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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.
accorded.  Charles held his Court with incredible gaiety and folly, in the midst of almost every disaster that could overtake a king, in the castle of Chinon on the banks of the Vienne.  The situation and aspect of this noble building, now in ruins, is wonderfully like that of Windsor Castle.  The great walls, interrupted and strengthened by huge towers, stretch along a low ridge of rocky hill, with the swift and clear river, a little broader and swifter than the Thames, flowing at its foot.  The red and high-pitched roofs of the houses clustered between the castle hill and the stream, give a point of resemblance the more.  The large and ample dwelling, defensible, but with no thought of any need of defence, a midland castle surrounded by many a level league of wealthy country, which no hostile force should ever have power to get through, must have looked like the home of a well-established royalty.  There was no sound or sight of war within its splendid enclosure.  Noble lords and gentlemen crowded the corridors; trains of gay ladies, attendant upon two queens, filled the castle with fine dresses and gay voices.  There had been but lately a dreadful and indeed shameful defeat, inflicted by a mere English convoy of provisions upon a large force of French and Scottish soldiers, the former led by such men as Dunois, La Hire, Xaintrailles, etc., the latter by the Constable of Scotland, John Stuart—­which defeat might well have been enough to subdue every sound of revelry:  yet Charles’s Court was ringing with music and pleasantry, as if peace had reigned around.

It may be believed that there were many doubts and questions how to receive this peasant from the fields, which prevented an immediate reply to her demand for an audience.  From the first, de la Tremoille, Charles’s Prime Minister and chief adviser, was strongly against any encouragement of the visionary, or dealings with the supernatural; but there would no doubt be others, hoping if not for a miraculous maid, yet at least for a passing wonder, who might kindle enthusiasm in the country and rouse the ignorant with hopes of a special blessing from Heaven.  The gayer and younger portion of the Court probably expected a little amusement, above all, a new butt for their wit, or perhaps a soothsayer to tell their fortunes and promise good things to come.  They had not very much to amuse them, though they made the best of it.  The joys of Paris were very far off; they were all but imprisoned in this dull province of Touraine; nobody knew at what moment they might be forced to leave even that refuge.  For the moment here was a new event, a little stir of interest, something to pass an hour.  Jeanne had to wait two days in Chinon before she was granted an audience, but considering the carelessness of the Court and the absence of any patron that was but a brief delay.

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