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Jeanne d'Arc by Mrs. Oliphant

Part 3 out of 6

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In the meantime the authorities in Paris were at work, strengthening
its fortifications, frightening the populace with threats of the
vengeance of Charles, persuading every citizen of the danger of

The /Bourgeois/ tells us that letters came from "les Arminoz," that
is, the party of the King, sealed with the seal of the Duc d'Alençon,
and addressed to the heads of the city guilds and municipality
inviting their co-operation as Frenchmen. "But," adds the Parisian,
"it was easy to see through their meaning, and an answer was returned
that they need not throw away their paper as no attention was paid to
it." There is no sign at all that any national feeling existed to
respond to such an appeal. Paris--its courts of law, Parliaments
(salaried by Bedford), University, Church--every department, was
English in the first place, Burgundian in the second, dependent on
English support and money. There was no French party existing. The
Maid was to them an evil sorceress, a creature in the form of a woman,
exercising the blackest arts. Perhaps there was even a breath of
consciousness in the air that Charles himself had no desire for the
fall of the city. He had left the Parisians full time to make every
preparation, he had held back as long as was possible. His favour was
all on the side of his enemies; for his own forces and their leaders,
and especially for the Maid, he had nothing but discouragement,
distrust, and auguries of evil.

Nevertheless, these oppositions came to an end, and Jeanne, though
less ready and eager for the assault, found herself under the walls of
Paris at last.
[1] "The English, not US," says Mr. Andrew Lang: and it is pleasant to
a Scot to know that this is true. England and Scotland were then
twain, and the Scots fought in the ranks of our auld Ally. But for
the present age the distinction lasts no longer, and to the writer
of an English book on English soil it would be ungenerous to take
the advantage.

[2] It is taken as a miraculous sign by another chronicler, Jean
Chartier, who tells us that when this fact came to the knowledge
of the King the sword was given by him to the workmen to be re-
founded--"but they could not do it, nor put the pieces together
again: which is a great proof (/grant approbation/) that the sword
came to her divinely. And it is notorious that since the breaking
of that sword, the said Jeanne neither prospered in arms to the
profit of the King nor otherwise as she had done before."

[3] "It was her oath," adds the chronicler; no one is quite sure what
it means, but Quicherat is of opinion that it was her /baton/, her
stick or staff. Perceval de Cagny puts in this exclamation in
almost all the speeches of the Maid. It must have struck him as a
curious adjuration. Perhaps it explains why La Hire, unable to do
without something to swear by, was permitted by Jeanne in their
frank and humorous /camaraderie/ to swear by his stick, the same
rustic oath.


AUTUMN, 1429.

It was on the 7th September that Jeanne and her immediate followers
reached the village of La Chapelle, where they encamped for the night.
The next day was the day of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, a
great festival of the Church. It could scarcely be a matter of choice
on the part of so devout a Catholic as Jeanne to take this day of all
others, when every church bell was tinkling forth a summons to the
faithful, for the day of assault. In all probability she was not now
acting on her own impulse but on that of the other generals and
nobles. Had she refused, might it not have been alleged against her
that after all her impatience it was she who was the cause of delay?
The forces with Jeanne were not very large, a great proportion of the
army remaining with Charles no one seems to know where, either at St.
Denis or at some intermediate spot, possibly to form a reserve force
which could be brought up when wanted. The best informed historian
only knows that Charles was not with the active force. But Alençon was
at the head of the troops, along with many other names well known to
us, La Hire, and young Guy de Laval, and Xantrailles, all mighty men
of valour and the devoted friends of Jeanne. There is a something, a
mist, an incertitude in the beginning of the assault which was unlike
the previous achievements of Jeanne, a certain want of precaution or
knowledge of the difficulties which does not reflect honour upon the
generals with her. Absolutely new to warfare as she was before Orleans
she had ridden out at once on her arrival there to inspect the
fortifications of the besiegers. But probably the continual
skirmishing of which we are told made this impossible here, so that,
though the Maid studied the situation of the town in order to choose
the best point for attack, it was only when already engaged that the
army discovered a double ditch round the walls, the inner one of which
was full of water. By sheer impetuosity the French took the gate of
St. Honoré and its "boulevard" or tower, driving its defenders back
into the city: but their further progress was arrested by that
discovery. It was on this occasion that Jeanne is supposed to have
seized from a Burgundian in the mêlée, a sword, of which she boasted
afterwards that it was a good sword capable of good blows, though we
have no certain record that in all her battles she ever gave one blow,
or shed blood at all.

It would seem to have been only after the taking of this gate that the
discovery was made as to the two deep ditches, one dry, the other
filled with water. Jeanne, whose place had always been with her
standard at the immediate foot of the wall, from whence to direct and
cheer on her soldiers, pressed forward to this point of peril,
descending into the first fosse, and climbing up again on the second,
the /dos d'ane/, which separated them, where she stood in the midst of
a rain of arrows, fully exposed to all the enraged crowd of archers
and gunners on the ramparts above, testing with her lance the depth of
the water. We seem in the story to see her all alone or with her
standard-bearer only by her side making this investigation; but that
of course is only a pictorial suggestion, though it might for a moment
be the fact. She remained there, however, from two in the afternoon
till night, when she was forced away. The struggle must have raged
around while she stood on the dark edge of the ditch probing the muddy
water to see where it could best be crossed, shouting directions to
her men in that voice /assez femme/, which penetrated the noise of
battle, and summoning the active and desperate enemy overhead.
"/Renty! Renty!/" she cried as she had done at Orleans--"/surrender to
the King of France!/"

We hear nothing now of the white armour; it must have been dimmed and
worn by much fighting, and the banner torn and glorious with the
chances of the war; but it still waved over her head, and she still
stood fast, on the ridge between the two ditches, shouting her
summons, cheering the men, a spot of light still, amid all the steely
glimmering of the mail-coats and the dark downpour of that iron rain.
Half a hundred war cries rending the air, shrieks from the walls of
"Witch, Devil, Ribaude," and names still more insulting to her purity,
could not silence that treble shout, the most wonderful, surely, that
ever ran through such an infernal clamour, so prodigious, the
chronicler says, that it was a marvel to hear it. /De par Dieu, Rendez
vous, rendez vous, au roy de France/. If as we believe she never
struck a blow, the aspect of that wonderful figure becomes more
extraordinary still. While the boldest of her companions struggled
across to fling themselves and what beams and ladders they could drag
with them against the wall, she stood without even such shelter as
close proximity to it might have given, cheering them on, exposed to
every shot.

The fight was desperate, and though there was no marked success on the
part of the besiegers, yet there seems to have been nothing to
discourage them, as the fight raged on. Few were wounded,
notwithstanding the noise of the cannons and culverins, "by the grace
of God and the good luck of the Maid." But towards the evening Jeanne
herself suddenly swayed and fell, an arrow having pierced her thigh;
she seems, however, to have struggled to her feet again, undismayed,
when a still greater misfortune befell: her standard-bearer was hit,
first in the foot, and then, as he raised his visor to pull the arrow
from the wound, between his eyes, falling dead at her feet. What
happened to the banner, we are not told; Jeanne most likely herself
caught it as it fell. But at this stroke, more dreadful than her own
wound, her strength failed her, and she crept behind a bush or heap of
stones, where she lay, refusing to quit the place. Some say she
managed to slide into the dry ditch where there was a little shelter,
but resisted all attempts to carry her away, and some add that while
she lay there she employed herself in a vain attempt to throw faggots
into the ditch to make it passable. It is said that she kept calling
out to them to persevere, to go on and Paris would be won. She had
promised, they say, to sleep that night within the conquered city; but
this promise comes to us with no seal of authority. Jeanne knew that
it had taken her eight days to free Orleans, and she could scarcely
have promised so sudden a success in the more formidable achievement.
But she was at least determined in her conviction that perseverance
only was needed. She must have lain for hours on the slope of the
outer moat, urging on the troops with such force as her dauntless
voice could give, repeating again and again that the place could be
taken if they but held on. But when night came Alençon and some other
of the captains overcame her resistance, and there being clearly no
further possibility for the moment, succeeded in setting her upon her
horse, and conveyed her back to the camp. While they rode with her,
supporting her on her charger, she did nothing but repeat "/Quel
dommage!/" Oh, what a misfortune, that the siege of Paris should fail,
all for want of constancy and courage. "If they had but gone on till
morning," she cried, "the inhabitants would have known." It is evident
from this that she must have expected a rising within, and could not
yet believe that no such thing was to be looked for. "/Par mon
martin/, the place would have been taken," she said in the hearing one
cannot but feel of the chronicler, who reports so often those homely

Thus Jeanne was led back after the first day's attack. Her wound was
not serious, and she had been repulsed during one of the day's
fighting at Orleans without losing courage. But something had changed
her spirit as well as the spirit of the army she led. There is a
curious glimpse given us into her camp at this point, which indeed
comes to us through the observation of an enemy, yet seems to have in
it an unmistakable gleam of truth. It comes from one of the parties
which had been granted a safe-conduct to carry away the dead of the
English and Burgundian side. They tell us, among other circumstances,
--such as that the French burnt their dead, a manifest falsehood, but
admirably calculated to make them a horror to their neighbours,--that
many in the ranks cursed the Maid who had promised that they should
without any doubt sleep that night in Paris and plunder the wealthy
city. The men with their safe-conduct creeping among the dead, to
recover those bodies which had fallen on their own side, and furtively
to count the fallen on the other--who were delighted to bring a report
that the Maid was no longer the fountain of strength and blessing, but
secretly cursed by her own forces--are sinister figures groping their
way through the darkness of the September night.

Next morning, however, her wound being slight, Jeanne was up early and
in conference with Alençon, begging him to sound his trumpets and set
forth once more. "I shall not budge from here, till Paris is taken,"
she said. No doubt her spirit was up, and a determination to recover
lost ground strong in her mind. While the commanders consulted
together, there came a band of joyful augury into the camp, the
Seigneur of Montmorency with sixty gentlemen, who had left the party
of Burgundy in order to take service under the banner of the Maid. No
doubt this important and welcome addition to their number exhilarated
the entire camp, in the commotion of the reveillé, while each man
looked to his weapons, wiping off from breastplate and helmet the
heavy dew of the September morning, greeting the new friends and
brothers-in-arms who had come in, and arranging, with a better
knowledge of the ground than that of yesterday, the mode of attack.
Jeanne would not confess that she felt her wound, in her eagerness to
begin the assault a second time. And all were in good spirits, the
disappointment of the night having blown away, and the determination
to do or die being stronger than ever. Were the men-at-arms perhaps
less amenable? Were they whispering to each other that Jeanne had
promised them Paris yesterday, and for the first time had not kept her
word? It would almost require such a fact as this to explain what
follows. For as they began to set out, the whole field in movement,
there was suddenly seen approaching another party of cavaliers--
perhaps another reinforcement like that of Montmorency? This new band,
however, consisted but of two gentlemen and their immediate
attendants, the Duc de Bar and the Comte de Clermont,[1] always a bird
of evil omen, riding hot from St. Denis with orders from the King.
These orders were abrupt and peremptory--to turn back. Jeanne and her
companions were struck dumb for the moment. To turn back, and Paris at
their feet! There must have burst forth a storm of remonstrance and
appeal. We cannot tell how long the indignant parley lasted; the
historians do not enlarge upon the disastrous incident. But at last
the generals yielded to the orders of the King--Jeanne humiliated,
miserable, and almost in despair. We cannot but feel that on no former
occasion would she have given way so completely; she would have rushed
to the King's presence, overwhelmed him with impetuous prayers,
extorted somehow the permission to go on. But Charles was safe at
seven miles' distance, and his envoys were imperious and peremptory,
like men able to enforce obedience if it were not given. She obeyed at
last, recovering courage a little in the hope of being able to
persuade Charles to change his mind, and sanction another assault on
Paris from the other side, by means of a bridge over the Seine towards
St. Denis, which Alençon had constructed. Next morning it appears that
without even asking that permission a portion of the army set out very
early for this bridge: but the King had divined their project, and
when they reached the river side the first thing they saw was their
bridge in ruins. It had been treacherously destroyed in the night, not
by their enemies, but by their King.

