Illuminated Manuscript. Gaston FĂ©bus. Livre de la chasse. Wild Boar. Medieval Hunting.
In-Depth

The Wild Boar. The Age of Empires 2 Medieval Hunting Simulator Overview with Historical Commentary

I’ve been meaning to write this blog-post for a looong time. Actually, it is where it all started for me and my online Asinus persona. However, the more I delved into the topic, the more I discovered that the sum of my knowledge was close to nothing… I had to watch more videos and read more. All in all I spent several hundred hours on that very particular subject. I hope you will appreciate my findings. Please, let me know if I’ve forgotten anything! I will update my post accordingly. Thank you for reading and see you soon on my next blog posts.


This blog post is dedicated to _LilTrouble, the kindest of all Age of Empires 2 streamers, who makes her streams feel like you’re in a lounge having a good time with friends.

Check her out on Twitch!


Skip Through the Boarshit!

This is a long post. And there are no potatoes. Sorry. So click on what sparks your interest to skip what you don’t want to read! And have fun 😉

How to Hunt Wild Boars in AoE2?


Intro

The first time I restarted Age of Empires 2 for an online game with my father and his colleagues, I just did nonsense. I sent my scout straight to my allies. I scouted my base with my villagers. I found three turkeys and didn’t look for the fourth one (though you always find cattle in even numbers). I just didn’t what a build order was!

11.

Herb Laugh

I got my ass served to me a few times by my father’s colleagues and I decided that I couldn’t suck at some twenty years old game anymore. My pride was tickled and it had to be answered. I started to learn what a build order was. Matthieu Macret puts it best:

A build order defines the sequence in which buildings are constructed, units are produced and technologies are researched. Build orders target a specific strategy, such as rushing or timing attacks.

Once I acquired that little piece of knowledge, I went on to learn that boars, that I had always ignored, were to be hunted and their food collected. Hunting wild boars is however a dangerous activity in Age of Empires 2. That’s why I had always avoided it altogether in the past. Was it really necessary, though, to change my habits to improve my gameplay?

Yes.

It was.

Sorry to be blunt but first I thought I should serve you with a long ass demonstration. Eventually I decided against it. Age of Empires 2 is a Real Time Strategy game that works on a very simple principle: the more ressources you have, the more military you can produce. There is an element of sheer strategy to the game, but on the long run the player that has the best economy usually wins.

You just can’t ignore the free food boars represent. You need it.

How to get it, however, is another matter… for which I’m fully prepared to go on for a bit and boar you with details.

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How to Hunt Wild Boars in Age of Empires 2?

Toying with Danger

Hunting a wild boar is a dangerous business. You can help out your villagers by researching loom and grant them extra hit points and armor. However, loom costs 50 gold and researching it could slow your build order down if you aim for very early aggression. Also, sometimes you just don’t have the time to have it researched before you have to lure boars. It can happen on a Nomad map, for example.

Just watch the following clip from T90 Official YouTube channel and witness how Lierrey turns a bad start around with two successful very early boar lures.

The Shortest Pro-Player AoE2 Game You’ll Ever See

Lierrey is a pro-player and he makes it look very easy though he comes close to lose a villager. However, many a player have lost many a villager in unsuccessful boar luring attempts.

A few weeks back, a new meme was born to mock William McNabb who went on Twitter and asked the following in the wake of two more U.S.A. mass shootings and argued in favor of assault weapons:

Legit question for rural Americans – How do I kill the 30-50 feral hogs that run into my yard within 3-5 mins while my small kids play?

I’m not making this up. I found the original tweet back for you.

It became an instant internet success (click on the link to read Joey Cosco’s very entertaining account of this viral moment). Of course, since Age of Empires 2 players have to face the danger of wild boars every early game, they just had to join in on the fun and they came up with some memes of their own.

Not to hit you too hard and too soon with some concrete historical knowledge, but it was actually well-known in the Middle Ages that wild boar hunting was a dangerous business. The sole encounter of a sus scrofa (to call the wild boar by its latin scientific name) could lead to an ineluctable death. I just happen to know of a few stories about muredrous medieval piggies.

Should I briefly narrate two of those stories to you?

The Pigs that Killed Kings

Illuminated manuscript. Bernardus Guidonis. Flores chronicorum.
Death of Prince/King Philip (1131) – Besançon, BM, ms. 677, f. 67v

October 13, 1131. Paris.

The City of Light was still haloed in darkness but the sun was high and bright on that fine and long-forgotten Tuesday. Prince Philip was only fifteen years old but he rode his horse as proud as a peacock.

