Count Mortain and Porcien-en-Rhetélois, my name is Guillaume de Flavy. I was Governor of Compiègne at the time of the Maid's capture. When I heard you were seeking dispositions about her, I was glad. I thought, here is a way to help purge my heavy burden of guilt. After you read my confession, I fear you will find me detestable. No matter, I have remained silent far too long concerning this crime.


 

Guillaume de Flavy

CHAPTER 30

A BETRAYER'S CONFESSION

 

 

Ten days before Jeanne's arrival at Compiegne, My Lord George de la Tremoille came to visit me. He is my lord and master and I owe no man more loyalty than him, except of course the King. My half-brother, Regnault de Chartres, the Archbishop of Reims, was also with him. I was surprised by their visit because the siege of Compiegne had just started. I felt they were putting themselves in unnecessary danger by being here. Upon hearing their explanation for coming, I was no longer surprised but shocked!

They came right to the point at a secret meeting held in my private chambers. My half-brother was standing by the open window enjoying the sweet afternoon air. He spoke in a very casual way that belied the sinister nature of his comment. "The Maid has become a serious threat to the state and must be eliminated!"

I could not believe my ears. "The Maid, a danger to the Kingdom?"

"Yes!" The Archbishop replied coolly as he turned his back to the window. "We are afraid that she will usurp the King's rule and power!"

"The Maid, a traitor to the King?"

Casually my brother pulled a sweet smelling linen cloth from his sleeve and wafted it several times before his nose. "Yes! A traitor!" Then he lost his temper with me. "Do you have to repeat everything I say!" I did not bother to respond. He glared at me, his anger growing with each passing second. He walked over to me and unceremoniously thrust his gaunt finger into my face. "Therefore, she must be eliminated!"

My head was spinning in confusion and I had to sit down. I threw myself into the nearest chair. After a few minutes of stunned silence, I rallied my senses in protest, "No! This cannot be true. Surely, you are wrong."

All this while, Lord George was content to stand in the shadows and allow my half-brother to do the talking. When I began to reject his words, His Lordship ominously walked over to me and placed his hands threateningly on my shoulders. "Let me put it another way, de Flavy. If you want to remain in my service as Governor of Compiegne, you will do as I command. Do you understand?"

His expression told me that he meant every word. "Yes, my Lord, I do."

My eyes darted several times between my half-brother and La Tremoille as I considered my options. "What makes you think that she will come here, anyway? How can you be rid of her?"

He released his crushing grip from my shoulders and went over to my decanter of red brandy wine. There he slowly poured himself a glass. Gently he swirled the contents below his nose to sniff its sweetness. "It is obvious that she will come here because this is the only town in the area loyal to the King! It is now in danger of falling to the enemy. Knowing Jeanne as I do, I believe eventually she will be here." He was about to take a sip of wine when he added, "As for doing away with her, we will discuss that point at length."

My half-brother, now calmer, poured a small glass for himself and sat down next to me. Lord La Tremoille then poured a tall glass of brandy wine for me before returning to the Archbishop's side. Extending the glass, he shoved the drink into my hand. I saw myself reflected in the glass and did not like what I saw there. "Here, take this! You look as if you need a good drink."

As we sipped our wine, they revealed their plan. In a very business-like tone, my half-brother spoke first. "We desire that you send the Maid out against the nearby village of Margny and give her a strong show of military support. Let's say, by supplying her with a large force from your own garrison." He paused a moment as he thought over his diabolical plan and added almost as an after-thought. "Oh yes, don't forget to place a squad or two of archers on the ramparts."

Lord George was delighted with the Archbishop's suggestions, smiled broadly. He interjected his own touch to the scenario. "I think... yes, why not place some boats along the river. They can be used as an emergency escape for the men if that should prove necessary. That is a nice touch, don't you think, Archbishop?"

At that point, I could do nothing but take a large gulp of my brandy wine. "How will all that serve your purpose?"

Wearied by my question he impatiently replied, "If you will be silent and listen, I will tell you! While she is at Margny, a large Burgundian force will come between her and your town. Naturally, being a good Governor, you will think only of the safety of your people." He then added, in a mock tone of sorrow. "Regrettably, you must order the gate closed and secured."

I tried to think of a way to defeat his plan, but nothing would come to mind. I suppose he saw my reluctance to comply because his tone quickly changed. He spoke in cadence to the beating of his ring finger against the chair's arm. "You will obey me! Do you understand?"

