Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

Joan of Arc Part 6

INVESTMENT OF ORLEANS

It was in the month of October, 1428, that Orleans was first invested by the Earl of Salisbury. But his design had been previously foreseen, and every exertion made both by the French King and by the inhabitants themselves to provide for a long and resolute defence. A brave officer, the Sire de Gaucourt, had been appointed governor, and two of the principal captains of that age, Poton de Xaintrailles and Dunois, a bastard of the Eoyal branch of Orleans, threw themselves into the place with a large body of followers. The citizens on their part showed a spirit that might have done honor to soldiers; not only did . they largely tax themselves for their own defence, but many brought to the common stock a larger sum than had been imposed on them ; they cheerfully consented that their suburb of Portereau, on the southern bank, opposite the city, should be razed to the ground, lest it should afford any shelter to the enemy, and from the same motive all the vineyards and gardens within two miles from the walls were laid waste by the owners themselves. The men able to bear arms were enrolled in bands, and the rest formed themselves into processions solemnly to bear the holy relics from church to church, and to implore with imceasing prayer the mercy and protection of Heaven.

The first assault of Salisbury was directed against the bulwark defending the approaches of the bridge on the southern bank, or, as we shoiild call it at present, the tete-de-pont. After a stubborn resistance and great bloodshed, he dislodged the townspeople from the place. They then took post at two towers which had been built one on each side the passage, some way forward upon the bridge, and they took care for the security of the city to break down one of the arches behind them, and only kept up their communication by planks and beams which could be readily removed. The next day, however. Sir William Gladsdale, one of the best officers in the English army, finding the waters of the Loire unusually shallow at that season, waded with his men nearly up to the towers, and succeeded in storming them. He proceeded to build, a bulwark connecting , the two towers, and joined them with the tete-de-pont on the shore, thus forming a fort, which he called from them La Bastille des Toumelles, and which enabled him to plant a battery full against the city. But his activity proved fatal to his chief. A very few days afterwards the Earl of Salisbury came to visit the works. He had ascended one of the towers with Sir William, to survey more clearly the wide circuit of the enemy's walls, when a cannon-ball fired from them (for this, as Hume observes, is among the first sieges where cannon were found to be of importance) broke a splinter from the casement, and struck on his face with a mortal wound. At his decease the Earl of Suffolk succeeded to his command, though not to his full influence and authority.

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