JEAN, Bastard of Orleans, Count de Dunois.
(Jean, a natural son of Louis, Duke d’0rleans, was brought up with the family of Orleans, and acknowledged by Valentine, the widowed Duchess, after the murder of his father in 1407.At 25 years of age, in company with de Gaucourt, he defeated the English under Warwick at Montargis in 1427, and afterwards defended Orleans till its relief in 1429. He was created Count de Dunois, in 1439.)
I think that Jeanne was sent by God, and that her behavior in war was a fact divine rather than human. Many reasons make me think so.
I was at Orleans, then besieged by the English, when the report spread that a young girl, commonly called the Maid, had just passed through Gien, going to the noble Dauphin, with the avowed intention of raising the siege of Orleans and conducting the Dauphin to Reims for his anointing. I was then entrusted with the care of the town of Orleans and was Lieutenant-General of the King in affairs of war. In order to be better informed on the subject of this young girl, I sent to the King the Sieur de Villars, Seneschal of Beaucaire, and Janet de Tilly, (Then Captain of Blois.) who was afterwards Bailly of Vermandois.
They returned from the King, and reported to me publicly, in presence of all the people of Orleans [assembled] to know the truth, that they had seen the Maid arrive at Chinon. They said that the King at first had no wish to listen to her: she even remained two days, waiting, until she was permitted to present herself before him, although she persisted in saying that she was come to raise the siege of Orleans, and to conduct the Dauphin to Reims, in order that he might be consecrated; she at once asked for men, arms and horses.
Three, weeks or a month elapsed, during which the King had her examined by Clergy, Prelates, and Doctors in Theology, as to her words and deeds, in order to know if he might receive her with safety. Then the King assembled an army to conduct to Orléans a convoy of supplies.
Hearing the opinion of the Clergy and Prelates that there was no evil in this Maid, the King sent her with the Lord Archbishop of Reims, (Regnault de Chartres.) then Chancellor of France, and the Sieur de Gaucourt, then Grand Steward, to Blois, where those were who had the charge of escorting the convoy that is, the Sieurs de Rais (Gilles de Laval, Seigneur de Rais, notorious for the horrible excesses which brought him to the scaffold in 1440.) and de Boussac, Marshals of France; de Coulent, Admiral of France; La Hire; and Ambroise de Lore, who was afterwards Governor of Paris. All, at the head of the army transporting the convoy, came, with Jeanne in good order, by way of the Sologne, to the Loire, facing the Church of Saint Loup. But the English were there in great number: and the army escorting the convoy did not appear to me, nor to the other captains, in sufficient force to resist them and to ensure the entrance of the convoy on that side. It was necessary to load the convoy on boats, which were procured with difficulty. But to reach Orleans it was necessary to sail against the stream, and the wind was altogether contrary.
Then Jeanne said to me : “Are you the Bastard of Orleans?” “Yes,” I answered; “and I am very glad of your coming !” ” Is it you who said I was to come on this side [of the river], and that I should not go direct to the side where Talbot and the English are ?” “Yes, and those more wise than I are of the same opinion, for our greater success and safety.” “In God’s Name,” she then said, “the counsel of My Lord is safer and wiser than yours. You thought to deceive me, and it is yourselves who are deceived, for I bring you better succor than has ever come to any general or town whatsoever the succor of the King of Heaven. This succor does not come from me, but from God Himself, Who, at the prayers of Saint Louis and Saint Charlemagne, has had compassion on the town of Orleans, and will not suffer the enemy to hold at the same time the Duke (The Duke was then a prisoner in England.) and his town!”
At that moment, the wind, being contrary, and thereby preventing the boats going up the river and reaching Orleans, turned all at once and became favorable. They stretched the sails; and I ordered the boats to the town, which I entered with Brother Nicolas de Geresme, then Grand Prior in France of the Order of Rhodes. We passed before the Church of Saint Loup in spite of the English. From that time I put good hope in her, even more than before. I had begged her to cross the river and to enter the town, where many were longing for her. She had made a difficulty about it, not wishing, she said, to abandon her army or her followers who were duly confessed, penitent, and of good will; and on their account she refused to come. Thereupon, I went in search of the captains who had charge of the convoy and the army, and besought them, for the welfare of the King, to allow Jeanne to enter Orleans at once, and that they should go up the river they and the army-to Blois, where they should cross the Loire so as to return to Orleans, for there was no nearer place of crossing. They consented; and Jeanne then came with me. She had in her hand a banner, white in color, on which was an image of Our Lord holding in His Hand a lily. La Hire crossed the Loire at the same time as she, and entered the city with her and ourselves. All this was much more the work of God than of man: the sudden change of wind immediately Jeanne had announced it; the bringing in of the convoy of supplies in spite of the English, who were in much greater force than all the King’s army; and the statement of Jeanne that she had seen Saint Louis and Saint Charles the Great praying God for the safety of the King and of the City.
