de Laval,
or some other generous and brilliant Seigneur of France, and after her
achievements she would have laid by her sword, and clothed herself
with the beautiful garments of the age, and would have grown to be a
noble lady in some half regal chateau, to which her name would have
given new lustre. The young reader will probably long that it should
be so; he will feel it an injustice, a wrong to humanity that so
generous a soul should have no reward; it will seem to him almost a
personal injury that there should not be a noble chevalier at hand to
snatch that devoted Maid out of the danger that threatened her, out of
the horrible fate that befell her; and we can imagine a generous boy,
and enthusiastic girl, ready to gnash their teeth at the terrible and
dishonouring thought that it was by English hands that this noble
creature was tied to the stake and perished in the flames. For the
last it becomes us[1] to repent, for it was to our everlasting shame;
but not more to us than to France who condemned her, who lifted no
finger to help her, who raised not even a cry, a protest, against the
cruelty and wrong. But for her fate in itself let us not mourn over-
much. Had the Maid become a great and honoured lady should not we all
have said as Satan says in the Book of Job: Did Jeanne serve God for
nought? We should say: See what she made by it. Honour and fame and
love and happiness. She did nobly, but nobly has she been rewarded.

But that is not God's way. The highest saint is born to martyrdom. To
serve God for nought is the greatest distinction which He reserves for
His chosen. And this was the fate to which the Maid of France was
consecrated from the moment she set out upon her mission. She had the
supreme glory of accomplishing that which she believed herself to be
sent to do, and which I also believe she was sent to do, miraculously,
by means undreamed of, and in which no one beforehand could have
believed. But when that was done a higher consecration awaited her.
She had to drink of the cup of which our Lord drank, and to be
baptised with the baptism with which He was baptised. It was involved
in every step of the progress that it should be so. And she was
herself aware of it, vaguely, at heart, as soon as the object of her
mission was attained. What else could have put the thought of dying
into the mind of a girl of eighteen in the midst of the adoring crowd,
to whom to see her, to touch her, was a benediction? When she went
forth from those gates she was going to her execution, though the end
was not to be yet. There was still a long struggle before her,
lingering and slow, more bitter than death, the preface of
discouragement, of disappointment, of failure when she had most hoped
to succeed.

She was on the threshold of this second period when she rode out of
Rheims all brilliant in the summer weather, her banner faded now, but
glorious, her shining armour bearing signs of warfare, her end
achieved--yet all the while her heart troubled, uncertain, and full of
unrest. And it is impossible not to note that from this time her plans
were less defined than before. Up to the coronation she had known
exactly what she meant to do, and in spite of all obstructions had
done it, keeping her genial humour and her patience, steering her
simple way through all the intrigues of the Court, without bitterness
and without fear. But now a vague mist seems to fall about the path
which was so open and so clear. Paris! Yes, the best policy, the true
generalship would have been to march straight upon Paris, to lose no
time, to leave as little leisure as possible to the intriguers to
resume their old plots. So the generals thought as well as Jeanne: but
the courtiers were not of that mind. The weak and foolish notion of
falling back upon what they had gained, and of contenting themselves
with that, was all they thought of; and the un-French, unpatriotic
temper of Paris which wanted no native king, but was content with the
foreigner, gave them a certain excuse. We could not even imagine
London as being ever, at any time, contented with an alien rule. But
Paris evidently was so, and was ready to defend itself to the death
against its lawful sovereign. Jeanne had never before been brought
face to face with such a complication. It had been a straightforward
struggle, each man for his own side, up to this time. But now other
things had to be taken into consideration. Here was no faithful
Orleans holding out eager arms to its deliverer, but a crafty, self-
seeking city, deaf to patriotism, indifferent to freedom, calculating
which was most to its profit--and deciding that the stranger, with
Philip of Burgundy at his back, was the safer guide. This was enough
of itself to make a simple mind pause in astonishment and dismay.

