Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

Joan of Arc Biography Part 6

By Jules Michelet
The Maid of Orleans

This girl, who, with all her enthusiasm and inspiration, had great penetration, was quickly aware of the cold malevolence of the newcomers, and perceived that they wanted to do with out her, at the risk of ruining all. Dunois having owned to her that he feared the enemy's being reinforced by the arrival of fresh troops under Sir John Falstaff, "Bastard, bastard," she said to him, "in God's name I command thee as soon as you know of his com ing to apprize me of it, for if he passes without my knowledge, I promise you that I will take off your head."

She was right in supposing that they wished to do without her. As she was snatching a moment's rest with her young bedfellow, Charlotte, she sud denly starts up, and exclaims, " Great God, the blood of our countrymen is running on the ground. . . . 'tis ill done I why did they not awake me ? Quick, my arms, my horse ! " She was armed in a moment, and finding her young page playing below, " Cruel boy," she said to him, " not to tell me that the blood of France was spilling."

She set off at a gallop, and coming upon the wounded who were being brought in, "Never," she exclaimed, "have I seen a Frenchman's blood without my hair rising up!" On her arrival, the flying rallied. Dunois, who had not been apprized any more than she, came up at the same time. The bastille (one of the northern bastilles) was once more at tacked. Talbot endeavored to cover it; but fresh troops sallying out of Orleans, the Pucelle put herself at their head, Talbot drew off his men, and the fort was carried.

Many of the English who had put on the priestly habit by way of protec tion were brought in by the Pucelle, and placed in her own house to ensure their safety ; she knew the ferocity of her followers. It was her first victory, the first time she had ever seen a field of carnage. She wept on seeing so many human beings who had perished unconfessed. She desired the benefit of confession for herself and retainers, and as the next day was Ascension Day, declared her intention of commu nicating and of passing the day in prayer.

They took advantage of this to hold a council without her ; at which it was determined to cross the Loire and at tack St. JpanleBlanc, the bastille which most obstructed the introduc tion of supplies, making at the same time a false attack on the side of La Beauce. The Pucelle's enviers told her of the false attack only ; but Du nois apprised her of the truth.

The English then did what they ought to have done before : they con centrated their strength. Burning down the bastille, which was the ob ject of the intended attack, they fell back on the two other bastilles on the south the Augustins' and the Tour nelles : but the Augustins' was at once attacked and carried. This success, again, was partly due to the Pucelle ; for the French being seized with a panic terror, and retreating precipi tately towards the floating bridge which had been thrown over the river, the Pucelle and La Hire disengaged themselves from the crowd, and, cross ing in boats, took the English in flank. There remained the Tournelles, be fore which bastille the conquerers passed the night ; but they constrained the Pucelle, who had not broken her fast the whole day (it was Friday,) to recross the Loire. Meanwhile the council assembled : and in the even ing it was announced to the Pucelle that they had unanimously determined, as the city was now well victualled, to wait for reinforcements before attack ing the ToTirnelles. It is difficult to suppose such to have been the serious intention of the chiefs; the English momentarily expecting the arrival of Sir John PalstofiF with fresh troops, all delay was dangerous. Probably the object was to deceive the Pucelle, and to deprive her of the honor of the success to which she had largely pre pared the way. But she was not to be caught in the snare.

"You have been at your council," she said, "I have been at mine;" then, turning to her chaplain," come tomorrow at break of day, and quit me not; I shall have much to do blood will go out of my body ; I shall be wounded below my bosom."

In the morning, her host endeavored te detain her. "Stay, Jeanne," he said, "let us partake together of this fish which is just fresh caught." " Keep it," she answered gayly, " keep it till night, when I shall come back over the bridge, after having taken the Tournelles, and I will bring you a godden to eat of it with us." * Then she hurried forward with a number of menatarms and of citizens to the porte. de Bourgogne ; which she found kept closed by the sire de Gau court, grand master of the king's household." You are a wicked man," said Jeanne to him ; "but whether you will or not, the menatarms shall pass." Gaucourt felt that with this excited multitude his life hung by a thread; and besides, his own followers would not obey him. The crowd opened the gate, and forced another which waa close to it.

* The witness Colette deposed that Godon [Goddamn?] was a nickname for the English, taken from their common exclamation of * God damn it so that this vulgarity was a national characteristic in the reign of Henry VI." Note, p. 78, vol. iii., Turner's Hist, of England.

The sun was rising upon the Loire at the very moment this multitude were throwing themselves into boats. However, when they reached the Tour , nelles, they found their want of artil lery, and sent for it into the town. At last they attacked the redoubt which covered the bastille. The Englisli made a brave defence. Perceiving that the assailants began to slacken in their efforts, the Pucelle threw herself into the fosse, seized a ladder, and was rearing it against the wall, when she was struck by an arrow betwixt her neck and shoulder. The English rushed out to make her prisoner, but she was borne off. Removed from the scene of conflict, laid on the grass, and dis armed, when she saw how deep the wound was the afrow's point came out behind she was terrified, and burst into tears. Suddenly she rises ; her holy ones had appeared to her; she repels the menatarms, who were for charming the wound by words, protesting that she would not be cured contrary to the Divine will. She only allowed a dressing of oil to be applied to the wound, and then confessed her self.

Meanwhile no progress was made, and it was near nightfall. Dunois him self ordered the retreat to be sounded. "Rest awhile," she said, "eat and drink;" and she betook herself to prayers in a vineyard. A Basque sol dier had taken from the hands of the Pucelle's squire her banner, that banner so dreaded by the enemy : " As soon as the standard shall touch the wall' she exclaimed, "you can enter." "It touches it." " Then enter, all is yours." And, in fact, the assailants, transported beyond themselves, mount ed "as if at a bound." The English were at this moment attacked on both sides at once.

For the citizens of Orleans, who had eagerly watched the struggle from the other side of the Loire, could no longer contain themselves, but opened their gates and rushed upon the bridge. One of the arches being broken, they threw over it a sorry plank; and a knight of St. John, completely armed, was the first to venture across. At last, the bridge was repaired after a fashion, and the crowd flowed over. The English, seeing this sea of people rushing on, thought that the whole world was got together. Their imaginations grew excited: some saw St. Aignan, the patron of the city ; others the Archangel Michael fighting on the French side. As Glasdale was about to retreat from the redoubt into the bastille, across a small bridge which connected the two, the bridge was shivered bj a cannonball, and he was precipitated into the water below, and drowned before the eyes of the Pu celle, whom he had so coarsely abused. "Ah!'' she exclaimed, "how I pity thy soul." There were five hundred men in the bastille : they were all put to the sword.

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