CHAPTER EIGHT

The Siege of Orléans

In the last week of April 1429 Jehanne d’Arc set out from Blois at the head of an armed convoy of several thousand men escorting wagons laden with supplies for the relief of Orléans. It must have been an extraordinary sight, calculated to inspire her own troops and strike terror into the English. In front of the column walked a group of priests under a standard painted with the image of Christ crucified, which had been made for them on Jehanne’s instructions: as they walked they sang the great ninth-century invocation to the Holy Spirit, ‘Veni creator spiritus’, a hymn more usually associated with the coronation of popes and kings. In recent memory only Henry V, who also believed God was on his side, had given the clergy such a prominent role in his military campaigns.1

Behind them came the Pucelle herself, riding on a charger. Slight but unmistakably feminine in figure, with her hair cropped in the unflattering above-the-ears pudding-bowl style favoured by gentlemen of the time, she wore a suit of plate armour made for her at Tours, on the dauphin’s orders, at a cost of 100l.t. (£5833). She carried in her hand her white standard which, as her voices had commanded, depicted Christ in judgement, one hand holding the world and the other blessing the lily of France, proffered to him by angels on either side, and emblazoned with the sacred names ‘Jhesus Maria’.2

At her waist she bore the sword of Charlemagne’s grandfather which her voices had told her would be found behind the altar of the chapel at Sainte-Catherine-de-Fierbois. The chapel had been founded by Charles Martel as an act of thanksgiving for his crushing defeat of Muslim invaders at the battle of Tours in 732 and had become a popular place of pilgrimage, especially for wounded soldiers. Jehanne, prompted by her devotion to Saint Catherine, had visited the chapel on her way to Chinon in February 1429, attending masses and staying in the hospital and almshouses for pilgrims built in 1400 by Marshal Boucicaut, who had been captured at Agincourt and died a prisoner in England in 1421. She had not then asked for the sword but, after receiving the dauphin’s seal of approval for her mission, she sent word to the clergy of the chapel telling them where they could find it and asking them to give it to her.

It is unclear whether the monks already knew of the legend that Charles Martel had also donated his sword or indeed that it was missing, but the sequence of events, together with Jehanne’s curious choice of an armourer as messenger and the fact that she had to describe the sword, with its five engraved crosses, so that it could be identified, all suggest that its miraculous discovery owed more to human intervention than divine. The magical uniting of a sword with its destined owner was, after all, a commonplace of medieval chivalric literature. Charles Martel’s sword was not Excalibur, but it had been sanctified in a Christian victory over Muslims and was therefore the ideal weapon for another saviour of France to wield against impious invaders. The discovery was especially opportune as the more evocative alleged sword of Charlemagne, which had been used in the French coronation rites at Reims since 1270, was in English hands at the abbey of Saint-Denis, near Paris.3

Whatever the truth of the story, it was rapidly circulated, adding considerably to the Pucelle’s reputation as a prophetess. Rumours that her own coming had been foretold were also assiduously cultivated by Armagnac propagandists, even to the extent of rewriting one of the typically obscure prophecies attributed to Merlin to make it explicitly fit Jehanne’s mission.4 That the dauphin ordered and paid for her armour to be made by his master-armourer also suggests a deliberate attempt to identify her with the armour-wearing Pucelle foretold by Marie Robine, especially as the initiative to adopt armour, rather than simply male clothing, does not appear to have come from Jehanne herself.5

Jehanne also played an active part in the creation of her own legend. On 22 March, ‘the Tuesday of Holy Week’, she dictated a letter to the English. It began with her trademark invocation ‘+Jesus Maria+’, and continued:

King of England, and you, Duke of Bedford, who call yourself Regent of the kingdom of France; you, William de la Pole, Earl of Suffolk; John Lord Talbot; and you, Thomas Lord Scales, who call yourselves lieutenants of the said Duke of Bedford, make satisfaction to the King of Heaven; surrender to the Pucelle, who has been sent here by God, the King of Heaven, the keys of all the good towns that you have taken and violated in France . . . And you too, archers, companions-at-arms, gentlemen and others who are before the town of Orléans, go back to your own country, by God. And if you do not do this, await news of the Pucelle who will come to see you shortly, to your very great harm. King of England, if you do not do this, I am commander of war, and in whatever place I come upon your men in France, I will make them leave, whether they wish to or not. And if they do not wish to obey, I will have them all killed; I have been sent here by God, the King of Heaven, to drive you out of all France, body for body. And if they wish to obey, I will show them mercy.6

