Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

JOAN OF ARC The Warrior Maid

Joan of Arc Leading the Charge Painting

Chapter 22
The Culmination

Along this square she moved, sweet Joan of Arc,––
 With face more pallid than a day-lit star
Half-seen, half-doubted; while before her, dark
 Stretched the array of war.

Maria Lowell.

The next day, which was Sunday, Jeanne and her men returned to Orléans in triumph, and were “nobly received.” The streets were crowded with people who were wild with joy at sight of the Maid, and who gave her a tempestuous welcome. They formed processions and went to the churches, where “they thanked God and the Virgin Mary and the Blessed Saints of Paradise for the mercy and honor which Our Lord had shown to the King and to them all, and saying that without the Maid such marvels could not have been done.”

To all parts of France the news of the victory of Patay was carried with incredible quickness, and everywhere the loyal towns celebrated the event by singing Te Deums, by processions and prayers, by bonfires and by bell ringings. But the tidings that brought such rejoicing to the hearts of the French, caused consternation among the partisans of Burgundy and England. On Tuesday when Sir John Fastolf and other fugitives brought the story of the disaster of Patay into Paris, there was a riot, and many believed that the victorious French were coming at once to attack the city. Had this been true the town must have fallen, for the English troops were thoroughly demoralized. Rank and file were filled with superstitious terror of the Armagnac Witch, and the Duke of Bedford was at the end of his resources.

In Orléans the exultation was greatest, for Jeanne was counted their Maid, and the people expected that their King would come to greet her and start for his crowning from that city. Consequently the burghers decorated the streets and prepared to give him royal welcome, but he did not come. He was at Sully being entertained by La Trémouille, frittering away his time in pleasure while a girl fought his battles for him. Jeanne, therefore, after a few days of rest left Orléans to join him and to urge his instant departure for Reims. She met him at St. Bénoit-sur-Loire on his way to Châteauneuf. Charles was exceedingly gracious, showering her with praise.

“Wonderfully you have wrought, Jeanne,” he said. “Greatly have you earned our gratitude. What guerdon shall be yours for these amazing labors?”

“Sire, that you will start at once for Reims to be crowned is all that I desire.”

“We will go, dear Maid. We promise you, but now you must rest. Greatly have you endeared yourself to us, and above all we desire your welfare. Therefore, rest from these labors to please your King.”

Now Jeanne had just taken three fortified towns, and had cut a great army to pieces. In smaller towns and fortresses the citizens had risen and driven their English garrisons out of the gates upon receipt of the news of Patay, so the golden lilies floated over the cleared country of the Beauce nearly to Paris. She had done all this that the Dauphin might safely march to Reims. She had been told that if the Loire were cleared the march would be begun, and now he wished further delay. It was too much for the girl, who longed so ardently to complete her mission, for she knew that her time was short, and she burst into tears.

“Jeanne, ma mie, what is it?” asked the monarch, disturbed by her emotion.

“Ah, gentle Dauphin,” she said brokenly, “you are not King until the sacred oil shall anoint you. Doubt no longer, but come to your sacring. The whole realm shall be yours when you are consecrated.”

“We will go, beloved Maid, and that right soon. But you? Is there not some gift or boon that you wish other than this?”

“Sire, forgive the Comte de Richemont, and receive him again at Court, I beseech you. Great aid did he give us at Beaugency, and at Patay. For the sake of France, Sire, grant this favor.”

But Charles shook his head. At this moment Alençon and Dunois drew near and added their pleas to Jeanne’s that the Constable should be forgiven, but the King was obdurate. So Richemont, who had helped to administer the greatest blow to English domination that had ever been given, was rejected once more. He had remained at Beaugency to await the result of the embassies, and had even sent two of his own gentlemen to La Trémouille to plead that he might be allowed to serve the King in the state of the country. But all his overtures were refused, so he withdrew to his own estates, and Charles lost a good soldier.

