Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

Joan of Arc Biography Part 4

By Jules Michelet
The Maid of Orleans

She entered the splendid circle with all humility" like a poor little shepher dess," distinguished at the first glance the king, who had purposely kept him self amidst the crowd of courtiers, and although at first he maintained that he was not the king, she fell down and embraced his knees. But as he had not been crowned, she only styled him dauphin: - "Gentle dauphin," she ad dressed him, "my name is Jehanne la Pucelle. The King of heaven sends you word by me that you shall be con secrated and crowned in the city of Rheims, and shall be lieutenant of the King of heaven, who is king of France." The king then took her aside, and, after a moment's consideration, both changed countenance. She told him, as she sub sequently acknowledged to her confes sors: - "I am commissioned by my Lord to tell you, that you are the true heir to the French throne, and the hinges son.*

* According to a somewhat later, but stll very probable account, she reminded him of a circumstance known to himself alone ; namely, that one morning in his oratory he had prayed to God to restore his kingdom to him if he were the lawful heir, but that if he were not, that He would grant him the mercy not to be killed or thrown into prison, but circumstance which awoke still greater astonishment and a sort of fear is, that the first prediction which fell from her lips was accomplished the in stant it was made, A soldier who was struck by her beauty, and who ex pressed his desires aloud with the coarseness of the camp, and swearing by his God: "Alas!" she exclaimed, "thou deniest him, and art so near thy death I "A moment after, he fell into the river and was drowned.

Her enemies started the objection, that if she knew the future it must be through the devil. Pour or five bish ops were got together to examine her ; but through fear, no doubt, of compro mising themselves with either of the parties which divided the court, they to be able to take refage in Spain or in Scotland. - Sala, Exemples de Hardiesse, MS. Francai, de la Bibl. Royale, No. 180. referred the examination to the University of Poitiers, in which great city was both university, parliament, and a number of able men.

The archbishop of Rheims, chancellor of France, president of the royal coun cil, issued his mandate to the doctors, and to the professors of theology - the one priests, the others monks, and charged them to examine the Pucelle.

The doctors introduced, and placed in a hall, the young maid seated her self at the end of the bench, and re plied to their questionings. She re lated with a simplicity that rose to grandeur the apparitions of angels with which she had been visited, and their words. A single objection was raised by a Dominican, but it was a serious one - "Jehanne, thou sayest that God wishes to deliver the people of France ; if such be his will, he has no need of menatarms." She was not disconcerted: - "Ah I my God," was her reply, " the menatarms will fight, and God will give the victory."

Another was more diflScult to be satisfied - a Limousin, brother Seguin, professor of theology at the university of Poitiers, a " very sour man," says the chronicle. He asked her in his Limousin French, what tongue that pretended celestial voice spoke? Je hanne answered, a little too hastily, "Abetter than yours." - "Dost thou believe in God ? " said the doctor, in a rage : "Now, God wills us not to have faith in thy words, except thou show est a sign." She replied, " I have not come to Poitiers to show signs or work miracles; my sign will be the raising of the siege of Orleans. Give me menatarms, few or many, and I will go."

Meanwhile, it happened at Poitiers as at Vaucouleurs, her sanctity seized the hearts of the people. In a mo ment, all were for her. Women, ladies, citizens' wives, all flocked to see her at the house where she was sta.ying, with the wife of an advocate to the parliament, and all returned full of emotion. Men went there too; and counsellors, advocates, old hardened judges, who had suffered themselves to be taken thither incredulously, when they had heard her, wept even as the women did, and said, "The maid is of God."

The examiners themselves went to see her, with the king's equerry ; and on their recommencing their never ending examination, quoting learnedly to her, and proving to her from the writings of all the doctors that she ought not to be believed, "Hearken," she said to them, 'there is more in God's book than in yours. . . , I know neither A nor B; but I come commissioned by God to raise the siege of Orleans, and to have the dau phin crowned at Rheims. . . . First, however, I must write to the English, and summon them to depart ; God will have it so. Have you paper and ink? Write as I dictate. ... To youl SuiFort, Glassidas, and La Poule, I summon you, on the part of the King of heaven, to depart to England." . . . They wrote as she dictated j she had won over her very judges.

They pronounced as their opinion, that it was lawful to have recourse to the young maiden. The archbishop of Embrun, who had been consulted, pronounced similarly; supporting his opinion by showing how God had fre* quently revealed to virgins, for in stance, to the sibyls, what he concealed from men ; how the demon could not make a covenant with a virgin; and recommending it to be ascertained whether Jehanne were a virgin. Thus, being pushed to extremity, and either not beiag able or being unwilling to explain the delicate distinction betwixt good and evil revelations, knowledge humbly referred a ghostly matter to a corporeal test, and made this grave question of the spirit depend on wo man's mystery.

As the doctors could not decide, the ladies did ; and the honor of the Pu celle was vindicated by a jury, with the good queen of Sicily, the king's motherinlaw, at their head. This farce over ; and some Franciscans who had been deputed to inquire into Je hanne's character in her own country bringing the most favorable report.

There was no time to lose. Orleans was crying out for succor, and Dunois sent entreaty upon entreaty. The Pu celle was equipped, and a kind of es tablishment arranged for her. For squire she had a brave knight, of ma ture years, Jean Daulon, one of Du nois's household, and of its best con ducted and most discreet members. She had, also, a noble page, two her aldsatarms, a maitre d^Std, and two valets : her brother, Pierre Dare, too, was one of her attendants. Jean Pas querel, a brother eremite of the order of St. Augustin, was given her for confessor. Generally speaking, the monks, particularly the mendicants, were staunch supporters of this mar vel of inspiration.

And it was, in truth, for those who beheld the sight, a marvel to see for the first time Jehanne Dare in her white armor and on her beautiful black horse, at her side a small axe, and the sword of SaintCatherine, which sword had been discovered, on her intimation, behind the altar of SaintCatherinede Pierbois. In her hand she bore a white standard, embroidered with fleursdelis, and on which God was represented with the world in his hands, iaving on his right and left two angels, each holding a fleurdelis. "I will not," she said, " use my sword to slay any one ; " and she added, that although she loved her sword, she loved " forty times more " her stand ard. Let us contrast the two parties, at the moment of her departure for Orleans.

The English had been much reduced by their long winter siege. After Salisbury's death, many menatarms whom he had engaged, thought them selves relieved from their engagements and departed. The Burgundians, too, had been recalled by their duke. When the most important of the English bas tilles was forced, into which the de fenders of some other bastilles had thrown themselves, only five hundred men were found in it. In all, the English force may have amounted to two or three thousand men; and of this small number part were French, and, no doubt, not to be much de pended upon by the English.


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