Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

The Life of Joan of Arc
By Anatole France


THE King slept at Lagny-sur-Marne on the 14th of September, then crossed the Seine at Bray, forded the Yonne near Sens and went on through Courtenay, Châteaurenard and Montargis. On the 21st of September he reached Gien. There he disbanded the army he could no longer pay, and each man went to his own home. The Duke of Alençon withdrew into his viscounty of Beaumont-sur-Oise.[217]

Learning that the Queen was coming to meet the King, Jeanne went before her and greeted her at Selles-en-Berry.[218] She was afterwards taken to Bourges, where my Lord d'Albret, half-brother of the Sire de la Trémouille, lodged her with Messire Régnier de Bouligny. Régnier was then Receiver General. He had been one of those whose dismissal the University had requested in 1408, as being worse[Pg ii.79] than useless, for they held him responsible for many of the disorders in the kingdom. He had entered the Dauphin's service, passed from the administration of the royal domain to that of taxes and attained the highest rank in the control of the finances.[219] His wife, who had accompanied the Queen to Selles, beheld the Maid and wondered. Jeanne seemed to her a creature sent by God for the relief of the King and those of France who were loyal to him. She remembered the days not so very long ago when she had seen the Dauphin and her Husband not knowing where to turn for money. Her name was Marguerite La Touroulde; she was damiselle, not dame; a comfortable bourgeoise and that was all.[220]

Three weeks Jeanne sojourned in the Receiver General's house. She slept there, drank there, ate there. Nearly every night, Damiselle Marguerite La Touroulde slept with her; the etiquette of those days required it. No night-gowns were worn; folk slept naked in those vast beds. It would seem that Jeanne disliked sleeping with old women.[221] Damiselle La Touroulde, although not so very old, was of matronly age;[222] she had moreover a matron's experience, and further she claimed, as we shall see directly, to know more than most matrons knew. Several times she took Jeanne to the bath and to the sweating-room.[223] That also was one of the rules of etiquette; a host was not considered to be making his guests good cheer[Pg ii.80] unless he took them to the bath. In this point of courtesy princes set an example; when the King and Queen supped in the house of one of their retainers or ministers, fine baths richly ornamented were prepared for them before they came to table.[224] Mistress Marguerite doubtless did not possess what was necessary in her own house; wherefore she took Jeanne out to the bath and the sweating-room. Such are her own expressions; and they probably indicate a vapour bath[225] not a bath of hot water.

At Bourges the sweating-rooms were in the Auron quarter, in the lower town, near the river.[226] Jeanne was strictly devout, but she did not observe conventual rule; she, like chaste Suzannah therefore, might permit herself to bathe and she must have had great need to do so after having slept on straw.[227] What is more remarkable is that, after having seen Jeanne in the bath, Mistress Marguerite judged her a virgin according to all appearances.[228]

In Messire Régnier de Bouligny's house and likewise wherever she lodged, she led the life of a béguine[Pg ii.81] but did not practise excessive austerity. She confessed frequently. Many a time she asked her hostess to come with her to matins. In the cathedral and in collegiate churches there were matins every day, between four and six, at the hour of sunset. The two women often talked together; the Receiver General's wife found Jeanne very simple and very ignorant. She was amazed to discover that the maiden knew absolutely nothing.[229]

Among other matters, Jeanne told of her visit to the old Duke of Lorraine, and how she had rebuked him for his evil life; she spoke likewise of the interrogatory to which the doctors of Poitiers had subjected her.[230] She was persuaded that these clerks had questioned her with extreme severity, and she firmly believed that she had triumphed over their ill-will. Alas! she was soon to know clerks even less accommodating.

Mistress Marguerite said to her one day: "If you are not afraid when you fight, it is because you know you will not be killed." Whereupon Jeanne answered: "I am no surer of that than are the other combatants."

Oftentimes women came to the Bouligny house, bringing paternosters and other trifling objects of devotion for the Maid to touch.

Jeanne used to say laughingly to her hostess: "Touch them yourself. Your touch will do them as much good as mine."[231]

This ready repartee must have shown Mistress Marguerite that Jeanne, ignorant as she may have[Pg ii.82] been, was none the less capable of displaying a good grace and common sense in her conversation.

