JEANNE’S FRIENDS PART 1
LOUIS DE CONTES.
(Louis de Contes was brother-in-law of Beauharnais, the Bourgeois of Orleans. He was a son of Jean de Contes, Captain of Châteaudun, and Chamberlain to the Duke d’Orleans.)
The year that Jeanne came to Chinon I was fourteen or fifteen years old. I was page to the Sieur de Gaucourt, Captain of the Castle. Jeanne arrived at Chinon in the company of two gentlemen, who conducted her to the King. I saw her many times going and coming to the King; there was given her for residence the Tower of Coudray, at Chinon. I resided and lived with her all the time that she stayed there, passing all the time with her, except at night, when she always had women with her. I remember well that while she was living at Coudray persons of great estate came many days to visit her there. I do not know what they did or said, because when I saw them coming I retired; nor do I know who they were. Very often while she lived in this town I saw her on her knees praying; but I did not understand what she was saying; sometimes also I saw her weep.
Shortly afterwards she was taken to Poitiers; then to Tours, where she resided with a woman called Lapau. In this place the Duke d’Alencon made her a present of a horse, which I saw at the house of the woman Lapau. At Tours I became her page; with me also was one named Raymond. From that time I remained with her, and was always with her as her page, at Blois, as well as at Orleans, and until she reached the walls of Paris.
While she was at Tours the King gave her a complete suit of armor and an entire military household. From Tours she went to Blois with the army, who had great faith in her. Jeanne remained some time with the army at Blois; how long I do not remember. Then it was decided that she should go to Orleans by the Sologne. She started fully armed, accompanied by her men-at-arms, to whom she said without ceasing that they were to put all their confidence in Our Lord and to confess their sins. On the way I saw her during this Journey receive the Sacrament of the Eucharist.
Having arrived near Orleans on the side of the Sologne, Jeanne with many others and myself were conducted to the opposite side of the Loire, on which side is the city of Orleans; and from thence we entered the said town. In her journey from Blois to Orleans, Jeanne had been all bruised, because on the night of the start from Blois she had slept fully armed. At Orleans she: lived at the house of the Treasurer (Jacques Bouchier.) of the Town, facing the Banner Gate; and in this house she received the Sacrament. The day after her arrival she went to seek the Sieur Bastard of Orleans, with whom she had an interview On her return I saw she was quite vexed that, as she told me, the captains had decided not to attack the English on that day. She went nevertheless to a Boulevard which the French were occupying, opposite to one garrisoned by the English, and there she spoke with them, telling them to retire in God’s Name, or otherwise she would drive them away. One of them, called the Bastard of Granville, assailed her with many insults: ” Do you wish us,” he said, “to surrender to a woman?” At the same time, he called the Frenchmen who were with her “maquereaux mescreans.” Then Jeanne returned to her lodging, and went up into her chamber: I thought she was going to sleep: shortly afterwards, there she was, coming down from her chamber; “Ah! bloodthirsty boy,” she said to me, you did not tell me that the blood of France was being shed! ” [“Ha! sanglant garcon, vous ne me dyriez pas que le sanc de France feust repandu!”] And she ordered me to go and look for her horse. At the same time she was being armed by the lady of the house and her daughter. When I returned with her horse I found her already armed: she told me to go and seek her banner, which had been left in her chamber: I passed it to her through the window. Immediately she rode hastily towards the Burgundy gate, whither the lady with whom she lodged told me to follow her, which I did. The attack took place against the Fort of Saint Loup; and in this attack the Boulevard was taken. On the way Jeanne met several of the French wounded, at which she was much disturbed. The English were preparing to resist when Jeanne advanced against them in all haste. As soon as the French saw her they began to shout aloud; and thus was the Fort of Saint Loup taken. I heard it said that the English ecclesiastics had taken their ornaments, and had thus [attired] come before her; that Jeanne had received them without allowing any harm to be done them, and had had them conducted to her lodging; but that the other English had been killed by the people of Orleans.