Jehanne always insisted that she had personally dictated this and all her letters, though before being sent they were shown ‘to certain men among her party’. It was also circulated far afield, appearing in French, Burgundian and German chronicles (though not in English ones), and a copy was produced by her judges at Jehanne’s trial in Rouen.7

Evidently the dauphin had put the full weight of his propaganda machine behind the Pucelle. Was it effective? Certainly, and most importantly it seems to have convinced the men she led to Orléans and beyond. In the time she spent at Blois preparing for the expedition she mixed freely with the troops and had no qualms about reproving them for their sins ‘because God would then allow the war to be lost on account of the[se] sins’. Just like Henry V, she tried to drive prostitutes away from the army, even chasing one off with a drawn sword which broke as she did so. She was also ‘very irritated’ when she heard the men-at-arms swear and ‘reprimanded them vehemently’, regardless of rank. She even tamed both the duke of Alençon, who ‘often’ blasphemed, and, more remarkably, La Hire, ‘who was accustomed to use many oaths and to use God’s name in vain’; Alençon admitted that, after being rebuked, he curbed his tongue altogether in her presence and La Hire, who could not, was persuaded to swear on his staff of office instead.8

La Hire seems to have undergone something of a transformation under Jehanne’s tutelage. The Gascon’s most famous prayer hitherto had been ‘God, I pray that you will do today for La Hire as much as you would wish La Hire to do for you, if he were God and you were La Hire’; now, ‘at the instigation and admonition’ of the Pucelle, he was actually persuaded to go to confession and encouraged those in his company to do likewise. It was perhaps no wonder that, as one witness later declared, the ordinary soldiers ‘regarded her as a saint, because she bore herself so well in the army, in words and in deeds, following God, so that no one could reproach her’. 9

Fighting under a saint’s command and working with her were two entirely different matters, as the Armagnac captains were soon to discover. Jehanne had been expecting to launch an immediate attack on Talbot as soon as she arrived at Orléans, and fight her way into the city; the Bastard of Orléans, Gaucourt, La Hire and Loré had already decided that their forces were too small to take on the English army and therefore chose a ‘better and safer’ course of action. Travelling along the south bank of the Loire, they went six miles beyond Orléans to meet the Bastard at Chécy, where boats were waiting to transfer the supplies into the city. Only one English stronghold, the bastille of Saint-Loup, stood on this side of Orléans, and its attention was diverted by a pre-planned sortie from the city. Jehanne, however, was furious. ‘You thought to deceive me,’ she stormed at the Bastard, ‘and you are the more deceived yourselves, because I bring you better help than has ever been given to any soldier or city, the help of the King of Heaven.’ At that moment, the Bastard later testified, the wind miraculously changed direction, enabling the boats, now laden with supplies, to sail unhindered into Orléans.10

This was still not enough to persuade such experienced military leaders to give way to Jehanne’s demands. When she refused to enter the city without her soldiers, who were ‘confessed, penitent and right-minded’, her captains mutually agreed to leave her alone at Orléans and go back to Blois. There they could gather reinforcements, cross the Loire and return on the north bank ready to take on the English and raise the siege. Jehanne clearly did not understand that the benefit of the supplies would have been lost if the army bringing them had entered the town and become reliant on them too. Nor had she realised that she was only escorting a supply convoy, not bringing an army, to the relief of Orléans.11 Her role, the dauphin’s advisers had already decided, would be as a figurehead to rally the city until that relieving army arrived.

Pre-empted by, and excluded from, this decision, Jehanne had little choice but to enter Orléans as the Bastard urged. On the evening of 29 April 1429, accompanied only by a small group, including the Bastard himself and La Hire, she sailed across the Loire and rode into the city on a white horse, fully armed and with her white standard flying. Her reputation had gone before her and the crowds went wild with excitement, ‘rejoicing as much as if they had seen God descend among them’. Convinced that their deliverer had come, they pressed forward to touch her, and even her horse, as if they were sacred relics. In the crush a torch-bearer accidentally set fire to a pennant, providing Jehanne with the opportunity to demonstrate her horsemanship by spurring forward to extinguish it, ‘as if she had extensive military expertise; the men-at-arms considered this a great marvel’.12

