Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

Joan of Arc Part 3

VILLAGE PARTIES

The times in which the lot of Joan was cast were such as to turn an ardent spirit towards things of earth as well as towards things of heaven. Her young heart beat high with enthusiasm for her native France, now beset and beleagured by the island strangers. Her young fancy loved to dwell on those distant battles, the din of which might scarcely reach her quiet village, but each apparently hastening the ruin of her father-land. We can picture to ourselves how earnestly the destined heroine--the future leader of armies--might question those chance travellers whom, bb we are told, she delighted to relieve, and for whose use she would often resign her own chamber, as to each fresh report from the changeful scene of war. She was ten years of age when the ignominious treaty of Troyes, signed by a monarch of diseased intellect, yielded the succession to the English. She was twelve years of age when that unhappy monarch (Charles VI.) expired, when the infant King of England was proclaimed King of

France at Paris, at Eouen, and at Bordeaux, when the rightful heir, the Dauphin (but few as yet would term him Charles VII.), could only hold his little Court in the provinces beyond the Loire. In 1423 came the news of the defeat of Crevant; in 1424 the flower of French and Scottish chivalry fell at Vemeuil; in 1425 La Hire and his brave companions were driven from Champagne. A brief respite was indeed afforded to Charles by the recall of the Regent Duke of Bedford, to quell the factions at home, and by some difference which arose between him and his powerful kinsman and- ally the Duke of Burgundy. But aU these feuds were now composed, and Bedford had returned, eager to carry the war beyond the Loire, and to crush the last hopes of the " Armagnacs," as Charles's adherents were termed, from the prevaiKng party at his Court. Had Bedford succeeded--had the diadems of France and England been permanently united on the same head it is hard to say which of the two nations would have had the greater reason for regret.

Remote as was the situation of Domremy, it could not wholly escape the strife or the sufferings of those evil times. All the people of that village, with only one exception, were zealous Armagnacs ; some of their neighbours, on the contrary, were no less zealous Burgundians. So strong was Joan of Arc's attachment to the Kong, that, according to her own avowal, she used to wish for the death of his one disloyal subject at Domremy. When Charles's lieutenants had been driven from Champagne, the fathers of her village had of course like the rest bowed their head beneath the Burdundian yoke, but the children retained their little animosities, and the boys were wont to assemble and sally forth in a body to fight the tiny Burgundian of the adjoining village of Maxey. Joan says at her trial that she had often seen her brothers returning bruised and bloody from these mimic wars.

On one occasion a more serious inroad of a party of Burgundian cavalry compelled the villagers of Domremy to take flight with their families and flocks, and await elsewhere the passing of the storm. Joan and her parents sought shelter at an hostelry in Neufchateau, a town safe from aggression, as belonging to the Duke of Lorraine, where she remained, as she tells us, during fifteen days,* and where she probably may have wrought for her living; and such is the only foundation for the story given by Monstrelet, a chronicler of the Burgundian faction, and adopted by Hume and other later historians, that Joan had been for several years a servant at an inn.

* Second Examination of Joan of Arc at Rouen

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