'In God's name,' said the Maid, 'the men-at-arms will fight, and God will give the victory.' Then came the learned Seguin; 'a right sour man was he,' said those who knew him.
Seguin was a Limousin, and the Limousins spoke in a queer accent at which the other French were always laughing.
'In what language do your Voices speak?' asked he.
'In a better language than yours,' said Joan, and the bishops smiled at the country quip.
'We may not believe in you,' said Seguin, 'unless you show us a sign.'
'I did not come to Poictiers to work miracles,' said Joan; 'take me to Orleans, and I shall show you the signs that I am sent to do.' And show them she did.
Joan never pretended to work miracles. Though, in that age, people easily believed in miracles, it is curious that none worth mentioning were invented about Joan in her own time. She knew things in some strange way sometimes, but the real miracle was her extraordinary wisdom, genius, courage, and power of enduring hardship.
At last, after examining witnesses from Domremy, and the Queen of Sicily and other great ladies to whom Joan was entrusted, the clergy found nothing in her but 'goodness, humility, frank maidenhood, piety, honesty, and simplicity.' As for her wearing a man's dress, the Archbishop of Embrun said to the king, 'It is more becoming to do these things in man's gear, since they have to be done amongst men.'
The king therefore made up his mind at last. Jean and Pierre, Joan's brothers, were to ride with her to Orleans; her old friends, her first friends, Jean de Nouillompont and Bertrand de Poulengy, had never left her. She was given a squire, Jean d'Aulon, a very good man, and a page, Louis de Coutes, and a chaplain. The king gave Joan armour and horses, and offered her a sword. But her Voices told her that, behind the altar of St. Catherine de Fierbois, where she heard mass on her way to Chinon, there was an old sword, with five crosses on the blade, buried in the earth. That sword she was to wear. A man whom Joan did not know, and had never seen, was sent from Tours, and found the sword in the place which she described. The sword was cleaned of rust, and the king gave her two sheaths, one of velvet, one of cloth of gold, but Joan had a leather sheath made for use in war. She also commanded a banner to be made, with the Lilies of France on a white field. There was also a picture of God, holding the round world, and two angels at the sides, with the sacred words, JHESU MARIA. On another flag was the Annunciation, the Virgin holding a lily, and the angel coming to her. In battle, when she led a charge, Joan always carried her standard, that she might not be able to use her sword. She wished to kill nobody, and said 'she loved her banner forty times more than her sword.' Joan afterwards broke St. Catherine's sword, when slapping a girl (who richly deserved to be slapped) with the flat of the blade. Her enemies, at her trial, wished to prove that her flag was a kind of magical talisman, but Joan had no belief in anything of that kind. What she believed in was God, her Voices, and her just cause. When once it was settled that she was to lead an army to relieve Orleans, she showed her faith by writing a letter addressed to the King of England; Bedford, the Regent; and the English generals at Orleans. This letter was sent from Blois, late in April. It began JHESU MARIA. Joan had no ill-will against the English. She bade them leave France, 'and if you are reasonable, you yet may ride in the Maid's company, where the French will do the fairest feat of arms that ever yet was done for Christentie.' Probably she had in her mind some Crusade. But, before France and England can march together, 'do ye justice to the King of Heaven and the Blood Royal of France. Yield to the Maid the keys of all the good towns which ye have taken and assailed in France.' If they did not yield to the Maid and the king, she will come on them to their sorrow. 'Duke of Bedford, the Maid prays and entreats you not to work your own destruction!'
We may imagine how the English laughed and swore when they received this letter. They threw the heralds of the Maid into prison, and threatened to burn them as heretics. From the very first, the English promised to burn Joan as a witch and a heretic. This fate was always before her eyes. But she went where her Voices called her.
HOW JOAN THE MAID RODE TO RELIEVE ORLEANS
At last the men-at-arms who were to accompany Joan were ready. She rode at their head, as Andre de Laval and Guy de Laval saw her, and described her in a letter to their mother. She was armed in white armour, but unhelmeted, a little axe in her hand, riding a great black charger, that reared at the door of her lodging and would not let her mount.
'"Lead him to the Cross!" cried she, for a Cross stood on the roadside, by the church. There he stood as if he had been stone, and she mounted. Then she turned to the church, and said, in her girlish voice, "You priests and churchmen, make prayers and processions to God." Then she cried, "Forwards, Forwards!" and on she rode, a pretty page carrying her banner, and with her little axe in her hand.' And so Joan went to war. She led, she says, ten or twelve thousand soldiers. Among the other generals were Xaintrailles and La Hire. Joan made her soldiers confess themselves; as for La Hire, a brave rough soldier, she forbade him to swear, as he used to do, but, for his weakness, she permitted him to say, By my baton! This army was to defend a great convoy of provisions, of which the people of Orleans stood in sore need. Since November they had been besieged, and now it was late April. The people in Orleans were not yet starving, but food came in slowly, and in small quantities. From the first the citizens had behaved well; a Scottish priest describes their noble conduct. They had burned all the outlying suburbs, beyond the wall, that they might not give shelter to the English. They had plenty of cannon, which carried large rough stone balls, and usually did little harm. But a gun was fired, it is said by a small boy, which killed Salisbury, the English general, as he looked out of an arrow-slit in a fort that the English had taken.
The French general-in-chief was the famous Dunois, then called the Bastard of Orleans. On the English side was the brave Talbot, who fought under arms for sixty years, and died fighting when he was over eighty. There were also Suffolk, Pole, and Glasdale, whom the French called 'Classidas.' The English had not soldiers enough to surround and take so large a town, of 30,000 people, in ordinary war. But as Dunois said, 'two hundred English could then beat a thousand French'—that is, as the French were before the coming of the Maid.
The position of Orleans was this; it may be most easily understood from the map.
Looking down the river Loire, Orleans lies on your right hand. It had strong walls in an irregular square; it had towers on the wall, and a bridge of many arches crossing to the left side of the river. At the further end of this bridge were a fort and rampart called Les Tourelles, and this fort had already been taken by the English, so that no French army could cross the bridge to help Orleans. Indeed, the bridge was broken. The rampart and the fort of Les Tourelles were guarded by another strong work, called Les Augustins. All round the outside of the town, on the right bank, the English had built strong redoubts, which they called bastilles. 'Paris' was the bastille which blocked the road from Paris, 'London' and 'Rouen' were bastilles on the western side, but on the east, above the town, and on the Orleans bank of the Loire, the English had only one bastille, St. Loup. Now, as Joan's army mustered at Blois, south of Orleans, further down the river, she might march on the left side of the river, cross it by boats above Orleans, and enter the town where the English were weakest and had only one fort, St. Loup. Or she might march up the right bank, and attack the English where they were strongest, and had many bastilles. The Voices bade the Maid act on the boldest plan, and enter Orleans where the English were strongest, on the right bank of the river. The English would not move, said the Voices. She was certain that they would not even sally out against her. But Dunois in Orleans, and the generals with the Maid, thought this plan very perilous, as, indeed, it was. They therefore deceived her, caused her to think that Orleans was on the left bank of the Loire, and led her thither. When she arrived, she saw that they had not played her fair, that the river lay between her and the town, and the strongest force of the enemy.
The most astonishing thing about Joan is that, though she had never yet seen a sword-stroke dealt in anger, she understood the great operations of war better than seasoned generals. It was not only that she, like old Bluecher, always cried Forwards! Audacity, to fight on every chance, carries men far in battle. Prince Charlie, who was no great general, saw that, and while his flag went forward he never lost a fight. But Joan 'was most expert in war,' said the Duc d'Alencon, 'both with the lance and in massing an army, and arraying battle, and in the management of artillery. For all men marvelled how far-sighted and prudent she was in war, as if she had been a captain of thirty years' standing, and, above all, in the service of the artillery, for in that she was right well skilled.'
This girl of seventeen saw that, if a large convoy of provisions was to be thrown into a besieged town, the worst way was to try to ferry the supplies across a river under the enemy's fire. But Dunois and the other generals had brought her to this pass, and the Maid was sore ill-pleased. Now we shall see what happened, as it is reported in the very words of Dunois, the French general in Orleans. Joan had been brought, as we said, to the wrong bank of the Loire; it ran between her and the town where she would be. The wind was blowing in her teeth; boats could not cross with the troops and provisions. There she sat her horse and chafed till Dunois came out and crossed the Loire to meet her. This is what he says about Joan and her conduct.
HOW JOAN THE MAID ENTERED ORLEANS
They were on the wrong side of the Loire, opposite St. Loup, where the English held a strong fort. 'I did not think, and the other generals did not think,' says Dunois, 'that the men-at-arms with the Maid were a strong enough force to bring the provisions into the town. Above all, it was difficult to get boats and ferry over the supplies, for both wind and stream were dead against us. Then Joan spoke to me thus:
'"Are you the Bastard of Orleans?"
