Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

The Maid of France
Being The Story Of The Life And Death of Jeanne d'Arc (Joan of Arc)

Cover for Andrew Lang's The Maid of France Cover Page for Andrew Lang's The Maid of France

What manner of maid, to outward view, was she that on February 23, 1429, rode through the gate of Vaucouleurs to achieve her great adventure? Even according to the English tradition Jeanne d'Arc was beautiful. In Shakespeare's Henry vi (Part I. Act 1. Scene 2) she explains her beauty by a miracle. Our Lady appeared to her,

" And, whereas I was black and swart before,
With these clear rays which she infused on me,
That beauty am I bless'd with which you see."

The captains in the old mystery play, La Mystere du Siege a" Orleans, describe her thus:

"Elle est plaisante en falls et dits,
Belle et blanche comme la rose.'''

" Sweet she is in words and deeds,
Fair and white as the white rose.''

Beauty may be suggested in the Homeric manner, without details, as when the Trojan elders say of Helen, " wondrous like is she to the divine and deathless goddesses." Jeanne is painted thus Homerically in a letter by a young knight, Guy de Laval, to his mother: "She seems a thing all divine, de son faict, and to see her and hear her." From other witnesses we learn that she "was beautiful in face and figure" {belle et bien formie} "her face was glad and smiling," "her breasts were beautiful." Her hair was black, cut short like a soldier's ; as to her eyes and features, having no information, we may conceive of them as we please. Probably she had grey eyes, and a clear, pale colour under the tan of sun and wind. She was so tall that she could wear a man's clothes, those, for example, of Durand Lassois. Thus, with her natural aspect of gladness and her ready April tears, Jeanne was a maid whom men loved to look upon, and followed gladly ; for

"Elle est plaisante en faits et dits,
Belle et blanche com me la rose."

In Chaucer's pretty phrase she was
"Sweet as a flower and upright as a bolt.'

There is no portrait of her. She never sat to a painter ; and the popular images, whether from memory or fancy, are mainly late or apocryphal.

Her health was perfect, her energy was proved to be indefatigable. Her courtly manner of address and salutation she seemed to have learned from her crowned and gracious lady Saints. She loved a good horse, a good knight, and a good sword, and she loved to go richly clad. But when the Maid at last appeared before her gentle Dauphin, she wore a black pourpoint, a kind of breeches fastened by laces and points to the pourpoint, a short coarse dark grey tunic, and a black cap on her close cropped black hair. Probably she rode out of Vaucouleurs in the same raiment.

Jeanne, as she went on her way through the night, by roads which the bands of Burgundy, of England, and of the robber captains infested, had no fear of them, and no anxiety about the conduct of her companions. Baudricourt had made them swear an oath, she says, that they would guide her well and safely. Thanks to their oath, their chivalry, and "the goodness they saw in her," the two gentlemen, they swear, went with Jeanne as free from passion as if she had been their sister. It was, at the lowest, their interest to bring her unharmed, a maiden prophetess, to their king.

The little troop travelled all night, for fear of the wandering bands of Burgundy and England. In this hostile country, to Jeanne's regret, they dared not go to Mass. She appears to have been more apt to confide in them than she supposed she had been, as to her Voices. "Ever she bade us to have no fear, for her Brothers of Paradise taught her always what she should do, and it was now four years or five since they and her Lord had told her that she must go to the war for the recovery of France." But she apparently spoke no word as to the mode of the appearance of her Brothers of Paradise.

Their first night march brought them to the town of St. Urbain. There was a piece of gossip to the effect that some of her company once tried her courage, by suddenly appearing as if hostile, while the others made as if they would flee. " In God's name stand!" she cried, " they will do us no harm." It is not a likely tale, and was merely reported as an on dit.

While on hostile ground, taking byways, they had to ford four or five rivers before they reached Auxerre, in Anglo-Burgundian territory, where they heard Mass. Soon they were at Gien, in the Dauphin's country, and safe except from marauders and highwaymen. There was a story current in April 1429, that some such fellows had laid an ambush for Jeanne, but had made no attack, perhaps not finding themselves in sufficient force. Precisely the same story--the men were rooted to the ground--is told of the contemporary St. Colette.