There is no evidence that the supernatural leaders who had shaped the
course of the Maid failed her now. She still heard her "voices." She
still held communion with the three saints who, she believed devoutly,
came out of Heaven to aid her. The whole question of this supernatural
guidance is one which is of course open to discussion. There are many
in these days who do not believe in it at all, who believe in the
exaltation of Jeanne's brain, in the excitement of her nerves, in some
strange complication of bodily conditions, which made her believe she
saw and heard what she did not really see or hear. For our part, we
confess frankly that these explanations are no explanation at all so
far as we are concerned; we are far more inclined to believe that the
Maid spoke truth, she who never told a lie, she who fulfilled all the
promises she made in the name of her guides, than that those people
are right who tell us on their own authority that such interpositions
of Heaven are impossible. Nobody in Jeanne's day doubted that Heaven
did interpose directly in human affairs. The only question was, Was it
Heaven in this instance? Was it not rather the evil one? Was it
sorcery and witchcraft, or was it the agency of God? The English
believed firmly that it was witchcraft; they could not imagine that it
was God, the God of battles, who had always been on their side, who
now took the courage out of their hearts and taught their feet to fly
for the first time. It was the devil, and the Maid herself was a
wicked witch. Neither one side nor the other believed that it was from
Jeanne's excited nerves that these great things came. There were
plenty of women with excited nerves in France, nerves much more
excited than those of Jeanne, who was always reasonable at the height
of her inspiration; but to none of them did it happen to mount the
breach, to take the city, to drive the enemy--up to that moment
invincible,--flying from the field.

But it would seem as if these celestial visitants had no longer a
clear and definite message for the Maid. Their words, which she
quotes, were now promises of support, vague warnings of trouble to
come. "Fear not, for God will stand by you." She thought they meant
that she would be delivered in safety as she had been hitherto, her
wounds healing, her sacred person preserved from any profane touch.
But yet such promises have always something enigmatical in them, and
it might be, as proved to be the case, that they meant rather
consolation and strength to endure than deliverance. For the first
time the Maid was often sad; she feared nothing, but the shadow was
heavy on her heart. Orleans and Rheims had been clear as daylight, her
"voices" had said to her "Do this" and she had done it. Now there was
no definite direction. She had to judge for herself what was best, and
to walk in darkness, hoping that what she did was what she was meant
to do, but with no longer any certainty. This of itself was a great
change, and one which no doubt she felt to her heart. M. Fabre tells
(alone among the biographers of Jeanne) that there were symptoms of
danger to her sound and steady mind, in her words and ways during the
moment of triumph. Her chaplain Pasquerel wrote a letter in her name
to the Hussites, against whom the Pope was then sending crusades, in
which "I, the Maid," threatened, if they were not converted, to come
against them and give them the alternative of death or amendment.
Quicherat says that to the Count d'Armagnac who had written to her,
whether in good faith or bad, to ask which of the three then existent
Popes was the real one, she is reported to have answered that she
would tell him as soon as the English left her free to do so. But this
is a perverted account of what she really did say, and M. Fabre seems
to be, like the rest of us, a little confused in his dates: and the
documents themselves on which he builds are not of unquestioned
authority. These, however, would be but small speck upon the sunshine
of her perfect humility and sobriety; if indeed they are to be
depended upon as authentic at all.