'"That am I, and glad of your coming."
'"Is it you who gave counsel that I should come hither by that bank of the stream, and not go straight where Talbot and the English are?"
'"I myself, and others wiser than I, gave that advice, and we think it the better way and the surer."
'"In God's name, the counsel of our God is wiser and surer than yours. You thought to deceive me, and you have deceived yourselves, for I bring you a better rescue than ever shall come to soldier or city—that is, the help of the King of Heaven. . . ."
'Then instantly, and as it were in one moment, the wind changed that had been dead against us, and had hindered the boats from carrying the provisions into Orleans, and the sails filled.'
Dunois now wished Joan to cross by boat and enter the town, but her army could not cross, and she was loth to leave them, lest they fell into sin, for she had made them all confess at Blois. However, the army returned to Blois, to cross by the bridge there, and come upon the Orleans bank, as Joan had intended from the first. Then Joan crossed in the boat, holding in her hand the lily standard. So she and La Hire and Dunois rode into Orleans, where the people crowded round her, blessing her, and trying to kiss her hand. Night had fallen, there were torches flaring in the wind, and, as the people thronged about her, a torch set fire to the fringe of her banner. 'Then spurred she her horse, and turned him gracefully and put out the flame, as if she had long followed the wars, which the men-at-arms beheld with wonder, and the folk of Orleans.' So they led her with great joy to the Regnart Gate, and the house of Jacques Boucher, treasurer of the Duke of Orleans, and there was she gladly received, with her two brothers and her gentlemen, her old friends, Nouillompont and Poulengy.
Next day, without leave from Joan, La Hire led a sally against the English, fought bravely, but failed, and Joan wished once more to bid the English go in peace. The English, of course, did not obey her summons, and it is said that they answered with wicked words which made her weep. For she wept readily, and blushed when she was moved. In her anger she went to a rampart, and, crying aloud, bade the English begone; but they repeated their insults, and threatened yet again to burn her. Next day (May 1), Dunois went off to bring the troops from Blois, and Joan rode round and inspected the English position. They made no attempt to take her. A superstitious fear of her 'witchcraft' had already fallen on them; they had lost heart and soon lost all. On May 4 the army returned from Blois. Joan rode out to meet them, priests marched in procession, singing hymns, but the English never stirred. They were expecting fresh troops under Fastolf. 'If you do not let me know when Fastolf comes,' cried the Maid merrily to Dunois, 'I will have your head cut off.' But for some reason, probably because they did not wish her to run risk, they did not tell Joan when the next fight began. She had just lain down to sleep when she leaped up with a noise, wakening her squire. 'My Voices tell me,' she said, 'that I must go against the English, but whether to their forts or against Fastolf I know not.'
There was a cry in the street; Joan armed herself; her page came in.
'Wretched boy!' she said. 'French blood is flowing, and you never told me!'
In a moment she was in the street, the page handed to her the lily flag from the upper window. Followed by her squire, d'Aulon, she galloped to the Burgundy Gate. They met wounded men. 'Never do I see French blood but my hair stands up on my head,' said Joan. She rode out of the gate to the English fort of St. Loup, which the Orleans men were attacking. Joan leaped into the fosse, under fire, holding her banner, and cheering on her men. St. Loup was taken by the French, in spite of a gallant defence, and Joan wept for the dead English, fearing that they had died unconfessed. Next day was Ascension Day. Joan, thinking 'the better the day the better the deed,' was for fighting. There was no battle, but she again summoned the English to withdraw, and again was insulted, and wept.
The French generals now conceived a plan to make a feint, or a sham attack, on the English forts where they were strongest, on the Orleans side of the river. The English on the left side would cross to help their countrymen, and then the French would take the forts beyond the bridge. Thus they would have a free path across the river, and would easily get supplies, and weary out the English. They only told Joan of the first part of their plan, but she saw that they were deceiving her. When the plan was explained she agreed to it, her one wish was to strike swiftly and strongly. However, they did not carry out the plan, they only assailed the forts on the left bank.
The French attacked the English fort of Les Augustins, beyond the river, but suddenly they fled to their bridge of boats; while the English sallied out, yelling their insults at Joan. She turned, she gathered a few men, and charged. The English ran before her like sheep; she planted her banner again in the ditch. The French hurried back to her, a great Englishman, who guarded the breach, was shot; two French knights leaped in, the others followed, and the English took refuge in the redoubt of Les Tourelles, their strong fort at the bridge-head.
The Maid returned to Orleans, and, though it was a Friday, and she always fasted on Fridays, she was so weary that she ate some supper. A bit of bread, her page reports, was all that she usually ate. Now the generals sent to Joan and said that enough had been done. They had food, and could wait for another army from the king. 'You have been with your council,' she said, 'I have been with mine. The wisdom of God is greater than yours. Rise early to-morrow, do better than your best, keep close by me; for to-morrow have I much to do, and more than ever yet I did, and to-morrow shall my blood flow from a wound above my breast.'
Joan had always said at Chinon that she would be wounded at Orleans. From a letter by a Flemish ambassador, written three weeks before the event happened, we know that this is true.
Next morning Joan's host had got a fine fish for breakfast. 'Keep it till evening, and I will bring you a God-damn' (an Englishman) 'to eat his share,' said the Maid, 'and I will return by the bridge;' which was broken.
The generals did not wish to attack the bridge-tower, but Joan paid them no attention. They were glad enough to follow, lest she took the fort without them.
About half-past six in the morning the fight began. The French and Scottish leaped into the fosse, they set ladders against the walls, they reached the battlements, and were struck down by English swords and axes. Cannon-balls and great stones and arrows rained on them. 'Fight on!' cried the Maid; 'the place is ours.' At one o'clock she set a ladder against the wall with her own hands, but was deeply wounded by an arrow, which pierced clean through between neck and shoulder. Joan wept, but seizing the arrow with her own hands she dragged it out. The men-at-arms wished to say magic spells over the wound to 'charm' it, but this the Maid forbade as witchcraft. 'Yet,' says Dunois, 'she did not withdraw from the battle, nor took any medicine for the wound; and the onslaught lasted from morning till eight at night, so that there was no hope of victory. Then I desired that the army should go back to the town, but the Maid came to me and bade me wait a little longer. Next she mounted her horse and rode into a vineyard, and there prayed for the space of seven minutes or eight. Then she returned, took her banner, and stood on the brink of the fosse. The English trembled when they saw her, but our men returned to the charge and met with no resistance. The English fled or were slain, and Glasdale, who had insulted the Maid, was drowned' (by the burning of the drawbridge between the redoubt and Les Tourelles. The Maid in vain besought him, with tears, to surrender and be ransomed), 'and we returned gladly into Orleans.' The people of Orleans had a great share in this victory. Seeing the English hard pressed, they laid long beams across the broken arches of the bridge, and charged by this perilous way. The triumph was even more that of the citizens than of the army. Homer tells us how Achilles, alone and unarmed, stood by the fosse and shouted, and how all the Trojans fled. But here was a greater marvel; and the sight of the wounded girl, bowed beneath the weight of her banner, frighted stouter hearts than those of the men of Troy.
Joan returned, as she had prophesied, by the bridge, but she did not make her supper off the fish: she took a little bread dipped in wine and water, her wound was dressed, and she slept. Next day the English drew up their men in line of battle. The French went out to meet them, and would have begun the attack. Joan said that God would not have them fight.
'If the English attack, we shall defeat them; we are to let them go in peace if they will.'
Mass was then said before the French army.
When the rite was done, Joan asked: 'Do they face us, or have they turned their backs?'
It was the English backs that the French saw that day: Talbot's men were in full retreat on Meun.
From that hour May 8 is kept a holiday at Orleans in honour of Joan the Maiden. Never was there such a deliverance. In a week the Maid had driven a strong army, full of courage and well led, out of forts like Les Tourelles. The Duc d'Alencon visited it, and said that with a few men-at-arms he would have felt certain of holding it for a week against any strength however great. But Joan not only gave the French her spirit: her extraordinary courage in leading a new charge after so terrible a wound, 'six inches deep,' says d'Alencon, made the English think that they were fighting a force not of this world. And that is exactly what they were doing.
HOW JOAN THE MAID TOOK JARGEAU FROM THE ENGLISH
The Maid had shown her sign, as she promised; she had rescued Orleans. Her next desire was to lead Charles to Reims, through a country occupied by the English, and to have him anointed there with the holy oil. Till this was done she could only regard him as Dauphin—king, indeed, by blood, but not by consecration.
