JOAN RELIEVES ORLEANS
 EARLY in March 1429 Joan had reached Chinon, and
Charles, in spite of the
remonstrances of his favourites, had determined to
receive the peasant girl from
It was evening, and the great hall of the palace was
bright with candle light when
The dauphin had laid aside his royal robes, and stood
among three hundred of his
knights, each clad more richly than was he.
But Joan, without a sign of bewilderment, walked
straight to Charles, knelt at his
feet. and spoke to him "humbly and simply like a poor
little shepherdess." "Gentle
dauphin. God grant you a good life," she said.
Charles at first denied that he was the dauphin, but
the maid was not to be
deceived. "In God's name," she cried, "it is you and
Then as Charles was silent, Joan said, "Gentle dauphin,
my name is Joan the Maid;
the King of Heaven sendeth you word by me that you
shall be anointed and crowned in
the city of Rheims before the year is ended."
Gladly would Charles have believed that what the maid
said would really come to
pass, yet he hesitated, and wondered how it could be.
Joan, seeing that Charles was afraid to trust her,
begged to speak with him alone,
saying that she would give him a sign which would make
it impossible for him to
doubt her words.
 A few days later Charles saw Joan alone, but what
she then said to the dauphin
the maid would never tell. Even when in days to come
her judge threatened her with
torture, trying thus to wring her secret from her, Joan
never faltered. She had
promised her saints not to tell, and she was silent to
But in after-years Charles VII. told the secret to a
friend, so that now we know the
sign the maid brought to the dauphin.
You remember that Charles was sometimes so unhappy that
he could not believe that he
was the true heir to the throne of France. One day, in
his misery, he had entered a
chapel, and prayed silently to God to give him his
kingdom if he were in truth the
dead king's eldest son.
This prayer, of which none could know save God alone
Joan recalled to the dauphin's
memory. She said that God had answered this prayer by
sending her, the maid, to
assure him that he was the true heir to the throne; and
after raising the siege of
Orleans, to lead him to Rheims to be crowned.
Then the dauphin no longer doubted Joan, yet still he
was not ready to send her to
raise the siege, which was the first task given her to
Instead, the dauphin sent the eager maid to Poitiers to
be examined by the bishops
For six weary weeks Joan was questioned by the learned
men. But they could find no
fault with her answers, and so at length they sent her
back to Charles, telling him
that they could find "naught but goodness in her."
I am come on behalf of the King of Heaven to cause the
siege of Orleans to be
raised," Joan had said again and again, and now neither
Charles nor the bishops
hesitated. The maid should go to Orleans.
It was indeed time that something should be done for
the besieged city. Already more
than once Dunois had sent to Charles to beg for help
which had never come,
now the maid was to march to Orleans, and hearts
beat fast, hopes rose high in the city.
It was easy to raise an army. The French soldiers were
eager to follow the maid,
never doubting that she would lead them to victory.
At Chinon Joan had already won the friendship of the
Duke of Alenšon. He and the
rough and reckless La Hire had pledged themselves to
follow wherever she should
Clad in white armour, which Charles had ordered to be
made for her, and seated on a
great black horse, Joan was at length ready to set out
with her army.
Charles wished to give his girl-captain a sword, but
there was only one sword that
Joan cared to wear. She begged the king to send for it
to a chapel dedicated to St.
Catherine. There, near the altar, it lay buried, an old
and rusty sword, on which
were carved five crosses, as her voices had said. The
sword was found and brought to
the maid, who wore it in battle but used it little. For
her heart was tender even on
the battlefield, and never did she slay any.
But it was her banner that Joan loved. It was made of
white linen, and on it were
embroidered the Lilies of France, and across the front
were inscribed the simple
words, JÚsus Maria.
Mounted on her black horse, Joan and her army marched
toward Orleans. She was a
strict captain, allowing no drinking, no swearing among
the soldiers or their
leaders. Even the rough La Hire, though with
difficulty, ceased to use the ugly
words that came so easily to his lips.
Before the army marched a band of priests, who sang
hymns in which the soldiers
joined as they drew nearer and nearer to the besieged
Close to Orleans Joan ordered the army to halt while
she sent a message to the
English, bidding them to raise the siege or she would
come and force them to do so.