The day of Jeanne, her time of glory and success, was but a short one
--Orleans was delivered on the 8th of May, the coronation of Charles
took place on the 17th of July; before the earliest of these dates she
had spent nearly two months in an anxious yet hopeful struggle of
preparation, before she was permitted to enter upon her career. The
time of her discouragement was longer. It was ten months from the day
when she rode out of Rheims, the 25th of July, 1429, till the 23d of
May, 1430, when she was taken. She had said after the deliverance of
Orleans that she had but a year in which to accomplish her work, and
at a later period, Easter, 1430, her "voices" told her that "before
the St. Jean" she would be in the power of her enemies. Both these
statements came true. She rose quickly but fell more slowly,
struggling along upon the downward course, unable to carry out what
she would, hampered on every hand, and not apparently followed with
the same fervour as of old. It is true that the principal cause of all
seems to have been the schemes of the Court and the indolence of
Charles; but all these hindrances had existed before, and the King and
his treacherous advisers had been unwillingly dragged every mile of
the way, though every step made had been to Charles's advantage. But
now though the course is still one of victory the Maid no longer seems
to be either the chief cause or the immediate leader. Perhaps this may
be partly due to the fact that little fighting was necessary, town
after town yielding to the King, which reduced the part of Jeanne to
that of a spectator; but there is a change of atmosphere and tone
which seems to point to something more fundamental than this. The
historians are very unwilling to acknowledge, except Michelet who does
so without hesitation, that she had herself fixed the term of her
commission as ending at Rheims; it is certain that she said many
things which bear this meaning, and every fact of her after career
seems to us to prove it: but it is also true that her conviction
wavered, and other sayings indicate a different belief or hope. She
did no wrong in following the profession of arms in which she had made
so glorious a beginning; she had many gifts and aptitudes for it of
which she was not herself at first aware: but she was no longer the
Envoy of God. Enough had been done to arouse the old spirit of France,
to break the spell of the English supremacy; it was right and fitting
that France should do the rest for herself. Perhaps Jeanne was not
herself very clear on this point, and after her first statement of it,
became less assured. It is not necessary that the servant should know
the designs of the master. It did not after all affect her. Her
business was to serve God to the best of her power, not to take the
management out of His hands.

The army went forth joyously upon its way, directing itself towards
Paris. There was a pilgrimage to make, such as the Kings of France
were in the habit of making after their coronation; there were
pleasant incidents, the submission of a village, the faint resistance,
instantly overcome, of a small town, to make the early days pleasant.
Laon and Soissons both surrendered. Senlis and Beauvais received the
King's envoys with joy. The independent captains of the army made
little circles about, like parties of pleasure, bringing in another
and another little stronghold to the allegiance of the King. When he
turned aside, taking as he passed through, without as yet any serious
deflection, the road rather to the Loire than to Paris, success still
attended him. At Château-Thierry resistance was expected to give zest
to the movement of the forces, but that too yielded at once as the
others had done. The dates are very vague and it seems difficult to
find any mode of reconciling them. Almost all the historians while
accusing the King of foolish dilatoriness and confusion of plans give
us a description of the undefended state of Paris at the moment, which
a sudden stroke on the part of Charles might have carried with little
difficulty, during the absence of all the chiefs from the city and the
great terror of the inhabitants; but a comparison of dates shows that
the Duke of Bedford re-entered Paris with strong reinforcements on the
very day on which Charles left Rheims three days only after his
coronation, so that he scarcely seems so much to blame as appears. But
the general delay, inefficiency, and hesitation existing at
headquarters, naturally lead to mistakes of this kind.

The great point was that Paris itself was by no means disposed to
receive the King. Strange as it seems to say so Paris was bitterly,
fiercely English at that extraordinary moment, a fact which ought to
be taken into account as the most important in the whole matter. There
was no answering enthusiasm in the capital of France to form an
auxiliary force behind its ramparts and encourage the besiegers
outside. The populace perhaps might be indifferent: at the best it had
no feeling on the subject; but there was no welcome awaiting the King.
During the time of Bedford's absence the city felt itself to have "no
lord"--/ceux de Paris avoit grand peur car nul seigneur n' y avoit/.
It was believed that Charles would put all the inhabitants to the
sword, and their desperation of feeling was rather that which leads to
a wild and hopeless defence than to submission. The Duke of Bedford,
governing in the name of the infant Henry VI. Of England, was their
seigneur, instead of their natural sovereign. It is a fact which to us
seems scarcely credible, but it was certainly true. There seems to
have been no feeling even, on the subject, no general shame as of a
national betrayal; nothing of the kind. Paris was English, holding by
the English kings who had never lost a certain hold on France, and
thinking no shame of its party. It was a hostile town, the chief of
the English possessions. In the /Journal du Bourgeois de Paris/--who
was no /bourgeois/ but a distinguished member of that university which
held the Maid and all her ways in horror--Jeanne the deliverer, the
incarnation of patriotism and of France is spoken of as "a creature in
the form of a woman." How extraordinary is this evidence of a state of
affairs in which it is almost impossible to believe! Paris is France
nowadays to many people, though no doubt this is but a superficial
judgment; but in the early part of the fifteenth century, she was
frankly English, not by compulsion even, but by habit and policy.
Perhaps the delays, the hesitation, the terrors of Charles and his
counsellors are thus rendered more excusable than by any other

