Imágenes de páginas


Whilst engaged in the profound researches necessary to y rify the facts contained in the veracious legend of the golden-haired son of Arvon, “ Owen Tudor," the Editor lighted on some curious particulars relating to the immediately succeeding times and fortunes of the “ Maid of Orleans," which not being generally known, it was modestly thought, might prove interesting to the world! In fact the singular explanation given of what that varying cosmopolitan was once pleased to consider miraculous in the career of the amazing woman named, is so exclusively contained in the poetical chronicle, in the Editor's sole possession, written by the Minstreless Huéline de Troye, entitled “ Gestes de la Pucelle d'Orléans,” that it seemed like an ungenerous concealment of an historical light to withhold it. The opportunities enjoyed by that lady as a cotemporary of the events delineated, and who being the wife of the favorite minister of Charles VII., the Lord de la Trimouille, may well be supposed to be in the secret of their internal workings, give a value and authenticity to the materials employed in the production of this true chrcnicle which may be abundantly tested by reference to more accessible historical memoranda. Accordingly, it is here presented to the notice of the benevolent reader; not indeed in the rhymed and poetical form of the original, in consequence of the great aversion entertained by the present public for that style of composition—but not the less to be relied on as a faithful picture of the times and deeds of the heroic restorer of the French monarchy.

“An old rude song, that suited well

That ruin wild and hoary."

What parts are invented or elucidated in a novel manner by the said Minstreless, is left to the discrimination of the judicious reader; who is, however, warned that the literal words and doings of the Maid and her cotemporaries are so frequently introduced that he must be on his guard not to fall into the error of the Athenian audience, which condemned as unnatural and badly imitated the real utterances of an animal (we find it below prefatial dignity to mention what animal), while it lauded the art of a mimic to the skies !

QA 19F0895




laid siege to Orleans. The fall of that strong city would complete the conquest of the whole north

of France, enable them to cross the Loire, and * Vouchsafe to those that have not read the story,

carry the war into the south, where the possession That I may prompt them."-HENRY V. of Guienne, and the alliance of Burgundy, yielded

every facility for the conquest of the few proAmong all her pageants, History has not often vinces still adhering to the cause of the Dauphin. presented a more striking and brilliant succession The vital nature of the struggle was equally of events than the career of Henry V., King of apparent in the unwearied energy of the attack England, and heir of France ; nor a more solemn and defense of Orleans. Contrary to the custom example of the vanity of human hopes and great- of armies in those days, the English kept the ness, than in the sudden doom that closed it. The field during winter, and with patient toil bound magnificent titles won by his valor and policy, the city in a chain of forts, whose links of adaserved the victor of Agincourt little more than to mant compressed it gradually into total isolation, swell the pomp of the proclamation wherewith In vain did the courage of the citizens, and the his heralds broke their staffs over his sepulchre. efforts of the chivalry of France, oppose the A few more weeks would have put the great prize steady, progress of the besiegers. The loss even for which he had toiled and battled so long, in of their famous general, the Earl of Salisbury, his grasp, for they conducted to the dust the woe- seemed in nowise to discourage them. Talbot, worn phantom of French royalty, Charles, sixth Suffolk, Fastolfe, and other renowned commandof the name in France, whose powers he already ers, carried out his plans with consummate skill possessed, and whose titles he was to inherit. By and valor. so much did the crowned madman survive his Little fear was entertained by the besiegers sage rival, the vanquished, the victor, the aged that their operations might be disturbed by any and exhausted grandsire, his young and vigorous exterior force. The battles of Crevant and Verson-in-law !

