February 13, 1945 Of Battles and Beignets

So what does Joan of Arc have in common with pancakes, pigs and potatoes? Why, I’m glad you asked.

We fancy ourselves a land of sand and fun here on Sunny Cape Cod™, not the kind of place for an epoch changing clash of arms. Truth be told the place really IS “Mayberry by the Sea” but even we, have had our moments.

On April 3, 1779, local militia sallied forth to the beaches of Falmouth, to oppose a landing by some 220 of the King’s Regulars. The invaders were indeed repulsed but not before little Falmouth sustained a cannonade of ball and grape lasting from eleven in the morning, until well after dark.

falmouth1779_350

During the War of 1812, locals once again took up squirrel guns along the beaches and fired, on British warships. HMS Nimrod fired back holing no fewer than thirty buildings, with cannon shot. Until recently, three of those buildings yet stood, holes and all. Sadly, the Nimrod Restaurant is no more. Today there are but two cannonball holes but you can still see them still, one at the Elm Arch Inn and the other, at the former home of Captain Silas Bourne.

And who can forget that battle for the ages remembered far and wide, as the “Herring War”. “The Cape” has always been a sport fisherman’s paradise (and still is) but the earliest settlers were more focused on more important things. Like eating. The earliest mill was built in 1700. Others came into service over the next 100 years, mostly grist and woolen mills.

Before the age of internal combustion such enterprises harnessed the power of running water, and there came the rub. There were those who plied the waterways in search of a migratory and tasty little silver fish, called a Herring.

Long simmering animus between the two groups came to blows in 1800 when new mill construction threatened to block a herring run, in East Falmouth. Locals took to a cannon on the town green to express their ire. Packing the barrel with powder and herring they though to touch the thing off but, if some is good then more just has to be better. Right?

A herring left strictly to nature is an unlikely object to put in a cannon, but these guys figured it out. By the time they were done there must have been fish tails, hanging from the muzzle. Match was touched to to powder and the fuse was lit BOOM! The barrel exploded killing the gunner and raining down fish guts, for half a mile.

Thus ends another chapter of the never ending Herring Wars. And yet, this wasn’t the first conflict coming down to us with a funny sounding name. This wasn’t even the first Battle of the Herrings.

Today, the Siege of Orléans during the Hundred Years’ War marks the first appearance of Joan of Arc, at the head of a French Army. On February 12, 1459, Joan was making her final plea for support and safe conduct to enter the battle. The future saint prophesied that very day the King’s forces would suffer a dreadful defeat as indeed they did in an action remembered, as the Battle of the Herrings.

The city of Orléans was under siege for five months when an English supply train of 300 carts and wagons set out to provision the besieging force. Set upon by a vastly superior force of French and Scottish allies the English took refuge behind walls bristling with sharpened wooden stakes and wagons laden with – you guessed it – herring, in barrels. The tactic served them well at Agincourt and again, on February 12. Three to four thousand French forces attacked with gunpowder artillery, a new and poorly understood weapon, at that time. The Scots deplored such unmanly tactics and went to the attack, only to be cut down by a torrent of English arrows. The French cavalry then charged to the rescue while English longbowmen finished the job. The battle ended in a rout resulting in the loss of 500-600 French and Scots allies at the cost of a negligible number of English.

Word of the disaster reached the Dauphin, days later. Plunged into despair the young King-in-waiting and his ministers decided it couldn’t hurt to let this illiterate peasant girl take part. Thus we remember the Battle of the Herrings and the legend, of the Maid of Orléans.

In many Christian nations, Shrove Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of lent and the last day (for now) to gorge on pancakes, beignets and other sweet treats. Also known as “Fat Tuesday”, “Mardi Gras” and “Pancake Tuesday”, Christians across the nation turn to pantries and supermarket shelves in the quest for some sweet confection. Many of those will see the face of Aunt Jemima smiling back. At least they once did, but then there was 2020.

Sigh.

