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8th May 1429 – The end of the Siege of Orleans

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15th-century depiction of Joan of Arc leading an assault on an English fort at the siege of Orléans

7th May is the 585th anniversary of an important but bad day for England.    This was the day that the French recaptured the Tourelles fortification which controlled the South bank of the river Liore  and riverine access to the town.

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Joan had been wounded in the foot in the assault on the Augustins, and taken back to Orléans overnight to recover, and as a result did not participate in the evening war council. The next morning, May 7, she was asked to sit out the final assault on the Boulevart-Tourelles, but she refused and roused to join the French camp on the south bank, much to the joy of the people of Orléans.[29] The citizens raised more levies on her behalf and set about repairing the bridge with beams to enable a two-sided attack on the complex. Artillery was positioned on the island of Saint-Antoine.

The day was spent in a largely fruitless bombardment and attempts to undermine the foundations of the complex, by mining and burning barges. As evening was approaching, John of Dunois had decided to leave the final assault for the next day. Informed of the decision, Joan called for her horse and rode off for a period of quiet prayer, then returned to the camp, grabbed a ladder and launched the frontal assault on the Boulevart herself, reportedly calling out to her troops “Tout est vostre – et y entrez!” (“All is yours, – go in!”).[30] The French soldiery rushed in after her, swarming up the ladders into the Boulevart. Joan was struck down early in the assault by a crossbow quarrel (others report a bodkin arrow) in the shoulder and was hurriedly taken away. Rumors of her death bolstered the English defenders and faltered French morale. But, according to reports, she pulled the bolt out herself and, despite her injury, soon re-appeared in the French lines, giving the assaulters renewed inspiration. (In his rehabilitation trial testimony, Jean Pasquerel, Joan’s confessor, stated that Joan herself had some type of premonition or foreknowledge of this event, stating the day before the attack that “tomorrow blood will flow from my body above my breast.”

View_of_Orléans_1428_-_Project_Gutenberg_etext_19488 Jeanne_d'Arc_-_Panthéon_IIThe French carried the day and forced the English out of the Boulevart and back into the last redoubt of the Tourelles. But the drawbridge connecting them gave way, and Glasdale himself fell into the river and perished.[32] The French pressed on to storm the Tourelles itself, from both sides (the bridge now repaired). The Tourelles, half-burning, was finally taken in the evening.
English losses were heavy. Counting other actions on the day (notably the interception of reinforcements rushed to the defense), the English had suffered nearly a thousand killed, and 600 prisoners. 200 French prisoners were found in the complex and released.

With Boulevart-Tourelles taken, the English had lost the south bank of the Loire. There was little point of continuing the siege, as Orléans could now be easily re-supplied indefinitely.
On the morning of May 8, the English troops on the north bank, under the command of William de la Pole (Earl of Suffolk) and Lord John Talbot, demolished their outworks and assembled in battle array in the field near St. Laurent. The French army under Dunois lined up before them. They stood facing each other immobile for about an hour, before the English withdrew from the field and marched off to join other English units in Meung, Beaugency and Jargeau. Some of the French commanders urged an attack to destroy the English army then and there. Joan of Arc reportedly forbade it, on account of it being Sunday.

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