Joan of Arc
by Mary Macgregor
Short biography of Joan of Arc contained in several chapters of the book The Story of France by Mary Macgregor providing a good short but detailed biography of Joan's life and history.
JOAN SEES THE DAUPHIN
"Sweet she is in words and deeds,
Fair and white as the white rose."
THESE simple lines were once written in an old Mystery
Play called The Siege of
Orleans, to describe the maid Jeanne d'Arc, or, as we
call her in our language, Joan Darc
We know, too, that "her face was glad and smiling,"until her work was done and she
was thrown into prison. There, among the rough soldiers
who guarded her, the light
faded from her eyes, and deep lines of pain were
engraved on the face of the
Joan Darc was born in the little village of Domremy, on
January 6, 1412. Domremy is
in the valley of the river Meuse, on the outskirts of
France. The villages in this
district were loyal to the Dauphin Charles, for so they
called Charles VII., seeing
that he had not yet been crowned at Rheims, where the
holy oil was kept with which
it was "the custom to anoint the kings of France. They
hated the Burgundians too,
because they had joined the English, and were fighting
against their country and
Joan, the little maid, who lived in Domremy, was a
simple, joyous child, playing
merrily with the boys and girls of the village;
learning, as did her friends, to
spin, to sew, to cook, to hoe.
Near the village was a forest, and Joan, in spite of
her love of play, would
sometimes steal away from her companions, and sit
quietly under the shade of the
trees, dreaming her childish dreams. The birds came and
perched on her head, on her
arms, or fed from her hands, so quiet she sat, so
At other times her little friends would be with her as
she went into the wood to
sing and eat cakes under a beech tree which was known
as the "Ladies' Tree" or the
"Fairies' Tree," and close to which was a beautiful
well of clear, cold water, out
of which the children would drink.
Before she was nine years old Joan became a simple
little shepherdess, guarding her
father's sheep on the common, which lay close to the
Sometimes the quiet life of the little maid was
disturbed. Roving bands of English
and Burgundians would come to the neighbourhood of
Then Joan's father, with five or six of his friends,
would hire a strong castle that
was uninhabited, and use it as a fortress for
themselves and their cattle.
To this refuge they would hasten at the approach of
their enemies, driving before
them their pigs, their sheep, their cows.
In the castle they were safe, but once at least, when
they ventured back to their
homes, the villagers found that their houses had been
plundered, their church burned
to the ground.
The lads of Domremy, too, would fight miniature battles
with the lads of the
Burgundian villages, and sometimes they would come home
bruised and bleeding from
Then Joan, seeing them wounded, would weep, and at the
same time set herself to wash
and bind up the bruises of her comrades.
Moreover, when, as would happen at times, fugitives
from the English sought shelter
at Domremy, Joan, the little maid, who was ever pitiful
to suffering, would give her
bed to a soldier and herself sleep in the barn.
From these passing guests Joan would hear of the
sorrows of Charles the Dauphin, of
the misery of the French people.
Little by little a great pity for France welled
up in the heart of the child.
As she grew older Joan would often go to church while
her companions went to dance;
she was even to be found there when her parents thought
that she was in the fields
tending the sheep.
The altar of the church she would ofttimes deck with
the wild flowers she had
plucked in the wood, while the sound of the church
bells grew ever sweeter in her
Like many another child Joan loved the saints, of whom
she had heard from the
village pastor. St. Catherine and St. Margaret were
those she loved the best, along
with St. Michael, the patron or guardian of a castle in
Normandy which was called by
But from thinking of the saints, Joan's thoughts would
wander to the dauphin. She
would muse on his troubles, and on how the false queen,
his mother, had forsaken him
and joined his enemies, the Burgundians. And an old
saying she had often heard would
steal into her mind, "France, lost by a woman, shall be
saved by a woman."
Moreover, the woman who was to save France was to come,
so said the ancient
prophecy, from her own countryside.
"Ah, blessed maid," thought Joan, "who shall deliver
France from her enemies."
In 1425, when Joan was thirteen years old, a strange
As the maid walked at noontide in her father's garden,
under the glow of the summer
skies, suddenly a light, brighter than that of the sun,
shone upon her, and at the
same time she heard a voice saying, "Joan, the Lord God
hath chosen thee to save"France, to go to the aid of the King of France, and
thou shalt restore to him his
kingdom." At first Joan, seeing the light, hearing the
voice, was afraid. But her
fear soon passed away, for "it was a worthy
voice" to which she listened.
