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)
CHAPTER 10

Cover Page for Andrew Lang's The Maid of France
JEANNE AT TOURS. MARCH TO ORLEANS

To the city of Tours, then held by the Queen of Sicily, mother- in-law of the Dauphin, the Maid carried a light heart and a happy face. Like her St. Catherine, she had overcome the learned men. She dwelt with Eleanor, wife of Jean du Puy, herself one of the Queen's ladies. The town was rich and loyal, and had aided Orleans with supplies of money.

In Tours, a city well known for its smiths, Jeanne was to have a complete suit of "white armour" made, and Jean de Novelonpont and Bertrand de Poulengy were also equipped. Their armour, it may be noted, was on the same scale of expense; that of Jeanne, as smaller, cost less, a hundred livres tournois, while those of her friends cost a hundred and twenty-five livres. As we hear that a horse bought for Jeanne at Vaucouleurs cost, by one account twelve, by another, sixteen livres^ we may regard the price of an ordinary suit of armour as equivalent to that of six good horses.

The armour included a helmet, which covered the head to its junction with the neck, while a shallow cup of steel protected the chin, moving on the same hinge as the salade,--a screen of steel which in battle was drawn down over the face to meet the chin- plate, and, when no danger was apprehended, was turned back, leaving the face visible. A neck-piece or gorget of five overlapping steel plates covered the chest as far as the breast-bone, where it ended in a point, above the steel corslet, which itself apparently was clasped in front, down the centre, ending at the waist. The hip joints were guarded by a band, consisting of three overlapping plates of steel; below this, over each thigh, was a kind of skirt of steel, open in the centre for freedom in riding. There were strong thick shoulder-plates; yet one of these was pierced through and through by an arrow, or crossbow bolt, at close quarters, when Jeanne was mounting a scaling ladder in the attack on the English fort at the bridge-head of Orleans. The steel sleeves had plates with covered hinges to guard the elbows; there were steel gauntlets, thigh-pieces, knee-joints, greaves, and steel shoes. The horse, a heavy weight-carrier, had his chamfron of steel, and the saddle rose high at the pummel and behind the back. A hucque, or cloak of cloth of gold, velvet, or other rich material, was worn over the armour. For six days continuously Jeanne bore this weight of steel, it is said, probably in the campaign of Jargeau and Pathay. Her exploits were wrought, and she received her wounds, while she was leading assaults on fortified places, standard in hand.

As to the famous mystic sword of the Maid, we really know no more than she told her judges in 1431."While I was at Tours or Chinon, I sent to seek for a sword in the church of St. Catherine of Fierbois, behind the altar; and presently it was found, all rusty ."Asked how she knew that the sword was there, she said"It was a rusty sword in the earth, with five crosses on it, and I knew of it through my Voices. I had never seen the man who went to look for it. I wrote to the churchmen of Fierbois, and asked them to let me have it, and they sent it. It was not deep in the earth; it was behind the altar, as I think, but I am not certain whether it was in front of the altar or behind it. I think I wrote that it was behind it. When it was found, the clergy rubbed it, and the rust readily fell off. The man who brought it was a merchant of Tours who sold armour. The clergy of Fierbois gave me a sheath; the people of Tours gave me two, one of red velvet, one of cloth of gold, but I had a strong leather sheath made for it."

The sword must have attracted much attention, as the people of Tours gave two splendid sheaths; but it is not mentioned in any documents of 1429, except by an Italian news-letter writer and the clerk of La Rochelle, who says that the sword was in a coffer within the great altar of the church at Fierbois, and the people of the church knew nothing about it. Making search, they found it in the old coffer that had not been opened for twenty years.

At this time, at least before April 22, when the fact was recorded in a letter by de Rotselaer, a Flemish diplomatist at Lyons, Jeanne told the King that she would be wounded at Orleans by an arrow or crossbow bolt, but not mortally. The prediction was fulfilled; it is more singular that it was recorded in writing a fortnight before the event.

Jeanne, by the Dauphin's desire, was to have a military Household. Among its members were a confessor, an equerry, and two pages. The confessor, Jean Pasquerel, was an Augustinian. If she had been so entirely devoted to the Cordeliers, or begging friars of the Order of St. Francis, as some historians imagine, it seems probable that she would have chosen a Franciscan. Pasquerel, in 1456, gave evidence that he had been in villa Aniciensis, the town of Puy en Velay (some historians dispute the identity of the town, and place it in Touraine), and had there met the mother of the Maid, and some of the men who rode with her from Vaucouleurs. They took a fancy to Pasquerel,--they had already some acquaintance with him, and insisted on his coming with them (with the men, not with Jeanne's mother, probably) to Tours. Jeanne had heard of Pasquerel before, and confessed to him next day. He remained with her till her capture at Compiegne in May 1430.

The villa Aniciensis is usually taken to be Puy en Velay, and probably Pasquerel and the Maid's companions (we do not know their names) had been at Puy on account of the great religious assembly held there when the Annunciation and Good Friday fell on the same day, March 25, in 1429. Indulgences were given at these seasons; and so great and excited were the crowds that four hundred people had been crushed and suffocated on one occasion. while there were thirty victims at a later jubilee. It was matter of popular belief that years when the Annunciation and Good Friday fell on the same day, were always marked by strange events; in 1429 this impression was confirmed. The image of the "Black Virgin"at Puy was regarded as the oldest made in France; so Charles VII informed his subjects; while the church was the oldest dedicated to Our Lady. This does not agree with the tradition that the image was made out of sycamore wood by the prophet Jeremiah, and brought from Egypt by St. Louis. If that legend were partially true, we might suppose that the crusading king had picked up in Egypt an image of Isis and the child Osiris, especially as the object at Puy was called the"Black Virgin."

It has been suggested that Jeanne's Voices, in May 1428, selected mid-Lent, 1429, as the date when Heaven would send aid to the Dauphin, because of the pious excitement likely to occur at the function on March 25, 1429. Of that we know nothing; nor have historians any evidence for the statement that Jeanne sent her companions to Puy, though she may have wished them to meet her mother there. Isabelle d'Arc had made a pilgrimage of a hundred leagues, a proof of her vigour and of her enterprise, for we know that robbers assailed pilgrims on this occasion. It is not improbable that Jeanne's brothers, Jean and Pierre, accompanied their mother to Puy, and thence went on to join the Maid at Tours. The brothers rode with her from Blois to Orleans. Jacques d'Arc must have changed his mind as to the Maid's association with soldiers.

In addition to Pasquerel and her two pages, Louis de Coutes and Raymond, Jeanne had an equerry, Jean d'Aulon, one of the best men in the kingdom, according to Dunois. This loyal servant was ever by the side of the Maid in her most daring actions; he was captured at last when she was taken; he rose later to high rank, as seneschal of Beaucaire, and he lived to testifiy nobly to the character of Jeanne in the Trial of Rehabilitation (1456). The only whispers against the independence of d'Aulon which have reached us are not of earlier source than 1908. We are told that d'Aulon"was the most destitute squire in the kingdom. He belonged body and soul {appartenait entirement) to La Tremoi'lle, who aided him with money; but he had a good name for honour and conduct. . . . Jeanne was in the hands of d'Aulon, and d'Aulon was in the hands of La Tremoille, to whom he owed money."

Any inquirer who cares to satisfy himself that these statements are absolutely without support, may consult the note on this passage at the end of the book.

Jean de Novelonpont at this time was the Maid's treasurer; to him money for her use was paid. Minute inquiry has ascertained that, before he became acquainted with the Maid, Jean was once fined a few sous for swearing profanely! The Maid attempted to put down this practice. She could not enforce discipline except by aid of religion. Hers was to be a holy war. Like other com- manders of companies, she had her standard; St. Margaret and St. Catherine bade her take a standard, and bear it valiantly, and thereon was to be painted the King of Heaven. She told the Dauphin about this command very reluctantly, and she did not know its mystic signification. "The world was painted on it"(doubtless the globe in the hand of Our Lord); there was an angel at each side; the stuff was white linen seme with four de lys; and the motto was JESUS Maria. The angels were represented not as her guardians, but for the glory of God. The Maid always bore her standard when in action, that she might strike no man with the sword; she never slew any man. The personal blazon of the Maid was a shield azure with a white dove, bearing in its beak a scroll whereon was written, De par le Roy du ciel.