neuil, and, more recently, that of Rouvrai, quaintThe consequences that might well have been ly styled, of the Herrings, as it was fought to cut anticipated from this abrupt event, did not, how- off a supply of Lent provisions to the English ever, ensue. That massive crown into which camp, confirmed that opinion of the superiority Henry had fused two potent ones, was upheld of their enemies which had become traditionary over the brows of his infant heir by a hand of in the minds of the French commonalty, from almost as strong grasp as his own. John, Duke the age of Cressy and Poictiers. And little hope of Bedford, succeeded his brother in the adminis- could be entertained of relief by the valiant detration of the French conquests; a prince whose fenders of Orleans. Courage was almost extincalm sagacity and perseverance, seconded by great guished by perpetual rebuffs even in the hearts of warlike skill and energy, filled even the gap left the noblest chivalry. And the factions raging by the hero-king. By policy or arms he gained among the French chiefs, their struggles to wring or overawed nearly all the great feudatories of the little power remaining to their prince from France, preserving the fidelity of the most power- one another, neutralized any aid their swords ful of the number, Philip. Duke of Burgundy, by might have afforded. The young King Charles a personal alliance, and by keeping alive his re- himself, naturally indolent, fond of pleasure, and sentment for the murder of his father, assassinated purposely kept in inactivity by his ambitious at the Bridge of Montereau, by the command, courtiers, was considered, both by friends and or, at all events, by the partisans, and in the pre- foes, as rather a spectator than a sharer in the senee, of the Dauphin, Charles, who now claimed conflict. the allegiance of France, as legitimate successor The confidence of the English in their approachto his father, Charles VI.

ing triumph became hourly more strikingly maniWith these advantages, and though thwarted fested. While the siege was vigorously pressed, by the factions that raged at home between the the Regent busied himself in making preparations ambitious and overbearing Cardinal Beaufort, for the decisive campaign beyond the Loire, that and the Protector Gloucester, the Duke of Bed- was to follow the fall of Orleans. The province ford gradually worked on in the great woof of of Champagne was completely subjected, but cerhis brother's policy, until it seemed to approach tain neighboring countries, which had hitherto completion, and showed all the gorgeous hues of escaped the scourge of war, suddenly fell under it, the original design. The destruction of the French belonging to the Cardinal-Duke of Bar, who promonarchy, and the transfer the crown from the fessed the strictest neutrality, but who warmly house of Valois to that of Plantagenet, was, in favored the cause of Charles VII. It was not the opinion of most politicians, at hand, when, until the English power had reached so high a toward the close of the year 1428, the English| point of prosperity, that the politic Regent

thought proper to reveal his knowledge of the main body consisted of Norman vassals of the circumstance. But one fair morning the people bishopric of Beauvais, and of a band of merceof the district of Commercy, bordering on Cham- naries in the pay of the prelate, known and pagne, were thunderstruck by the apparition of dreaded throughout France, from the name of a little army, which descended upon them as if their brutal commander and their own cruelties, from the clouds ! Commercy was caught in fla- as the Skinners of Franquet d'Arras. But by po grante delicto : it was found assembling in arms, in one were the movements of the new possessors of obedience to an edict of the Dauphin, calling forth Commercy watched with more reasonable grounds the arrière ban of all the country that owned al- of disquiet than by Sir Robert de Baudricourt, legiance to him. Agents of Regnault de Charters, Governor of Vaucouleurs, ostensibly for the CarArchbishop of Rheims, one of Charles's most de- dinal-Duke of Bar, its lørd, but to all actual voted partisans, on a proper application of cer- intents and purposes for King Charles of France. tain persuasives familiar to the judicial eloquence This town, commanding the fruitful valley of the of the fifteenth century-confessed that they Meuse and the passes into Burgundy, seemed so were engaged in this purpose under pretext of likely, a step in the progress of an invasion to the assembling the vassals of the great fief of Com south, that the anxiety of its guardian was kept mercy to render homage to the heiress, who perpetually astir. had just attained her majority. This lady was It was market-day in Vaucouleurs at the time niece to the archbishop, and was commonly called when our chronicle commences, but the usual the Heiress of Commercy, from her long non- peaceful bustle of such a scene was so largely inage, though her proper title was that of Baroness. termingled with military preparations and pre

In consequence of this indiscretion of its chiefs, cautions that it rather resembled the head-quarthe castle, town, and whole territory of Commer- ters of a commissariat established in a newly takcy, were seized and declared forfeit by the invad- en town. ers. The heiress herself fell into their hands, An abrupt, massive tower of stone over the and was detained for the purpose of extorting a main-gate of Vaucouleurs formed, with a cluster large ransom, or as a revengeful retaliation on the of irregular buildings around it, the governor's Archbishop of Rheims. One of the two leaders residence, the town-house, and the principal of the invasion was a personal enemy of that strength of the place. It was strongly guarded, prelate. This was the great ecclesiastical prince, and every cart or wain of the most harmless apPierre Cauchon, Bishop of Beauvais, who, sup- pearance-laden with shivering sheafs of corn, ported by the English interest, of which he was or hay, or chestnuts-was rigidly examined bea zealous ally, had aspired to the metropolitan dig- fore it was permitted to pass between the outward nity in the church of France ; but was defeated and inner gate of the citadel, and so into the marby the papal preference for Regnault de Char- ket-place. Spears were thrust in as deeply as tres, and by the general dislike of the clergy to a they would go, and at the slightest cause of suschief who had proved himself, in his own dio- picion, the whole heap was overturned, and cese, the most despotic and arrogant of rulers. searched to the planks of the wagon, by military This private pique had, no doubt