It is natural that the French historians should exhaust themselves in
explanation of this fatal change of policy. Quicherat, who was the
first to bring to light all the most important records of this period
of history, lays the entire blame upon La Tremoïlle, the chief adviser
of Charles. But that Charles himself was at heart equally guilty no
one can doubt. He was a man who proved himself in the end of his
career to possess both sense and energy, though tardily developed. It
was to him that Jeanne had given that private sign of the truth of her
mission, by which he was overawed and convinced in the first moment of
their intercourse. Within the few months which had elapsed since she
appeared at Chinon every thing that was wonderful had been done for
him by her means. He was then a fugitive pretender, not even very
certain of his own claim, driven into a corner of his lawful
dominions, and fully prepared to abandon even that small standing
ground, to fly into Spain or Scotland, and give up the attempt to hold
his place as King of France. Now he was the consecrated King, with the
holy oil upon his brows, and the crown of his ancestors on his head,
accepted and proclaimed, all France stirring to her old allegiance,
new conquests falling into his hands every day, and the richest
portion of his kingdom secure under his sway. To check thus
peremptorily the career of the deliverer who had done so much for him,
degrading her from her place, throwing more than doubt upon her
inspiration, falsifying by force the promises which she had made--
promises which had never failed before,--was a worse and deeper sin on
the part of a young man, by right of his kingly office the very head
of knighthood and every chivalrous undertaking, than it could be on
the part of an old and subtle diplomatist who had never believed in
such wild measures, and all through had clogged the steps and
endeavoured to neutralise the mission of the warrior Maid. It is very
clear, however, that between them it was the King and his chamberlain
who made this assault upon Paris so evident and complete a failure.
One day's repulse was nothing in a siege. There had been one great
repulse and several lesser ones at Orleans. Jeanne, even though
weakened by her wound, had sprung up that morning full of confidence
and courage. In no way was the failure to be laid to her charge.

But this could never, perhaps, have been explained to the whole body
of the army, who had believed her word without a doubt and taken her
success for granted. If they had been wavering before, which seems
possible--for they must have been, to a considerable extent, new
levies, the campaigners of the Loire having accomplished their period
of feudal service,--this sudden downfall must have strengthened every
doubt and damped every enthusiasm. The Maid of whom such wonderful
tales had been told, she who had been the angel of triumph, the
irresistible, before whom the English fled, and the very walls fell
down--was she after all only a sorceress, as the others called her, a
creature whose incantations had failed after the flash of momentary
success? Such impressions are too apt to come like clouds over every
popular enthusiasm, quenching the light and chilling the heart.

Jeanne was thus dragged back to St. Denis against her will and every
instinct of her being, and there ensued three days of passionate
debate and discussion. For a moment it appeared as if she would have
thrown off the bonds of loyal obedience and pursued her mission at all
hazards. Her "voices," if they had previously given her uncertain
sound, promising only the support and succour of God, but no success,
now spoke more plainly and urged the continuance of the siege; and the
Maid was torn in pieces between the requirements of her celestial
guardians and the force of authority around her. If she had broken out
into open rebellion who would have followed her? She had never yet
done so; when the King was against her she had pleaded or forced an
agreement, and received or snatched a consent from the malevolent
chamberlain, as at Jargeau and Troyes. Never yet had she set herself
in public opposition to the will of her sovereign. She had submitted
to all kinds of tests and trials rather than this. And to have lain
half a day wounded outside Paris and to stand there pleading her cause
with her wound still unhealed were not likely things to strengthen her
powers of resistance. "The Voices bade me remain at St. Denis," she
said afterwards at her trial, "and I desired to remain; but the
seigneurs took me away in spite of myself. If I had not been wounded I
should never have left." Added to the force of these circumstances, it
was no doubt apparent to all that to resume operations after that
forced retreat, and the betrayal it gave of divided counsels, would be
less hopeful than ever. These arguments even convinced the bold La
Hire, who for his part, being no better than a Free Lance, could move
hither and thither as he would; and thus the first defeat of the Maid,
a disaster involving all the misfortunes that followed in its train,
was accomplished.

Jeanne's last act in St. Denis was one to which perhaps the modern
reader gives undue significance, but which certainly must have had a
certain melancholy meaning. Before she left, dragged almost a captive
in the train of the King, we are told that she laid on the altar of
the cathedral the armour she had worn on that evil day before Paris.
It was not an unusual act for a warrior to do this on his return from
the wars. And if she had been about to renounce her mission it would
have been easily comprehensible. But no such thought was in her mind.
Was it a movement of despair, was it with some womanish fancy that the
arms in which she had suffered defeat should not be borne again?--or
was it done in some gleam of higher revelation made to her that
defeat, too, was a part of victory, and that not without that
bitterness of failure could the fame of the soldier of Christ be
perfected? I have remarked already that we hear no more of the white
armour, inlaid with silver and dazzling like a mirror, in which she
had begun her career; perhaps it was the remains of that panoply of
triumph which she laid out before the altar of the patron saint of
France, all dim now with hard work and the shadow of defeat. It must
have marked a renunciation of one kind or another, the sacrifice of
some hope. She was no longer Jeanne the invincible, the triumphant,
whose very look made the enemy tremble and flee, and gave double force
to every Frenchman's arm. Was she then and there abdicating, becoming
to her own consciousness Jeanne the champion only, honest and true,
but no longer the inspired Maid, the Envoy of God? To these questions
we can give no answer; but the act is pathetic, and fills the mind
with suggestions. She who had carried every force triumphantly with
her, and quenched every opposition, bitter and determined though that
had been, was now a thrall to be dragged almost by force in an
unworthy train. It is evident that she felt the humiliation to the
bottom of her heart. It is not for human nature to have the triumph
alone: the humiliation, the overthrow, the chill and tragic shadow
must follow. Jeanne had entered into that cloud when she offered the
armour, that had been like a star in front of the battle, at the
shrine of St. Denis.[2] Hers was now to be a sadder, a humbler,
perhaps a still nobler part.

It is enough to trace the further movements of the King to perceive
how at every step the iron must have entered deeper and deeper into
the heart of the Maid. He made his arrangements for the government of
each of the towns which had acknowledged him: Beauvais, Compiègne,
Senlis, and the rest. He appointed commissioners for the due
regulation of the truce with Philip of Burgundy. And then the
retreating army took its march southward towards the mild and wealthy
country, all fertility and quiet, where a recreant prince might feel
himself safe and amuse himself at his leisure--by Lagny, by Provins,
by Bercy-sur Seine, where he had been checked before in his retreat
and almost forced to the march on Paris--by Sens, and Montargis: until
at last on the 29th of September, no doubt diminished by the
withdrawal of many a local troop and knight whose service was over,
the forces arrived at Gien, whence they had set forth at the end of
June for a series of victories. It is to be supposed that the King was
well enough satisfied with the conquests accomplished in three months.
And, indeed, in ordinary circumstances they would have formed a
triumphant list. Charles must have felt himself free to play after the
work which he had not done; and to leave his good fortune and the able
negotiators, who hoped to get Paris and other good things from Philip
of Burgundy without paying anything for them, to do the rest.

We can imagine nothing more dreadful for the Maid than the months that
followed. The Court was not ungrateful to her; she received the
warmest welcome from the Queen; she had a /maison/ arranged for her
like the household of a noble chief, with the addition of women and
maidens of rank to her existing staff, and everything which could
serve to show that she was one whom the King delighted to honour. And
Charles would have her apparelled gloriously like the king's daughter
in the psalm. "He gave her a mantle of cloth of gold, open at both
sides, to wear over her armour," and apparently did his best to make
her, if not a noble lady, yet into the semblance of a noble young
chevalière, one the glories of his Court, with all the distinction of
her achievements and all the complacences of a carpet knight. It was
said afterwards, in the absence of any graver possibility of
accusation, that she liked her fine clothes. The tears rise to the
eyes at such a suggestion. She was so natural that let us hope she
did, the martyr Maid whose torture had already begun. If that mantle
of gold gave her a moment of pleasure, it is something to be thankful
for in the midst of the dismal shadows that were already closing round
her. They were ready to give her any shining mantle, any beautiful
dress, even a title and a noble name if she would; but what the King
and his counsellors were determined on, was, that she should no more
have the fame of individual triumph, or do anything save under their

Alençon, the gentle duke, with whom she had taken so much trouble, and
who had grown into a true and noble comrade, made one effort to free
his friend and leader. He planned an expedition into Normandy, where,
with the help of Jeanne, he hoped to inflict upon the English a loss
so tremendous, the destruction of their base of operations, that they
would be compelled to abandon the centre of France altogether, and
leave the way open to Paris and to the recovery of the entire kingdom;
but the King, or La Tremoïlle, as the historians prefer to say, would
not permit Jeanne to accompany him, and this hope came to nothing.
Alençon disbanded his troops, everything in the form of an army was
broken up--the short period of feudal service making this inevitable,
unless new levies were made--and no forces were left under arms except
those bands which formed the body-guard of the King. Nevertheless,
there was plenty of work to be done still, and the breaking up of the
French forces encouraged many a little garrison of English partisans,
which would have yielded naturally and easily to a strong national

In the midst of the winter, however, it seemed appropriate to the
Court to launch forth an expedition against some of the unsubdued
towns, perhaps on account of the mortal languishment of Jeanne
herself, perhaps for some other reason of its own. The first necessity
was to collect the necessary forces, and for this reason Jeanne came
to Bourges, where she was lodged in one of the great houses of the
city, that of Raynard de Bouligny, /conseiller de roi/, and his wife,
Marguerite, one of the Queen's ladies. She was there for three weeks
collecting her men, and the noble gentlewoman, who was her hostess,
was afterwards in the Rehabilitation trial, one of the witnesses to
the purity of her life.

From this lady and others we have a clear enough view of what the Maid
was in this second chapter of her history. She spent her time in the
most intimate intercourse with Madam Marguerite, sharing even her
room, so that nothing could be more complete than the knowledge of her
hostess of every detail of her young guest's life. And wonderful as
was the difference between the peasant maiden of Domremy and the most
famous woman in France, the life of Jeanne, the Deliverer of her
country, is as the life of Jeanne, the cottage sempstress,--as simple,
as devout, and as pure. She loved to go to church for the early
matins, but as it was not fit that she should go out alone at that
hour, she besought Madame Marguerite to go with her. In the evening
she went to the nearest church, and there with all her old childish
love for the church bells, she had them rung for half an hour, calling
together the poor, the beggars who haunt every Catholic church, the
poor friars and bedesmen, the penniless and forlorn from all the
neighbourhood. This custom would, no doubt, soon become known, and not
only her poor pensioners, but the general crowd would gather to gaze
at the Maid as well as to join in her prayers. It was her great
pleasure to sing a hymn to the Virgin, probably one of the litanies
which the unlearned worshipper loves, with its choruses and constant
repetitions, in company with all those untutored voices, in the
dimness of the church, while the twilight sank into night, and the
twinkling stars of candles on the altar made a radiance in the middle
of the gloom. When she had money to give she divided it, according to
the liberal custom of her time, among her poor fellow-worshippers.
These evening services were her recreation. The days were full of
business, of enrolling soldiers, and regulating the "lances," groups
of retainers, headed by their lord, who came to perform their feudal

The ladies of the town who had the advantage of knowing Madame
Marguerite did not fail to avail themselves of this privilege, and
thronged to visit her wonderful guest. They brought her their sacred
medals and rosaries to bless, and asked her a hundred questions. Was
she afraid of being wounded; or was she assured that she would not be
wounded? "No more than others," she said; and she put away their
religious ornaments with a smile, bidding Madame Marguerite touch
them, or the visitors themselves, which would be just as good as if
she did it. She would seem to have been always smiling, friendly,
checking with a laugh the adulation of her visitors, many of whom wore
medals with her own effigy (if only one had been saved for us!) as
there were many banners made after the pattern of hers. But cheerful
as she was, a prevailing tone of sadness now appears to run through
her life. On several occasions she spoke to her confessor and
chaplain, who attended her everywhere, of her death. "If it should be
my fate to die soon, tell the King our master on my part to build
chapels where prayer may be made to the Most High for the salvation of
the souls of those who shall die in the wars for the defence of the
kingdom." This was the one thing she seemed anxious for, and it
returned again and again to her mind. Her thoughts indeed were heavy
enough. Her larger enterprises had been cruelly put a stop to: her
companions-in-arms had been dispersed: she had been separated from
her lieutenant Alençon, and from all the friends between whom and
herself great mutual confidence had sprung up. Even the commission
which had at last been put in her hands was a trifling one and led to
nothing, bringing the King no nearer to any satisfactory end: and the
troops were under command of a new captain whom she scarcely knew,
d'Albert, who was the son-in-law of La Tremoïlle, and probably little
inclined to be a friend to Jeanne. In these circumstances there was
little of an exhilarating or promising kind.

