She was not successful, however, with La Charite, which after a siege of a month’s duration still held out, and had to be abandoned. These long operations of regular warfare were not in Jeanne’s way; and her coadjutor in command, it must be remembered, was in this case commissioned by her chief enemy. We are told that she was left without supplies, and in the depths of winter, in cold and rain and snow, with every movement hampered, and the ineffective government ever ready to send orders of retreat, or to cause bewildering and confusing delays by the want of every munition of war. Finally, at all events, the French forces withdrew, and again an unsuccessful enterprise was added to the record of the once victorious Maid. That she went on continually promising victory as in her early times, is probably the mere rumour spread by her detractors who were now so many, for there is no real evidence that she did so. Everything rather points to discouragement, uncertainty, and to a silent rage against the coercion which she could not overcome.
(1) Clermont it was
who deserted the Scots at the Battle of
(2) Jeanne’s arms, offered at St. Denis, were afterwards taken by the English and sent to the King of England (all except the sword with its ornaments of gold) without giving anything to the church in return: “qui est pur sacrilege et manifeste,” says Jean Chartier.
By this time France was once more all in flames: the English and Burgundians had entered and then abandoned Paris—Duke Philip cynically leaving that city, which he had promised to give up to Charles, to its own protection, in order to look after his more pressing personal concerns: while Bedford spread fire and flame about the adjacent country, retaking with much slaughter many of the towns which had opened their gates to the King. Thus while Charles gave no attention to anything beyond the Loire, and kept his chief champion there, as it were, on the leash, permitting no return to the most important field of operations, almost all that had been gained was again lost upon the banks of the Seine. This was the state of affairs when Jeanne returned humbled and sad from the abandoned siege of La Charite. Her enemy’s counsels had triumphed all round and this was the result. Individual fightings of no particular account and under no efficient organisation were taking place day by day; here a town stood out heroically, there another yielded to the foreign arms; the population were thrown back into universal misery, the spring fields trampled under foot, the villages burned, every evil of war in full operation, invasion aggravated by faction, the English always aided by one side of France against the other, and neither peace nor security anywhere.