The Land, The Parties, and The Men, When Joan Comes.
So helpless, so pitiable, was the condition of France at the time, that it was not the English only who meditated its disruption. The Prince of Orange on the southwestern border of Dauphine, and the Duke of Savoy, were waiting to take their share. Restrained by the career of the Prophetess of France, they invaded Dauphine where she was taken prisoner. But they were beaten off at the Battle of Authon on June 11th, 1430. When Joan came to the king at Chinon, the Loire was considered the actually boundary between the English and French possessions. That is, from the sea to where the early tributaries of the river approach those of the Saone about forty miles north of its junction with the Rhone. This meast that about one half of France was under the English flag. A great part was directly ruled by England; and here the English leaders claimed and received principalities for themselves. A great part also, directly obeyed powerful princes, such as the Dukes of Burgundy and Brittany.
A portion of Anjou, Touraine, and Blois, north of the Loire, were loyal to King Charles of France. But the English were acknowledged below the river mouth, south of Nantes. A few isolated outposts, such as impregnable Mont St. Michel in Normandy, the city of Tournay, and heroic Vaucouleurs, held out for their lawful sovereign.
Henry VI of England was acknowledged in French and Belgian Flanders, Artois, Picardy, Normandy, Brittany, Ile de France with Paris, Maine, almost all the Duchy of Orleans save the city, in the south the rich and extensive territory' of Bordeaux north and south of the Gironde and Garonne, and south of that the territory which stretched almost to the Pyrenees. On the eastern side, Henry of England was acknowledged in Champagne, Barrois, Burgundy, and Nivernais. The Duke of Burgundy had drawn into the English coalition the powerful House of Luxembourg and the Duke of Lorraine.
Section 2.—The Parties, National and Anti-national
After the humiliating and disastrous defeat of Rouvray, or the Herrings, the French king was abandoned in great part by the nobles. Some, taken captive, signed away their territories for freedom; others took up arms against the base sway of the actual ruler, La Tremoille. The royal prince Charles of Orleans was a prisoner in England, as was his brother, John, Count of Angouleme.
The Duke de Bourbon, taken prisoner at Agincourt consented to buy his liberty by accepting English dominion. His son Charles, Count of Clermont, had revolted against Tremoille, and caused the loss of Rouvray by his senseless conduct, for which he showed no regret. He was a brother-in-law of the Duke of Burgundy, and mingled in all the interminable attempts at insincere treaties of peace, which spoiled and made profitless the mission of Joan of Arc. Louis de Bourbon, Count of Vendome, of the cadet branch, fought with the Maid.
The leader of the antirational party and chief ally of the invader was the Duke of Burgundy. He was of royal descent, and was almost an independent king, treating with the English very much as an equal. After Joan's victories had driven the foreigner from Champagne, he obtained from his English allies a promise of this territory, which bound together his possessions of Artois and Flanders with Burgundy proper. He drew to the English side the powerful house of Luxembourg, the Duke of Lorraine, with a long line of powerful feudatory nobles. It is worth noting that one of these was a brother of La Tremoille, who took good care of the latter's property when conquered by the English.
Rene, Duke of Bar, brother-in-law of King Charles of France, made his submission to the invader either through fear or policy.
The very powerful Duke of Brittany, had changed sides several times, and was now with his country's foes.
Henry VI of England was a child of nine years when Joan appeared. Cardinal Beaufort of Winchester, uncle of the king, had long been chancellor. Humphrey, Duke of Gloster, was regent of England; and the Duke of Bedford was regent of France. Both were uncles of the young king. Bedford was a great captain, diplomatist, and administrator. By matrimonial alliances, by power of arms, by skillful policy, his power kept steadily growing until Joan came. His wife was Anne, sister of the Duke (Philip) of Burgundy, who contributed not a little to keep the Burgundians united to the English; and of whose much regretted death, three years later, the consequences were soon seen.
Thomas de Montague, Lord of Salisbury and Perehe (in France), perhaps the best of the English commanders, was slain at Orleans. His cousin, the Duke of Warwick, Richard de Beauchamp, another distinguished soldier, was in charge of the trial of Joan at Rouen. Thomas Baron Scales, many-titled in conquered France, died in the Wars of the Roses. John Fastolf, a soldier of brilliant service, victor of Rouvray, was a favorite of Talbot. Degraded from the Order of the Garter because of the defeat of Patsy, he was rehabilitated, and finally retired to his estates.
William Pole, Lord of Suffolk in England and Dreux in France, commanded at Orleans and was made prisoner at Jargeau with his brother, after another brother had been slain. When exiled by Henry VI in order to save him, he was murdered aboard ship. Glasdale, a Scotchman, (who was on the English side VF) as was Bishop Kirkmichael of Orleans,(who was on the French side VF) remained the chief warrior at the siege, after the death of Salisbury. He (Glasdale VF) had risen from the ranks; and with his brother had reached a prominent station. His brutal insults to the Maid were quickly punished by his tragic death in the Loire. John Talbot, the English Achilles, who had been Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, fought through the French wars, and was slain, at the age of eighty, at the battle of Castillon, which ended the English sway in France.
Joan of Arc, the prophetess of victory, condemned the insincere and fruitless negotiations with the Duke of Burgundy, telling the plain truth that peace could be obtained only at the point of the lance. The disastrous war dragged on until the peace of Arras in 1435, by which Burgundy was detached from the English cause. His submission was made on conditions bitter and humiliating for Charles VII; and the evils done by his family were enlarged in a new field when his granddaughter carried her immense estates over to the House of Austria—the cause of age-long strife between France and the Empire. Henry VI of England lost all his possessions in France except Calais;
and in the deluge of evils that swept over England in the Wars of the Roses, having become subject to insanity, was deprived of his crown long before he was murdered in the tower of London. The mission of Joan of Arc, we may well believe, would have quickly expelled the invader from France, and reduced the power of Burgundy to reasonable limits.
Section 3.—Some of the Men with Joan
Of all the royal princes, one of the noblest was John Count Dunois, then only twenty-seven years of age, but already famous as a soldier. He was the commander at Orleans when Joan arrived to relieve the city. Next to him was Raoul de Gaucourt, in arms for his king from the age of thirteen. He took part in all the great events of the time up to his death in 1461. He fought with the Maid of Orleans; saved Dauphine at Authon in 1430; and, after a second English captivity, entered Rouen with King Charles in 1449. One of the first companions of Joan, and who continued with her up to the attempt on Paris, was Gilles de Rais, Marshal of France, and then only twenty-five years old. He squandered his extraordinary fortune; and in his vanity spared no effort to attract attention. He confesses of himself, whether truly or not, horrors the most extreme. He was (hung and then VF) burnt to death at Nantes ten years after, but died repentant.
One of the chief figures on the French side was Regnault de Chartres, Chancellor of the kingdom. He was Archbishop of Reims for thirty years, during which time he scarcely ever visited the see confided to him. On the contrary, he appears in all the affairs of the court, and was prominent also in those of the universal Church. It is supposed that King Charles' refusal to support the Council of Basle was due to him; as was, probably also, the king's Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges, which largely enslaved the Church of France. The Archbishop was elevated to the Cardinalate at the Council of Florence in 1439. He quitted Orleans with La Tremoille after the defeat of Rouvray. Although he recognized Joan's providential mission, he was little in her favor, and systematically opposed her as time went on. His futile policy of treaties with the false Duke of Burgundy, his procrastination—not to use a harsher word—only prolonged the sanguinary conflict, threw away the apparently certain hope of victory, and finally succeeded in dissolving the most patriotic army France had ever had. He went personally, and fruitlessly, to meet the Duke of Burgundy at Senlis. When Compiegne declared itself loyal to King Charles, La Tremoille claimed its governorship, and accepted as his lieutenant his relative and ally, Guillaume Flavy, who was, also, it is said, chosen by the people. The archbishop was in complete harmony with La Tremoille—a thing not much to his credit.
Both actually attempted to hand over Compiegne to the Duke of Burgundy, but the city steadfastly refused its consent. A letter has come down to us written by the archbishop after the capture of Joan of Arc, saying that she was justly abandoned by Heaven, for she wished always to do her own will.
One of the best and bravest of Joan's captains was Etienne de Vignoles, called La Hire. He with his two brothers, Amade and Arnaud, were amongst the first to join the Maid. La Hire figures everywhere in the front of the fight. After the crowning at Reims he was made Count of Longueville in Normandy, and of all else he could win with his sword. One of his great feats was the capture by scaling of the supposedly impregnable castle of Château Gaillard on the Seine in Normandy, seven leagues from Rouen. He died at Montauban in 1444.