In the meantime it is almost impossible to follow the wanderings of
this vacillating army without a map. If the reader should trace its
movements, he would see what a stumbling and devious course it took as
of a man blundering in the dark. From Rheims to Soissons the way was
clear; then there came a sudden move southward to Château-Thierry from
which indeed there was still a straight line to Paris but which still
more clearly indicated the highroad leading to the Orleannais, the
faithful districts of the Loire. This retrograde movement was not made
without a great outcry from the generals. Their opinion was that the
King ought to press on to conquer everything while the English forces
were still depressed and discouraged. In their mind this deflection
towards the south was an abandonment at once of honour and safety. An
unimportant check on the way, however, gave an argument to the leaders
of the army, and Charles permitted himself to be dragged back. They
then made their way by La Ferté-Milon, Crépy, and Daumartin, and on
this road the English troops which had been led out from Paris by
Bedford to intercept them came twice within fighting distance of the
French army. The English, as all the French historians are eager to
inform us, invariably entrenched themselves in their positions,
surrounding their lines with sharp-pointed posts by which the equally
invariable rush of the French could be broken. But the French on these
occasions were too wise to repeat the impetuous charge which had
ruined them at Crécy and Agincourt, and the consequence was that the
two forces remained within sight of each other, with a few skirmishes
going on at the flanks, but without any serious encounter.

It will be more satisfactory, however, to copy the following
/itineraire/ of Charles's movements from the Chronicle of Perceval de
Cagny who was a member of the household of the Duc d'Alençon, and
probably present, certainly at all events bound to have the best and
most correct information. He informs us that the King left Rheims on
Thursday the 21st of July, and dined, supped, and lay at the Abbey of
St. Nanuol that night, where were brought to him the keys of the city
of Laon. He then set out on /le voyage à venir devant Paris/.

"And on Saturday the 23d of the same month the King dined, supped and
lay at Soissons, and was there received the most honourably that the
churchmen, burghers and other people of the town were capable of: for
they had all great fear because of the destruction of the town which
had been taken by the Burgundians and made to rebel against the King.

"Friday the 29th day of July the King and his company were all day
before Château-Thierry in order of battle, hoping that the Duke of
Bedford would appear to fight. The place surrendered at the hour of
vespers, and the King lodged there till Monday the first of August. On
that day the King lay at Monmirail in Brie.

"Tuesday the 2d of August he passed the night in the town of Provins,
and had the best possible reception there, and remained till the
Friday following, the 5th August. Sunday the 7th the King lay at the
town of Coulommièrs in Brie. Wednesday the 10th he lay at La Ferté-
Milon, Thursday at Crespy in Valois--Friday at Laigny-le-Sec. The
following Saturday the 13th the King held the field near Dammartin-en-
Gouelle, for the whole day looking out for the English: but they came

"On Sunday the 14th August the Maid, the Duc d'Alençon, the Count de
Vendosme, the Marshals and other captains accompanied by six or seven
thousand combatants were at the hour of vespers lodged in the fields
near Montépilloy, nearly two leagues from the town of Senlis--The Duke
of Bedford and other English captains with between eight and ten
thousand English lying half a league from Senlis between our people
and the said city on a little stream, in a village called Notre Dame
de la Victoire. That evening our people skirmished with the English
near to their camp and in this skirmish were people taken on each
side, and of the English Captain d'Orbec and ten or twelve others, and
people wounded on both sides: when night fell each retired to their
own quarters."