, a great deal to do surveyors who evidently took a lively interest in with the generous offer made to the Regent Bed- the task. The square before the tower was coyford, by the Bishop, who volunteered the aid ofered with scattered booths and stands of various his own troops to suppress the preparations in agricultural produce, around a rich Gothic cross Commercy, of which he was also the first to gain in the center, on the steps of which the butterintelligence. Yet it was said that the Regent wives and dairy-women enjoyed by immemorial himself was averse to the enterprise, and would prescription the right of displaying their cleanly not have consented to its being undertaken, but wares, their snowy aprons, head-dresses of dazthrough esteem to the other leader of the expe- zling colors, sun-browned visages, and lively eyes. dition, on whom he wished to confer some signal It seemed to be a day of extraordinary excitereward for military exploits of the most brilliant ment, though usually one of bustle and animacharacter. This commander was the renowned tion.' The inhabitants of Vaucouleurs, in addi. general, Sir John Fastolfe, a favored friend and tion to chafferings and conflicts of opinion on the pupil of the Regent, and conqueror in the battle value of the articles offered by the country peoof Rouvrai, where, with seven hundred English- ple for sale, had to exchange all the alarming rumen, he defeated a French army of as many mors, fears, and predictions of evil that haunted thousands. The Regent had perhaps another every homestead within a very extensive sweep reason in departing from his usually temperate of Commercy. They had to join lamentations and conciliating policy. After the death of the on the dreadful fate that awaited the whole counEarl of Salisbury; his successor, the Lord Talbot, try, for it was concluded without doubt that the differed so completely from Fastolfe in his plans Meuse was now to become the theater of the of carrying on the siege of Orleans, that the ex- woes that had long devastated the Seine and pedition to Commercy was possibly devised as a Loire. The certainty that Orleans, reduced to means of preventing the two generals from com- extremities by famine, could no longer oppose ing to open contest. The popularity of both the progress of the invaders; and the projected readers was so high that a concussion might have flight of the King into Dauphiny; were news produced the most dangerous results.

that struck deep hopelessness into the hearts of a The consternation excited by the invasion population else very well inclined to his cause. throughout the countries of Bar and Brie was in- Earnestly did both townspeople and country folk creased by the composition of the forces employ- labor to impress these menacing facts on each ed in the service. Only a few

English, the per- other, and the probability that Vaucouleurs would sonal followers of the Dragon Knight, as Sir John soon have to sustain a siege, the one side to abate, Fastolfe was called by the French peasantry, from and the other to enhance, the value of the articles his insignia of the Garter and the renown of his exposed for sale. You will be starved, Maitre deeds of arms, were among the inyaders. The Jean, if you do not buy at any price !"" "You

will have all taken from you, Maitre Pierre, at | rarely ventured, or only under the most humble no price, if you do not sell at any!" was the pith and clerical pretext. But his chief work and of many a weary jangle on this market-day at office were among those of a neutral character Vaucouleurs.