The most interesting place where the Maid paused during her journey is the little town of Fierbois, near Chinon, south of the Loire. Here was a famous chapel of one of her Saints, St. Catherine. For some reason, St. Catherine of Fierbois was the patroness of captives taken by the English and Burgundians. French and Scots soldiers were wont to make pilgrimages thither, and relate to the clergy of the chapel the miracles by which the Saint had enabled them to escape. Among the witnesses to their own marvellous escapes are men and women of good character and position. Others may have been among the vagabonds who then went about begging, on the score that they must thank St. Catherine at her shrine. They are described amusingly in the contemporary Liber Vagatorum. The stories, told at Fierbois with simple sincerity, were recorded in the chapel book, with the names of the witnesses of the confessions, among them Dunois and La Hire. (The manuscript has been published by the Abbe* Bourasse, and translated by myself.) The most astonishing tale is that of Michael Hamilton, a Scot from Bothwell. While at home, he had a special devotion to St. Catherine, who served him well abroad. He was caught when freebooting, and hanged. In the night came a Voice to the local cure', bidding him to cut down the Scot. The cure' was disobedient to that heavenly voice ; but next day, when his Easter service was over, he sent his servant, who strolled to the spot, and taking out his penknife, cut Michael's toe. Michael kicked ; he was certainly alive ; he was cut down, and was tended by a charitable religious lady. He neglected to make his promised pilgrimage to Fierbois, till, at night, he received a sonorous box on the ear, and heard a voice bidding him fulfil his vow. Unable to walk, owing to the wound inflicted by the penknife, he rode to Fierbois, and there made his deposition.. This tale Jeanne did not hear, for Michael came to Fierbois when she was engaged in the relief of Orleans. She must have heard many of the other miracles read,--at least this is probable. She also heard three Masses. At Fierbois she dictated a letter to the Dauphin, asking permission to enter his town of Chinon, for she had ridden a hundred and fifty leagues to tell him things useful to him, and known to her. Her impression was that in this letter she told the King that she " would recognise him among all others."

She rode to Chinon, and, after dining or breakfasting at a hostelry, kept by a woman of good repute, she appears to have gone to the castle. If so, she was not at once admitted. The Dauphin sent persons to ask who she was and why she came. Clearly he knew nothing about her ; her letter and that of Baudricourt had not been given to him. She was unwilling to answer till she saw the King, says Simon Charles, Maitre des Requites, who seems to have been informed by Jean de Novelonpont. She would then say no more than that she was to relieve Orleans, and lead the King to his coronation at Reims. The Council was divided in opinion as to whether she should be admitted or not ; however, an appointment was made, though even when she approached the castle the King, by advice of the majority of the Council, hesitated to see her. Not till then was the prince informed of Baudricourt's letter and of Jeanne's " almost miraculously " safe journey. All this is strange. Probably the favourites and advisers of the Dauphin, La Tremoi'lle and the rest, threw the Maid's letter away as a piece of nonsense, and kept back that of Baudricourt as lacking in the captain's usual common sense.

Jeanne, at all events, was advancing towards the castle, when (as her confessor, Pasquerel, declares that she herself informed him) she was insulted and sworn at by a man on horseback. She answered, " In God's name do you swear, and you so near your death ! " Within the hour the man fell into the water (the castle moat ?) and was drowned. The story is alluded to by a con- temporary Italian letter-writer. The confessor Pasquerel had at this time never seen the Maid, he joined her on her expedition to Orleans.

Louis de Bourbon, Comte de Vendome, led Jeanne into the Royal presence. The hall of audience was crowded ; Jeanne says that three hundred knights were present, and the place shone with the lustre of fifty flambeaux. Now the chamber is a roofless ruin; a wall with the wide fireplace is still intact. Coming in from the darkness of the night, the Maid, in her page's dress of black and grey, was not dazzled by the torches burning ; was not confused by such a throng of men in velvet and cloth of gold, in crimson and in azure, as she had never seen ; veteran soldiers, counsellors like false La Tremoi'lle, prelates like the Archbishop of Reims. Says de Gaucourt, who was present, " she came forward with great humility and simplicity, and I heard these words which she spoke to the King thus : " Most noble Lord Dauphin, I come from God to help you and your realm." The Dauphin drew her apart, and spoke with her long. " The King seemed to rejoice in what he heard."

