THE TAKING OF JARGEAU--THE BRIDGE OF MEUNG--BEAUGENCY
On Monday, the 6th of June, the King lodged at Saint-Aignan near Selles-en-Berry. Among the gentlemen of his company were two sons of that Dame de Laval who, in her widowhood, had made the mistake of loving a landless cadet. André, the younger, at the age of twenty, had just passed under the cloud of a disgrace common to nearly all nobles in those days; his grandmother's second husband, Sire Bertrand Du Guesclin, had experienced it several times. Taken prisoner in the château of Laval by Sir John Talbot, he had incurred a heavy debt in order to furnish the sixteen thousand golden crowns of his ransom.
[Footnote 1179: Letter from Gui and André de Laval to the Ladies de Laval, in Trial, vol. v, p. 106. L. Jeny and Lanéry d'Arc, Jeanne D'Arc en Berry, Paris, 1892, in 8vo, p. 54.]
[Footnote 1180: Bertrand de Broussillon, La maison de Laval, vol. iii, p. 21.]
Being in great need of money, the two young nobles offered their services to the King, who received them very well, gave them not a crown, but said he would show them the Maid. And as he was going with them from Saint-Aignan to Selles, he summoned the Saint, who straightway, armed at all points save her head, and lance in hand, rode out to meet the King. She greeted the two young nobles heartily and returned with them to Selles. The eldest, Lord Guy, she received in the house where she was lodging, opposite the church, and called for wine. Such was the custom among princes. Cups of wine were brought, into which the guests dipped slices of bread called sops. When offering him the wine cup, the Maid said to Lord Guy: "I will shortly give you to drink at Paris."
[Footnote 1181: Letter from Gui and André de Laval, in Trial, vol. v, pp. 106 et seq.]
[Footnote 1182: N. Villiaumé, Histoire de Jeanne d'Arc, p. 88.]
She told him that, three days before, she had sent a gold ring to Dame Jeanne de Laval.
"It was a small matter," she added graciously. "I should like to have sent her something of greater value, considering her reputation."
[Footnote 1183: Recommandation in French. The esteem in which she was held. Compare Froissart cited by La Curne, Glossary, ad v. "Six bourgeois de la ville de Calais et de plus grande recommandation." ("Six citizens of Calais and of the highest reputation.")]
That same day, at the hour of vespers, she set out from Selles for Romorantin with a numerous company of men-at-arms and train-bands, commanded by Marshal de Boussac. She was surrounded by mendicant friars and one of her brothers went with her. She wore white armour and a hood. Her horse was brought to her at the door of her house. It was a great black charger which resolutely refused to let her mount him. She had him led to the Cross by the roadside, opposite the church, and there she leapt into the saddle. Whereupon Lord Guy marvelled; for he saw that the charger was as still as if he had been bound. She turned her horse's head towards the church porch, and in her clear woman's voice cried: "Ye priests and churchmen, walk in processions and pray to God."
Then, gaining the highroad: "Go forward, go forward," she said.
In her hand she carried a little axe. Her page bore her standard furled.
[Footnote 1184: Letter from Gui and André de Laval, in Trial, vol. v, pp. 106, 107.]
The meeting-place was Orléans. On Thursday, the 9th of June, in the evening, Jeanne passed over the bridge she had crossed on the 8th of May. Saturday, the 11th, the army set out for Jargeau. It consisted of horse brought by the Duke of Alençon, the Count of Vendôme, the Bastard, the Marshal de Boussac, Captain La Hire, Messire Florent d'Illiers, Messire Jamet du Tillay, Messire Thudal de Kermoisan of Brittany, as well as of contingents furnished by the communes, in all, perhaps eight thousand combatants, many of whom were armed with pikes, axes, cross-bows and leaden mallets. The young Duke of Alençon was placed in command. He was not remarkable for his intelligence. But he knew how to ride, and in those days that was the only knowledge indispensable to a general. Again the people of Orléans defrayed the cost of the expedition. For the payment of the fighting men they contributed three thousand livres, for their feeding, seven hogsheads of corn. At their own request, the King imposed on them a new taille of three thousand livres. At their own expense they despatched workmen of all trades,--masons, carpenters, smiths. They lent their artillery. They sent culverins, cannons, La Bergère, and the large mortar to which four horses were harnessed, with the gunners Megret and Jean Boillève. They furnished ammunition, engines, arrows, ladders, pickaxes, spades, mattocks; and all were marked, for they were a methodical folk. Everything for the siege was sent to the Maid. For in this undertaking she was the one commander they recognised, not the Duke of Alençon, not even the Bastard their own lord's noble brother. For the inhabitants of Orléans, Jeanne was the leader of the siege; and to Jeanne, before the besieged town, they despatched two of their citizens,--Jean Leclerc and François Joachim. After the citizens of Orléans, the Sire de Rais contributed most to the expenses of the siege of Jargeau. This unfortunate noble spent thoughtlessly right and left, while rich burgesses made great profits by lending to him at a high rate of interest. The sorry state of his affairs was shortly to bring him to attempt their readjustment by vowing his soul to the devil.
