Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

Joan of Arc Part 25

THE SIEGE RAISED

Thus had the heroine achieved the first part of her promise--the raising of the siege of Orleans. She had raised it in only seven days from her arrival ; and of these seven days, no less than three --Sunday the 1st--the Fete de la Cathedrale on the 3rd--and Ascension-Day the 5th (besides Sun- day the 8th)--had been by her directions devoted to public prayer. Even to the present times, the last anniversary--the day of their deliverance--is held sacred at Orleans. Still on each successive 8th of May do the magistrates walk in solemn procession round the ancient limits of the city; the service of "Te Deum" again resounds from the cathedral; and a discourse is delivered from the pulpit in honour of the Maid.*

* Supplement aux Memoires (Collection, vol. viii. p. 317). It is added, " This ceremonial has never been omitted except during the most stormy years of the Revolution."

The second part of Joan's promise--to crown the King at Rheims--still remained. Neither wearied by her toils, nor yet elated by her triumphs, she was again within a few days before Charles at his CJourt at Tours--the same untaught and simple ^liepherdess--urging him to confide in her guidance, ^nd enable her to complete her mission. Her very words have been recorded in a chronicle, written probably the same year :--

"When Joan the Maid was before the King, she Imeeled down and clasped him by the feet, saying, 'Gentie Dauphin, come and receive your noble crown at Rbeims ; I am greatly pressed that you should go there ; do not doubt that you will there be worthily crowned as you ought.' It happened then that the King in his own thoughts, and also three or four of the chief men and captains around him, deemed it would be right, if not displeasing to the said Joan, to inquire what her Voices had said to her. She saw their thoughts, and said, * In the name of God I know right well what you think and desire to ask me of the Voice which I heard speak touching your being crowned, and I will tell you truly. I had set myself to prayer as I am wont to do, and I was complaining because I was not believed in what I bad said ; and I heard the Voice declare, " Daughter, go forward ; I be thy helper, go! "2 and when that Voice comes to I feel so joyful as is wondrous to tell.' And while sp ing these words she raised her eyes towards heaven every sign of gladness and exultation."3

2 "Fille, va, va ; je seray a ton aide; va!"
3 Memoirs concerning the Maid (Collection, vol. viii. p. 180).

There is another original document describing the Maid's appearance at this time; a letter from a yoimg officer, Guy, Sire de Laval, to his mother and grandmother at home. It begins in an old- fashioned form : " My very redoubtable ladies am mothers ;"4 and, after some details of his journey, proceeds to the following effect :--

4 "Mes tres redoutles dames et meres."

"On the Sunday, then, I set out with the King to go to Selles in Berry, four leagues from St. Agnan ; and the King caused the Maid, who before this was at Selles, to come forth and meet him. , . . The aforesaid Maid appeared fully armed on all points save only her. head, and held her lance in her hand, and she gave a hearty welcome to my brother and me. After we had dismounted at Selles I went to her dwelling to see her, upon which she ordered wine to be brought in, and told me that right soon she would have me to drink wine at Paris. Both in seeing and in hearing her, she seems altogether a being fiom heaven. This same Monday, about the time of vespers, she set out again from Selles to go to Romorantin, three leagues forward on the enemy's side, having .with her the Mareschal de Boussac and much folk, both men in arms and of the commonalty. There I saw her on horseback, clad all in blank armour save her head, with a small axe r hand, and mounted on a great black charger, who, ! door of her dwelling, was prancing and rearing, and I not allow her to mount, upon which she said, i him to the cross which stands before the church the road.' And after this she mounted without ftir- indrance, for the horse grew as quiet as though he 5een bound. And then she turned towards the i-door, which was nigh, and said in a clear woman's voice 'Ye priests and churchmen, do ye make procession and prayers to God' She then pursued her journey, saying 'Go forward, go forward!' Her banner was folded and borne by a well-favoured page ; her small axe was in her hand, and a brother of hers who has joined her days since was in her company, also clad in blank armour."5

5 Collection des Memoires, vol. viii. p. 225.

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