Jean d'Aulon, Part IV
Jeanne, wanting to test the mettle and will of the Scottish and Italian commanders who came to the Dauphin's defense, sent an invitation to each of them to join her for supper. From the Scottish contingent there were Christon, Douglas, Hamilton, Kennedy, Melvill, Houston, and Ogilvy, all brave Scots. The two Italian commanders also presented themselves da Valperga and Baretta. These brave men stood united with us against our common foe, the English.
I would be grievously remiss if I forgot to mention the mighty help of our brothers-in-arms, the Scots! These valiant and fiery fighters have long stood shoulder to shoulder with us! Even when the rest of Christendom turned its back and was content to see our Kingdom swallowed up they alone remained steadfast.
Many a knight and squire hazarded all to come with their men to help the Dauphin. Back in 1420 they risked life and limb, to traveled by a circuitous route, sailing from Scotland's west coast through the treacherous Irish Sea, then into the open ocean, finally to land at the port of La Rochelle. From there they rode, hell-bent for leather, to reach Charles' court. Then they stood with us, bold and brave, at this most crucial point of our struggle for FREEDOM.
Their leader was the renowned Earl of Buchan, John Stewart. He was accompanied by his goodly half brother, the Lord of Castlemilk, Sir William Stewart, a knight and lord of the highest caliber, along with 6,000 of their fellow countrymen.
Sadly, we as a people did not welcome them warmly when they first landed on our shores. It was with dismissive attitude that we derided them as "consumers of mutton and wine."
But all that changed when on Easter Sunday, 1421, the Scottish army fought and more importantly won its first great battle against the English at the Loire town of Baugé. In gratitude for this stunning victory the Dauphin named Sir John Stewart of Darnley, "Constable of Scotland!"
Following this stunning victory, the Dauphin, recognizing their valor, created a personal bodyguard consisting solely of Scots called the "Garde Ecossaies."
Continuing the fight these brave warriors wrestled the towns of Cravant, Verneuil, and Montargis from the enemy's hands.
Lord John and his half brother, William Stewart arrived at Orléans on February 8, 1429, with a troop of 1000 men-at-arms. But he and his courageous brother along with 250 of their men were killed four days later during the disastrous "Battle of the Herrings."
Jeanne had already met Lord Ogilvy at Blois, as he was responsible, for the safe delivery of Jeanne and the convoy of provisions to Orleans.
Because of this, Lord Patrick took it upon himself to introduce the rest of the Scots by rank and station. The first was the Earl of Douglas and Wigtown, Lord Archibald. He came forward holding a small gift for Jeanne. It was a Scottish Thistle pin made of gold with a red ruby decorating the center of the flower. He explained that this was the symbol of his country because it was pleasing to look at but painful to touch. Jeanne was happy with his unusual gift and graciously thanked him.
Sir Thomas Houston, a brave knight and able commander lead a goodly company of twenty-two men-at-arms and seventy-one bowmen.
Squire David Melvill commanded a company of twelve men-at-arms and twenty-eight long-bowmen. He was proud to tell all who would listen, how his forefather had fought along side William the Conqueror! We just smiled and nodded our approval.
Squire John Christon, an able commander, headed a combined force of men-at-arms and bowmen. This Scot looked like a one of those mythical 'wild man;' with his thick coarse hair cascading over his wide shoulders and his mighty beard bristling down to the middle of his barrel chest. He extended his huge, hairy hand to Jeanne. "Maid, my men and I will be at your call." She, smiling broadly, stood for a moment marveling at his appearance. I am sure she had never seen any man quite like him. In all my years, I don’t think I have ever seen any one quite like him either!
The last of the Scots to be introduced was Squire William Hamilton. He headed a small company of five men-at-arms and fifteen long-bowmen. Even so, a finer fighting man I never met.
The Italian captain, Téodoro da Valperga, or how we pronounced his name, Théobald de Valpergue arrived in 1423 with two hundred and fifty men at arms along with his two brothers Antoine and Boniface. Théobald so impressed the Dauphin that he made him his royal Councilor and Chamberlain. He and his Lombard contingent arrived in Orléans on October 25th, 1428, and immediately put himself and his men under Count Mortain's command.
He was a tall thin gentleman in his late twenties, with long wavy black hair that flowed over his shoulders. His dark brows accented his even dark brown eyes. Having a clean-shaven face one easily noted his long thin nose, full lips and strong dominant chin. Proud of his appearance he wore only the best-tailored courtly attire.