Speaking of Aunt Jemima, Shrove Tuesday fell on February 13 in 1945, a day marking the continuing effort to evict the Japanese occupier from pre-communist China. In the US, OSS operatives, precursor to the modern CIA, devised an explosive compound with a color and consistency very much like, pancake flour. You could even cook with the stuff and eat it though it wasn’t recommended and probably not very tasty. As it was explosives were easily smuggled into occupied China in Aunt Jemima packages for the use of Chinese patriots, in the war against Imperial Japan.

Today Nancy Green, the original (and very real) Aunt Jemima is once again relegated, to anonymity. Her descendants don’t understand and neither does anyone else, why her likeness was removed from grocery store shelves and replaced by the impersonal, “Pearl Milling Company Original”. But hey, who are we to stand in the way of the conspicuous display of meaningless virtue?

Today the United States and the United Kingdom enjoy a “Special Relationship” and may it ever be thus, but it wasn’t always that way. Three epoch changing clashes of arms were to unfold before we got to this place: the American Revolution, the War of 1812 and the Pig and Potato War.

Wait…What?

Yeah. The Oregon treaty of 1846 failed to make clear who governed the tiny but strategically important San Juan Island in the Gulf of Georgia, near Vancouver. Despite the diplomatic limbo British and American settlers alike lived in the place and got along perfectly well. Until June 15, 1859. A pig belonging to an Irishman named Charles Griffin was helping himself to potatoes belonging to the American farmer, Lyman Cutlar. Cutlar shot the pig. Scorning the farmer’s £10 peace offering Griffin insisted the farmer be arrested as indeed, he was. Anger boiled over on both sides and before long, a 461-man force of pissed off Americans armed with with 14 cannon faced over 2,000 British soldiers and five warships.

Very little ends well that begins with armed and angry men but sometimes, cooler heads prevail. British Admiral Robert Baynes had no intention of fighting with Americans over a dead pig. US President James Buchanan felt the same way and, before long, ruffled feathers were soothed. The island was handed over to US administration in 1872 following thirteen years, of mediation.

Now, wouldn’t I just love to talk about the Battle of the Cheeses, and how Mad Honey laid low the legions of Pompey the great? Yes I would, this is too much fun but, sadly, work awaits. That must remain a tale, for another day.

February 21, 1431 Joan of Arc

History has a way of demonstrating the truth of Taylor Owen’s adage on the subject of leadership: “An army of donkeys led by a lion is better than an army of lions led by a donkey.”

The Hundred Years’ War began as a succession dispute over the French throne, pitting an alliance of Burgundians and English on one side, against a coalition of Royalists led by the Armagnacs, on the other.

Europe was not far removed from the latest outbreak of the Black Death at this time, as the scorched earth tactics employed by the English army laid waste to the countryside and devastated the French economy.

Charles, Dauphin and heir apparent to the French throne was up against a wall, when a teenage peasant girl approached him in 1429.

For the 14-year-old boy-king, even listening to her was an act of desperation, borne of years of humiliating defeats at the hands of the English army. Yet, this illiterate peasant girl had made some uncanny predictions concerning battlefield achievements. Now she claimed to have had visions from God and the Saints, commanding her to help Charles gain the throne. Her name was Jeanne d’Arc.

The siege of Orléans was six months old at this time, when the Dauphin decided it couldn’t hurt to let her take part. She dressed herself in borrowed armor and set out, arriving on the 29th of April, 1429.

joan-of-arc-3

History has a way of demonstrating the truth of Taylor Owen’s adage on the subject of leadership: “An army of donkeys led by a lion is better than an army of lions led by a donkey.” So it was in the days after Jeanne’s arrival at Orléans.

Time after time, Jeanne found herself excluded from war councils.  Yet she managed to insert herself anyway, putting the French back on the offensive and achieving one victory after another.