[Footnote 1185: Trial, vol. iii, p. 94; vol. iv, p. 12.]
[Footnote 1186: Mistère du siège, line 15,761. Journal du siège, p. 95. Chronique de la Pucelle, p. 299. Jean Chartier, Chronique, vol. i, p. 81. Monstrelet, vol. iii, p. 338.]
[Footnote 1187: See ante, p. 211. A. Duveau, Le jugement du duc d'Alençon, in Bull. soc. archéol. du Vendômois (1874), vol. xiii, pp. 132 et seq.]
[Footnote 1188: Loiseleur, Compte des dépenses faites par Charles VII pour secourir Orléans, p. 158.]
[Footnote 1189: Journal du siège, p. 97.]
[Footnote 1190: Taken from the Book of Accounts, in Trial, vol. v, pp. 262, 263. A. de Villaret, Campagnes de Jeanne d'Arc sur la Loire, pp. 77-80. Loiseleur, Compte des dépenses, p. 149.]
[Footnote 1191: Trial, vol. v, p. 261.]
The town of Jargeau, which was shortly to be taken after a severe siege, had surrendered to the English without resistance on the 5th of October in the previous year. The bridge leading to the town from the Beauce bank was furnished with two castlets. The town itself, surrounded by walls and towers, was not strongly fortified; but its means of defence had been improved by the English. Warned that the army of the French King was coming to besiege it, the Earl of Suffolk and his two brothers threw themselves into the town, with five hundred knights, squires, and other fighting men, as well as two hundred picked bowmen. The Duke of Alençon with six hundred horse was at the head of the force, and with him, the Maid. The first night they slept in the woods. On the morrow, at daybreak, my Lord the Bastard, my Lord Florent d'Illiers, and several other captains joined them. They were in a great hurry to reach Jargeau. Suddenly they hear that Sir John Fastolf is at hand, coming from Paris with two thousand combatants, bringing supplies and artillery to Jargeau.
[Footnote 1192: Chronique de la Pucelle, p. 258.]
[Footnote 1193: Berry, in the Trial, vol. iv, p. 45.]
[Footnote 1194: Journal du siège, p. 96. Chronique de la Pucelle, p. 299. Chronique de la fête, in Trial, vol. v, p. 295. Jean Chartier, Chronique, vol. i, p. 82. Berry, in Trial, vol. iv, p. 44. Monstrelet, vol. iv, p. 325.]
[Footnote 1195: Trial, vol. iii, p. 94. Perceval de Cagny, pp. 150, 151.]
[Footnote 1196: Journal du siège, Chronique de la Pucelle, Berry, Jean Chartier, loc. cit. Wavrin du Forestel, Anciennes chroniques, vol. i, p. 284. Falconbridge, in Trial, vol. iv, p. 452.]
This was the army which had been the cause of Jeanne's anxiety on the 4th of May, because her saints had not told her where Fastolf was. The captains held a council of war. Many thought the siege ought to be abandoned and that the army should go to meet Fastolf. Some actually went off at once. Jeanne exhorted the men-at-arms to continue their march on Jargeau. Where Sir John Fastolf's army was, she knew no more than the others; her reasons were not of this world.
"Be not afraid of any armed host whatsoever," she said, "and make no difficulty of attacking the English, for Messire leads you."
And again she said: "Were I not assured that Messire leads, I would rather be keeping sheep than running so great a danger."
She gained a better hearing from the Duke of Alençon than from any of the Orléans leaders. Those who had gone were recalled and the march on Jargeau was continued.
[Footnote 1197: Perceval de Cagny, p. 148, passim. Chronique de la Pucelle, p. 300.]
[Footnote 1198: Trial, vol. iii, p. 95.]
The suburbs of the town appeared undefended; but, when the French King's men approached, they found the English posted in front of the outbuildings, wherefore they were compelled to retreat. When the Maid beheld this, she seized her standard and threw herself upon the enemy, calling on the fighting men to take courage. That night, the French King's men were able to encamp in the suburbs. They kept no watch, and yet from the Duke of Alençon's own avowal they would have been in great danger if the English had made a sally. The Maid's judgment was even more fully justified than she expected. Everything in her army depended upon the grace of God.
[Footnote 1199: The night of Friday, the 10th to 11th of June.]
