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.
no one seems to know where, either at St. Denis or at some intermediate spot, possibly to form a reserve force which could be brought up when wanted.  The best informed historian only knows that Charles was not with the active force.  But Alencon was at the head of the troops, along with many other names well known to us, La Hire, and young Guy de Laval, and Xantrailles, all mighty men of valour and the devoted friends of Jeanne.  There is a something, a mist, an incertitude in the beginning of the assault which was unlike the previous achievements of Jeanne, a certain want of precaution or knowledge of the difficulties which does not reflect honour upon the generals with her.  Absolutely new to warfare as she was before Orleans she had ridden out at once on her arrival there to inspect the fortifications of the besiegers.  But probably the continual skirmishing of which we are told made this impossible here, so that, though the Maid studied the situation of the town in order to choose the best point for attack, it was only when already engaged that the army discovered a double ditch round the walls, the inner one of which was full of water.  By sheer impetuosity the French took the gate of St. Honore and its “boulevard” or tower, driving its defenders back into the city:  but their further progress was arrested by that discovery.  It was on this occasion that Jeanne is supposed to have seized from a Burgundian in the melee, a sword, of which she boasted afterwards that it was a good sword capable of good blows, though we have no certain record that in all her battles she ever gave one blow, or shed blood at all.

It would seem to have been only after the taking of this gate that the discovery was made as to the two deep ditches, one dry, the other filled with water.  Jeanne, whose place had always been with her standard at the immediate foot of the wall, from whence to direct and cheer on her soldiers, pressed forward to this point of peril, descending into the first fosse, and climbing up again on the second, the dos d’ane, which separated them, where she stood in the midst of a rain of arrows, fully exposed to all the enraged crowd of archers and gunners on the ramparts above, testing with her lance the depth of the water.  We seem in the story to see her all alone or with her standard-bearer only by her side making this investigation; but that of course is only a pictorial suggestion, though it might for a moment be the fact.  She remained there, however, from two in the afternoon till night, when she was forced away.  The struggle must have raged around while she stood on the dark edge of the ditch probing the muddy water to see where it could best be crossed, shouting directions to her men in that voice assez femme, which penetrated the noise of battle, and summoning the active and desperate enemy overhead. “Renty!  Renty!” she cried as she had done at Orleans—­“surrender to the King of France!

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