Nevertheless as an episode, few things had happened to Jeanne more
memorable than the siege of St. Pierre-le-Moutier. The first assault
upon the town was unsuccessful; the retreat had sounded and the troops
were streaming back from the point of attack, when Jean d'Aulon, the
faithful friend and brave gentleman who was at the head of the Maid's
military household, being himself wounded in the heel and unable to
stand or walk, saw the Maid almost alone before the stronghold, four
or five men only with her. He dragged himself up as well as he could
upon his horse, and hastened towards her, calling out to her to ask
what she did there, and why she did not retire with the rest. She
answered him, taking off her helmet to speak, that she would leave
only when the place was taken--and went on shouting for faggots and
beams to make a bridge across the ditch. It is to be supposed that
seeing she paid no attention, nor budged a step from that dangerous
point, this brave man, wounded though he was, must have made an effort
to rally the retiring besiegers: but Jeanne seems to have taken no
notice of her desertion nor ever to have paused in her shout for
planks and gabions. "All to the bridge," she shouted, "/aux fagots et
aux claies tout le monde!/ every one to the bridge." "Jeanne,
withdraw, withdraw! You are alone," some one said to her. Bareheaded,
her countenance all aglow, the Maid replied: "I have still with me
fifty thousand of my men." Were those the men whom the prophet's
servant saw when his eyes were opened and he beheld the innumerable
company of angels that surrounded his master? But Jeanne, rapt in the
trance and ecstasy of battle, gave no explanation. "To work, to work!"
her clear voice went on, ringing over the startled head of the good
knight who knew war, but not any rapture like this. History itself,
awe-stricken, would almost have us believe that alone with her own
hand the Maid took the city, so entirely does every figure disappear
but that one, and the perplexed and terrified spectator vainly urging
her to give up so desperate an attempt. But no doubt the shouts of a
voice so strange to every such scene, the /vox infantile/, the amazing
and clear voice, silvery and womanly, /assez femme/, and the efforts
of d'Aulon to bring back the retreating troops were successful, and
Jeanne once more, triumphantly kept her word. The place was strongly
fortified, well provisioned, and full of people. Therefore the whole
narrative is little less than miraculous, though very little is said
of it. Had they but persevered, as she had said, a few hours longer
before Paris, who could tell that the same result might not have been

She was not successful, however, with La Charité, which after a siege
of a month's duration still held out, and had to be abandoned. These
long operations of regular warfare were not in Jeanne's way; and her
coadjutor in command, it must be remembered, was in this case
commissioned by her chief enemy. We are told that she was left without
supplies, and in the depths of winter, in cold and rain and snow, with
every movement hampered, and the ineffective government ever ready to
send orders of retreat, or to cause bewildering and confusing delays
by the want of every munition of war. Finally, at all events, the
French forces withdrew, and again an unsuccessful enterprise was added
to the record of the once victorious Maid. That she went on
continually promising victory as in her early times, is probably the
mere rumour spread by her detractors who were now so many, for there
is no real evidence that she did so. Everything rather points to
discouragement, uncertainty, and to a silent rage against the coercion
which she could not overcome.
[1] Clermont it was who deserted the Scots at the Battle of the

[2] Jeanne's arms, offered at St. Denis, were afterwards taken by the
English and sent to the King of England (all except the sword with
its ornaments of gold) without giving anything to the church in
return: "qui est pur sacrilege et manifeste," says Jean Chartier.



By this time France was once more all in flames: the English and
Burgundians had entered and then abandoned Paris--Duke Philip
cynically leaving that city, which he had promised to give up to
Charles, to its own protection, in order to look after his more
pressing personal concerns: while Bedford spread fire and flame about
the adjacent country, retaking with much slaughter many of the towns
which had opened their gates to the King. Thus while Charles gave no
attention to anything beyond the Loire, and kept his chief champion
there, as it were, on the leash, permitting no return to the most
important field of operations, almost all that had been gained was
again lost upon the banks of the Seine. This was the state of affairs
when Jeanne returned humbled and sad from the abandoned siege of La
Charité. Her enemy's counsels had triumphed all round and this was the
result. Individual fightings of no particular account and under no
efficient organisation were taking place day by day; here a town stood
out heroically, there another yielded to the foreign arms; the
population were thrown back into universal misery, the spring fields
trampled under foot, the villages burned, every evil of war in full
operation, invasion aggravated by faction, the English always aided by
one side of France against the other, and neither peace nor security

This was the aspect of affairs on one side. On the other appeared a
still less satisfactory scene. Charles amusing himself, his
counsellors, La Tremoïlle, and the Archbishop of Rheims carrying on
fictitious negotiations with Burgundy and playing with the Maid who
was in their power, sending her out to make a show and cast a spell,
then dragging her back at the end of their shameful chain: while the
Court, the King and Queen, and all their flattering attendants gilded
that chain and tried to make her forget by fine clothes and caresses,
at once her mission and her despair. They were not ungrateful, no: let
us do them justice, for they might well have added this to the number
of their sins: mantles of cloth of gold, patents of nobility were at
her command, had these been what she wanted. The only personal wrong
they did to Jeanne was to set up against her a sort of opposition,
another enchantress and visionary who had "voices" and apparitions
too, and who was admitted to all the councils and gave her advice in
contradiction of the Maid, a certain Catherine de la Rochelle, who was
ready to say anything that was put into her mouth, but who had done
nothing to prove any mission for France or from God. We have little
light however upon the state of affairs in those castles, which one
after another were the abode of the Court during this disastrous
winter. They were safe enough on the other side of the Loire in the
fat country where the vines still flourished and the young corn grew.
Now and then a band of armed men was sent forth to succour a fighting
town in the suffering and struggling Île-de-France, always under the
conflicting orders of those intrigants and courtiers: but within the
Court, all was gay; "never man," as rough La Hire had said on an
earlier occasion, "lost his kingdom more gaily or with better grace"
than did Charles. Where was La Hire? Where was Dunois?--there is no
appearance of these champions anywhere. Alençon had returned to his
province. Only La Tremoïlle and the Archbishop holding all the strings
in their hands, upsetting all military plans, disgusting every chief,
met and talked and carried on their busy intrigues, and played their
Sibyl--/Sibylle de carrefour/, says one of the historians indignantly
--against the Maid, who, all discouraged and downcast, fretted by
caresses, sick of inactivity, dragged out the uneasy days in an
uncongenial world; but Jeanne has left no record of the sensations
with which she saw these days pass, eating her heart out, gazing over
that rapid river, on the other side of which all the devils were
unchained and every result of her brief revolution was being lost.

At length however the impatience and despair were more than she could
bear; the Court was then at Sully and the spring had begun with its
longer days and more passable roads. Without a word to anyone the Maid
left the castle. The war had rolled towards these princely walls, as
near as Melun, which was threatened by the English. A little band of
intimate servants and associates, her two brothers, and a few faithful
followers, were with her. So far as we know she never saw Charles or
his courtiers again. They arrived at Melun in time to witness and to
take part in the repulse of the English, and it was here that a
communication was make to Jeanne by her saints of which afterwards
there was frequent mention. Little had been said of them during her
dark time of inaction, and their tone was no longer as of old. It was
on the side of the moat of Melun where probably she was superintending
some necessary work to strengthen the fortifications or to put them in
better order for defence, that this message reached her. The "Voices"
which so often had urged her to victory and engaged the faith of
heaven for her success, had now a word to say, secret and personal to
herself. It was that she should be taken prisoner; and the date was
fixed, before the St. Jean. It was the middle of April when this
communication was made and the Feast of St. Jean, as everybody knows,
is in the end of June; two months only to work in, to strike another
blow for France. The "Voices" bade her not to fear, that God would
sustain her. But it would be impossible not to be startled by such a
sudden intimation in the midst of her reviving plans. The Maid made
one terrified prayer, that God would let her die when she was taken,
not subject her to long imprisonment; her heart prophetically sprang
to a sudden consciousness of the most likely, most terrible end that
lay before her, for she had been often enough threatened with the
stake and the fire to know what to expect. But the saintly voices made
no reply. They bade her be strong and of good courage: is not that the
all-sustaining, all-delusive message for every martyr? It was the will
of God, and His support and sustaining power, which we often take to
mean deliverance, but which is not always so--were promised. She asked
where this terrible thing was to happen, but received no reply.
Natural and simple as she was, she confessed afterwards that had she
known she was to be taken on any certain day, she would not have gone
out to meet the catastrophe unless she had been forced by evident duty
to do so. But this was not revealed to her. "Before the St. Jean!" It
must almost have seemed a guarantee that until that time or near it
she was safe. She would seem to have said nothing immediately of this
vision to sadden those about her.

In the meantime, however, there were other adventures in store for
her. From Melun to Lagny was no long journey, but it was through a
country full of enemies in which she must have been subject to attack
at every corner of every road or field. And she had not been long in
the latter place which is said to have had a garrison of Scots, when
news came of the passing of a band of Burgundians, a troop of raiders
indeed, ravaging the country, taking advantage of the war to rob and
lay waste churches, villages, and the growing fields wherever they
passed. The troops was led by Franquet d'Arras, a famous "/pillard/,"
robber of God and man. Jeanne set out to encounter this bandit with a
party of some four hundred men, and various noble companions, among
whom, however, we find no name familiar in her previous career, a
certain Hugh Kennedy, a Scot, who is to be met with in various records
of fighting, being one of the most notable among them. Franquet's band
fought vigorously but were cut to pieces, and the leader was taken
prisoner. When this man was brought back to Lagny, a prisoner to be
ransomed, and whom Jeanne desired to exchange for one of her own side,
the law laid claim to him as a criminal. He was a prisoner of war:
what was it the Maid's duty to do? The question is hotly debated by
the historians and it was brought against her at her trial. He was a
murderer, a robber, the scourge of the country--especially to the poor
whom Jeanne protected and cared for everywhere, was he pitiless and
cruel. She gave him up to justice, and he was tried, condemned, and
beheaded. If it was wrong from a military point of view, it was her
only error, and shows how little there was with which to reproach her.

In Lagny other things passed of a more private nature. Every day and
all day long her "voices" repeated their message in her ears. "Before
the St. Jean." She repeated it to some of her closest comrades but
left herself no time to dwell upon it. Still worse than the giving up
of Franquet was the supposed resuscitation of a child, born dead,
which its parents implored her to pray for that it might live again to
be baptised. She explained the story to her judges afterwards. It was
the habit of the time, nay, we believe continues to this day in some
primitive places, to lay the dead infant on the altar in such a case,
in hope of a miracle. "It is true," said Jeanne, "that the maidens of
the town were all assembled in the church praying God to restore life
that it might be baptised. It is also true that I went and prayed with
them. The child opened its eyes, yawned three or four times, was
christened and died. This is all I know." The miracle is not one that
will find much credit nowadays. But the devout custom was at least
simple and intelligible enough, though it afforded an excellent
occasion to attribute witchcraft to the one among those maidens who
was not of Lagny but of God.

From Lagny Jeanne went on to various other places in danger, or which
wanted encouragement and help. She made two or three hurried visits to
Compiègne, which was threatened by both parties of the enemy; at one
time raising the siege of Choicy, near Compiègne, in company with the
Archbishop of Rheims, a strange brother in arms. On another of her
visits to Compiègne there is said to have occurred an incident which,
if true, reveals to us with very sad reality the trouble that
overshadowed the Maid. She had gone to early mass in the Church of St.
Jacques, and communicated, as was her custom. It must have been near
Easter--perhaps the occasion of the first communion of some of the
children who are so often referred to, among whom she loved to
worship. She had retired behind a pillar on which she leaned as she
stood, and a number of people, among whom were many children, drew
near after the service to gaze at her. Jeanne's heart was full, and
she had no one near to whom she could open it and relieve her soul. As
she stood against the pillar her trouble burst forth. "Dear friends
and children," she said, "I have to tell you that I have been sold and
betrayed, and will soon be given up to death. I beg of you to pray for
me; for soon I shall no longer have any power to serve the King and
the kingdom." These words were told to the writer who records them, in
the year 1498, by two very old men who had heard them, being children
at the time. The scene was one to dwell in a child's recollection,
and, if true, it throws a melancholy light upon the thoughts that
filled the mind of Jeanne, though her actions may have seemed as
energetic and her impulses as strong as in her best days.