[Footnote 1200: Trial, vol. iii, p. 95.]
The very next day, in the morning the besiegers brought their siege train and their mortars up to the walls. The Orléans cannon fired upon the town and did great damage. Three of La Bergère's volleys wrecked the greatest tower on the fortifications.
[Footnote 1201: Ibid. Journal du siège, p. 97.]
The train-bands reached Jargeau on Saturday, the 11th. Straightway, without staying to take counsel, they hastened to the trenches and began the assault. They were too zealous; consequently, they went badly to work, received no aid from the men-at-arms and were driven back in disorder.
[Footnote 1202: Perceval de Cagny, p. 150.]
On Saturday night, the Maid, who was accustomed to summon the enemy before fighting, approached the entrenchments, and cried out to the English: "Surrender the town to the King of Heaven and to King Charles, and depart, or it will be the worse for you."
[Footnote 1203: Ibid.]
To this summons the English paid no heed, albeit they had a great desire to come to some understanding. The Earl of Suffolk came to my Lord the Bastard, and told him that if he would refrain from the attack, the town should be surrendered to him. The English asked for a fortnight's respite, after which time, they would undertake to withdraw immediately, they and their horses, provided, doubtless, that by that time they had not been relieved. On both sides such conditional surrenders were common. The Sire de Baudricourt had signed one at Vaucouleurs just before Jeanne's arrival there. In this case it was mere trickery to ask the French to enter into such an agreement just when Sir John Fastolf was coming with artillery and supplies. It has been asserted that the Bastard was taken in this snare; but such a thing is incredible; he was far too wily for that. Nevertheless, on the morrow, which was Sunday and the 12th of the month, the Duke of Alençon and the nobles, who were holding a council concerning the measures for the capture of the town, were told that Captain La Hire was conferring with the Earl of Suffolk. They were highly displeased. Captain La Hire, who was not a general, could not treat in his own name, and had doubtless received powers from my Lord the Bastard. The latter commanded for the Duke, a prisoner in the hands of the English, while the Duke of Alençon commanded for the King; and hence the disagreement.
[Footnote 1204: Trial, vol. i, pp. 79, 95.]
[Footnote 1205: S. Luce, Jeanne d'Arc à Domremy, p. clxviii.]
[Footnote 1206: Journal du siège, Chronique de la Pucelle, J. Chartier, Monstrelet, loc. cit.]
[Footnote 1207: Trial, vol. iii, p. 95.]
The Maid, who was always ready to show mercy to prisoners when they surrendered and at the same time always ready to fight, said: "If they will, let them in their jackets of mail depart from Jargeau with their lives! If they will not, the town shall be stormed."
[Footnote 1208: Ibid., vol. i, pp. 79-80, 234.]
The Duke of Alençon, without even inquiring the terms of the capitulation, had Captain La Hire recalled.
He came, and straightway the ladders were brought. The heralds sounded the trumpets and cried: "To the assault."
The Maid unfurled her standard, and fully armed, wearing on her head one of those light helmets known as chapelines, she went down into the trenches with the King's men and the train-bands, well within reach of arrows and cannon-balls. She kept by the Duke of Alençon's side, saying: "Forward! fair duke, to the assault."
[Footnote 1209: Ibid., vol. iii, p. 97. Perceval de Cagny, pp. 150-151.]
The Duke, who was not so courageous as she, thought that she went rather hastily to work; and this he gave her to understand.
Then she encouraged him: "Fear not. God's time is the right time. When He wills it you must open the attack. Go forward, He will prepare the way."
And seeing him lack confidence, she reminded him of the promise she had recently made concerning him in the Abbey of Saint-Florent-lès-Saumur. "Oh! Fair Duke, can you be afraid? Do you not remember that I promised your wife to bring you back safe and sound?"
[Footnote 1210: Trial, vol. iii, pp. 95-96.]
In the thick of the attack, she noticed on the wall one of those long thin mortars, which, from the manner of its charging, was called a breechloader. Seeing it hurl stones on the very spot where the King's fair cousin was standing, she realised the danger, but not for herself. "Move away," she said quickly. "That cannon will kill you."
The Duke had not moved more than a few yards, when a nobleman of Anjou, the Sire Du Lude, having taken the place he had quitted, was killed by a ball from that same cannon. The Duke of Alençon marvelled at her prophetic gift. Doubtless the Maid had been sent to save him, but she had not been sent to save the Sire Du Lude. The angels of the Lord are sent for the salvation of some, for the destruction of others. When the French King's men reached the wall, the Earl of Suffolk cried out for a parley with the Duke of Alençon. No heed was paid to him and the assault continued.