Barthélémy Barette or as we preferred to call him, Bartholomew Baretta, came to the aid of the Dauphin as part of the first Lombard contingent back in 1422. He entered Orléans on the same day as Sir Théobald de Valpergue and his men.
Captain Baretta was a muscular, thirty-five year old Italian from Lombardy. He was only five feet tall. His hair was cut very short and his face was rough and unshaven. His clothing, originally made from costly fine material, was now old and a little tattered. It would appear that he never made much money in all the time that he was in France.
By the end of the evening Jeanne came away impressed by their passionate determination. A fiercer bunch of bone-crunching, blood-soaked hellions you would never find tamed, of course, by the powerful presence of the Maid. She so impressed these ferocious but gallant fighting men that each in turn went to his knee to pledge his loyalty.
Captain Hugh was attached to Sir Patrick Ogilvy’s command. So intrepid and fierce a warrior was he in previous battles that the Dauphin had given him the privilege of using the French fleurs-de-lis as part of his own coat of arms. Greatly embarrassed by his tardiness, this tall ruggedly handsome man haltingly came forward and doffed his hat as he bowed low before Jeanne.
Hugh's last name was impossible for us to pronounce, so he took as a nickname our pronunciation, "Canède." Being no less capable of pronouncing his name, Jeanne said: "You are welcome here, my comrade Canède."
So taken by her lilting voice a grin filled his face as he replied, "None afore ye has spoken the name of Kennedy more fairlie, lass."
Up to this point Jeanne's demeanor had been jovial and relaxed with all those present but after her initial greeting with Captain Hugh her demeanor rapidly changed. "Canède, I need to speak with you privately." And with that she turned and walked toward a nearby room.
After his initial reaction of surprise and hesitation Hugh followed Jeanne to the door she held open. Once he was well inside the room she closed it for privacy.
With open mouths and stunned expressions we stared at each other as we tried to make sense of what was happening. We did not have to wait long because only a moment or two later we heard a loud thud and the sound of a chair hitting the wooden floor. This was too much for us to resist. Acting as if one man, we all rushed to the door and flung it open.
There kneeling on the floor, as if he had just been hit in the gut with a war hammer, we found Hugh with his face in his hands shivering like a sapling in a gale force wind!
Jeanne gave us such a look that it stopped us in our tracks. With only a quick flick of her wrist she ordered us to leave.
In stunned bewilderment we all left and walked over to a tavern nearby where we would try and figure out what the 'hell' had just happened! After many rounds of drinks we came to the firm conclusion that this mystery would never be answered until we got Hugh to spill his guts, and we planned to do just that!
One of the servants was ordered to signal us as soon as he saw Hugh leaving the building. I don't remember how long we had to wait but the signal was finally given and we rushed him like a tidal wave.
At first he was quite reluctant to reply to our badgering questions. But once he understood that he would not be given any peace until he told us the entire story, he shouted, "ENOUGH!" A good meal wi' plenty of ale, if ye please, then ye'll hear about it!"
Ogilvy replied, "Granted, Captain Hugh, but not in that pigsty of a tavern! Let us all away to my quarters for some real Scots fayre."
We readily agreed and quickly followed after him.
As we waited for the meal to be prepared our gracious host gave us free access to all the ale and wine that we could drink. This surprised me because I had the ironic belief that Scots were by nature stingy and tightfisted. But this night, fortunately for us, Sir Patrick was in a most generous mood.
After downing three or more stout pints of ale, his tongue was sufficiently loosened for Hugh to begin telling us his life's story.
"I was with the clan at Dunure till about the age of sixteen when the tutors could teach me no more, and my parents sent me away to the school of the preachers in Ayr."
"Some among the Blackfriars I found to be right devious. They talked me into receiving the habit and entering the monastery without my parents or kinsmen knowing of it. Well, fearing that their secret would come out, those friars took me to England and promoted me up to deacon. No sooner was I back in Scotland but they were at it again with their badgering and deceptions till I took my vows and become one of them.
"It was only a day after I had taken m' final vows as a priest, that the Abbot and his assistant no’ longer bother to hide their greed for the Kennedy money. I felt m' self tricked and trapped by their evil grasping ways, especially when I found out about the huge sums of money that m' father had already given them! Well, that was the end of it. Even a sure ban of excommunication hanging over my head could no' hold me in that place!
