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THE ORLEANISTS BECOME DESPERATE.

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with the Regent, he withdrew his own men who had hitherto been serving with the English.

On the return of the deputies, the Orleanists, seeing their last hope gone, called up that spirit in themselves which despair often makes so formidable, and on the very day of their disappointment made so resolute a sortie that it was plain they were determined to compel victory or to find death. Their onset was so sustained and intrepid, that at length the English were obliged to bring nearly all their force to bear upon them, and, after a fearful slaughter, once more drove the brave Orleanists within their walls. The besiegers looked on this sortie as the supreme effort of despair. Certain that the city would soon be in their hands, they arranged the plan of their future operations and the final expulsion of the King of Bourges,' as they still called Charles in contempt. The conquest would, they said, be followed by the submission of Touraine, Berri, Poitou, and all would soon be won for Henry vi.

Most true was it that the affairs of Charles were in a desperate state. The greater part of the older nobility had abandoned his cause, and retired to their estates, there to await the moment when they might best make terms with the English victor. Charles was at Chinon, isolated, amazed, paralyzed by his ill fortune, with no resources, no money in his coffers, no one from whom to borrow,—for none of his friends had anything to lend. Even the small number of men-at-arms who had been

true to him were ready to disperse. In this extremity the few friends left advised him to quit Touraine, and to retire into the mountains of Auvergne or Dauphiné, if those provinces were not overrun by the victor. 1

The inert Charles went even beyond his advisers in despondency. He reproached himself for the prolongation of the war, and the consequent misery of his people ; doubted if he might be the true heir to the throne; considered himself as under the curse of God; and talked of giving up all claim to the crown, and hastening to seek an asylum, if it pleased Heaven to spare him life and liberty, in Scotland or Spain."

Whilst he was thus deliberating, there was another lull in the efforts of the besiegers before Orleans; only, however, like the lull of the elemental storm, to burst with greater violence when the strife should be renewed. We will, however, take advantage of it to bring before our readers one in whom will soon be found the all-absorbing interest of our story.

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* Monstrelet, vol. vi.

? Henri Martin, vol. vi.

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Religious Fanatics—Marie of Avignon-her Prophecy—that of Merlin-

Duchy of Lorraine-Town of Vaucouleurs—Village of Domremi-
Oak Wood, the Bois Chesnu — the Fountain—the Beau-Mai—the
Ladies' Tree—their mysterious nature-January 6th, 1412—Com-
motion in Domremi—Birth of Joan D'Arc—Baptized-her Mother

- her Religion- her Godmother's Tales — Traditions respecting
her Childhood—her Imagination—Grief at the Distress of Charles
- her first mysterious Call—she believes St. Michael appeared to
her-resolves to obey the Call of Heaven-St. Catherine and St.
Margaret-Domremi taken by the Enemy-she flies with her Family
to Neufchateau-takes shelter in an Inn for a fortnight-ponders
on her Resolution to save Charles—a Young Man claims her in
Marriage-she disproves the Claim-goes to Baudricourt-assisted
by her Uncle—Baudricourt will not listen to her-Retires-John
de Metz befriends her—Baudricourt and the People of Vaucouleurs
at last assist her-she departs to seek the King.

MONGST the religious fanatics of the period,

there was a visionary called Marie of Avignon. She found her way to the presence of Charles,

and told him that she had seen in a vision the desolation of the realm ; that it seemed as if armour had been brought to her; that she was greatly frightened, but was told (she did not say by whom) that the armour was

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not for her, but for a young girl who would come after her, and was destined to deliver France from its foreign foes.'

Another prophecy to the same effect, founded on a fantastic interpretation of Merlin, also gained ground, that a virgin should save France, and overcome the 'men armed with the bow'-which seemed to indicate the English archers. As the distress of the country increased, so did the reports of this prediction; it was in fact one of those which greatly assist to bring about their own fulfilment.

At the extreme frontier of France and of the empire, situated in Champagne, a narrow slip of land ran between the Duchy of Bar, the Bishopric of Toul, and the Duchy of Lorraine. This little canton, which was watered by the Meuse, contained but one walled town, Vaucouleurs. The people had always been French in spirit, and their close neighbourhood to the empire rendered them more warmly national in their ideas and feelings--a common thing with frontier populations. The Dukes of Lorraine and Bar had

1 Whether this was a true statement, or invented after the deliverance of France, cannot now be ascertained ; but it was deposed by a witness at the revision of the trial of Jeanne, more than twenty years after her death.

? Lord Mahon says, in his remarks on the prophecy of Merlin : 'On referring to the very words of the Latin prophecy, they were considered as of striking application to her (Jeanne's) especial case. The promised heroine was to come E NEMORE CANUTO, and the name of the forest around Domremi was Bois Chenu ; she was to ride triumphant over ARCITENENTES, and this word seemed to denote the English, always renowned in the middle ages for their superior skill as bowmen.'—Lord Mahon's Article on Joan of Arc, Quarterly Review.

THE BOIS CHESNU.

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been in opposition to each other ever since the beginning of the civil war; and now Lorraine took the side of Henry VI. with Burgundy, and the Duke of Bar that of Charles vii.

On the left bank of the Meuse, about five leagues from Vaucouleurs, was situated the village of Domremi. It was distinguished by a picturesque old church, erected in the thirteenth century, and dedicated to St. Remi. Near the churchyard, where the inhabitants of this outmost corner' of a great kingdom were laid to rest when their simple toils had come to a close, stood that humble dwelling which was the birthplace of Joan of Arc. At the back of the cottage, a steep path ran up a hill, through a thickly. grown vineyard. Towards the summit there was an oak wood, called Bois Chesnu.? Near it stood an old and magnificent beech tree, beneath whose expansive shade welled out from some unseen source a limpid fountain of the purest and coldest water. It had a traditional reputation for curing the sick, and thither they came, more especially those suffering from fever, to drink of its healing waters. Though no angel came down at a particular hour to trouble the spring, yet was it said to derive its power from, and to be guarded by, a mysterious race of beings'the elves of hills, lakes, standing brooks, and groves,' of a date anterior to Christianity, and known to the Druid priesthood of Gaul.

i Henri Martin, vol. vi. p. 138. ? Mémoires de la Pucelle; Mémoires de Richemont.

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