ON Sunday, July 17th, perhaps the most famous, and certainly the most remarkable, coronation in the history of France was accomplished with military promptitude in the cathedral of Notre Dame at Reims. It began at nine o'clock in the morning and continued until two in the afternoon. Notwithstanding the short and hurried preparation, everything was made ready with regal splendor. The pomp of court and army, the multitudinous acclaim of the enthusiastic people, the flush of victory, and the hope of complete conquest—all enhanced the historic scene and event. Four of the chief military officers, in full armor and rich garments, mounted on their war-chargers and carrying each his unfurled banner, went to seek the sacred ampoule, or cruet of oil, which was believed to have had a miraculous history, and which had been used by St. Remi at the coronation of the converted Clovis, king of the Franks. Unless anointed with this sacred oil, the kings of France were not considered to have begun their reign.
The Marshals of France, de Rais and de Boussac, the Admiral de Culan, and the Seigneur de Gravelle,
having taken the usual oath to guard the venerated cruet, accompanied the abbot of the monastery of St. Remi back to the gate of St. Denis, at which the Archbishop, in richest vestments, and surrounded by his canons, received it, and bore it to the high altar of the cathedral. According to the Angevin Letter, the knights and abbot rode into the cathedral, and presented the ampoule to the Archbishop at the entrance to the choir. Joan stood near the king, holding her banner in her hand; for, as she said at Rouen, it deserved this honor since it had been through the hardships of war.
Six secular, or temporal, peers of France, and six spiritual—that is, Bishops—used to grace the crowning of the kings of France. The dignity of the secular peers had been absorbed by the crown; there remained but one, the rebel Duke of Burgundy. His place was taken by the Duke of Alencon. But, for the occasion, the five vacant places were filled by the Count of Clermont, the Count of Vendome, the two Lavals, and La Tremoille. The Seigneur d'Albret, acting as Constable, bore the royal sword. The six spiritual peers of France were the Archbishop of Reims, and the Bishops of Chalons, Laon, Soissons, Beauvais, and Noyon. The last two were Anglo-Burgundians. The Bishop of Soissons returned to his allegiance after the coronation. Of the peers, the Archbishop of Reims and
the Bishops of Chalons and Laon, were present; and the places of the absentees were taken by the Bishops of Seez, Orleans (Mgr. Kirkmichael) and Troyes. The Duke d'Alencon knighted the king; and when the crown was set on his head, by the Archbishop, the sounding of the trumpets and the thunderous cheers of the people were, say the eye-witnesses, such as almost to rend the cathedral roof. Then Joan, in a flood of hot tears (says Cousinot), knelt down and embraced the king's knees and kissed his foot. "Now, gentle king," she said, "is the will of God accomplished, who wished you to be crowned as the lawful king of the realm of France." So full of simplicity, joy, and affection was her manner, that all who were present were moved to tenderness. De Rais, one of the Lavals, and La Tremoille were made counts—the last, of Sully; and many were made knights either by the king, or by d'Alencon and Bourbon. The noblest Frenchman of them all, or one of the noblest, Dunois was, soldier fashion, made Count of Longueville, in the English possession of Normandy. He was, moreover, to be count of whatever else he could get in that disputed province, which he recovered later for France.
Three Angevins, subjects of Queen Marie of Anjou, writing from Reims to her and her mother Queen Yolande after the crowning, say that the ambassadors of the Duke of Burgundy arrived on the 16th, and that it was hoped that a peace had been concluded between the duke and King Charles. This hope was illusive.
Thus in three months, by marvelous deeds, did the Maid bring her king to his coronation. It was only six months since she left Domremy; but her fame, meanwhile, had become worldwide. Her father came to see her at Reims as she entered the city, July 16th; and seems to have remained until September 5th. It is possible that he was with her in the campaign which followed the coronation. We can imagine their conversation about Domremy and Greux; and perhaps it was her father who suggested her request to King Charles to exempt the two villages from taxation—a favor granted on July 31st. The king gave Joan's father a present of sixty French pounds; and the city of Reims paid his expenses. It is possible that her "Uncle" Laxart, her first faithful friend in her enterprise, was present, too, at Reims; for he says himself he recounted all Joan's life to the king, without mentioning, however, the place of his interview.