She had recognised Charles at once, and it is certain that, in her opinion, she did so spontaneously. He is said to have been an ugly young man, as we saw, with legs like those of our own James VI. He is also said to have been a very comely person, moult b el prince. She may have heard him described ; she certainly believed that she knew him through her Voices.

De Gaucourt, who was present, says nothing about a miracle of recognition, or about the Dauphin disguised in a mean costume. Writing, probably some four months later (June 1429), the clerk of La Rochelle says that the King was not in the hall when the Maid entered ; that Charles de Bourbon and others were pointed out to her as being the Dauphin ; that she was not deceived, but knew him when he entered from another chamber. If she wrote to him from Fierbois, as she remembered, saying that she would recognise him, the courtiers may have tried to play tricks on her, and to puzzle her.

By April 22, 1429, it was on record that she had promised to raise the siege of Orleans, and to lead the King to be crowned, with other matters " which the King keeps strictly secret." The informant was an officer in the employment of Charles de Bourbon, and this is the earliest contemporary hint--within the month--concerning " The King's Secret," a much debated subject. According to Jeanne, her secret communication to Charles made him take her seriously ; she was to be examined by clerks, divines, and legists. According to her confessor, Pasquerel, the Maid told him that she said, " I tell thee, from Messire," from her Lord, " that thou art true heir of France and son of the King.'' She tutoyait him, speaking as a prophetess from Heaven. There was little in the words, from a travestied village girl of whom he knew nothing, to inspire confidence in the Dauphin, but the Maid said more. In a letter of the end of July, attributed to the poet, Alain Chartier, it is written, " As to what she said to the King, nobody knows that. But it was most manifest that the King was greatly encouraged, as if by the Spirit " (non mediocri fuisse alacritate perfusum). In a letter to Venice from Bruges, dated July 9, we find, "It is said that the Maid notified the Dauphin that none must know these things" (her revelations), " save God and himself." He therefore took her seriously.

That Jeanne did give a secret " sign " to the King, which made him take her pretensions in earnest, she maintained at her trial. She could not be induced to explain this sign; in a separate chapter her treatment of the subject will be investigated. It will be seen that, perhaps, while she gave the sign secretly on her first interview with the Dauphin, she later, by his desire, communicated it to some of his adherents.

As to what the sign given by the Maid to the King really was, I have no hesitation in following the opinion of her greatest historian, Jules Quicherat He accepts as authentic the statement of the contemporary, Thomas Basin, Bishop of Lisieux, as given in his History of Charles VII. " The Comte de Dunois, who was most intimate with the King, told me the facts on the King's own authority. The Maid confirmed her account " (of her mission) " by rehearsing to the King matters so secret and hidden that no mortal except himself could know them save by divine revelation."

The King did not tell Dunois, or Dunois did not tell Basin, what the secret was that only God and the King and the Maid knew. If we accept other evidence at third hand, as Quicherat does with conviction, the secret could not be divulged with safety while Charles lived, or at least while his right to the crown and his possession of his kingdom was still contested. But later the secret came to light. The facts peep out very shyly. First, we have no less than ten reports, in contemporary letters of 1429 and in evidence of contemporaries given in 1450-1456, that the Maid told the Dauphin certain secret things, which appeared to fill him with confidence and joy. (For these see the supplementary chapter on " The Sign given to the King.")

Next, we have the evidence of two Chronicles, probably not completed in their exact form before 1468, that the secret referred to something which the Dauphin himself^ had done, " a vow which he had made," " something great which he had done," " a thing that none could know save God and himself." At her Trial Jeanne went so far as to admit that he had a sign "connected with his own doings." Then in the undated mystery play (1470?) (Mystkre du Siege d Orleans), the King before Jeanne's arrival makes a secret prayer, and Jeanne recalls it to his memory.