[Footnote 1211: Ibid., pp. 96, 97. Chronique de la Pucelle, p. 301. Journal du siège, p. 97.]
[Footnote 1212: Trial, vol. iii, p. 97.]
The attack had lasted four hours, when Jeanne, standard in hand, climbed up a ladder leaning against the rampart. A stone fired from a cannon struck her helmet and knocked it with its escutcheon, bearing her arms, off her head. They thought she was crushed, but she rose quickly and cried to the fighting men: "Up, friends, up! Messire has doomed the English. They are ours at this moment. Be of good cheer."
[Footnote 1213: Journal du siège, p. 100.]
[Footnote 1214: Trial, vol. iii, p. 97. Journal du siège, p. 98. Chronique de la Pucelle, pp. 301-302. Perceval de Cagny, pp. 150-151.]
The wall was scaled and the French King's men penetrated into the town. The English fled into La Beauce and the French rushed in pursuit of them. Guillaume Regnault, a squire of Auvergne, came up with the Earl of Suffolk on the bridge and took him prisoner.
"Are you a gentleman?" asked Suffolk.
"Are you a knight?"
The Earl of Suffolk dubbed him a knight and surrendered to him.
[Footnote 1215: Journal du siège, p. 99. Chronique de la Pucelle, p. 302. Jean Chartier, Chronique, vol. i, p. 82. Berry, in Trial, vol. iv, p. 65.]
Very soon the rumour ran that the Earl of Suffolk had surrendered on his knees to the Maid. It was even stated that he had asked to surrender to her as to the bravest lady in the world. But it is more likely that he would have surrendered to the lowest menial of the army rather than to a woman whom he held to be a witch possessed of the devil.
[Footnote 1216: Fragment of a letter concerning the wonders which happened in Poitou, in Trial, vol. v, p. 122.]
[Footnote 1217: Relation du greffier de La Rochelle, p. 340. Morosini, vol. iii, p. 70. Trial, vol. v, pp. 121-122.]
John Pole, Suffolk's brother, was likewise taken on the bridge. The Duke's third brother, Alexander Pole, was slain in the same place or drowned in the Loire.
[Footnote 1218: Trial, vol. iii, p. 72. Perceval de Cagny, p. 151. Journal du siège, p. 99. Monstrelet, vol. iv, p. 328. Morosini, vol. iii, pp. 128, 129.]
The garrison surrendered at discretion. Now, as always, no great harm was done during the battle, but afterwards the conquerors made up for it. Five hundred English were massacred; the nobles alone were held to ransom. And over them, the French fell to quarrelling. The French nobles kept them all for themselves; the train-bands claimed their share, and, not getting it, began to destroy everything. What the nobles could save was carried off during the night, by water, to Orléans. The town was completely sacked; the old church, which had served the Godons as a magazine, was pillaged.
[Footnote 1219: Journal du siège, p. 99.]
Including killed and wounded, the French had not lost twenty men.
[Footnote 1220: Perceval de Cagny, p. 151. Chronique de la Pucelle, p. 302. Jean Chartier, Chronique, vol. i, pp. 82, 83. Berry, in Trial, vol. iv, p. 65.]
Without disarming, the Maid and the knights returned to Orléans. To celebrate the taking of Jargeau, the magistrates organised a public procession. An eloquent sermon was preached by a Jacobin monk, Brother Robert Baignart.
[Footnote 1221: Accounts of the town of Orléans at the end of Le Journal du siège, ed. Charpentier and Cuissard, p. 229. Le R.P. Chapotin, La guerre de cent ans, Jeanne d'Arc et les Dominicains, Paris, 1889, 8vo, p. 82.]
The inhabitants of Orléans presented the Duke of Alençon with six casks of wine, the Maid with four, the Count of Vendôme with two.
[Footnote 1222: A. de Villaret, Campagne des Anglais, proofs and illustrations, p. 51.]
As an acknowledgment of the good and acceptable services rendered by the holy maiden, the councillors of the captive Duke Charles of Orléans, gave her a green cloak and a robe of crimson Flemish cloth or fine Brussels purple. Jean Luillier, who furnished the stuff, asked eight crowns for two ells of fine Brussels at four crowns the ell; two crowns for the lining of the robe; two crowns for an ell of yellowish green cloth, making in all twelve golden crowns. Jean Luillier was a young woollen draper who adored the Maid and regarded her as an angel of God. He had a good heart; but fear of the English dazzled him, and where they were concerned caused him to see double. One of his kinsfolk was a member of the council elected in 1429. He himself was to be appointed magistrate a little later.
[Footnote 1223: Trial, vol. v, pp. 112-113.]
[Footnote 1224: Ibid., vol. iii, p. 23.]