which he desired to convert to his own views of So general was the interest felt in the topics the great contest rending France. His exertions above alluded to, that there seemed scarcely any in that direction met with so much success, that devoted to a circumstance which was else certain at length an edict of the Regent pursued him on to have roused the most eager curiosity. Two or his travels, denouncing the severest penalties on three carts, on which were certain wooden edifi- any place, in or out of the English obedience, ces large enough to be inhabited by many persons, that should presume to give harborage to this after the fashion of tinkers and gipsies, and covo" pestilent friar," as he was succinctly described. ered with a species of coarse canvas, painted It was probably on this accou that the cautious with the most extraordinary and horrible devices, governor of Vaucouleurs refused to permit Richard traversed the market-place, drawn by mules with himself to abide in the town, though he dared tinkling bells on their harness, and escorted by a not so far slight the recommendatory letters of train of young novices of some order of mendi- the Archbishop of Rheims as to refuse his troop cant friars, who chanted a Veni Creator in a re- permission to exhibit their usual performances; markably clear, melodious, and regulated harmo- or, very possibly, the religious manager, who was ny. Little attention followed their progress, and not remarkable for personal courage, and foreyet the important announcement had just been saw that an unpleasant altercation might arise on made at the market-cross that the excellent his account with the English at Commercy, chanters were the peerless actors of mysteries thought proper to seclude himself from admiration and moralities known in France by the title of while in their neighborhood. the Companions of Friar Richard of the Passion, Since so exciting an announcement as the posunjustly expelled from Paris by the English ty- sibility of beholding a headless saint, after under rants. All true Frenchmen and lieges of the going all the troubles of his mortal career, perform Cardinal-Duke of Bar were therefore earnestly high mass to obtain the pity of Heaven on the exhorted to attend a representation of the Mira- famished city of Orleans, stirred very little notice, cles of St. Denis, to be enacted at noonday in the it may be thought that much less was taken of an church of St. Savior, at the rate of one-fifth of event that was nevertheless of infinitely more a sol parisis for every pair of eyes and an indefi- importance. A side postern in the town house of nite share in the benefits of an indulgence granted Vaucouleurs suddenly opened, and two persons by the Most Revered Lord Archbishop and Duke were thrust out of it with considerable rudeness, of Rheims to all the faithful attending the ex- and even a degree of violence, as if dismissed by hibition.

some offended or outraged "authority. But in Already, in its rudest infancy, the influence of the fact the circumstance was too usual on a day of art of scenic representation over the multitude, in justice, as the sessions of the royal governors a political point of view, was observed, and put were styled with great unintentional irony, to be to use by professors of statecraft. Friar Richard thought worthy even of a passing thought. And and his companions had been driven out of Paris, moreover the expelled parties turned their backs on a charge of having exerted the talent they so abruptly on the bustling groups in the marketpossessed in the exhibition of the religious plays, place, and passed through the archway into the which had lately become a favorite amusement open country beyond the gates so rapidly, that of the people, to excite hatred and resistance to there was scarcely time for any of the quidnunes the English domination. Friar Richard was al- of the town to speculate on their apparition. most the first of his order, which reïnvented the dramatic art, who had a real genius, at least for stage-effect, and he acquired for himself and the young friars he had trained to the office, an extraordinary popularity; but the zeal of his partisan

CHAPTER II. ship to the cause of Charles VII. soon betrayed him into dangerous excesses, in the way of vituperation and prophesies against the English mas "Mother! since you brought me forth to breathe ters of Paris. His allegories became too thinly So short a life, Olympius had good right to bequeath vailed to escape even a military observation, that My short life, honor: yet that right he doth in no regarded with a strange mixture of contempt and


CHAPMAN'S HOMER. reverence such merely mental but religious exer To the practiced eye, a village was visible citations.

among the remote windings of the Meuse, to Expelled from the capital, but animated to ward which the two persons quitting Vaucoufiercer exertions against those who had become leurs evidently took their way. A stranger's his personal oppressors, Friar Richard formed glance would scarcely have rested until it reached what was possibly the first strolling company of the towers of the Castle of Commercy, and the players on record. Attended by those younger vast verdant expanse of its surrounding forest. and more zealous disciples who adhered to him In excuse, however, for the slight attention after his expulsion, and with such properties as bestowed on them by the few persons they passthey were enabled to rescue from sequestration, ed, as well as those they left behind, it must be Friar Richard of the Passion rambled into every allowed that there was little in the appearance of town, castle and village of France with his reli- either stranger to excite the notice of common gious shows, and wherever he might, without in- observers forming, in all ages the infinite majority curring too much danger, repeated his Parisian of mankind. One was a middle-aged man, appaoffenses. The countries that favored the cause rently belonging to the lower order of burgesses; of Charles VII. made him enthusiastically wel the other, a young peasant girl of the province, as come; into those of a contrary disposition he was abundantly certified by the style of their


[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »