CHAPTER TWENTY – EIGHT
SOLD AND DELIVERED
Jeanne is now in the hands of the Burgundians, a prisoner of war, and according to the fixed rule of the time, she should be held for ransom. No proposition to this effect comes from the King or indeed any of her friends, the cities she had redeemed, the country in which she had, in great part, broken the foreign domination. On the French side is silence, acquiescence – at least inactive. The Maid is abandoned to her fate.
But on the part of her enemies, English as well as Burgundian, all is activity and determined purpose; they hold her now, their conqueror and humiliator, and no power shall wrest her from them. Fallen to the Bastard of Wandonne, she is presently turned over to John of Luxembourg, equally a filinus nullius brother to Louis of Luxembourg, the courtly prelate at the disposal of his chief, the Duke of Burgundy, who cherishes a peculiar enmity toward La Pucelle on account of her letters and reproaches addressed to him while she was leading the French army; also because of the part she had taken in capturing the Loire strongholds.
We have said that no proposals to ransom her came from Charles, upon whom the burden of odium thus directly falls. At the time he held important English prisoners, such as Talbot, their national hero, whom she had beaten at Orleans and Patay. A threat to visit upon this man the same treatment rendered to Jeanne, would have had immediate -effect. But Charles spoke no word, made no sign, thereby making himself an abettor of all that followed.
It is significant that about this time Regnault de Chartres, the royal chancellor, wrote to his people of Reims in pretended consolation but really censuring the prisoner and disclosing his inveterate malice. "She did not wish to believe the royal council," charged the archbishop, "but did everything according to her own will."
But some warning voices made themselves heard, voices that pleaded for gratitude, for justice. Jacques Gelu, Archbishop of Embrun, wrote to the king in strong terms, pointing out the latter's inescapable duty and the great accountability to which he would be held. There was much grief among the people at large; prayers were offered in the churches everywhere and special masses celebrated for the captive. But "the devil can quote scripture for his purpose," and, unfortunately for Jeanne, her enemies were able to make religious demonstrations on their side and to summon the most formidable powers of the church against her.
And it is the church that now takes a hand, so far as it was represented by the Vice-Inquisitor of Paris,
who, on the ground of her alleged heresies and sorceries, reclaims her from Philip the dubiously good, in order to bring her to trial before an ecclesiastical court. In this reclamation the servile and pro-English University of Paris joins itself, made up of priestly parasites, jealously concerned for their ease and consideration, their paltry learning (long since discredited), their fat livings, their prestige with the ruling powers and authorities.
Jeanne was first sent to the chateau of Beaulieu in Vermandois, not far from Compiegne; here she found her brave equerry d'Aulon. Presently she attempted to escape and very nearly succeeded. John of Luxembourg, who knew the value of his prize and was not disposed to take chances, then removed her to his strong fortress of Beaurevoir. Here he ordinarily resided with his family—his wife, his aunt, his daughter-in-law. These ladies showed much kindness to the young prisoner, and she conceived a great affection for them. They begged her to resume womanly attire, but to this she could not agree, saying that her heavenly friends did not permit it. Besides, she was by no means persuaded that she would never again be able to fight for her country.
Appears now Cauchon to claim Jeanne as his victim, since she had been captured in his diocese of Beauvais, which had no use for the holy man. At the instance of Bedford he begins a negotiation which takes a long time, though ostensibly between friends. The Burgundians are not unwilling to part with her, but they demand a heavy price. Cauchon continues
the business with great zeal, bringing a requisition from the University of Paris and even an order from the English civil government, unwarranted as it was: Henry VI demanding the surrender of Jeanne, "in virtue of the clause of French law authorizing the king to reclaim any prisoner taken in the interior of the kingdom."
Finally, the English Government offered a price of TEN THOUSAND pounds gold for the prisoner—a king's ransom indeed, but they truly judged that she was worth it. The disgrace which they then proceeded to bring upon the English name is one that no amount of money would atone for—one to which this great people is keenly sensitive after the lapse of five centuries.
The ladies of Luxembourg were very much opposed to the sale of Jeanne and harassed John with entreaties and remonstrances. It was of no avail. John of Luxembourg was not the worst man of his time, but he showed to the full that insensate hunger for money which marked the French of that age, and which I fear still deeply shades the character of this gallant people.
Some whisper of this bargaining reached Jeanne; she went frantic at the thought of being turned over to her deadly foes the English. Again she tried to escape, and this time fell nearly sixty feet from a tower; but she said that she preferred death to the fate that menaced her. Afterward she regretted having made the attempt without consent of her Voices; as usual she recovered miraculously from her injuries.
Indeed, the shock of her fall was less than that which John of Luxembourg received on hearing of her attempt, which might have cost him all that money! He lost no time in turning her over to his liege lord, Philip of Burgundy, in whose prisons she remained six weeks.
Jeanne was utterly poor and destitute, besides being a prisoner; without even the little means, which at this time would have softened her lot. She sent word to the people of Tournai, reminding them of her services, and they responded to her need.
While in prison at Arras, Philip's treasurer urged Jeanne to discard her virile dress and put on female attire—because of some nonsense in the hornbooks of theology then in use, this was made a great point against her, since it was thought to involve some understanding with the devil! Jeanne answered him: "I took this dress by command of God, and I cannot abandon it without His order."
Jeanne was not long in doubt as to whom she had been sold. She was taken to the chateau of Crotoy, where she made a short sojourn, was allowed the consolations of her religion, and received the last kindnesses due to her sex and humanity which she was to experience in this world. Thence, in wintry frost and cold, she was led by a strong escort of English soldiers to Rouen, and there lodged in the chateau de Bouvreuil. I have stood in the very tower, which contained her dungeon, and I could not imagine a more formidable place. But it did not seem strong enough to her keepers, and so they chained her with three chains
the heaviest that Jeanne had ever seen. This was in December, 1430, not two years since she had left Vaucouleurs; the most astonishing career that has ever been achieved within the same space of time.