, commonly called the Maid of Orleans, one of the most remarkable heroines
, commonly called the Maid of Orleans, one of the most remarkable heroines in history, was the daughter of James d' re, and of Isabella Rome his wife, two persons of low rank, in the village of Domremi, near Vauconleurs, on the borders of Lorraine, where she was born in 1402. The instructions she received during her childhood and youth were suited to her humble condition. She quitted her parents at an early age, as they were ill able to maintain her, and engaged herself as a servant at a small inn. In this situation she employed herself in attending the horses of the guests, and in riding them to the watering-place, and by these exercises she acquired a robust and hardy frame. At this time the affairs of France were in a desperate condition, and the city of Orleans, the most important place in the kingdom, was besieged by the English regent, the duke of Bedford, as a step to prepare the way for the conquest of all France. The French king used every expedient to supply the city with a garrison and provisions; and the English left no method unemployed for reducing it. The eyes of all Europe were turned towards this scene of action, and after numberless feats of valour on both sides, the attack was so vigorously pushed by the English,' that the king (Charles VII.) gave up the city as lost, when relief was brought from a very unexpected quarter. Joan, influenced by the frequent accounts of the rencounters at this memorable siege, and affected with the distresses of her country and king, was seized with a wild desire of relieving him; and as her inexperienced mind worked day and night on this favourite object, she fancied she saw visions, and heard voices, exhorting her to re-establish the throne of France, and expel the English invaders. Enthusiastic in these notions, she went to Vaucouleurs, and informed Baudricourt, the governor, of her inspirations and intentions, who sent her to the French court, then at Chinon. Here, on being introduced to the king, she offered, in the name of the Supreme Being, to raise the siege of Orleans, and conduct his majesty to Rheims, to be there crowned and anointed; and she demanded, as the instrument of her future victories, a particular sword which was kept in the church of St. Catherine de Fierbois. The king and his ministers at first either hesitated or pretended to hesitate; but after an assembly of grave and learned divines had pronounced her mission to be real and supernatural, her request was granted, and she was exhibited to the whole people, on horseback in military habiliments. On this sight, her dexterity in managing her steed, though acquired in her former station, was regarded as a fresh proof of her mission her former occupation was even denied she was converted into a shepherdess, an employment more agreeable to the fancy. Some years were subtracted from her age, in order to excite still more admiration; and she was received with the loudest acclamations, by persons of all ranks.