March to Reims

After the lifting of the Siege of Orléans and the decisive French victory at the Battle of Patay, the Anglo-Burgundian threat was ended. Joan of Arc convinced the Dauphin Charles to go to be crowned at Reims. The march though the heart of territory controlled by the hostile Burgundians was successful and would give the throne of the French monarchy to Charles VII, who had been ousted therefrom by the Treaty of Troyes.

Background

Main article: Treaty of Troyes and Joan of Arc.

Since the Treaty of Troyes in 1420, the dauphin had been disinherited in favour of Henry V of England following the assassination of John the Fearless. The former married the daughter of King Charles VI of France, and his son Henry VI was to be his successor on the thrones of France and England. But Henry V died in 1422 and his son was not yet one year old; the regency was entrusted to John of Lancaster, Duke of Bedford. The intervention of Joan of Arc with the Dauphin Charles would be seen as miraculous, even more so after the lifting of the Siege of Orléans and the Battle of Patay.

1415–1429
  Territories controlled by Henry VI of England
  Territories controlled by Philip III of Burgundy
  Territories controlled by Charles VII of France
  Main battles
  English raid of 1415
  Joan's journey from Domrémy to Chinon
  Raid of Jeanne d'Arc to Reims in 1429

March to Reims

For the first time in the history of France, the king did not let the crown pass to his eldest son. Charles VI of France disinherited his son, leaving the kingdom of France to Henry VI of England, who was the son of his daughter Catherine. After Charles VI died, his son challenged his disinheritance and claimed the throne. Despite the French victory in the Battle of Patay on 18 June, which caused the decline of the English in Paris, the dauphin Charles VII refused to continue to Reims, which was in the hands of the Burgundians, remaining in Sully-sur-Loire and withdrew his army to Orléans to be crowned there as was Louis VI; Nevertheless, a coronation in Reims would have a much greater impact because it would be seen as a new miracle, attesting to his divine legitimacy. After initially meeting the Dauphin on 23 May 1429 at the Royal City of Loches, Joan of Arc next met him again on 21 June at four o'clock in the Fleury Abbey to persuade him to go to Reims. The next day, the dauphin's council met in Châteauneuf-sur-Loire and ordered the army to gather at Gien.

Joan of Arc chasing of prostitutes

On 24 June, preceded by her page, Louis de Coutes, who held her banner emblazoned "Jhesus Maria," Joan of Arc — arriving at Gien with her armor forged in Tours, her armor and sword of Fierbois — found Charles VII. The next day the king's army gathered in Gien. The French army took Bonny-sur-Loire and Saint-Fargeau. Joan of Arc broke her sword on the back of a prostitute who followed the army, and two days later the Dauphin finally ordered the march to the city of the coronation: the march began at Gien on 29 June 1429. The ease of the march showed both the fragility of the Anglo-Burgundian rule and the restoration of confidence in the cause of Charles VII of France. According to Jean de Dunois the bluff was the only tactic that opened the gates of the city. The Marshal of France, Gilles de Rais, rode to Reims, hoping to use this victorious march to retrieve a ransom of land taken from "collaborators." Joan of Arc was escorted from Gien by her captains: Tugdual Kermoysan, La Hire, André of Lohéac, Pierre Rieux, Jean V de Bueil, Pierre Bessonneau, Jacques de Chabannes, Jacques Dinan, and Jean Poton de Xaintrailles. On the road to Reims, the Constable de Richemont sent Pierre Rostrenen to ask leave of the dauphin to serve at his coronation. Rostrenen accompanied the constable to Parthenay. During the march, the Burgundian garrison located in Auxerre refused to open its gates. Georges de la Trémoille was given two thousand gold écus by the minister of the city, for the city to remain neutral and allow the French army to resupply itself and to camp outside its walls (on 1 and 2 July). The army of the Dauphin left again; Saint-Florentin submitted immediately, as did Brienon l’Archevêque — on 4 July, the army reached Troyes, five to six percent of whose occupants were Burgundians, who refused to open the gates.

Miniature from Vigiles du roi Charles VII. The citizens of Troyes hand over city keys to the Dauphin and Joan of Arc.

After four days of siege, the majority of the dauphin's council wanted to lift the siege and continue on the road without entering the city. On the fifth day of the siege, 9 July, Troyes capitulated (for fear of attack), but only Charles VII and the captains were able to enter. The soldiers spent the night in Saint-Phal, under the command of Ambroise de Loré. Gilles de Rais was one of the leaders of the army who reduced Troyes to obedience.

Fewer than 2000 English soldiers of the captain of Paris, John of Lancaster occupied Paris, which had as its provost Simon Morhier, and as Governor Jean de La Baume. Philip the Good of Burgundy opted to leave Laon for Paris, where he arrived on 10 July, appointed the Master of the Louvre Jean de Villiers de L'Isle-Adam governor, and committed to him the safety of Paris in the absence of Lancaster. Philip sent ambassadors to the Dauphin Charles VII to sue for peace.

On 11 July the Dauphin's army left Troyes for the first time to head to Châlons-en-Champagne, which opened its gates on 14 July to let him spend the night.

On Saturday 16 July, in the morning, Philip the Good left Paris to return to Laon, while the Archbishop of Reims, Renault Chartres, left Reims in the hands of William, Lord of Châtillon-sur-Marne and of the Sire de Saveuses; the dauphin arrived at the castle of the Archbishop of Reims in Sept-Saulx (located 21 km from Reims). The dauphin summoned the people of Reims to open their gates, despite their vow to resist him for six weeks until the arrival of relief by Lancaster and Philip the Good. After negotiations and dinner, Charles VII entered and slept in Reims. That same day, René of Anjou brought the homage of Lorraine and Barrois to the Dauphin.

Consequences

On Sunday 17 July 1429 Charles VII was crowned King of France in Reims: he received the Holy Ampulla from the hands of the Archbishop Renault Chartres. "Noble King, now is executed the pleasure of God who wished I lift the siege of Orléans, and I bring you into this city of Rheims to receive your holy coronation to show you are the true king, and the one to whom the kingdom of France must belong," declared Joan of Arc, paying tribute to her king. The coronation ceremony, given the circumstances, took place in simplicity, because the crown, the scepter, and the globe, were still in Saint-Denis, which was controlled by the English; among the peers, only three of the spiritual peers attended the ceremony: the Archbishop of Reims Renault Chartres, the Bishop of Laon William of Champeaux, the bishop of Châlons Jean Saarbrücken. But the essential rite was performed: the eighth sacrament (anointing of the king), which makes kings and which marks the sacred sign of legitimate power, was then given to Charles VII, making him the rightful monarch, representing the House of Valois, authentically appointed by God, against John of Lancaster, whom enemy arms had imposed, and against the irresponsible signature of a mad king.

Commemoration

For the fifth centennial of the campaign, and in the context of the canonization of Joan of Arc, a series of plaques was mounted on the route that Joan followed to retake Reims and crown the king.

Footnotes

  1. ^ d’après d’autre source il semble ne pas avoir participé http://jean-claude.colrat.pagesperso-orange.fr/1lafayette.htm

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