In the evening Jeanne returned to supper in her lodging. She had always most sober habits: many times I saw her eat nothing during a whole day but a morsel of bread. I was astonished that she ate so little. When she was in her lodging she ate only twice a day.
The next day, towards 3 o’clock, the soldiers of the King crossed the Loire to attack the Fort of Saint-Jean-le-Blanc, which they took, as also the Fort of the Augustins. Jeanne crossed the river with them, and I accompanied her: then she re-entered Orleans, and went back to sleep at her lodging with some women, as she was in the habit of doing: for every night, as far as possible, she had a woman to sleep by her, and when she could not find one in war, or in camp, she slept fully dressed.
The following day, in spite of many Lords pretending that it was exposing the King’s followers to too great a danger, she had the Burgundy gate opened, and a small gate near the great tower: she then crossed the water with some of her followers to attack the Fort of the Bridge, which the English still held. The King’s troops remained there from morning to night, and Jeanne was wounded: it was necessary to take off her armor to dress the wound; but hardly was it dressed when she armed herself afresh and went to rejoin her followers at the attack and the assault, which had gone on from morning without ceasing. And when the Boulevard was taken Jeanne still continued the assault with her men, exhorting them to have a good heart and not to retire, because the fort would very soon be theirs. “When,” she told them, “you see the wind drive the banner towards the fort, it will be yours!” But the evening was drawing on, and her followers, seeing they made no way, despaired of success; yet Jeanne persisted always, assuring them they would take the fort that day. Then they prepared to attempt a last assault; and when the English saw this they made no resistance, but were seized with panic, and nearly all were drowned; nor did they even defend themselves during this attack. Those who survived retreated the next day to Beaugency and Meung. The King’s army followed them, Jeanne accompanying it. The English offered to surrender Beaugency by agreement, or to fight; but on the day of combat they retired again ; and the army began afresh to pursue them. On this day La Hire commanded the vanguard, at which Jeanne was much vexed, for she liked much to have the command of the vanguard. La Hire threw himself on the English, and the King’s army was victorious: nearly all the English were slain.
Jeanne, who was very humane, had great compassion at such butchery. Seeing a Frenchman, who was charged with the convoy of certain English prisoners, strike one of them on the head in such manner that he was left for dead on the ground, she got down from her horse, had him confessed, supporting his head herself, comforting him to the best of her power.
Afterwards she went with the army to Jargeau, which was taken by assault, with many English, among whom were Suffolk and de la Pole. (John de la Pole, Captain of Avranches, brother of the Earl of Suffolk.) After the deliverance of Orleans, and all these victories, Jeanne went with the army to Tours, where the King was. There it was decided that the King should go to Reims for his consecration. The King left with the army, accompanied by Jeanne, and marched first to Troyes, which submitted; then to Chalons, which did the same; and last to Reims, where our King was crowned and anointed in my presence for I was, as I have already said, page to Jeanne, and never left her. I remained with her until she arrived before Paris.
She was a good and modest woman, living as a Catholic, very pious, and, when she could, never failing to be present at the Mass. To hear blasphemies upon the Name of Our Lord vexed her. Many times when the Duke d’Alencon swore (Jeanne’s hatred of swearing is noticed by many of her followers, and in her hearing they endeavored to abstain from it. La Hire, whose language was apparently the most violent, was permitted by her to employ the mild expletive ‘Par mon martin,’ ‘By my baton,’ an expression she herself is constantly reported to have used.) or blasphemed before her, I heard her reprove him. As a rule, no one in the army dared swear or blaspheme before her, for fear of being reprimanded.
She would have no women in her army. One day, near Chateau-Thierry, seeing the mistress of one of her followers riding on horseback, she pursued her with her sword, without striking her at all; but with gentleness and charity she told her she must no longer be found amongst the soldiers, otherwise she would suffer for it.
I know nothing more, not having seen her after Paris.