Another circumstance made me think these deeds were the work of God. I wished to go towards the army which had turned back onBlois and which was marching to the relief of Orleans; Jeanne would not wait for them nor consent that I should go to meet them: she wished to summon the English to raise the siege at once on pain of being themselves attacked. She did, in fact, summon them by a letter which she wrote to them in French, in which she told them, in very simple terms, that they, were to retire from the siege and return to England, or else she would bring against them a great attack, which would force them to retreat. Her letter was sent to Lord Talbot. From that hour, the English who, up to that time, could, I affirm, with two hundred of their men, have put to rout 800 or 1,000 of ours were unable, with all their power, to resist 400 or 500 French ; they had to be driven into their forts, where they took refuge, and from whence they dared not come forth.
There is another fact which made me believe she was from God. The 27th of May, (7th of May.) very early in the morning, we began the attack on the Boulevard (Antiquarians state that the Cafe le Boeuf at Orleans covers the ancient “Boulevard” captured by Jeanne d’Arc. This redoubt adjoined the “Tourelles ” and was close to the bridge of Orleans. Many steps belowground, and entered from the Cafe le Boeuf, is a room of carefully constructed masonry, being the interior of a tower, with embrasures for cannon, and iron rings to which cannons were attached.) of the bridge.
Jeanne was there wounded by an arrow which penetrated half-a-foot between the neck and the shoulder; but she continued none the less to fight, taking no remedy for her wound. The attack lasted throughout, from the morning until 8 o’clock in the evening, without hope of success for us: for which reason I was anxious that the army should retire into the town. The Maid then came to me, praying me to wait yet a little longer. Thereupon she mounted her horse, retired to a vineyard, all alone by herself, remained in prayer about half an hour, then, returning and seizing her banner by both hands, she placed herself on the edge of the trench. At sight of her the English trembled, and were seized with sudden fear; our people, on the contrary, took courage and began to mount and assail the Boulevard, not meeting any resistance. Thus was the Boulevard taken and the English therein put to flight: all were killed, among them Classidas (William Glasdale, Bailly of Alencon. He was Captain of the Fort of the Tourelles, called here the Bridge Tower.) and the other principal English captains of the Bastille, who, thinking to gain the Bridge Tower, fell into the river, where they were drowned. This Classidas was he who had spoken of the Maid with the greatest contempt and insult.
The Bastille taken, we re-entered the town of Orleans-the Maid and all the army where we were received with enthusiasm. Jeanne was taken to her house, to receive the care which her wound required. When the surgeon had dressed it, she began to eat, contenting herself with four or five slices of bread dipped in wine and water, without, on that day, having eaten or drunk anything else.
The next day, early in the morning, the English came out of their camp and placed themselves in order of battle. At this sight, Jeanne got up and put on a light coat of mail; she forbade the English to be attacked or in any way molested but [gave orders] that they should be allowed to depart, which they did, without any pursuit. From that moment the town was delivered.
After the deliverance of Orleans, the Maid, with myself and the other captains, went to seek the King at the Castle of Loches, praying him to attack immediately the towns and the camps on the Loire, Mehun, Beaugency, Jargeau, in order to make his consecration at Reims more free and sure. This she besought the King often, in the most urgent manner, to hasten, without longer delay. The King used the greatest haste possible, and sent, for this purpose, the Duke d’Alencon, myself and other captains, as well as Jeanne, to reduce these towns and camps. All were reduced in a few days thanks alone, as I believe, to the intervention of the Maid.
After the deliverance of Orleans, the English assembled together a numerous army, to defend the aforesaid towns, which they occupied. When we had invested the camp and bridge of Beaugency, the English army arrived at the camp of Meung-sur-Loire, which was still under their control. But this army could not come to the help of the English besieged in the camp of Beaugency. At the news of the taking of this camp, all the English divisions joined together into one complete army; and we thought they would offer us battle: we made our dispositions accordingly. In presence of the Constable, myself, and the other captains, the Duke d’Alencon asked Jeanne what was to be done. She answered thus, in a loud voice: “Have all of you good spurs?” “What do you mean?” asked those present of her;” are we, then, to turn our backs ?” “Nay,” she replied, “it is the English who will not defend themselves, and will be beaten; and you must have good spurs to pursue them.” And it fell out thus, as she had predicted: the English took to flight, and of killed and prisoners there were more than 4,000.