He had many followers behind him. Not only was he a Prince, you see, he was actually a King. He’d been introduced to the fine art of ruling the realm at the ripe age of three years old. Six years later, he’d been coronated and anointed along his father at Reims. The rolls of chancery called him rex designatus or rex junior. His kingly title was therefore the most official thing.

The Capet Kings had taken the habit of crowning their successors and give them the regal title before their passing to ensure the future of their dynasty and favor the transition from an elective monarchy to a hereditary one.

Prince Philip was born on a windy day. His father was fat and his mother ugly. His Greek name was yet quite uncommon for his time, though he’d been called after his grand-father, Philip I.

Philip I had had a Byzantine princess for mother. Some unverifiable sources state that she descended from Macedonian Kings of old. That’s why, maybe, she gave her son the name of Alexander the Great’s father. It quickly caught up, however, and soon the name “Philip” was just as common as “Eudes” or “Raoul”.

Since he’d been anointed at Reims, Prince Philip was believed to have curing powers that he could channel through his hands. It was a gift that all the Kings of France shared and it made him a holy man despite his youth.

Until the age of seven, Prince Philip remained in the company of ladies, that fed and cared for him. From then on he had the task to educate himself and to become a man. Such a noble achievement could only come through the arts of horse riding and weapon-wielding. It comes as no surprise then that Prince Philip, aged fifteen, ventured outside Paris on a hunting party.

Or maybe did he just escaped the city for a ride in the countryside with his friends? We do not know. Meanwhile, his father remains very busy in the capital, mustering his troops to face a few rebellious lords.

As evening lights dawned on Paris and the sun descended below the horizon, Prince Philip came back from his ride in the countryside and passed through a suburb. That is when the accident happened.

It all flashed in a minute and there was nothing anybody could have done.

A pig ran into the legs of Prince Philip’s steed. The horse panicked. The young King lost balance and fell from his horse. His head hurt a rock. The steed then trampled Prince Philip, fell and crushed him.

The fifteen-years-old King was somehow still alive and was brought to the nearest house but he was certainly doomed. His father was informed of the accident, rushed to his bedside and cursed the devil-sent pig. Prince Philip died overnight. The pope, who was en route to Reims, changed his travel plans to attend Prince Philip’s funerals in Paris.

Never a death was deemed more unjust than this one. It was describe with the all the darkest words known to the Latin language: misera, miserabilis, horrenda, horribilis, atrox, turpis, ignominiosa, invidiosa, sordida, infamis, immunda. It left a stain on the new regal dynasty that was difficult to overcome. However, the Capets managed to get over the dishonor Prince Philip’s death caused. He was buried within the next twelve days and his little brother, Louis, was anointed at Reims by the pope himself, shortly after that.

Philip’s fat father and ugly mother also decided to conceive a new child and to name him after their first born. This second Prince Philip, who never became King, received powerful ecclesiastical charges. Nonetheless he gave up the bishopric of Paris to Pierre Lombard. But that, my friends, is a story for another time.

Do you want to know more about the pig that killed a king? I would advise you to read Michel Pastoureau’s monograph: Le roi tuĂ© par un cochon (Paris: Seuil, 2015).

Illuminated manuscript. Giovanni Boccacio. De Casibus Virorum Illustrium. Laurent de Premierfait.
Death of Philip the Fair, King of France (1314) – Paris, BnF, fr. 226, f. 267v

The next story, for now, will tell you how Philip the Fair died, two centuries after Prince Philip, in 1314. It was more epic, however, since this time it happened during an actual hunting party, in a deep dark forest and not in the suburbs or Paris. It also enflammed the rich imagination of several great contemporary novelists of ours, as you shall see.

November 4, 1314. As the cold winds of winter closed in on the kingdom of France, its king chose to lead a hunting party in the cursed forest of Halatte. That is where Louis V met an untimely end in 987. The forest of Halatte had already taken one king. It could take another. Philip the Fair, however, didn’t let it scare him away. He plunged into the forest and hunted a wild boar with the vigor of a young man. He found a beast. He injured it. The beast threw itself under the feet of the king’s steed. Then, just like Prince Philip in 1131, Philip the Fair failed to maintain his balance and fell over. He broke his leg and the wild boar charged him. The beast was slain but King Philip IV proved to be badly injured. He was carried out of the forest and brought to Fontainebleau. He wished to stay alive until the day that a specific holy saint was celebrated. However, he died from his injuries a few days before the date. Many clerics saw that as a form of divine punishment. Philip the Fair hadn’t been very protective of the Church. He’d minted counterfeit money and robbed the Templars of all their belongings after he destroyed their order.