And Jeanne, to her amazement, for she had given every sign required of her, found herself opposed by almost incredible difficulties. The King was plainly reluctant to act, and seemed averse to taking a decided step of any kind. From every point of view the march to Reims and the accomplishment of the great object of her mission was the wisest and most practicable thing to do. But there were delays and parleyings. Had the maiden not been sustained by her Voices and her duty to her country she would have been discouraged.

But all France was rousing, and was beginning to call upon the King in no uncertain tones. It was said that the Maid would lead the Dauphin to his crowning if she were allowed; that after the deeds she had wrought she should be given the opportunity. La Trémouille recognized a dangerous note in the general talk, and a Council of War was held in which it was decided to risk an advance. Gien was chosen as the base for the army, and Jeanne went to Orléans to bring up the troops and munitions that were left in that city.

“Sound the trumpet, and mount,” she said to Alençon on the twenty-fourth of June. “It is time to go to the noble Charles and start him on his way to be consecrated.”

Which was easier said than done. There were many of the Councillors who wished to besiege La Charité and other small towns on the upper Loire, which would have profited nothing; still others were for a bold move into Normandy to attack the English at Rouen, where they were strongest. But Jeanne insisted that the Dauphin should march to Reims. Her Voices had told her to take him there to be crowned that the people might know that he was the true King, and to the maiden, sublime in her faith, that was the thing to do.

It was objected that there were many cities and walled towns and strongholds well guarded by English and Burgundians in the way, but she answered:

“I know it well, and all that I hold as naught.”

Worn out finally by the futile arguments and the wasting of so much precious time, when all hope lay in a quick advance against the enemy before Bedford could bring over new troops from England, Jeanne left the Court, and went to her army which lay in the fields near Gien. There was comfort there, for the soldiers declared that they would go wherever she wished to lead them. There were princes of the blood among the men; great lords, and knights, and squires of high and low degree. They had come from all parts of loyal France bringing their companies, eager to serve, for the “great hope of the good that should come to the country through Jeanne, and they earnestly desired to serve under her, and to learn her deeds, as if the matter were God’s doings.” There was little or no pay for the men, but enthusiasm took the place of money. Jeanne’s exploits had made her a personage, and not only France but all Europe was rife with curiosity concerning her, and her deeds. Many were attracted to the army by her fame, and it was said, though not openly, for no man was bold enough to speak against La Trémouille at this time, that if the Favorite would permit it an army large enough to drive every Englishman out of France could be raised.

On Monday, the twenty-seventh of June, Jeanne crossed the River Loire with part of the army, and on Wednesday the King and his Councillors reluctantly followed her. The march upon Reims had at last begun.

Fifty miles to the eastward of Gien was the town of Auxerre. It was under Burgundian allegiance, and if it admitted the Dauphin, had good reason to fear Burgundy. So its gates were closed upon the approach of the King and his army. Jeanne and the captains wished to attack it at once, but the town sold food to the troops and sent bribes to La Trémouille to exempt it from assault. The bribes were accepted, though a mere military demonstration would have opened its gates, and the army passed on, the town giving some sort of a promise to submit if Troyes, and Châlons, and Reims should acknowledge the King. Other smaller strongholds on the road yielded upon being summoned, and presently Charles and his army were before Troyes.

It was the capital of Champagne, about forty miles to the northeast of Auxerre. The whole province was greatly excited by the advance of the royal forces, and those who held for the English were much alarmed. The cities were not sure of each other, and each feared to be either the last or the first to open its gates to the King.

So, during the march toward it, Troyes sent letters to Reims saying that it had heard that the latter would submit to the Dauphin, but that its own citizens would do nothing of the sort, but would uphold the cause of King Henry and the Duke of Bedford even to the death inclusive.

Now Troyes had reasons for taking this bold stand. It was the place where the treaty which had given France to England had been signed; where the French princess, Catherine, was married to Henry Fifth of England, and where the Dauphin was disinherited by his mother. The burghers had arrayed themselves with the Burgundians and the English after the treaty, and feared now that if Charles were admitted to their city he would wreak vengeance upon them.

