Friday, July 26, 2013

Bide Always Green

L'Arbre Fée de Bourlemont
Song of the Children
by Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens)

Now what has kept your leaves so green,
Arbre Fée de Bourlemont?
The children's tears! They brought each grief,
And you did comfort them and cheer
Their bruisèd hearts, and steal a tear
That, healèd, rose a leaf.

And what has built you up so strong,
Arbre Fée de Bourlemont?
The children's love! They've loved you long
Ten hundred years, in sooth,
They've nourished you with praise and song,
And warmed your heart and kept it young—
A thousand years of youth!

Bide always green in our young hearts,
Arbre Fée de Bourlemont!
And we shall always youthful be,
Not heeding Time his flight;
And when, in exile wand'ring, we
Shall fainting yearn for glimpse of thee,
O, rise upon our sight!

"L'Arbre Fée de Bourlemont" means, of course, "The Fairy Tree of Bourlemont", Bourlemont being near Domrémy. It has the remarkable distinction of being one of the most thoroughly attested trees in history, because it was discussed at some length at the trial of Joan of Arc and again at the nullification trial after her death, and it gets that distinction precisely because it was a Fairy Tree. It was one of those trees that has a lot of local legends hanging on it; fairies were said to dance at it, and fairy knights to visit it, and it was part and parcel of the life of local children, who would dance around it every spring.

Mark Twain is not really known for his poetry, but he wrote more than one would expect. Most of them are humorous, but not all of them. This is more carefully crafted than most of his verse, though.

Music on My Mind

Lauren O'Connell, "Out of Focus"

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Thursday Virtue: Magnificence

Magnificence is the big spender's virtue. It is one of the Aristotelian eleven (sometimes twelve, depending on precisely how they are listed) virtues that structure the discussion of the Nicomachean Ethics (IV.ii). Two of these virtues are devoted to doing things on a grand scale, megalopsychia or magnanimity, and megaloprepeia, or magnificence. My understanding is that outside of Aristotle and lines of discussion influenced by him, the two words are usually synonyms in Greek, and it is an interesting feature of their history that magnificence has a long history of being conflated with magnanimity even in other languages. Perhaps the most interesting example of this is Spencer's Letter to Raleigh at the beginning of the Faerie Queene, in which he attributes the Aristotelian virtue of Magnificence to Prince Arthur when it is in fact clear that he must mean Magnanimity, although it's difficult to know what to make of it, since it has been noted at least since C. S. Lewis that most of what Spencer says in the Letter is wrong, including several times when he is summarizing his own poem. Spencer is not the only one to do it, however, and it is an interesting question why we tend to mingle the two together.

You can think of the Aristotelian account of magnificence as locating it at the corner of a square. There is a pair of virtues concerned with the extraordinary, magnanimity and magnificence. This pair is paired with another pair, honorable ambition and liberality (or generosity), which are concerned with the ordinary. Magnanimity is to magnificence as honorable ambition is to liberality; from which it equally follows that magnificence is to liberality as magnanimity is to honorable ambition. The magnificent person spends big on important matters; his expenditures are "vast and appropriate" in order to achieve a vast and appropriate result. It is a mean between vices that we could translate as meanness (its vice of defect) and garishness or wastefulness (its vice of excess). Since virtue grants facility in the action, the magnificent person is the sort of person who does not count the cost when the most important things are on the line. Aristotle says that generosity or liberality is a prerequisite of magnificence; the magnificence person, however, in being generous achieves excellent results on a large scale, in a way that benefits everyone. That seems clear enough, but there are a number of intriguing problems with regard to magnificence.

One is that magnificence is in the odd situation of looking like it is a virtue exclusive to the rich. Indeed, it is very difficult to determine from Aristotle exactly how much magnificence depends on being rich. He himself recognizes that it requires great resources (not necessarily money, but you need something to draw on in order to produce the great results), and even goes so far as to say the magnificent person has an excellently furnished house. But he also notes that the magnificent person will achieve the great result even at the same expense as the merely generous. And Aristotle does say that someone can exhibit magnificence in one-shot productions -- weddings are the obvious case. But even in ancient Athens, even poor parents spent as lavishly as they could manage on weddings; almost certainly far more than they do today. And you only have to go somewhere in the world where weddings retain their ancient importance to discover that even poor parents will put together large-scale multi-day wedding celebrations that invite everyone, drawing as much as they can not just on what money they have but also on their reputations with merchants, on favors owed to them by family and friends, and so forth. This is very much the sort of thing Aristotle means. Aristotle also notes that the greatness of the result is not identifiable in terms of cost; his example is that of a wonderful ball, a mere toy that could hardly cost a great amount, but which can be a magnificent gift for a boy. That is expenditure is most magnificent which involves great expense for a great object; but Aristotle's magnificent man quite clearly can be magnificent in small matters, just by being tasteful and not skimping. And there is a considerable amount of restraint in Aristotle's virtue of magnificence, because garishness is so easy to slip into. Someone who spends to feast his dining-club (an important Greek institution) as if he were hosting a wedding (which is a level of feasting far beyond the good-meal-with-flute-girls that dining-clubs typically did) is garish, vulgar, not magnificent. The magnificent person might fund the chorus in a comedy, but the garish one would do so by bringing them out in tastelessly expensive purple. And Aristotle quite explicitly says elsewhere that the practice of virtue does not require great wealth. So how much does this virtue depend on resources?

