Zach – Today we have a special guest and good friend of the blog. Everyone give a warm welcome to Joan of Arc!
(Joan comes up on stage in full armor and waving at the audience. She sits down on an ugly chair beside Zach’s desk. Anna Komemne sits on a chair next to her.)
Zach – Thanks for coming out today.
Joan – Iz no problem. I love to be here and shout ze truth to ze heavens. Oui?
Zach – Something like that. So, how have you been?
Joan – Very good. I went to restaurant last night and saw ze “French Fries” so I had to get zeem. So good. Not French like I remember, but good.
Zach – Especially covered in chili.
Anna – You’d like anything if it were covered in chili.
Zach – Yeah, pretty much.
Anna – You’re such a refined individual.
Zach – So, Joan. we’re here today to talk about your great victory at Orleans.
Joan – Oui, it was part of my divine mission to free France from the ‘orrible English.
Zach – Let’s back up a second. So, you get a mission to free France: what did you do to prepare for it? Did you sit back and think God would handle it all?
Joan – Absolument no! I was given mission, oui, but I was in as much danger as ze lowest soldier. I had mission, but it was up to me to work for it. When I had free time I would train with ze sword, lance and gunpowder weapons.
Anna – Indeed, I have a quote from Jean, Duke of Alencon. He said. (clears throat.)
“And after a meal [at Chinon Castle] the king and I went for a walk in the fields, and there Joan ran with the lance (she was jousting) and seeing Joan conduct herself in the wielding and running with the lance so, I gave her a horse. E
“Everyone marveled at this, that she acted so wisely and clearly in waging war, as if she was a captain who had the experience of twenty or thirty years: and especially in the setting up of artillery, for in that she held herself magnificently.”
Zach – “She shall know the ways as if born to them.”
Anna – That’s quite impressive, Joan. Sounds like you were a quick learner.
Joan – If I am going to lead men into ze battle, I had to know how to fight. Iz logical.
Zach – It also seems you had an affinity to black powder weapons.
Joan – Oh, yes. I love zeem. zey make loud noise like thunder. Last week Gaspar Correia let me shoot some of his gun collection.
Zach – Really? If I recall, he has mostly modern weapons. What did you think?
Joan – Very different! If I had one of zoz…what did he call it? Oh, yes, an M-14. Yes, If I had one at Olreans, it would be very short battle.
Anna – Why Olreans, Joan? You were given a mission to save France, but why start your campaign there?
Joan – A part of my mission was to get ze Dauphin crowned king in Reims. If English captured Olreans, zay would have cut ze Dauphin off from Reims. And, with ze control of Olreans, zay would control ze entire river, thus cutting France in half. It would strangle ze crown prince. Also, God told me to rescue Olreans.
Zach – Like how the North had to gain control of the Mississippi in the Civil War.
Anna – Now, Lord Salisbury had an army of about 8,000 more or less. A small army. In fact, too small to successfully surround Orleans. So Salisbury set up several small forts surrounding the city. These “boulevards” were earthen works with wooden palisades. Not intimidating but manned by Englishmen with longbows and gunpowder weapons, they were rather serious threats.
Zach – Let’s bring up a map.
Zach – Before you arrived on the scene with your army, the English had captured the small fortress called “the Tourelles” that over looked the river and bridge.
Joan – Oui, but my brave French soldiers paid him back. He was on the Tourelles and a cannon ball from Orleans took his head off his shoulders. Divine punishment. Zen Lord Talbot came and took charge of ze English. Ze people of Orleans were very brave and refused to surrender, but zay could not hold out much longer. Zay needed help or ze city and ze river it controlled would fall to ze English.
Zach – Now, the two men in charge of the defense of Olreans were Jean “the bastard” and “La Hire” (La Hire means “the lion” in French because this guy was a large, ferocious veteran of countless battles.) The Bastard was a cousin to the Daupin and in charge. They settled in for a long siege. A siege seldom about fighting and more about logistics. Whoever starved first usually lost. It was simple.
Joan – When I arrived with my army on ze evening of April 29th, I had almost 4,000 soldiers with me and many supplies for the people.
Anna – I imagine the food was almost as welcome a sight as your army.
Joan – It all goes to ze same purpose: defending France.
Zach – Is it true you just marched in without any trouble.
Joan – No, no. Ze soldiers of Orleans sallied out of ze town and attacked ze English to give us time to enter. Zay even captured one of ze English banners in ze skirmish.
Zach – Awesome. So, what was the first thing you did when you got inside the town walls? A planning meeting? Inventory?
Joan – I asked them to take me to ze cathedral for Mass and Confession.
Zach – I shoulda known.
Joan – I was not happy at all. I yelled at Jean ze Batsard. I wanted to go out and fight ze English that night! Why wait? God did not want us to wait. And ze next morning I awoke ready to attack, but the officers did not want to attack! They just wanted to sit on zare tooshes and eat. Zay were afraid to attack. So, I went to ze walls and shouted out at ze English, telling zem to surrender in ze name of ze King of Heaven. They did not surrender. Instead zay threw insults at me. I wanted to get zem to fight, but zay did not want a fight either.
Anna – Insulted you? How barbarous.
