Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors]

Baudricourt administered an oath to those who had undertaken to conduct La Pucelle, whereby they swore to escort her in safety to the king; but he was far from sharing in the general enthusiasm which the maid had inspired. In thus forwarding Jeanne, the governor complied with the orders of the court; he merely presented a sword to Jeanne d'Arc, and took his leave of her in these words : “ Va, et advienne ce que tu pourras : Go, and let come what thou canst accomplish.”

La Pucelle and her companions began their journey the first Sunday in Lent, being the 13th of February, 1429; but she did not inspire the same confidence in all her escort. Notwithstanding this, after the commencement of the expedition the party became rather more emboldened, and proceeded during the first day through a country occupied by the Burgundians and the English, where they apprehended much danger, and therefore determined not to halt, but continue the march during the night. It is evident from all the accounts extant, that they were subjected to imminent dangers in the progress of the journey, so that a part of the escort, affrighted at the enterprise, had it in contemplation to abandon La Pucelle; and although De Metz and Poulengy had no idea of falsifying their oaths, they were nevertheless intimidated.* Jeanne d'Arc,

* In the deposition made by the Lady de Touroulde, it appears that Jean de Metz and Poulengy, during the first days

however, a stranger to fear, encouraged her companions by her dauntless bravery and her inflexible resolution. Ne craignez rien, fear nothing," she exclaimed; tout ce que je suis m'est commandé. Il y a quatre ou cinq ans mes fréres de l'aradis m'ont dit qu'il fallait que j'allusse à la guerre, pour recouvrer le royaume de France. I am commanded to execute all I do. Four or five years ago, my brethren in Paradise told me, that it was requisite I should go to the war, to rescue the kingdom of France :” and in order to give them encouragement, she then promised, that upon their arrival at Chinon, the king would look kindly on them.

The danger to which Jeanne d'Arc was exposed in undertaking such a journey through the territory of an enemy, was not the only peril wherewith she was threatened; for as there is every reason to conjecture that she possessed great personal charms, she might have excited criminal desires in the minds of her conductors. But on consulting the depositions made during the process of revisal by those of her party, it will be found that such was not the case. The unbounded goodness that characterized the young maiden, and the unaffected and sincere piety with which she was animated, tended

of their march, had an idea of throwing La Pucelle into some quarry as a girl out of her mind; but at length they resolved to obey her in every thing.

to conciliate every heart, and impressed all those who surrounded her with respectful admiration.

De Metz and Poulengy proceeded by the most unfrequented routes, avoiding the public roads, and all towns of consequence. They passed near Auxerre, and soon arrived at Gien, the first city under the dominion of Charles VII, which they had as yet gained in the course of their march.

The news of the arrival of Jeanne d'Arc spread with rapidity even to the city of Orleans, for the succour of which place she was so speedily to march.*

* Some popular reports were spread in favour of Jeanne d'Arc even prior to her arrival at Chinon; which gained considerably upon the public mind from the following circumstance. One of the doctors named to examine La Pucelle, stated before witnesses, that a woman named Marie d'Avignon had previously presented herself to Charles VII., who pretended it had been revealed to her that the kingdom of France would still suffer great misery, (which was by no means surprising under existing circumstances,) and that it would be precipitated into a state of universal desolation. She then added, that in a vision, arms had been presented to her, at which she was greatly terrified, under the apprehension that they were intended for herself; but she was told to be under no apprehension, for that it was not her who was to use them, but a certain Maiden who would appear to rescue France from its enemies.

To this first tale may be subjoined what had been stated by Jeanne herself; that it was rumoured abroad, a girl would come from the wood of Chenu, which was situated near the dwelling of her parents, who was to rescue the country. It was

La Pucelle then passed the Loire, and proceeding on her road towards Chinon, arrived at the town of Fierbois, containing a church dedicated to Saint Catherine. Meeting with an edifice consecrated to one of her celestial protectors, did not fail to make a strong impression upon her mind. Being then only five or six leagues from Chinon, she might consider herself as arrived at the end of her journey, and from thence she addressed a letter to the king, which was in substance as follows: That she was desirous of knowing whether or not she should enter the city wherein his majesty then sojourned ; that she had performed a tedious and a perilous journey of one hundred and fifty leagues for the express purpose of rendering him assistance; and that she was acquainted with many things that would be agreeable to him.

Jeanne d'Arc carried her devotion to such a length that she attended the celebration of three masses in one day, in the church of Saint Catherine de

in consequence of this popular tale, that one of the assessors at the process of revisal stated, that he had read it in the book of Merlin; and another witness pretended that the circumstance was mentioned to the lord Talbot, after he was captured at the battle of Patay. It is not surprising that circumstances of this nature should have forcibly operated on the public mind; particularly as a prediction had long existed purporting that a girl from the marshes of Lorraine would prove the saviour of France. It may be conceived what an impression the arrival of La Pucelle in the neighbourhood of Chinon must have created.

for she very

Fierbois.* It is most probable that the king's
answer to her letter was favourable;
soon left Fierbois, and arrived at Chinon the same
day, taking up her abode at an inn, kept by a
female, near the castle of Chinon.

The arrival of Jeanne d'Arc was at a favourable juncture for giving publicity to the wonderful promises which she conveyed to the king. Orleans, the only remaining rampart of the monarchy, was reduced to the last extremity, and there appeared no possibility of yielding assistance to that determined and faithful city. Money and troops were both wanting-all was despair ; and the only assistance to be hoped for, was from Heaven.

Jeanne d'Arc was not admitted to Charles VII. without much precaution being observed ; since the court manifested great irresolution as to the steps that should be taken in regard to her, and many were of opinion that she ought to be dismissed without having an audience. After deliberating

[ocr errors]

* Novelompont testifies how much he was edified by the piety and the charity of Jeanne d'Arc, who, notwithstanding all the difficulties incidental to the journey, uniformly sought every opportunity of attending mass, and never failed to distribute charity.

+ Charles does not appear to have been biassed by the first impulses of his mind; but was, on the contrary, particularly reserved, having refused to see Jeanne until after he had consulted the council.

« AnteriorContinuar »