When the voice spoke a second time Joan saw that there
were angels in the midst of
the dazzling light. The great St. Michael was looking
down upon the maid, and the
saints whom she loved, St. Catherine and St. Margaret,
were there, "crowned with
They also spoke to her, and their voices were ever kind
"When they departed from me," said Joan, "I wept, and
would fain have had them take
me with them." Again and again during the next five
years her "voices," as Joan
called them, spoke to her, and always they said, "Be a
good child and wise, and thou
shalt save France."
And when she pleaded, "I am a poor girl who cannot ride
or be a leader in war," the
heavenly voices answered ever, "Be a good girl, Joan,
and wise, and thou shalt save
At length, when she was seventeen years old, her voices
told the maid plainly that
the time was come that she should go to France.
It was hard for Joan to leave her father and mother,
and the quiet shepherd life to
which she was used. But at least she knew just what she
was to do, for her voices
spoke quite clearly. She was to dress as a boy and go
to deliver Orleans, which town
was in danger of being taken by the English. Then, when
the siege of Orleans was
raised, the maid was to lead the dauphin to Rheims,
that there he might be anointed
with holy oil, and be crowned King of France. To do
this great work, the voices told
Joan that she would have no longer than a year.
Until now Joan had spoken to no one of her voices. If
she was to leave her home,
however, it was necessary to tell her father
But he, when he had heard her tale, was both angry and
dismayed. He vowed that he
would rather drown his
daughter in the Meuse than
see her leave her home and
journey through the country with rough soldiers as her
Nevertheless Joan, still hearing her voices bid her go
into France, left her home,
not daring to say good-bye even to her little friend
Hauvrette, lest she should
falter in her plan.
The maid went first to Robert de Baudricourt, captain
of the town of Vaucouleurs,
which was loyal to the dauphin she hoped that when the
captain heard her story he
would send her to Charles.
But when in July 1428 she reached Vaucouleurs, and told
Baudricourt that she had
come to succour France the rough captain laughed at her
words. A simple peasant girl
succour France ! It was a foolish thought
"I come on behalf of my Lord," cried the maid
fearlessly, "to bid you send word to
the dauphin to keep himself well in hand and not give
battle to his foes, for my
Lord will presently give him succour."
"Who is thy lord?" asked Baudricourt.
"The King of Heaven," answered Joan.
But again the rough captain laughed, and bade the maid
go home to watch her sheep.
So Joan went home, but in October she heard how Orleans
was not only besieged, but
in danger of falling into the hands of the English.
The maid waited until the new year dawned, then early
in January 1429 she went again
to Vaucouleurs to speak with Robert de Baudricourt.
"I must go to Orleans to raise the siege," she said. "I
will go, should I have to
wear off my legs to the knee." Yet still Baudricourt
would have nothing to do with
For three weeks Joan lodged in Vaucouleurs, in the
house of a wheelwright, spinning
with his wife, and often going to church to pray.
Then one day a knight, named John of Metz, who
knew Joan's father and mother,
met the maid.
"What do you here, my dear?" he asked.
"I am come hither," answered Joan, "to speak to Robert
de Baudricourt that he may
take me, or be pleased to have me taken, to the
dauphin, but he pays no heed to me
or my words. Assuredly I had rather be spinning beside
my poor mother . . . but I
must go and do the work, because my Lord wills it."
"Who is your lord?" asked John of Metz, even as
Baudricourt had done.
"The Lord God," answered Joan.
"By my faith," said the knight, overcome by the maid's
quiet words and seizing her
hands—"by my faith I will take you to the king. God
helping. When will you set
"Rather now than to-morrow," said Joan quickly, "rather
to-morrow than later."
Not long after this Baudricourt also was won. For on
February 12, 1429, Joan went
again to the captain and said, "In God's name you are
too slow in sending me; for
this day, near Orleans, a great disaster has befallen
the gentle dauphin, and worse
he will have unless you send me to him."
Now a few days later Baudricourt heard that on the very
day that Joan spoke these
words the French had been defeated at the battle of the
Herrings. Then the rough
captain began to think that perhaps after all Joan Darc
was sent by God to succour
France. He was soon as eager as John of Metz to send
her to the king.
As her voices had bidden her, Joan now laid aside her
rough red peasant garments to
dress as a boy.
Two knights and the good folk of Vaucouleurs willingly
supplied the maid with all
she needed for the journey to the king-a grey tunic,
black hose, a horse. Then
cutting her long black hair short, Joan set out on
1429, with an
escort for Chinon, where the Dauphin was holding his
Robert de Baudricourt, as he bade the maid farewell,
gave her a sword, saying, "Away
then, Joan, and come what may."
Rumours of the maid had, you remember, reached Orleans.
When it was known that Joan
was really on her way to Chinon, the garrison plucked
up courage. Strange as it may
seem, the French soldiers had already faith in the
maid, and believed that she would
raise the siege of Orleans.
JOAN RELIEVES ORLEANS
EARLY in March 1429 Joan had reached Chinon, and
Charles, in spite of the
remonstrances of his favourites, had determined to
receive the peasant girl from
It was evening, and the great hall of the palace was
bright with candle light when
The dauphin had laid aside his royal robes, and stood
among three hundred of his
knights, each clad more richly than was he.
But Joan, without a sign of bewilderment, walked
straight to Charles, knelt at his
feet. and spoke to him "humbly and simply like a poor
little shepherdess." "Gentle
dauphin. God grant you a good life," she said.
Charles at first denied that he was the dauphin, but
the maid was not to be
deceived. "In God's name," she cried, "it is you and
Then as Charles was silent, Joan said, "Gentle dauphin,
my name is Joan the Maid;
the King of Heaven sendeth you word by me that you
shall be anointed and crowned in
the city of Rheims before the year is ended."
Gladly would Charles have believed that what the maid
said would really come to
pass, yet he hesitated, and wondered how it could be.
Joan, seeing that Charles was afraid to trust her,
begged to speak with him alone,
saying that she would give him a sign which would make
it impossible for him to
doubt her words.
A few days later Charles saw Joan alone, but what
she then said to the dauphin
the maid would never tell. Even when in days to come
her judge threatened her with
torture, trying thus to wring her secret from her, Joan
never faltered. She had
promised her saints not to tell, and she was silent to
But in after-years Charles VII. told the secret to a
friend, so that now we know the
sign the maid brought to the dauphin.
You remember that Charles was sometimes so unhappy that
he could not believe that he
was the true heir to the throne of France. One day, in
his misery, he had entered a
chapel, and prayed silently to God to give him his
kingdom if he were in truth the
dead king's eldest son.
This prayer, of which none could know save God alone
Joan recalled to the dauphin's
memory. She said that God had answered this prayer by
sending her, the maid, to
assure him that he was the true heir to the throne; and
after raising the siege of
Orleans, to lead him to Rheims to be crowned.
Then the dauphin no longer doubted Joan, yet still he
was not ready to send her to
raise the siege, which was the first task given her to
Instead, the dauphin sent the eager maid to Poitiers to
be examined by the bishops
For six weary weeks Joan was questioned by the learned
men. But they could find no
fault with her answers, and so at length they sent her
back to Charles, telling him
that they could find "naught but goodness in her."
I am come on behalf of the King of Heaven to cause the
siege of Orleans to be
raised," Joan had said again and again, and now neither
Charles nor the bishops
hesitated. The maid should go to Orleans.
It was indeed time that something should be done for
the besieged city. Already more
than once Dunois had sent to Charles to beg for help
which had never come,
now the maid was to march to Orleans, and hearts
beat fast, hopes rose high in the city.
It was easy to raise an army. The French soldiers were
eager to follow the maid,
never doubting that she would lead them to victory.
At Chinon Joan had already won the friendship of the
Duke of Alençon. He and the
rough and reckless La Hire had pledged themselves to
follow wherever she should
Clad in white armour, which Charles had ordered to be
made for her, and seated on a
great black horse, Joan was at length ready to set out
with her army.
Charles wished to give his girl-captain a sword, but
there was only one sword that
Joan cared to wear. She begged the king to send for it
to a chapel dedicated to St.
Catherine. There, near the altar, it lay buried, an old
and rusty sword, on which
were carved five crosses, as her voices had said. The
sword was found and brought to
the maid, who wore it in battle but used it little. For
her heart was tender even on
the battlefield, and never did she slay any.
But it was her banner that Joan loved. It was made of
white linen, and on it were
embroidered the Lilies of France, and across the front
were inscribed the simple
words, Jésus Maria.
Mounted on her black horse, Joan and her army marched
toward Orleans. She was a
strict captain, allowing no drinking, no swearing among
the soldiers or their
leaders. Even the rough La Hire, though with
difficulty, ceased to use the ugly
words that came so easily to his lips.
Before the army marched a band of priests, who sang
hymns in which the soldiers
joined as they drew nearer and nearer to the besieged
Close to Orleans Joan ordered the army to halt while
she sent a message to the
English, bidding them to raise the siege or she would
come and force them to do so.
As the English took no notice of her message, Joan
marched on, whereupon the English
fled before the maid,
whom already they called a
witch, leaving one of their
Joan, with part of her army, passed safely into the
city, the citizens wild with joy
coming out to meet their deliverer. Straight on through
the happy crowd rode the
maid, until she reached the cathedral, where she
dismounted, and entering gave
thanks to God for bringing her to Orleans.
When night came the maid, being tired with the
excitement of the day, went to bed
and slept. But erelong the tramp of horses, the roar of
guns, awoke her. Quickly she
arose, dressed and armed herself; then hastening down
to her page she chided him,
saying, "Ah, naughty boy, not to come and tell me that
the blood of France was being
shed. Come, quick, my horse!"
It was brought and, mounting, Joan galloped along the
paved streets so fiercely that
sparks darted from the hoofs of her horse. To the
amazement of all she rode straight
to the place where the skirmish was taking place, as
though she had all her life
known the way.
Joan entered Orleans on April 29, 1429. Five days later
she led her soldiers out to
attack one of the English forts, and took it. Two days
passed, and again she led her
men to attack another fort. But this time the struggle
was more fierce, the English
forcing the French to withdraw, mocking the while at
the maid as she slowly retired.
Joan, hearing their words, grew angry, rallied her men,
and once again made a
determined attack upon the fort. With the maid was La
Hire, the bravest and roughest
of her captains.
The English, who a few moments before had been sure of
victory, were seized with
panic at the fresh onslaught, and fled, leaving the
fortress in the hands of the
French. In this assault Joan was wounded, but she paid
no heed to her pain.
remained only the
Tournelles, the strongest of all the English defences,
and, as I told you, the key to
Early on Saturday morning. May 7, 1429, the whole
French army crossed the river
Loire in boats and joined in the attack on the
The English fought desperately, and the French began to
falter. Joan, seeing her
soldiers fall back, jumped into a ditch, seized a
ladder, placed it against the wall
of the fort, and began to mount.
At that moment an arrow wounded her in the shoulder.
Joan's tears fell and the pain
made her feel faint, but almost at once she dashed away
her tears and herself pulled
the arrow out of her shoulder.
Dunois, seeing that the French were again faltering,
ordered the retreat to be
sounded. Joan meanwhile having gone aside to pray. Now,
however, she came back, and
Dunois begged to attack the enemy once more.
Then she mounted her black horse, her banner in her
hand, and the English, who had
believed she was too badly wounded to fight, saw her
again encouraging their
As for her own followers, when they saw the maids
banner waving in the air, they
quickly gathered around it, forgetful of their fears.
Then Joan handed the banner to one of her soldiers,
bidding him carry it forward
until it touched the walls of the Toumelles.
"Joan, it touches now," cried the soldier.
"Enter, then, for the city is yours," cried the maid.
At her words the men scaled
the walls, leaped into the fort, and the English were
forced to flee.
They rushed to the drawbridge only to find that it had
been set on fire by the
citizens of Orleans.
Yet they dashed forward, Glansdale and his knights
defending the retreat as best
they could. But when they too turned to cross through
the fire and smoke, the bridge
gave way, and they and many of their men were
thrown into the river and
To add to the dismay of the English, the citizens of
Orleans now flung a plank
across the river and swarmed across to join in the
The Tournelles, the last fortress held by the English,
On the following day, Sunday, May 8th, the English drew
themselves up in battle
array. The French also mustered their whole army, and
for an hour the two forces
faced each other, but not a blow was struck.