What is meant when we speak of Jeanne's "company,"her gens, must be explained. At Orleans she had only the three or four lances of her Household, with any free lances and citizens who chose to fight under her standard. At Orleans she held no official command.

Thus equipped, and in the society of good men and true, like d'Aulon, Jean de Novelonpont, Bertrand de Poulengy, and de Gaucourt, and with the less trustworthy Regnault de Chartres, Chancellor and Archbishop of Reims, the Maid rode to Blois. Hither had come, with men and supplies, the Marshal de Rais (later justly or unjustly executed for unspeakable crimes), the Marshal de Boussac; de Culen, Admiral of France; the brave La Hire, redeeming the promise given when he left Orleans, and Ambroise de Lore\

It is impossible to ascertain the numbers of the relieving army, but an approximate calculation can be made, probably the force was under 4000 men. (See Notes.)

But Dunois bears witness that, in these days, before the coming of the Maid, two hundred Englishmen would drive in flight eight hundred or a thousand of the French, so French numbers mattered little. Moreover, when Jeanne arrived with the army and convoy at a place above Orleans on the farther bank, Dunois and the other captains did not think the force adequate to resist an English attack. The English prestige was infinitely greater than their behaviour during the siege appears to justify. Still Dunois and the rest knew their men, and certainly had no high opinion of their chances of success. The five or six new English forts, built in April, were imposing in appearance, and no effort to capture any one of them had been made. The Hurrah! was confessedly "great and terrible"the French were subject to panic. The moral advantage on the English side was incalculable, and the very truth is that the Maid instantly transferred the moral advantage to her own side. The soldiers of Wellington and Napoleon considered the presence of these generals to be worth many thousand men, and the same value was set on the Maid. As we do not know that the Dauphin would have made any new effort after Rouvray to collect forces and money to relieve Orleans but for the prayer of the Maid,"instantly demanding,"says Dunois, "men, horses, and arms,"it is no idle legend that salutes her as the Deliverer of the city.

One obstacle to an earlier attempt to relieve Orleans, after the defeat of February 12, had been the lack of money. In September 1428, when Orleans was first threatened, an assembly of the Estates of Languedoc and Languedoil had voted supplies to the extent of 500,000 francs. The Dauphin was reduced to an expedient very familiar to the kings of Scotland. He pawned his jewels! In July 1424 there were but two fleurons left on his crown. In October 1428, La Tremo'ille advanced money to redeem from pawn the gold ornaments of the Royal helmet. Charles gave things away as freely as James VI used to do, when he had got a sum together by pledging his diamonds and pearls. The chief recipient of money was La Tremo'ille, who also lent money to the Dauphin, and probably gained on both sides. At Blois the army and the great convoy of cattle and grain was at a standstill for want of money. The Due dAlencon went to seek it from the King, and, somehow, the King got and parted with sufficient coin.

Meanwhile a pious regiment of priests had come in, many of them, no doubt, in need of a morsel of bread from the rations. We learn from Jeanne's confessor, Pasquerel, that she had a banner (not a standard) painted with Our Lord crucified, under which, twice a day, she assembled all the priests that were with the army. They sang hymns, and no man-at-arms might join in unless he was clean confessed. Thus some measure of discipline and decent behaviour was introduced by the Maid.

"Had they died on that day they had won the skies, And the Maiden had marched them through paradise!"
When they left Blois, the clergy went in advance, singing Veni creator spiritus. On April 28 this strange force, with a convoy of cattle, arrived opposite Orleans by the south bank of the Loire, the bank farther from Orleans. The Maid had suffered much pain from the weight of the armour which she proved for the first time, says her page, de Coutes, and when she came at last in sight of the few remaining spires and the battered walls and towers of Orleans, she was not in the most propitious of tempers. Dunois, commanding in Orleans, bore the brunt of her indignation: happily he was young, courteous, and knew that a soft answer turns away wrath.