After all that Joan had accomplished, the king and his advisers might have believed in her. She went to the castle of Loches, where Charles was: he received her kindly, but still he did not seem eager to go to Reims. It was a dangerous adventure, for which he and his favourites like La Tremouille had no taste. It seems that more learned men were asked to give their opinion. Was it safe and wise to obey the Maid? On May 14, only six days after the relief of Orleans, the famous Gerson wrote down his ideas. He believed in the Maid. The king had already trusted her without fear of being laughed at; she and the generals did not rely on the saints alone, but on courage, prudence, and skill. Even if, by ill fortune, she were to fail on a later day, the fault would not be hers, but would be God's punishment of French ingratitude. 'Let us not harm, by our unbelief or injustice, the help which God has given us so wonderfully.' Unhappily the French, or at least the Court, were unbelieving, ungrateful, unjust to Joan, and so she came to die, leaving her work half done. The Archbishop of Embrun said that Joan should always be consulted in great matters, as her wisdom was of God. And as long as the French took this advice they did well; when they distrusted and neglected the Maid they failed, and were defeated and dishonoured. Councils were now held at Tours, and time was wasted as usual. As usual, Joan was impatient. With Dunois, who tells the story, she went to see Charles at the castle of Loches. Some nobles and clergy were with him; Joan entered, knelt, and embraced his knees.
'Noble Dauphin,' she said, 'do not hold so many councils, and such weary ones, but come to Reims and receive the crown.'
Harcourt asked her if her Voices, or 'counsel' (as she called it) gave this advice.
She blushed and said: 'I know what you mean, and will tell you gladly.'
The king asked her if she wished to speak before so many people.
Yes, she would speak. When they doubted her she prayed, 'and then she heard a Voice saying to her:
'"Fille De, va, va, va, je serai a ton aide, va!"'
'And when she heard this Voice she was right glad, and wished that she could always be as she was then; and as she spoke,' says Dunois, 'she rejoiced strangely, lifting her eyes to heaven.' And still she repeated: 'I will last for only one year, or little more; use me while you may.'
Joan stirred the politicians at last. They would go to Reims, but could they leave behind them English garrisons in Jargeau, where Suffolk commanded, in Meun, where Talbot was, and in other strong places? Already, without Joan, the French had attacked Jargeau, after the rescue of Orleans, and had failed. Joan agreed to assail Jargeau. Her army was led by the 'fair duke,' d'Alencon. He had but lately come from prison in England, and his young wife was afraid to let him go to war. 'Madame,' said Joan, 'I will bring him back safe, and even better than he is now.' We shall see how she saved his life. It was now that Guy and Andre de Laval saw her, and wrote the description of her black horse and white armour. They followed with her gladly, believing that with her glory was to be won.
Let us tell what followed in the words of the Duc d'Alencon.
'We were about six hundred lances, who wished to go against the town of Jargeau, then held by the English. That night we slept in a wood, and next day came Dunois and Florence d'Illiers and some other captains. When we were all met we were about twelve hundred lances; and now arose a dispute among the captains, some thinking that we should attack the city, others not so, for they said that the English were very strong, and had many men. Seeing this difference, Jeanne bade us have no fear of any numbers, nor doubt about attacking the English, because God was guiding us. She herself would rather be herding sheep than fighting, if she were not certain that God was with us. Thereon we rode to Jargeau, meaning to occupy the outlying houses, and there pass the night; but the English knew of our approach, and drove in our skirmishers. Seeing this, Jeanne took her banner and went to the front, bidding our men be in good heart. And they did so much that they held the suburbs of Jargeau that night. . . . Next morning we got ready our artillery, and brought guns up against the town. After some days a council was held, and I, with others, was ill content with La Hire, who was said to have parleyed with Lord Suffolk. La Hire was sent for, and came. Then it was decided to storm the town, and the heralds cried, "To the attack!" and Jeanne said to me, "Forward, gentle duke." I thought it was too early, but she said, "Doubt not; the hour is come when God pleases. Ah, gentle duke, are you afraid? Know you not that I promised your wife to bring you back safe and sound?" as indeed she had said. As the onslaught was given, Jeanne bade me leave the place where I stood, "or yonder gun," pointing to one on the walls, "will slay you." Then I withdrew, and a little later de Lude was slain in that very place. And I feared greatly, considering the prophecy of the Maid. Then we both went together to the onslaught; and Suffolk cried for a parley, but no man marked him, and we pressed on. Jeanne was climbing a ladder, banner in hand, when her flag was struck by a stone, and she also was struck on her head, but her light helmet saved her. She leaped up again, crying, "Friends, friends, on, on! Our Lord has condemned the English. They are ours; be of good heart." In that moment Jargeau was taken, and the English fled to the bridges, we following, and more than eleven hundred of them were slain.'
One Englishman at least died well. He stood up on the battlements, and dashed down the ladders till he was shot by a famous marksman of Lorraine.
Suffolk and his brother were taken prisoners. According to one account, written at the time, Suffolk surrendered to the Maid, as 'the most valiant woman in the world.' And thus the Maid stormed Jargeau.
HOW THE MAID DEFEATED THE ENGLISH AT PATHAY, AND OF THE STRANGE GUIDE
The French slew some of their prisoners at Jargeau. Once Joan saw a man-at-arms strike down a prisoner. She leaped from her horse, and laid the wounded Englishman's head on her breast, consoling him, and bade a priest come and hear his confession. Cruel and cowardly deeds are done in all wars, but when was there ever such a general as the Maid, to comfort the dying?
From Jargeau the Maid rode back to Orleans, where the people could not look on her enough, and made great festival. Many men came in to fight under her flag, among them Richemont, who had been on bad terms with Charles, the uncrowned king. Then Joan took the bridge-fort at Meun, which the English held; next she drove the English at Beaugency into the citadel, and out of the town.
As to what happened next, we have the story of Wavrin, who was fighting on the English side under Fastolf. The garrison of the English in Beaugency, he says, did not know whether to hold out or to yield. Talbot reported all this to Bedford, at Paris, and large forces were sent to relieve Beaugency. Wavrin rode with his captain, Fastolf, to Senville, where Talbot joined them, and a council was held. Fastolf said that the English had lost heart, and that Beaugency should be left to its fate, while the rest held out in strong places and waited for reinforcements. But Talbot cried that, if he had only his own people, he would fight the French, with the help of God and St. George. Next morning Fastolf repeated what he had said, and declared that they would lose all King Henry had won, But Talbot was for fighting. So they marched to a place between Meun and Beaugency, and drew up in order of battle. The French saw them, and occupied a strong position on a little hill. The English then got ready, and invited the French to come down and fight on the plain. But Joan was not so chivalrous as James IV. at Flodden.
'Go you to bed to-night, for it is late; to-morrow, so please God and Our Lady, we will see you at close quarters.'
The English then rode to Meun, and cannonaded the bridge-fort, which was held by the French. They hoped to take the bridge, cross it, march to Beaugency, and relieve the besieged there. But that very night Beaugency surrendered to the Maid! She then bade her army march on the English, who were retreating to Paris as soon as they heard how Beaugency had yielded. But how was the Maid to find the English? 'Ride forward,' she cried, 'and you shall have a sure guide.' They had a guide, and a strange one.
The English were marching towards Paris, near Pathay, when their eclaireurs (who beat the country on all sides) came in with the news that the French were following. But the French knew not where the English were, because the deserted and desolate country was overgrown with wood.
Talbot decided to do what the English did at Crecy, where they won so glorious a victory. He lined the hedges in a narrow way with five hundred archers of his best, and he sent a galloper to bring thither the rest of his army. On came the French, not seeing the English in ambush. In a few minutes they would have been shot down, and choked the pass with dying men and horses. But now was the moment for the strange guide.
A stag was driven from cover by the French, and ran blindly among the ambushed English bowmen. Not knowing that the French were so near, and being archers from Robin Hood's country, who loved a deer, they raised a shout, and probably many an arrow flew at the stag. The French eclaireurs heard the cry, they saw the English, and hurried back with the news.
'Forward!' cried the Maid; 'if they were hung to the clouds we have them. To-day the gentle king will gain such a victory as never yet did he win.'
The French dashed into the pass before Talbot had secured it. Fastolf galloped up, but the English thought that he was in flight; the captain of the advanced guard turned his horse about and made off. Talbot was taken, Fastolf fled, 'making more sorrow than ever yet did man.' The French won a great victory. They needed their spurs, as the Maid had told them that they would, to follow their flying foes. The English lost some 3,000 men. In the evening Talbot, as a prisoner, was presented to the Duc d'Alencon.
'You did not expect this in the morning?' said the duke.
'Fortune of war!' said Talbot.
So ended the day of Pathay, and the adventure of the Strange Guide.
HOW THE MAID HAD THE KING CROWNED AT REIMS
Here are the exploits which the Maid and the loyal French did in one week. She took Jargeau on June 11; on June 15 she seized the bridge of Meun; Beaugency yielded to her on June 17; on June 18 she defeated the English army at Pathay. Now sieges were long affairs in those days, as they are even to-day, when cannon are so much more powerful than they were in Joan's time. Her success seemed a miracle to the world.
This miracle, like all miracles, was wrought by faith. Joan believed in herself, in her country, and in God. It was not by visions and by knowing things strangely that she conquered, but by courage, by strength (on one occasion she never put off her armour for six days and six nights), and by inspiring the French with the sight of her valour. Without her visions, indeed, she would never have gone to war. She often said so. But, being at war, her word was 'Help yourselves, and God will help you.' Who could be lazy or a coward when a girl set such an example?
The King of France and his favourites could be indolent and cowards. Had Charles VII. been such a man as Charles Stuart was in 1745, his foot would have been in the stirrup, and his lance in rest. In three months the English would have been driven into the sea. But the king loitered about the castles of the Loire with his favourite, La Tremouille, and his adviser, the Archbishop of Reims. They wasted the one year of Joan. There were jealousies against the Constable de Richemont of Brittany who had come with all his lances to follow the lily flag. If once Charles were king indeed and the English driven out, La Tremouille would cease to be powerful. This dastard sacrificed the Maid in the end, as he was ready to sacrifice France to his own private advantage.
At last, with difficulty, Charles was brought to visit Reims, and consent to be crowned like his ancestors. Seeing that he was never likely to move, Joan left the town where he was and went off into the country. This retreat brought Charles to his senses. The towns which he passed by yielded to him; Joan went and summoned each. 'Now she was with the king in the centre, now with the rearguard, now with the van.' The town of Troyes, where there was an English garrison, did not wish to yield. There was a council in the king's army: they said they could not take the place.
'In two days it shall be yours, by force or by good will,' said the Maid.
'Six days will do,' said the chancellor, 'if you are sure you speak truth.'
Joan made ready for an attack. She was calling 'Forward!' when the town surrendered. Reims, after some doubts, yielded also, on July 16, and all the people, with shouts of 'Noel!' welcomed the king. On July 17 the king was crowned and anointed with the Holy Oil by that very Archbishop of Reims who always opposed Joan. The Twelve Peers of France were not all present—some were on the English side—but Joan stood by Charles, her banner in her hand. 'It bore the brunt, and deserved to share the renown,' she said later to her accusers.
When the ceremony was ended, and the Dauphin Charles was a crowned and anointed king, the Maid knelt weeping at his feet.
'Gentle king,' she said, 'now is accomplished the will of God, who desired that you should come to Reims to be consecrated, and to prove that you are the true king and the kingdom is yours.'
Then all the knights wept for joy.
The king bade Joan choose her reward. Already horses, rich armour, jewelled daggers, had been given to her. These, adding to the beauty and glory of her aspect, had made men follow her more gladly, and for that she valued them. She, too, made gifts to noble ladies, and gave much to the poor. She only wanted money to wage the war with, not for herself. Her family was made noble; on their shield, between two lilies, a sword upholds the crown. Her father was at Reims, and saw her in her glory. What reward, then, was Joan to choose? She chose nothing for herself, but that her native village of Domremy should be free from taxes. This news her father carried home from the splendid scene at Reims.
Would that we could leave the Maiden here, with Orleans saved, and her king crowned! Would that she, who wept when her saints left her in her visions, and who longed to follow them, could have been carried by them to their Paradise!
But Joan had another task; she was to be foiled by the cowardice of her king; she was to be captured, possibly by treachery; she was to be tried with the most cruel injustice; she was to die by fire; and was to set, through months of agony, such an example of wisdom, courage, and loyal honour as never was shown by man.
Did Joan look forward to her end, did she know that her days were numbered? On the journey to Reims she met some Domremy people at Chalons, and told them that she 'feared nothing but treachery.' Perhaps she already suspected the political enemies, the Archbishop of Reims and La Tremouille, who were to spoil her mission.
As they went from Reims after the coronation, Dunois and the archbishop were riding by her rein. The people cheered and cried Noel.
'They are a good people,' said Joan. 'Never saw I any more joyous at the coming of their king. Ah, would that I might be so happy when I end my days as to be buried here!'
Said the archbishop:
'Oh, Jeanne, in what place do you hope to die?'
Then she said:
'Where it pleases God; for I know not that hour, nor that place, more than ye do. But would to God, my maker, that now I might depart, and lay down my arms, and help my father and mother, and keep their sheep with my brothers and my sister, who would rejoice to see me!'
Some writers have reported Joan's words as if she meant that she wished the king to let her go home and leave the wars. In their opinion Joan was only acting under heavenly direction till the consecration of Charles. Afterwards, like Hal of the Wynd, she was 'fighting for her own hand,' they think, and therefore she did not succeed. But from the first Joan threatened to drive the English quite out of France, and she also hoped to bring the Duc d'Orleans home from captivity in England. If her Voices had told her not to go on after the coronation, she would probably have said so at her trial, when she mentioned one or two acts of disobedience to her Voices. Again, had she been anxious to go home, Charles VII. and his advisers would have been only too glad to let her go. They did not wish her to lead them into dangerous places, and they hated obeying her commands.
Some French authors have, very naturally, wished to believe that the Maid could make no error, and could not fail; they therefore draw a line between what she did up to the day of Reims, and what she did afterwards. They hold that she was divinely led till the coronation, and not later. But it is difficult to agree with them here. As we saw, Gerson told the French that by injustice and ingratitude they might hinder the success of the Maid. His advice was a prophecy.
HOW THE MAID RODE TO PARIS
WHAT was to be done after the crowning of the king? Bedford, the regent for the child Henry VI., expected to see Joan under the walls of Paris. He was waiting for the troops which the Cardinal of Winchester had collected in England as a crusading army against the Hussite heretics, a kind of Protestants who were giving trouble. Bedford induced Winchester to bring his men to France, but they had not arrived. The Duke of Burgundy, the head of the great French party which opposed Charles, had been invited by the Maid to Reims. Again she wrote to him: 'Make a firm, good peace with the King of France,' she said; 'forgive each other with kind hearts'—for the Duke's father had been murdered by the friends of Charles. 'I pray and implore you, with joined hands, fight not against France. Great pity it would be of the great battle and bloodshed if your men come against us.'
The Duke of Burgundy, far from listening to Joan's prayer, left Paris and went to raise men for the English. Meanwhile Charles was going from town to town, and all received him gladly. But Joan soon began to see that, instead of marching west from Reims to Paris, the army was being led south-west towards the Loire. There the king would be safe among his dear castles, where he could live indoors, 'in wretched little rooms,' and take his ease. Thus Bedford was able to throw 5,000 men of Winchester's into Paris, and even dared to come out and hunt for the French king. The French should have struck at Paris at once as Joan desired. The delays were excused, because the Duke of Burgundy had promised to surrender Paris in a fortnight. But this he did merely to gain time. Joan knew this, and said there would be no peace but at the lance-point.
Here we get the best account of what happened from Perceval de Cagny, a knight in the household of the Duc d'Alencon. He wrote his book in 1436, only five years after Joan was burned, and he spoke of what he knew well, as a follower of Joan's friend, 'the fair duke.' The French and English armies kept watching each other, and there were skirmishes near Senlis. On August 15 the Maid and d'Alencon hoped for a battle. But the English had fortified their position in the night with ditches, palisades, and a 'laager' of wagons. Come out they would not, so Joan rode up to their fortification, standard in hand, struck the palisade, and challenged them to sally forth. She even offered to let them march out and draw themselves up in line of battle. La Tremouille thought this a fine opportunity of distinguishing himself. He rode into the skirmish, his horse fell with him, but, by evil luck, he was rescued. We do not hear that La Tremouille risked himself again. The Maid stayed on the field all night, and next day made a retreat, hoping to draw the English out of their fort. But they were too wary, and went back to Paris.
More towns came in to Charles. Beauvais yielded, and the Bishop of Beauvais, Pierre Cauchon, had to fly to the English. He revenged himself by managing Joan's trial and having her burned. Compiegne, an important place north of Paris, yielded, and was handed to Guillaume de Flavy as governor. In rescuing this fatal place later, Joan was taken prisoner. Now the fortnight was over, after which the Duke of Burgundy was to surrender Paris. But he did nothing of the kind, and there were more 'long weary councils,' and a truce was arranged with Burgundy till Christmas. But the Maid was weary of words. She called the Duc d'Alencon and said: 'My fair duke, array your men, for, by my staff, I would fain see Paris more closely than I have seen it yet.'
On August 23 the Maid and d'Alencon left the king at Compiegne and rode to St. Denis, where were the tombs of the kings of France. 'And when the king heard that they were at St. Denis, he came, very sore against his will, as far as Senlis, and it seems that his advisers were contrary to the will of the Maid, of the Duc d'Alencon, and of their company.'
The great captains, Dunois, Xaintrailles, d'Alencon, were soldiers, and the king's advisers and favourites were clergymen, like the Archbishop of Reims, or indolent men of peace, like La Tremouille. They declared, after the Maid was captured, that she 'took too much on herself,' and they were glad of her fall. But she had shown that nobody but herself and her soldiers and captains were of any use to France.
The king was afraid to go near Paris, but Bedford was afraid to stay in the town. He went to Rouen, the strongest English hold in Normandy, leaving the Burgundian army and 2,000 English in Paris.
Every day the Maid and d'Alencon rode from St. Denis and insulted the gates of Paris, and observed the best places for an attack in force. And still Charles dallied and delayed, still the main army did not come up. Meanwhile Paris was strengthened by the English and Burgundians. The people of the city were told that Charles intended to plunder the place and utterly destroy it, 'which is difficult to believe,' says the Clerk of Parliament, who was in the city at that time. It was 'difficult to believe,' but the Paris people believed it, and, far from rising for their king and country, they were rather in arms against the Maid. They had no wish to fall in a general massacre, as the English and Burgundians falsely told them would be their fate.
Thus the delay of the king gave the English time to make Paris almost impregnable, and to frighten the people, who, had Charles marched straight from Reims, would have yielded as Reims did.
D'Alencon kept going to Senlis urging Charles to come up with the main army. He went on September 1—the king promised to start next day. D'Alencon returned to the Maid, the king still loitered. At last d'Alencon brought him to St. Denis on September 7, and there was a skirmish that day.
HOW THE MAID WAS WOUNDED IN ATTACKING PARIS, AND HOW THE KING WOULD NOT LET THE ASSAULT BEGIN AGAIN
In all descriptions of battles different accounts are given, each man telling what he himself saw, or what he remembers. As to the assault on Paris on September 8, the Maid herself said a few words at her trial. Her Voices had neither commanded her to attack nor to abstain from attacking. Her opinion was that the captains and leaders on her side only meant to skirmish in force, and to do deeds of chivalry. But her own intention was to press onwards, and, by her example, to make the army follow her. It was thus that she took Les Tourelles at Orleans. This account scarcely agrees with what we read in the book of Perceval de Cagny, who was with his lord, the Duc d'Alencon. He says that about eight on the morning of September 8, the day of Our Lady, the army set forth; some were to storm the town; another division was to remain under cover and protect the former if a sally was made by the English. The Maid, the Marshal de Rais, and De Gaucourt led the attack on the Porte St. Honore. Standard in hand, the Maid leaped into the fosse near the pig market. 'The assault was long and fierce, and it was marvel to hear the noise of cannons and culverins from the walls, and to see the clouds of arrows. Few of those in the fosse with the Maid were struck, though many others on horse and foot were wounded with arrows and stone cannon-balls, but by God's grace and the Maid's good fortune, there was none of them but could return to camp unhelped. The assault lasted from noon till dusk, say eight in the evening. After sunset the Maid was struck by a crossbow bolt in the thigh; and, after she was hurt, she cried but the louder that all should attack, and that the place was taken. But as night had now fallen, and she was wounded, and the men-at-arms were weary with the long attack, De Gaucourt and others came and found her, and, against her will, brought her forth from the fosse. And so ended that onslaught. But right sad she was to leave, and said, "By my baton, the place would have been taken." They put her on horseback, and led her to her quarters, and all the rest of the king's company who that day had come from St. Denis.'
So Cagny tells the story. He was, we may believe, with d'Alencon and the party covering the attack. Jean Chartier, who was living at the time, adds that the Maid did not know that the inner moats were full of water. When she reached the water, she had faggots and other things thrown in to fill up a passage. At nightfall she would not retreat, and at last d'Alencon came and forced her to return. The Clerk of Parliament, who, of course, was within the walls, says that the attack lasted till ten or eleven o'clock at night, and that, in Paris, there was a cry that all was lost.
Joan behaved as gallantly as she did at Les Tourelles. Though wounded she was still pressing on, still encouraging her men, but she was not followed. She was not only always eager to attack, but she never lost heart, she never lost grip. An army of men as brave as Joan would have been invincible.
'Next day,' says Cagny, 'in spite of her wound, she was first in the field. She went to d'Alencon and bade him sound the trumpets for the charge. D'Alencon and the other captains were of the same mind as the Maid, and Montmorency with sixty gentlemen and many lances came in, though he had been on the English side before. So they began to march on Paris, but the king sent messengers, the Duc de Bar, and the Comte de Clermont, and compelled the Maid and the captains to return to St. Denis. Right sorry were they, yet they must obey the king. They hoped to take Paris from the other side, by a bridge which the Duc d'Alencon had made across the Seine. But the king knew the duke's and the Maid's design, and caused the bridge to be broken down, and a council was held, and the king desired to depart and go to the Loire, to the great grief of the Maid. When she saw that they would go, she dedicated her armour, and hung it up before the statue of Our Lady at St. Denis, and so right sadly went away in company with the king. And thus were broken the will of the Maid and the army of the king.'
The politicians had triumphed. They had thwarted the Maid, they had made her promise to take Paris of no avail. They had destroyed the confidence of men in the banner that had never gone back. Now they might take their ease, now they might loiter in the gardens of the Loire. The Maid had failed, by their design, and by their cowardice. The treachery that she, who feared nothing else, had long dreaded, was accomplished now. 'The will of the Maid and the army of the king were broken.'
HOW THE MAID AND HER FAIR DUKE WERE SEPARATED FROM EACH OTHER
The king now went from one pleasant tower on the Loire to another, taking the Maid with him. Meanwhile, the English took and plundered some of the cities which had yielded to Charles, and they carried off the Maid's armour from the chapel in Saint Denis, where she had dedicated it, 'because Saint Denis! is the cry of France.' Her Voices had bidden her stay at Saint Denis, but this she was not permitted to do, and now she must hear daily how the loyal towns that she had won were plundered by the English. The French garrisons also began to rob, as they had done before she came. There was 'great pity in France' again, and all her work seemed wasted. The Duc d'Alencon went to his own place of Beaumont, but he returned, and offered to lead an army against the English in Normandy, if the Maid might march with him. Then he would have had followers in plenty, for the people had not wholly lost faith. 'But La Tremouille, and Gaucourt, and the Archbishop of Reims, who managed the king and the war, would not consent, nor suffer the Maid and the duke to be together, nor ever again might they meet.' So says Cagny, and he adds that the Maid loved the fair duke above other men, 'and did for him what she would do for no other.' She had saved his life at Jargeau, but where was the duke when Joan was a prisoner? We do not know, but we may believe that he, at least, would have helped her if he could. They were separated by the jealousy of cowards, who feared that the duke might win too much renown and become too powerful.
HOW MARVELLOUSLY THE MAID TOOK SAINT-PIERRE-LE-MOUSTIER
Even the banks of Loire, where the king loved to be, were not free from the English. They held La Charite and Saint-Pierre-le-Moustier. Joan wanted to return to Paris, but the council sent her to take La Charite and Saint-Pierre-le-Moustier. This town she attacked first. Her squire, a gentleman named d'Aulon, was with her, and described what he saw. 'When they had besieged the place for some time, an assault was commanded, but, for the great strength of the forts and the numbers of the enemy, the French were forced to give way. At that hour, I who speak was wounded by an arrow in the heel, and could not stand or walk without crutches. But I saw the Maid holding her ground with a handful of men, and, fearing ill might come of it, I mounted a horse and rode to her, asking what she was doing there alone, and why she did not retreat like the others. She took the salade from her head, and answered that she was not alone, but had in her company fifty thousand of her people; and that go she would not till she had taken that town.
'But, whatever she said, I saw that she had with her but four men or five, as others also saw, wherefore I bade her retreat. Then she commanded me to have faggots brought, and planks to bridge fosses. And, as she spoke to me, she cried in a loud voice, "All of you, bring faggots to fill the fosse." And this was done, whereat I greatly marvelled, and instantly that town was taken by assault with no great resistance. And all that the Maid did seemed to me rather deeds divine than natural, and it was impossible that so young a maid should do such deeds without the will and guidance of Our Lord.'
This was the last great feat of arms wrought by the Maid. As at Les Tourelles she won by sheer dint of faith and courage, and so might she have done at Paris, but for the king. At this town the soldiers wished to steal the sacred things in the church, and the goods laid up there. 'But the Maid right manfully forbade and hindered them, nor ever would she permit any to plunder.' So says Reginald Thierry, who was with her at this siege. Once a Scottish man-at-arms let her know that her dinner was made of a stolen calf, and she was very angry, wishing to strike that Scot. He came from a land where 'lifting cattle' was thought rather a creditable action.