[Footnote 1225: Ibid., vol. v, p. 306.]
Jean Bourgeois, tailor, asked one golden crown for the making of the robe and the cloak, as well as for furnishing white satin, taffeta, and other stuffs.
[Footnote 1226: Ibid., pp. 112, 114.]
The town had previously given the Maid half an ell of cloth of two shades of green worth thirty-five sous of Paris to make "nettles" for her gown. Nettles were the Duke of Orléans' device, green or purple or crimson his colours. This green was no longer the bright colour of earlier days, it had gradually been growing darker as the fortunes of the house declined. It had first been a vivid green, then a brownish shade, and, finally, the tint of the faded leaf with a suggestion of black in it which signified sorrow and mourning. The Maid's colour was feuillemort. She, like the officers of the duchy and the men of the train-bands, wore the Orléans livery; and thus they made of her a kind of herald-at-arms or heraldic angel.
[Footnote 1227: Accounts of the Fortress, in Trial, vol. v, p. 259.]
[Footnote 1228: Trial, vol. v, pp. 106, 259. Catalogue des Arch. de Joursanvault, vol. i, p. 129, nos. 603, 607, 619, 645, 772. Dambreville, Abrégé de l'histoire des ordres de chevalerie, p. 167. P. Mantellier, Histoire du siège, p. 92.]
The cloak of yellowish green and the robe embroidered with nettles, she must have been glad to wear for love of Duke Charles, whom the English had treated with such sore despite. Having come to defend the heritage of the captive prince, she said that in Jesus' name, the good Duke of Orléans was on her mind and she was confident that she would deliver him. Her design was first to summon the English to give him up; then, if they refused, to cross the sea and with an army to seek him in England. In case such means failed her, she had thought of another course which she would adopt, with the permission of her saints. She would ask the King if he would let her take prisoners, believing that she could take enough to exchange for Duke Charles. Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret had promised her that thus his deliverance would take her less than three years and longer than one. Such were the pious dreams of a child lulled to sleep by the sound of her village bells! Deeming it just that she should labour and suffer to rescue her princes from trouble and weariness, she used to say, like a good servant: "I know that in matters of bodily ease God loves my King and the Duke of Orléans better than me; and I know it because it hath been revealed unto me."
[Footnote 1229: Trial, vol. i, p. 55, 258.]
[Footnote 1230: Ibid., p. 254.]
[Footnote 1231: Ibid., p. 133.]
[Footnote 1232: Ibid., pp. 133, 254.]
[Footnote 1233: Ibid., p. 258.]
Then, speaking of the captive duke she would say: "My Voices have revealed much to me concerning him. Duke Charles hath oftener been the subject of my revelations than any man living except my King."
[Footnote 1234: Ibid., p. 55.]
In reality, all that Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret had done was to tell her of the well-known misfortunes of the Prince. Valentine of Milan's son and Isabelle Romée's daughter were separated by a gulf broader and deeper than the ocean which stretched between them. They dwelt at the antipodes of the world of souls, and all the saints of Paradise would have been unable to explain one to the other.
All the same Duke Charles was a good prince and a debonair; he was kind and he was pitiful. More than any other he possessed the gift of pleasing. He charmed by his grace, albeit but ill-looking and of weak constitution. His temperament was so out of harmony with his position that he may be said to have endured his life rather than to have lived it. His father assassinated by night in the Rue Barbette in Paris by order of Duke John; his mother a perennial fount of tears, dying of anger and of grief in a Franciscan nunnery; the two S's, standing for Soupirs (sighs) and Souci (care), the emblems and devices of her mourning, revealing her ingenious mind fancifully elegant even in despair; the Armagnacs, the Burgundians, the Cabochiens, cutting each other's throats around him; these were the sights he had witnessed when little more than a child. Then he had been wounded and taken prisoner at the Battle of Azincourt.
[Footnote 1235: Bibliothèque Nationale, ms. fr. 966, fol. 1.]
Now, for fourteen years, dragged from castle to castle, from one end to the other of the island of fogs; imprisoned within thick walls, closely guarded, receiving two or three of his countrymen at long intervals, but never permitted to converse with one except before witnesses, he felt old before his time, blighted by misfortune. "Fruit fallen in its greenness, I was put to ripen on prison straw. I am winter fruit," he said of himself. In his captivity, he suffered without hope, knowing that on his death-bed Henry V had recommended his brother not to give him up at any price.
[Footnote 1236: Les poésies de Charles d'Orléans, ed. Guichard, 1842, in 12mo, p. 145.]
[Footnote 1237: A. Champollion-Figeac, Louis et Charles, ducs d'Orléans, leur influence sur les arts, la littérature et l'ésprit de leur siècle, Paris, 1844, 1 vol. in 8vo, with an atlas, pp. 300-337.]
