Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

Joan of Arc Part 5


Meanwhile, however, she was growing up in comeliness and beauty, and found favour in the sight of an honest yeoman, who sought her in marriage, and whose suit was warmly pressed by her parents. Joan steadily refused. The rustic lover, having soon exhausted his scanty stock of rhetoric, had recourse to a singular expedient : he pretended that she had made him a promise of marriage, and cited her before the Official at Toul to compel her to perform her engagement. The Maid went herself to Toul, and undertook her own defence, when, having declared on oath that she had never made any such promise, the Official gave sentence in her favour.

Her parents, displeased at her stubborn refusal, and unable to comprehend--nor did she dare to reveal to them--her motives, held her, as she says, "in great subjection." They were also much alarmed at the strange hints which she let fall to others on the mission which she believed had been intrusted to her from on high. Several of these hints are recorded by the persons to whom they were addressed, the witnessess in the trial of 1456. She said to that inhabitant of Domremy whose death she had desired to see because he did not favour the Dauphin, "Gossip, if you were not a Burgundian, I could tell you something." To another neighbour she exclaimed," There is now between Colombey and Vaucouleurs a maid who will cause the King of France to be crowned!" She frequently said that it was needful for her to proceed into France.* Honest Jacques and Isabeau felt no other fear than that their daughter's ardent imagination might be practised upon by some men-at-arms, and she be induced to go forth from home, and follow them to the wars. "Did I think such a thing would be," said her father to one of his sons, "I would sooner that you drown her; and if you did not, I would with my own hands!"

* At that time the name of France was reserved for those provinces only which formed the Crown domain. The other provinces, when mentioned collectively, were called "Royaume de France,"--Supplement aux Memoires de Jeanne d'Arc, Collection, vol. viii. p. 240.

The impulse given by her visions, and the restraints i posed by her sex and station, might long have struggled for mastery in the mind of Joan, had not the former been quickened and brought into action by a crisis in political afffairs. The Duke of Bedford, having returned to France, and mastered large reinformements from Burgundy, sent forthe a mighty army against Charles. Its command he intrusted to the valiant Earl of Salisbury, under whom fought Sir John Talbot, Sir John Fastolf, Sir William Gladsdale, cpatains high renouwn. Salisbury, having first reduced Rambouillet, Pithiviers, Jargeau,Sullv, and other small towns, which yielded with slight or no resistance. proceeded to the main object of his enterprise, the siege oi' Orleans--a city commanding the passage of the Loire and the entrance into the southern provinces, and the most important, both in its size and its situation, of any that the French yet retained. Here, then, it was felt on all sides, that the last struggle for the French monarchy be made. Orleans once subdued, the troops of Bedford might freely spread over the open country beyond the Loire, and the Court of Charles must seek shelter in the mountains of Auvergne or of Dauphine. To this scene then, the eyes not only of France and England, but of all Europe, were turned; on this ground, as on the campaigns of ancient knights and paladins, had been narrowed the conflict for sovereignty on the one side, for independence on the other.


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