Nine days after her arrival, Orléans turned into an unexpected victory for the French.  Jeanne herself was shot through the neck and left shoulder by an English longbow, while holding a ladder at the siege of Tourelles.  The Dauphin granted her co-command of the army with Duke John II of Alençon. The French army enjoyed a string of successes, recovering Jargeau on June 12, Meung-sur-Loire on the 15th and Beaugency two days later, leading to a humiliating English defeat at the battle at Patay on the 18th.

ccf011df7a8f59a31efc28e35ec0a655

Several more Armagnac victories followed. On July 17, 1429, Charles was consecrated King Charles VII of France, fifth King of the House of Valois, with Jeanne at his side.

Despite her loyalty, Charles’ support began to falter.  Court favorite Georges de La Trémoille convinced the King that Jeanne was becoming too powerful. An archer pulled her from her horse during the siege of Compiègne in May, 1430, and her allies failed to come to her aid.

The town gates closed, leaving Jeanne on the outside.  She was captured and taken to the castle of Bouvreuil.

download - 2019-02-21T063459.558

Some 70 charges were made against her by the pro-English Bishop of Beauvais, Pierre Cauchon, including witchcraft, heresy, and dressing like a man.

The judge’s representatives were dispatched to Jeanne’s home village of Domremy, to ascertain the prisoner’s virginity, character, habits and associations. Nicolas Bailly, the man responsible for collecting testimony, reported he “had found nothing concerning Joan that he would not have liked to find about his own sister”.

This Bishop Cauchon must have been some piece of work. The report so angered the man, he called Bailly “a traitor and a bad man” and refused to pay him for his work.

Joan_of_arc_interrogationJean Le Maistre, whose presence as Vice-Inquisitor for Rouen was required by canon law, objected to the proceedings and refused to appear, until the English threatened his life.
Interrogation of the prisoner began on February 21, 1431. The outcome was never in doubt. Transcripts were falsified and witnesses intimidated. Even then, trial records reveal this illiterate peasant girl to be brighter than all her inquisitors, combined.

Here’s an example from Jeanne’s third interrogation: “Do you know whether or not you are in God’s grace?”  The question was a trap. Church doctrine stated that no one could be certain of being in God’s grace, yet a “no” answer would have been held against her. “If I am not”, she said, “may God put me there; and if I am, may God so keep me. I should be the saddest creature in the world if I knew I were not in His grace.”

After fifteen such interrogations, Jeanne’s inquisitors still had nothing on her, save for the wearing of soldier’s garb, and her visions. Yet, the outcome of her “trial” was already determined. She was found guilty of heresy, and sentenced to be burned at the stake. On May 24, Jeanne was taken to a scaffold. Threatened that she would be immediately burned alive if she didn’t disavow her visions and abjure the wearing of soldier’s clothing, Jeanne agreed to sign such an abjuration, but recanted four days later.

joanstilkestakeThe death sentence was carried out on May 30, 1431, in the old marketplace at Rouen. She was 19.

When the fire died, the coals were raked back to expose her charred body. No one would be able to claim she’d escaped alive. Her body was then burned twice more, so no one could collect the relics. Her ashes were then cast into a river.

Guillaume Manchon, one of the court scribes, later recalled: “And she was then dressed in male clothing, and was complaining that she could not give it up, fearing lest in the night her guards would inflict some act of [sexual] outrage upon her; and she had complained once or twice to the Bishop of Beauvais, the Vice-Inquisitor, and Master Nicholas Loiseleur that one of the aforesaid guards had tried to rape her.”

Her executioner, Geoffroy Therage, later said he “Greatly feared to be damned”.
An inquisitorial court authorized by Pope Calixtus III re-examined the evidence, 25 years later. The court exonerated her of all charges, pronouncing her innocent on July 7, 1456, later declaring her a Christian martyr.

Jean d'Arc execution

A National Heroine to the French, Joan of Arc was canonized a saint of the Roman Catholic Church, in 1920. It was small consolation for this child who had been set up for a fall by her enemies, and abandoned to be incinerated alive, by her friends.

If you enjoyed this “Today in History”, please feel free to re-blog, “like” & share on social media, so that others may find and enjoy it as well. Please click the “follow” button on the right, to receive email updates on new articles.  Thank you for your interest, in the history we all share.

February 21, 1431 The Maid of Orléans

A National Heroine to the French, Joan of Arc was canonized a saint of the Roman Catholic Church, in 1920.  The only figure in history, to be both condemned and canonized by the church.  It was small consolation for this child who was set up for a fall by her enemies, and abandoned to be incinerated alive, by her friends.

The Hundred Years’ War began as a succession dispute over the French throne, pitting an alliance of Burgundians and English on one side, against a coalition of Royalists led by the Armagnacs on the other.

At this time Europeans were not far removed from the latest outbreak of the Black Death, as the scorched earth tactics of the English army laid waste to the countryside and devastated the French economy.

Charles, Dauphin and heir apparent to the French throne was up against a wall, when a teenage peasant girl approached him in 1429.

For the 14-year-old boy-king, even listening to her was an act of desperation, borne of years of humiliating defeats at the hands of the English army. Yet this illiterate peasant girl had made some uncanny predictions concerning battlefield successes.  Now she claimed to have had visions from God and the Saints, commanding her to help him gain the throne. Her name was Jeanne d’Arc.

siege-of-orleans-A
Siege of Orléans

The siege of Orléans was six months old at this time, when the Dauphin decided it couldn’t hurt to let her take part. Jeanne dressed herself in borrowed armor and set out, arriving on the 29th of April, 1429.

History has repeatedly demonstrated the truth of Taylor Owen’s admonition, on the subject of leadership: “An army of donkeys led by a lion is better than an army of lions led by a donkey.” So it was in the days following Jeanne’s arrival at Orléans.

Though repeatedly excluded from war councils, Jeanne managed to insert herself anyway, putting the French back on the offensive and handing them one victory after another.

Nine days after her arrival, Orléans turned into an unexpected victory for the French, despite Jeanne’s being shot through the neck and left shoulder by an English longbow, while holding a ladder at the siege of Tourelles.

joan-of-arc

After the Dauphin granted her co-command of the army with Duke John II of Alençon, the French army enjoyed a string of successes, recovering Jargeau on June 12, Meung-sur-Loire on the 15th, and Beaugency two days later, leading to a humiliating English defeat at the battle at Patay on the 18th.

Several more Armagnac victories followed.  On July 17, 1429, Charles was consecrated King Charles VII of France, fifth King of the House of Valois, with Jeanne d’Arc holding her standard over his head.

Despite her loyalty to the King, court favorite Georges de La Trémoille convinced Charles that Jeanne was becoming too powerful.  The King’s support began to waver.  She was pulled from her horse during the siege of Compiègne in May, 1430, and her allies failed to come to her aid.  Left outside as town gates were closed, she was captured and taken to the castle of Bouvreuil.

Joan_of_arcSome 70 charges were made against her by the pro-English Bishop of Beauvais, Pierre Cauchon, including witchcraft, heresy, and perjury.

Representatives of the judge were dispatched to Jeanne’s home village of Domremy, to ascertain the prisoner’s virginity, character, habits and associations.

Nicolas Bailly, the man responsible for collecting testimony, reported that he “had found nothing concerning Joan that he would not have liked to find about his own sister”. This Bishop Cauchon character must have been some piece of work.  The report so angered the man, that he called Bailly “a traitor and a bad man” and refused to pay him for his work.

Jean Le Maistre, whose presence as Vice-Inquisitor for Rouen was required by canon law, objected to the proceedings and refused to appear, until the English threatened his life.

Interrogation of the prisoner began on February 21, 1431. The outcome was never in doubt. Transcripts were falsified and witnesses intimidated.  Even then, trial records reveal this illiterate peasant girl to be brighter than all her inquisitors, combined.

One example from her third interrogation, was the Question: “Do you know whether or not you are in God’s grace?”. The question was a trap.  Church doctrine stated that no one could be certain of being in God’s grace, yet a “no” answer would have been held against her.  “If I am not”, she said, “may God put me there; and if I am, may God so keep me. I should be the saddest creature in the world if I knew I were not in His grace.”

Joan_of_arc_interrogationAfter fifteen such interrogations her inquisitors still had nothing on her, save for the wearing of soldier’s garb, and her visions. Yet, the outcome of her “trial” was already determined.  She was found guilty of heresy, and sentenced to be burned at the stake.

On May 24, Jeanne was taken to a scaffold.  Threatened that she would be immediately burned alive if she didn’t disavow her visions and abjure the wearing of soldier’s clothing, Jeanne agreed to sign such an abjuration, but recanted four days later.

The death sentence was carried out on May 30, 1431, in the old marketplace at Rouen. She was 19.

When the fire burned down, the coals were raked back to expose her charred body.  No one would be able to claim she’d escaped alive. Her body was then burned twice more – there would be no collection of relics.  Her ashes were cast into a river.

Guillaume Manchon, one of the court scribes, later recalled of the maid’s incarceration: “[S]he was then dressed in male clothing, and was complaining that she could not give it up, fearing lest in the night her guards would inflict some act of [sexual] outrage upon her; and she had complained once or twice to the Bishop of Beauvais, the Vice-Inquisitor, and Master Nicholas Loiseleur that one of the aforesaid guards had tried to rape her.”

Jeanne’s executioner, Geoffroy Therage, later said that he “Greatly feared to be damned”.

img0
Blessed Sacrament-St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church, New Orleans, Louisiana, LA

An inquisitorial court authorized by Pope Calixtus III re-examined the evidence, 25 years later. The court exonerated her of all charges, pronouncing her innocent on July 7, 1456, later declaring her to be a martyr.

A National Heroine to the French, Joan of Arc was canonized a saint of the Roman Catholic Church, in 1920.  The only figure in history, to be both condemned and canonized by the church.  It was small consolation for this child who was set up for a fall by her enemies, and abandoned to be incinerated alive, by her friends.

 

If you enjoyed this “Today in History”, please feel free to re-blog, “like” & share on social media, so that others may find and enjoy it as well. Please click the “follow” button on the right, to receive email updates on new articles.  Thank you for your interest, in the history we all share.

February 21, 1431 Joan of Arc

History has repeatedly demonstrated the truth of Taylor Owen’s comment on the subject of leadership: “An army of donkeys led by a lion is better than an army of lions led by a donkey.” So it was in the days after Jeanne’s arrival at Orléans

The Hundred Years’ War began as a succession dispute over the French throne, with an alliance of Burgundians and English on one side, against a coalition of Royalists led by the Armagnacs on the other.

Europe was not far removed from the latest outbreak of the Black Death at this time, as the scorched earth tactics employed by the English army laid waste to the countryside and devastated the French economy.

Charles, Dauphin and heir apparent to the French throne was up against a wall, when a teenage peasant girl approached him in 1429.

joan_of_arcFor the 14-year-old boy-king, even listening to her was an act of desperation, borne of years of humiliating defeats at the hands of the English army. Yet this illiterate peasant girl had made some uncanny predictions concerning battlefield successes.  Now she claimed to have had visions from God and the Saints, commanding her to help him gain the throne. Her name was Jeanne d’Arc.

The siege of Orléans was six months old at this time, when the Dauphin decided it couldn’t hurt to let her take part. She dressed herself in borrowed armor and set out, arriving on the 29th of April, 1429.

History has repeatedly demonstrated the truth of Taylor Owen’s comment on the subject of leadership: “An army of donkeys led by a lion is better than an army of lions led by a donkey.” So it was in the days after Jeanne’s arrival at Orléans.

Though repeatedly excluded from war councils, Jeanne managed to insert herself anyway, putting the French back on the offensive and handing them one victory after another.

