The Maid’s Failures

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Blog Post 4

The Maid’s Failures

The city of Paris had been more thoroughly fortified than any other fortress the Maid had encountered. The walls had slits for arrows, fortified towers on top,  and “gun placements” (Castor 140). The six gates were all protected by boulevards, and a deep ditch surrounded the entire city. The duke of Bedford had called upon his forces in Normandy to join him in defending the capital. Joan and her army were in for a struggle.

The Palais de la Cite and Saint-Chapelle, viewed from the left bank, from the Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry (month of June) (1410)

On September 8, on the feast of the Nativity of the Virgin, Joan rode with her banner into battle. She started on the western side of the city by the Louvre. She led her men into the ditch with showers of rocks and arrows falling on them. She called out to the Burgundians above commanding them to surrender to her army, or they would force their way in. Given her history of success, perhaps her command wasn’t completely cast aside, but her efforts at this point had been futile. Neither she nor her men had been able to scale the fortified walls, let alone penetrate them. She was then injured by a crossbow lodged in her leg, and her standard-bearer was killed right next to the Maid. The Burgundians sneered at her. When night fell, her men retreated, dragging Joan behind them. She refused to leave, but her injury and loss of blood had made her weak.

The next day, the Maid was determined to continue, but King Charles had decided otherwise. He knew the duke of Bedford’s troops would arrive at any moment to help defend the city, and his warrior had failed. He sought peace with the Burgundians to unite France once and for all against the English. The Burgundians had agreed upon a truce that would last through Christmas. Charles VII was strapped for cash and thought it useless to pay soldiers during times of peace, so he sent them home. Joan was distressed and saddened. She no longer had her king’s full support, and the Burgundians spun this to their advantage. They claimed that she had failed because she was not inspired by God but by the devil. The Maid had committed abomination after abomination, and thus could not receive holy inspiration from the divine.

Now that God had stopped intervening on behalf of the French, Joan was seen as a liability on the battlefield, not a source of inspiration. Her strength had come from God’s interference in previous battles, but it would seem the French would have to rely on military strategy, something Joan was untrained in. The king’s counsellors prevented her from fighting, even when other commanders had wished for her to join them. She was instead taken to Saint-Pierre to confront Perrinet Gressart, a mercenary who technically allied with England and Burgundy but truly acted in his own self-interest. She won the town, but still had Gressart’s city of La Charite-sur-Loire to conquer. She tried to lay siege to the city, but failed after only a few weeks due to a lack of supplies and money.

Meanwhile, Henry VI of England had been crowned at the age of eight and was traveling to France, heading a massive army, for his second coronation there. The university of Paris had written to Rome to accuse the Maid of heresy, and others still did not believe in her. Joan had nothing to show for her efforts and could only hope for good things to come which would turn back the tide to her favor. But that would take a miracle.

Sources:

Castor, Helen. “A Creature in the Form of a Woman.” Joan of Arc: A History. New York, NY: Harper, 2015. 140-149. Print.

Wikipedia contributors. “Paris.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 15 Dec. 2016. Web. 15 Dec. 2016.

Yeatts, Tabatha. Joan of Arc: Heavenly Warrior. New York: Sterling, 2009. Print.

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