The army had halted at the river harbour, Bouchet, on their own side of the stream, and the leaders must have been in some perplexity. Their plan had been to march up the south bank of Loire for the purpose of avoiding both the English garrisons that commanded the bridges of Meun and Beaugency, and also the main force of Talbot at St. Laurent and in the other forts on the Orleans side. They would transport the cattle and stores in boats provided by the townsfolk--up-stream--a distance of some five miles, to Chocy, a village between Jargeau, which the English held, and the east gate of Orleans. Thence they would bring the convoy to the east or Burgundian gate of Orleans unopposed except by the English fort of St. Loup. This was not difficult, for the garrison and townsfolk of Orleans were much more than strong enough to march out of the Burgundy gate and contain the garrison of St. Loup.

This has the air of being a well-combined plan; but, as it chanced, the wind was blowing hard down-stream, and the sailingboats, or shallops, used in river traffic, could not ascend the stream to Checy, and the army and convoy seemed open to attack by Suffolk and Talbot, who could cross the river safely under the guns of the fort in the isle of Charlemagne, and of the Tourelles and fort St. Augustine.

It was in these critical circumstances that Dunois crossed by boat and approached the Maid.

Said she, using the title which Dunois then bore,"Are you the Bastard of Orleans?"

"I am, and right glad of your coming."
"Was it you who gave counsel to come by this bank of the river, so that I cannot go straight against Talbot and the English?"
"I, and others wiser than I, gave that counsel, and I think it the wiser way and the safer."
'In God's name, the counsel of Our Lord is wiser and safer than yours. You think to deceive me, and you deceive yourself, for I bring you better rescue than ever came to knight or city, the succour of the King of Heaven. . . ."

There has been much discussion as to the deceit practised on the Maid, and as to her own motives for wishing to march straight past the English of Beaugency and Meun, and under the forts of the main English force around Orleans. The facts are really simple. The leaders were taking Jeanne"against the English." She had seen them in the Tourelles, the outwork, and the Augustine fort. Even if they understood that she desired to march past Talbot's main force, they had preferred their own tactics, though these were now seen to be perilous.

But to understand the motives of Jeanne, we need not try to imagine "what a saint would have thought in the circumstances." It is not true, as has been alleged, that"she had said to the Doctors at Poitiers, 'The siege will be raised, and the city delivered from its enemies, after I have summoned the English in the name of the King of Heaven.'"In the two Chronicles which are cited in support of this statement I find not a word to that effect.

Jeanne made no promise that the English would depart as soon as she had summoned them. There is no reason to suppose that she"perhaps expected Talbot to fall on his knees before her and obey, not her, but Him who sent her."

She wished to summon the English before fighting them, precisely as Salisbury had summoned the people of Orleans to surrender at a moment when he had not the faintest chance of taking their town. It was a formula; an expression of desire to avoid the shedding of Christian blood. Moreover, Jeanne had a special motive; she was entirely confident of victory; and, as it were, did not wish "to bet on a certainty."Again, she knew, if the French leaders did not, from the conduct of the English that they would not leave their forts to attack a large force passing out of range of their guns. They had allowed small armed companies to come and go without opposition, or with slight opposition, for they were weakened by many desertions, and were only holding on in hopes of the reinforcements demanded, a month ago, by Bedford, and daily expected under the leadership of Fastolf.

Jeanne understood, if Dunois did not, that the English were weak and demoralised. A week later, a feebler force than hers entered Orleans on the north side of the river. Her own plan of entry, by the front door, would encourage the people of Orleans much more potently than the entrance by the back door, and by water, which was now seen to be very perilous. Jeanne was practical in her tactics, she was not a dreamy Saint.

As Jeanne was saying to Dunois, "I bring you better rescue than ever came to knight or town, the succour of the King of Heaven,"in a moment the wind, which was contrary and strong, shifted, says Dunois himself, "and became favourable; the sails filled,"and, with Nicolas de Giresme, later Prior of the Knights of Rhodes, he "crossed, with no good will of the English, to St. Loup." Apparently he returned, or perhaps it was before he set sail that he implored Jeanne to cross with him,"and enter Orleans, where they longed for her sorely."Jeanne made a difficulty; she could not leave the army, which had to return to Blois to bring another convoy. Without her they might fall into sin, lose their discipline, as we say, in fact she was afraid that they would not return,--a fear rather practical than saintly. Dunois then implored the leaders to be content without Jeanne, to let her come into Orleans and save a dangerous disappointment of the populace. The captains agreed, promising to return; and Jeanne, sending Pasquerel and the other priests to chaperon her moral army on its march to Blois, crossed the Loire with Dunois, who was strangely impressed by the turn of the wind. He took that to be her promised "succour from the King of Heaven,"for delay was dangerous. Talbot might do what he ought to have done, cross with a force from St. Laurent and fall on the confused army and convoy of France. In any case, Jeanne crossed with a force of two hundred lances. The wind was so favourable now that each vessel towed two others,"a marvellous thing, a miracle of God,"says another witness.