While in many matters this good woman found the Maid but a simple creature, in military affairs she deemed her an expert. Whether, when she judged the saintly damsel's skill in wielding arms, she was giving her own opinion or merely speaking from hearsay, as would seem probable, she at any rate declared later that Jeanne rode a horse and handled a lance as well as the best of knights and so well that the army marvelled.[232] Indeed most captains in those days could do no better.

Probably there were dice and dice-boxes in the Bouligny house, otherwise Jeanne would have had no opportunity of displaying that horror of gaming which struck her hostess. On this matter Jeanne agreed with her comrade, Friar Richard, and indeed with everyone else of good life and good doctrine.[233]

What money she had Jeanne distributed in alms. "I am come to succour the poor and needy," she used to say.[234]

When the multitude heard such words they were led to believe that this Maid of God had been raised up for something more than the glorification of the Lilies, and that she was come to dispel such ills as murder, pillage and other sins grievous to God, from which the realm was suffering. Mystic souls looked to her for the reform of the Church and the reign of Jesus Christ on earth. She was invoked as a saint, and throughout the loyal provinces were to be seen carved and painted images of her which were worshipped by the faithful. Thus, even during her[Pg ii.83] lifetime, she enjoyed certain of the privileges of beatification.[235]

North of the Seine meanwhile, English and Burgundians were at their old work. The Duke of Vendôme and his company fell back on Senlis, the English descended on the town of Saint-Denys and sacked it once more. In the Abbey Church they found and carried off the Maid's armour, thus, according to the French clergy, committing undeniable sacrilege and for this reason: because they gave the monks of the Abbey nothing in exchange.

The King was then at Mehun-sur-Yèvre, quite close to Bourges, in one of the finest châteaux in the world, rising on a rock and overlooking the town. The late Duke Jean of Berry, a great builder, had erected this château with the care that he never failed to exercise in matters of art. Mehun was King Charles's favourite abode.[236]

The Duke of Alençon, eager to reconquer his duchy, was waiting for troops to accompany him into Normandy, across the marches of Brittany and Maine. He sent to the King to know if it were his good pleasure to grant him the Maid. "Many there be," said the Duke, "who would willingly come with her, while without her they will not stir from their homes." Her discomfiture before Paris had not,[Pg ii.84] therefore, entirely ruined her prestige. The Sire de la Trémouille opposed her being sent to the Duke of Alençon, whom he mistrusted, and not without cause. He gave her into the care of his half-brother, the Sire d'Albret, Lieutenant of the King in his own country of Berry.[237]

The Royal Council deemed it necessary to recover La Charité, left in the hands of Perrinet Gressart at the time of the coronation campaign;[238] but it was decided first to attack Saint-Pierre-le-Moustier, which commanded the approaches to Bec-d'Allier.[239] The garrison of this little town was composed of English and Burgundians, who were constantly plundering the villages and laying waste the fields of Berry and Bourbonnais. The army for this expedition assembled at Bourges. It was commanded by my Lord d'Albret,[240] but popular report attributed the command to Jeanne. The common folk, the burgesses of the towns, especially the citizens of Orléans knew no other commander.

After two or three days' siege, the King's men stormed the town. But they were repulsed. Squire Jean d'Aulon, the Maid's steward, who some time before had been wounded in the heel and consequently walked on crutches, had retreated with the[Pg ii.85] rest.[241] He went back and found Jeanne who had stayed almost alone by the side of the moat. Fearing lest harm should come to her, he leapt on to his horse, spurred towards her and cried: "What are you doing, all alone? Wherefore do you not retreat like the others?"

Jeanne doffed her sallet and replied: "I am not alone. With me are fifty thousand of my folk. I will not quit this spot till I have taken the town."

Casting his eyes around, Messire Jean d'Aulon saw the Maid surrounded by but four or five men.

More loudly he cried out to her: "Depart hence and retreat like the others."

Her only reply was a request for fagots and hurdles to fill up the moat. And straightway in a loud voice she called: "To the fagots and the hurdles all of ye, and make a bridge!"