At last the news came speeding through the country that Compiègne was
being invested on all sides. It had been the headquarters of Charles
and had received him with acclamations, and therefore the alarm of the
townsfolk for the retribution awaiting them, should they fall into the
hands of the enemy, was great; it was besides a very important
position. Jeanne was at Crespy en Valois when this news reached her.
She set out immediately (May 22, 1430) to carry aid to the garrison:
"/F'irai voir mes bons amis de Compiègne/," she said. The words are on
the base of her statue which now stands in the Place of that town.
Something of her early impetuosity was in this impulse, and no
apparent dread of any fatality. She rode all night at the head of her
party, and arrived before the dawn, a May morning, the 23d, still a
month from the fatal "St. Jean." Though the prophecy was always in her
ears, she must have felt that whole month still before her, with a
sensation of almost greater safety because the dangerous moment was
fixed. The town received her with joy, and no doubt the satisfaction
and relief which hailed her and her reinforcements gave additional
fervour to the Maid, and drove out of her mind for a moment the fatal
knowledge which oppressed it. There is some difficulty in
understanding the events of this day, but the lucid narrative of
Quicherat, which we shall now quote, gives a very vivid picture of it.
Jeanne had timed her arrival so early in the morning, probably with
the intention of keeping the adversaries in their camps unaware of so
important an addition to the garrison, in order that she might
surprise them by the sortie she had determined upon; but no doubt the
news had leaked forth somehow, if through no other means, by the
sudden ringing of the bells and sounds of joy from the city. She paid
her usual visits to the churches, and noted and made all her
arrangements for the sortie with her usual care, occupying the long
summer day in these preparations. And it was not till five o'clock in
the evening that everything was complete, and she sallied forth. We
hear nothing of the state of the town, or of any suspicion existing at
the time as to the governor Flavy who was afterwards believed by some
to be the man who sold and betrayed her. It is a question debated
warmly like all these questions. He was a man of bad reputation, but
there is no evidence that he was a traitor. The incidents are all
natural enough, and seem to indicate clearly the mere fortune of war
upon which no man can calculate. We add from Quicherat the description
of the field and what took place there:

"Compiègne is situated on the left bank of the Oise. On the other side
extends a great meadow, nearly a mile broad, at the end of which the
rising ground of Picardy rises suddenly like a wall, shutting in the
horizon. The meadow is so low and so subject to floods that it is
crossed by an ancient foot of the low hills. Three village churches
mark the extent of the landscape visible from the walls of Compiègne;
Margny (sometimes spelt Marigny) at the end of the road; Clairoix
three quarters of a league higher up, at the confluence of the two
rivers, the Aronde and the Oise, close to the spot where another
tributary, the Aisne, also flows into the Oise; and Venette a mile and
a half lower down. The Burgundians had one camp at Margny, another at
Clairoix; the headquarters of the English were at Venette. As for the
inhabitants of Compiègne, their first defence facing the enemy was one
of those redoubts or towers which the chronicles of the fifteenth
century called a boulevard. It was placed at the end of the bridge and
commanded the road.

"The plan of the Maid was to make a sortie towards the evening, to
attack Margny and afterwards Clairoix, and then at the opening of the
Aronde valley to meet the Duke of Burgundy and his forces who were
lodged there, and who would naturally come to the aid of his other
troops when attacked. She took no thought for the English, having
already carefully arranged with Flavy how they should be prevented
from cutting off her retreat. The governor provided against any chance
of this by arming the boulevard strongly with archers to drive off any
advancing force, and also by keeping ready on the Oise a number of
covered boats to receive the foot-soldiers in case of a retrograde

"The action began well: the garrison of Margny yielded in the
twinkling of an eye. That of Clairoix rushing to the support of their
brothers in arms was repulsed, then in its turn repulsed the French;
and three times this alternative of advance and retreat took place on
the flat ground of the meadow without serious injury to either party.
This gave time to the English to take part in the fray;[1] though
thanks to the precautions of Flavy all they could do was to swell the
ranks of the Burgundians. But unfortunately the rear of the Maid's
army was struck with the possibility that a diversion might be
attempted from behind, and their retreat cut off. A panic seized them;
they broke their ranks, turned back and fled, some to the boats, some
to the barrier of the boulevard. The English witnessing this flight
rushed after them, secure now on the side of Compiègne, where the
archers no longer ventured to shoot lest they should kill the
fugitives instead of the enemies. They (the English) thus got
possession of the raised road, and pushed on so hotly after the
fugitives that their horses' heads touched the backs of the crowd. It
thus became necessary for the safety of the town to close the gates
until the barrier of the boulevard should be set up again."


These disastrous accidents had taken place while Jeanne, charging in
front with her companions and body-guard, remained quite unaware of
any misfortune. She would hear no call to retreat, even when her
companions were roused to the dangers of their position. "Forward,
they are ours!" was all her cry. As at St. Pierre-le-Moutier she was
ready to defeat the Burgundian army alone. At length the others
perceiving something of what had happened seized her bridle and forced
her to retire. She was of herself too remarkable a figure to be
concealed amid the group of armed men who rode with her, encircling
her, defending the rear of the flying party. Over her armour she wore
a crimson tunic, or according to some authorities a short cloak, of
gorgeous material embroidered with gold, and though by this time the
twilight must have afforded a partial shelter, yet the knowledge that
she was there gave keenness to every eye. Behind, the scattered
Burgundians had rallied and begun to pursue, while the armour and
spears of the English glittered in front between the little party and
the barrier which was blocked by a terrified crowd of fugitives. Even
then a party of horsemen might have cut their way through; but at the
moment when Jeanne and her followers drew near, the barrier was
sharply closed and the wild, confused, and fighting crowd, treading
each other down, struggling for life, were forced back upon the
English lances. Thus the retreating band riding hard along the raised
road, in order and unbroken, found the path suddenly barred by the
forces of the enemy, the fugitives of their own army, and the closed
gates of the town.

An attempt was then made by the Maid and her companions to turn
towards the western gate where there still might have been a chance of
safety; but by this time the smaller figure among all those steel-clad
men, and the waving mantle, must have been distinguished through the
dusk and the dust. There was a wild rush of combat and confusion, and
in a moment she was surrounded, seized, her horse and her person,
notwithstanding all resistance. With cries of "Rendez vous," and many
an evil name, fierce faces and threatening weapons closed round her.
One of her assailants--a Burgundian knight, a Picard archer, the
accounts differ--caught her by her mantle and dragged her from her
horse; no Englishman let us be thankful, though no doubt all were
equally eager and ready. Into the midst of that shouting mass of men,
in the blinding cloud of dust, in the darkening of the night, the Maid
of France disappeared for one terrible moment, and was lost to view.
And then, and not till then, came a clamour of bells into the night,
and all the steeples of Compiègne trembled with the call to arms, a
sally to save the deliverer. Was it treachery? Was it only a
perception, too late, of the danger? There are not wanting voices to
say that a prompt sally might have saved Jeanne, and that it was quite
within the power of the Governor and city had they chosen. Who can
answer so dreadful a suggestion? it is too much shame to human nature
to believe it. Perhaps within Compiègne as without, they were too slow
to perceive the supreme moment, too much overwhelmed to snatch any
chance of rescue till it was too late.

Happily we have no light upon the tumult around the prisoner, the ugly
triumph, the shouts and exultation of the captors who had seized the
sorceress at last; nor upon the thoughts of Jeanne, with her
threatened doom fulfilled and unknown horrors before her, upon which
imagination must have thrown the most dreadful light, however strongly
her courage was sustained by the promise of succour from on high. She
had not been sent upon this mission as of old. No heavenly voice had
said to her "Go and deliver Compiègne." She had undertaken that
warfare on her own charges with no promise to encourage her, only the
certainty of being overthrown "before the St. Jean." But the St. Jean
was still far off, a long month of summer days between her and that
moment of fate! So far as we can see Jeanne showed no unseemly
weakness in this dark hour. One account tells us that she held her
sword high over her head declaring that it was given by a higher than
any who could claim its surrender there. But she neither struggled nor
wept. Not a word against her constancy and courage could any one, then
or after, find to say. The Burgundian chronicler tells us one thing,
the French another. "The Maid, easily recognised by her costume of
crimson and by the standard which she carried in her hand, alone
continued to defend herself," says one; but that we are sure could not
have been the case as long as d'Aulon, who accompanied her, was still
able to keep on his horse. "She yielded and gave her parole to
Lyonnel, bâtard de Wandomme," says another; but Jeanne herself
declares that she gave her faith to no one, reserving to herself the
right to escape if she could. In that dark evening scene nothing is
clear except the fact that the Maid was taken, to the exultation and
delight of her captors and to the terror and grief of the unhappy
town, vainly screaming with all its bells to arms,--and with its sons
and champions by hundreds dying under the English lances and in the
dark waves of the Oise.

The archer or whoever it was who secured this prize, took Jeanne back,
along the bloody road with its relics of the fight, to Margny, the
Burgundian camp, where the leaders crowded together to see so
important a prisoner. "Thither came soon after," says Monstrelet, "the
Duke of Burgundy from his camp of Coudon, and there assembled the
English, the said Duke and those of the other camps in great numbers,
making, one with the other, great cries and rejoicings on the taking
of the Maid: whom the said Duke went to see in the lodging where she
was and spoke some words to her which I cannot call to mind, though I
was there present; after which the said Duke and the others withdrew
for the night, leaving the Maid in the keeping of Messer John of
Luxembourg"--to whom she had been immediately sold by her first
captor. The same night, Philip, this noble Duke and Prince of France,
wrote a letter to convey the blessed information:

"The great news of this capture should be spread everywhere and
brought to the knowledge of all, that they may see the error of
those who could believe and lend themselves to the pretensions of
such a woman. We write this in the hope of giving you joy,
comfort, and consolation, and that you may thank God our Creator.
Pray that it may be His holy will to be more and more favourable
to the enterprises of our royal master and to the restoration of
his sway over all his good and faithful subjects."

This royal master was Henry VI. of England, the baby king, doomed
already to expiate sins that were not his, by the saddest life and
reign. The French historians whimsically but perhaps not unnaturally,
have the air of putting down this baseness on Philip's part, and on
that of his contemporaries in general, to the score of the English,
which is hard measure, seeing that the treachery of a Frenchman could
in no way be attributed to the other nation of which he was the
natural enemy, or at least, antagonist. Very naturally the subsequent
proceedings in all their horror and cruelty are equally put down to
the English account, although Frenchmen took, exulted over as a
prisoner, tried and condemned as an enemy of God and the Church, the
spotless creature who was France incarnate, the very embodiment of her
country in all that was purest and noblest. We shall see with what
spontaneous zeal all France, except her own small party, set to work
to accomplish this noble office.

Almost before one could draw breath the University of Paris claimed
her as a proper victim for the Inquisition. Compiègne made no sally
for her deliverance; Charles, no attempt to ransom her. From end to
end of France not a finger was lifted for her rescue; the women wept
over her, the poor people still crowded around the prisoner wherever
seen, but the France of every public document, of every practical
power, the living nation, when it did not utter cries of hatred, kept
silence. We in England have over and over again acknowledged with
shame our guilty part in her murder; but still to this day the
Frenchman tries to shield his under cover of the English influence and
terror. He cannot deny La Tremoïlle, nor Cauchon, nor the University,
nor the learned doctors who did the deed; individually he is ready to
give them all up to the everlasting fires which one cannot but hope
are kept alive for some people in spite of all modern benevolences;
but he skilfully turns back to the English as a moving cause of
everything. Nothing can be more untrue. The English were not better
than the French, but they had the excuse at least of being the enemy.
France saved by a happy chance her /blanches mains/ from the actual
blood of the pure and spotless Maid; but with exultation she prepared
the victim for the stake, sent her thither, played with her like a cat
with a mouse and condemned her to the fire. This is not to free us
from our share: but it is the height of hypocrisy to lay the blood of
Jeanne, entirely to our door.

Thus Jeanne's inspiration proved itself over again in blood and tears;
it had been proved already on battle-field and city wall, with loud
trumpets of joy and victory. But the "voices" had spoken again,
sounding another strain; not always of glory--it is not the way of
God; but of prison, downfall, distress. "Be not astonished at it,"
they said to her; "God will be with you." From day to day they had
spoken in the same strain, with no joyful commands to go forth and
conquer, but the one refrain: "Before the St. Jean." Perhaps there was
a certain relief in her mind at first when the blow fell and the
prophecy was accomplished. All she had to do now was to suffer, not to
be surprised, to trust in God that He would support her. To Jeanne, no
doubt, in the confidence and inexperience of her youth, that meant
that God would deliver her. And so He did; but not as she expected.
The sunshine of her life was over, and now the long shadow, the bitter
storm was to come.

