THE DEATH OF THE MAID
 THE English, having bought Joan, handed her over to the
French priests, who hated
the maid, and to satisfy their hatred, as also that of
the English, they brought her
to trial as a witch and a heretic. Among these priests
her most cruel enemy was
Pierre Cauchon, Bishop of Beauvais.
Joan would never give her word of honour not to try to
escape from prison. Once
jumping from a high window she fell to the ground, and
there she was found faint,
but uninjured, by her enemies.
It was in May that Joan was taken prisoner, and slowly
the days and weeks passed
until November, when she was taken to Rouen. And
because more than once Joan had
tried to escape, she was now taken to a castle, and
there in the dungeon the brave
maid was placed in a cage, with heavy chains upon her
In January 1431 she was brought before Cauchon, who, as
he hated her, should never
have been made one of her judges, or president of the
Week after week the trial lasted. Joan's judges trying
m vain to make her deny that
she had really heard her voices; trying, too, to make
her confess to crimes of which
she had never dreamed.
When she had told Cauchon her simple story, and refused
to say aught beside, the
cruel bishop ordered Joan to be carried into the
"Confess," he cried, "or you shall be bound and
Yet not for a moment did the maid flinch, but proudly
 she answered, "Though
you should tear me limb from limb I should tell you
Even the Bishop of Beauvais was ashamed as he listened
to her unfaltering words, and
Joan was taken back to prison unharmed.
Once indeed, worn out by sickness and solitude, Joan
denied that she had heard her
voices, yet almost at once she was sorry, and said that
only weakness had wrung the
falsehood from her lips.
But nothing could save the maid. Her judges, with the
English to support them, were
determined that Joan should die.
And so at length they had their way, and when the maid
was but nineteen years old
they condemned her to death as a witch and a heretic.
The boy's costume which Joan had worn by the command of
her voices was laid aside;
and the maid, dressed once again as a girl, was led to
the old market-place of Rouen
on May 24, 1431.
Lest at the last moment Charles should rouse himself
from his base ingratitude, lest
La Hire, Dunois, or her friend the Duke of Alenšon
should swoop down upon the
marketplace with the soldiers who had followed Joan so
often to victory, and carry
away their erstwhile comrade from her doom, Joan was
surrounded by eight hundred
"Rouen, Rouen," cried the maid, as they tied her to the
stake, "is it here that I
must die? I fear greatly that thou wilt have to suffer
for my death."
Then the soldiers placed a paper cap upon her brow, on
which was written, "Heretic,
relapsed apostate, idolatress."
The maid asked for a cross, and an Englishman handed
her one, made roughly of a
staff he had broken in twain. She kissed it, and as the
cruel flames leaped up
around her she called in a clear voice, "Jesus," then,
bowing her head, she died.
The ashes of the maid were flung into the river Seine,
for her enemies feared lest
even in death her body should have power to work
 "We are lost, we have killed a saint," said one
of the English as he turned
away from the terrible scene. And in that he spoke
truly, for from the time of the
maid's death the power of the English in France grew
ever less secure.
Twenty-four years after Joan's death, Charles
VII. repented that he had not tried to
save the maid.
A new trial took place, and Joan's name was cleared of
all the cruel charges that
had been brought against it.
In Orleans and in many other towns in France to-day you
may see monuments raised to
do honour to the maid who delivered France.
There, too, each year on the 8th of May a festival is
held, in praise of her who is
known as the Maid of Orleans. And now, in the Roman
Catholic Church, she is
worshipped as a saint.
As I told you, nothing prospered with the English after
Joan Darc's death.
In 1485 the Duke of Burgundy signed the Treaty of
Arras, by which he forsook the
cause of the English and went over to the side of
Paris, too, threw open its gates to Charles VII., who
at length, in April 1486,
entered his capital as king.
And now Charles roused himself from his indolent,
selfish ways, and began to live,
as the maid had longed to see him live, for the good of
his kingdom. He formed a
regular army, so that France in her wars would no
longer be forced to depend on her
nobles and their vassals for help, or on the bold bands
of Free Lances of which I
have told you.
As this regular army had to be paid, Charles VII. assembled the States-General, just
as our king in such a case would summon his parliament,
and asked them to vote sums
of money with which the army might be paid.
The nobles did not like the king's new ways. They were
no longer allowed to have
soldiers of their own, and this made them less able to
use the power that was still
Against the English who were left in the country the
 king carried on an active
war, until his subjects almost forgot that Charles had
ever been indolent.
Towards the end of his reign Charles VII. was saddened
by the conduct of his eldest
son Louis, for when the nobles tried to resist the
king's reforms, Louis took their
side against his father.
Charles sent his son into Dauphiny, thinking that he
would be too busy there to have
time for further plots.
A few years later, however, Louis left Dauphiny and
went to the court of the Duke of
Burgundy, and then the king grew ever more suspicious
of his son. For Louis had gone
to a prince who was powerful and at the same time a
rival to the King of France.
In July 1453 Charles, with an army which had already
won many triumphs under Dunois,
besieged Castillon, the last stronghold of the English.
Talbot, the English commander, with a large force came
to raise the siege.
A rumour spread that the French were preparing to leave
their camp, and Talbot
hurried to the town only to find the French awaiting
him beneath its walls.
After a fierce struggle Talbot was slain, and his men
perished on the spot where
their commander's body had fallen.
With Castillon in the hands of the king, the south also
was his, and thus by October
1453 the Hundred Years' War was at an end, Calais and
Guines being all that was
still held by the English.
Save that he was suspicious of his son and the Duke of
Burgundy, Charles VII. might
now have been content. But he was so fearful of their
designs, that he was afraid
either to eat or drink, lest they had found means to
poison his food or drug his
At length, sad and miserable, after a few days'
illness, Charles VII. died in 1461.
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