The men-at-arms rushed to the spot, the bridge was constructed forthwith and the town taken by storm with no great difficulty. At any rate that is how the good Squire, Jean d'Aulon, told the story.[242] He was almost persuaded that the Maid's fifty thousand shadows had taken Saint-Pierre-le-Moustier.

With the little army on the Loire at that time were certain holy women who like Jeanne led a singular life and held communion with the Church Triumphant. They constituted, so to speak, a kind of flying squadron of béguines, which followed the men-at-arms. One of these women was called Catherine de La Rochelle; two others came from Lower Brittany.[243]

[Pg ii.86]

They all had miraculous visions; Jeanne saw my Lord Saint Michael in arms and Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret wearing crowns;[244] Pierronne beheld God in a long white robe and a purple cloak;[245] Catherine de La Rochelle saw a white lady, clothed in cloth of gold; and, at the moment of the consecration of the host all manner of marvels of the high mystery of Our Lord were revealed unto her.[246]

Jean Pasquerel was still with Jeanne in the capacity of chaplain.[247] He hoped to take his penitent to fight in the Crusade against the Hussites, for it was against these heretics that he felt most bitterly. But he had been entirely supplanted by the Franciscan, Friar Richard, who, after Troyes, had joined the mendicants of Jeanne's earlier days. Friar Richard dominated this little band of the illuminated. He was called their good Father. He it was who instructed them.[248] His designs for these women did not greatly differ from those of Jean Pasquerel: he intended to conduct them to those wars of the Cross, which he thought were bound to precede the impending end of the world.[249]

Meanwhile, it was his endeavour to foster a good[Pg ii.87] understanding between them, which, eloquent preacher though he was, he found very difficult. Within the sisterhood there were constant suspicions and disputes. Jeanne had been on friendly terms with Catherine de la Rochelle at Montfaucon in Brie and at Jargeau; but now she began to suspect her of being a rival, and immediately she assumed an attitude of mistrust.[250] Possibly she was right. At any moment either Catherine or the Breton women might be made use of as she had been.[251] In those days a prophetess was useful in so many ways: in the edification of the people, the reformation of the Church, the leading of men-at-arms, the circulation of money, in war, in peace; no sooner did one appear than each party tried to get hold of her. It seems as if, after having employed the Maid Jeanne to deliver Orléans, the King's Councillors were now thinking of employing Dame Catherine to make peace with the Duke of Burgundy. Such a task was deemed fitting for a saint less chivalrous than Jeanne. Catherine was married and the mother of a family. In this circumstance there need be no cause for astonishment; for if the gift of prophecy be more especially reserved for virgins, the example of Judith proves that the Lord may raise up strong matrons for the serving of his people.

If we believe that, as her surname indicates, she came from La Rochelle, her origin must have inspired the Armagnacs with confidence. The inhabitants of La Rochelle, all pirates more or less, were too profitably engaged in preying upon English vessels to forsake the Dauphin's party. Moreover, he rewarded their loyalty by granting them valuable[Pg ii.88] commercial privileges.[252] They had sent gifts of money to the people of Orléans; and when, in the month of May, they learned the deliverance of Duke Charles's city, they instituted a public festival to commemorate so happy an event.

The first duty of a saint in the army, it would appear, was to collect money. Jeanne was always sending letters asking the good towns for money or for munitions of war; the burgesses always promised to grant her request and sometimes they kept their promise. Catherine de la Rochelle appears to have had special revelations concerning the funds of the party; her mission, therefore, was financial, while Jeanne's was martial. She announced that she was going to the Duke of Burgundy to conclude peace.[253] If one may judge from the little that is known of her, the inspirations of this holy dame were not very elevated, not very orderly, not very profound.

Meeting Jeanne at Montfaucon in Berry (or at Jargeau) she addressed her thus:

"There came unto me a white lady, attired in cloth of gold, who said to me: 'Go thou through the good towns and let the King give unto thee heralds and trumpets to cry: "Whosoever has gold, silver or hidden treasure, let him bring it forth instantly."'"

Dame Catherine added: "Such as have hidden treasure and do not thus, I shall know their treasure, and I shall go and find it."

