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Jeanne D'Arc: her life and death eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 335 pages of information about Jeanne D'Arc.
the entire population appeared in the streets with bare feet, singing the Miserere in penance and affliction.  Orleans and Blois made public prayers for her safety.  Rheims, in which there was much independent interest in Jeanne and her truth, had to be specially soothed by a letter from the Archbishop, in which he made out with great cleverness that it was the fault of Jeanne alone that she was taken.  “She did nothing but by her own will, without obeying the commandments of God,” he says; “she would hear no counsel, but followed her own pleasure,”; and it is in this letter that we hear of the shepherd lad who was to replace Jeanne, and that it was his opinion or revelation that God had suffered the Maid to be taken because of her growing pride, because she loved fine clothes, and preferred her own will to any guidance.  We do not know whether this contented the city of Rheims; similar reasoning however seems to have silenced France.  Nobody uttered a protest, nor struck a blow; the mournful procession of Tours, where she had been first known in the outset of her career, the prayers of Orleans which she had delivered, are the only exceptions we know of.  Otherwise there was lifted in France neither voice nor hand to avert her doom.

     (1) The three camps must have formed a sort of irregular
     triangle.  The English at Venette being only half a mile from
     the gates of Compiegne.

CHAPTER X —­ THE CAPTIVE.  MAY, 1430-JAN., 1431.

We have here to remark a complete suspension of all the ordinary laws at once of chivalry and of honest warfare.  Jeanne had been captured as a general at the head of her forces.  She was a prisoner of war.  Such a prisoner ordinarily, even in the most cruel ages, is in no bodily danger.  He is worth more alive than dead—­a great ransom perhaps—­perhaps the very end of the warfare, and the accomplishment of everything it was intended to gain:  at least he is most valuable to exchange for other important prisoners on the opposite side.  It was like taking away so much personal property to kill a prisoner, an outrage deeply resented by his captor and unjustified by any law.  It was true that Jeanne herself had transgressed this universal custom but a little while before, by giving up Franquet d’Arras to his prosecutors.  But Franquet was beyond the courtesies of war, a noted criminal, robber, and destroyer:  yet she ought not perhaps to have departed from the military laws of right and wrong while everything in the country was under the hasty arbitration of war.  No one, however, so far as we know, produces this matter of Franquet as a precedent in her own case.  From the first moment of her seizure there was no question of the custom and privilege of warfare.  She was taken as a wild animal might have been taken, the only doubt being how to make the most signal example of her.  Vengeance in the gloomy form of the Inquisition claimed her the first day.  No such word as ransom was breathed from her own side, none was demanded, none was offered.  Her case is at once separated from every other.

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