A second problem is its relation to liberality. To distinguish out the virtue of magnificence, we have to do two things: keep it from collapsing into liberality, and keep it a virtue. But it's difficult to see how this can be done: magnificence presupposes liberality, but liberality does not guarantee magnificence. Liberality already covers all monetary matters, so magnificence seems like it's just a particular form of liberality. On the other hand, Aristotle quite definitely wants to distinguish them; as far as he is concerned, they are not the same virtue at all. And given the square mentioned above, collapsing magnificence into liberality would strongly suggest that we should also collapse magnanimity into honorable ambition; but honorable ambition and magnanimity are not so hard to distinguish, and Aristotle certainly would resist collapsing them into each other, as well.

It is difficult to know how to address these problems. I would suggest that one avenue of approach, however, is to recognize that Aristotle's eleven virtues are all civic virtues, and play a role in the proper functioning of a city united by friendship in pursuit of human happiness. It is in fact the whole object of the Nicomachean Ethics to lay this proper functioning out. So we should ask ourselves what function magnificence has in the life of the city. And when we do, I think we get a clearer sense both of how it differs from liberality and of its relation to resources. Liberality covers monetary matters generally, and is the virtue that concerns how you handle money; but magnificence is really about aiming for results that greatly benefit others. Perhaps the closest translation into contemporary English is 'philanthropy'. The magnificent person spends great money on great buildings (houses, temples) that improve the city and on great events (weddings, religious festivals) that are good for the community. Even the small or private expenditures of the magnificent have this city-building tinge. Magnificence is the virtue concerned with creating the common material of civilization itself. Seen in this light, it is clear that it has to be inextricably bound up with wealth, but also cannot simply be a virtue of the rich, because nothing prevents the poor from doing the same, even if lack of immediate resources means that they have to be more resourceful themselves. The poor may not generally be able to fund temples, but the poor can still work to give magnificent gifts of the sort that circumstances put in their reach (think of Aristotle's explicit example of the inexpensive but magnificent ball appropriate for a child).

A second way to approach the matter, one that also has its advantages and that I think can be made to fit with this suggestion is that of Thomas Aquinas. Being Aristotelian, Thomas can't ignore an important Aristotelian virtue like magnificence. But, like magnanimity, it's not an obviously Christian virtue. In the case of magnanimity, the big problem is how it could possibly be reconciled with Christian humility, but magnificence is even more of a problem, since it seems to clash with the entire ascetic tradition, and it is flatly against the entire Christian tradition to claim that there are virtues only the rich can have. If you tone it down, on the other hand, the problem of its relation to liberality becomes even more acute, since it's already difficult to distinguish on any other ground than big spending. Aquinas's handling of this problem is quite ingenious. Some people have not found it entirely convincing, but there's no question that as far as it goes it's a clever handling of the problem.