HOW THE MAID WAITED WEARILY AT COURT
From her latest siege the Maid rode to attack La Charite. But, though the towns helped her as well as they might with money and food, her force was too small, and was too ill provided with everything, for the king did not send supplies. She raised the siege and departed in great displeasure. The king was not unkind, he ennobled her and her family, and permitted the dignity to descend through daughters as well as sons; no one else was ever so honoured. Her brothers called themselves Du Lys, from the lilies of their crest, but Joan kept her name and her old banner. She was trailed after the Court from place to place; for three weeks she stayed with a lady who describes her as very devout and constantly in church. People said to Joan that it was easy for her to be brave, as she knew she would not be slain, but she answered that she had no more assurance of safety than any one of them. Thinking her already a saint, people brought her things to touch.
'Touch them yourselves,' she said; 'your touch is as good as mine.'
She wore a little cheap ring, which her father and mother had given her, inscribed JHESU MARIA, and she believed that with this ring she had touched the body of St. Catherine. But she was humble, and thought herself no saint, though surely there never was a better. She gave great alms, saying that she was sent to help the poor and needy. Such was the Maid in peace.
HOW THE MAID MET AN IMPOSTOR
There was a certain woman named Catherine de la Rochelle, who gave out that she had visions. A beautiful lady, dressed in cloth of gold, came to her by night, and told her who had hidden treasures. These she offered to discover that there might be money for the wars, which Joan needed sorely. A certain preacher, named Brother Richard, wished to make use of this pretender, but Joan said that she must first herself see the fair lady in cloth of gold. So she sat up with Catherine till midnight, and then fell asleep, when the lady appeared, so Catherine said. Joan slept next day, and watched all the following night. Of course the fair lady never came. Joan bade Catherine go back to her family; she needed money for the war, but not money got by false pretences. So she told the king that the whole story was mere folly. This woman afterwards lied against the Maid when she was a prisoner.
HOW THE MAID'S VOICES PROPHESIED OF HER TAKING
Winter melted into spring; the truce with Burgundy was prolonged, but the Burgundians fought under English colours. The king did nothing, but in Normandy La Hire rode in arms to the gates of Rouen. Paris became doubtfully loyal to the English. The Maid could be idle no longer. Without a word to the king she rode to Lagny, 'for there they had fought bravely against the English.' These men were Scots, under Sir Hugh Kennedy. In mid-April she was at Melun. There 'she heard her Voices almost every day, and many a time they told her that she would presently be taken prisoner.' Her year was over, and as the Voices prophesied her wound at Orleans, now they prophesied her captivity. She prayed that she might die as soon as she was taken, without the long sorrow of imprisonment. Then her Voices told her to bear graciously whatever befell her, for so it must be. But they told her not the hour of her captivity. 'If she had known the hour she would not then have gone to war. And often she prayed them to tell her of that hour, but they did not answer.'
These words are Joan's. She spoke them to her judges at Rouen.
Among all her brave deeds this was the bravest. Whatever the source of her Voices was, she believed in what they said. She rode to fight with far worse than death under shield before her eyes, knowing certainly that her English foes would take her, they who had often threatened to burn her.
HOW THE MAID TOOK FRANQUET D'ARRAS
There was in these parts a robber chief on the Burgundian side named Franquet d'Arras. The Maid had been sent, as she said, to help the poor who were oppressed by these brigands. Hearing that Franquet, with three or four hundred men-at-arms, was near Lagny-sur-Marne, the Maid rode out to seek him with four hundred French and Scots. The fight is described in one way by Monstrelet, in another by Cagny and Joan herself. Monstrelet, being a Burgundian writer, says that Franquet made a gallant resistance till he was overwhelmed by numbers, as the Maid called out the garrison of Lagny. Cagny says that Franquet's force was greater than that of the Maid who took him. However this may be, Franquet was a knight, and so should have been kept prisoner till he paid his ransom. Monstrelet tells us that Joan had his head cut off. She herself told her judges that Franquet confessed to being a traitor, robber, and murderer; that the magistrates of Senlis and Lagny claimed him as a criminal; that she tried to exchange him for a prisoner of her own party, but that her man died, that Franquet had a fair trial, and that then she allowed justice to take its course. She was asked if she paid money to the captor of Franquet.
'I am not treasurer of France, to pay such moneys,' she answered haughtily.
Probably Franquet deserved to die, but a trial by his enemies was not likely to be a fair trial.
At Lagny the Maid left a gentler memory. She was very fond of children, and had a girl's love of babies. A boy of three days old was dying or seemed dead, and the girls of Lagny carried it to the statue of Our Lady in their church, and there prayed over it. For three days, ever since its birth, the baby had lain in a trance without sign of life, so that they dared not christen it. 'It was black as my doublet,' said Joan at her trial, where she wore mourning. Joan knelt with the other girls and prayed; colour came back into the child's face, it gasped thrice, was baptised, then died, and was buried in holy ground. So Joan said at her trial. She claimed no share in this good fortune, and never pretended that she worked miracles.
HOW THE MAID FOUGHT HER LAST FIGHT
The name of Joan was now such a terror to the English that men deserted rather than face her in arms. At this time the truce with Burgundy ended, and the duke openly set out to besiege the strong town of Compiegne, held by de Flavy for France. Joan hurried to Compiegne, whence she made two expeditions which were defeated by treachery. Perhaps she thought of this, perhaps of the future, when in the church of Compiegne she declared one day to a crowd of children whom she loved that she knew she was sold and betrayed. Old men who had heard her told this tale long afterwards.
Burgundy had invested Compiegne, when Joan, with four hundred men, rode into the town secretly at dawn. That day Joan led a sally against the Burgundians. Her Voices told her nothing, good or bad, she says. The Burgundians were encamped at Margny and at Clairoix, the English at Venette, villages on a plain near the walls. Joan crossed the bridge on a grey charger, in a surcoat of crimson silk, rode through the redoubt beyond the bridge, and attacked the Burgundians. Flavy in the town was to prevent the English from attacking her in the rear. He had boats on the river to secure Joan's retreat if necessary.
Joan swept through Margny, driving the Burgundians before her; the garrison of Clairoix came to their help; the battle was doubtful. Meanwhile the English came up; they could not have reached the Burgundians, to aid them, but some of the Maid's men, seeing the English standards, fled. The English followed them under the walls of Compiegne; the gate of the redoubt was closed to prevent the English from entering with the runaways. Like Hector under Troy, the Maid was shut out from the town which she came to save.
Joan was with her own foremost line when the rear fled. They told her of her danger, she heeded not. For the last time rang out in that girlish voice: 'Allez avant! Forward, they are ours!'
Her men seized her bridle and turned her horse's head about. The English held the entrance from the causeway; Joan and a few men (her brother was one of them) were driven into a corner of the outer wall. A rush was made at Joan. 'Yield I yield! give your faith to me!' each man cried.
'I have given my faith to Another,' she said, 'and I will keep my oath.'
Her enemies confess that on this day Joan did great feats of arms, covering the rear of her force when they had to fly.
Some French historians hold that the gates were closed by treason that the Maid might be taken. We may hope that this was not so; the commander of Compiegne held his town successfully for the king, and was rescued by Joan's friend, the brave Pothon de Xaintrailles.
HOW THE MAID LEAPED FROM THE TOWER OF BEAUREVOIR
The sad story that is still to tell shall be shortly told. There is no word nor deed of the Maid's, in captivity as in victory, that is not to her immortal honour. But the sight of the wickedness of men, their cowardice, cruelty, greed, ingratitude, is not a thing to linger over.
The Maid, as a prisoner of the Bastard of Wandomme, himself a man of Jean de Luxembourg, was led to Margny, where the Burgundian and English captains rejoiced over her. They had her at last, the girl who had driven them from fort and field. Luxembourg claimed her and carried her to Beaulieu. Not a French lance was laid in rest to rescue her; not a sou did the king send to ransom her. Where were Dunois and d'Alencon, Xaintrailles and La Hire? The bold Buccleugh, who carried Kinmont Willie out of Carlisle Castle, would not have left the Maid unrescued at Beaulieu. 'What is there that a man does not dare?' he said to the angry Queen Elizabeth. But Dunois, d'Alencon, Xaintrailles, La Hire, dared all things. Something which we do not know of must have held these heroes back, and, being ignorant, it does not become us to blame them.
Joan was the very spirit of chivalry, but in that age of chivalry she was shamefully deserted. As a prisoner of war she should properly have been held to ransom. But, within two days of her capture, the Vicar-General of the Inquisition in France claimed her as a heretic and a witch. The English knights let the priests and the University of Paris judge and burn the girl whom they seldom dared to face in war. The English were glad enough to use French priests and doctors who would sell themselves to the task of condemning and burning their maiden enemy. She was the enemy of the English, and they did actually believe in witchcraft. The English were hideously cruel and superstitious: we may leave the French to judge Jean de Luxembourg, who sold the girl to England; Charles, who moved not a finger to help her; Bishop Cauchon and the University of Paris, who judged her lawlessly and condemned her to the stake; and the Archbishop of Reims, who said that she had deserved her fall. There is dishonour in plenty; let these false Frenchmen of her time divide their shares among themselves.