Kind to others, kind to himself, he took refuge in his own thoughts, which were as bright and clear as his life was dark and sad. In the gloom of the stern castles of Windsor and of Bolingbroke, in the Tower of London, side by side with his gaolers, he lived and moved in the world of phantasy of the Romance of the Rose. Venus, Cupid, Hope, Fair-Welcome, Pleasure, Pity, Danger, Sadness, Care, Melancholy, Sweet-Looks were around the desk, on which, in the deep embrasure of a window, beneath the sun's rays, he wrote his ballads, as delicate and fresh as an illumination on the page of a manuscript. For him it was the world of allegory that really existed. He wandered in the forest of Long Expectation; he embarked on the vessel Good Tidings. He was a poet; Beauty was his lady; and courteously did he sing of her. From his verses one would say that he was but the Captive of Lord Love.
[Footnote 1238: Les poésies de Charles d'Orléans, ed. A. Champollion-Figeac, Paris, 1842, 8vo. Pierre Champion, Le manuscrit autographe des poésies de Charles d'Orléans, Paris, 1907, 8vo.]
He was left in ignorance of the affairs of his duchy; and, if he ever concerned himself about it, it was when he collected the books of King Charles V which had been bought by the Duke of Bedford and resold to London merchants; or when he commanded that on the approach of the English to Blois, its fine tapestries and his father's library should be carried off to La Rochelle. After Beauty rich hangings and delicate miniatures were what he loved most in the world. The bright sunshine of France, the lovely month of May, dancing and ladies were what he longed for most. He was cured of prowess and of chivalry.
[Footnote 1239: L. Delisle, Recherches sur la librairie de Charles V (1907), vol. i, p. 140.]
[Footnote 1240: Le Roux de Lincy, La bibliothèque de Charles d'Orléans à son château de Blois, en 1427, Paris, 1843, 8vo, pp. 5-7. Comte de Laborde, Les ducs de Bourgogne, études sur les lettres, les arts et l'industrie pendant le XV'e siècle, Paris, 1852, vol. iii, pp. 235 et seq.--Inventaires et documents relatifs aux joyaux et tapisseries des princes d'Orléans-Valois, Paris, 1894, 8vo.]
Some have wished to believe that from his duchy news reached him of the Maid's coming. They have gone so far as to imagine that a faithful servant kept him informed of the happy incidents of May and June, 1429; but nothing is less certain. On the contrary, the probability is that the English refused to let him receive any message, and that he was totally ignorant of all that was going on in the two kingdoms.
[Footnote 1241: Chronique de la Pucelle, Introduction by Vallet de Viriville, pp. 8, 19 et seq.]
[Footnote 1242: With regard to the year 1433, this is well established (Poésies complètes de Charles d'Orléans, ed. Charles d'Héricault, Paris, 1874, 2 vols. 8vo, introduction).]
Possibly he did not care for news of the war as much as one might expect. He hoped nothing from men-at-arms; and it was not to his fair cousins of France and to feats of prowess and battles that he looked for deliverance. He knew too much about them. It was in peace that he put his trust, both for himself and for his people. Since the fathers were dead, he thought that the sons might forgive and forget. He placed his hope in his cousin of Burgundy; and he was right, for the fortunes of the English were in the hands of Duke Philip. Charles brought himself, or at any rate he was to bring himself later, to recognise the suzerainty of the King of England. It is less important to consider the weakness of men than the force of circumstances. And the prisoner could never do enough to obtain peace: "joy's greatest treasure."
[Footnote 1243: Poésies de Charles d'Orléans, ed. A. Champollion-Figeac, pp. 175-176.]
No, despite her revelations, the picture Jeanne imagined of her fair Duke was not the true one. They were never to meet; but if they had met there would have been serious misunderstandings between them, and they would have remained incomprehensible one to the other. Jeanne's elemental, straight-forward way of thinking could never have accorded with the ideas of so great a noble and so courteous a poet. They could never have understood each other because she was simple, he subtle; because she was a prophetess while he was filled with courtly knowledge and lettered grace; because she believed, and he was as one not believing; because she was a daughter of the common folk and a saint ascribing all sovereignty to God, while for him law consisted in feudal uses and customs, alliances and treaties; because, in short, they held conflicting ideas concerning life and the world. The Maid's mission, her being sent by Messire to recover his duchy for him, would never have appealed to the good Duke; and Jeanne would never have understood his behaviour towards his English and Burgundian cousins. It was better they should never meet.
[Footnote 1244: For him every treaty of peace was a good treaty, even that of 1420, the Treaty of Troyes (Pierre Champion, Le manuscrit autographe des poésies de Charles d'Orléans, Paris, 1907, 8vo, p. 32).]