The same writer records an appeal in the true tone of chivalry
addressed to the English by Jeanne and Alençon desiring them to come
out from their entrenchments and fight: and promising to withdraw to a
sufficient distance to permit the enemy to place himself in the open
field. The French troops had first "put themselves in the best state
of conscience that could possibly be, hearing mass at an early hour
and then to horse." But the English would not come out. Jeanne, with
her standard in her hand rode up to the English entrenchments, and
some one says (not de Cagny) struck the posts with her banner,
challenging the force within to come out and fight; while they on
their side waved at the French in defiance, a standard copied from
that of Jeanne, on which was depicted a distaff and spindle. But
neither host approached any nearer. Finally, Charles made his way to

At Château-Thierry there was concluded an arrangement with Philip of
Burgundy for a truce of fifteen days, before the end of which time the
Duke undertook to deliver Paris peaceably to the French. That this was
simply to gain time and that no idea of giving up Paris had ever been
entertained is evident; perhaps Charles was not even deceived. He, no
more than Philip, had any desire to encounter the dangers of such a
siege. But he was able at least to silence the clamours of the army
and the representations of the persistent Maid by this truce. To wait
for fifteen days and receive the prize without a blow struck, would
not that be best? The counsellors of the King held thus a strong
position, though the delay made the hearts of the warriors sick.

The figure of Jeanne appears during these marchings and counter-
marchings like that of any other general, pursuing a skilful but not
unusual plan of campaign. That she did well and bravely there can be
no doubt, and there is a characteristic touch which we recognise, in
the fact that she and all of her company "put themselves in the best
state of conscience that could be," before they took to horse; but the
skirmishes and repulses are such as Alençon himself might have made.
"She made much diligence," the same chronicler tells us, "to reduce
and place many towns in the obedience of the King," but so did many
others with like success. We hear no more her vigorous knock at the
door of the council chamber if the discussion there was too long or
the proceedings too secret. Her appearances are those of a general
among many other generals, no longer with any special certainty in her
movements as of a person inspired. We are reminded of a story told of
a previous period, after the fight at Patay, when blazing forth in the
indignation of her youthful purity at the sight of one of the camp
followers, a degraded woman with some soldiers, she struck the wanton
with the flat of her sword, driving her forth from the camp, where was
no longer that chastened army of awed and reverent soldiers making
their confession on the eve of every battle, whom she had led to
Orleans. The sword she used on this occasion, was, it is said, the
miraculous sword which had been found under the high altar of St.
Catharine at Fierbois; but at the touch of the unclean the maiden
brand broke in two. If this was an allegory[2] to show that the work
of that weapon was over, and the common sword of the soldier enough
for the warfare that remained, it could not be more clearly realised
than in the history of this campaign. The only touch of our real Maid
in her own distinct person comes to us in a letter written in a field
on that same wavering road to Paris, dated as early as the 5th of
August and addressed to the good people of Rheims, some of whom had
evidently written to her to ask what was the meaning of the delay, and
whether she had given up the cause of the country. There is a terse
determination in its brief, indignant sentences which is a relief to
the reader weary of the wavering and purposeless campaign:

"Dear and good friends, good and loyal Frenchmen of the town of
Rheims. Jeanne, the Maid, sends you news of her. It is true that
the King has made a truce of fifteen days with the Duke of
Burgundy, who promises to render peaceably the city of Paris in
that time. Do not, however, be surprised if I enter there sooner,
for I like not truces so made, and know not whether I will keep
them, but if I keep them, it will be only because of the honour of
the King."

