Page images
[graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

Distress of the People of Orleans and Tours on the Capture of the Maid

-Charles makes no Effort for her Release-Jeanne sent to Beaulieu—the Lord John of Luxembourg sells her to the Englishher Death resolved upon-Cauchon Bishop of Beauvais—she is removed to Beaurevoir-wins the Love of the Ladies—her Reasons for refusing to change her Male Attire—her strong Temptationshe leaps down from the Castle Tower-supposed to be killed — removed to Crotoi—Hatred of the English and Jealousy of the French-University of Paris decide she is to be tried for Sorcery -the Trial to be at Rouen-Jeanne at Crotoi—her Person described by Contemporary Witnesses—the Boy Henry—Bedford and Beaufort at Rouen-L'Oiseleur sent to lead Jeanne to betray herself - her Prison Sufferings — Preparations for her Trial — Authority for the Particulars of the same.

[ocr errors]

RUE and fatal had been the warning of

Jeanne's voices. The heroism of action was passed; the heroism of suffering was to begin ;

and in that, if possible, she proved greater than before. The enemy rejoiced. The good Duke of Burgundy, as he was called (though his goodness generally took the line of his own interest), was gratified by having conquered a noble enemy who had hitherto been unconquerable. But it was sad news for every true French heart. At first it was not credited : the people refused to believe

[ocr errors]

anything so calamitous as the loss of the liberator of Orleans, who, had she been left to follow up her victories according to her own views, would probably ere this have been the liberator of all France.

The people of Orleans, Blois, Chinon, Tours, where Jeanne was known and esteemed, not merely for her prowess in the field, but for her many gracious qualities, were so distressed, that at Tours the priests, carrying the relics of the apostle of the Gauls, made a solemn procession through the streets with bare heads and naked feet, chanting the Miserere.

But how did the man who, not long before, was about to fly into Spain or into Scotland to save his very life, when the Maid came to him at Chinon as the envoy of God, to deliver him and his kingdom,-how did Charles act on learning this calamity? Would it not have been expected that he would have called up the chivalry of France, headed that brave band, and, at the risk of his crown and his life, have attempted her deliverance? Or, if his spirit quailed at the chance of arms, that he would have sent envoy after envoy, and have offered all the treasure he possessed, even to the half of his kingdom, as a ransom to redeem the heroic maid to whom he owed so much?

But Charles, the ignoble Charles, did nothing. We sicken as we turn away from the thought of a soul so ungrateful, so unmanly. The English and Burgundians detested Jeanne for her victories over them; the envious and jealous for her having outshone them in the path of SENT TO BEAULIEU.


loyalty and honour: all these joined in one chorus of hatred for her destruction. The Archbishop of Rheims led the way. He wrote to that city, and informed the inhabitants that Jeanne was a prisoner. It was, he considered, a punishment for her pride: she had followed her own counsel instead of that of God, and had clothed herself in costly garments. But her loss, he assured the good people, was of no importance, as there was a shepherd-boy from the mountains of Gévaudan, who bore upon his body the five wounds, like St. Francis, and who had been sent to the King at the command of God, to go out and conquer with the army. As we shall presently see, nothing but contempt came of this endeavour to set up a half idiot boy in rivalry to the pretensions of Jeanne.

The capture of the Maid saved La Trémoille and his confederates some trouble. They had been plotting to thwart Alençon. They knew that the rank and power of the Duke was such, that it must at last have weight with the King. They knew that Alençon, desirous to associate Jeanne with himself for the deliverance of France, was determined to carry his point, though on his first application Charles had refused to allow him her services. The possibility of that union was now over.

To return to the Maid. She was at first placed by her captor in the hands of his master, the Lord John of Luxembourg, who sent her to the Château of Beaulieu, near Noyon. On the 26th May (the day after the great news that caused the Te Deum to be sung in Paris) the Vicar-General of the Grand Inquisitor of France wrote to the Duke of Burgundy, desiring to have sent to him forthwith as a prisoner the woman called The Maid, who was suspected of many crimes of the nature of heresy, that before a competent tribunal, assisted by the University of Paris, she might be made to answer for the same. The Duke of Burgundy, however, was too well aware of the value of the prize he had gained, to let it slip from him so easily. He gave no answer; and the Vicar and the University continued to trouble him without effect. But more powerful foes than the theologians were anxious for her destruction.

Bedford the Regent and Cardinal Beaufort had motives both personal and political for desiring it. But these men, as well as Burgundy, were aware that so great was the celebrity of Jeanne, not only in France, but in all Europe, that what they did must wear the mask of justice, to conceal the dark countenance of hatred that lurked beneath. It would never do to take a prisoner of warfor such was Jeanne—and put her to death, when her only offence had been that of having taken up arms for her King and her country. They must let the Church deal with her on the score of heresy and sorcery. But then, to give her up at once to such spiritual fathers as the Inquisitor-General and the Doctors of the University, would be to lose all chance of the good terms, first to be secured for themselves. Burgundy, Bedford, and Beaufort laid their heads together, and consulted how best to bring SHE IS SOLD TO THE ENGLISH.


[ocr errors]

about the desired conclusion-their own profit by Jeanne's death. It would be profitless to recount the fictions they got up, the manæuvres they had recourse to, the various inducements they held out to secure clever agents in helping to carry out their purpose. One item in their process was never forgotten, the root of all evil—the money part of the account. Jeanne was worth a good price; and they took care to secure the best that could be got.

Philip Duke of Burgundy, on the death of the Duke of Brabant, possessed himself of all Flanders (there was a doubt about the legality of his claim), and he was most anxious to please the people of those countries by facilitating their commerce with England, that the gorgeous works from their looms might have a sale in London and elsewhere without let or hindrance. He proposed therefore a treaty for this object, and Bedford and Beaufort consented to it, on the understanding that, in acknowledgment of the favour, Burgundy gave up to them all his claim on the prisoner Jeanne.

Then John of Luxembourg, a vassal of Burgundy, put in his claim for a share in the prize ; and after some haggling, Bedford and Beaufort consented that England should pay to Luxembourg ten thousand livres as the price of his prisoner. These points settled, the next thing to be considered was, how to compass her death without bringing shame and dishonour on themselves for ever. They decided that this could alone be done by the Church. An ecclesiastic of some notoriety must be found to take the

« PreviousContinue »