Jeanne D'Arc: her life and death eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 397 pages of information about Jeanne D'Arc.

The severities inflicted upon her in her new prison at Rouen were terrible, almost incredible.  We are told that she was kept in an iron cage (like the Countess of Buchan in earlier days by Edward I.), bound hands, and feet, and throat, to a pillar, and watched incessantly by English soldiers—­the latter being an abominable and hideous method of torture which was never departed from during the rest of her life.  Afterwards, at the beginning of her trial she was relieved from the cage, but never from the presence and scrutiny of this fierce and hateful bodyguard.  Such detestable cruelties were in the manner of the time, which does not make us the less sicken at them with burning indignation and the rage of shame.  For this aggravation of her sufferings England alone was responsible.  The Burgundians at their worst had not used her so.  It is true that she was to them a piece of valuable property worth so much good money; which is a powerful argument everywhere.  But to the English she meant no money:  no one offered to ransom Jeanne on the side of her own party, for whom she had done so much.  Even at Tours and Orleans, so far as appears, there was no subscription—­to speak in modern terms,—­no cry among the burghers to gather their crowns for her redemption—­not a word, not an effort, only a barefooted procession, a mass, a Miserere, which had no issue.  France stood silent to see what would come of it; and her scholars and divines swarmed towards Rouen to make sure that nothing but harm should come of it to the ignorant country lass, who had set up such pretences of knowing better than others.  The King congratulated himself that he had another prophetess as good as she, and a Heaven-sent boy from the mountains who would do as well and better than Jeanne.  Where was Dunois?  Where was La Hire,(1) a soldier bound by no conventions, a captain whose troop went like the wind where it listed, and whose valour was known?  Where was young Guy de Laval, so ready to sell his lands that his men might be fit for service?  All silent; no man drawing a sword or saying a word.  It is evident that in this frightful pause of fate, Jeanne had become to France as to England, the Witch whom it was perhaps a danger to have had anything to do with, whose spells had turned the world upside down for a moment:  but these spells had become ineffectual or worn out as is the nature of sorcery.  No explanation, not even the well-worn and so often valid one of human baseness, could explain the terrible situation, if not this.

(1) La Hire was at Louvain, which we hear a little later the new English levies would not march to besiege till the Maid was dead, and where Dunois joined him in March of this fatal year.  These two at Louvain within a few leagues of Rouen and not a sword drawn for Jeanne!—­the wonder grows.


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Jeanne D'Arc: her life and death from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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