While Jeanne and her army thus played with the unmoving English,
advancing and retiring, attempting every means of drawing them out,
the enemy took advantage of one of these seeming withdrawals to march
out of their camp suddenly and return to Paris, which all this time
had been lying comparatively defenceless, had the French made their
attack sooner. At the same time Charles moved on to Compiègne where he
gave himself up to fresh intrigues with Philip of Burgundy, this time
for a truce to last till Christmas. The Maid was grievously troubled
by this step, /moult marrie/, and by the new period of delay and
negotiation on which the Court had entered. Paris was not given up,
nor was there any appearance that it ever would be, and to all the
generals as well as to the Maid it was very evident that this was the
next step to be taken. Some of the leaders wearied with inaction had
pushed on to Normandy where four great fortresses--greatest of all the
immense and mysterious stronghold on the high cliffs of the Seine,
that imposing Château Gaillard which Richard Cœur-de-lion had built,
the ruins of which, white and mystic, still dominate, like some
Titanic ghost, above the course of the river--had yielded to them. So
great was the danger of Normandy, the most securely English of all
French provinces, that Bedford had again been drawn out of Paris to
defend it. Here then was another opportunity to seize the capital. But
Charles could not be induced to move. He found many ways of amusing
himself at Compiègne, and the new treaty was being hatched with
Burgundy which gave an excuse for doing nothing. The pause which
wearied them all out, both captains and soldiers, at last became more
than flesh and blood could bear.

Jeanne once more was driven to take the initiative. Already on one
occasion she had forced the hand of the lingering Court, and resumed
the campaign of her own accord, an impatient movement which had been
perfectly successful. No doubt again the army itself was becoming
demoralised, and showing symptoms of falling to pieces. One day she
sent for Alençon in haste during the absence of the ambassadors at
Arras. "/Beau duc/," she cried, "prepare your troops and the other
captains. /En mon Dieu, par mon martin/,[3] I will see Paris nearer
than I have yet seen it." She had seen the towers from afar as she
wandered over the country in Charles's lingering train. Her sudden
resolution struck like fire upon the impatient band. They set out at
once, Alençon and the Maid at the head of their division of the army,
and all rejoiced to get to horse again, to push their way through
every obstacle. They started on the 23d August, nearly a month after
the departure from Rheims, a month entirely lost, though full of
events, lost without remedy so far as Paris was concerned. At Senlis
they made a pause, perhaps to await the King, who, it was hoped, would
have been constrained to follow; then carrying with them all the
forces that could be spared from that town, they spurred on to St.
Denis where they arrived on the 27th: St. Denis, the other sacred town
of France, the place of the tomb, as Rheims was the place of the

The royalty of France was Jeanne's passion. I do not say the King,
which might be capable of malinterpretation, but the kings, the
monarchy, the anointed of the Lord, by whom France was represented,
embodied and made into a living thing. She had loved Rheims, its
associations, its triumphs, the rejoicing of its citizens. These had
been the accompaniments of her own highest victory. She came to St.
Denis in a different mood, her heart hot with disappointment and the
thwarting of all her plans. From whatever cause it might spring, it
was clear that she was no longer buoyed up by that certainty which
only a little while before had carried her through every danger and
over every obstacle. But to have reached St. Denis at least was
something. It was a place doubly sacred, consecrated to that royal
House for which she would so willingly have given her life. And at
last she was within sight of Paris, the greatest prize of all. Up to
this time she had known in actual warfare nothing but victory. If her
heart for the first time wavered and feared, there was still no
certain reason that, /de par Dieu/, she might not win the day again.

At St. Denis there was once more a cruel delay. Nearly a fortnight
passed and there was no news of the King. The Maid employed the time
in skirmishes and reconnoissances, but does not seem to have ventured
on an attack without the sanction of Charles, whom Alençon, finally,
going back on two several occasions, succeeded in setting in motion.
Charles had remained at Compiègne to carry out his treaty with
Burgundy, and the last thing he desired was this attack; but when he
could resist no longer he moved on reluctantly to St. Denis, where his
arrival was hailed with great delight. This was not until the 5th of
September, and the army, wrought up to a high pitch of excitement and
expectation, was eager for the fight. "There was no one of whatever
condition, who did not say, 'She will lead the King into Paris, if he
will let her,'" says the chronicler.

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