Joan of Arc
Joan Sees the Dauphin Crowned
On June 25, 1429, the French army was stationed at Gien. There the Dauphin sent out letters summoning the nobles to his coronation ceremony at Reims. Joan also dictated some letters, including one to Philip the Good, the Duke of Burgundy, asking him to end his alliance with the English and return to the French side. On June 29, the Dauphin, escorted by the French army, began its march to Reims. Along the way, Joan sent letters out to the people of Troyes, promising that if they surrendered to the Dauphin's forces, they would be pardoned. The people of Troyes sent out a friar, Brother Richard, to assess Joan and tell the town what he thought. Brother Richard greatly liked Joan, but the people of Troyes nevertheless remained loyal to England. After a brief attack by the large French army, however, they quickly surrendered. Unlike previous battles, Joan actually did help organize this attack strategically, and she proved to be able to grasp some of the finer points of military leadership and organization quite quickly. Entering Troyes, Joan and Charles rode side-by-side.
After a series of small engagements, the Dauphin's army finally reached Reims on July 16. Charles and his troops entered the city without a struggle. On July 17, the Dauphin's coronation took place in Reims, realizing Joan's dream. Joan, with her banner, stood in triumph in the coronation hall as the king was crowned and anointed with holy oil. After the ceremony, Charles was officially the Dauphin no longer, but Charles VII, King of France. Joan quickly knelt before her new king, moving many witnesses at the coronation to tears. She felt immense pride at having completed her primary mission of seeing the Dauphin crowned.
After the coronation, Joan continued to write the Duke of Burgundy, asking him to end his alliance with the British. On July 20, King Charles VII left Reims to parade around the area with his army for the next month. An attack on English-controlled Paris seemed within French grasp, but ultimately Charles decided to retreat to a safer position near the Loire. Joan was horrified by the retreat, as she knew that many towns that had only just manifested their French loyalty would now be abandoned to the English and the Burgundians.
On August 14, the French and English armies engaged in a minor skirmish near Senlis. Although Joan charged up waving her banner, no major battle occurred and no major victory was achieved. On August 28, Burgundy agreed to a four- month treaty with France, giving the appearance that Joan's successes had forced him to rethink his alliance with England. In fact, however, the duke was just stalling.
Brother Richard, the friar of Troyes who was sent out to examine Joan, was initially suspicious of the girl, throwing holy water on her to see what would happen. Brother Richard had something of a problematic past himself. Having preached that the Antichrist was already born, he had become unpopular in Paris among the religious elite, so he had left for the less prominent location of Troyes. Richard was impressed with Joan, and told the people of Troyes that she was a saint. Ultimately, although Troyes did not immediately surrender to the French and open its gates, partially out of fear that the French would use it as a garrison, Joan and Richard would become friends. Richard was probably the closest friend Joan had during this time. He accompanied Joan on the journey to Reims, took her frequent confessions, and even helped her hold up her banner during the long coronation ceremony. However, because of Brother Richard's problematic past and his reputation for collecting female visionaries and religious mystics as friends, Joan's friendship with this rather unorthodox cleric (some even thought he was a sorcerer) would prove a liability to Joan in her later trial.
When Joan and Charles marched through the streets after Troyes, it was Joan who drew the most attention. According to legend, some people even claimed to see white butterflies fluttering around her banner. As soon as the French forces arrived in Reims, they had to move fast to complete the coronation: Reims was in a weak position, surrounded by English and Burgundian territory, and it seemed susceptible to attack at any time. In fact, getting Charles crowned was strategically dangerous. Thus from a practical military perspective, Joan's obsession with getting Charles crowned at Reims was a mistake, as it exposed him to attack. However, the symbolic value of the coronation inspired the French for years to fight on for their king.
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