Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

A MONK OF FIFE
A Romance of the Days of Jeanne D'Arc - Joan of Arc
by Andrew Lang

CHAPTER XXIX
SHOWETH HOW VERY NOBLE WAS THE DUKE OF BURGUNDY

All this was well, but we were no nearer Rouen, and the freeing of the Maid, on this twentieth of November, than we had been when the siege of Compiegne broke up, on the twenty-sixth of October.

The Duke of Burgundy, we learned, was like a man mad when he heard of the Battle of the Hares. Nothing would serve him that day but to lead all his host to Guermigny from Peronne, whence he would have got little comfort of vengeance, for we were in a place of safety. But Jean de Luxembourg told him that he must not venture his nobility among routiers like us, wherein he pleased the Duke, but spoke foolishly. For no man, be he duke or prince, can be of better blood than we of the House of Rothes, not to speak of Xaintrailles and many other gentlemen of our company.

The Duke, then, put not his noble person in any jeopardy, but, more wisely, he sent messengers after my Lord of Huntingdon that he should bring up the English to aid the Burgundian hare-hunters. But Huntingdon had departed to Rouen, where then lay Henry, King of England, a boy on whom and on whose House God has avenged the Maid with terrible judgments, and will yet the more avenge her, blessed be His name!

The Duke of Burgundy comforted himself after his kind, for when he did pluck up heart to go against Guermigny, he, finding us departed, sacked the place, and razed it to the very ground, and so withdrew to Roye, and there waited for what help England would send him. Now Roye is some sixteen leagues due north of Compiegne.

So the days went by, for Messire Lefebvre Saint-Remy, the pursuivant, was hunting for my Lord of Huntingdon, all up and down Normandy, and at last came to Rouen, and to the presence of the Duke of Bedford, the uncle of the English King. All this I myself heard from Messire Saint-Remy, who is still a pursuivant, and a learned man, and a maker of books.

Bedford then, who was busy hounding that devil, Cauchon, sometime Bishop of Beauvais, against the Maid, sent the Comte de Perche and Messire Loys Robsart, to bid the Duke of Burgundy be of what courage he might, for succour of England he should have. Wherein Bedford was no true prophet.

Of all this we, in Compiegne, knew so much as that it was wiser to strike the Duke at Roye, before he could add English talbots to his Burgundian harriers. Therefore all the captains of companies, as Boussac, Xaintrailles, Alain Giron, Amadee de Vignolles, and Loys de Naucourt, mustered their several companies, to the number of some five thousand men-at-arms. We had news of six hundred English marching to join the Duke, and on them we fell at Couty, hard by Amiens, and there slew Loys Robsart, a good knight, of the Order of the Garter, and drove the English that fled into the castle of Couty, and we took all their horses, leaving them shamed, for they kept no guard.

Thence we rode to within a league of Roye, and thence sent a herald, in all due form, to challenge the Duke to open battle for his honour's sake. This we did, because we had no store of victual, and must fight or ride home.

The Duke received the herald, and made as if he would hear him as beseems a gentleman under challenge. But his wise counsellors forbade him, because he was so noble.

We were but "routiers," they said, and had no Prince in all our company; so we must even tarry till the morrow, and then the Duke would fight. In truth he expected the English, who were footing it to Castle Couty.

I stood by Xaintrailles when the pursuivant bore back this message.

Pothon spat on the ground.

"Shall we be more noble to-morrow than to-day, or to-morrow can this huxter of maids, the Duke, be less noble than he is, every day that he soils knighthood?"

Thereon he sent the herald back, to say that the Duke should have battle at his gates if he gave no better answer, for that wait for his pleasure we could not, for want of victuals.

And so we drew half a league nearer to Roye.

The Duke sent back our herald with word that of victuals he would give us half his own store; for he had read, as I deem, the romance of Richard Lion-Heart, another manner of man than himself. We said nought to this, not choosing to dine in such high company, but rode up under the walls of Roye, defying the Duke with open ribaldry, such as no manant could bear but he would take cudgel in hand to defend his honour. Our intent was, if the Duke accepted battle, to fight with none but him, if perchance we might take him, and hold him as hostage for the Maid's life.

Howbeit, so very noble was the Duke this day, that he did not put lance in rest (as belike he would have done on the morrow), but, drawing up his men on foot, behind certain mosses and marshes, all in firm array, he kept himself coy behind them, and not too far from the gate of Roye.

To cross these mosses and marshes was beyond our cunning, nor could we fast all that night, and see if the Duke would feel himself less noble, and more warlike, on the morrow.

So, with curses and cries of shame, we turned bridle, and, for that we could not hold together, being in lack of meat, the companies broke up, and went each to his own hold.

I have heard Messire Georges Chastellain tell, in times that were still to come, how fiercely the Duke of Burgundy bore him in council that night, after that we had all gone, and how he blamed his people who would not let him fight. But, after he had well supped, he even let this adventure slip by, as being ordained by the will of God, who, doubtless, holds in very high honour men of birth princely, and such, above all, as let sell young virgins to the tormentors. And thus ended our hope to save the Maid by taking captive the Duke of Burgundy.



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