JOAN'S LAST CAMPAIGN
Section 1—She Comes to Lagny. Defeat and Execution of Franquet d'Arras
Joan, like an eagle uncaged, left the court at Sully at the end of March, 1430. She did not acquaint the king, nor bid him good-by—a significant thing. She gave some pretext of a pleasure trip—war for France was her pleasure —as she departed with several companions-in arms, including her equerry d'Aulon, and, no doubt, her brothers. She went rapidly nearly straight north to Lagny, near Paris. Lured by the rumor of French fights and the steady progress of the royal cause. Her old companion-in-arms, Etienne de Vignoles (La Hire) was doing heroic things in Normandy, where he had taken the strong town of Louviers and the famous castle Gaillard. Another brave companion of hers, Ambrose de Lore, commander at Lagny, stoutly and successfully defended this place and St. -Celerin against the English. Here, too, were Foucault and Kennedy, and "many gallant soldiers," in at least considerable part Scottish.
Just as she arrived, a child of three days, apparently dead, was brought to the church of Our Lady, where the maidens gathered to pray for its life. Joan was begged to come. And as they prayed the infant gave signs of life, was baptized, and died. Joan never said that the child was really dead, although it was "black as her shoe."
It was probably soon after, that the free-booting Anglo-Burgundian captain, Franquet d'Arras, began to devastate the Isle-de-France. He led a veteran band of four hundred men, in part, if not all, English. Promptly Joan took the field with about the same number of men, Scots and other soldiers of the garrison, under Foucault and Kennedy. Having come up with the English, who had dismounted and were protected by a hedge, Joan's force, horse and foot, in good order, at once fell upon them. Nearly all the English were slain; and on the French side there were also dead and wounded. The leader was brought to Lagny; and Joan asked to have him exchanged for Jacquet Guillaume, an innkeeper near the gate of Paris at which an insurrection against the Anglo-Burgundians was to have begun. It was discovered in Passion week, and some of the prisoners were executed on the eve of Palm Sunday and on the following days. Whether Guillaume was one of these, or had died in prison, we do not know. But the news of his death had come; and, there upon, the bailiff said that Joan would do great if she allowed so great a criminal as Franquet to escape.
He was then handed over to the city authorities who, after a two weeks' trial, executed him. He himself confessed that he was "a murderer, a robber, and a traitor."
Section 2.—The Prediction of Joan's Capture
About the 20th of April, apparently, Joan went directly south, twenty-six miles or so, to Melon on the Seine, either to defend it against the English, or, possibly, to help to capture its island fortress. The Herald of Berri tells the story of the expulsion of the Anglo-Burgundian garrison. They had gone out to Yevres to steal cattle and, therefore, it seems to have been after Lent. While they were absent, the townspeople closed their gates, and besieged the castle, which stood on an island in the Seine. While Joan was viewing the fortifications, Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret revealed to her that she would be taken captive before the feast of St. "John, June 24th. In point of fact, she would be made prisoner a month sooner. They told her not to fear, that so it was destined; but God would be with her, and she would do His Will. Joan tried to learn from her heavenly friends the time and the place; but they would not tell: she must seek only the Divine Will. Then she begged that, when taken, she might die promptly, "without the long torment of imprisonment." Her Saints soothed her, and mercifully concealed the hard reality
Although the day was near, and the consequence fearful, Joan never flinched, no more than if she had been assured of a happy death in extreme old age. She explained at Rouen, that, if left to herself, she would avoid the place and time of death foretold; but that, finally, no matter what it cost, she would always obey her Voices.
Section 3.—The Position of Burgundy and the English
Judging from the correspondence of the Duke of Burgundy with the English, things looked black for their united cause at this time. He scarcely exaggerated the sufferings and isolation of Paris; no one ventured outside its walls. He advised the sending of a large army from England, a blow at Reims, a campaign on the Loire, but especially the capture of Compiegne, in order to relieve and protect Paris. He had a bitter grudge against this strong and most important city, because it refused to accept his sway, when Charles VII and his council handed it over to him.
Meanwhile the love and terror of Joan's name had scarcely diminished. The English were slow to enlist, and were deserting at home, as the Burgundians, and, in particular, the Picards, were in France. Chastelain, a Burgundian chronicler, wrote of her about this time that people knew not what to think of her; her foes feared her, and her friends worshiped her.
The Duke of Bedford, writing later to the English king, attributes justly all the evils done him to the Maid. Before she came, "all things prospered" for him; but so great a change was soon wrought, that those yet under English allegiance in France could neither till nor trade, but were driven to extreme and unbearable poverty.
Neither fear nor love, however, seemed to affect Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy. His party has harassed their countrymen during the truce, which served him merely as a time of preparation for war.
On April 23rd the boy-king of England landed at Calais, with the purpose of being crowned king of France at Reims; and soon an Anglo-Burgundian army was advancing toward the Oise and Compiegne.