After that came into light the details of the prayer, which, for good reasons, could not be published during the lifetime of the King. These details are given in the Hardiesses des grands Rois, by Pierre Sala (15 16). Sala had been a servant of Louis XI (son of Charles vii), and of Charles VIII. Under the last named king, about 1480, Sala became familiar with de Boisy, who had been a gentleman of the bed-chamber of Charles VII, the only gentleman whose bed Charles shared, as was the custom. To de Boisy the distrustful King communicated the secret; in his utmost need, in 1428, he made, alone, a mental prayer in his oratory, ,l uttering no words, but in his heart imploring God that, if he were indeed the true heir, of the blood of the noble House of France, and the kingdom rightfully his own, God would please to guard and defend him ; or at least grant him grace to avoid death or captivity, and escape to Spain or Scotland, whose kings were of all ancientry brothers in arms, and allies of the kings of France; wherefore he had chosen them as his last refuge."

When the Maid came, announcing her mission, "she verified it by the proofs above stated, which the King recognised for true."

There are other versions to much the same effect ; but from Sala we get the chain of evidence, and Quicherat holds that it places beyond doubt the authenticity of the revelation : while Jeanne told her judges that, before she left Vaucouleurs, the Voices promised that she should receive a sign which would convince the King. Vallet de Viriville recognised the concurrence of very notable testimonies to these facts. But as, if accepted, they do attest what we call "supernormal faculties" in the Maid, he scientifically explains them thus : The Maid may have been guided on this point by the King's confessor, Machet, his old tutor. To reach this conclusion we must suppose that the King told his confessor about his prayer,--which, on the evidence he did not,--that Machet broke the seal of confession in his enthusiasm for a strange girl dressed as a page, and that he and the Maid conspired to hoax the confiding monarch.

This scientific explanation is not easy to believe. M. Anatole France observes that Jeanne's assurance of his legitimacy would not have affected the King. " His first thought would have been that the clergy had coached her " (avaient endoctrine la jeune fille?)

But Charles, on the evidence, was not convinced by Jeanne's assertion, but by her proofs ; her knowledge of " what was known only to God and himself."

With Ouicherat and Vallet de Viriville I recognise the excel- lence of the evidence, but cannot explain the facts away on the system of de Viriville.

Meanwhile the secret, obviously, could not be made public at the time, as it proved Charles's doubts of his own legitimacy. At the trial of the Maid not even the threat of torture and the sight of the rack, the boot, and the tormentor, could wring the facts from her.

The confidence of the Dauphin was tempered by abundant discretion. The clergy and doctors of his party must be consulted before the bizarre messenger of God could be employed. The Maid, meanwhile, was lodged in the tower of Coudray, part of the palace at Chinon, and entrusted to Guillaume Bellier, an official of the Court, and to his pious wife. A page of fourteen or fifteen years old, Louis de Coutes, in the service of de Gaucourt, was given to her as her attendant by day. He was of a poor but noble family; on the mother's side he came of the Scottish house of Mercer. He often saw Jeanne going to and coming from the King, and men of high station often visited her ; he was not present at their meetings with her. De Coutes frequently saw her kneeling in prayer and weeping.

As when at Vaucouleurs, she had " longed, as a woman with child longs for her delivery," to go to Chinon, so now she prayed and wept, desiring sorely to succour the people of Orleans. " You hold so many and such long councils,'' she said to the Dauphin later. Her heart was on fire to be at work, not to waste that "one year and little more" during which she was to endure, as she kept telling the Dauphin. It is d'Alencon who vouches for this sad and absolutely accurate repeated prophecy. Jeanne must have* made it from the first, for in a letter dated " Bruges, May 10, 1429," the writer remarks, " It is said that the Maid is to achieve two more great feats " (in addition to the relief of Orleans), " and then to die." We must think of her as always foreknowing, and always disregarding her swiftly approaching end.

Indeed, Orleans was in need of succour, while the learned at Chinon and Poitiers split hairs and asked futile questions, and quoted Scripture, and Merlin, and Bede, and Marie of Avignon, wearying the Maid beyond endurance.