Without eliminating their connections, Aquinas splits magnificence and liberality up, and does so quite cleanly. On Aquinas's account, all the virtues can be organized with respect to the major virtues -- either they just are those major virtues, or they are components of those major virtues (what he calls quasi-integral parts), or they are some specific kind of the major virtues (what he calls subjective parts), or they are more loosely related satellite virtues of the major virtues (what he calls potential parts). Aquinas's liberality and magnificence are both potential parts, satellite virtues, but however similar they may be on the surface, they orbit different stars. Liberality is a potential part of justice: it is concerned with rendering in some way what is due in some way. Magnificence, on the other hand is a potential part of fortitude: it is concerned with enduring and overcoming in some way what impedes goodness in some way. This provides another means of distinguishing the two virtues. At the same time, it blocks the idea that magnificence can be a virtue of the rich in any straightforward sense. Fortitude and all its potential parts are about enduring bad things and achieving difficult good; spending a lot of money that find easy to spend, or giving away a lot of money that you find easy to give away, cannot possibly be fortitude, in however broad a sense. To be magnificent in Aquinas's sense requires pushing yourself to the point of reasonable sacrifice to create a great work. Indeed, Aquinas explicitly states that the primary difference between fortitude in the strict sense and magnificence is that the difficulty of fortitude, the cardinal virtue, is derived from the danger to one's very persons; but magnificence, as a potential part of fortitude, gets its difficulty from the danger that one might be dispossessed of one's property. You can only develop magnificence by doing great things at some risk of abject poverty. Aquinas also insists on the relativity of greatness, which I have already noted is suggested in Aristotle himself: the poor may not be able to accomplish great things absolutely, but they may still accomplish great things of a particular kind. Even if that weren't so, Aquinas says, virtue is a matter of inward act rather than outward result: it is the aiming at the appropriately magnificent result that matters.

This still leaves the question of how magnificence relates to liberality, since it clearly still does. Aquinas gives several indications of how the two are related. First, Aquinas explicitly affirms that every liberal or generous person has the virtue of magnificence either strictly speaking or in the sense that all the lack for it is the opportunity to act; magnificence presupposes liberality, but liberality disposes immediately to magnificence. Second, liberality or generosity is concerned with moderation in our general love of money, whereas magnificence is concerned with the specific difficulties of spending to produce some great work. Third, liberality covers gifts in the proper sense, since we give presents out of generosity; but while magnificence also gives gifts, even the gift-giving of magnificence is primarily a matter of spending money for a great work. For instance, insofar as we are generous, we give gifts precisely as gifts, but insofar as we are magnificent, we give gifts as a form of spending to achieve something, Aquinas's examples being those of giving gifts to honor someone or giving gifts to benefit society. Fourth, liberality is more concerned with the concupiscible, our drive to get good things, and magnificence is more concerned with the irascible, our drive to avoid bad things.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A Poem Draft

The Fragility of Goodness

How frail is the goodness of human nature!
We are fragile creatures who
can't seem to get by when we're left on our own.
We depend on the love in the hearts that teach us,
helping hands that reach for us, and
angels that rush down from heaven's throne.

The race to be run seems to go on forever,
the fight never seems to end;
the time for reward seems deferred till never,
with no time for us to mend.
Why does virtue seem to elude us?
Nothing ever seems enough.
Why does heaven seem to exclude us?
Or fortune play so rough?
The world is awful to those who face it,
who try to swim floods all alone;
we build a life for time to erase it,
nothing lasts made of flesh and bone.

How weak is the goodness of human nature!
We are fragile creatures who
can't seem to get by when we stand on our own.
We depend on the love in the hearts that teach us,
helping hands that reach for us, and
angels that rush down from God's high throne.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Fractal, Part VII

This is the final part of a short story draft. Part I. Part II. Part III. Part IV. Part V. Part VI.

The last stages of Becky's illness dragged on, like an endless nightmare. David and I were at the hospital as much as we were at work or home, and in David's case certainly more. Becky tried to forbid it. She wanted us working on the project. But David could not stay away, and when I tried to do so, I constantly found myself thinking of them at the hospital. As the illness wore down Becky, it wore us down, too, just more slowly. What I remember most about the time was the helplessness of it, going in to see her and finding her even worse than she had seemed last time, still as much Becky as ever, but slowly and inexorably vanishing away.

It was very near the end, when she insisted on speaking to us each alone. I went first.

She looked very gaunt and tired. "You'll have to look after David, Charli," she said.

"Of course," I said, trying to manage a smile. "It is what I do."

"He doesn't like the project, and doesn't think he can do it," she said, ignoring me. "But he can, I'm sure of it, and you have to make sure he finishes it. And you need to finish it, too."

"I will," I said. "But I am not sure how long Stimson will keep the funding up--." The sentence cut off abruptly; I had not realized where it was going when it began.

Becky looked at vase of irises by the window. "Morgan will keep it up, as long as you and David get new results. And you will." She looked back at me. Somehow the gauntness in her face made her eyes darker and brighter. "You two can't help yourselves. You could stumble on a rock and make a scientific discovery. You have no idea how much it drives the rest of us crazy." She smiled briefly and then became serious again.

"If there's any problem from Morgan's end, it's that David makes him uncomfortable. I'll need you to do what you've always done: make it very clear to him that David is essential to it all. Nobody else can be trusted to do it right."

