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النشر الإلكتروني

CHAPTER XII.

SIEGE OF JERGEAU-KING CHARLES IS CROWNED IN RHEIMS - JOAN IS WOUNDED BEFORE THE WALLS OF PARIS-SHE AND HER FAMILY ARE RAISED TO THE RANK OF NOBILITY --SHE IS TAKEN PRISONER BEFORE COMPEIGNE.

When the Earl of Suffolk left Orleans, he retired to the town of Jergeau, whither the French, led on by Joan, who was now generally known by the title of the Maid of Orleans, closely followed him. Her presence animated the French soldiers to the greatest deeds of daring, and they were all ready to do her slightest bidding. They obeyed her as an officer, and reverenced her as the messenger of God; they also respected her as a modest woman, although by the assumption of a man's costume, she was accused by her enemies of a total disregard of all the proprieties of her sex.

She excused herself, and with great jus. tice, for putting on the clothing of a man, by the impossibility of being of equal service in the battle in any other dress : but even when, from a high sense of duty, plunging into scenes of strife and bloodshed, she was never observed to strike otherwise than in self-defence. She used all her authority to drive women of bad character out of the camp, but sought all her society among the virtuous of her own sex, and was always fond of the company of young people. She had it in her power to command all the indulgences of luxury, but she preferred the plainest diet, and would

go

without a meal rather than touch anything that had been obtained by violence. She never took any merit to herself for her victories, accounting all that she did as the act of God. Often in the night she rose up to pray, and far from

accounting herself as above sin, because she believed herself inspired, she never went to confession without shedding tears over her human infirmities.

When we consider how ready we are to give way to temptation, we none of us can refuse our admiration of this poor peasant girl, who so steadily pursued what she conceived to be her duty, without suffering ambition or vanity to move her from her purpose. Her services were so important that she might have commanded whatever it was in the king's power to grant. All she sought was liberty to fulfil her mission. She was a handsome woman, but she tried to conceal, not to display her beauties. She was tried in every way, but was still firm, determined, and yet modest and unpresuming. But to return to her story :

At Jergeau she exhibited not only that

courage she had before displayed, but much natural military skill. She directed the aim of the artillery, which was so placed as to produce a great effect. She led on the troops to the assault, encouraging them and their leaders, and though struck down by a stone from the walls, she speedily regained her horse, exclaiming, “ Friends! friends! be of good courage ; God has given the English into our hands !” The town was won, and Suffolk taken prisoner. Encouraged by this success, King Charles himself set forward and followed in 'the triumphant footsteps of the Maid, who was now pressing right onwards towards Rheims. An attack was made on the town of Troyes, but the assailants being driven back, King Charles wished to leave it and pass on.

Joan would not hear of this, and putting herself at the head

of the troops, led them on again, and took the place by storm.

Charles remained some days at Troyes, and whilst there, deputies arrived from Chalons, who brought him the keys of their town, with promises of their perfect obedience. The king upon this went to Chalons, where he was received with great joy; and here the keys of the city of Rheims were presented to him, with promises from the inhabitants, who had driven out the captains set over them by the English, to admit him as their king. He immediately set forward for Rheims, being received by the archbishop and the people with great ceremony and public rejoicings.

On Sunday the 17th day of July, 1429, Charles the Seventh was crowned king of France in the cathedral of Rheims, and anointed with the holy oil contained in the sacred Ampulla, a golden vessel, which

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