As the Journal du Siege shows, provisions now came in by driblets, a few cattle, a few pack horses, a few swine ; and what were they in time of Lent ? By February 6 came La Hire and Poton de Saintrailles, good at need, he who later helped to raise the long siege of Compiegne, while Jeanne lay in captivity. Envoys sent to the Dauphin returned with promise of succour, and on February 8 arrived William Stewart, brother of the Constable of the army of Scotland, with de Gaucourt, and a thousand fighting men, mainly Scots ; their entry was " a right fair sight to see." They were within four days of their death. Meanwhile young Charles de Bourbon, already mentioned, the Comte de Clermont, not yet a knight, had mustered a relieving force at Blois. With him was John Stewart of Darnley, " Constable of Scotland," La Tour d'Auvergne, and a force of men, some 4000, from Auvergne, the Bourbonnais, and Scotland.

A small party who went tcT them from Orleans were taken by the English on February 9. On February io, Dunois rode to Blois, with an escort of 200 men, to know when and where the army of Blois would attack a huge convoy which Fastolf was leading from Paris to the English, with Lenten provender and munitions of war. On the following day, William Stewart, d'Albret, Saintrailles, and La Hire led from Orleans more than 1500 men to join hands with the army of Blois under Charles de Bourbon, and capture Fastolfs convoy. Charles de Bourbon himself led his large force to Rouvray, near Janville; his whole array numbered from 3000 to 4000 fighting men. Fastolf had but 1500, English, Picards, Normans, and others, with details of drivers and commissariat, to guard a convoy of many waggons, laden with guns, ammunition, and, by way of Lenten food, pickled herrings. To rout this motley force, and seize the convoy, was apparently an easy task for an unencumbered army of twice their numbers. But for the timidity of Charles de Bourbon and the imprudent valour of the Scots, the twelfth of February might have seen a fatal blow dealt at the besiegers, and Orleans might have needed no aid from a visionary peasant girl.

But Fastolf knew the great game of war ; his mounted skirmishers brought in the intelligence that a French army was not far off, and Fastolf, with his waggons, the long spikes of his archers, and the bundles of palisades connected by iron chains, described by Bueil in Le Jouvencel, constructed a scientific laager, wide, with a long narrow entry. " There his men chose to live or die, for of escape they had no hope."

Meanwhile the force of La Hire, Poton, Sir Hugh Kennedy, and the rest, all mounted save the archers, and resolved to fight from horseback, were near enough Fastolfs company to charge them before they had formed their laager. But Charles de Bourbon, with his 4000 men, kept sending gallopers to bid La Hire and Kennedy await his coming. From deference to Charles, and in great disgust, vigorously expressed by La Hire, the French and Scots awaited impatiently, seeing the laager established before their eyes. The " Constable of Scotland " had now reached the front with four hundred of his countrymen, always anxious to come to handstrokes. There was an archery skirmish about three in the afternoon. Then Sir John Stewart leaped from his saddle, disregarding the general order to remain mounted, and, with William Stewart, Dunois, and many French gentlemen, led a desperate charge of four hundred against the fortified position of the English. Fastolf, seeing that Charles de Bourbon's force was crawling up very slowly, and could not for long come into action, led a sortie of his own company, greatly outnumbering the assailants, and, according to the Journal du Siege, nearly exterminated them. There followed a general rout, the standards of the English, with few men under each, waved in every part of the plain, and the fugitives were being cut down, when La Hire and Poton rallied a handful of eighty horse and began to attack the scattered English. But both the Stewarts and d'Albret, with many other French leaders, had fallen in their wild charge; and Dunois, wounded in the foot by an arrow, was constrained to retreat, while Poton and La Hire formed a rearguard to protect the fugitives against attack by the English from their forts round Orleans. Charles de Bourbon, whose army had not struck a blow, returned to Orleans also, covered with disgrace which did not affect the Dauphin's confidence in him.

Two days later, without opposition, Fastolf marched his convoy and his victorious men into the camp of the English, who gave to this encounter the name of the battle of the Herrings, and made merry over their meagre food.