"I will."

"Make sure David uses the 24-0623 template, if he can; I still think it's the best one we did. He'll have to do some filling in from the 36 series, but make sure it's not the foundation. And if Zimmer lets you down on the frame, call in Liz Brown; she should have the background to fix anything that goes wrong."

I did not want to sit there and talk about the project, but I nodded, and she went on like this for some time. Then she closed her eyes and was quiet long enough that I had almost thought she had gone asleep when she opened them again. She shook her finger at me.

"Don't just keep David in line, Charli," she said. "Listen to him, too. He has more heart than you or I do. If he weren't so often lost in his own world...." But she did not finish the sentence, instead closing her mouth to a thin, straight line.

"Listen to him," she said finally. She closed her eyes again. "Now send David in."

What she said to David, I do not know. But she died in her sleep that night, and David started devoting himself with dogged determination to the project.


The end of the story you no doubt already know, since it was in the news for days on end. Beyond what depends directly on the background, I know no more about it than you do, although knowing David I can guess. He got into Trisagion. In terms of what I know for sure, I cannot even say he got Rebecca out safely, but I am certain he did, both because of the vague, if not exactly accurate, rumors connecting the event with terrorist group movements, and because he certainly left before going back a second time.

Getting Rebecca to safety was his highest priority, but for David it would not be enough. There was enough at Trisagion labs to make a whole series of Rebeccas, and given what he had said to me in our last conversation, he would not simply leave it there. He went back, erased, I think, some of the main records, then set the building on fire. Due to an explosion he did not escape himself.

It was a few hours later that the police arrived. David had erased any record of my key card at the labs themselves, but for security reasons the security logs are copied every once in a while to a remote location. It is remarkable that neither David nor I had remembered that, although we both certainly knew of it. I suppose neither of us were exactly thinking clearly.

The story ended up in the news, but it was more story than fact: brilliant but unstable scientist, highly respected in his field, becoming disgruntled at being removed from his own project; in retaliation he tries to steal important research and destroy the traces, but dies in the attempt. That was the story Trisagion never stopped telling. They always left vague what the research was. I imagine that they were worried about possible backlash if people learned that the research stolen could interact with you or me just like anyone else; or perhaps they were paranoid, as always, about their competitors using the occasion to get ahead of them. David deserved better. But the thing about David is that he would not have cared.

As for me, I just try to get by. All my adult life has been Becky, David, and my research. Now all three are gone, one loss leading to another, and somehow all one big loss. The biggest difficulty in these places is boredom, I think, moving from cell to cafeteria to yard in an almost mechanical motion. I spend a lot of time trying not to remember, but remembering anyway. A lot of times I remember three crazily ambitious young kids, out to do the impossible, wondering how it went wrong. Sometimes I think of the sadder, later times after Becky's death.

I often think of the research. I cannot prevent myself from having new ideas about it, and have no means to do anything about them. That is maddening. I often am certain that David's last plan was not worth it. But often I think of her, imagining her in some quiet shop or on the beach, leaving lonely footprints in the sand. And then I almost think it was.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Battles of Joan d'Arc

Since I'm currently reading Mark Twain's Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc, I thought I'd make a rough list of Joan's major battles from a wide range of sources; it's a list that makes up an undeniable annus mirabilis.

