Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

Joan of Arc Part 31

SUPPINENESS OF CHARLES

Dispirited at this fidlure, and viewing it as an admonition from Heaven, the Maid consecrated her armour to God before the tomb of St. Denis, and determined to retire from the wars. Renewed entreaties on the part of the chiefs, judiciously mingled with praises of her past exertions, again prevailed over her own judgment, and she consented to follow the King's fortunes. Charles himself, already sighing for the peaceful shades of Chinon, and for his customary life of pleasure, eagerly seized the late repulse as a pretext for retreat. He led back the troops by rapid marches across the Loire, and dis- persed them in winter-quarters, at the very time when the absence of the Duke of Bedford seemed to invite him to iiresh exertions, when Amiens, Abbe- ville, St. Quentin, and other important towns in the north, were only awaiting his approach to throw open their gates to him. His conduct on this occa- sion has in general been glossed over by French historians from respect to his high deeds in after life, but M. de Sismondi has treated it with just severity. " It is probable," says he, " that, but for the King's supineness, he might on the first assault have made himself master of his capital . . . and his sudden retreat to Chinon everywhere depressed and deadened the enthusiasm of his people. The un- warlike citizens who, throughout the towns of Champagne, of Picardy, and of the Isle of France, were now rising or conspiring to throw off the Eng- lish yoke, well knew that if they failed there would be no mercy for them, and that they would perish by the hangman's hands, yet they boldly exposed themselves in order to replace their King on his throne; and this Kong, far from imitating their generosity, could not even bring himself to bear the hardships of a camp or the toils of business for more than two months and a half; he would not any longer consent to forego his festivals, his dances, or his other less innocent delights." *

* Sismondi, vol. xiii, pp. 152-162.

The winter was passed by Joan chiefly at the King's Court in Bourges, or Mehun-sur-Yevre, in the neighbourhood of Bourges. In December the King granted letters-patent of nobility to her family and herself, with the privilege of bearing the Lily of France for their arms.2 At the same inclement season she again distingmshed herself in assaults upon the citadels of St. Pierre Le Moutier, and La Charite.

2 These letters-patent are printed in M. Petitot's 'Collection,' vol. viii. p. 333.

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