The French army, by Joan's wish, heard mass in the open
air while they faced the foe.
Then the maid, who was eagerly watching the enemy,
cried, "See, are the English
still waiting to attack us?" The French looked, and
could scarcely believe their
eyes. For the English had turned and were marching
away, their banners flying in the
air. The siege of Orleans, begun on October 12, 1428.
was raised on May 8, 1429,
eight days after the maid had entered the city.
Long and loud pealed the bells as Joan and her army
came in triumph into the city.
In an ecstasy of joy the citizens crowded around their
deliverer, and followed her
into the cathedral, where the Te Deum was sung in
thankfulness that the siege was
ended. From that day Joan was known as the Maid of
JOAN LEADS THE DAUPHIN TO RHEIMS
JOAN DARC had raised the siege of Orleans. Her next
task was to bring the dauphin to
Rheims to be crowned.
The maid wasted no time in setting out for Tours, where
Charles was spending his
days in idle pleasures. His favourites, of whom La
Trémouille was the chief, hated
Joan, and did all they could to thwart her influence
over the dauphin.
On May 13th, three days after she left Orleans, Joan
rode into Tours, her banner in
her hand, and met the dauphin, for whom she had already
done so much.
He, when he saw the maid, 'took off his cap and held
out his hand to her, and, as it
seemed to many, he would fain have kissed her for the
joy he felt.'
But when Joan begged Charles to go with her to Rheims,
he hesitated, saying it would
be dangerous to pass through the country, where the
English still held many towns.
La Trémouille, too, did all in his power to keep the
king at Tours.
A month passed, and still Joan had not persuaded the
king to start. As the precious
days of her single year passed away unused, the brave
heart of the maid grew sad.
For ever she remembered that her voices had said she
had but a year in which to
accomplish her tasks.
In June Joan made up her mind to wait no longer for the
dauphin. She herself, with
her brave captains and soldiers, would clear the way to
Jargeau, a town in which the English had sought refuge,
was besieged and
taken, as well as other fortresses in the neighbourhood
held by the English. At
Patay, too. soon after, a battle was fought, when the
English were utterly beaten,
and their commander Talbot was taken prisoner.
After these victories the maid went once more to the
dauphin, bidding him come to
Rheims, for all the cities on the way were ready to
fling open their gates to the
true heir to the throne.
And at length Charles yielded, and set out with Joanand
her army for Rheims, which
they reached in safety on July 16, 1429.
On the following day Charles went in great pomp to the
cathedral, where he was
crowned King of France, after being anointed with the
holy oil by the archbishop.
During the ceremony Joan stood close to the dauphin,
holding the royal standard in
When all was over the maid turned to Dunois, who was at
her side, and said, 'I have
accomplished that which my Lord commanded me, to raise
the siege of Orleans and have
the king crowned. I should like it well if it should
please Him to send me back to
my father and mother to keep their sheep and their
cattle, and to do that which was
But that, alas! was not to be.
Now that he was a king indeed, Charles wished to reward
the Maid of Orleans with
For herself, however, Joan would have nothing, but for
her village she was eager to
accept the king's bounty, begging him that, for her
sake, Domremy might pay no taxes
for three hundred years.
The king was pleased to agree to Joan's wish, and from
this time, until the reign of
Louis XV., the village, not only of Domremy, but also
of Greux, which was close to
it, paid no taxes 'for the sake of the maid.'
Until now, save that Charles had greatly tried her
patience, all had gone well
with Joan, but from the time of the coronation a cloud
began to shadow her 'glad and
She urged the king to march at once to Pans, but he,
influenced again by La
Trémouille, refused, and spent his days, as of old, in
idleness, or in trying to
make terms with the Duke of Burgundy.
Joan had no trust in the duke, and boldly said, 'There
is no peace possible with him,
save at the point of the lance.' This, however, Charles
did not believe.
Meanwhile, the Duke of Bedford was sending all his
soldiers to Paris, lest the king
should determine to advance on the city.
Then the maid left Charles, who was loitering now in
one town and then in another,
and before he had reached St. Denis she had already
attacked the walls of Paris, and
believed that the city could be taken by storm.