She deemed it necessary to fight against the English and seemed to believe that Jeanne's mission was to drive them out of the land, since she obligingly offered her the whole of her miraculous takings.[Pg ii.89]

"Wherewithal to pay your men-at-arms," she said. But the Maid answered disdainfully:

"Go back to your husband, look after your household, and feed your children."[254]

Disputes between saints are usually bitter. In her rival's missions Jeanne refused to see anything but folly and futility. Nevertheless it was not for her to deny the possibility of the white lady's visitations; for to Jeanne herself did there not descend every day as many saints, angels and archangels as were ever painted on the pages of books or the walls of monasteries? In order to make up her mind on the subject, she adopted the most effectual measures. A learned doctor may reason concerning matter and substance, the origin and the form of ideas, the dawn of impressions in the intellect, but a shepherdess will resort to a surer method; she will appeal to her own eyesight.

Jeanne asked Catherine if the white lady came every night, and learning that she did: "I will sleep with you," she said.

When night came, she went to bed with Catherine, watched till midnight, saw nothing and fell asleep, for she was young, and she had great need of sleep. In the morning, when she awoke, she asked: "Did she come?"

"She did," replied Catherine; "you were asleep, so I did not like to wake you."

"Will she not come to-morrow?"

Catherine assured her that she would come without fail.

This time Jeanne slept in the day in order that she might keep awake at night; so she lay down at night in the bed with Catherine and kept her eyes open. Often she asked: "Will she not come?"[Pg ii.90]

And Catherine replied: "Yes, directly."

But Jeanne saw nothing.[255] She held the test to be a good one. Nevertheless she could not get the white lady attired in cloth of gold out of her head. When Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret came to her, as they delayed not to do, she spoke to them concerning this white lady and asked them what she was to think of her. The reply was such as Jeanne expected:

"This Catherine," they said, "is naught but futility and folly."[256]

Then was Jeanne constrained to cry: "That is just what I thought."

The strife between these two prophetesses was brief but bitter. Jeanne always maintained the opposite of what Catherine said. When the latter was going to make peace with the Duke of Burgundy, Jeanne said to her:

"Me seemeth that you will never find peace save at the lance's point."[257]

There was one matter at any rate wherein the White Lady proved a better prophetess than the Maid's Council, to wit, the siege of La Charité. When Jeanne wished to go and deliver that town, Catherine tried to dissuade her.

"It is too cold," she said; "I would not go."[258]

Catherine's reason was not a high one; and yet it is true Jeanne would have done better not to go to the siege of La Charité.

Taken from the Duke of Burgundy by the Dauphin in 1422, La Charité had been retaken in 1424, by[Pg ii.91] Perrinet Gressart,[259] a successful captain, who had risen from the rank of mason's apprentice to that of pantler to the Duke of Burgundy and had been created Lord of Laigny by the King of England.[260] On the 30th of December, 1425, Perrinet's men arrested the Sire de La Trémouille, when he was on his way to the Duke of Burgundy, having been appointed ambassador in one of those eternal negotiations, forever in process between the King and the Duke. He was for several months kept a prisoner in the fortress which his captor commanded. He must needs pay a ransom of fourteen thousand golden crowns; and, albeit he took this sum from the royal treasury,[261] he never ceased to bear Perrinet a grudge. Wherefore it may be concluded that when he sent men-at-arms to La Charité it was in good sooth to capture the town and not with any evil design against the Maid.

The army despatched against this Burgundian captain and this great plunder of pilgrims was composed of no mean folk. Its leaders were Louis of Bourbon, Count of Montpensier, and Charles II, Sire d'Albret, La Trémouille's half-brother and Jeanne's companion in arms during the coronation campaign. The[Pg ii.92] army was doubtless but scantily supplied with stores and with money.[262] That was the normal condition of armies in those days. When the King wanted to attack a stronghold of the enemy, he must needs apply to his good towns for the necessary material. The Maid, at once saint and warrior, could beg for arms with a good grace; but possibly she overrated the resources of the towns which had already given so much.