From Beaulieu, where she lay from May to August, Luxembourg carried his precious prize to Beaurevoir, near Cambrai, further from the French armies. He need not have been alarmed, not a French sword was drawn to help the Maid. At Beaurevoir, Joan was kindly treated by the ladies of the Castle. These ladies alone upheld the honour of the great name of France. They knelt and wept before Jean de Luxembourg, imploring him not to sell Joan to Burgundy, who sold her again to England. May their names ever be honoured! One of the gentlemen of the place, on the other hand, was rude to Joan, as he confessed thirty years later.
Joan was now kept in a high tower at Beaurevoir, and was allowed to walk on the leads. She knew she was sold to England, she had heard that the people of Compiegne were to be massacred. She would rather die than fall into English hands, 'rather give her soul to God, than her body to the English.' But she hoped to escape and relieve Compiegne. She, therefore, prayed for counsel to her Saints; might she leap from the top of the tower? Would they not bear her up in their hands? St. Catherine bade her not to leap; God would help her and the people of Compiegne.
Then, for the first time as far as we know, the Maid wilfully disobeyed her Voices. She leaped from the tower. They found her, not wounded, not a limb was broken, but stunned. She knew not what had happened; they told her she had leaped down. For three days she could not eat, 'yet was she comforted by St. Catherine, who bade her confess and seek pardon of God, and told her that, without fail, they of Compiegne should be relieved before Martinmas.' This prophecy was fulfilled. Joan was more troubled about Compiegne, than about her own coming doom. She was already sold to the English, like a sheep to the slaughter; they bought their French bishop Cauchon, he summoned his shavelings, the doctors of the University and of the Inquisition.
The chivalry of England locked up the Maid in an iron cage at Rouen. The rest was easy to men of whom all, or almost all, were the slaves of superstition, fear, and greed. They were men like ourselves, and no worse, if perhaps no better, but their especial sins and temptations were those to which few of us are inclined. We, like Charles, are very capable of deserting, or at least of delaying to rescue, our bravest and best, like Gordon in Khartoum. But, as we are not afraid of witches, we do not cage and burn girls of nineteen. If we were as ignorant as our ancestors on this point, no doubt we should be as cowardly and cruel.
HOW THE MAID WAS TRIED AND CONDEMNED, AND HOW BRAVELY SHE DIED
ABOUT the trial and the death of the Maid, I have not the heart to write a long story. Some points are to be remembered. The person who conducted the trial, itself illegal, was her deadly enemy, the false Frenchman, the Bishop of Beauvais, Cauchon, whom she and her men had turned out of his bishoprick. It is most unjust and unheard of, that any one should be tried by a judge who is his private enemy. Next, Joan was kept in strong irons day and night, and she, the most modest of maidens, was always guarded by five brutal English soldiers of the lowest rank. Again, she was not allowed to receive the Holy Communion as she desired with tears. Thus weakened by long captivity and ill usage, she, an untaught girl, was questioned repeatedly for three months, by the most cunning and learned doctors in law of the Paris University. Often many spoke at once, to perplex her mind. But Joan always showed a wisdom which confounded them, and which is at least as extraordinary as her skill in war. She would never swear an oath to answer all their questions. About herself, and all matters bearing on her own conduct, she would answer. About the king and the secrets of the king, she would not answer. If they forced her to reply about these things, she frankly said, she would not tell them the truth. The whole object of the trial was to prove that she dealt with powers of evil, and that her king had been crowned and aided by the devil. Her examiners, therefore, attacked her day by day, in public and in her dungeon, with questions about these visions which she held sacred, and could only speak of with a blush among her friends. Had she answered (as a lawyer said at the time), 'it seemed to me I saw a saint,' no man could have condemned her. Probably she did not know this, for she was not allowed to have an advocate of her own party, and she, a lonely girl, was opposed to the keenest and most learned lawyers of France. But she maintained that she certainly did see, hear, and touch her Saints, and that they came to her by the will of God. This was called blasphemy and witchcraft. And now came in the fatal Fairies! She was accused of dealing with devils under the Tree of Domremy.
Most was made of her refusal to wear woman's dress. For this she seems to have had two reasons; first, that to give up her old dress would have been to acknowledge that her mission was ended; next, for reasons of modesty, she being alone in prison among ruffianly men. She would wear woman's dress if they would let her take the Holy Communion, but this they refused. To these points she was constant, she would not deny her visions; she would not say one word against her king, 'the noblest Christian in the world' she called him, who had deserted her. She would not wear woman's dress in prison. We must remember that, as she was being tried by churchmen, she should have been, as she often prayed to be, in a prison of the church, attended by women. They set a spy on her, a caitiff priest named L'Oyseleur, who pretended to be her friend, and who betrayed her. The English soldiers were allowed to bully, threaten, and frighten away every one who gave her any advice. They took her to the torture-chamber, and threatened her with torture, but from this even these priests shrunk, except a few more cruel and cowardly than the rest. Finally, they put her up in public, opposite a pile of wood ready for burning, and then set a priest to preach at her. All through her trial, her Voices bade her 'answer boldly,' in three months she would give her last answer, in three months 'she would be free with great victory, and come into the Kingdom of Paradise.' In three months from the first day of her trial she went free through the gate of fire. Boldly she answered, and wisely. She would submit the truth of her visions to the Church, that is, to God, and the Pope. But she would not submit them to 'the Church,' if that meant the clergy round her. At last, in fear of the fire, and the stake before her, and on promise of being taken to a kindlier prison among women, and released from chains, she promised to 'abjure,' to renounce her visions, and submit to the Church, that is to Cauchon, and her other priestly enemies. Some little note on paper she now signed with a cross, and repeated 'with a smile,' poor child, a short form of words. By some trick this signature was changed for a long document, in which she was made to confess all her visions false. It is certain that she did not understand her words in this sense.
Cauchon had triumphed. The blame of heresy and witchcraft was cast on Joan, and on her king as an accomplice. But the English were not satisfied; they made an uproar, they threatened Cauchon, for Joan's life was to be spared. She was to be in prison all her days, on bread and water, but, while she lived, they dared scarcely stir against the French. They were soon satisfied.
Joan's prison was not changed. There soon came news that she had put on man's dress again. The judges went to her. She told them (they say), that she put on this dress of her own free will. In confession, later, she told her priest that she had been refused any other dress, and had been brutally treated both by the soldiers and by an English lord. In self-defence, she dressed in the only attire within her reach. In any case, the promises made to her had been broken. The judge asked her if her Voices had been with her again?
'What did they say?'
'God told me by the voices of St. Catherine and St. Margaret of the great sorrow of my treason, when I abjured to save my life; that I was damning myself for my life's sake.'
'Do you believe the Voices come from St. Margaret and St. Catherine?'
'Yes, and that they are from God.'
She added that she had never meant to deny this, had not understood that she had denied it.
All was over now; she was a 'relapsed heretic.'
The judges said that they visited Joan again on the morning of her death, and that she withdrew her belief in her Voices; or, at least, left it to the Church to decide whether they were good or bad, while she still maintained that they were real. She had expected release, and, for the first time, had been disappointed. At the stake she understood her Voices: they had foretold her martyrdom, 'great victory' over herself, and her entry into rest. But the document of the judges is not signed by the clerks, as all such documents must be. One of them, Manchon, who had not been present, was asked to sign it; he refused. Another, Taquel, is said to have been present, but he did not sign. The story is, therefore, worth nothing.
Enough. They burned Joan the Maid. She did not suffer long. Her eyes were fixed on a cross which a priest, Martin L'Advenu, held up before her. She maintained, he says, to her dying moment, the truth of her Voices. With a great cry of JESUS! she gave up her breath, and her pure soul was with God.
Even the English wept, even a secretary of the English king said that they had burned a Saint. One of the three great crimes of the world's history had been committed, and, of the three, this was the most cowardly and cruel. It profited the English not at all. 'Though they ceased not to be brave,' says Patrick Abercromby, a Scot, 'yet they were almost on all occasions defeated, and within the short space of twenty-two years, lost not only all the conquests made by them in little less than a hundred, but also the inheritances which they had enjoyed for above three centuries bypast. It is not my part to follow them, as the French and my countrymen did, from town to town, and from province to province; I take much more pleasure in relating the glories than the disgraces of England.'
This disgrace the English must, and do, most sorrowfully confess, and, that it may never be forgotten while the civilised world stands, there lives, among the plays of Shakspeare, whether he wrote or did not write it, that first part of 'Henry VI.,' which may pair with the yet more abominable poem of the Frenchman, Voltaire.
