Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

Joan of Arc Part 7

PROGRESS OF THE SIEGE

Having tried in several attacks the great number of the besieged, as well as their stubborn resolution, he determined to turn the siege into a blockade, to surroimd the city with forts or '* bastilles," and to reduce it by famine. The works for this purpose were continued steadily throughout the winter. Frequent assaults on the one side, frequent sallies on the other, proved the fiery ardour of the besiegers and the unfailing con- stancy of the besieged. In the mifinished state of the English works, supplies and reinforcements could still at intervals be brought into Orleans, and as the French light troops ravaged the open country beyond, it sometimes happened that there was no less dearth and scarcity in the English camp than in the beleaguered city. But upon the whole, both the stores and the garrison of Orleans wasted away much faster than they could be renewed ; they saw tower after tower, and redoubt after redoubt, rising up to complete the line--each a link in the long chain which was to bind them ; they perceived that, while they declined, the English were gradually growing in strength and numbers ; and it became evident, even to themselves, that imless some great eflPort could be made for their deliverance, they must be overpowered in the ensuing spring.

It was the news of this siege that kindled to the highest pitch the fervent imagination of Joan of Arc. Her enthusiasm, as we have seen, was twofold, political and religious. The former would impel her to free King Charles from his present and pressing danger, the latter to sanctify his claim by his coronation. For, until his head had been encircled with the ancient crown and anointed with the holy oil at Rheims, Charles was not truly King to priestly or to popular eyes, but only Dauphin not the real possessor, only the rightful heir. From this time, then, the visions of Joan, hitherto un- settled and wavering, steadily fixed on two objects which she believed herself commissioned from Heaven to achieve--to raise the siege of Orleans, and to crown the Dauphin at Rheims. And if we compare the greatness and the difficulty of such objects with the sex, the station, and the years of the person aiming at them, we cannot but behold with admiration the undaunted intrepidity that did not quail from such a task.

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