"It did no' take me long to form a plan of escape. In the wee hours, long before the first morning bell was rung, I jumped the wall and ran for Dunure.
"When I finally reached m' ancestral home, me parents saw to it that I was given food to build me up again, for a priest’s fare is no’ much. But sad to say, by the very fact that I had fled the order, they knew right well, I would no' be safe so long as I kept in Scotland.
"There’s some among ye would know my uncle, Sir Robert Maxwell of Calderwood. It was he who brought me to France as his squire on a ship hired by the Earl of Buchan. Buchan was none too pleased to have a runaway priest aboard, but he needed every recruit in the Year of our Lord Fourteen hundred and Nineteen.
"It was fortunate my own good father was a knight and had taught me well the skills of the sword, horsemanship, battle tactics and suchlike as a youth. But it was my uncle Robert who every day for the three weeks of our voyage had me practice the sword till I could free his own blade from his hand. Once on French soil, his tutoring turned more to command and leadership, and by 1421 I had my own retinue of one hundred men-at-arms.
"How grand it was for me to have the privilege of fighting side by side with Sir Robert. All during those two years our bond of kinship grew to the strength of forged steel. What a grand man he was!
At the battle of Bauge, our dear Lord, graced me the privilege of being able to hold his dying body as he passed into God's Heavenly kingdom. I can honestly say that I still sorely miss his company and good sense." Hugh crossed himself as he added, "God rest his good soul!" All present added their 'Amen' to his.
Several of our group chimed in, "Yes, yes, that is all well and good but we want to know what the HELL did Jeanne say to you that affected you so?"
Hugh laughed as only he can: "Hold still, I am coming to that! See now, the kirk of the Blackfriars in Ayr was dedicated to St. Catherine... aye, the very same who speaks to our blessed Maid has my own devotion too.
Listen me friends, the real miracle of it all is the fact that; Jeanne KNEW! She KNEW EVERYTHING! She knew all of my life in that place! I could scarce believe it, but it is so. With her hand placed upon my head in the way of my own mother, she told me more of my deep devotion to St. Catherine than I knew myself. She spoke of the times this wondrous Saint has interceded for me and held me safe. And Jeanne told me further… that St. Catherine wanted me to know that in some way known only to GOD…"
Here, Hugh's voice cracked and he was barely able to get the words out of his mouth. We did not fault him one bit for being overwhelmed. I too felt my own throat constrict as he spoke.
So we just wait in stunned silence and anticipation until he was able to regain enough of his composure to finish. It felt like an eternity until he was able to continue.
"St. Catherine promised me that...that I would not die until this heavy burden of my excommunication would be lifted ...by the Pope, Himself!"
Joyous shouts rose up among us! Filled with awe that God could do such wonders in Hugh's life - I - no we ALL felt a little closer to GOD and HIS protecting and caring HAND!
For the rest of the night we heartily ate, drank huge amounts and sang joyous songs to celebrate our comrade-in-arms glad tidings!
It was good to be ALIVE!
By the morning of, Wednesday May 4th, word came that Count Jean and a large force of lancers, archers, and men-at-arms were coming. Jeanne thrilled with the news, called for me to help her arm. Jeanne rushed down the stairs of our lodging and out into the street. Raymond held her horse steady while she vaulted effortlessly into the saddle and rode to the near by Renard Gate.
Five hundred men marched out behind Jeanne to welcome the returning troops. Taking only minutes to execute, Jeanne confidently deployed the men to maximize their defensive capabilities! Then, completely ignoring the English, Jeanne spurred her valiant charger into a full gallop and raced to Mortain and his column of men.
Father Pasquerel led the other twenty priests as they sang the 'Veni Creator Spiritus'. Jeanne stopped near Father Pasquerel as he beamed with happiness. "I did as you wanted, Maid! The other priests and I kept the men spiritually ready for battle. And if I do say so myself, we were instrumental in keeping them focused on their heavenly purpose!"
"Thank you, dear Father Pasquerel, I knew I could count on you!" She then spurred her horse on to meet the Count. "Welcome, Mortain, my comrade. I thank God for your safe return. Have you any plans for our assault against the Godons?"