But in one of the assaults Joan was wounded, and
although she never flinched and
continued to fight in the trenches until midnight, a
knight then forced her to
Joan was indignant, but she still believed that on the
following day Paris would be
in her hands.
By her orders a bridge had been thrown across the
Seine, and across this bridge she
meant to lead her men to attack the city from another
But on the morrow Joan found that by the kings order
the bridge had been destroyed,
for he was still treating with the Duke of Burgundy,
and hoped that the city would
be given into his hands without the help of the maid.
Joan was heart-broken when she saw what Charles had
done. But no words can tell of
her despair when the king, listening to his favourite
and longing for peace, forbade
the maid to fight any more for six long months.
Poor Joan! slowly and sadly the year that had been hers
As May 1430 drew near Joan's voices, which had
been silent for a time, spoke
to her again, but their words were solemn and sad.
Before midsummer she would be in
the hands of her enemies, so her voices told her.
was it if the brave heart of the maid quailed at the
thought. For well she knew that
if the English captured her, they would tie her to a
stake and burn her as a witch,
for such indeed they deemed her. It was thus that
witches were treated in the days
when Joan lived.
The truce was over by the month of May 1430, and Joan,
eager as ever, was in the
field once more.
Compiègne, a town that was faithful to Charles, was at
this time besieged by a large
army of English and Burgundians.
You may wonder that the Burgundians were there, for
Charles, as you know, had for
some time been making terms with their leader. But the
Duke of Burgundy had been
false to the King of France, as Joan, and every one
save Charles himself, had
foreseen that he would be.
The maid determined to go to the help of the besieged
city. One night, under cover
of the dark, she stole into Compiègne to the great joy
of the people, who were sure
she would raise the siege, as she had done that of
On May 23rd, at dawn, she led out her men, hoping to
surprise the enemy. Twice she
drove back the Burgundians, but the English came
hastening to the help of their
allies, and little by little Joan was forced to retreat
toward the city.
But before she could reach the drawbridge, the governor
of the town, seeing that the
enemy was rushing toward it, ordered the bridge to be
raised. And, alas, that it
must be told, the maid was left among her enemies.
On a grey horse, clad in a scarlet coat, Joan was seen
by all. The Burgundians,
shouting in triumph, surrounded the maid, and dragged
her from her horse.
They asked her to surrender, but she refused,
thinking and hoping that they
would kill her on the spot.
But the Maid of Orleans was too great a prize to be
slain, and erelong the
Burgundians sold her to the English, her mortal
enemies. Charles VII., to his shame
be it told, made no effort to save the maid from her
THE DEATH OF THE MAID
THE English, having bought Joan, handed her over to the
French priests, who hated
the maid, and to satisfy their hatred, as also that of
the English, they brought her
to trial as a witch and a heretic. Among these priests
her most cruel enemy was
Pierre Cauchon, Bishop of Beauvais.
Joan would never give her word of honour not to try to
escape from prison. Once
jumping from a high window she fell to the ground, and
there she was found faint,
but uninjured, by her enemies.
It was in May that Joan was taken prisoner, and slowly
the days and weeks passed
until November, when she was taken to Rouen. And
because more than once Joan had
tried to escape, she was now taken to a castle, and
there in the dungeon the brave
maid was placed in a cage, with heavy chains upon her
In January 1431 she was brought before Cauchon, who, as
he hated her, should never
have been made one of her judges, or president of the
Week after week the trial lasted. Joan's judges trying
m vain to make her deny that
she had really heard her voices; trying, too, to make
her confess to crimes of which
she had never dreamed.
When she had told Cauchon her simple story, and refused
to say aught beside, the
cruel bishop ordered Joan to be carried into the
'Confess,' he cried, 'or you shall be bound and
Yet not for a moment did the maid flinch, but proudly
she answered, 'Though
you should tear me limb from limb I should tell you
Even the Bishop of Beauvais was ashamed as he listened
to her unfaltering words, and
Joan was taken back to prison unharmed.
Once indeed, worn out by sickness and solitude, Joan
denied that she had heard her
voices, yet almost at once she was sorry, and said that
only weakness had wrung the
falsehood from her lips.