As the English took no notice of her message, Joan
marched on, whereupon the English
fled before the maid,
 whom already they called a
witch, leaving one of their
Joan, with part of her army, passed safely into the
city, the citizens wild with joy
coming out to meet their deliverer. Straight on through
the happy crowd rode the
maid, until she reached the cathedral, where she
dismounted, and entering gave
thanks to God for bringing her to Orleans.
When night came the maid, being tired with the
excitement of the day, went to bed
and slept. But erelong the tramp of horses, the roar of
guns, awoke her. Quickly she
arose, dressed and armed herself; then hastening down
to her page she chided him,
saying, "Ah, naughty boy, not to come and tell me that
the blood of France was being
shed. Come, quick, my horse!"
It was brought and, mounting, Joan galloped along the
paved streets so fiercely that
sparks darted from the hoofs of her horse. To the
amazement of all she rode straight
to the place where the skirmish was taking place, as
though she had all her life
known the way.
Joan entered Orleans on April 29, 1429. Five days later
she led her soldiers out to
attack one of the English forts, and took it. Two days
passed, and again she led her
men to attack another fort. But this time the struggle
was more fierce, the English
forcing the French to withdraw, mocking the while at
the maid as she slowly retired.
Joan, hearing their words, grew angry, rallied her men,
and once again made a
determined attack upon the fort. With the maid was La
Hire, the bravest and roughest
of her captains.
The English, who a few moments before had been sure of
victory, were seized with
panic at the fresh onslaught, and fled, leaving the
fortress in the hands of the
French. In this assault Joan was wounded, but she paid
no heed to her pain.
Many other forts were taken, until at length there
 remained only the
Tournelles, the strongest of all the English defences,
and, as I told you, the key to
Early on Saturday morning. May 7, 1429, the whole
French army crossed the river
Loire in boats and joined in the attack on the
The English fought desperately, and the French began to
falter. Joan, seeing her
soldiers fall back, jumped into a ditch, seized a
ladder, placed it against the wall
of the fort, and began to mount.
At that moment an arrow wounded her in the shoulder.
Joan's tears fell and the pain
made her feel faint, but almost at once she dashed away
her tears and herself pulled
the arrow out of her shoulder.
Dunois, seeing that the French were again faltering,
ordered the retreat to be
sounded. Joan meanwhile having gone aside to pray. Now,
however, she came back, and
Dunois begged to attack the enemy once more.
Then she mounted her black horse, her banner in her
hand, and the English, who had
believed she was too badly wounded to fight, saw her
again encouraging their
As for her own followers, when they saw the maids
banner waving in the air, they
quickly gathered around it, forgetful of their fears.
Then Joan handed the banner to one of her soldiers,
bidding him carry it forward
until it touched the walls of the Toumelles.
"Joan, it touches now," cried the soldier.
"Enter, then, for the city is yours," cried the maid.
At her words the men scaled
the walls, leaped into the fort, and the English were
forced to flee.
"ENTER, THEN, FOR THE CITY IS YOURS," CRIED THE MAID.
They rushed to the drawbridge only to find that it had
been set on fire by the
citizens of Orleans.
Yet they dashed forward, Glansdale and his knights
defending the retreat as best
they could. But when they too turned to cross through
the fire and smoke, the bridge
 gave way, and they and many of their men were
thrown into the river and
To add to the dismay of the English, the citizens of
Orleans now flung a plank
across the river and swarmed across to join in the
The Tournelles, the last fortress held by the English,
On the following day, Sunday, May 8th, the English drew
themselves up in battle
array. The French also mustered their whole army, and
for an hour the two forces
faced each other, but not a blow was struck.
The French army, by Joan's wish, heard mass in the open
air while they faced the foe.
Then the maid, who was eagerly watching the enemy,
cried, "See, are the English
still waiting to attack us?" The French looked, and
could scarcely believe their
eyes. For the English had turned and were marching
away, their banners flying in the
air. The siege of Orleans, begun on October 12, 1428.
was raised on May 8, 1429,
eight days after the maid had entered the city.
Long and loud pealed the bells as Joan and her army
came in triumph into the city.
In an ecstasy of joy the citizens crowded around their
deliverer, and followed her
into the cathedral, where the Te Deum was sung in
thankfulness that the siege was
ended. From that day Joan was known as the Maid of