Count Jean was glad to see Jeanne. "I thank you for your welcome, Jeanne. As of yet, I have made no plans for an attack. Besides these men, the High Command promised me more troops in a few days. We should wait for them before considering any attack." Seeing the look of disbelief on Jeanne's face, he tried to placate her. "Jeanne, my scouts tell me that Fastolf, the butcher of Rouvray, is coming from Janville to reinforce the English positions here. We must guard against him. At first sight of his troops we shall attack and destroy his supply train."
Jeanne was suspicious of his motives and warned him, "Bastard! Bastard! In God's name! I command you that as soon as you learn of Fastolf's arrival that you will inform me. For if he passes by without my knowledge..." Jeanne placed her hand to her throat, "I promise you that I shall have your head cut off!"
The Count rubbed his neck. "I do not doubt that, Jeanne. I promise that I shall indeed inform you." Smiling awkwardly, he quickly added, "But before you sever my neck, I would like you to meet someone important." He then led the Maid over to where the Archbishop of Reims and Bishop Jean of Orleans were waiting.
Reaching the two prelates, Jeanne reverently bowed as low as she could before them. Bidding her to rise, Bishop Jean de Saint-Michel or John Carmichael, as he is known in his native Scottish tongue looked intently into her face. "You are the ONE!" he stammered. "You are the ONE I saw in my prayers! The ONE God promised to send to us! AND NOW YOU ARE HERE!"
The astonished Bishop continued, "Being a former knight, I knew the military situation had grew very dark. I also knew that my people would have no help unless God would send His mighty angels to deliver them. From the moment I left this city, I knew I had committed a most grievous sin against them all. I begged Our Dear Lord to forgive my cowardice in fleeing to Blois while the good people of Orleans faced the enemy all alone.
Countless hours did I spend in prayer, beseeching God to help His suffering people. Then one sleepless night as I prostrated myself before Our Lord in the tabernacle, I begged for HIS Divine aid. It was then that God show me a face. A face that looked to me like a young lad, for a helmet covered much of his head. And I knew, at that very moment, that GOD would be sending HIS champion, and a great sense of peace filled my shamed heart. So when the news came that the Dauphin was sending a maid, little did I think that you would be the one I had seen in my vision."
It is my hope that some how my people will find it in their hearts to forgive their cowardly Bishop for abandoning them.
Filled with emotion he repeated over and over again, "Now YOU are here! Thank God, thank God! His angel has come!"
Astonished by his companion's words and actions, the Archbishop silently viewed the scene with what looked to me like an expression of disgust.
It did not take me long to learn the amazing story of Bishop John's life.
He was born in Scotland in about 1375, the son of William Carmichael. As with most men nobly born, John was taught the arts of war. Soon after he completed his training, he fell in love with a girl by the name of Bridget. He thought she was 'the most beautiful lady God had ever created.' And after only a year they were wed. As the Bishop tells it, with a twinkle in his eye, they had a happy life together and God graced them with three strapping sons: William, John and Robert.
In 1419 the Earl of Buchan, the Constable of Scotland, asked for volunteers to join him in his quest to go to the aid of France and defend her against the hated English aggressors. Baron Carmichael, a loyal son of Scotland, jumped at the chance to join since the death of his beloved Bridget, and his three sons were grown men making their own way in the world there was nothing to bind him to his ancestral home.
In 1421 the then Baron Jean Carmichael valiantly took part in the battle of Baugé. During the heat of the struggle he struck the English Duke of Clarence with such force that his lance shattered as he unseated the Duke from his horse. The French Marshal La Fayette was at hand to dispatch this unfortunate Englishman to his eternal reward.
The Bishop explained, "It was here that God's hand took hold of me and He would not let me go. I took up my studies to become a priest and it was as chaplain to the Earl of Douglas, Duke of Touraine, that I fought at Verneuil where my master lost his life. Our Dauphin did not forget the sacrifice made by thousands of my countrymen at that battle. When the see of Orleans came vacant, the Dauphin saw to it that the eighty-first Bishop of this fine city was myself, in honor of the great services rendered to France by the soldiers of Scotland. My head spins yet at the thought of it."
It is obvious that God had a hand in all this because Baron Carmichael - now Bishop Jean de Saint-Michel - turned out to be a compassionate man, who tended his flock with care. With a smile and a kind word he freely gave to those who sought his aid. The children would giggle at his terrible French accent, which caused this saintly man to laugh right along with them. And because of this, the people of Orleans were quite willing to forgive his and the Archbishop's cowardice for abandoning them after the disastrous defeat at the battle of the Herrings, which had taken place on February 12, 1429.