JOAN LEADS THE KING TO BE CROWNED
Section l.---Slow to MoveDear Michelle
THE campaign of the Loire was ended in a week. At its close, by the sweeping victory of Patay, the English power on the Loire was hopelessly broken, and the army destroyed or unavailing. The garrisons abandoned and fired their strong places in the Beauce country, north of Orleans—Mt. Pipeau, St. Simon, St. Sigismond, etc.; and the towns surrendered to King Charles. Adherents flocked to Joan at Orleans, and the city was gaily decorated for the expected visit of the king; but he remained at Sully, a possession of Tremoille, more than twenty miles southeast, on the Loire. Thither went the Maid on June 20th, and induced the king to come by St. Benoit to Chateauneuf. He was here on the 22nd; and there was much deliberation with the captains regarding the pursuit of the campaign. The Maid and some of the most distinguished nobles had striven hard to reconcile the king and the Duke of Richemont. At first Charles yielded; but La Tremoille made him refuse absolutely. This
majordomo was the deadly foe of Richemont, as the latter was of him. King Charles retained, moreover, dark memories of Richemont's tyranny when he was Constable of France. It was one of the conditions announced by Joan for the accomplishment of her mission that there should be a general amnesty for the French princes when they returned to their allegiance, and that there should be a cordial reconciliation of all. The ex-Constable was reconciled later, and became the continuator of Joan's mission in driving the English from France. He became Duke of Brittany two years before his death in 1458.
From Chateauneuf the king returned to Sully, and Joan to Orleans, to arouse the enthusiasm of the people and the soldiers for the march to Reims. "She drew to the king," says Cousinot, "all the men-at-arms, and was supplied with arms, food, and wagons." The muster (gathering VF) place was Gien, a few miles southeast of Sully, on the Loire; and hither came King Charles.
In the early morning of June 24th the Maid said to the Duke d'Alencon, "Sound the trumpet and mount; it is time to go to the king and put him on the road for his coronation at Reims." They arrived at Gien the same day, and were received joyously by the king, who held high festival in their honor, while all the brilliant gathering conversed with astonishment about the success of the recent campaign. Joan urged an immediate departure for Reims; but
there were three towns held by the English south of them on the river—Bonny, Cosne, and La Charite; and these were summoned by King Charles to surrender. He sent Admiral de Culan to Bonny the nearest, which yielded on the 26th; the others were, for the moment, left unmolested.
There were great deliberations, says the chroniclers; during which the queen, Marie of Anjou, came to Glien, in order to accompany the march and be crowned. But the plan of Joan met much opposition. It is clear that many were unwilling to follow her; amongst whom were several royal captains and nearly all the politicians, including the Chancellor Archbishop, and especially La Tremoille. This double-dealer "trembled for his position" at court. He had many and powerful enemies, who would be glad to see him fall. But he had a party, too, of men like himself. He supplied money—a prime necessity—to the king, although at enormous interest; and the unfortunate monarch, abandoned by fortune, by his mother, and by his nobles, had submitted to the influence of La Tremoille, which, after all, was scarcely more discreditable or more fatal than that of the princes of the royal blood.
The opposition referred to never ceased. A difficulty was raised by many, and by the king himself, regarding the character of the country through which they should pass to reach Reims. A march of eighty leagues through towns and fortresses held by the Anglo-Burgundian armies
seemed rash; the army, moreover—probably about twelve thousand men—was not provided with siege guns or commissariat. When all this was said to Joan, she answered, "I know the difficulties on the way; but I make no account whatsoever of them. I will lead the king to be crowned, no matter what enemy opposes."