The capture of Jargeau had given the French control of the upper Loire. In order to free the city of Orléans from all danger, it was necessary to make sure of the banks of the lower river. There the English still held Meung and Beaugency. On Tuesday, the 14th of June, at the hour of vespers, the army took the field.
[Footnote 1245: Perceval de Cagny, p. 152: "Je veux demain, après dîner, aller voir ceux de Meung." ["To-morrow after dinner I will go to the people of Meung."] The turn of expression which this chronicle attributes to Jeanne is really that of the clerk who wrote it.]
They passed through La Sologne, and that same evening gained the Bridge of Meung, situated above the town and separated from its walls by a broad meadow. Like most bridges, it was defended by a castlet at each end; and the English had provided it with an earthen outwork, as they had done for Les Tourelles at Orléans. They defended it badly, however, and the French King's men forced their way in before nightfall. They left a garrison there, and went out to encamp in Beauce, almost under the walls. The young Duke of Alençon lodged in a church with a few men-at-arms; and, as was his wont, did not keep watch. He was surprised and ran great danger.
[Footnote 1246: Trial, vol. iii, pp. 71, 97, 110. Chronique de la Pucelle, p. 305. Journal du siège, p. 101. Berry, in Trial, vol. iv, p. 44. Walter Bower, Scotichronicon, in Trial, vol. iv, p. 479. Eberhard Windecke, p. 176.]
[Footnote 1247: Trial, vol. iii, p. 97.]
The town garrison, which was a small one, was commanded by Lord Scales, and "the Child of Warwick." The next day, early in the morning, the King's men, passing within a cannon shot of the town of Meung, marched straight on Beaugency, which they reached in the morning.
[Footnote 1248: Ibid., pp. 97, 98.]
The ancient little town, built on the side of a hill and girt around with vineyards, gardens, and cornfields, sloped before them towards the green valley of the Ru. Straight in front of them rose its square tower of somewhat proud aspect, although it had oftentimes been taken. The suburbs were not fortified; but the French, when they entered them, were riddled by a shower of arrows of every kind, fired by archers concealed in dwellings and outhouses. On both sides there were killed and wounded. Finally, the English retreated into the castle and the bridge bastions.
[Footnote 1249: Journal du siège, p. 101. Chronique de la Pucelle, p. 304. Jean Chartier, Chronique, vol. i, p. 83.]
The Duke of Alençon stationed sentinels in front of the castle to watch the English. Just then, he saw coming towards him, two nobles of Brittany, the Lords of Rostrenen and of Kermoisan, who said to him: "The Constable asks the besiegers for entertainment."
[Footnote 1250: Trial, vol. iii, pp. 97, 98. Gruel, Chronique de Richemont, p. 70.]
Arthur of Brittany, Sire de Richemont, Constable of France, had spent the winter in Poitou waging war against the troops of the Sire de La Trémouille. Now in defiance of the King's prohibition the Constable came to join the King's men. He had crossed the Loire at Amboise and arrived before Beaugency with six hundred men-at-arms and four hundred archers. His coming caused the captains great embarrassment. Some esteemed him a man of strong will and great courage. But many were dependent upon the Sire de La Trémouille, as for example the poor squire, Jean d'Aulon. The Duke of Alençon wanted to retreat, alleging that the King had commanded him not to receive the Constable.
[Footnote 1251: E. Cosneau, Le connétable de Richemont, pp. 93 et seq.]
[Footnote 1252: Trial, vol. iii, pp. 315, 516. Jean Chartier, Chronique, vol. i, p. 84. Journal du siège, pp. 101, 102. Perceval de Cagny, p. 153.]
"If the Constable comes, I shall retire," he said to Jeanne.
To the Breton nobles he replied, that if the Constable came into the camp, the Maid, and the besiegers would fight against him.
[Footnote 1253: Trial, vol. iii, p. 98. E. Cosneau, Le connétable de Richemont, p. 168.]
So decided was he that he mounted his horse to ride straight up to the Bretons. The Maid, out of respect for him and for the King, was preparing to follow him. But many of the captains restrained the Duke of Alençon deeming that now was not the time to break a lance with the Constable of France.
[Footnote 1254: Gruel, Chronique de Richemont, pp. 70 et seq.]
On the morrow a loud alarm was sounded in the camp. The heralds were crying: "To arms!" The English were said to be approaching in great numbers. The young Duke still wanted to retreat in order to avoid receiving the Constable. This time Jeanne dissuaded him: "We must stand together," she said.
[Footnote 1255: Trial, vol. iii, p. 98.]
