Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

Joan of Arc Part 29


The newly-roused loyalty of Troy es spread rapidly, like every popular impulse, to Chalons and to Rheims, where the inhabitants, rising, as if in con- cert, expelled the Burgundian garrisons, and pro- claimed the rightful King. On the 16 th of July, Charles, without having encountered a single enemy, made a triumphal entry into the city of Eheims, amidst loud cries of "Noel ! " which was then the usual acclamation of joy in France at the King's arrival. Next day that stately cathedral--which even yet proudly towers above the ruins of time or of revolutions--saw his brow encircled with the crown of hiĀ» forefathers, and anointed from the Sainte Ampoule, the cruse of holy oil, which according to the Romish legend had been sent by a dove from Heaven to the Royal convert, Clovis. The people looked on with wonder and with awe. Thus had really come to pass the fantastic visions that floated before the eyes of the poor shepherd- girl of Domremy ! Thus did she perform her two- fold promise to the Kong within three months from the day when she first appeared in arms at Blois ! During the coronation of her sovereign--so long the aim of her thoughts and prayers, and reserved to be at length achieved by her own prowess--the Maid stood before the high altar by the side of the King, with her bajtmer unfurled in her hand. " Why was vour banner thus honoured beyond all other banners she was asked at her trial. "It had shared tne danger," she answered ; "it had a right to share the glory."

The holy rites having been performed, the Maid knelt down before tlie newly-crowned monarch, her eyes streaming with tears. " Gentle King," she said, "now is fulfilled the pleasure of God, who willed that you should come to Rheims and be anointed, showing that you are the true King, and he to whom the kingdom should belong." She now regarded her mission as accomplished, and her in- spiiation as fled. " I wish," she said, " that the gentle King would allow me to return towards my father and mother, keep my flocks and herds as before, and do all things as I was wont to do."

"End with many tears implored !
'Tis the sound of home restored !
And as mounts the angel show,
Gliding with them she would go,
But, again to stoop helow,
And returned to green Lorraine,
Be a shepherd child again ! "*
* Joan of Arc, Sterling's Poems, p. 236.

This feeling in the mind of Joan was no doubt strengthened by the unexpected sight of Laxart and Jacques d'Arc--her uncle and her father--who had come to Rheims to take part in her triumph, and had mingled in the throng of spectators.

It is worthy of note that among the ancient records at Rheims is, or was, the account for the entertainment of Jacques d'Arc, which was defrayed by the King. It appears that he lodged at an inn called the Striped Ass or Zebra (l'Ane Raye) kept by the widow Alix Moriiau, and that the bill amounted to twenty-four livres Parisis.2 That house still remains, and still is used as an inn, but the name has been changed to La Maison Rouge.3 Such little details give a striking air of reality to the romantic story.

2 Supplement aux Mdmoires (Collection, vol. viil. p. 276).
3 Costello's 'Pilgrimage to Auvergne, 1841,' vol. i. p. 137.

The Maid's request for leave to forsake the wars and return to her village-home was by no means favourably received. The King and his captains, even whilst themselves distrusting her heavenly mission or supernatural powers, had seen how the belief in them had wrought upon the soldiery and the people. They foresaw that in losing her they should lose their best ally. They spared no exer- tions, no entreaties, to make her forego her thoughts of home, and continue with the army--and they finally prevailed. From this time forward it has been observed that Joan still displayed the same courage in battle, and the same constancy in pain ; that she seemed animated with the same confidence in the good cause of France, but that she no longer seemed to feel the same persuasion that she was acting at the command and under the guidance of heaven.4

4 Sismondi, vol, xiii. p. 145.

Nor can the King be accused at this period of any want of gratitude to his femdle champion. He was anxious to acknowledge her services; but she refused all rewards for herself or for her family, and only asked the favour that her birthplace might herafter be free from any kind of impost. This privilege, so honourable both to the giver and receiver, was granted by the King in an Ordinace dated July31, 1429, and confirmed by another in 1459. It continued in force for more than three centuries. The registers of taxes for the Election of Chaumont used, until the Revolutioh, to bear opposite the name of every village the sum to be received from it; but when they came to the article DOMREMY, they always added NEANT, A CAUSE DE LA PUCELLE.


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