In despair I sank deeper into my chair. "Yes, my lord." I pressed my fingers hard to my brow and rubbed across it in an attempt to massage away the pain. "There is one detail that I don't understand. How are the Burgundians going to know when to send this large force to surround the Maid?"

La Tremoille continued, "That shouldn't disturb you. We have our ways of communicating with them. All you have to do is order the ringing of every church bell in town. That will be their signal." He leaned into me again, so closely this time, that I could feel his hot breath on my face. He spoke slowly to emphasize each of his words. "We will do our part, you will do yours! Any further questions?"

I sadly shook my head as they smiled and patted my shoulders, saying to each other. "Good man, very important to the King. Yes, yes, quite true."


How the hours and days dragged by for me until The Maid departed for Margny. What could I do? I had to save my position. I had a family to support. If I did not do it, someone else would have and I would be removed as Governor. I had no choice but to obey. With this type of reasoning, I tried to convince and reassure myself, all the while wrestling with my conscience.

Jeanne arrived at dawn on the 23rd of May just as they said she would. After Mass I took her along with her household to the Mayor's home where they ate and slept. The Archbishop returned to Compiegne later that same day arriving sometime around eleven. I suppose he came to make sure that I carried out their plan to the letter. I do not believe Jeanne was aware of his presence in the town when she left for the assault on Margny. He and I observed the attack from the city's ramparts.

I noticed a large flock of geese flying high and proudly over head as the Maid and her forces waited for the gate to open. I wished, as I gazed upon these soaring birds that I too could fly away with them. As the last man left the gate, my brother looked at me with annoyance. "Well, I am waiting for you to give the order, De Flavy!"

"What order, my Lord Archbishop?"

In great rage he yelled, "You idiot! Have the damned bells rung!"

With that I signaled the order and the bells began to ring! How the sound sickened me! How I wished their plan would fail and that once again the Maid would triumph. I cheered to myself as she first routed the enemy! Hoping against hope, I prayed for victory. Sad to say the events occurred just as they had said they would and my spirits sank to the very depths of despair.

God have mercy on me. At one point I nearly had the courage to help her. I observed a large force of English soldiers on my left, coming from the town of Venette. While they were still far enough away I could have ordered my cannoniers to open fire on these Godons, at least to slow their advance, but I did not! Then to my right, a company of Burgundian archers came from the town of Clairoix. I should have ordered my men to let fly a volley of arrows at them, but I did not!

My half-brother saw my distress and strongly warned me, "Do not defy us, de Flavy, or you will pay for it! Look there! Sir Foucault is having his men fire at the Burgundians. Deal with itů, NOW!"

I rushed over to Sir Jean and coming up behind him, I caught him by surprise. I shoved the point of my sharp stiletto through his chain mail and thick armoring doublet until its biting tip dug into the flesh of his armpit. At the same time I pinned him against the stone wall of the battlements so tightly that he could not move. His face revealed his pain and consternation at my treasonous act. His eyes desperately searched mine for a reason why. I gave him none. Instead I whispered in his ear, "Order your archers to stop firing or you're a dead man." I pushed my blade deeper into his flesh to press home my point. Reluctantly he complied as I felt his body starting to slump from his pain. I supported his weight against my body in order that his men would think all was well and that they would not to suspect me. How sick to my stomach I was and how I wished I could have changed places with him - the detestable wretch that I was. But no, it was not to be and I continued on my hellish path.

Alas, what a coward I was because I watched as the Burgundians and English forces slowly cut her off from safety. "Give the order to raise the bridge!" the Archbishop urged me on. I hesitated, frantically trying to think of a way in which I could save both the Maid and my position. "Now, de Flavy!" he angrily ordered again.

Finding no way out, I shouted the order. "Raise the drawbridge! Close the gate!" The words stuck in my throat. I felt my body go numb. As the drawbridge slowly moved upward, I heard the cries of the trapped men outside the walls. It was too late for them or me. I can still hear their shouts of protest ringing in my ears.

Within minutes, the enemy had pulled the Maid from her horse. They tied her up and dragged her off to the Burgundian camp, amidst their joyous celebration. The betrayed men's cries for help and the sight of the Maid's being dragged away like an animal to the enemy camp were burned deep into my mind! How greatly the Maid was wronged and brutally betrayed!

Only regrets for what I could and should have done fill my life and thoughts now. With tearful sorrow, I affirm to the truthfulness of this, my confession. May the Maid forgive me for my betrayal of her. May God forgive me for my cowardice! I hope someday to find peace of mind and soul, the peace that I know the Maid is now experiencing in God's presence, but until then, I know only despair.