At Loches, after the raising of the siege of Orleans, I remember that, one day, the King, being in his private room with the Sieur Christopher d’Harcourt, the Bishop of Castres, (Gerard Machet, according to the Chronique de la Pucelle ; he was not Bishop until after the death of Jeanne.) his Confessor, and the Sieur de Treves, who was formerly Chancellor of France, (Robert le Macon, Chancellor, in 1418, was harassed by the opposition of the Burgundian faction and the favorites of the Dauphin. He retired in 1421, and acted henceforward as a simple Councilor.) Jeanne and I went to seek him. Before entering, she knocked at the door; as soon as she had entered, she knelt before the King, and, embracing his knees, said these words: “Noble Dauphin! hold no longer these many and long councils, but come quickly to Reims to take the crown for which you are worthy !” “Is it your Counsel who told you this ?” said Christopher d’Harcourt. “Yes,” she answered, “and my Counsel urges me to this most of all.” “Will you not say, here, in presence of the King,” added the Bishop, “what manner of Counsel it is which thus speaks to you ?” ” I think I understand,” she said, coloring, “what you want to know; and I will tell you willingly.” Then said the King: “Jeanne, will it please you to say, in presence of the persons who are listening to us, what has been asked you ?” “Yes, Sire,” she answered. And then she said this, or something approaching it: “When I am vexed that faith is not readily placed in what I wish to say in God’sName, I retire alone, and pray to God. I complain to Him that those whom I address do not believe me more readily; and, my prayer ended, I hear a Voice which says to me: ‘Daughter of God! go on! go on! go on! I will be thy Help: go on!’ And when I hear this Voice, I have great joy. I would I could always hear it thus.” And, in repeating to us this language of her Voice, she was – strange to say ! – in a marvelous rapture, raising her eyes to Heaven.
After the victories of which I have just spoken, the nobles of the Blood Royal and the captains wished the King to go into Normandy, and not to Reims. But the Maid was always of opinion that it was necessary to go to Reims, that the King should be consecrated, giving as a reason that, if once the King were consecrated and crowned, the power of his adversaries would decline, and that in the end they would be past the power of doing any injury, either to him or to his kingdom. And all consented to her opinion. The place where the King first halted, with his army, was under the town of Troyes; he there took counsel with the nobles of the Blood, and the other captains, to decide whether they should remain before this town, in order to lay siege to it, or whether it would not better avail to pass on and march straight to Reims, leaving Troyes alone. The Council were divided in opinion, and no one knew which course to pursue, when Jeanne suddenly arrived, and appeared in the Council. “Noble Dauphin,” she said, “order your people to come and besiege the town of Troyes, and lose no more time in such long councils. In God’s Name, before three days are gone, I will bring you into this town by favor or force, and greatly will the false Burgundy be astounded.” Then Jeanne, putting herself at the head of the army, had the tents placed right against the trenches of the town, and executed many marvelous maneuvers which had not been thought of by two or three accomplished generals working together. And so well did she work during the night, that, the next day, the Bishop (Jean Leguise, ennobled by Charles VII. for his share in the surrender of the town.) and the citizens came all trembling and quaking to place their submission in the King’s hands. Afterwards, it was known that; at the moment when she had told the King’s Council not to pass by the town, the inhabitants had sudden lost heart, and had occupied themselves only in seeking refuge in the Churches. The town of Troyes on reduced, the King went to Reims, where he found complete submission, and where he was consecrated and crowned.
Jeanne was accustomed to repair daily to Church the time of Vespers, or towards evening; she had the bells rung for half-an-hour, and collected together the Mendicant Friars who were following the army. Then she began to pray, and had an anthem in honor of the Blessed Mary, Mother of God, sung by the Mendicant Friars.
When the King came to La Ferté and to Cresp-en-Valois, the people ran about him, crying “Noel!” The Maid was then riding between the Archbishop Reims and myself: “This is a good people,” she said to us; ” I have seen none elsewhere who rejoiced as much at the coming of so noble a King. How happy should I be if, when my days are done, I might be buried here!” “Jeanne,” then said the Archbishop to her, “in what place do you hope to die ?” “Where it shall please God,” she answered; “for I am not certain of either the time or the place, any more than you are yourself. Would it might please God, my Creator, that I might retire now, abandon arms a return to serve my father and mother and to take care their sheep with my sister and my brothers, who would be so happy to see me again!”
There was never any one more sober. I often heard it said by the Sieur Jean d’Aulon, Knight, now Seneschal of Beaucaire, who, as the wisest and most worthy in the army, had been appointed by the King to watch over her, that he did not think there had ever been a more chaste woman. Neither I nor others, when we were with her, had ever an evil thought: there was in her something divine.
Fifteen days after the Earl of Suffolk (William de la Pole, Earl of Suffolk, Grand Steward of the King of England.) had been made prisoner at the taking of Jargeau, a writing was sent to him containing four lines, in which it was said that a Maid should come from the Oak-wood who would ride on the backs of the archers and against them. (The prophecy of Merlin, as it appears in MS. 7301 of the Bibliothèque Nationale, runs: “Descendit Virgo dorsum sagittari et flores virgineos obscultabit.”)
Although Jeanne sometimes spoke in jest of the affairs of war, and although, to encourage the soldiers,. she may have foretold events which were not realized, nevertheless, when she spoke seriously of the war, and of her deeds and her mission, she only affirmed earnestly that she was sent to raise the siege of Orléans, and to succor the oppressed people of that town and the neighboring places, and to conduct the King to Reims that he might be consecrated.