Nothing could be more remarkable than the response of France in
general to this extraordinary event. In Paris there were bonfires
lighted to show their joy, the /Te Deum/ was sung at Notre Dame. At
the Court Charles and his counsellors amused themselves with another
prophet, a shepherd from the hills who was to rival Jeanne's best
achievements, but never did so. Only the towns which she had delivered
had still a tender thought for Jeanne. At Tours the entire population
appeared in the streets with bare feet, singing the /Miserere/ in
penance and affliction. Orleans and Blois made public prayers for her
safety. Rheims, in which there was much independent interest in Jeanne
and her truth, had to be specially soothed by a letter from the
Archbishop, in which he made out with great cleverness that it was the
fault of Jeanne alone that she was taken. "She did nothing but by her
own will, without obeying the commandments of God," he says; "she
would hear no counsel, but followed her own pleasure,"; and it is in
this letter that we hear of the shepherd lad who was to replace
Jeanne, and that it was his opinion or revelation that God had
suffered the Maid to be taken because of her growing pride, because
she loved fine clothes, and preferred her own will to any guidance. We
do not know whether this contented the city of Rheims; similar
reasoning however seems to have silenced France. Nobody uttered a
protest, nor struck a blow; the mournful procession of Tours, where
she had been first known in the outset of her career, the prayers of
Orleans which she had delivered, are the only exceptions we know of.
Otherwise there was lifted in France neither voice nor hand to avert
her doom.
[1] The three camps must have formed a sort of irregular triangle. The
English at Venette being only half a mile from the gates of


MAY, 1430-JAN., 1431.

We have here to remark a complete suspension of all the ordinary laws
at once of chivalry and of honest warfare. Jeanne had been captured as
a general at the head of her forces. She was a prisoner of war. Such a
prisoner ordinarily, even in the most cruel ages, is in no bodily
danger. He is worth more alive than dead--a great ransom perhaps--
perhaps the very end of the warfare, and the accomplishment of
everything it was intended to gain: at least he is most valuable to
exchange for other important prisoners on the opposite side. It was
like taking away so much personal property to kill a prisoner, an
outrage deeply resented by his captor and unjustified by any law. It
was true that Jeanne herself had transgressed this universal custom
but a little while before, by giving up Franquet d'Arras to his
prosecutors. But Franquet was beyond the courtesies of war, a noted
criminal, robber, and destroyer: yet she ought not perhaps to have
departed from the military laws of right and wrong while everything in
the country was under the hasty arbitration of war. No one, however,
so far as we know, produces this matter of Franquet as a precedent in
her own case. From the first moment of her seizure there was no
question of the custom and privilege of warfare. She was taken as a
wild animal might have been taken, the only doubt being how to make
the most signal example of her. Vengeance in the gloomy form of the
Inquisition claimed her the first day. No such word as ransom was
breathed from her own side, none was demanded, none was offered. Her
case is at once separated from every other.

Yet the reign of chivalry was at its height, and women were supposed
to be the objects of a kind of worship, every knight being sworn to
succour and help them in need and trouble. There was perhaps something
of the subtle jealousy of sex so constantly denied on the stronger
side, but yet always existing, in the abrogation of every law of
chivalry as well as of warfare, in respect to the Maid. That man is
indeed of the highest strain of generosity who can bear to be beaten
by a woman. And all the seething, agitated world of France had been
beaten by this girl. The English and Burgundians, in the ordinary
sense of the word, had been overcome in fair field, forced to fly
before her; the French, her own side, had experienced an even more
penetrating downfall by having the honours of victory taken from them,
she alone winning the day where they had all failed. This is bitterer,
perhaps, than merely to be compelled to raise a siege or to fail in a
fight. The Frenchmen fought like lions, but the praise was to Jeanne
who never struck a blow. Such great hearts as Dunois, such a courteous
prince as Alençon, were too magnanimous to feel, or at least to
resent, the grievance; they seconded her and fought under her with a
nobility of mind and disinterestedness beyond praise; but it was not
to be supposed that the common mass of the French captains were like
these; she had wronged and shamed them by taking the glory from them,
as much as she had shamed the English by making those universal
victors fly before her. The burghers whom she had rescued, the poor
people who were her brethren and whom she sought everywhere, might
weep and cry out to Heaven, but they were powerless at such a moment.
And every law that might have helped her was pushed aside.

On the 25th the news was known in Paris, and immediately there appears
in the record a new adversary to Jeanne, the most bitter and
implacable of all; the next day, May 26, 1430, without the loss of an
hour, a letter was addressed to the Burgundian camp from the capital.
Quicherat speaks of it as a letter from the Inquisitor or vicar-
general of the Inquisition, written by the officials of the
University; others tell us that an independent letter was sent from
the University to second that of the Inquisitor. The University we may
add was not a university like one of ours, or like any existing at the
present day. It was an ecclesiastical corporation of the highest
authority in every cause connected with the Church, while gathering
law, philosophy, and literature under its wing. The first theologians,
the most eminent jurists were collected there, not by any means always
in alliance with the narrower tendencies and methods of the
Inquisition. It is notable, however, that this great institution lost
no time in claiming the prisoner, whose chief offence in its eyes was
less her career as a warrior than her position as a sorceress. The
actual facts of her life were of secondary importance to them.
Orleans, Rheims, even her attack upon Paris were nothing in comparison
with the black art which they believed to be her inspiration. The
guidance of Heaven which was not the guidance of the Church was to
them a claim which meant only rebellion of the direst kind. They had
longed to seize her and strip her of her presumptuous pretensions from
the first moment of her appearance. They could not allow a day of her
overthrow to pass by without snatching at this much-desired victim.

No one perhaps will ever be able to say what it is that makes a trial
for heresy and sorcery, especially in the days when fire and flame,
the rack and the stake, stood at the end, so exciting and horribly
attractive to the mind. Whether it is the revelations that are hoped
for, of these strange commerces between earth and the unknown, into
which we would all fain pry if we could, in pursuit of some better
understanding than has ever yet fallen to the lot of man; whether it
is the strange and dreadful pleasure of seeing a soul driven to
extremity and fighting for its life through all the subtleties of
thought and fierce attacks of interrogation--or the mere love of
inflicting torture, misery, and death, which the Church was prevented
from doing in the common way, it is impossible to tell; but there is
no doubt that a thrill like the wings of vultures crowding to the
prey, a sense of horrible claws and beaks and greedy eyes is in the
air, whenever such a tribunal is thought of. The thrill, the stir, the
eagerness among those black birds of doom is more evident than usual
in the headlong haste of that demand. /Sous l'influence de
l'Angleterre/, say the historians; the more shame for them if it was
so; but they were clearly under influence wider and more infallible,
the influence of that instinct, whatever it may be, which makes a
trial for heresy ten thousand times more cruel, less restrained by any
humanities of nature, than any other kind of trial which history

That is what the Inquisitor demanded after a long description of
Jeanne, "called the Maid," as having "dogmatised, sown, published, and
caused to be published, many and diverse errors from which have ensued
great scandals against the divine honour and our holy faith." "Using
the rights of our office and the authority committed to us by the Holy
See of Rome we instantly command, and enjoin you in the name of the
Catholic faith, and under penalty of the law: and all other Catholic
persons of whatsoever condition, pre-eminence, authority, or estate,
to send or to bring as prisoner before us with all speed and surety
the said Jeanne, vehemently suspected of various crimes springing from
heresy, that proceedings may be taken against her before us in the
name of the Holy Inquisition, and with the favour and aid of the
doctors and masters of the University of Paris, and other notable
counsellors present there."

It was the English who put it into the heads of the Inquisitor and the
University to do this, all the anxious Frenchmen cry. We can only
reply again, the more shame for the French doctors and priests! But
there was very little time to bring that influence to bear; and there
is an eagerness and precipitation in the demand which is far more like
the headlong natural rush for a much desired prize than any course of
action suggested by a third party. Nor is there anything to lead us to
believe that the movement was not spontaneous. It is little likely,
indeed, that the Sorbonne nowadays would concern itself about any
inspired maid, any more than the enlightened Oxford would do so. But
the ideas of the fifteenth century were widely different, and
witchcraft and heresy were the most enthralling and exciting of
subjects, as they are still to whosoever believes in them, learned or
unlearned, great or small.

It must be added that the entire mind of France, even of those who
loved Jeanne and believed in her, must have been shaken to its depths
by this catastrophe. We have no sympathy with those who compare the
career of any mortal martyr with the far more mysterious agony and
passion of our Lord. Yet we cannot but remember what a tremendous
element the disappointment of their hopes must have been in the misery
of the first disciples, the Apostles, the mother, all the spectators
who had watched with wonder and faith the mission of the Messiah. Had
it failed? had all the signs come to nothing, all those divine words
and ways, to our minds so much more wonderful than any miracles? Was
there no meaning in them? Were they mere unaccountable delusions,
deceptions of the senses, inspirations perhaps of mere genius--not
from God at all except in a secondary way? In the three terrible days
that followed the Crucifixion the burden of a world must have lain on
the minds of those who had seen every hope fail: no legions of angels
appearing, no overwhelming revelation from heaven, no change in a
moment out of misery into the universal kingship, the triumphant
march. That was but the self-delusion of the earth which continually
travesties the schemes of Heaven; yet the most terrible of all
despairs is such a pause and horror of doubt lest nothing should be

But in the case of this little Maiden, this handmaid of the Lord, the
deception might have been all natural and perhaps shared by herself.
Were her first triumphs accidents merely, were her "voices" delusions,
had she been given up by Heaven, of which she had called herself the
servant? It was a stupor which quenched every voice--a great silence
through the country, only broken by the penitential psalms at Tours.
The Compiègne people, writing to Charles two days after May 23d, do
not mention Jeanne at all. We need not immediately take into account
the baser souls always plentiful, the envious captains and the rest
who might be secretly rejoicing. The entire country, both friends and
foes, had come to a dreadful pause and did not know what to think. The
last circumstance of which we must remind the reader, and which was of
the greatest importance, is, that it was only a small part of France
that knew anything personally of Jeanne. From Tours it is a far cry to
Picardy. All her triumphs had taken place in the south. The captive of
Beaulieu and Beaurevoir spent the sad months of her captivity among a
population which could have heard of her only by flying rumours coming
from hostile quarters. From the midland of France to the sea, near to
which her prison was situated, is a long way, and those northern
districts were as unlike the Orleannais as if they had been in two
different countries. Rouen in Normandy no more resembled Rheims, than
Edinburgh resembled London: and in the fifteenth century that was
saying a great deal. Nothing can be more deceptive than to think of
these separate and often hostile duchies as if they bore any
resemblance to the France of to-day.

The captor of Jeanne was a vassal of Jean de Luxembourg and took her
as we have seen to the quarters of his master at Margny, into whose
hands she thenceforward passed. She was kept in the camp three or four
days and then transferred to the castle of Beaulieu, which belonged to
him; and afterwards to the more important stronghold of Beaurevoir,
which seems to have been his principal residence. We know very few
details of her captivity. According to one chronicler, d'Aulon, her
faithful friend and intendant, was with her at least in the former of
those prisons, where at first she would appear to have been hopeful
and in good spirits, if we may trust to the brief conversation between
her and d'Aulon, which is one of the few details which reach us of
that period. While he lamented over the probable fate of Compiègne she
was confident. "That poor town of Compiègne that you loved so much,"
he said, "by this time it will be in the hands of the enemies of
France." "No," said the Maid, "the places which the king of Heaven
brought back to the allegiance of the gentle King Charles by me, will
not be retaken by his enemies." In this case at least the prophecy
came true.