Orleans was now deserted by Charles de Bourbon, who went to the King at Chinon. The very bishop, John Kirkmichael, a Scot, and a man of the sword, left his unhappy town, and two thousand fighting men decamped, under knights of Auvergne, Scotland, and the Bourbonnais. Even La Hire withdrew, promising to return. Only Dunois and the Marshal de Boussac and de Sainte Severe and their men remained at the post of danger. The great effort at relieving Orleans had failed disastrously. The brave people of the good town did not despair. In the first week of March, while Bedford was raising a forced loan of a quarter of their pay from his officials in Normandy, Dunois received news that a shepherdess, called the Pucelle, had passed through Gien, saying that she came to relieve Orleans, and, by God's decree, to lead the Dauphin to be crowned at Reims.

Meanwhile the condition of the Dauphin is painted in the darkest colours. " Everything went ill with him," says Monstrelet, " and turned from bad to worse." We have only the evidence of the mysterious Monk of Dunfermline for the statement that he made for La Rochelle, intending to sail to Scotland A less dubious authority says that his Council had considered the plan of retiring to the Dauphin^, and trying to keep the Lyons region with Languedoc and Auvergne.

Meanwhile Poton, with other envoys, had gone to negotiate for the neutrality, under the guardianship of Burgundy, of the city of Orleans. They approached the duke in Flanders ; he took them with him to meet Bedford in Paris (April 4-13), and they returned to Orleans on April 17. The Regent refused "to beat the bush and let others catch the birds " : a quarrel arose, and the duke told Poton and the other envoys that the Dauphin and his party, if not reinforced, " would be right wretched and of little avail." The embassy had, at least, nearly estranged Burgundy and Bedford. Poton's diplomatic idea was a brilliant one for a reckless cavalry leader. Either they would have peace, if their prayer were granted, or Bedford and Burgundy were sure to quarrel over the matter.

The skirmishes round Orleans continued ; really the chief weapon of the English seems to have been their HURRAH, "cry moult grande et terrible" which was singularly disconcerting to the French. By March 3 the besiegers began to tighten the weak cordon round Orleans, making a covered sunken way between their largest fortified camp, St. Laurent (outside the western city gate, and commanding the road to Blois), to their fort of St. Ladre, called Paris, which blocked the road from Paris. In this operation they lost fourteen men, including Gray, a nephew of the late Earl of Salisbury. The English, however, had a success at the fort between St. Laurent--La Croix Boissde--and the great hold which they called London.

On March 8 the English were reinforced by two hundred men from Jargeau and by many others from the garrisons in Beauce, and an attack in force was expected. On March 10 the English began to work at their fortress of St. Loup, which was near the river, commanding the ferry above the town, and was meant to stop convoys coming from the south by the further side of the Loire. The city was now girt about by those bastilles ; for, on the further side of the river, the boulevard of St. Prive, with a fort on the isle of Charlemagne opposite the fort of St. Laurent; the Tourelles at the bridge-head ; the fort of the Augustins ; and the fort of St. Jean le Blanc, appeared to make entrance by water impossible, and St. Loup guarded the ferry and the approaches from the east.

The citizens were thus straitened, and only a few small supplies came in ; but there was never a really " close siege," as the contemporary Burgundian knight, Monstrelet, remarks. Moreover, the English forces, far too few for their task, were divided by the river, and could not, or did not, succour each other, though they held an apparently safe way of crossing from St. Laurent to the fort on the isle Charlemagne, and thence to the fort St. Prive The English were, at least, well supplied with food, for the Bourgeois de Paris, in his journal, complains that victuals rose to double their price in the town, as so much grain and meat were taken to the besiegers of Orleans.

The Orleans people, however, had to be constantly under arms; the English guns of position began to scatter death, and on April 7 the fighting men of the town let a convoy enter the English camp without opposition. On April 13 a considerable supply of money arrived in the town, and on April 17 came back Poton de Saintrailles, with a trumpeter from the Duke of Burgundy. Bedford would not allow him to take Orleans into his keeping; Burgundy, therefore, withdrew his troops from the English camp, and the lines of investment were weaker than ever. But by April 19 the English received a great convoy and a considerable reinforcement of Norman vassals, who straightway went home again ; and now they finished their fort of St. Jean le Blanc, guarding the ferry from the further side of the Loire, and they cut off a convoy destined for Orleans. None the less, on April 28, they failed to prevent the entry of four hundred French men-at-arms under Florent d'llliers. This fact in itself proves that they would not leave their fortresses to attack a strong relieving army. Jeanne understood, and prophesied that the English would not oppose her forces, the French leaders did not understand.

The city had now been besieged for six months. English blood and money had been freely spent, but nothing decisive had been done or even attempted ; save for the battle of the Herrings, the English had won no laurels since they took the Tourelles. They had not the numbers that would justify them in an attempt to storm the town ; nor could they reduce it by starvation. Bedford, who had never approved of the siege, understood his helplessness. Early in April he had expressed his views to the English Council in London. He wrote that he wanted Henry VI to be crowned in Paris : he had already heard, it is clear, of the Maid's design to crown the Dauphin at Reims. He also wrote that the English army at Orleans was thinned by desertions, 11 without reinforcements and great expense of money the siege cannot be maintained." He demanded 400 lances, and 1200 archers, engaged for half a year. They did not arrive in time.

And now, against the failing English, was to come the Maid, with an ample convoy, and a fairly large relieving force. Had she, in place of Charles de Bourbon, commanded the army of Blois, she would have won the battle of the Herrings, have entered Orleans with 4000 men, and by the audacity of her attack would have raised the siege eleven weeks before, in fact, she did drive the English from the walls.

We left her in the tower of the castle Coudray, at Chinon, eating her own heart with desire to engage. At least she then made a loyal friend, of the Royal blood, the young Due d'Alencon, who had been taken at Verneuil (1424), and was recently returned from prison. He was shooting quails in the marshes when he heard how the Maid had arrived, and been received by the Dauphin. Next day he went to the castle and found Jeanne in conversation with her prince. The Dauphin named d'Alencon to her (she did not recognise him by miracle) ; " Sir, you are welcome," she said, " the more of the blood Royal we have together, the better." Next day he saw Jeanne at the royal Mass ; she bowed to the Dauphin. When service was over the Dauphin led d'Alencon, La Tr^mo'ille, and the Maid into a chamber apart, dismissing the rest of his courtiers.

Jeanne, true to her idea that France was held in fief from God, asked the Dauphin to place the realm in the hands of God, and receive it again ; a common feudal formality as between lord and vassal. D'Alencon says that this surrender of the realm to the Dauphin's Divine Overlord was only one of the requests which Jeanne made. The affair came to be talked about; it was reported in extant contemporary letters, and despatches to Italy and Germany, and we know what the other requests were, or were supposed to be. The Dauphin was to amend his life, and live after God's will. He was to be clement, and grant a general amnesty; he was to be a good lord to rich and poor, friend and enemy. Two contemporary sources, German and Italian, thus describe the requests of the Maid.

A critic who seeks everywhere for the fraudulent priest behind the scenes of Jeanne's mission, recognises in her requests the voice of the secret clerical prompter. That forger of false prophecies had little to gain by trying to make the Dauphin promise to do what in the coronation oath every king swore to do. Jeanne could not but have learned, at church, that Heaven punishes nations for the sins of their rulers ; that the hearts of kings are in the hands of God ; that they are but His vassals. All this was knowledge common as household words ; the current voice of the preacher proclaimed all this, especially in times of national disaster, and the Maid had taken the knowledge to heart.

So they talked and dined, a strange party of four. There is the Dauphin, always kind, courteous, and unconvinced ; there is d'Alencon, young, handsome, and loyal ; there is the sceptical La Tremoille, his Falstaffian paunch ripening for the dagger thrust dealt in the Tour Coudray (1433), the tower where Jeanne at this time was lodged ; there is the beautiful eager Maid, with foreknowledge of doom in her eyes. A month agone she was the guest of Katherine Royer ; now she is the companion of kings and princes, and equal to either fortune. In the Arabian Nights there is no tale more marvellous.

They talked, and then the Dauphin went into the meadows, where Jeanne so won dAlencon's heart by gracious horsemanship and managing her lance, that he gave her a horse. Henceforth d'Alencon was to Jeanne her beau Due, they were true comrades in arms, and, in his opinion, on one occasion he owed his life to her. He had fought and was keen to fight again ; and like a brave man, he confessed that Jeanne once gave him courage at a moment when he needed her inspiration.


Joan of Arc MaidOfHeaven
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