Charles stopped at Saint Phal, within fifteen miles of Troyes, from which place both he and Jeanne sent the burghers letters. The King demanded that they should render the obedience they owed him, and he would make no difficulty about things past for which they might fear that he should take vengeance; that was not his will, but that they should govern themselves toward their sovereign as they ought, and he would forget all and hold them in good grace.

Jeanne’s letter was to the people, in which she summoned them to their allegiance in the name of the Sovereign Lord of all. They must recognize their rightful Lord who was moving on Paris by way of Reims, with the aid of King Jesus, she said. If they did not yield the Dauphin none the less would enter the city.

The letters were received at Troyes on the morning of the fifth of July, and copies were at once sent to Reims with assurances that the city would hold out to the death, and begging the men of Reims to send at once to Burgundy and Bedford for assistance.

The royal army meantime camped before the walls for several days, hoping that the town would surrender. There were a few sallies which resulted in nothing of importance. The burghers held off, expecting the same terms would be given them that were granted Auxerre. After nearly a week the supplies of the besiegers began to get low. The Dauphin could not provision his troops at Troyes, and Gien, his base of supplies, was thirty leagues away. He could not pass on to Reims and leave the town in his rear, for so strongly garrisoned a place would be a menace, and the state of the army was becoming seriously grave. So Charles called a Council to consider what were best to be done, but Jeanne was not asked to attend.

Regnault Chartres, Archbishop of Reims, was for retreating, and a number of Councillors were against assaulting the city. One after another they gave their opinions, some arguing that if they did not retreat it would be best to leave the hostile fortress in their rear and press on towards Reims. When it came the turn of Robert le Macon, the old Chancellor of Charles VI, he said that the march had been undertaken in reliance neither upon the number of their troops nor upon the richness of their treasury, but because the Maid advised them that such was the will of God. He suggested, therefore, that she be called to the Council. At this moment Jeanne, becoming impatient over the long debate, knocked at the door. She was at once admitted, and the Archbishop of Reims took it upon himself to explain:

“Jeanne,” said he, “the King and his Council are in great perplexity to know what they shall do.”

“Shall I be believed if I speak?” asked the maiden, who was learning from experience that even messages from Heaven may be set aside by the will of man.

“I can not tell,” replied the King, to whom she addressed herself; “though if you say things that are reasonable and profitable I shall certainly believe you.”

“Shall I be believed?” she asked again.

“Yes,” said the King, “according as you speak.”

“Noble Dauphin, order your people to assault the city of Troyes, and hold no more of these Councils; for in God’s name, before three days I will bring you into Troyes, by favor or force, and false Burgundy shall be greatly amazed.”

“Jeanne,” said the Chancellor, “we might well wait if you could do that in six days.”

“Doubt it not,” spoke Jeanne, addressing the Dauphin only. “You shall be master of the place, not in six days but to-morrow.”

The Council broke up, and Jeanne began at once to make preparations for storming the place. The whole army was set to work during the night, nobles and men-at-arms alike, to collect any kind of material, faggots, palings, tables, even doors and windows––anything that could be used to shelter the men, mount the guns, and fill up the fosse. She worked hard all night, and the unusual commotion gave notice to the townsfolk that something out of the ordinary was being done, and they retired to the churches to pray. In the morning they saw that arrangements had been made to assault the place, and heard the Maid’s voice order the attack to begin. At this great fear of her came upon them, and they had no heart to man battlement or tower. Whereupon the Bishop of the town and the citizens threw the gates open and made submission without firing a shot, sending a committee to Charles to treat for terms of peace. The King received the envoys graciously, and guaranteed all the rights of Troyes, promising that the garrison might depart with their arms and goods, providing the town were given up to him.

Jeanne of course was obliged to acquiesce in the terms that her King made, but she was suspicious of the good faith of the Burgundian garrison, and so stationed herself at the gate to see them march out. She had been up all night “laboring with a diligence that not two or three most experienced and renowned captains could have shown,”[13] and she was weary, but she would not retire to her tent until she knew how the garrison complied with the conditions. Her suspicions proved to be well founded.

After a time the English and Burgundian soldiers came marching through the gates with their horses and armour, and their property,––property which proved to be French prisoners. There they walked, a band of men previously taken, each one representing so much money in ransom. The poor fellows cast appealing, piteous glances at their victorious fellow countrymen as they passed. Jeanne uttered an exclamation, and stopped the march.

“In God’s name,” she cried, “they shall not have them.”

But some of the captains explained to her that under the terms of the capitulation the prisoners were property, and the soldiers were justified in taking them away, though it had not occurred to the King or his Councillors that any such thing would happen when the terms were given. But the Maid would not hear of letting the Frenchmen be carried away.

“They shall not have them,” she said again. “The thing would be monstrous. I will see the Dauphin.”

Which she did at once, and to such good purpose that the monarch was obliged to ransom the men from their captors, paying for each one a reasonable sum. French prisoners had been too plentiful in the wars to be worth much.

Troyes was full of doubt, terror and ill-will toward the Maid, and Jeanne felt it plainly when she entered the town to prepare for the reception of the King. At Orléans, at Blois, at Tours, at Gien, at all other places where she had been the people thronged about her with enthusiasm. Here they regarded her as a sorceress, and sent a certain Friar Richard to confront her. Friar Richard was a Franciscan who had created a great stir in Paris and Champagne by preaching fervid, emotional sermons, warning people of the coming of Anti-Christ, and urging them to forsake their sins, and to prepare for eternity. As he drew near to the Maid, he crossed himself devoutly, making the sign of the cross in the air, and sprinkling holy water before him to exorcise the evil spirit in the girl. Brother Richard was devout, but he wasn’t going to run any risk. Jeanne laughed gayly. She had become accustomed to being thought possessed.

“Come on boldly,” she cried. “I shall not fly away.”

Upon this the good man fell upon his knees before her, and the Maid, to show that she was no holier than he, knelt also. They had some conversation together, and thereafter the friar was one of her most devoted adherents.

The day after the surrender Charles entered the city in splendor, and went at once to the cathedral, where he received the oaths of loyalty of the burghers. The day following the troops marched on to Châlons, but met with no resistance. All opposition to the King’s advance had collapsed, and eagerly the towns opened their gates to him. After all, he was French, and it was natural for Frenchmen to turn to their rightful King and believe in him in spite of the English. And so with ever increasing army Charles marched in triumph towards Reims.

Châlons, Troyes, and other places that had made submission wrote to Reims immediately advising that town to do likewise as Charles was a “sweet, gracious, pitiful and compassionate prince, of noble demeanor and high understanding, and had shown clearly and prudently the reasons for which he had come to them.”

Reims laughed the messages to scorn, and vowed to resist to the death. They had recalled the captain of their garrison, who was at Château-Thierry, but they limited his escort to fifty horsemen, for which reason the captain very properly declined to come, saying that he could not attempt to hold the city with fewer than three hundred men. So when Charles reached Sept-Saulx, a fortress within four leagues of Reims, it sent out representatives to him to offer its full and entire obedience, in token of which the envoys presented the King with the keys of the city.

It was finished. The march to Reims, which has been called “The Bloodless March,” was ended. The wonderful and victorious campaign with all its lists of towns taken had lasted but six weeks, almost every day of which was distinguished by some victory. The King and his Councillors had been fearful of the result, but the Maid had carried them through in triumph. Every promise which she had made had been fulfilled. There was nothing now between Charles, the discredited Dauphin of three months agone, and the sacred ceremonial which drew with it every “tradition and assurance of an ancient and lawful throne.” Some time later when the Regent wished to make the same march with young Henry of England to crown him at Reims the Duke of Burgundy advised against the attempt, stating that it was too difficult and perilous to imitate.

On the morning of Saturday, July sixteenth, the Archbishop, Regnault de Chartres, who had been kept out of his city by the Burgundians, entered it to make preparations to receive his royal master. In the afternoon the King, with Jeanne riding by his side, his Councillors, the princes and nobles, the captains, and a great train of soldiers, and citizens of neighboring places entered in state. The streets were thronged with people who cheered lustily at sight of the monarch, crying “Noël! Noël! ”[14] but who struggled and shouldered each other in the natural curiosity to catch glimpses of the wonderful Maid with her shining armour and fair sweet face.