Twenty years after her death, as we saw, Charles VII., in his own interest, induced the Pope and the Inquisition, to try the case of Joan over again. It was as certain that the clergy would find her innocent, now, as that they would find her guilty before. But, happily, they collected the evidence of most of the living people who had known her. Thus we have heard from the Domremy peasants how good she was as a child, from Dunois, d'Alencon, d'Aulon, how she was beautiful, courteous, and brave, from Isambart and L'Advenu, how nobly she died, and how she never made one complaint, but forgave all her enemies freely. All these old Latin documents were collected, edited, and printed, in 1849, by Monsieur Jules Quicherat, a long and noble labour. After the publication of this book, there has been, and can be, no doubt about the perfect goodness of Joan of Arc. The English long believed silly stories against her, as a bad woman, stories which were not even mentioned by her judges. The very French, at different times, have mocked at her memory, in ignorance and disbelief. They said she was a tool of politicians, who, on the other hand, never wanted her, or that she was crazy. Men mixed up with her glorious history the adventures of the false Maid, who pretended to be Joan come again, and people doubted as to whether she really died at Rouen. In modern times, some wiseacres have called the strongest and healthiest of women 'hysterical,' which is their way of accounting for her Voices. But now, thanks mainly to Monsieur Quicherat, and other learned Frenchmen, the world, if it chooses, may know Joan as she was; the stainless Maid, the bravest, gentlest, kindest, and wisest woman who ever lived. Her country people, in her lifetime, called her 'the greatest of Saints, after the Blessed Virgin,' and, at least, she is the greatest concerning whose deeds and noble sufferings history preserves a record. And her Voices we leave to Him who alone knows all truth.
 This unnamed monk of Dunfermline describes Joan as 'a maid worthy to be remembered, who caused the recovery of the kingdom of France from the hands of the tyrant Henry, King of England. This maid I saw and knew, and was with her in her conquests and sieges, ever present with her in her life and at her end.' The monk proposed to write Joan's history; unhappily his manuscript ends in the middle of a sentence. The French historians, as was natural, say next to nothing of their Scottish allies. See Quicherat, Proces, v. 339; and The Book of Pluscarden, edited by Mr. Felix Skene.
 M. Quicherat thinks that this is a mere fairy tale, but the author has sometimes seen wild birds (a lark, kingfisher, robin, and finch) come to men, who certainly had none of the charm of Joan of Arc. A thoughtful child, sitting alone, and very still, might find birds alight on her in a friendly way, as has happened to the author. If she fed them, so much the better.
 See M. Simeon Luce, Jeanne d'Arc in Domremy.
 Here we follow Father Ayroles's correction of Quicherat's reading of the manuscripts.
 The Voice and vision of St. Michael alarmed her at first. In 1425 the French had defeated the English by sea, under Mount St. Michael, the only fortress in Normandy which never yielded to England. Consequently St. Michael was in high esteem as the patron of France, and, of all saints, he was most likely to be in Joan's mind. (See Simeon Luce, Jeanne d'Arc a Domremy.) On the other hand, Father Ayroles correctly argues that Joan first heard the Voices the year before the victory near Mount St. Michael.
 M. Quicherat distinguishes three strange kinds of power in Joan. These are the power of seeing at a distance, the power of learning the secret thoughts of men, and the power of foretelling future events. Of each class 'one example at least rests on evidence so solid, that it cannot be rejected without rejecting the whole basis of the history.' He merely states facts, which he makes no attempt to explain. Apercus Nouveaux, p. 61.
 The date of this affair and that of the flight to Neufchateau are uncertain.
 It occurs in the Chronique de la Pucelle, by Cousinot de Montreuil, at that time the king's secretary, and elsewhere.
 Theod. de Leliis, Proces, ii. 42.
 Proces, iii. 99.
 This description is a few weeks later than the start from Blois.
 This estimate was probably incorrect; 3,500 was more like the actual number.
 Proces, iii. 100.
 Proces, iii. pp. 5, 6, 7. They were 'near Saint Loup,' he says, 'on the right bank of the Loire above Orleans.' But (p. 7) he says that after their conversation he and Joan crossed to the right from the left bank. At all events they were some six miles higher up the river than Orleans.
 Following Pasquerel, her priest. Proces, iii, 109.
 Quicherat, Nouveaux Apercus, p. 76.
 'Daughter of God, go on, and I will help thee.'
 Sir Walter Scott reckons that there were five men to each 'lance'; perhaps four men is more usually the right number.
 In Proces, iv. 414.
 D'Alencon, Proces, iii. 98.
 Dunois. Proces, iii. 14.
 Journal du Siege. Proces, iv. 195. As it stands, this authority is thirty years later than the events.
 This man was Clement de Fauquemberque. When he recorded the relief of Orleans, he drew on the margin of his paper a little fancy sketch of Joan, with long hair, a woman's dress, a sword, and a banner with the monogram of Jesus. This sketch still exists. (Proces, iv. 451.)
 This was not far from the present Theatre Francais. The statue of the Maid, on horseback, is near the place where she was wounded.
 Paris, as the Clerk of Parliament wrote in his note-book, could only be taken by blockade. It was a far larger city than Orleans, and we see how long the English, in the height of courage and confidence, were delayed by Orleans. But the Maid did not know the word 'impossible.' Properly supported, she could probably have taken Paris by assault; at the least she would not have left it while she lived.
 In 1715.
HOW THE BASS WAS HELD FOR KING JAMES
THE Bass Rock is a steep black mass of stone, standing about two miles out to sea, off the coast of Berwickshire. The sheer cliffs, straight as a wall, are some four hundred feet in height. At the top there is a sloping grassy shelf, on which a few sheep are kept, but the chief inhabitants of the rock are innumerable hosts of sea-birds. Far up the rock, two hundred years ago, was a fortress, with twenty cannons and a small garrison. As a boat can only touch at the little island in very fine weather, the fortress was considered by the Government of Charles II. an excellent prison for Covenanters. There was a house for the governor, and a chapel where powder was kept, but where no clergyman officiated. As the covenanting prisoners were nearly all ministers, and a few of them prophets, it was thought, no doubt, that they could attend to their own devotions for themselves. They passed a good deal of their time in singing psalms. One prisoner looked into the cell of another late at night, and saw a shining white figure with him, which was taken for an angel by the spectator. Another prisoner, a celebrated preacher, named Peden, once told a merry girl that a 'sudden surprising judgment was waiting for her,' and instantly a gust of wind blew her off the rock into the sea. The Covenanters, one of whom had shot at the Archbishop of St. Andrews, and hit the Bishop of Orkney, were very harshly treated. 'They were obliged to drink the twopenny ale of the governor's brewing, scarcely worth a half-penny the pint,' an inconvenience which they probably shared with the garrison. They were sometimes actually compelled to make their own beds, a cruel hardship, when their servants had been dismissed, probably for plotting their escape. They had few pleasures except writing accounts of their sufferings, and books on religion; or studying Greek and Hebrew.
When King James II. was driven from his throne, in 1688, by the Prince of Orange, these sufferers found release, they being on the Orange side. But the castle of the Bass did not yield to William till 1690; it was held for King James by Charles Maitland till his ammunition and stores were exhausted. The Whigs, who were now in power, used the Bass for a prison, as their enemies had done, and four Cavalier prisoners were shut up in the cold, smoky, unwholesome jail, just as the Covenanters had been before. These men, Middleton, Halyburton, Roy, and Dunbar, all of them young, had been in arms for King James, and were taken when his Majesty's forces were surprised and defeated by Livingstone at Cromdale Haugh. Middleton was a lieutenant; his friends were junior in rank, and were only ensigns.
These four lads did not devote their leisure to the composition of religious treatises, nor to the learning of Latin and Greek. On the other hand they reckoned it more worthy of their profession to turn the Whig garrison out of the Bass, and to hold it for King James. For three years they held it against all comers, and the Royal flag, driven out of England and Scotland, still floated over this little rock in the North Sea.
This is how the Four took the Bass. They observed that when coals were landed all the garrison except three or four soldiers went down to the rocky platform where there was a crane for raising goods. When they went, they locked three of the four gates on the narrow rocky staircase behind them.
On June 15, 1691, the soldiers went on this duty, leaving, to guard the Cavaliers, La Fosse, the sergeant, Swan, the gunner, and one soldier. These men were overpowered, or won over, by Middleton, Roy, Dunbar, and Halyburton, who then trained a gun on the garrison below, and asked them whether they would retire peacefully, or fight? They preferred to sail away in the coal vessel, and very foolish they must have felt, when they carried to the Whigs in Edinburgh the news that four men had turned them out of an impregnable castle, and held it for King James.