And perhaps there might have been at first a certain relief in
Jeanne's mind, such as often follows after a long threatened blow has
fallen. She had no longer the vague tortures of suspense, and probably
believed that she would be ransomed as was usual: and in this silence
and seclusion her "voices" which she had not obeyed as at first, but
yet which had not abandoned her, nor shown estrangement, were more
near and audible than amid the noise and tumult of war. They spoke to
her often, sometimes three times a day, as she afterwards said, in the
unbroken quiet of her prison. And though they no longer spoke of new
enterprises and victories, their words were full of consolation. But
it was not long that Jeanne's young and vigorous spirit could content
itself with inaction. She was no mystic; willingly giving herself over
to dreams and visions is more possible to the old than to the young.
Her confidence and hope for her good friends of Compiègne gave way
before the continued tale of their sufferings, and the inveterate
siege which was driving them to desperation. No doubt the worst news
was told to Jeanne, and twice over she made a desperate attempt to
escape, in hope of being able to succour them, but without any
sanction, as she confesses, from her spiritual instructors. At
Beaulieu the attempt was simple enough: the narrative seems to imply
that the doorway, or some part of the wall of her room, had been
closed with laths or planks nailed across an opening: and between
these she succeeded in slipping, "as she was very slight," with the
hope of locking the door to an adjoining guard-room upon the men who
had charge of her, and thus getting free. But alas! The porter of the
château, who had no business there, suddenly appeared in the corridor,
and she was discovered and taken back to her chamber. At Beaurevoir,
which was farther off, her attempt was a much more desperate one, and
indicates a despair and irritation of mind which had become
unbearable. At this place her own condition was much alleviated; the
castle was the residence of Jean de Luxembourg's wife and aunt, ladies
who visited Jeanne continually, and soon became interested and
attached to her; but as the master of the house was himself in the
camp before Compiègne, they had the advantage or disadvantage, as far
as the prisoner was concerned, of constant news, and Jeanne's trouble
for her friends grew daily.

She seems, indeed, after the assurance she had expressed at first, to
have fallen into great doubt and even carried on within herself a
despairing argument with her spiritual guides on this point, battling
with these saintly influences as in the depths of the troubled heart
many have done with the Creator Himself in similar circumstances.
"How," she cried, "could God let them perish who had been so good and
loyal to their King?" St. Catherine replied gently that He would
Himself care for these /bons amis/, and even promised that "before the
St. Martin" relief would come. But Jeanne had probably by this time--
in her great disappointment and loneliness, and with the sense in her
of so much power to help were she only free--got beyond her own
control. They bade her to be patient. One of them, amid their
exhortations to accept her fate cheerfully, and not to be astonished
at it, seems to have conveyed to her mind the impression that she
should not be delivered till she had seen the King of England. "Truly
I will not see him! I would rather die than fall into the hands of the
English," cried Jeanne in her petulance. The King of England is spoken
of always, it is curious to note, as if he had been a great, severe
ruler like his father, never as the child he really was. But Jeanne in
her helplessness and impotence was impatient even with her saints. Day
by day the news came in from Compiègne, all that was favourable to the
Burgundians received with joy and thanksgiving by the ladies of
Luxembourg, while the captive consumed her heart with vain
indignation. At last Jeanne would seem to have wrought herself up to
the most desperate of expedients. Whether her room was in the donjon,
or whether she was allowed sufficient freedom in the house to mount to
the battlements there, we are not informed--probably the latter was
the case: for it was from the top of the tower that the rash girl at
last flung herself down, carried away by what sudden frenzy of alarm
or sting of evil tidings can never be known. Probably she had hoped
that a miracle would be wrought on her behalf, and that faith was all
that was wanted, as on so many other occasions. Perhaps she had heard
of the negotiations to sell her to the English, which would give a
keener urgency to her determination to get free; all that appears in
the story, however, is her wild anxiety about Compiègne and her /bons
amis/. How she escaped destruction no one knows. She was rescued for a
more tremendous and harder fate.

The Maid was taken up as dead from the foot of the tower (the height
is estimated at sixty feet); but she was not dead, nor even seriously
hurt. Her frame, so slight that she had been able to slip between the
bars put up to secure her, had so little solidity that the shock would
seem to have been all that ailed her. She was stunned and unconscious
and remained so far some time; and for three days neither ate nor
drank. But though she was so humbled by the effects of the fall, "she
was comforted by St. Catherine, who bade her confess and implore the
mercy of God" for her rash disobedience--and repeated the promise that
before Martinmas Compiègne should be relieved. Jeanne did not perhaps
in her rebellion deserve this encouragement; but the heavenly ladies
were kind and pitiful and did not stand upon their dignity. The
wonderful thing was that Jeanne recovered perfectly from this
tremendous leap.

The earthly ladies, though so completely on the other side, were
scarcely less kind to the Maid. They visited her daily, carried their
news to her, were very friendly and sweet: and no doubt other visitors
came to make the acquaintance of a prisoner so wonderful. There was
one point on which they were very urgent, and this was about her
dress. It shamed and troubled them to see her in the costume of a man.
Jeanne had her good reasons for that, which perhaps she did not care
to tell them, fearing to shock the ears of a demoiselle of Luxembourg
with the suggestion of dangers of which she knew nothing. No doubt it
was true that while doing the serious work of war, as she said
afterwards, it was best that she should be dressed as a man; but
Jeanne had reason to know besides, that it was safer, among the rough
comrades and gaolers who now surrounded her, to wear the tight-fitting
and firmly fastened dress of a soldier. She answered the ladies and
their remonstrances with all the grace of a courtier. Could she have
done it she would rather have yielded the point to them, she said,
than to any one else in France, except the Queen. The women wherever
she went were always faithful to this young creature, so pure-womanly
in her young angel-hood and man-hood. The poor followed to kiss her
hands or her armour, the rich wooed her with tender flatteries and
persuasions. There is not record in all her career of any woman who
was not her friend.

For the last dreary month of that winter she was sent to the fortress
of Crotoy on the Somme, for what reason we are not told, probably to
be more near the English into whose hands she was about to be given
up: again another shameful bargain in which the guilt lies with the
Burgundians and not with the English. If Charles I. was sold as we
Scots all indignantly deny, the shame of the sale was on our nation,
not on England, whom nobody has ever blamed for the transaction. The
sale of Jeanne was brutally frank. It was indeed a ransom which was
paid to Jean of Luxembourg with a share to the first captor, the
archer who had secured her; but it was simple blood-money as everybody
knew. At Crotoy she had once more the solace of female society, again
with much pressing upon her of their own heavy skirts and hanging
sleeves. A fellow-prisoner in the dungeon of Crotoy, a priest, said
mass every day and gave her the holy communion. And her mind seems to
have been soothed and calmed. Compiègne was relieved; the saints had
kept their word: she had that burden the less upon her soul: and over
the country there were against stirrings of French valour and success.
The day of the Maid was over, but it began to bear the fruit of a
national quickening of vigour and life.

It was at Crotoy, in December, that she was transferred to English
hands. The eager offer of the University of Paris to see her speedy
condemnation had not been accepted, and perhaps the Burgundians had
been willing to wait, to see if any ransom was forthcoming from
France. Perhaps too, Paris, which sang the /Te Deum/ when she was
taken prisoner, began to be a little startled by its own enthusiasm
and to ask itself the question what there was to be so thankful about?
--a result which has happened before in the history of that impulsive
city:--and Paris was too near the centre of France, where the balance
seemed to be turning again in favour of the national party, to have
its thoughts distracted by such a trial as was impending. It seemed
better to the English leaders to conduct their prisoner to a safer
place, to the depths of Normandy where they were most strong. They
seem to have carried her away in the end of the year, travelling
slowly along the coast, and reaching Rouen by way of Eu and Dieppe, as
far away as possible from any risk of rescue. She arrived in Rouen in
the beginning of the year 1431, having thus been already for nearly
eight months in close custody. But there were no further ministrations
of kind women for Jeanne. She was now distinctly in the hands of her
enemies, those who had no sympathy or natural softening of feeling
towards her.

The severities inflicted upon her in her new prison at Rouen were
terrible, almost incredible. We are told that she was kept in an iron
cage (like the Countess of Buchan in earlier days by Edward I.), bound
hands, and feet, and throat, to a pillar, and watched incessantly by
English soldiers--the latter being an abominable and hideous method of
torture which was never departed from during the rest of her life.
Afterwards, at the beginning of her trial she was relieved from the
cage, but never from the presence and scrutiny of this fierce and
hateful bodyguard. Such detestable cruelties were in the manner of the
time, which does not make us the less sicken at them with burning
indignation and the rage of shame. For this aggravation of her
sufferings England alone was responsible. The Burgundians at their
worst had not used her so. It is true that she was to them a piece of
valuable property worth so much good money; which is a powerful
argument everywhere. But to the English she meant no money: no one
offered to ransom Jeanne on the side of her own party, for whom she
had done so much. Even at Tours and Orleans, so far as appears, there
was no subscription--to speak in modern terms,--no cry among the
burghers to gather their crowns for her redemption--not a word, not an
effort, only a barefooted procession, a mass, a Miserere, which had no
issue. France stood silent to see what would come of it; and her
scholars and divines swarmed towards Rouen to make sure that nothing
but harm should come of it to the ignorant country lass, who had set
up such pretences of knowing better than others. The King
congratulated himself that he had another prophetess as good as she,
and a Heaven-sent boy from the mountains who would do as well and
better than Jeanne. Where was Dunois? Where was La Hire,[1] a soldier
bound by no conventions, a captain whose troop went like the wind
where it listed, and whose valour was known? Where was young Guy de
Laval, so ready to sell his lands that his men might be fit for
service? All silent; no man drawing a sword or saying a word. It is
evident that in this frightful pause of fate, Jeanne had become to
France as to England, the Witch whom it was perhaps a danger to have
had anything to do with, whose spells had turned the world upside down
for a moment: but these spells had become ineffectual or worn out as
is the nature of sorcery. No explanation, not even the well-worn and
so often valid one of human baseness, could explain the terrible
situation, if not this.
[1] La Hire was at Louvain, which we hear a little later the new
English levies would not march to besiege till the Maid was dead,
and where Dunois joined him in March of this fatal year. These two
at Louvain within a few leagues of Rouen and not a sword drawn for
Jeanne!--the wonder grows.



The name of Pierre Cauchon, Bishop of Beauvais, appears to us at this
long distance as arising out of the infernal mists, into which, when
his ministry of shame was accomplished, he disappeared again, bearing
with him nothing but hatred and ill fame. Yet in his own day and to
his contemporaries, he was not an inconsiderable man. He was of
Rheims, a great student, and excellent scholar, the friend of many
good men, highly esteemed among the ranks of the learned, a good man
of business, which is not always the attribute of a scholar, and at
the same time a Burgundian of pronounced sentiments, holding for his
Duke, against the King. When Beauvais was summoned by Charles, after
his coronation, at that moment of universal triumph when all seemed
open for him to march upon Paris if he would, the city had joyfully
thrown open its doors to the royal army, and in doing so had driven
out its Bishop, who was hot on the other side. He would not seem to
have been wanted in Paris at that moment. The "triste Bedford," as
Michelet calls him, had no means of employing an ambitious priest, no
dirty work for the moment to give him. It is natural to suppose that a
man so admirably adapted for that employment went in search of it to
the ecclesiastical court, not beloved of England, which the Cardinal
Bishop of Winchester held there. Winchester was the only one of the
House of Lancaster who had money to carry on the government either at
home or abroad. The two priests, as the historians are always pleased
to insinuate in respect to ecclesiastics, soon understood each other,
and Winchester became aware that he had in Cauchon a tool ready for
any shameful enterprise. It is not, however, necessary to assume so
much as this, for we have not the least reason to believe that either
one or the other of them had the slightest doubt on the subject of
Jeanne, or as to her character. She was a pernicious witch, filling a
hitherto invincible army with that savage fright which is but too well
understood among men, and which produces cruel outrages as well as
cowardly panic. The air of this very day, while I write, is ringing
with the story of a woman burnt to death by her own family under the
influence of that same horrible panic and terror. Cauchon was the
countryman, almost the /pays/--an untranslatable expression,--of
Jeanne; but he did not believe in her any more than the loftier
ecclesiastics of France believed in Bernadette of Lourdes, who was of
the spiritual lineage of Jeanne, nor than we should believe to-day in
a similar pretender. It seems unnecessary then to think of dark plots
hatched between these two dark priests against the white, angelic
apparition of the Maid.

What services Cauchon had done to recommend him to the favour of
Winchester we are not told, but he was so much in favour that the
Cardinal had recommended him to the Pope for the vacant archbishopric
of Rouen a few months before there was any immediate question of
Jeanne. The appointment was opposed by the clergy of Rouen, and the
Pope had not come to any decision as yet on the subject. But no doubt
the ambition of Cauchon made him very eager, with such a tempting
prize before him, to recommend himself to his English patron by every
means in his power. And he it was who undertook the office of
negotiating the ransom of Jeanne from the hands of Jean de Luxembourg.
We doubt whether after all it would be just even to call this a
nefarious bargain. To the careless seigneur it would probably be very
much a matter of course. The ransom offered--six thousand francs--was
as good as if she had been a prince. The ladies at home might be
indignant, but what was their foolish fancy for a high-flown girl in
comparison with these substantial crowns in his pocket; and to be free
from the responsibility of guarding her would be an advantage too. And
if her own party did not stir on her behalf, why should he? A most
pertinent question. Cauchon, on the other hand, could assure all
objectors that no summary vengeance was to be taken on the Maid. She
was to be judged by the Church, and by the best men the University
could provide, and if she were found innocent, no doubt would go free.