At Orleans the recent occurrences had been these:

On April 27 the English had seized a convoy from Blois; they were therefore expected to make a united attempt on that which was accompanied by Jeanne.

On April 28, d'lliers had been opposed at his entry with four hundred men.

On April 29, the day of Jeanne's arrival into the town, fifty foot soldiers came in from French garrisons without opposition, so tame were the English; and the French made a fairly resolute attack on St. Loup (the English fort which commanded her landing-place, about a league above Orleans), and took a standard. Meanwhile Jeanne, after reaching the northern bank at Checy, on April 28, had passed the night at Reuilly, the house of Guy de Cailly, resting before her entry into Orleans town on April 29.

Concerning Jeanne's host there is a singular story. It is an extraordinary thing, considering the ferment of men's minds, that nobody is reported to have shared any of her visions. Now, "collective hallucinations"are a fact in human nature; there is irrefragable evidence to one case in the works of Patrick Walker, who saw a multitude convinced that they beheld swords falling from heaven. Though Patrick was an enthusiastically fanatical Covenanter, he could see nothing of the sort; while a blaspheming cavalier laird, after cursing the folly of the crowd, did see the marvel. The Knock phantasms, in Ireland, are another historical case of collective hallucinations. Yet legend has not averred that Jeanne's visions were shared by any person. The only exception is in the case of her host at Reuilly, Guy de Cailly. A dubious grant of arms to him makes Charles VII declare that, as the Maid herself informed him, he shared her vision of "three superior angels."

He is granted "a blazon of azure and argent with three heads of Cherubim, or and gules."The date of the grant is "at Sully, June 1429,"just before the march to Reims. The higher criticism regards with much suspicion a document of which we have only a copy made in the sixteenth century.

At Reuilly, Jeanne passed the following day (April 29). It was decided that she should enter under cloud of night, to avoid the press of people. Multitudes had gone out to meet her, as, attended by troops of torch-bearers, and riding, magnificently mounted, at the right hand of Dunois, she slowly advanced through a people "making such joy as if they saw God descend among them; and not without reason, for they had suffered sorely, and what is worse, had little hope of succour, but feared to lose their lives and goods. But now they were comforted as if the siege were already raised, thanks to the divine virtue which dwelt, as they had been told, in the simple Maid. Lovingly they gazed on her, men, women, and little children. And there was marvellous pressing to touch her as she rode, so much that a torch-bearer came so near her standard that it caught fire. Then she struck the spurs into her horse, and lightly she turned him on the standard, and crushed out the flame, as one might do that had long followed the wars."

So they led her rejoicing to the church of the Holy Rood, where she gave thanks to God, and then to the house of Jacquet Boucher, treasurer of the Due d'Orleans, at the Regnart gate, nearest to the great English fort of St. Laurent. Here she and her brothers and Jean de Novelonpont and Bertrand de Poulengy were made right welcome, but"boarded out."

She had come at last, she had given a sign, the wind had changed at her word! Henceforth she wrought military signs and wonders in the eyes of French and English.

She shared that night a bed with Charlotte, a little girl of nine, the daughter of her host; such bed-fellowship was usual; the Dauphin slept with a gentleman of his bedchamber, de Boisy. The child lived to give evidence as to the Maid's"simplicity, humility, and chastity, "and her habit of confessing and receiving the Holy Communion before going into battle. Jeanne frequently consoled her hostess with the assurance that the siege would certainly be raised.

The day after the morrow began her allotted year with the month of May, the month of her triumph, the month of her capture, the month of her "deliverance with great victory"of faith.

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