Imágenes de páginas
[graphic][merged small]











[ocr errors][merged small]



R 1936 L


THE orginality of the Pucelle, the secret of her success, was not hore courage or her visions, but her good sense. Amidst all her enthasiasm the girl of the people clearly saw the question, and knew how to resolve it. The knot which politician and doubter could not un. loose she cut. She pronounced, in God's name, Charles VII. to be the heir; she reassured him as to his legitimacy, of which he had doubts himself, and she sanctified this legitimacy by taking him straight to Reims, and by her quickness gaining over the English tho decisive advantage of the coronation.

It was by no means rare to see women take up arms. They often fought in sieges : witness the eighty women wounded at Amiens : witness Jeanne Hachette. In the Pucelle's day, and in the self-samo years as she, the Bohemian women fought like men in the wars of tho Hussites

No more, I repeat, did the originality of the Pucelle consist in her visions. Who but had visions in the middle age? Even in this prosaic fifteenth century excess of suffering had singularly exalted men's imaginations. We find at Paris one brother Richard so excit. ing the populace by his sermons that at last the English banished him the city. Assemblies of from fifteen to twenty thousand souls were collected by the preaching of the Breton Carmelite friar, Conecta, at Courtrai and at Arras. In the space of a few years, before and after the Pucelle, every province had its saint-either a Pierrette, a Breton peasant girl who holds converse with Jesus Christ ; or a Marie of Avignon, a Catherine of Rochelle ; or a poor shepherd, such as Saintrailles brings up from his own country, who has the stigmata on his feet and hands and who sweats blood on holy days like the present holy woman of the Tyrol.

Lorraine, apparently, was one of the last provinces to expect such a phenomenon from. The Lorrainers are brave and apt to blows, bet most delight in stratagem and craft. If the great Guise saved France before disturbing her, it was not by visions. Two Lorrainers mak. themselves conspicuous at the siege of Orléans, and both display tho natural humor of their witty countryman, Callot; one of these is tho cannonier, master Jean, who used to counterfeit death so well ; the other is a light who, being taken by the English and loaded with

chains, when they withdrew, returned riding on the back of an Eng lish monk.

The character of the Lorraine of the Vosges, it is true, is of graver kind. This lofty district, from whose mountain sides rivers run sea. ward through France in every direction, was covered with forests of such vast size as to be esteemed by the Carlovingians the most worthy of their imperial hunting parties. In glades of these forests rose the venerable abbeys of Luxeuil and Remiremont; the latter, as is well known, under the rule of an abbess who was ever a princess of the Holy Erupire, who had her great officers, in fine, a whole feudal court, and used to be preceded by her seneschal, bearing the naked sword. The dukes of Lorraine had been vassals, and for a long period, or this female sovereignty.

It was precisely between the Lorraine of the Vosges and that of the plains, between Lorraine and Champagne, at Dom-Remy, that the brave and beautiful girl destined to bear so well the sword of France first saw the light.

Along the Meuse, and within a circuit of ten leagues, there are four Dom-Remys; three in the diocese of Toul, one in that of Langres. It is probable that these four villages were in ancient times de. pendencies of the abbey of Saint-Remy at Reims. In the Carlovin. gian period, our great abbeys are known to have held much more distant possessions ; as far, indeed, as in Provence, in Germany, and even in England.

This line of the Meuse is the march of Lorraine and of Champagne, so long an object of contention betwixt monarch and duke. Jeanne's father, Jacques Darc, was a worthy Champenois. Jeanne, no doubt, inherited her disposition from this parent; she had none of the Lorraine ruggedness, but much rather the Champenois mildness ; that simplicity, blended with sense and shrewdness, which is observable in Joinville.“

A few centuries earlier. Jeanne would have been born the serf of the abbey of Saint-Remy ; a century earlier, the serf of the sire de Joinville, who was lord of Vaucouleurs, on which city the village of Dom-Remy depended. But in 1335 the king obliged the Joinvilles to cede Vaucouleurs to him. It formed at that time the grand chan. nel of communication between Champagne and Lorraine, and was the high road to Germany, as well as that of the bank of the Meuse—t. cross or intersecting point of the two routes. It was, too, we me say, the frontier between the two great parties ; near Dom-Remy was on of the last villages that held to the Burgundians ; all the rest was fo Charles VII.

In all ages this march of Lorraine and of Champagne had suffered cruelly from war; first, a long war between the east and the west, between the king and the duke, for the possession of Neufchâteau and the adjoining places; then war between the north and south, be tween the Burgundians and the Armagnacs. The remembrance of

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »