Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

Joan of Arc Part 33

SIEGE OF COMPIEGNE

At the return of spring, Charles, still preferring pleasure to glory, could not be induced to take the field in person. But, like the captain "who fled full soon," in Mr, Canning's ballad, " he bade the rest keep fighting!" His troops passed the Loire, and marched into the northern provinces, but in diminished numbers, with no prince of the blood or chief of high name to lead them, and aiming appa- rendy at no object of importance.* In some desultory skirmishes the Maid displayed her wonted valour, and struck the enemy with the same terror as before. The Duke of Gloucester found it nccessaiy to issue a proclamation to reassure his troops : it is dated May 3, 1430, and is still preserved, denoting in its veiy title the barbarous Latin of the middle ages :--Contra capitanes et soldarios tergiversantes, incantationibus Puella terrificatos.

* Charles VII, far from taking the command of his army in person, did not even send to it one of the princes of the blood, or one of the gieat lords of his court--nor would he allow the Connrtsble to go thither. In that army, therefore, the Maid found herself assodated only with brutal adventurera, ill provided either with money or with stores of war, and unwilling to submit to any discipline."-- Sismondi, vol. xiii. p. 159.

On leaving Picardy in the preceding year, Charles had confided his newly-acquired fortress of Compiegne to the charge of Guillaume de Flavy, a captain of tried bravety, but, even beyond his com peers in that age, harsh and pitiless.2 He was now besieged by the Duke of Burgundy, at the head of a powerful army. Joan, hearing of his danger, oourageously resolred to share his fortimes, and threw herself into the place on the 24th of May, aooompanied by Xaintrailles, Chabannes, Yalperga, and other knights of renown.

2 "Flavy was a brave man in war, but a tyrant, and doing the most horrible tyranies that are possible, as seizing girls, in spite of every remonstrance, and putting violence upon them, putting men to death without mercy, and breaking them upon a wheel."--Memoires de Duclercq.

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