But nothing could save the maid. Her judges, with the
English to support them, were
determined that Joan should die.
And so at length they had their way, and when the maid
was but nineteen years old
they condemned her to death as a witch and a heretic.
The boy's costume which Joan had worn by the command of
her voices was laid aside;
and the maid, dressed once again as a girl, was led to
the old market-place of Rouen
on May 24, 1431.
Lest at the last moment Charles should rouse himself
from his base ingratitude, lest
La Hire, Dunois, or her friend the Duke of Alençon
should swoop down upon the
marketplace with the soldiers who had followed Joan so
often to victory, and carry
away their erstwhile comrade from her doom, Joan was
surrounded by eight hundred
'Rouen, Rouen,' cried the maid, as they tied her to the
stake, 'is it here that I
must die? I fear greatly that thou wilt have to suffer
for my death.'
Then the soldiers placed a paper cap upon her brow, on
which was written, 'Heretic,
relapsed apostate, idolatress.'
The maid asked for a cross, and an Englishman handed
her one, made roughly of a
staff he had broken in twain. She kissed it, and as the
cruel flames leaped up
around her she called in a clear voice, 'Jesus,' then,
bowing her head, she died.
The ashes of the maid were flung into the river Seine,
for her enemies feared lest
even in death her body should have power to work
'We are lost, we have killed a saint,' said one
of the English as he turned
away from the terrible scene. And in that he spoke
truly, for from the time of the
maid's death the power of the English in France grew
ever less secure.
Twenty-four years after Joan's death, Charles
VII. repented that he had not tried to
save the maid.
A new trial took place, and Joan's name was cleared of
all the cruel charges that
had been brought against it.
In Orleans and in many other towns in France to-day you
may see monuments raised to
do honour to the maid who delivered France.
There, too, each year on the 8th of May a festival is
held, in praise of her who is
known as the Maid of Orleans. And now, in the Roman
Catholic Church, she is
worshipped as a saint.
As I told you, nothing prospered with the English after
Joan Darc's death.
In 1485 the Duke of Burgundy signed the Treaty of
Arras, by which he forsook the
cause of the English and went over to the side of
Paris, too, threw open its gates to Charles VII., who
at length, in April 1486,
entered his capital as king.
And now Charles roused himself from his indolent,
selfish ways, and began to live,
as the maid had longed to see him live, for the good of
his kingdom. He formed a
regular army, so that France in her wars would no
longer be forced to depend on her
nobles and their vassals for help, or on the bold bands
of Free Lances of which I
have told you.
As this regular army had to be paid, Charles VII. assembled the States-General, just
as our king in such a case would summon his parliament,
and asked them to vote sums
of money with which the army might be paid.
The nobles did not like the king's new ways. They were
no longer allowed to have
soldiers of their own, and this made them less able to
use the power that was still
Against the English who were left in the country the
king carried on an active
war, until his subjects almost forgot that Charles had
ever been indolent.
Towards the end of his reign Charles VII. was saddened
by the conduct of his eldest
son Louis, for when the nobles tried to resist the
king's reforms, Louis took their
side against his father.
Charles sent his son into Dauphiny, thinking that he
would be too busy there to have
time for further plots.
A few years later, however, Louis left Dauphiny and
went to the court of the Duke of
Burgundy, and then the king grew ever more suspicious
of his son. For Louis had gone
to a prince who was powerful and at the same time a
rival to the King of France.
In July 1453 Charles, with an army which had already
won many triumphs under Dunois,
besieged Castillon, the last stronghold of the English.
Talbot, the English commander, with a large force came
to raise the siege.
A rumour spread that the French were preparing to leave
their camp, and Talbot
hurried to the town only to find the French awaiting
him beneath its walls.
After a fierce struggle Talbot was slain, and his men
perished on the spot where
their commander's body had fallen.
With Castillon in the hands of the king, the south also
was his, and thus by October
1453 the Hundred Years' War was at an end, Calais and
Guines being all that was
still held by the English.
Save that he was suspicious of his son and the Duke of
Burgundy, Charles VII. might
now have been content. But he was so fearful of their
designs, that he was afraid
either to eat or drink, lest they had found means to
poison his food or drug his
At length, sad and miserable, after a few days'
illness, Charles VII. died in 1461.