Joan – A three days went by with no fighting. I rode out to look at ze boulevards and make plans. My friends said zat each boulevard could hold against our entire army. I did not believe zis. God told me to take back Orleans and I know he would not tell if to do so if zare was not a way. But zare was another reason I wanted battle sooner zan later. I heard zat General Fastolf was coming with another army to help ze English. We had to win before a second army joined ze first.
Zach – No time for waiting around, then.
Joan – Not at all! Ze King of Heaven demanded we take zis town back and so we would.
Zach – On ze morning of ze 4th, I awoke from a dream. My visions told me zat French blood was being spilled on French soil! I jumped up, strapped on my armor, grabbed my sword and banner and ran outside. Ze idiots had started attacking without me! Did zay not think me capable of fighting? Ze attack was on boulevard of St. Loup. (Look up on ze map.) I charged in and ze battle lasted three hours. If we lost, French spirit would have been crushed and Talbot would have lasted until Fastolf arrived. We had to win!
Zach – This was your first real combat, wasn’t it?
Joan – Oui.
Zach – I know what that’s like. Everyone takes it differently. How did you handle it?
Joan – I looked around at ze devastation and wept for ze dead soldiers on both sides. It was sad loss of life.
Anna – You wept for the English? I thought you hated them.
Joan – I hated what ze leaders chose to do. Ze soldiers were just men like anyone else. I could not believe so many were dead. I don’t like it.
Zach – What then?
Joan – My Voices told me zat ze siege would be over before five days were over. Everyone cheered. Ze next day was Ascension day and I would not fight on such a holy day. Instead I wrote a letter to ze English telling zem to surrender in the name of the King of Heaven.
Zach – I take it they didn’t react they way you had wanted.
Joan – Zay called me a whore and I cried at their wickedness.
Anna – That wasn’t very nice of them.
Joan – On ze morning of ze 6th we had a meeting to discuss strategy. The lord of ze city thought nobody should attack, zat zay should wait and see. So, I stood up and called him a wicked man! I called to ze soldiers and ze people of the town to take up arms against the English. Against ze orders of Lord Gaucourt, I led the army out of ze gates, crossed ze river and attacked ze boulevard of ze Augustins just in front of ze Tourelles. Jean Ze Bastard wanted to wait, but I gave him no choice. I waved my banner and ze people followed me. Two attacked and took the boulevard.
Anna – I want to make something clear. Many modern people have the idea that you were just a glorified cheerleader and that you didn’t do much fighting.
Joan – What? Not at all! I charged into battle with my men and fought all day. Ze battle lasted morning until evening. The English sallied out of ze Tourelles and me, La Hire, ze Bastard and Jean D’ Alcon fought them back into ze towers.
Zach – After a full day of fighting, you and your army rested for the night, right? I could imagine how tired you were.
Joan – Not so tired as some! Ze Bastard and the others wanted to sit and wait for more reinforcements. Silly fools. I told zem zat zay had zere council and I had mine and zat ze King of Heaven would deliver the English into our hands.
Zach – But, didn’t it make sense to wait for backup? That was an awfully powerful fort there.
Joan – Doesn’t matter! (Draws sword and raises it above her head.) I had a mission and I would not be stopped by the slow minds of men! Without telling ze officers, I awoke early, had mass and confession, zen woke my brave soldiers up and called zem to arms!
Zach – Without telling to other officers? Nice!
Joan – Zay could come if zay wanted to.
Anna – Did you give a stirring speech?
Joan – No, no need. We all knew ze dangers and importance. I was never much of a speaker. Zay said I was too…blunt. It doesn’t matter because we charged and attacked ze mighty Tourelles. It was a bloody battle with many dying on each side. And then I was struck by an arrow between my neck and shoulder.
Anna – You were shot?!
Joan – Oui. It was very painful. Crossbow bolt. Penetrated my armor.
Zach – Holy cow. That had to suck. You went to the rear where the doctors were, right?
Joan – No, no! I refused to leave ze fight. I would not leave my soldiers. I told zem to put some medicine on, zen strapped my armor back on and continued fighting.
Zach – That’s hard core. Seriously hard core.
Joan – Ze fighting went on until eight at night.
Anna – That long? I don’t know how you lasted so long, especially with a wound.
Joan – Ze Bastard wanted to stop for ze night, but I told him to wait. I went off by myself and prayed. I was told to continue fighting. So, I took my banner and walked up right under ze walls of ze Tourelles and my soldiers followed. We stormed the walls and I was ze first to lay ze ladder up the wall. During ze fighting I lost my banner. I was too busy with my sword. But a brave soldier held it for me and refused to let it fall. Withn ze hour we took ze Tourelles. It was horrible. So many French and English killed. I could not stop crying. Zay should have believed me! Couldn’t zay see zat I was sent by Heaven?
Zach – It might have been the adrenaline dump. Stress will do that to ya. Still, it was a great victory. You ended the siege and did it in a way that frightened the English out of their minds and raised the spirits of your fellow Frenchmen, who, and let’s be honest here, badly needed it.
Joan – Oh, oui! Great victory. English ran away and ze road to Reims was open.
Anna – So, if it weren’t for you, the French commanders would have sat on their hands doing nothing. You kept pushing and pushing them to attack. That’s was very amazing. You had more guts than all those men put together.
Zach – Thank you, Joan for you story. It was an amazing battle that saved France. If you had lost there, France might never had recovered. You gave them courage again and showed them to fight and press the attack. Attack, attack, attack. Simple but effective strategy.