Drawn by the fame of the Maid, multitudes of volunteers of every rank and condition kept pouring in to Glien—so many, that the weak and narrow Tremoille, alarmed at the number, sent many away. So great was the enthusiasm, that, in the word of Jean Chartier, "all France could easily have been won back." Nor is there any reason to doubt his declaration. Nobles, captains, gentlemen, the common people—all wished to serve with the Maid, without pay and in any position. To them she was the envoy of Heaven. Gentlemen without money for knightly equipment served as common soldiers. Noblemen adopted the banner and blazon of Joan. Great barons and nobles, hitherto craven or disloyal, came to the king or wished to come. Amongst these, was, for instance, Rene, Duke of Bar, the king's brother-in-law, who had done homage to the Duke of Burgundy and the English king. He joined the royal standard soon after the coronation. The conviction was clearly becoming general that the days of English dominion in France were numbered.
All that was needed was faith in the Maid. But the craven and dubious court circle around Charles VII were unworthy of the great opportunity, and they rejected it.
The queen was sent back to Bourges in Berri, far south of Orleans. Joan must have grieved over it; but she never wavered. On June 25th she wrote to the faithful citizens of Tourney in Flanders, the only city which remained loyal in the north of France. "I invite you," she said, "to the coronation of our noble King Charles at Reims, where we will arrive soon."
The council still lingered; and Joan angered by the delays, and hopeless of harmony, boldly crossed the Loire with a part of the army and many captains. She went on twelve miles on the road to Auxerre, as an eagle teaching its young to fly. There were "many councils" still; but the king followed on the 29th with "a fair company." "On his way," says de Cagny, "all the fortresses on the right and left surrendered to him."
Suction 2.—What Might Have Been
After the fatal field of Patay, cities such as La Rochelle rang their bells for joy and lighted bonfires. There was a riot in Paris; and the English regent, the Duke of Bedford, left the city for Vincennes, through fear of the fickle populace. In his efforts to recruit an army there was not much success, and the Picards, particularly, had begun to desert. It was probably the time to strike at Paris.
But Joan knew the heart of France, and the far-reaching influence of the crowning. Besides, her Voices had traced the way by Reims to Paris; it was an eagle's course and campaign, and sure to succeed. The towns were wavering; and, at the appearance of Joan and the king, yielded. The province of Champagne was hers after the submission of Troyes; and it submitted at a, mere show of force. An official or governing group occasionally mocked at the Maid, as at Troyes and Reims; but the people soon welcomed her enthusiastically. If Charles' council had been wise or efficient, or he himself sufficiently confident and daring, Joan's oft-repeated words would have been undoubtedly true—he could have easily and quickly regained all France. She was the best politician and soldier of them all.
There was a court clique, which was despicable. They did not wish to go to Reims; they proposed a retreat at the first show of resistance at Troyes; and their folly culminated at Paris when they did actually turn back, abandoning the Maid, and breaking down a bridge by which she could attack the city. They then actually retreated to the Loire! Yet, Joan was not broken-hearted at all this. Still she fought; fearing, she said, no foe but treason.
The Duke of Burgundy was, seemingly, almost as undecided as Charles VII. He had had friction with the English. His ambassadors appeared at the coronation at Reims.
There had been various armistices and appearances of reconciliation with the king of France. But, after the coronation he joined the regent Bedford at Paris through sheer spite or conscienceless insincerity. The delays of the French court proved fatal. Bedford and Burgundy being reconciled, Cardinal Beaufort, the English king's uncle, made peace with Scotland, and sent against Catholic France a military force enlisted for a crusade against the anarchical heretics of Bohemia. With these troops came a strong band of men recruited by Sir John Radcliffe; and the combined army reached Paris on the 25th of July. Tremoille's selfish hostility and Archbishop Regnault de Chartres' negotiations with the false Burgundians ruined the cause of France and sacrificed the peerless Maid. Yet the impulse she gave really ruined the English cause.