The next day, eager for action, Jehanne went to see the Bastard and was greatly put out to learn ‘it had been decided not to stage an assault that day’. Her annoyance can only have increased on learning that La Hire had led a sortie which briefly captured the ‘Paris’ boulevard until English reinforcements drove him off. Jehanne had to content herself with trading verbal insults with the English, threatening to drive them out and being called in reply ‘cow-herd’, ‘witch’ and ‘whore’.13

Such unimaginative abuse at least demonstrates that they knew who she was, but there is nothing to suggest, as the French later claimed, that her arrival immediately caused widespread panic and desertion among the English. On 15 April the council in England had received letters from Bedford, urging the recruitment of two hundred men-at-arms and twelve hundred archers to replace those from the earl of Salisbury’s retinue who had abandoned the siege at Orléans.14 This might be seen as evidence of a mass desertion, but it should be emphasised that this was the normal recruiting season for a new expedition to France and that the earl’s men had been contracted to serve only until December 1428: they were under no obligation to stay beyond that date and though some may have done so, the indications are that the siege was scaled back for the winter, as was normal practice. Their ‘abandonment’ was therefore unlikely to have been desertion through fear of the Pucelle.

Bedford needed reinforcements from England because he could not spare soldiers from Normandy. His forces there were fully committed to a new blockade of Mont-Saint-Michel, for which both the estates-general and the clergy had again granted heavy taxes. John Harpeley, the bailli of the Cotentin, had spent the winter building a new bastille at Genêts, directly opposite the island on the northern coast of the bay, and it was now garrisoned with twenty men-at-arms and one hundred mounted archers. On the same day that the English council received Bedford’s request the regent authorised the French treasury to send money to England to hire men and ships for the blockade of Mont-Saint-Michel.15

Though Bedford’s long-laid plans were focused on the reduction of Mont-Saint-Michel, he had not lost sight of the problems at Orléans. Despite his initial misgivings, he had personally contributed 117,000l.t. (£6.83m) to ensure its successful conclusion but he could not tighten the siege without more men.16 The lack of English manpower, particularly after the departure of the Burgundians, had already allowed the Bastard to slip in and out of the city several times, most notably to fetch Jehanne. On 4 May 1429 the second detachment of the relieving army arrived at Orléans. Its approach had been observed the night before by watchmen placed in the city bell-towers, so the English, who had their own scouts and watch, must have known that it was on its way. Yet they allowed the column to pass unchallenged and more supplies to enter the city. French sources attributed this to the Pucelle’s divine protection but it suggests that the besiegers were too stretched to mount an attack.17

Later that day, bolstered by this success, the Orléannais forces made a sortie against the bastille of Saint-Loup, the isolated church-based fortress on the eastern side of the city. Again Jehanne knew nothing of this until she was roused from her bed by the cries of the townsmen that they were being defeated. Jehanne armed, seized her standard, took a horse from a page boy in the street and rode out of the Burgundy gate, just in time to rally the troops who had been repulsed with many casualties. Her appearance at this critical moment put fresh heart into the assault, the fortress was overwhelmed and the 150 or so men of its garrison were either killed or captured. There could be no doubting the Pucelle’s contribution to the first victory of the Orléans campaign, though the fact that another well-organised and well-timed sortie prevented Talbot sending reinforcements to the bastille was just as important.18

The following day there was a suspension of hostilities because it was the Feast of the Ascension. While the Bastard, Gaucourt, La Hire, Xaintrailles, Loré and other captains held a council to decide their next move, Jehanne wrote another letter to the English:

You men of England, who have no right in this kingdom of France, the King of Heaven orders and commands you through me, Jehanne the Pucelle, to abandon your strongholds and go back to your own country. If not, I will make a war cry that will be remembered forever. And I am writing this to you for the third and final time. I will not write anything further.

Jesus Maria.

Jehanne the Pucelle.

Unable to entrust the letter to her herald, Guienne, who had been taken prisoner by the English when delivering the previous one, she had it tied to an arrow and fired by an archer into the English camp.19

With Saint-Loup captured and the eastern side of the city secured, the next logical strategic step was to clear the south bank of the Loire and retake the bridge. The English had two bastilles on this side of the river: the fortified church of the Augustins, which they had rebuilt opposite the Tourelles, and Saint-Jean-le-Blanc, half a mile to the east. Early in the morning of 6 May the Orléannais crossed to an island in the Loire and made a pontoon to the southern shore by lashing two boats together. By this means they were able to make a concerted advance on Saint-Jean-le-Blanc, only to discover that it had been abandoned by the English, who had retreated to the greater security of the Augustins.