On the 7th of November, she and my Lord d'Alençon signed a letter asking the folk of Clermont in Auvergne for powder, arrows and artillery. Churchmen, magistrates, and townsfolk sent two hundredweight of saltpetre, one hundredweight of sulphur, two cases of arrows; to these they added a sword, two poniards and a battle-axe for the Maid; and they charged Messire Robert Andrieu to present this contribution to Jeanne and to my Lord d'Albret.[263]

On the 9th of November, the Maid was at Moulins in Bourbonnais.[264] What was she doing there? No one knows. There was at that time in the town an abbess very holy and very greatly venerated. Her name was Colette Boilet. She had won the highest praise and incurred the grossest insults by attempting to reform the order of Saint Clare. Colette lived in the convent of the Sisters of Saint Clare, which she had recently founded in this town. It has been thought that the Maid went to Moulins on purpose to meet[Pg ii.93] her.[265] But we ought first to ascertain whether these two saints had any liking for each other. They both worked miracles and miracles which were occasionally somewhat similar;[266] but that was no reason why they should take the slightest pleasure in each other's society. One was called La Pucelle,[267] the other La Petite Ancelle.[268] But these names, both equally humble, described persons widely different in fashion of attire and in manner of life. La Petite Ancelle wended her way on foot, clothed in rags like a beggar-woman; La Pucelle, wrapped in cloth of gold, rode forth with lords on horseback. That Jeanne, surrounded by Franciscans who observed no rule, felt any veneration for the reformer of the Sisters of Saint Clare, there is no reason to believe; neither is there anything to indicate that the pacific Colette, strongly attached to the Burgundian house,[269] had any desire to hold converse with one whom the English regarded as a destroying angel.[270]

From this town of Moulins, Jeanne dictated a letter by which she informed the inhabitants of Riom that Saint-Pierre-le-Moustier was taken, and asked them[Pg ii.94] for materials of war as she had asked the folk of Clermont.[271]

Here is the letter:

Good friends and beloved, ye wit how that the town of Saint Père le Moustier hath been taken by storm; and with God's help it is our intention to cause to be evacuated the other places contrary to the King; but for this there hath been great expending of powder, arrows and other munition of war before the said town, and the lords who are in this town are but scantily provided for to go and lay siege to La Charité, whither we wend presently; I pray you as ye love the welfare and honour of the King and likewise of all others here, that ye will straightway help and send for the said siege powder, saltpetre, sulphur, arrows, strong cross-bows and other munition of war. And do this lest by failure of the said powder and other habiliments of war, the siege should be long and ye should be called in this matter negligent or unwilling. Good friends and beloved, may our Lord keep you. Written at Molins, the ninth day of November.


Addressed to: My good friends and beloved, the churchmen, burgesses and townsfolk of the town of Rion.[272]

The magistrates of Riom, in letters sealed with their own seal, undertook to give Jeanne the Maid and my Lord d'Albret the sum of sixty crowns; but when the masters of the siege-artillery came to demand this sum, the magistrates would not give a farthing.[273]

The folk of Orléans, on the other hand, once more appeared both zealous and munificent; for they[Pg ii.95] eagerly desired the reduction of a town commanding the Loire for seventy-five miles above their own city. They deserve to be considered the true deliverers of the kingdom; had it not been for them neither Jargeau nor Beaugency would have been taken in June. Quite in the beginning of July, when they thought the Loire campaign was to be continued, they had sent their great mortar, La Bougue, to Gien. With it they had despatched ammunition and victuals; and now, in the early days of December, at the request of the King addressed to the magistrates, they sent to La Charité all the artillery brought back from Gien; likewise eighty-nine soldiers of the municipal troops, wearing the cloak with the Duke of Orléans' colours, the white cross on the breast; with their trumpeter at their head and commanded by Captain Boiau; craftsmen of all conditions, master-masons and journeymen, carpenters, smiths; the cannoneers Fauveau, Gervaise Lefèvre and Brother Jacques, monk of the Gray friars monastery, at Orléans.[274] What became of all this artillery and of these brave folk?

On the 24th of November, the Sire d'Albret and the Maid, being hard put to it before the walls of La Charité, likewise solicited the town of Bourges. On receipt of their letter, the burgesses decided to contribute thirteen hundred golden crowns. To raise this sum they had recourse to a measure by no means unusual; it had been employed notably by the townsfolk of Orléans when, some time previously, to furnish forth Jeanne with munition of war, they had bought from a certain citizen a[Pg ii.96] quantity of salt which they had put up to auction in the city barn. The townsfolk of Bourges sold by auction the annual revenue of a thirteenth part of the wine sold retail in the town. But the money thus raised never reached its destination.[275]

A right goodly knighthood was gathered beneath the walls of La Charité; besides Louis de Bourbon and the Sire d'Albret, there was the Maréchal de Broussac, Jean de Bouray, Seneschal of Toulouse, and Raymon de Montremur, a Baron of Dauphiné, who was slain there.[276] It was bitterly cold and the besiegers succeeded in nothing. At the end of a month Perrinet Gressart, who was full of craft, caused them to fall into an ambush. They raised the siege, abandoning the artillery furnished by the good towns, those fine cannon bought with the savings of thrifty citizens.[277] Their action was the less excusable because the town which had not been relieved and could not well expect to be, must have surrendered sooner or later. They pleaded that the King had sent them no victuals and no money;[278] but that was not considered an excuse and their action was deemed dishonourable. According to a knight well acquainted with points of honour in war: "One ought never to besiege a place without being sure of victuals and of pay beforehand. For to besiege a stronghold and then to withdraw is great dis[Pg ii.97]grace for an army, especially when there is present with it a king or a king's lieutenant."[279]

On the 13th of December there preached to the people of Périgueux a Dominican friar, Brother Hélie Boudant, Pope Martin's Penitentiary in that town. He took as his text the great miracles worked in France by the intervention of a Maid, whom God had sent to the King. On this occasion the Mayor and the magistrates heard mass sung and presented two candles. Now for two months Brother Hélie had been under order to appear before the Parlement of Poitiers.[280] On what charge we do not know. Mendicant monks of those days were for the most part irregular in faith and in morals. The doctrine of Friar Richard himself was not altogether beyond suspicion.

At Christmas, in the year 1429, the flying squadron of béguines being assembled at Jargeau,[281] this good Brother said mass and administered the communion thrice to Jeanne the Maid and twice to that Pierronne of Lower Brittany, with whom our Lord conversed as friend with friend. Such an action might well be regarded, if not as a formal violation of the Church's laws, at any rate as an unjustifiable abuse of the sacrament.[282] A menacing theological tempest was then gathering and was about to break over the heads of Friar Richard's daughters in the spirit. A few days after the attack on Paris, the[Pg ii.98] venerable University had had composed or rather transcribed a treatise, De bono et maligno spiritu, with a view probably to finding therein arguments against Friar Richard and his prophetess Jeanne, who had both appeared before the city with the Armagnacs.[283]

About the same time, a clerk of the faculty of law had published a summary reply to Chancellor Gerson's memorial concerning the Maid. "It sufficeth not," he wrote, "that one simply affirm that he is sent of God; every heretic maketh such a claim; but he must prove the truth of that mysterious mission by some miraculous work or by some special testimony in the Bible." This Paris clerk denies that the Maid has presented any such proof, and to judge her by her acts, he believes her rather to have been sent by the Devil than by God. He reproaches her with wearing a dress forbidden to women under penalty of anathema, and he refutes the excuses for her conduct in this matter urged by Gerson. He accuses her of having excited between princes and Christian people a greater war than there had ever been before. He holds her to be an idolatress using enchantments and making false prophecies. He charges her with having induced men to slay their fellows on the two high festivals of the Holy Virgin, the Assumption and the Nativity. "Sins committed by the Enemy of Mankind, through this woman, against the Creator and his most glorious Mother. And albeit there ensued certain murders, thanks be to God they were not so many as the Enemy had intended."

"All these things do manifestly prove error and heresy," adds this devout son of the University.[Pg ii.99] Whence he concludes that the Maid should be taken before the Bishop and the Inquisitor; and he ends by quoting this text from Saint Jérôme: "The unhealthy flesh must be cut off; the diseased sheep must be driven from the fold."[284]

Such was the unanimous opinion of the University of Paris concerning her in whom the French clerks beheld an Angel of the Lord. At Bruges, in November, a rumour ran and was eagerly welcomed by ecclesiastics that the University of Paris had sent an embassy to the Pope at Rome to denounce the Maid as a false prophetess and a deceiver, and likewise those who believed in her. We do not know the veritable object of this mission.[285] But there is no doubt whatever that the doctors and masters of Paris were henceforward firmly resolved that if ever they obtained possession of the damsel they would not let her go out of their hands, and certainly would not send her to be tried at Rome, where she might escape with a mere penance, and even be enlisted as one of the Pope's mercenaries.[286]

In English and Burgundian lands, not only by clerks but by folk of all conditions, she was regarded as a heretic; in those countries the few who thought well of her had to conceal their opinions carefully. After the retreat from Saint-Denys, there may have remained some in Picardy, and notably at Abbeville, who were favourable to the prophetess of the French; but such persons must not be spoken of in public.

Colin Gouye, surnamed Le Sourd, and Jehannin Daix, surnamed Le Petit, a man of Abbeville, learned[Pg ii.100] this to their cost. In this town about the middle of September, Le Sourd and Le Petit were near the blacksmith's forge with divers of the burgesses and other townsfolk, among whom was a herald. They fell to talking of the Maid who was making so great a stir throughout Christendom. To certain words the herald uttered concerning her, Le Petit replied eagerly:

"Well! well! Everything that woman does and says is nought but deception."

Le Sourd spoke likewise: "That woman," he said, "is not to be trusted. Those who believe in her are mad, and there is a smell of burning about them."[287]

By that he meant that their destiny was obvious, and that they were sure to be burned at the stake as heretics.

Then he had the misfortune to add: "In this town there be many with a smell of burning about them."

Such words were for the dwellers in Abbeville a slander and a cause of suspicion. When the Mayor and the aldermen heard of this speech they ordered Le Sourd to be thrown into prison. Le Petit must have said something similar, for he too was imprisoned.[288]

By saying that divers of his fellow-citizens were suspect of heresy, Le Sourd put them in danger of being sought out by the Bishop and the Inquisitor as heretics and sorcerers of notoriously evil repute. As for the Maid, she must have been suspect indeed, for[Pg ii.101] a smell of burning to be caused by the mere fact of being her partisan.

While Friar Richard and his spiritual daughters were thus threatened with a bad end should they fall into the hands of the English or Burgundians, serious troubles were agitating the sisterhood. On the subject of Catherine, Jeanne entered into an open dispute with her spiritual father. Friar Richard wanted the holy dame of La Rochelle to be set to work. Fearing lest his advice should be adopted, Jeanne wrote to her King to tell him what to do with the woman, to wit that he should send her home to her husband and children.

When she came to the King the first thing she had to say to him was: "Catherine's doings are nought but folly and futility."

Friar Richard made no attempt to hide from the Maid his profound displeasure.[289] He was thought much of at court, and it was doubtless with the consent of the Royal Council that he was endeavouring to compass the employment of Dame Catherine. The Maid had succeeded. Why should not another of the illuminated succeed?

Meanwhile the Council had by no means renounced the services Jeanne was rendering to the French cause. Even after the misfortunes of Paris and of La Charité, there were many who now as before held her power to be supernatural; and there is reason to believe that there was a party at Court intending still to employ her.[290] And even if they had wished to discard her she was now too intimately associated with the royal lilies for her rejection not to involve them[Pg ii.102] too in dishonour. On the 29th of December, 1429, at Mehun-sur-Yèvre, the King gave her a charter of nobility sealed with the great seal in green wax, with a double pendant, on a strip of red and green silk.[291]

The grant of nobility was to Jeanne, her father, mother, brothers even if they were not free, and to all their posterity, male and female. It was a singular grant corresponding to the singular services rendered by a woman.

In the title she is described as Johanna d'Ay, doubtless because her father's name was given to the King's scribes by Lorrainers who would speak with a soft drawl; but whether her name were Ay or Arc, she was seldom called by it, and was commonly spoken of as Jeanne the Maid.[292]


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