JEANNE’S FRIENDS PART 2
“You, men of England, who have no right in this kingdom of France, the King of Heaven orders and commands you by me, Jeanne the Maid, that you quit your strong places, and return to your own country; if you do not I will cause you such an overthrow as shall be remembered for all time. I write to you for the third (The first letter was sent on March 22nd, 1429: of the second nothing is known.) and last time, and shall write to you no more.”
“Jhesus Maria, JEHANNE LA PUCELLE.”
“I would have sent you this letter in a more suitable manner, but you keep back my heralds: you have kept my herald Guyenne; I pray you to send him back, and I will send you some of your people who have been taken at the Fort of Saint Loup, for all were not killed there.”
As soon as this letter was written, Jeanne took an arrow, on the point of which she fastened this letter with a thread, and ordered an archer to shoot this arrow towards the English, crying out, “Read! here is news!” The English received the arrow with this letter, which they read. After having read it they began to cry out with all their power: ” It is news sent to us from the . . . of the Armagnacs!” At these words Jeanne began to cry, shedding many tears, and prayed the God of Heaven to come to her aid. Soon she appeared to be consoled, having had, as she said, news from her Lord. In the evening after supper, she ordered me to rise earlier than I had done on Ascension Day, because she wished to confess very early in the morning: and this she did.
The next day, Friday, I rose very early; confessed her, and sang Mass before her and all her followers: she then started with them at once for the attack, which lasted from morning to evening. On this day the Fort of the Augustins was taken, after a great assault. Jeanne, who was accustomed to fast every Friday, could not do so on that day because she was too troubled, and she took supper. After this supper there came to her a noble and valiant captain, whose name I do not remember. He told her that all the captains were assembled in Council; that they had taken into consideration the small number of their forces in comparison with the large forces of the English, and the abundant grace which God had granted them in the success already obtained: “The town is full of supplies; we could keep it well while we await fresh succor, which the King could send us; it does not seem,” he ended by saying, “expedient to the Council that the army should go forth tomorrow.” ” You have been to your Counsel,” Jeanne answered him, “and I have been to mine; and believe me the Counsel of God will be accomplished and will succeed; yours on the contrary will perish.” And addressing herself to me who was near her: “Rise tomorrow morning even earlier than you did today; do your best; keep always near me; for tomorrow I shall have yet more to do, and much greater things; tomorrow blood shall flow from my body, above the breast.”
On the Saturday, therefore, very early in the morning I rose and celebrated Mass ; then Jeanne went to the attack of the Bridge Fort, in which was the Englishman, Clasdas. (Glasdale.) The attack lasted from morning to sunset without interruption. At this assault, after dinner, Jeanne, as she had predicted, was struck by an arrow above the breast. When she felt herself wounded, she was afraid, and wept; but she was soon comforted, as she said. Some of the soldiers seeing her severely wounded wished to “charm ” her; but she would not, saying: “I would rather die than do a thing which I know to be a sin; I know well that I must die one day, but I know not when, nor in what manner, nor on what day; if my wound may be healed without sin, I shall be glad enough to be cured.” Oil of olive and lard were applied to the wound. After the dressing, she confessed herself to me, weeping and lamenting. Then she returned in all haste to the attack, crying: “Clasdas! Clasdas! yield thee, yield thee to the King of Heaven! You called me a harlot but I have great pity for your soul, and for your people.” At this moment Clasdas, fully armed from head to foot, fell into the Loire, where he was drowned. Jeanne, moved to pity at this sight, began to weep for the soul of Clasdas, and for all the others who, in great number, were drowned, at the same time as he. On this day, all the English who were on the other side of the bridge were taken and killed. The next day which was a Sunday before sunrise all the English who were still in the plains around Orleans grouped themselves together, and came to the foot of the trenches of the town. From thence they departed for Meung-sur-Loire, where they remained for several days. On this Sunday (8th May. The commemoration of the relief of Orleans was made a national festival by Louis XI. and confirmed by Richelieu. This day is still kept in the town with great rejoicing and religious processions : it has been celebrated, excepting during the Revolution, ever since the relief of the city.) there was in Orleans a solemn procession and a sermon. It was then decided to go and seek the King; and Jeanne went thither. The English entrenched themselves in Jargeau, which was soon taken by assault. Finally, they were entirely defeated at Patay.
I often heard her say of her work that it was her mission; and when people said to her: “Never have such things been seen as these deeds of yours. In no book can one read of such things,” she answered: “My Lord has a book in which no Clerk has ever read, how perfect so ever he may be in clerkship!”
In war and in camp, when there was not enough provision, she would never eat stolen food. I firmly believe she was sent from God on account of her good works, and her many virtues. Even on the poor English soldiers she had so much compassion that, when she saw them dying or wounded, she had them confessed. So much did she fear God, that for nothing in the world would she displease Him. When she was wounded in the shoulder by an arrow-which went through from one side to the other-some spoke of “charming” her, promising in this manner to cure her on the spot. She replied that it would be a sin, and that she would rather die than offend God by such enchantments.
I marvel much that such great Clerks as those who caused her death at Rouen should have dared such a crime as to put to death so poor and simple a Christian, cruelly and without cause-sufficient at least for [the penalty of] death: they might have kept her in prison or elsewhere; but she had so displeased them that they were her mortal enemies; and thus, it seems, they assumed the responsibility of an unjust court. Her actions and her deeds are all perfectly known to our Lord the King and to the Duke d’Alencon,who knew certain secrets which they might declare if they would.
As for me I know no more than what I have said, unless it be that many times Jeanne expressed to me a desire that, if she were to die, the King would build a Chapel, where the souls of those who had died in defense of the kingdom might be prayed for.