He listened to this counsel and went forth to meet the Constable, followed by the Maid, my Lord the Bastard, and the Lords of Laval. Near the leper's hospital at Beaugency they encountered a fine company. As they approached, a thick-lipped little man, dark and frowning, alighted from his horse. It was Arthur of Brittany. The Maid embraced his knees as she was accustomed to do when holding converse with the great ones of heaven and earth. Thus did every baron when he met one nobler than himself.
[Footnote 1256: Gruel, Chronique de Richemont, p. 71. Cf. E. Cosneau, Le connétable de Richemont, pp. 169, 583. See a drawing in the Gaignières collection reproduced by J. Lair, Essai sur la bataille de Formigny, 1903, 8vo.]
[Footnote 1257: Lors le saluèrent et le vinrent accoller par les jambes. (Then they saluted him and embraced his knees.) J. de Bueil, Le Jouvencel, vol. i, p. 191.]
The Constable spoke to her as a good Catholic, a devout servant of God and the Church, saying: "Jeanne, I have heard that you wanted to fight against me. Whether you are sent by God I know not. If you are I do not fear you. For God knows that my heart is right. If you are sent by the devil I fear you still less."
[Footnote 1258: Gruel, Chronique de Richemont, pp. 71-72. I have here followed Gruel, who is not generally very trustworthy, but whose account in this particular seems probable, at least he is no mere hagiographer.]
He was entitled to speak thus, for he made a point of never acknowledging the devil's power over him. His love of God he showed by seeking out wizards and witches with a greater zeal than was displayed by bishops and inquisitors. In France, in Poitou, and in Brittany he had sent more to the stake than any other man living.
[Footnote 1259: Ibid., p. 228.]
The Duke of Alençon dared not either dismiss him or grant him a lodging for the night. It was the custom for new comers to keep the watch. The Constable with his company kept watch that night in front of the castle.
[Footnote 1260: Ibid., p. 72. E. Cosneau, Le connétable de Richemont, p. 170.]
Without more ado the young Duke of Alençon proceeded to the attack. Here, again, those who bore the brunt of the attack and provided for the siege were the citizens of Orléans. The magistrates of the town had sent by water from Meung to Beaugency the necessary siege train, ladders, pickaxes, mattocks, and those great pent-houses beneath which the besiegers protected themselves like tortoises under their shells. They had sent also cannons and mortars. The gay gunner, Master Jean de Montesclère, was there. All these supplies were addressed to the Maid. The magistrate, Jean Boillève, brought bread and wine in a barge. Throughout Friday, the 7th, mortars and cannon hurled stones on the besieged. At the same time from the valley and from the river the attack was being made from barges. On the 17th of June, at midnight, Sir Richard Gethyn, Bailie of Évreux, who commanded the garrison, offered to capitulate. It was agreed that the English should surrender the castle and bridge, and depart on the morrow, taking with them horses and harness with each man his property to the value of not more than one silver mark. Further, they were required to swear that they would not take up arms again before the expiration of ten days. On these terms, the next day, at sunrise, to the number of five hundred, they crossed the drawbridge and retreated on Meung, where the castle, but not the bridge, remained in the hands of the English. The Constable wisely sent a few men to reinforce the garrison on the Meung Bridge. Sir Richard Gethyn and Captain Matthew Gough were detained as hostages.
[Footnote 1261: Journal du siège, p. 97. Chronique de la Pucelle, p. 301.]
[Footnote 1262: A. de Villaret, Campagne des Anglais, pp. 87-88, and proofs and illustrations, pp. 153, 158.]
[Footnote 1263: Chronique de la Pucelle, p. 305. Journal du siège, p. 102. Jean Chartier, Chronique, vol. i, p. 84. Wavrin du Forestel, Anciennes chroniques, vol. i, pp. 279, 282. Monstrelet, vol. iii, pp. 325 et seq.]
[Footnote 1264: Gruel, Chronique de Richemont, p. 72.]
[Footnote 1265: Wavrin du Forestel, Anciennes chroniques, vol. i, p. 279.]
The Beaugency garrison had been in too great haste to surrender. Scarce had it gone when a man-at-arms of Captain La Hire's company came to the Duke of Alençon saying: "The English are marching upon us. We shall have them in front of us directly. They are over there, full one thousand fighting men."
Jeanne heard him speak but did not seize his meaning.
"What is that man-at-arms saying?" she asked.
And when she knew, turning to Arthur of Brittany, who was close by, she said: "Ah! Fair Constable, it was not my will that you should come, but since you are here, I bid you welcome."
[Footnote 1266: Trial, vol. iii, p. 98.]
The force the French had to face was Sir John Talbot and Sir John Fastolf with the whole English army.
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