Joan of Arc | Joan of Arc | The Military Genius of Jeanne D'Arc | Joan of Arc | The Military Genius of Jeanne d'Arc, and the Concept of Victory
Schiller Institute The Military Genius of Joan of Arc (JeanneD' Arc)
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This was the same religious order, devoted to providing superior education to children of all classes, that educated the great Cardinal Nicholas of Cusa, Thomas à Kempis, and the father of the first nation-state, King Louis XI of France, who owed his
throne directly to Jeanne
understood that lifting the siege would have to deliver a double blow: It would have to free the city, and also, would have to bring a halt to the gentlemanly sport of continuous warfare, which had cost so many lives, military and civilian.
A crushing blow was urgent and vital; however, since none was coming from the King, Jeanne
deployed herself to carry out that task.
understood the strategic urgency of quickly securing the official coronation of the King at the Cathedral of Reims, where all of France's kings had been consecrated, in order to lay to rest the Anglo-Burgundian claim that the Dauphin (as France's Crown Princes are known) was illegitimate.
At the royal residence, Jeanne
continued to make public, noisy interventions as to the necessity of liberating Orléans
and having the Dauphin crowned King at Reims.
She was the only military leader whose faction had no other agenda than the liberation of France.
It was clear that, if there were any chance of saving the nation, some radical, revolutionary action had to be taken.
After much delay and bureaucratic footdragging, Charles finally gave Jeanne
a commission to lift the siege at Orléans
and to resupply its desperate people.
found herself locking horns with the aristocratic commanders of the French army
whose habitual method of engagement was attack/retreat, rather than to deploy all-out for victory.
These commanders had tremendous difficulty understanding that Jeanne
was determined to actually fight and win, rather than engage in the outmoded rules of gentlemanly combat that had decimated so many men on both sides.
ran roughshod over their objections, not only citing the authority of God for her
action, but also confronting every objection by a personal demonstration that her
method led to victory.
Upon arriving at Orléans
sent a letter to the English, making her
declaration of unremitting war:
DeVries shows crass cynicism in his
refrain that Jeanne
was quite willing to spill the blood of her
men, because she
was convinced that they would all go to Heaven for their good deeds.
In fact, she
was anguished by blood spilt from both sides.
knew that, unless victory were accomplished quickly, far more blood would be spilled; that, indeed, civilization would destroy itself by its immorality.
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse would thunder throughout all Europe, unless she
, as sent by God, were fully obeyed, without restraint.
generals to launch an immediate attack on the English and Burgundians, but instead, they advised caution and delay.
jumped on her
horse, gathered her
army, and led the way to the city gates, personally demonstrating that what she
was demanding could absolutely be accomplished.
The mayor had been ordered to block her
instantly drew her
sword and threatened to cut off his
head, if he
did not lower the drawbridge.
did so, and Jeanne
led the charge, while the aristocratic generals scrambled to keep up with her
In the bloody battle that ensued, she
returned the next day to fight again, and again led the attack to victory.
By the end of the day, she
knew the English were defeated.
On the third day, the English assembled in battle formation, with rows of longbowsmen behind a barrier of sharpened stakes in the ground pointing toward the enemy, a defensive method that depended on the French attacking them.
Using the principle of the flank, Jeanne
exploited that weakness, by, likewise, arranging her
army in battle formation, whence she
had them wait, facing the English.
From that point onward, there was no question that Jeanne
was totally in charge of the French army
, its strategy, and tactics.
gained the trust and admiration of the aristocratic generals, and the love of the ordinary soldiers.
immediately wanted to march on Reims to have the Dauphin crowned and consecrated as King.
However, again, she
had to do battle with Charles's advisers and generals, who counselled him to attack the enemy-held area of Normandy.
Jeanne's argument ultimately won out; had it not, France would have been lost.
Even though Charles had been named King some years earlier, he
had no real power, except over a few provinces.
The Rectors at the University of Paris
, who in 1431 burnt Jeanne
at the stake, had concocted the legalism of a Double Monarchy, whereby the King of England was also the King of France.
to have Charles consecrated at Reims Cathedral
would deliver a devastating blow to the English and their Burgundian partners.
But, to reach Reims meant clearing a path through the mostly strongly fortified Anglo-Burgundian territory.
DeVries's description of this campaign through the Loire Valley, demonstrates Jeanne
as a brilliant strategist, and valorous commander, always personally leading her
men into battle, always setting out for them the goal of attaining victory.
The Artillery Revolution
Jeanne's use of cannon artillery revolutionized the science of warfare and changed the fate of nations.
was especially skillful in placing her
Although, before Jeanne
took command, the French had had cannons and artillery, it was her
genius in deploying them, that altered the course of the warfare so dramatically, for it was well-placed artillery that had enabled the French to defeat the famous English archers.
Once the King was crowned, Jeanne
eyes immediately on the march to take Paris, where the Burgundians had established a stronghold.
Inexplicably, the King temporized; in fact, he
had agreed to a deal with his
enemies, which had allowed them time to fortify Paris.
When, finally, the King gave the order to attack, Jeanne's army
was unable to storm through the defenses.
was again wounded in the battle.
As was her
returned to battle the next day, only to learn that the weak-willed King had called for retreat.
Charles negotiated another deal with his
enemies, and disbanded her
Not only was Paris lost to the enemy, but also most of the towns along the Loire River that she
had liberated, were now handed back to the Anglo-Burgundians.
army disbanded, she
was on her
own, ignored and certainly reviled by her
enemies in the court.
In the Spring of 1430, the King admitted that his
war-by-diplomacy was a failure.
did not realize just how tragic his
error was, of cutting off Jeanne
way, Paris would have been freed.
But more significantly, Jeanne's entire military career had demonstrated conclusively, that had she
remained making the strategic decisions, and personally leading her
men into battle, the Hundred Years War would have come to an abrupt end, then, rather than 24 years later.
Capture at Compiègne
After Jeanne's betrayal by the very King she
had fought to crown, the Burgundians moved to lay siege to the strategic city of Compiègne, just north of Paris.
could no longer be restrained in her
enforced idleness: As at Orléans
, the patriotic forces inside Compiègne
resisted heroically, despite the fact that Charles had ceded to the Burgundians, but the city's inhabitants needed reinforcements quickly.
Hanotaux reports that Compiègne
was the command center of all communications between Duke Philip of Burgundy and his
stronghold at Paris.
would cut his
line of communication.
immediately organized a battalion of Italian mercenaries, leading them to Compiègne
, which she
was able to enter.
DeVries charges that Jeanne
committed treason, because she
left for Compiègne
without permission from the King.
When Jeanne and her army became trapped in a Burgundian ambush, the Burgundian chronicler Georges Chastellain reports that she refused to retreat, telling her men: " 'You be quiet!
Their defeat depends on you.
Think only of striking at them.' Even though she
said this, her
men did not want to believe it, and by force they made her
return directly to