They must have been sanguine indeed who hoped for a triumphant
acquittal of Jeanne; but still it may have been hoped that a trial by
her countrymen would in every case be better for her than to languish
in prison or to be seized perhaps by the English on some after
occasion, and to perish by their hands. Let us therefore be fair to
Cauchon, if possible, up to the beginning of the /Procès/. He was no
Frenchman, but a Burgundian; his allegiance was to his Duke, not to
the King of England; but his natural sovereign did so, and many, very
many men of note and importance were equally base, and did not esteem
it base at all. Had the inhabitants of Rheims, his native town, or of
Rouen, in which /his/ trial and downfall took place as well as
Jeanne's, pronounced for the King of Prussia in the last war, and
proclaimed themselves his subjects, the traitors would have been hung
with infamy from their own high towers, or driven into their river
headlong. But things were very different in the fifteenth century.
There has never been a moment in our history when either England or
Scotland has pronounced for a foreign sway. Scotland fought with
desperation for centuries against the mere name of suzerainty, though
of a kindred race. There have been terrible moments of forced
subjugation at the point of the sword; but never any such phenomena as
appeared in France, so far on in the world's history as was that
brilliant and highly cultured age. Such a state of affairs is to our
minds impossible to understand or almost to believe: but in the
interests of justice it must be fully acknowledged and understood.

Cauchon arises accordingly, not at first with any infamy, out of the
obscurity. He had been expelled and dethroned from his See, but this
only for political reasons. He was ecclesiastically Bishop of Beauvais
still; it was within his diocese that the Maid had taken prisoner, and
there also her last acts of magic, if magic there was, had taken
place. He had therefore a legal right to claim the jurisdiction, a
right which no one had any interest in taking from him. If Paris was
disappointed at not having so interesting a trial carried on before
its courts, there was compensation in the fact that many doctors of
the University were called to assist Cauchon in his examination of the
Maid, and to bring her, witch, sorceress, heretic, whatever she might
be, to question. These doctors were not undistinguished or unworthy
men. A number of them held high office in the Church; almost all were
honourably connected with the University, the source of learning in
France. "With what art were they chosen!" exclaims M. Blaze de Bury.
"A number of theologians, the élite of the time, had been named to
represent France at the council of Bâle; of these Cauchon chose the
flower." This does not seem on the face of it to be a fact against,
but rather in favour of, the tribunal, which the reader naturally
supposes must have been the better, the more just, for being chosen
among the flower of learning in France. They were not men who could be
imagined to be the tools of any Bishop. Quicherat, in his moderate and
able remarks on this subject, selects for special mention three men
who took a very important part in it, Guillame Érard, Nicole Midi, and
Tomas de Courcelles. They were all men who held a high place in the
respect of their generation. Érard was a friend of Machet, the
confessor of Charles VII., who had been a member of the tribunal at
Poitiers which first pronounced upon the pretensions of Jeanne; yet
after the trial of the Maid Machet still describes him as a man of the
highest virtue and heavenly wisdom. Nicole Midi continued to hold an
honourable place in his University for many years, and was the man
chosen to congratulate Charles when Paris finally became again the
residence of the King. Courcelles was considered the first theologian
of the age. "He was an austere and eloquent young man," says
Quicherat, "of a lucid mind, though nourished on abstractions. He was
the first of theologians long before he had attained the age at which
he could assume the rank of doctor, and even before he had finished
his studies he was considered as the successor of Gerson. He was the
light of the council of Bâle. Eneas Piccolomini (Pope Pius II.) speaks
with admiration of his capacity and his modesty. In him we recognise
the father of the freedom of the Gallican Church. His
disinterestedness is shown by the simple position with which he
contented himself. He died with no higher rank than that of Dean of
the Chapter of Paris."

Did this in Cæsar seem ambitious? Was this the man to be used for
their vile ends by a savage English party thirsting for the blood of
an innocent victim, and by the vile priest who was its tool? It does
not seem so to our eyes across the long level of the centuries which
clear away so many mists. And no more dreadful accusation can be
brought against France than the suggestion that men like these, her
best and most carefully trained, were willing to act as blood-hounds
for the advantage and the pay of the invader. But there are many
French historians to whom the mere fact of a black gown or at least an
ecclesiastical robe, confounds every testimony, and to whom even the
name of Frenchman does not make it appear possible that a priest
should retain a shred of honour or of honesty. We should have said by
the light of nature and probability that had every guarantee been
required for the impartiality and justice of such a tribunal, they
could not have been better secured than by the selection of such men
to conduct its proceedings. They made a great and terrible mistake, as
the wisest of men have made before now. They did much worse, they
behaved to an unfortunate girl who was in their power with
indescribable ferocity and cruelty; but we must hope that this was
owing to the period at which they lived rather than to themselves.

It is not perhaps indeed from the wise and learned, the Stoics and
Pundits of a University, that we should choose judges for the divine
simplicity of those babes and sucklings out of whose mouth praise is
perfected. At the same time to choose the best men is not generally
the way adopted to procure a base judgement. Cauchon might have been
subject to this blame had he filled the benches of his court with
creatures of his own, nameless priests and dialecticians, knowing
nothing but their own poor science of words. He did not do so. There
were but two Englishmen in the assembly, neither of them men of any
importance or influence although there must have been many English
priests in the country and in the train of Winchester. There were not
even any special partisans of Burgundy, though some of the assessors
were Burgundian by birth. We should have said, had we known no more
than this, that every precaution had been taken to give the Maid the
fairest trial. But at the same time a trial which is conducted under
the name of the Inquisition is always suspect. The mere fact of that
terrible name seems to establish a foregone conclusion; few are the
prisoners at that bar who have ever escaped. This fact is almost all
that can be set against the high character of the individuals who
composed the tribunal. At all events it is no argument against the
English that they permitted the best men in France to be chosen as
Jeanne's judges. It is the most bewildering and astonishing of
historical facts that they were so, and yet came to the conclusion
they did, by the means they did, and that without falling under the
condemnation, or scorn, or horror of their fellow-men.

This then was the assembly which gathered in Rouen in the beginning of
1431. Quicherat will not venture to affirm even that intimidation was
directly employed to effect their decision. He says that the evidence
"tends to prove" that this was the case, but honestly allows that, "it
is well to remark that the witnesses contradict each other." "In all
that I have said," he adds, "my intention has been to prove that the
judges of the Maid had in no way the appearance of partisans hotly
pursuing a political vengeance; but that, on the contrary, their known
weight, the consideration which most of them enjoyed, and the nature
of the tribunal for which they were assembled, were all calculated to
produce generally an expectation full of confidence and respect."

Meanwhile there is not a word to be said for the treatment to which
Jeanne herself was subjected, she being, so far as is apparent,
entirely in English custody. She had been treated with tolerable
gentleness it would seem in the first part of her captivity while in
the hands of Jean de Luxembourg, the Count de Ligny. The fact that the
ladies of the house were for her friends must have assured this, and
there is no complaint made anywhere of cruelty or even unkindness.
When she arrived in Rouen she was confined in the middle chamber of
the donjon, which was the best we may suppose, neither a dungeon under
the soil, nor a room under the leads, but one to which there was
access by a short flight of steps from the courtyard, and which was
fully lighted and not out of reach or sight of life. But in this
chamber was an iron cage,[1] within which she was bound, feet, and
waist and neck, from the time of her arrival until the beginning of
the trial, a period of about six weeks. Five English soldiers of the
lowest class watched her night and day, three in the room itself, two
at the door. It is enough to think for a moment of the probable
manners and morals of these troopers to imagine what torture must have
been inflicted by their presence upon a young woman who had always
been sensitive above all things to the laws of personal modesty and
reserve. Their course jests would no doubt be unintelligible to her,
which would be an alleviation; but their coarse laughter, their
revolting touch, their impure looks, would be an endless incessant
misery. We are told that she indignantly bestowed a hearty buffet on
the cheek of a tailor who approached her too closely when it was
intended to furnish her with female dress; but she was helpless to
defend herself when in her irons, and had to endure as she best could
--the bars of her cage let us hope, if cage there was, affording her
some little protection from the horror of the continual presence of
these rude attendants, with whom it was a shame to English gentlemen
and knights to surround a helpless woman.

When her trial began Jeanne was released from her cage, but was still
chained by one foot to a wooden beam during the day, and at night to
the posts of her bed. Sometimes her guards would wake her to tell her
that she had been condemned and was immediately to be led forth to
execution; but that was a small matter. Attempts were also made to
inflict the barest insult and outrage upon her, and on one occasion
she is said to have been saved only by the Earl of Warwick, who heard
her cries and went to her rescue. By night as by day she clung to her
male garb, tightly fastened by the innumerable "points" of which
Shakespeare so often speaks. Such were the horrible circumstances in
which she awaited her public appearance before her judges. She was
brought before them every day for months together, to be badgered by
the keenest wits in France, coming back and back with artful questions
upon every detail of every subject, to endeavour to shake her firmness
or force her into self-contradiction. Imagine a cross-examination
going on for months, like those--only more cruel than those--to which
we sometimes see an unfortunate witness exposed in our own courts of
law. There is nothing more usual than to see people break down
entirely after a day or two of such a tremendous ordeal, in which
their hearts and lives are turned inside out, their minds so
bewildered that they know not what they are saying, and everything
they have done in their lives exhibited in the worst, often in an
entirely fictitious, light, to the curiosity and amusement of the

But all our processes are mercy in comparison with those to which
French prisoners at the bar are still exposed. It is unnecessary to
enter into an account of these which are so well known; but they show
that even such a trial as that of Jeanne was by no means so contrary
to common usage, as it would be, and always would have been in
England. In England we warn the accused to utter no rash word which
may be used against him; in France the first principle is to draw from
him every rash word that he can be made to bring forth. This was the
method employed with Jeanne. Her judges were all Churchmen and
dialecticians of the subtlest wit and most dexterous faculties in
France; they had all, or almost all, a strong prepossession against
her. Though we cannot believe that men of such quality were suborned,
there was, no doubt, enough of jealous and indignant feeling among
them to make the desire of convicting Jeanne more powerful with them
than the desire for pure justice. She was a true Christian, but not
perhaps the soundest of Church-women. Her visions had not the sanction
of any priest's approval, except indeed the official but not warm
affirmation of the Council at Poitiers. She had not hastened to take
the Church into her confidence nor to put herself under its
protection. Though her claims had been guaranteed by the company of
divines at Poitiers, she herself had always appealed to her private
instructions, through her saints, rather than to the guiding of any
priest. The chief ecclesiastical dignitary of her own party had just
held her up to the reprobation of the people for this cause: she was
too independent, so proud that she would take no advice but acted
according to her own will. The more accustomed a Churchman is to
experience the unbounded devotion and obedience of women, the more
enraged he is against those who judge for themselves or have other
guides on whom they rely. Jeanne was, beside all other sins alleged
against her, a presumptuous woman: and very few of these men had any
desire to acquit her. They were little accustomed to researches which
were solely intended to discover the truth: their principle rather
was, as it has been the principle of many, to obtain proofs that their
own particular way of thinking was the right one. It is not perhaps
very good even for a system of doctrine when this is the principle by
which it is tested. It is more fatal still, on this principle, to
judge an individual for death or for life. It will be abundantly
proved, however, by all that is to follow, that in face of this
tribunal, learned, able, powerful, and prejudiced, the peasant girl of
nineteen stood like a rock, unmoved by all their cleverness, undaunted
by their severity, seldom or never losing her head, or her temper, her
modest steadfastness, or her high spirit. If they hoped to have an
easy bargain of her, never were men more mistaken. Not knowing a from
b, as she herself said, untrained, unaided, she was more than a match
for them all.