Section 3.—Joan's Manner of Warfare
Joan rode with the army fully equipped as a knight. It was usual to wear a rather long tunic over the armor, and sometimes under it. An ample cloak, or loose robe, was also worn. The captive Duke of Orleans, whose territory was the first freed by Joan from the foe, and whose liberation was one of the objects of her mission, presented her with very rich and costly robes of his own colors--green and crimson, as if making her his champion. After the assassination of his father, the green, at first vivid, was turned to brownish; and after Agincourt, where he was made prisoner, became darker—the green of the vanquished. The nettle, the badge of his family, was embroidered on the robe.
When in the field, Joan slept in full armor; and in houses, always with a female companion. We have oft-repeated testimonies that her appearance made chaste the hearts of soldiers, both noble and lowly. In her campaigns she was accustomed to go into a church in the evening, accompanied by the priests—and with these there were mendicant friars—who sang hymns and anthems to Our Lady. Her confessions and communions were constant, often daily. It cannot be denied that the whole army was reformed, although there was occasionally an outbreak of violence or disorder. When she broke her sword on the back of a bad woman who got into the camp, the king is reported to have chided her and recommended a stick; not, as has been so foolishly and unjustly said, because he was depraved, but because, as he himself explained, the sword was pointed out to Joan by her Voices. She became very angry, she was horrified, the chroniclers relate, when she heard any profane speech, and especially any profanation of the holy Name of God. Etienne de Vignoles (La Hire), one of her first friends in need and one of the truest, the gallant and fearless soldier, used "to swear like a trooper." But Joan reformed him, and made him swear by his baton.
Her page, Louis de Coutes, says he frequently heard her reprove d'Alencon, her "fair Duke," for swearing. In general, he continues, no one swore in her presence in the whole army without being reprimanded. "She made vehement reproaches," confesses d'Alencon, "to those guilty of profanity, and especially to myself, who swore sometimes. Her presence was enough to make profane words die upon my lips." Dunois, who completed her work, took Paris, and conquered Normandy and Guyenne, tells that her custom was every day at the hour of vespers to retire to a church. She had the bells rang for half an hour; then she assembled the priests to sing the evening service. D'Aulon, her constant companion, said that no one was ever more chaste than Joan. "How much I would desire," she said to the Archbishop of Reims, "that it were the good pleasure of God my Creator to allow me to retire and quit the army. I would go and serve my father and mother in watching over their sheep, with my sister and brothers, who would have great joy in seeing me."
On the march she sometimes rode at the head of the army, sometimes with the king, and sometimes in the rear. If there were a cry of alarm, she was first at the place of danger, whether she was on foot or horseback. "It was beautiful to hear her talk of war, and to see her marshal soldiers."
The impression made by Joan on the noble hearted Dunois was life-long. He rose to the height of glory under Charles VII, becoming the most influential of all in court and camp. He was a man of transparent faith and virtue. On his portrait in the château of Beaugency is read the prayer, three times repeated, "Cor mundum crea in me, Deus"- "O God create in me a clean heart." He wished to be buried at Notre Dame de Clery, where his tomb is pointed out. He died in 1456, at the age of fifty-one; having been, therefore, twenty-six or twenty-seven, in the days of Joan, in 1429.
Section 4.—A Bloodless March Through Foes
The army marched or rode from (lien, fifty miles due east to Auxerre; before which it encamped on July 1st. Summoned by King Charles to surrender, it "yielded not full obedience"; which seems to mean that there was hesitation, or doubt, rather than hostility, and which is still further proved by the fact that the city was left in the rear unmolested. Perhaps it feared the conduct of the soldiers, and, probably, still more the vengeance of the Duke of Burgundy. Joan and the captains wished to take the city by assault; and Joan said it could be easily done. But the citizens began to make terms, promising such obedience to the king as would be rendered by Troyes, Chalons, and Reims. They put into the itching palm of Tremoille a douceur of two thousand gold crowns, to leave the city inviolate; and sold much needed provisions to the army.