Rather than risk assaulting the combined garrisons in this much stronger fortress, the captains decided to place Gaucourt and the cream of their forces as a garrison in Saint-Jean-le-Blanc, and withdraw the rest back to Orléans. Gaucourt had orders to ensure an orderly retreat and prevent an attack by the English. As he stood guard at the gates he was harangued by Jehanne, who told him that the troops all wanted to attack the Augustins and that he was a ‘bad man’ for trying to prevent it. ‘Whether you wish it or not, the men-at-arms will come, and they will win as they have won before.’ Jehanne and La Hire (who could be equally rash) then mounted their horses and rode with couched lances towards the English who had begun to emerge from the Augustins to attack the retreating Orléannais. Their example spurred on the rest of their troops to follow, the English were beaten back and the Augustins taken by assault.20

The victorious forces camped there overnight and early the next morning began an assault on the boulevard before the Tourelles. Jehanne said at her trial that she was the first to place a scaling ladder against the ramparts, an action that, with her standard, made her an obvious target for the English archers. An arrow struck her between the neck and shoulder, passing cleanly through her body, so that the deadly arrowhead was not lodged in her flesh.21 According to her confessor, Brother Jean Pasquerel, some of the soldiers wanted to perform an incantation over the wound, but she refused, saying she would prefer to die rather than offend God by such a sin. Pasquerel was a particularly partisan witness at the nullification trial: he had a strong personal interest in securing recognition that her mission was indeed divinely inspired and in overthrowing Jehanne’s conviction for heresy and sorcery, which reflected badly on his spiritual guidance.

Nevertheless, there was a fine line between orthodoxy and heresy, and medieval soldiers often did use ‘enchantments’ to protect them in battle. Many of them inscribed ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ or his monogram ‘IHS’ at vulnerable points in their armour, especially their helms, to ward off fatal blows. The Charlemagne prayer, which repeatedly invoked the cross as a charm against sudden death, was also very popular among soldiers, including Talbot, who added it to his personal Book of Hours. Given Jehanne’s own regular use of the sacred names, it does not seem likely that she would have refused what her confessor called an ‘incantation’ on her behalf.22

With or without such aid, Jehanne was soon back in the thick of the battle, urging on the men as they tried to take the boulevard in fierce hand-to-hand fighting which lasted until evening. The Bastard later admitted that he was about to give the order to withdraw, when Jehanne begged him to wait, retired to pray for a few minutes, then returned and set her standard on the edge of the ditch. Inspired to a last effort by this action, a final surge gave the Orléannais the victory. The English were pushed back towards the Tourelles but, as they retreated, the drawbridge broke beneath them and, weighed down by their heavy armour, they drowned in the Loire. Among those who were killed was the captain of the garrison, Sir William Glasdale, bailli of Alençon and a veteran of Cravant and Verneuil. This gave Jehanne’s supporters considerable satisfaction as he had been ‘the one who spoke most offensively, dishonourably and scornfully to the Pucelle’.23

The loss of the Tourelles and with it control of the bridge over the Loire was the last straw for the English. They had lost between six and eight hundred men and their depleted forces could no longer maintain the siege. The next morning, 8 May 1429, Suffolk, Talbot and Scales gathered their remaining forces and withdrew to their fortresses along the Loire, leaving behind the cannon and artillery which were too cumbersome to take with them.24

Jehanne had triumphantly fulfilled the first part of her mission but when the dauphin wrote to inform the major towns of ‘the virtuous deeds and wondrous things’ performed by his soldiers, he mentioned her just once, and then only to say that she ‘has always been present at the accomplishment of all of these deeds’. A few days later he granted her an interview during which she urged him ‘very insistently and frequently’ to delay no longer but march to Reims for his coronation. Charles gave her a fine suit of clothes as an expression of his gratitude, but he would not be rushed into a rash decision. Reims lay over 150 miles to the north-east, in the heart of Anglo-Burgundian Champagne. Initially at least, it made more strategic sense to capitalise on the relief of Orléans by reclaiming the Loire.25

For a month Jehanne was forced to kick her heels while men, equipment and supplies were raised for the new campaigning season. Since the dauphin declined to lead the army personally, he gave the overall command to the twenty-year-old duke of Alençon. This was a curious choice. Although Alençon could perhaps claim the office of right, as the premier duke, he had played no part in the relief of Orléans and had little military experience, having spent several years as a prisoner of the English after Verneuil. He was, however, a patron of astrologers, dabbler in necromancy and one of the Pucelle’s most ardent supporters. She could command him (unlike the Bastard of Orléans or Raoul de Gaucourt) at will.