Nine days after her arrival, Orléans turned into an unexpected victory for the French, despite Jeanne’s being shot through the neck and left shoulder by an English longbow, while holding a ladder at the siege of Tourelles.  The Dauphin granted her co-command of the army with Duke John II of Alençon. The French army enjoyed a string of successes, recovering Jargeau on June 12, Meung-sur-Loire on the 15th, and Beaugency two days later, leading to a humiliating English defeat at the battle at Patay on the 18th.

Several more Armagnac victories followed.  On July 17, 1429, Charles was consecrated King Charles VII of France, fifth King of the House of Valois, with Jeanne at his side.  Despite her loyalty, Charles’ support began to waver.  Court favorite Georges de La Trémoille had convinced the king that she was becoming too powerful.  An archer pulled Jeanne from her horse during the siege of joan_of_arc_interrogationCompiègne in May, 1430, and her allies failed to come to her aid.  Left outside the town’s gates when they closed, she was captured and taken to the castle of Bouvreuil.

Some 70 charges were made against her by the pro-English Bishop of Beauvais, Pierre Cauchon, including witchcraft, heresy, and dressing like a man.

Representatives of the judge were dispatched  to Jeanne’s home village of Domremy, to ascertain the prisoner’s virginity, character, habits and associations.  Nicolas Bailly, the man responsible for collecting testimony, reported that he “had found nothing concerning Joan that he would not have liked to find about his own sister”. This Bishop Cauchon must have been some piece of work.  The report so angered the man, that he called Bailly “a traitor and a bad man” and refused to pay him for his work.

Jean Le Maistre, whose presence as Vice-Inquisitor for Rouen was required by canon law, objected to the proceedings and refused to appear, until the English threatened his life.

Interrogation of the prisoner began on February 21, 1431. The outcome was never in doubt. Transcripts were falsified and witnesses intimidated.  Even then, trial records reveal this illiterate peasant girl to be brighter than all her inquisitors, combined.

One example from her third interrogation, was the Question: “Do you know whether or not you are in God’s grace?”. The question was a trap.  Church doctrine stated that no one could be certain of being in God’s grace, yet a “no” answer would have been held against her.  “If I am not”, she said, “may God put me there; and if I am, may God so keep me. I should be the saddest creature in the world if I knew I were not in His grace.”

After fifteen such interrogations her inquisitors still had nothing on her, save for the wearing of soldier’s garb, and her visions. Yet, the outcome of her “trial” was already determined.  She was found guilty of heresy, and sentenced to be burned at the stake.  On May 24, Jeanne was taken to a scaffold.  Threatened that she would be immediately burned alive if she didn’t disavow her visions and abjure the wearing of soldier’s clothing, Jeanne agreed to sign such an abjuration, but recanted four days later.

jean-darc-executionThe death sentence was carried out on May 30, 1431, in the old marketplace at Rouen. She was 19.  After she died, the coals were raked back to expose her charred body.  No one would be able to claim she’d escaped alive. Her body was then burned twice more, so no one could collect the relics.  Her ashes were then cast into a river.

Guillaume Manchon, one of the court scribes, later recalled: “And she was then dressed in male clothing, and was complaining that she could not give it up, fearing lest in the night her guards would inflict some act of [sexual] outrage upon her; and she had complained once or twice to the Bishop of Beauvais, the Vice-Inquisitor, and Master Nicholas Loiseleur that one of the aforesaid guards had tried to rape her.”

Her executioner, Geoffroy Therage, later said that he “Greatly feared to be damned”.

An inquisitorial court authorized by Pope Calixtus III re-examined the evidence, 25 years later. The court exonerated her of all charges, pronouncing her innocent on July 7, 1456, and later declaring her a martyr.

A National Heroine to the French, Joan of Arc was canonized a saint of the Roman Catholic Church, in 1920.  It was small consolation for this child who had been set up for a fall by her enemies, and abandoned to be incinerated alive, by her friends.

%d bloggers like this: