Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

Joan of Arc Part 41

PERSONATED BY AN IMPOSTOR

It seems natural to ask what steps the King of France had taken during all this interval to avert her doom. If ever there had been a sovereign indebted to a subject, that sovereign was Charles VII., that subject Joan of Arc. She had raised the spirits of his people from the lowest depression. She had retrieved his fortunes when well nigh despaired of by himself. Yet, no sooner was she captive than she seems forgotten. We hear nothing of any attempt at rescue, of any proposal for ransom ; neither the most common protest against her trial, nor the faintest threat of , reprisals ; nay, not even, after her death, one single expression of regret! Charles continued to slumber in his delicious retreats beyond the Loire, engrossed by dames of a very different character from Joan's, and careless of the heroine to whom his security in that indolenee was due,

Her memory on the other hand was long endeared to the French people, and long did they continue to cheirish a romantic hope that she might still surviye. So strong was this feeling, that in the year 1436 advantage was taken of it by a female impostor, who pretended to be Joan of Arc escaped from her captivity. She fixed her abode at Metz, and soon afterwards married a knight of good family, the Sire des Armoises. Strange to say, it appears from a contemporary chronicle that Joan's two surviving brothers acknowledged this woman as their sister.* Straiiger still, other records prove that she made two visits to Orleans, one before and one after her marriage, and on each occasion was hailed as the heroine returned. The Receiver-General's accounts in that city contain items of expenses incurred-- 1st, for the reception of the Maid and her brother in 1436; 2ndly, for wines and refreshments pre- sented "a Dame Jehanne des Armoises," in July, 1439 ; 3rdly, for a gift of 210 livres, which the Town Council made to the lady on the 1st of August following, in requital of her great services during the siege.2 These documents appear of undoubted authenticity, yet we are wholly unable to explain them. The brothers of Joan of Arc might possibly have hopes of profit by the fraud; but how the people of Orleans, who had seen her so closely, who had fought side by side with her in the siege, could be deceived w to the person, we cannot understand, nor yet what motive they could have in deceiving.

* Chronicle of the Dean of St. Thiebault of Metz, ending in 1445, as cited by Calmet, 'Histoire de Lorraine,' vol. ii. p. 702.
2 Collection des Memoires, vol. viii. p. 311.

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