On 11 June 1429 Alençon, with Jehanne at his side and an army several thousand strong, laid siege to Jargeau, a small walled town with a fortified bridge over the Loire, eleven miles east of Orléans. Having taken the suburbs easily, they set up their guns and the following day began a bombardment which soon brought down the largest tower. The earl of Suffolk, who had retreated to Jargeau after withdrawing from Orléans, now offered to surrender the town in fifteen days unless relieved in the meantime. Suffolk must have been aware that an English army commanded by Fastolf was on its way from Paris and hoped that it would arrive in time to save him. Nevertheless, his terms were refused. Ostensibly this was because he had negotiated with La Hire rather than Alençon himself, but such a refusal was a breach of chivalric convention and the normal practice of war. A second attempt by Suffolk to negotiate a surrender during the assault that followed was also ignored because, Alençon implausibly claimed later, ‘no one heard’.26

The refusal to allow a negotiated surrender can perhaps be attributed to the Pucelle. There is no doubt that she wanted a fight. Unlike the professional soldiers, she was unencumbered by the baggage of the chivalric code and, with the moral authority of the divinely chosen, it seems she was able to persuade the duke to do as she wished. The slaughter of prisoners that followed the assault, which was also against the laws of war, since they posed no threat to the victors, may also perhaps be attributed to Jehanne’s enthusiasm for the utter destruction of the enemy. Several hundred English were killed in the assault, including the captain of Jargeau, Sir Henry Biset, and Suffolk’s brother, Alexander. Another brother, Sir John de la Pole, was captured, as was Suffolk himself. Before he surrendered, the earl insisted on knighting his captor to avoid the humiliation of being taken prisoner and having to give his faith to a man of lesser rank. (Such punctiliousness had not prevented him fathering a daughter on a French nun, Malyne de Cay, the night before his surrender.)27

Having captured Jargeau, the Armagnac army now marched west of Orléans to take Beaugency-sur-Loire. On the way they passed the English stronghold of Meung, taking the bridge but bypassing the massive fortress where Talbot and Scales had made their headquarters. On 15 June 1429 they laid siege to Beaugency, where Talbot’s lieutenant, Matthew Gough, was in command. Gough’s exploits in France made him feared and renowned in equal measure. The son of a Welsh bailiff, he had fought at Cravant and Verneuil, captured the Savoyard soldier of fortune, the Bastard of Baume, and in 1427 distinguished himself in the recapture of Le Mans, where he had coolly taken a break from the fighting to fortify himself with some bread and wine. With him was Sir Richard Gethin, another veteran of Cravant and Verneuil, who, like Gough, was a Welshman who had become a career soldier in France.28

The day after the siege began Arthur de Richemont arrived unexpectedly with some twelve hundred troops. Two years earlier he had been banished as a result of the factional quarrels that regularly tore apart the dauphin’s court. That sentence of banishment had not been revoked and Richemont had defied it to come unbidden from Brittany to offer his aid in the campaign. Both he and the Pucelle were protégés of Yolande of Aragon, suggesting that the duchess may have had a hand in bringing together these two powerful advocates of aggressive war against the English, but his arrival caused consternation among the captains gathered at Beaugency, who were unsure whether to risk the dauphin’s anger by accepting his help. No doubt the opportune announcement by La Hire’s scouts that an English army, four thousand strong, had been sighted near Meung and was bearing down on Beaugency was a factor in their decision to do so.29

The knowledge that relief was so close was denied to Gough, who was convinced by the arrival of Richemont’s troops that further resistance was useless. In return for being allowed to evacuate his men he agreed to surrender on 18 June and not to engage in combat for ten days afterwards. An hour after the garrison marched out of Beaugency news arrived in the Armagnac camp that the English army had withdrawn from Meung and was retiring northwards towards Paris. Alençon may have dithered, but Richemont, La Hire, Xaintrailles and Loré did not need Jehanne’s encouragement to decide that they should set off immediately in pursuit.

Their unusual unity of purpose was in strong contrast to the divisions that bedevilled the English army. Fastolf was in nominal command, having been sent by Bedford from Paris with three thousand men to relieve the Loire towns, but he had joined forces with Talbot and the remnants of the army which had besieged Orléans. Fastolf was instinctively cautious and reluctant to risk a battle against numerically superior forces; the more impulsive Talbot, who had rapidly built a successful career upon daring initiatives, wanted an all-out strike to relieve Beaugency. ‘If he had only his own men and those who were willing to follow him,’ he declared, ‘he would go and fight the enemy with the help of God and Saint George.’ It was only when news came through that Beaugency had capitulated that Talbot reluctantly conceded to Fastolf’s demand for a managed retreat.

