Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

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 fearless maid.

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 their king.

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 great oak 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 still.

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 village.

Sometimes the quiet life of the little maid was disturbed. Roving bands of English and Burgundians would come to the neighbourhood of Domremy.

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 the fight.

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 ears.

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 his name.

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 thing happened.

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 fair crowns."

They also spoke to her, and their voices were ever kind and gentle.

"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 France."

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 everything.

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 companions.

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 the maid.

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 out?"

"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 February 25, 1429, with an escort for Chinon, where the Dauphin was holding his court.

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 Domremy.

It was evening, and the great hall of the palace was bright with candle light when Joan appeared.

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 none other."

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 the end.

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 do.

Instead, the dauphin sent the eager maid to Poitiers to be examined by the bishops and priests.

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,

But 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 lead.

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 city.

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 forts deserted.

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 the city.

Early on Saturday morning. May 7, 1429, the whole French army crossed the river Loire in boats and joined in the attack on the Toumelles.

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 enemies.

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 drowned.

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 attack.

The Tournelles, the last fortress held by the English, was taken.

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 Orleans.

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 Rheims.

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 her hands.

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 my wont.'

But that, alas! was not to be.

Now that he was a king indeed, Charles wished to reward the Maid of Orleans with royal gifts.

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 smiling face.'

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 retire.

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 point.

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 passed away.

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. Little wonder 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 Orleans.

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 foes.

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 feet.

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 court.

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 torture chamber.

'Confess,' he cried, 'or you shall be bound and tortured.'

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 nothing more.'

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 soldiers.

'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 miracles.

'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 Charles VII.

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 theirs.

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 wine.

At length, sad and miserable, after a few days' illness, Charles VII. died in 1461.

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