The King, the Maid, and the heads of the expedition were to be lodged in the palace of the Archbishop, which was near the great cathedral, but as the procession made its way thither Jeanne uttered a cry of joy; for, gazing at her half fearfully from the crowd were her father, Jacques D’Arc, and her uncle, Durand Lassois. The King turned to her.

“What is it, ma mie?” he asked.

“My father, my dear father, is standing there among the people,” she cried, waving her hand at the two rustics. “And with him stands my uncle, Durand Lassois: he who took me to Vaucouleurs, you remember?”

“I remember, Jeanne. We must see and speak with them both,” said the monarch graciously. “Bring them to us later.”

With another wave of her hand at the two the maiden passed on. In the evening Charles was led to a platform which had been erected before the cathedral, and there, amid the red glare of bonfires, flaming torches, the ringing of bells and the acclaiming shouts of the assembled people he was shown to the multitude by the peers of France, with the traditional proclamation:[15]

“Here is your King whom we, peers of France, crown as King and Sovereign Lord. And if there is a soul here who has any objection to make, let him speak and we will answer him. And to-morrow he shall be consecrated by the grace of the Holy Spirit if you have nothing to say against it.”

But the people shouted, “Noël! Noël! Noël! ” in a frenzy of delight, and so this preliminary ceremony was concluded. There was feasting in the palace of the Archbishop that night. But Jeanne slipped away from it all and made her way quickly to the little inn called The Zebra, in front of the cathedral, which was kept by Alice Moreau, a widow, where she would find her father and uncle. To her delight her brothers had come hither also, and when Jeanne entered Jacques was standing with an arm around each, his usually undemonstrative face beaming with gladness, for they had been telling him of Jeanne and her exploits. He started toward her as she came through the door, then stopped suddenly and stood gazing at her with doubt and hesitation, but Jeanne flung herself upon him with the abandonment of a child.

“Father!” she cried. “Dear, dear father! I did not hope for this. Oh! how glad I am to see you.”

Jacques could not utter a word for a moment, but held her close, close as though he would never let her go. When at last he spoke it was with choked and trembling accents.

“And do you forgive me, my little one? All the harshness and severity that I showed you? My child, I did not know, I did not understand––”

Jeanne smiled at him through her tears.

“How could you understand, father? I did not either for a long time. But it is over now. My mission will be ended to-morrow when the Dauphin is crowned. And then I am going back home with you to mother. Dear mother! how is she?”

“Well, Jeanne; but longs for you always.”

“And I for her,” said Jeanne, tearfully. “I shall never leave you again, father. I shall be glad to get back.”

At this Durand interposed:

“You won’t be contented there, Jeanne. Just think how set you were to get away. And now you have done everything you wanted to do. And it was I that helped you to do it.”

“Yes, Uncle Durand; and the King wishes to see you to thank you for it.”

“The King?” exclaimed Lassois, almost dumbfounded by this news. “Why, Jeanne, you don’t mean that he wants to see me?”

“Yes, I do,” said Jeanne, laughing. “He says that by helping me to go to Messire Robert you have done more for the country than any other man in France.”

Durand could scarcely contain himself at this, and beamed delightedly. Presently he said, wistfully:

“Don’t you ever get afraid in battle, Jeanne? I heard that you were wounded once. I should think that you would be so afraid that you’d run away as soon as the guns began to shoot and the arrows to fly.”

“I do not fear wounds or battle,” she told him. “I fear only––treachery;” and a shadow crossed her face.

It was a happy family party there at the little inn. There was wonder and admiration in the regard which the simple peasants bestowed upon the maiden, but there was love also, and the weary girl, longing for home and rest since her mission was so nearly completed, gave herself up to its blessed consolation. Far into the night she talked, and then she left them; for the morrow would bring the coronation, and there was much to be done.