On the day of the surrender, 18 June 1429, the English had only reached the village of Patay, fifteen miles north-west of Orléans, when they learned that the Armagnac forces were hot on their trail. There was nothing for it but to stand and fight. Fastolf drew up his men in a defensive position on a ridge while Talbot prepared an archer ambush from a flanking position but then, apparently dissatisfied with this first choice, moved his men further back. Before the archers had time to hammer in their defensive stakes, La Hire and the heavily armed cavalry of the vanguard were upon them. Caught by surprise, they were overwhelmed and slaughtered, without having had the chance to unleash their usual deadly volleys of arrows. Unimpeded, the cavalry then hurtled on to the ridge, crushing all who stood in their path and pursuing those who fled in the rout that followed. Over two thousand were killed and every one of the senior English captains was captured, apart from Fastolf, who alone had remained on horseback and was able to escape from the carnage with a portion of his men. They fled to the nearest English garrison at Janville, fifteen miles away, only to discover that the citizens had overpowered their English captain and shut the gates against them. It was after midnight before the exhausted survivors, including the Burgundian chronicler Jehan Waurin, found shelter at Étampes, almost forty miles from the battlefield.30

Patay was a disaster to outrank any other English defeat since Baugé and its consequences were much more far-reaching. Fastolf was temporarily stripped of the Order of the Garter while an inquiry was held into his conduct. Though he was apparently cleared, since he was restored to membership, he would never be able fully to shake off the charges that he was a ‘fugitive knight’ and guilty of cowardice, ‘the worst accusation that can be made against a knight’.31

More seriously for the fate of the English kingdom of France, some of its most able defenders were now prisoners in French hands. Scales would appear to have been freed fairly quickly but Talbot would not be released until the spring of 1433 and then only after paying a huge ransom and being exchanged for his captor, Xaintrailles, who had himself been captured in August 1431. Sir Thomas Rempston, an eminent captain but one of the poorest knights in Nottinghamshire, spent seven years in ‘hard and strait prison’ because he could not raise his 18,000 écus (£1.31m) ransom.32

Sir Walter Hungerford died in February 1433, just as the final instalment of his ransom was paid by his family. A court case over the rights to his ransom, heard before the parlement of Poitiers in 1432, reveals the remarkable fact that his captor was Philip Gough, a relative of Matthew Gough. In 1427 he had been one of the leaders of a band of thirty archers from the English garrison of Sainte-Suzanne who had surprised the Armagnac castle of St-Laurent-des-Mortiers and taken its captain captive. Yet just two years later he was fighting at Patay in Alençon’s company and making his fortune by taking five English prisoners, including Hungerford. Whether he had changed sides for purely mercenary motives or because he had himself been captured and, unable to pay his ransom, had agreed to serve the enemy, remains a mystery.33

There is no question but that the English defeat at Patay was a far more significant event, both militarily and historically, than the relief of Orléans. The English army was annihilated and its most important captains captured, leaving the way open for Jehanne to fulfil the second part of her mission, the coronation of the dauphin at Reims. The English failure to take Orléans, on the other hand, was relatively unimportant: as the several abortive attempts to take Mont-Saint-Michel had shown, such frustrations were not uncommon and were not in themselves catastrophic.

Yet the relief of Orléans has entered popular mythology in a way that the victory at Patay has not, for the simple reason that the Pucelle played no part in the battle. Patay was La Hire’s triumph, not the Pucelle’s. For the beleaguered citizens of Orléans, however, she was the heroine who had saved them, not just from the English but also from the dauphin’s apathy. She had fought their corner and they would fight hers. Within six years there was a ‘Mystery’ or play of the siege: composed in part, and underwritten financially, by Gilles de Rais,34 a marshal of France who had fought in Jehanne’s company, it celebrated her role and was performed annually to commemorate the relief of the city. The citizens also commissioned a journal recounting the siege to celebrate the nullification of the verdict against Jehanne and campaigned tirelessly for her canonisation. It was their efforts which ensured that the names of the Pucelle and their city would go down in history as for ever linked and that the relief of Orléans would be remembered as an iconic moment in French history.35

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