Many captains were indignant, and did not conceal their complaints against the favorite and some of the other councilors. After three days the army marched away northeast to Troyes, which was distant some fifty miles or more. On the border of Champagne the town of St. Florentin submitted as they advanced; and, according to de Cagny, all the fortresses along the march acknowledged King Charles at the summoning of Joan. She was herself the first to hold parley at the barriers; at times she sent some one her party to bid them surrender to the King of Heaven.
At Brienon—I'Archeveque, King Charles wrote to the people of Reims, inviting them to prepare for his coronation after the manner of his ancestors. Pausing little on the way, the army reached St. Phal on the 4th, four leagues southwest of Troyes. It was the possession of Etienne de Vaudrey, Count of Joigny, an ardent Burgundian. Joan must have easily taken the fortress, the ruins of which are still seen in the cultivated fields. From here Joan wrote a most remarkable letter to the citizens of Troyes —a delightful, warm-hearted invitation: "My very dear and good friends—if you wish to be —the Maid commands you, and makes known to you in the name of the King of Heaven your duty to acknowledge the gentle king of France, who will soon be at Reims and Paris. . . .
Loyal Frenchmen, come to meet your king; for I assure you we will enter all the towns that belong to France."
Troyes was, apparently, rebellious. The citizens sent a copy of her letter to Reims, telling that the enemy was at their gates. They were determined, they said, to keep their oath to the Duke of Burgundy and King Henry of England, and exhorted Reims to fight with them to death. In their letters and proclamations they mocked Joan, and gave her an opprobrious name. To Chalons they wrote in the same tone.
On the morning of July 5th the 'royal army encamped before Troyes. It was the capital of Champagne, and had served as an English capital in France after the signing of the treaty, which handed over France to the invader. On the day of the treaty fifteen hundred burgesses swore in the Cathedral to observe it, and had renewed their oath a little before Joan came. It had witnessed, or made, the pomp and circumstance of the marriage of the "gentle Dauphin's" sister Catherine, daughter of the unfortunate Charles VI, with the English King, Henry V. The city, like Rheims and Chalons, had remained steadfastly attached to the Anglo-Burgundian cause. Within it just now there were five or six hundred combatants, we are told by Cousinot, who bravely came out to meet the king's soldiers. The latter attacked them with little hesitation, and drove them back.
There was much hunger in the royal army, the chronicler goes on to say; thousands had been for days without food, and they ate eagerly the ears of wheat and the new-ripening beans sown by the advice of Friar Richard. This was a sensational preacher, who, returning, according to his own story, from the Holy Land in 1428, had preached in Troyes during Advent. "Sow beans," he urged every day; "for he who is to come will come soon." The crop of beans was an extraordinary one, and was providential for the starving soldiers of Charles VII. Richard had preached through the country, and was in Paris in April of 1429. His discourse each day lasted from five to eleven in the forenoon, in presence of an audience numbering six thousand. Antichrist, he said, was already born; and in the year 1430 there would be wonders greater than the world had seen before. He found, however, that the theological faculty of Paris was about to proceed against him, and he departed suddenly and silently in the night. At first he was on the Burgundian side, as far as he entered into politics. But after his interview with Joan, under the walls of Troyes, he followed the Maid until December, 1429, or January, 1430; when he left her because she would not recognize the visionary Catherine of La Rochelle.
Joan said at Rouen, that Friar Richard was sent by the citizens of Troyes, she thought, to test whether she was sent by Heaven or not.
He approached her, sprinkling holy water. "Come on boldly," she said; "I shall not fly away." This was on Tuesday, July 5th, the day of the coming to Troyes. Richard carried back Joan's letter to the citizens; but they made no answer, and prepared to defend their walls. On Friday (8th) the royal council, frightened by the rebel temper of Troyes, were about to decide upon a retreat, when Robert le Magon, Lord of Treves reminded them that they had begun the march at the instance of Joan, and it might be well to consult her. Meanwhile, "she knocked very loudly at the door of the council chamber"; and, having entered, the Archbishop summed up the dangers and difficulties of a forward march. She turned to the king, and asked—very naturally—whether they would believe what she had to say. The king said they would consider any helpful recommendation she had to make. Whereupon she said, "Gentle king of France, this city is yours; remain two or three days more, and it will surrender through love or fear." The Archbishop said they would remain six if she were sure of success. Immediately she sprang into the saddle and went through the ranks of the army, hurrying them all—knights and men-at-arms—to bring up faggots, doors, tables, windows, to shelter the assailants and fill up the moat. She planted the cannon, such as they had; and pitched the tents nearer to the walls. She labored with a diligence so marvelous, says Dunois, that two or three men-at-arms, the most famous, and most accomplished,
would not have equaled her. She advanced the siege work so much during the night that seeing this, he continues, the Bishop and burgesses, trembling with fear, came out to treat of their submission with the king. And they afterwards told, that, from the time that Joan gave the counsel to attack, the people lost heart, and sought refuge in the churches. Under the impulse of Joan's stern argument, the citizens, says Cousinot, acknowledged that Charles was their lawful king and that Joan had been doing extraordinary things. The king agreed to let the English and Burgundian soldiers go free with whatever they possessed. He granted a general amnesty; and confirmed the ecclesiastical appointments made under the patronage of the English king. The soldiers claimed a right to take their prisoners with them; and were leading them away, when Joan, aroused to indignation, forbade it. She stationed herself at the city gate, declaring, "In the name of God they shall not be taken." The king then paid their ransom, and they were freed.
On the 10th of July about nine o'clock in the morning—the day after Joan's prophecy—the king entered the city in state with his nobles and captains brilliantly equipped and mounted. But Joan, prudent warrior, had gone before, and stationed the archers along the streets. The army remained outside under Ambrose de Lore; and marched off next day (11th),
"to the great joy of the citizens, who swore to be henceforth good and loyal subjects of King Charles." For his services the Bishop, hitherto not on the French side, received later from Charles letters of nobility for his family. Their march was straight on, northeast to Chalons, forty or fifty miles away. Joan's prophecy was that the Burgundians would be "stupefied" at the fall of Troyes; and such was precisely the effect. Chalons and Reims followed immediately, and Champagne was the King's.
On the march to Chalons, Joan rode in full armor at the head of the troops. From Bussy —Lestrees, on the 13th, the king sent on his promise of amnesty to the people of the city; and on the 14th, seeing the approaching army, "a multitude" of the citizens went out with their Bishop to meet the king and tender their allegiance. The army passed the night in the city; and Charles set his officers in charge, as at Troyes.
Here occurred the touching incident of the visit of five or six of her old friends of Domremy to Joan. Jean Morel, her godfather, hearing of her fame and of the crowning of the king through her heroic campaigns, came to Chalons to see her. She made him a present of a red garment, which she wore—one of the rich presents made to her, we may suppose. Gerardin d’Epinal, another of her godparents, came, also, to see her, with four of his fellow villagers.
They had a familiar conversation, full of confidence, during which she said to Gerardin, that the only thing she feared was treason.
Next day (the 15th) the army promptly resumed its march; and the king passed the night at the chateau of Sept-Saulx, the property of the Archbishop of Reims, four leagues from the city. Hither came a committee of the citizens to offer their allegiance; and the same day the king issued a proclamation, annulling all acts done in the city by English authority. On the afternoon of that day (the 16th) the king entered the city in the midst of popular acclaim; and all prepared with the greatest diligence for the coronation of the morrow.
Reims had not been, however, so loyal a little before. Its Burgundian captain, the Seigneur de Chatillon, being absent, was consulted quickly on the 8th of July, the people, or at least some of them, declaring their loyalty to him and their Anglo-Burgundian masters. He came to the city with other lords, and promised relief in five or six weeks; whereupon, the people refused to admit his soldiers, and he went away. The rapid march of the royal army disconcerted the foe, and Joan's deeds struck them with terror.