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The Story of Joan of Arc by  Andrew Lang

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HOW JOAN LED THE DAUPHIN TO BE CROWNED

[65] WE may think that Joan's best plan would have been to attack the English in Paris at once, while they were still in a fright, after their great defeat at Pathay. But she thought that if the Dauphin was once crowned, and anointed with the holy oil, at Rheims, the French who were of the English party would join him more readily. Robert the Bruce, in the same way, had himself crowned at Scone, which, in Scotland, was the usual place for coronations, when he had only very few followers, and very little chance of beating the English. Rheims, as you can see on the map, is a long way farther from Orleans than Paris, on the north-east. [66] But Joan had made up her mind to drag the Dauphin to Rheims to be crowned.

The Dauphin was lingering at Gien, which is some distance south of Orleans, instead of being at the head of his army, and in the front of the fighting, where he should have been. His lazy and cowardly favourites told him that it was a long way to Rheims, and on the road there were several towns with strong walls, and castles full of Englishmen and Burgundians, who would not let him pass.

Joan answered that she knew this very well, and cared nothing about it: all the towns and castles would yield and open their gates. So she left the Dauphin to do as he pleased, and went away with her company into the country. The Dauphin had no money to pay his troops, but men-at-arms came in, hundreds of them, saying that they would fight for the love of the Maid and of chivalry. No doubt they would have been very glad to crown her, in place of the stupid Dauphin, but the French law did not allow it; and Joan wanted nothing for herself, only to make France free, and go back to her mother, as she said. How- [67] ever, the Dauphin, who was grateful in his lazy way, made her and her brothers, Peter and John, nobles, and gave her a coat-of-arms, a sword supporting the Crown, with the Lilies of France on each side, and changed their name to du Lys. But Joan never used her coat-of-arms, but bore a Dove, silver, on a blue shield. Her brothers were with her, and seem to have fought very well, though in most ways they were quite ordinary young men.

When Joan went away, the Dauphin made up his mind at last to march to Rheims, going first to Troyes, a strong town on the road. All the castles and fortresses on the way, instead of resisting him, submitted to him, as Joan had said that they would. At Troyes, where he came on 8th July, the English garrison, and the people of the town who were on the English and Burgundian side, wanted to oppose him. They fought on the 8th and 9th of July. The Dauphin's advisers did not want to fight, the brave Dunois tells us, but Joan said, "Gentle Dauphin, bid your army besiege the town, and do not hold these long councils, for in three days I will bring you into the [68] town." Then down she went to the great ditch or fosse round the town, and worked harder, says Dunois, than two or three of the most famous knights could have done. The people of Troyes then yielded to Joan, and they had a great feast in the city, which they needed, for the army had been living on soup made from the beans in the fields.

Then they went on to Rheims, and the Archbishop and all the people came out to meet them, with shouts of joy. On 17th July the Dauphin, with Joan and all his nobles, went to the Cathedral, and there he was crowned and anointed, and made King in earnest, Joan standing beside him with her banner in her hand. This was her happiest day, perhaps, and the last of her great days. She had done so much! In the beginning of May there was every chance that the English would take Orleans, and sweep across the Loire, and seize all France, and drive the Dauphin into Spain, or across the sea to Scotland, and France would have been under the English for who knows how long. But in two months Joan had driven the English behind the walls of [69] Paris, and her Dauphin was King in deed.

Then the Maid knelt at the King's feet and wept for joy, in the great Cathedral, among the splendid nobles, and the lights, and the bright-coloured coats-of-arms, and the sweet smoke of incense.

"Gentle King," she said, calling him "King" for the first time, "now is the will of God fulfilled!" and the knights themselves wept for joy.

Somewhere in the crowd was an elderly countryman in his best clothes, Joan's father, whom now she saw for the first time since she left her village, and for the last time in her life. The King asked her to choose a gift and reward, and she asked that the people of her village, Domremy, should be free from paying taxes, and they were made free, and never paid taxes again, for three hundred years. On the books of the accounts of money paid by every town and village of France is written, after the names of Domremy and the village nearest it, Greux,

Nothing. For the Sake of the Maid.

[70] The paper in which the King ordered that they should pay nothing may still be seen, dated the last of July i429.

How glad the people at Domremy must have been when Joan's father came home with the good news!

This was the last glad day of the Maid.

As she rode to Rheims, some people from, Domremy met her and asked her if she was afraid of nothing.

"Of nothing but treachery," she said, and, from this day, she met treachery among the King's advisers, who held long councils, and did not fight.

As she rode from Rheims towards Paris, the people shouted round her, and she said that they were kind people, and she would like to be buried in their cathedral—she, who was never to be buried in the earth.

"Joan," said the Archbishop, "in what place do you expect to die?"

"Where God pleases, for of that hour and that place I know nothing more than you do. But would to God that now I might take off my armour, and go home to my father and mother," for, as she had [71] seen her father, she was longing for her mother more than ever.

After this, the people about the King, and the King himself, did not obey Joan, and all went wrong.


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