The Lifting of the Siege of Orléans: 4 to 7 May 1429

Arriving with provisions in Orléans under cover of darkness on the evening of 29 April, Joan almost immediately took a morale tour of the city, distributing food to the poor and paychecks to the soldiers. Participating in the war council, she almost immediately started locking horns with Jean de Dunois, the Bastard of Orléans; however, he left the city under the supervision of Joan and La Hire as he went to Blois for reinforcements; the reinforcements returned without incident, thus allowing for the Assault on St. Loup on 4 May, which is initiated by Dunois. Joan joins the battle late, because she had not been aware that the assault had already begun. French numbers suffice to take the fortress of St. Loup. On the next day, Joan urges the war council to assault the bastille of St. Laurent, a heavily fortified position, but the other French commanders convince her that, since it is Ascension Day, they should observe a peace, and overnight decide instead on an easier task, leading to the 6 May Assault on the Augustines. The people of the city, given hope by Joan, meanwhile raise a militia to contribute to the fighting; Joan manages to convince the professional army to accept militia help, although they do so only very reluctantly. Reports of the battle are confused, but it seems at one point that the French were in rout (perhaps because Joan charged in against the Boulevart, the strongest point of English defense), but rallied again when Joan refused to retreat; Gilles de Rais convinces Joan to turn the assault not against the Boulevart but against the lighter fortifications of the Augustins, and the French achieve a victory that effectively blockaded a significant portion of the besieging army. Joan was wounded in the foot in the assault. The other commanders attempt to convince her to sit out the next assault on the Boulevart and Tourelles fortifications, but she refuses and rejoins the army; the citizens of Orléans in response pitch in to help Joan's army with material for the assault. This begins the Assault on the Boulevart-Tourelles. The French spend most of a day bombarding the English position to no significant effect; Jean de Dunois decides to postpone a full assault on the position to the next day. On learning the decision, Joan instead grabs a ladder and leads an immediate ladder assault on the Boulevart. She is struck by a crossbow quarrel and taken off the field; while she is gone, the battle shifts back to favor the English, but she returns to the battlefield and re-rallies her army. They take the Boulevart, then storm across to the Tourelles, in a crushing success, on 7 May, that took both the English and the French armies by surprise. With the French now in complete control of the southern bank of the Loire River, the siege can no longer be maintained, and the English withdraw.

The victory at Orléans was surprising, but the lifting of the siege did not seriously damage the English position in France. Joan, because her ultimate goal is Rheims, wished to march immediately to the liberate Champagne as the next obvious step along the way, but the other commanders convince her that it is necessary first to deal with the English grip on the rest of the region. Thus, after a few weeks, the Loire Campaign, the first consistent French offensive in a generation, begins. In the meantime large numbers of men, hearing of Joan and the lifting of Orléans, begin arriving to volunteer to fight.

Battle of Jargeau: 11-12 June 1429

Jargeau was a small but heavily fortified town on the Loire, about ten miles east of Orléans. The French force, under Joan and her friend (le beau duc, as she called him) John II of Alençon, attack the suburbs; they eventually fall back, but Joan again rallies the troops. While scaling the walls, Joan is struck with a stone, knocking her down and her helmet off, but she rises again and rallies the French again. The English at Jargeau surrender.

Battle of Meung-sur-Loire: 15 June 1429

The small town of Meung, on the other side of Orléans, had a strategically important bridge which the English could use to invade the region south of the Loire. Ignoring the English fortifications in the town, the French assault the fortifications at the bridge and capture it, installing a garrison there.

Battle of Beaugency: 16-17 June 1429

Beaugency, another small town, also had a strategically important bridge. Unlike Meung, controlling the bridge requires controlling the town, and the French begin artillery bombardment. Arthur de Richemont, who is in grave disfavor in the court of the Dauphin, arrives with troops and offers his support to Joan; Joan accepts his offer. D'Alençon negotiates a surrender.

Battle of Patay: 18 June 1429

The next battle was in open field; the precise location is not actually known, but is thought to have occurred near the small town of Patay. The first open-field battle of the campaign, it was also the one that the English could most expect to win, for the same reason they had won major victories at Crécy and Agincourt: the large English longbow corps could be used to devastating effect in an open field. The major weakness of the longbow is that longbowmen are very vulnerable to cavalry charges, which bring on close-fighting, for which longbowmen are ill-equipped, at very high speeds. To prevent this, the standard procedure was to drive large stakes in the ground to slow any cavalry. However, as the English are preparing these defenses, they inadvertently give away their position. The French command knows exactly what to do: they attack immediately and directly with massive cavalry. Such frontal cavalry assaults, which require special conditions to succeed, were one thing the French actually knew how to do very well; indeed, if they had a problem with it, it was a tendency to use it in situations to which it was poorly suited. This assault, however, was carried out almost perfectly under exactly the right conditions: the French crush an English army that would likely have crushed them if it had had more time for preparation. Joan participated, but given the circumstances there was relatively little to contribute.

What English survive have to withdraw to Paris. The swift recapture of the entire north bank of the Loire river, and particularly the terrible defeat at Patay, force the English-Burgundian alliance, which had always been opportunistic at best, into one of its more cooperative phases. Having completed the Loire Campaign, Joan returns to Orléns for what she had intended to do all along: march to Rheims. (You will notice already that, while she can be convinced to delay, she always ends up doing what she originally insisted on doing.) Thus begins the Expedition to the Coronation. This would not ordinarily have been considered a very savvy move; the English were well-prepared to counter any such campaign. It would end up succeeding, however, because nobody expected it. Joan had one mission: get the Dauphin crowned king at Rheims. She had a considerable amount of work to do to convince the French command to take this route. And the English were virtually certain that the French would attack Paris, which was the obvious next step. For the French to go the other way and simply march through firmly held enemy territory for no other purpose than to perform a politically symbolic act, threw the English completely.

The Expedition was battle-less. The French army marched across enemy territory by nothing more than negotiation with local towns. Almost all the important towns were garrisoned by Burgundians, but none of the citizens wanted a siege and obviously none of the garrisons could take on the French army without backup from an army of their own. So the cities negotiated provisions and passage in exchange for amnesty and the garrisons just watched. And on the 17 July, Joan's mission was completed: the Dauphin was crowned King of France at Rheims, a good hundred miles into the middle of enemy territory, which they had reached without having to fight at all. And the result, of course, was that a number of cities under Burgundian control switched allegiance to France.

But much of France still needed to be won, and thus began the March on Paris. Paris by now was heavily fortified by the English and Burgundians. And this time they could not be taken by surprise. The French army also will find itself in a peculiar position; no sooner is Charles crowned king than he begins secret negotiations with the other side in the hope of diplomatic victory -- an action that will mean that the King of France will be limiting his support for the French army.

Battle of Montépilloy: 14-15 August 1429

After some complicated feinting between the English-Burgundian army, the English and French meet at Montépilloy. However, the battle is a relatively minor skirmish and the English eventually withdraw.

Attack on Paris: 8 September 1429

The French attack Paris; Joan is shot in the leg with crossbow bolt, but continues urging her troops onward. The first day goes exceptionally well: the French have not won, but events were almost entirely in favor of the French army. Joan insists that they continue attacking the next day. Charles insists, however, on retreat; the march to Rheims had had to be done by volunteers because he could not pay his troops. Joan and d'Alençon reluctantly withdraw. On September 22, Charles disbands the French army and the French commanders return to their homes, with only Joan remaining with the king.

Siege of Saint-Pierre-le-Moûtier: late October to 4 November 1429

The Siege of Saint-Pierre-le-Moûtier was the beginning of Joan's attempt at a consolidation campaign to bring minor strongholds for resistance in the Loire region under the king's authority. The tiny town was well defended and the initial assault failed, but a second assault insisted on by Joan succeeded.

Joan began sending letters to other towns in an attempt to get provisions for another siege ordered by Charles, this time against the fortified and very well provisioned La Charité. She managed to scrape together enough to proceed.

Siege of La Charité: 24 November to 25 December 1429

La Charité was indeed highly fortified and provisioned, and the winter weather was extraordinarily bad; attempts to force surrender by assault failed. Joan lifted the siege a month after beginning it. We do not know exactly why; it could be anything from the difficulty of provisioning due to the winter weather to the impossibility of assault with the resources at hand to the fact that her troops, mostly mercenaries, were not responding well to her command.

Battle of Lagny: March or April 1430

For reasons that are somewhat obscure, perhaps as an attempt to restart her consolidation campaign, Joan attacks a small Burgundian contingent and captures its leader, Franquet d'Arras, who seems to have been setting himself up as a sort of local warlord with Burgundian backing. She attempts to use him to negotiate the release of the leader of an anti-English revolt in Paris, but upon learning that this leader had already been executed, she turns d'Arras over to the local courts. After a trial, he is executed on charges of murder, robbery, and treason.

It is in April of 1430 that Joan first begins to expect that she will be captured by the English or the Burgundians before Midsummer. By this time Joan is also beginning to worry about English designs on Compiègne, and attempts to prepare, despite still having very little support. In May she learns that her worries were justified, and she sets out for Compiègne, very likely without the permission of the king, and certainly without official support.

Siege of Compiègne: 14 May and following 1430

Joan manages to maneuver into Compiègne before the Burgundians can arrive there, and from this point plans suprise assaults against the Burgundians. She tries to strike at the Burgundian outpost at Soissons, but the people there refuse them entry, and she has to withdraw. She tries again against the Burgundian outpost at Margny, with much more success, but Burgundian reinforcements arrive and she is forced to retreat. Her army returns to Compiègne, but when they arrive at Compiègne, the gates of the city are ordered closed by the governor while the rear of the French army is still in the field; and, the rear guard being the most dangerous place to be in a retreat, Joan is there with no place to go. The Burgundians swarm around her and she is pulled off her horse and captured. It is unknown whether shutting Joan out of the city was a deliberate or merely hasty act of the governor. It is notable, incidentally, that even the Burgundians who describe the event write admiringly of Joan's valor in this last fight.