It was the tradition that coronations should take place on Sunday, so that there was little sleep in Reims that night. Everything had to be prepared; decorations for the cathedral and town, and provisions for the ceremonial. Many of the necessary articles were at Saint Denis, in the hands of the English, and the treasury of the cathedral had to be ransacked to find fitting vessels. All night the work of preparation went on. And all night long rejoicing crowds filled the streets and the great square before the cathedral, where the Dauphin kept vigil, as was the custom of the Sovereign the night before his coronation.

At dawn of day the town began to fill with visitors, great personages and small ones, to attend the rites, and to render homage. All France seemed to pour into the place; for the people were to have their rightful king, and French hearts were joyful. It mattered not after this who should be crowned––Henry of England, or another––there would be but one King of France, Charles the Seventh, he who was anointed with the sacred oil in the city of Reims, where all kings of France had been crowned since the time of Clovis. Charles had been crowned after a fashion at Bourges, but in the eyes of the nation he was not King until the oil from the mystic ampoule brought down from Heaven by a dove to Saint Remi was poured upon his brow. Jeanne, a daughter of the people, understood this better than the politicians who tried to thwart her design of leading Charles to his sacring, deeming it a piece of childish folly. After the crowning, when the increased prestige and loyalty which it brought to Charles was seen, its significance was understood not only by the politicians but by the Regent Bedford. It was a decided advantage which this girl of the people gained over the English claimant by her quickness in taking the Dauphin to be crowned.

The ceremonies were to begin at nine o’clock, Sunday morning, July the seventeenth, and long before that hour the ancient cathedral was filled to overflowing with nobles and men-at-arms, and dignitaries both civic and ecclesiastic, richly and gayly attired in gorgeous stuffs: cloth of gold, cloth of silver, brocades of crimson and azure, and silks dyed in all the colors of the rainbow, mingled with sheen of glittering spears and shining armour: a brilliant gathering. Charles the Dauphin waited at the foot of the high altar, garbed in a robe of cerulean blue over which was scattered the golden fleur-de-lis. Outside the cathedral the streets were thronged with people in holiday attire, wearing leaden medals which bore an effigy of Jeanne. After the coronation the King too had thirteen gold medals struck in honour of the Maid, which bore her device, a hand holding a sword, and the inscription, Consilio firmata Dei. (Strong in the Counsel of God.) These and a vase of silver were among the gifts which he bestowed on the Chapter of Reims.

Suddenly there was a blare of trumpets, and from the palace of the Archbishop there issued a wonderful procession. Four peers of France,––the Maréchal de Boussac, Gravile, de Rais, Admiral de Culent,––armed and accoutred, and a great company with banners floating rode through the streets to the old Abbey of St. Remi––which had been consecrated in the eleventh century––to bring from its shrine, where it was strictly guarded by the monks, the Sainte Ampoule, the holy and sacred vial which held the oil sent from Heaven for the sacring of Clovis. The noble messengers were the hostages of this sacred charge, and kneeling they bound themselves by an oath never to lose sight of it by day or night, till it was restored to its appointed guardians.

This vow having been taken, the Abbot of St. Remi, in his richest robes, appeared surrounded by his monks, carrying the treasure in his hands; and under a splendid canopy, blazing in the sunshine with cloth of gold, marched toward the cathedral under escort of the noble hostages. Into the cathedral rode the cavalcade through the great west door. Their coming was proclaimed by chimes of bells, and blare of trumpets, and chanting of hymns until a mighty volume of sound rolled and swelled through the vaulted domes of the ancient building. Straight up to the entrance of the choir they rode, and there the Abbot gave over the sacred Chrism to the Archbishop. Then began the long and imposing ceremonies of the coronation. There were prayers, and anthems, and sermons, but at length the king-at-arms, standing upon the steps of the altar, called upon the twelve peers of France to come and serve their King.

There were vacant places to be supplied, both among the temporal and the spiritual peers, but Alençon, Clermont, Vendôme, Guy de Laval, La Trémouille and Maillé filled them. Among the clerical peers the Archbishop of Reims, the Bishops of Châlons and Laon were present; the others were supplied. In the absence of Richemont, the Constable of France, d’Albret held the Sword of State. D’Alençon, in place of “false Burgundy,” dubbed Charles a knight; then the Archbishop raised the holy flask and anointed the Dauphin upon the brow, upon his shoulders, within the joints of his arms and the palms of his hands, slits being cut and embroidered in his robe to this use. All was done according to ancient custom, the Dauphin kneeling the while. Administering the oath the Archbishop then took the crown and held it high above the monarch’s head; the twelve peers of the realm, closing in, held it firm; then gently it was lowered upon the brows of the kneeling prince.

“Arise, Charles, King of France,” cried the prelate in a loud voice. And, as Charles was lifted high in the throne chair by the peers that all might see, he cried again: “Behold your King!”

As Charles the Seventh, King of France, faced his people a mighty shout of “Noël! Noël! Noël!” came from the assembly, while crash of chimes, chanting voices, and music of instruments rolled through the arches, until the vaulted heights answered again and again.

Throughout the ceremony, close to Charles upon the steps of the altar stood Jeanne with her standard in her hand. “It had borne the burden, it should share the glory,” she said afterwards. “And a right fair thing it was to see the goodly manners of the King and the Maid. She who was in truth the cause of the crowning of the King and of all the assembly.”[16]

Pale with emotion Jeanne had stood watching every step of the ceremonial with intentness. When at last it was ended she could control herself no longer. Stepping forward she fell at the feet of the newly crowned monarch, embracing his knees, and weeping for joy.

“Gentle King, now is the pleasure of God fulfilled––whose will it was that I should raise the siege of Orléans, and lead you to this city of Reims to receive your consecration. Now has He shown that you are the true King, and that the kingdom of France belongs to you alone.”

Soft, and low, and broken came the words. They pierced all hearts, and “right great pity came upon all those who saw her, and many wept.”[17]

Many wept. The girl was so young, so fair, so slight, yet what great deeds had she not wrought? In three months she had given France a king, and to the King, a country. In spite of obstacles that would seem incredible were they not a part of recorded history she had accomplished her mission. A great soul in which intense zeal was wedded to intense purpose had wrought marvels, and changed the destiny of a nation.

Many wept, and the King too was moved. Perhaps at that moment he felt more gratitude towards the maiden than ever before or afterward. Lifting her, he said:

“You have brought us to our crowning, beloved Maid. Speak, and whatsoever grace you ask it shall be granted.”

Again Jeanne fell upon her knees.

“Most noble King, out of your grace I beseech you to grant that the taxes of my village be remitted. Its people are poor, and it brings great hardship upon them to pay.”

“Is that all, Jeanne?”

“Yes, Sire.”

“Then in consideration of the great, high, notable, and profitable service which this, our beloved Jeanne the Maid, has rendered and daily renders us in the recovery of our Kingdom, in her favour and at her request, we therefore decree that Domremy, the native village of Jeanne D’Arc, Deliverer of France, be forever exempt from taxation.”

Again the people shouted fervently. They recognized the justice of the grant, and wondered only that she asked so little.

“Noël! Noël! Noël!”[18]

For centuries the privilege lasted, and against the names of Domremy and Greux, its adjoining village, in the tax gatherer’s book was written:

“Domremy ..Rien-La Pucelle,” “Nothing––For the sake of the Maid.”

She had gained a kingdom, yet all she asked in return was that the taxes of her poor oppressed village might be remitted. She wished for nothing for herself. Not the least of the girl’s great qualities was her unselfishness.


[13] Dunois.
[14] Noël ––an exclamation of joyful acclamation.
[15] M. Blaze de Bury.
[16] Journal du Siège.
[17] Journal du Siège.
[18] “Noël ”––a word of acclaim––“hurrah!”

RETURN TO TABLE OF CONTENTS                          CONTINUE to CHAPTER 23 Warrior Maid

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