Round about this centre of eager intelligence, curiosity, and
prejudice, the cathedral and council chamber teeming with Churchmen,
was a dark and silent ring of laymen and soldiers. A number of the
English leaders were in Rouen, but they appear very little.
Winchester, who had very lately come from England with an army, which
according to some of the historians would not budge from Calais, where
it had landed, "for fear of the Maid"--was the chief person in the
place, but did not make any appearance at the trial, curiously enough;
the Duke of Bedford we are informed was visible on one shameful
occasion, but no more. But Warwick, who was the Governor of the town,
appears frequently and various other lords with him. We see them in
the mirror held up to us by the French historians, pressing round in
an ever narrowing circle, closing up upon the tribunal in the midst,
pricking the priests with perpetual sword points if they seem to
loiter. They would have had everything pushed on, no delay, no
possibility of escape. It is very possible that this was the case, for
it is evident that the Witch was deeply obnoxious to the English, and
that they were eager to have her and her endless process out of the
way; but the evidence for their terror and fierce desire to expedite
matters is of the feeblest. A canon of Rouen declared at the trial
that he had heard it said by Maître Pierre Morice, and Nicolas
l'Oyseleur, judges assessors, and by other whose names he does not
recollect, "that the said English were so afraid of her that they did
not dare to begin the siege of Louviers until she was dead; and that
it was necessary if one would please them, to hasten the trial as much
as possible and to find the means of condemning her." Very likely this
was quite true: but it cannot at all be taken for proved by such
evidence. Another contemporary witness allows that though some of the
English pushed on her trial for hate, some were well disposed to her;
the manner of Jeanne's imprisonment is the only thing which inclines
the reader to believe every evil thing that is said against them.

Such were the circumstances in which Jeanne was brought to trail. The
population, moved to pity and to tears as any population would have
been, before the end, would seem at the beginning to have been
indifferent and not to have taken much interest one way or another:
the court, a hundred men and more with all their hangers-on, the
cleverest men in France, one more distinguished and impeccable than
the others: the stern ring of the Englishmen outside keeping an eye
upon the tedious suit and all its convolutions: these all appear
before us, surrounding as with bands of iron the young lonely victim
in the donjon, who submitting to every indignity, and deprived of
every aid, feeling that all her friends had abandoned her, yet stood
steadfast and strong in her absolute simplicity and honesty. It was
but two years in that same spring weather since she had left
Vaucouleurs to seek the fortune of France, to offer herself to the
struggle which now was coming to an end. Not a soul had Jeanne to
comfort or stand by her. She had her saints who--one wonders if such a
thought ever entered into her young visionary head--had lured her to
her doom, and who still comforted her with enigmatical words, promises
which came true in so sadly different a sense from that in which they
were understood.
[1] We are glad to add that the learned Quicherat has doubts on the
subject of the cage.


LENT, 1431.

We have not, however, sufficiently described the horror of the prison,
and the treatment to which Jeanne was exposed, though the picture is
already dark enough. It throws a horrible yet also a grotesque light
upon the savage manners of the time to find that the chamber in which
she was confined, had secret provision for an /espionnage/ of the most
base kind, openings made in the walls through which everything that
took place in the room, every proceeding of the unfortunate prisoner,
could be spied upon and every word heard. The idea of such a secret
watch has always been attractive to the vulgar mind, and no doubt it
has been believed to exist many times when there was little or no
justification for such an infernal thought. From the "ear" of
Dionysius, down to the /Trou Judas/, which early tourists on the
Continent were taught to fear in every chamber door, the idea has
descended to our own times. It would seem, however, to be beyond doubt
that this odious means of acquiring information was in full operation
during the trial of Jeanne, and various spies were permitted to peep
at her, and to watch for any unadvised word she might say in her most
private moments. We are told that the Duke of Bedford made use of the
opportunity in a still more revolting way, and was present, a secret
spectator, at the fantastic scene when Jeanne was visited by a
committee of matrons who examined her person to prove or to disprove
one of the hateful insinuations which were made about her. The
imagination, however, refuses to conceive that a man of serious age
and of high functions should have degraded himself to the level of a
Peeping Tom in this way; all the French historians, nevertheless,
repeat the story though on the merest hearsay evidence. And they also
relate, with more apparent truth, how a double treachery was committed
upon the unfortunate prisoner by stationing two secretaries at these
openings, to take down her conversation with a spy who had been sent
to her in the guise of a countryman of her own; and that not only
Cauchon but Warwick also was present on this occasion, listening,
while their plot was carried out by the vile traitor inside. The
clerks, we are glad to say, are credited with a refusal to act: but
Warwick did not shrink from the ignominy. The Englishmen indeed shrank
from no ignominy; nor did the great French savants assembled under the
presidency of the Bishop. It is necessary to grant to begin with that
they were neither ignorant nor base men, yet from the beginning of the
trial almost every step taken by them appears base, as well as marked,
in the midst of all their subtlety and diabolical cunning, by the
profoundest ignorance of human nature. The spy of whom we have spoken,
L'Oyseleur (bird-snarer, a significant name), was sent, and consented
to be sent, to Jeanne in her prison, as a fellow prisoner, a /pays/,
like herself from Lorraine, to invite her confidence: but his long
conversations with the Maid, which were heard behind their backs by
the secretaries, elicited nothing from her that she did not say in the
public examination. She had no secret devices to betray to a traitor.
She would not seem, indeed, to have suspected the man at all, not even
when she saw him among her judges taking part against her. Jeanne
herself suspected no falsehood, but made her confession to him, when
she found that he was a priest, and trusted him fully. The bewildering
and confusing fact, turning all the contrivances of her judges into
foolishness, was, that she had nothing to confess that she was not
ready to tell in the eye of day.

The adoption of this abominable method of eliciting secrets from the
candid soul which had none, was justified, it appears, by the manner
of her trial, which was after the rules of the Inquisition--by which
even more than by those which regulate an ordinary French trial the
guilt of the accused is a foregone conclusion for which proof is
sought, not a fair investigation of facts for abstract purposes of
justice. The first thing to be determined by the tribunal was the
counts of the indictment against Jeanne; was she to be tried for
magical arts, for sorcery and witchcraft? It is very probable that the
mission of L'Oyseleur was to obtain evidence that would clear up this
question by means of recalling to her the stories of her childhood, of
the enchanted tree, and the Fairies' Well; from which sources, her
accusers anxiously hoped to prove that she derived her inspiration.
But it is very clear that no such evidence was forthcoming, and that
it seemed to them hopeless to attribute sorcery to her; therefore the
accusation was changed to that of heresy alone. The following mandate
from the University authorising her prosecution will show what the
charge was; and the reader will note that one of its darkest items is
the costume, which for so many good and sufficient reasons she wore.
Here is the official description of the accused:

"A woman, calling herself the Maid, leaving the dress and habit of her
sex against the divine law, a thing abominable to God, clothed and
armed in the habit and condition of a man, has done cruel deeds of
homicide, and as is said has made the simple people believe, in order
to abuse and lead them astray, that she was sent by God, and had
knowledge of His divine secrets; along with several other doctrines
(/dogmatisations/), very dangerous, prejudicial, and scandalous to our
holy Catholic faith, in pursuing which abuses, and exercising
hostility against us and our people, she has been taken in arms,
before Compiègne, and brought as a prisoner before us."

According to French law the indictment ought to have been founded upon
a preliminary examination into the previous life of the accused,
which, as it does not appear in the formal accusations, it was
supposed had never been made. Recent researches, however, have proved
that it was made, but was not of a nature to strengthen or justify any
accusation. All that the examiners could discover was that Jeanne
d'Arc was a good and honest maid who left a spotless reputation behind
her in her native village, and that not a suspicion of
/dogmatisations/, nor worship of fairies, nor any other unseemly thing
was associated with her name. Other things less favourable, we are
told, were reported of her: the statement, for instance, made in
apparent good faith by Monstrelet the Burgundian chronicler, that she
had been for some time a servant in an /auberge/, and there had
learned to ride, and to consort with men--a statement totally without
foundation, which was scarcely referred to in the trial.

The skill of M. Quicherat discovered the substance of those inquiries
among the many secondary papers, but they were not made use of in the
formal proceedings. This also we are told, though contrary to the
habit of French law, was justified by the methods of the Inquisition,
which were followed throughout the trial. One breach of law and
justice, however, is permitted by no code. It is expressly forbidden
by French, and even by inquisitorial law, that a prisoner should be
tried by his enemies--that is by judges avowedly hostile to him: an
initial difficulty which it would have been impossible to get over and
which had therefore to be ignored. One brave and honest man, Nicolas
de Houppeville, had the courage to make this observation in one of the
earliest sittings of the assembly:

"Neither the Bishop of Beauvais" (he said) "nor the other members of
the tribunal ought to be judges in the matter; and it did not seem to
him a good mode of procedure that those who were of the opposite party
to the accused should be her judges--considering also that she had
been examined already by the clergy of Poitiers, and by the Archbishop
of Rheims, who was the metropolitan of the said Bishop of Beauvais."

Nicolas de Houppeville was a lawyer and had a right to be heard on
such a point; but the reply of the judges was to throw him into
prison, not without threats on the part of the civil authorities to
carry the point further by throwing him into the Seine. This was the
method by which every honest objection was silenced. That the
examination at Poitiers, where the judges, as has been seen, were by
no means too favourable to Jeanne, should never have been referred to
by her present examiners, though there was no doubt it ought to have
been one of the most important sources of the preliminary information
--is also very remarkable. It was suggested indeed to Jeanne at a late
period of the trial, that she might appeal to the Archbishop; but he
was, as she well knew, one of her most cruel enemies.

Still more important was the breach of all justice apparent in the
fact that she had no advocate, no counsel on her side, no one to speak
to her and conduct her defence. It was suggested to her near the end
of the proceedings that she might choose one of her judges to fill
this office; but even if the proposal had been a genuine one or at all
likely to be to her advantage, it was then too late to be of any use.
These particulars, we believe, were enough to invalidate any process
in strict law; but the name of law seems ridiculous altogether as
applied to this rambling and cruel cross-examination in which was
neither sense nor decorum. The reader will understand that there were
no witnesses either for or against her, the answers of the accused
herself forming the entire evidence.

One or two particulars may still be added to make the background at
least more clear. The prison of Jeanne, as we have seen, was not left
in the usual silence of such a place; the constant noise with which
the English troopers filled the air, jesting, gossiping, and carrying
on their noisy conversation, if nothing worse and more offensive--
sometimes, as Jeanne complains, preventing her from hearing (her sole
solace) the soft voices of her saintly visitors--was not her only
disturbance. Her solitude was broken by curious and inquisitive
visitors of various kinds. L'Oyseleur, the abominable detective, who
professed to be her countryman and who beguiled her into talk of her
childhood and native place, was the first of these; and it is possible
that at first his presence was a pleasure to her. One other visitor of
whom we hear accidentally, a citizen of Rouen, Pierre Casquel, seems
to have got in private interest and with a more or less good motive
and no evil meaning. He warned her to answer with prudence the
questions put to her, since it was a matter of life and death. She
seemed to him to be "very simple" and still to believe that she might
be ransomed. Earl Warwick, the commander of the town, appears on
various occasions. He probably had his headquarters in the Castle, and
thus heard her cry for help in her danger, executing, let us hope,
summary vengeance on her brutal assailant; but he also evidently took
advantage of his power to show his interesting prisoner to his friends
on occasion. And it was he who took her original captor, Jean de
Luxembourg, now Comte de Ligny, by whom she had been given up, to see
her, along with an English lord, sometimes named as Lord Sheffield.
The Belgian who had put so many good crowns in his pocket for her
ransom, thought it good taste to enter with a jesting suggestion that
he had come to buy her back.

"Jeanne, I will have you ransomed if you will promise never to bear
arms against us again," he said. The Maid was not deceived by this
mocking suggestion. "It is well for you to jest," she said, "but I
know you have no such power. I know that the English will kill me,
believing, after I am dead, that they will be able to win all the
kingdom of France: but if there were a hundred thousand more Goddens
than there are, they shall never win the kingdom of France." The
English lord drew his dagger to strike the helpless girl, all the
stories say, but was prevented by Warwick. Warwick, however, we are
told, though he had thus saved her twice, "recovered his barbarous
instincts" as soon as he got outside, and indignantly lamented the
possibility of Jeanne's escape from the stake.

Such incidents as these alone lightened or darkened her weary days in
prison. A traitor or spy, a prophet of evil shaking his head over her
danger, a contemptuous party of jeering nobles; afterwards
inquisitors, for ever repeating in private their tedious questions:
these all visited her--but never a friend. Jeanne was not afraid of
the English lord's dagger, or of the watchful eye of Warwick over her.

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