The untimely death of Philip the Fair and his harsh political choices actually gave birth to the legend that he’d been cursed by the Grand Master of the Knights Templar when the latter was burned at the stakes by order of the king. That curse then supposedly ran through many generations and it ultimately led to the Hundred Years’ War.

This legend served as the core concept of the best-selling novel series The Accursed Kings (originally published in French under the following title: Les Rois Maudits) written by Maurice Druon. It is worth of note, moreover, that ‘The Accursed Kings’ served as a major inspiration for ‘A Song of Fire and Ice’ novel series, by G.R.R. Martin. The latter doesn’t even hide his admiration towards Druon and compares him to Alexandre Dumas, calling him “my hero”, also stating The Accursed Kings are “the original game of thrones”.

Do you think it is a sheer coincidence, thus, if Robert I Baratheon, G.R.R. Martin’s character and King of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, died from an unfortunate wild boar hunting party?

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The Fine Art of Luring a Wild Boar

Well! This is all fine and dandy, but let’s get down to business and talk about wild boar hunting in Age of Empires 2. The best way to collect their food is to lure them.

Legit question for Dark Age villagers: “What’s that all about?”

The Overall Concept

Spirit of the Law’s Tutorial about Wild Boar Hunting in Age of Empires 2

Let’s say you’re new to Age of Empires 2.

How do you hunt a wild boar? Do you send all your villagers right next to it, shoot it down, and transport the food back to your town center like a fresh newbie? Or better yet, do you build a mill next to the boar to facilitate the food gathering?

Meh.

I know the wild boar is dangerous. I know kings have died because of it. I know very well that a single AoE2 villager stands no chance against such a beast. Yet, it is a villager alone that you have to send towards the wild boar from which you wish to collect food in order to create more villagers or early militia units.

There he goes, your villager. Look at him. Look at her! Your villager walks towards the wild boar with a bow in its hand. What do you do next?

Don’t panic.

If you want to lure a wild boar to your town center so that its food can be directly collected there, you villager will have to shoot the beast twice. Not once. Twice. If your villager injures a wild boar with only one arrow, the boar will not follow him or her. You need to tickle the beast for good. However, as soon as the boar has been shot twice, your villager must go back to your town center.

Assume that your villager is stupid because it is, indeed, a fact. Your villager will keep firing at the wild boar until he or she dies unless instructed otherwise. So don’t forget your boar hunting villager as you build a lumber camp, send another sheep to slaughter, or scout the enemy base. It will cost you food and time.

Once nearing your town center, your injured boar hunting villager (for he or she will take a few hits!) can jump into it and your villagers butchering sheep right on that very same spot can now draw their attention to the beastly wild animal and kill it.

The job, finally, is done. However, so many things can go wrong
 So here are a few more tricks to add your skillset if you want to become a top AoE2 player.

Seriously, who needs loom anyway?

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Exquisite Tips and Tricks

As I’ve stated before, boar hunting is some seriously dangerous business in Age of Empires 2. Many things can go wrong and any little mistake can slow you down by messing up your precious build order. You need to be careful, however, you can’t be solely focussed on your boar hunting business as you’re boar hunting.

I know. It can be confusing but pro-players call it APM. Actions per minute. How many actions can you achieve under one single minute? In RTS games, the more, the better.

While you’re boar hunting, you still have to manage the rest of your economy, keep an eye out for your enemy, build, scout, collect other ressources. The Dark Age isn’t as easy-peasy as it seems, nor as quiet. The five first minutes of a game can sometimes definitevely show if you’ll win or lose twenty to forty minutes later!

The Farm Trick

As far as I’m concerned, Age of Empires 2 is an exploration game as much as a strategy game. I remember spending hours, as a kid, exploring every single corner of the map with my scout. I was pretty devoted to the task. I wouldn’t multitask. I would only scout. I was also super focused on the technologies that widen your line of sight like town watch or town patrol. Because who needs horse collar and double-bit axe?

If you ever play against me online, be sure I’ll outpost rush you before I ever tower rush you. I know. I’m lethal.

I was rather surprised to meet people online who hated the fog of war with their guts. They only wanted to play on all-explored or all-visible maps. And it had to go fast, too.

Hey! Don’t bully my slow villagers. I don’t even pay them any wages. Fifty food is all they get to last the thousand-year span from the Dark Age to the Imperial Age


However, the fog of war is really what separates the wannabe pros to the real pros. I mean, look at The Viper. Not only is he, like, super cute—Debbie, beware. He’s so cool behind his glasses that he’s like a blond Sakamoto.

The Viper, also, is obsessed with his boars. So much, in fact, that he slaughters them all mindlessly and yet still wonders where they all are every once in a while. Location, location, location. The Viper is always very concerned with finding his wild boars. Now, if you happen to have scouted your entire starting base and you can’t find them, maybe that’s because they’re hidden in a little fog of war pocket. And if that ever happens, The Viper has a trick up his sleeve that can be useful to you: just build a farm over the fog of war to spot your missing wild boar.

The Viper Scouts Wild Boars by Placing Farms over the Fog of War

This is a very neat trick and one does not need witchcraft to conjure it. In order to lift the fog of war by placing a farm foundation, you need to place it on at least one tile of explored map area. That’s all folks!

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Gaia’s Line of Sight

Maybe you wonder. Why put a villager in danger if you can send your scout to lure a wild boar to your town center? Poke it twice, turn back and gallop towards your town center: job done! But, is it? The problem with the scout is that he’s too fast for the boar. Meaning a wild boar pursuing a scout will quickly lose sight of it and, at that point, drop the chase to return to its starting position.

The problem is, as T-West the Wise teaches us, that a regular AoE2 wild boar has a three tile line of sight. If you venture out of that three tile radius, the boar stops pursuing you.

However.

The really interesting thing is this.

A wild boar shares the line of sight of every Gaia unit on the map. This includes deer, wolves, birds, and even holy relics! Therefore, once you hit a boar with a scout, as long as that scout remains into the line of sight of any Gaia unit, the boar will continue to chase you.

T-West’s Tutorial about Wild Boar Hunting and Taking Advantage of Gaia’s Line of Sight

It can be quite tricky to master the skill of getting a wild boar to chase you beyond its own line of sight. The following clip shows the pro-player MbL failing at the attempt. And yet, MbL is usually so successful in AoE2 boar hunting that he got nicknamed ‘the Boar Whisperer’ and the ‘Master Boar Lamer’.

What went wrong for him here is that his scout, which tries to lure a second boar to the town center, didn’t enter the three tile line of sight of the first boar that was being lured by a villager. He left the three tile radius of the boar it was supposed to lure and failed to remain into Gaia’s line of sight. Therefore, the second boar returned to its starting position.

MbL Fails at Taking Advantage of Gaia’s Line of Sight

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The House Trick

The scout may be too fast for a boar to pursue, but the boar has no problem to chase down a villager and rip it into pieces. Nevertheless, you feel confident enough to send out a villager to lure a boar. You know you won’t forget that villager and make it turn back on time to save his or her life. But, will you? There are many sounds in Age of Empires 2 that can rattle you and distract you from your wild boar lure. I guess you know them all by now.

If you’re sending a villager to lure your second boar, the most probable sound that will distract you is the population limit alert. You’re being housed. Deal with it urgently or fear that your town center will remain idle a second to long.

AoE2 Sound. Limit population reached

You’ve build a house? Nice.

AoE2 Sound. House built

That’s when you hear this


AoE2 Sound. Female villager death
AoE2 Sound. Male villager death

Because of your bad APM, you couldn’t save your villager on time. He or she’s been killed by the boar. What a disaster, loss of time and resource. You should just call the GG right now and forget about this whole mess.

Something else could have distracted you. If you’ve send a villager to build a forward barrack, you have a 100% chance that this villager is going to be attacked by a wolf.

AoE2 Sound. Wolf attack

By the time you go and deal with it, again, your boar luring villager will be dead.

13. Sure! Blame it on your ISP.

AoE2 Taunt. 13. Sure! Blame it on your ISP.

That’s not all. If you’re playing a team game, or a diplomacy game, maybe another player is trying to show you something on the map, and you hear that sound.

AoE2 Sound. Mark on the map

You check it out, you’re APM is still shit because you’re below the 1.5k ELO despite the fact that you’ve played AoE2 non-stop for six months, bim, you’re boar luring villager is
 yet again
 dead. Do you feel the rage building up?

“Good. Gooood!”

More seriously, what do you do? Please, follow The Viper’s advice and save your villager’s life with the neat and amazing ‘house trick’. Basically, what you have to do is to place the foundations of a house over a boar to stop it in its course. It is, however, very difficult to achieve properly. Your execution must be on point.

The Viper’s Tip of the Day #2

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The Scout Save

What does a diligent scout do? He scouts, he attac, but most importantly, he circles bac!

You can task your scout different missions at the beginning of a game. Scouting your base should be your first priority to find out your starting cattle (sheep, or turkeys, or cows, or whatever), your main and secondary golds, your main and secondary stones, several wood lines to chop wood from and, of course, last but not least, your boars. There should always be two (or more, depending on the map) not too far away from your town center.

Once the elementary scouting is out of the way, here are a few things your scout can do.

First, he can go on and locate the enemy base. An early scouting of your enemy can also inform you of his/her strategy depending of his/her build order. Do you see a barrack already up? Beware of the drush. You’ll soon have militia units heading your way to disturb your economy. Do you spot villagers mining stone in Dark Age? Beware of the trush! You’ll soon see enemy villagers going forward to build towers in order to deny you the access to your own resources. Therefore it is useful to send your scout towards your enemy and see what’s what.

However, your scout can do more.

Once at your enemy base, he can hit one of your enemy’s wild boar and try to bring it back to your own base. It is tricky, though, because you’ll have to cross the entire map. More on that and the laming of boars in the next section of this blog post, though.

Otherwise, your scout can also play the good stay-at-home scout and ‘push deer’ towards your town center. It is very tricky to do. Maybe I’ll develop on it in another blog post.

Eventually, another use of a stay-at-home scout is to save your villagers from boar attacks. If you manage to place your scout between your boar luring villager and the wild boar chasing him or her, you can slow the boar down and save your villager’s life.

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The Town Center Fire

At this point, the boar has been located, successfully lured and brought back to your town center. There is only one thing left to master: how to look like a total pro. You can weaken the wild boar you lure with town center fire to prevent your villagers to loose hit points and keep a full health. It is especially practical if you expect early aggression from your opponent and fear that he will ‘snipe’ your weak villagers.

The traditional build order will have you to assign your six first villagers on sheep and the following four on wood. That’s when you’re supposed to go lure your second boar. I don’t wait that long myself: I send my seventh villager straight to the nearest boar I found. I don’t know if it really matters, I’m not a pro-player. However, as you lure your first boar to your town center, you can garrison your six butcher villagers in your town center and weaken the boar by firing it twice. Be careful, though, if you kill the wild boar with the town center its food will be lost! I leave Spirit of the Law give you the full detail of it.

Spirit of the Law’s Tutorial about TC Firing a Wild Boar

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Medieval Meme
Medieval Meme – Blog Post in Progress
Age of Empires 2 (1999). Joan of Arc's Campaign. Scenario 2: The Maid of Orléans
In-Depth

Age of Empires 2: ‘The Maid of OrlĂ©ans’ (Walkthrough & Historical Commentary)

This blog post also available in French!

I fell in love with Joan of Arc thanks to Age of Empires 2. I never healed from it. As Ovid says: “Quod nullis amor est sanabilis herbis.” There is no remedy to love.

Tower. Beaurevoir. Joan of Arc. John of Luxembourg.
Tower of Beaurevoir © Stéphane Bloch, 19/07/2013

Once I started to study History at the university, I met Joan again. I discovered her through new lenses. I read the papers and scholarly books written about her. I read the original sources from the 15th century. Her voice sounded clear to me when I read her trial. I saw her proud gait whilst perusing medieval chronicles. Then I visited Picardy and many places she went. I walked near the tower she jumped from when she tried to escape the English.

In the following paragraphs it will look like I’m dismantling piece by piece the second scenario of Joan of Arc’s campaign in Age of Empires 2. However this is a love letter more than anything. Age of Empires 2 is a fantastic video game to discover the Middle Ages. There is much to say about the scenarios and the in-game encyclopedia, but that’s only for the better when you really think of it.

Tower. Beaurevoir. Joan of Arc. John of Luxembourg.
Tower of Beaurevoir, from afar © Stéphane Bloch, 19/07/2013

Intro: Joan of Arc’s Campaign, Second Scenario

March 26, Chinon

It is one thing for a band of dispirited soldiers to put their trust in a teenage girl. It is entirely another for that girl to be given command of the army of an entire nation.

We were filled with pride when we heard the Dauphin’s heralds pronounce Joan the Maid as Commander of the Army of France.

So that she may look like a general, the Dauphin presented Joan with a great warhorse and a suit of white armor.

Joan instructed me to look for an ancient sword buried beneath the altar of a local church.   

I was skeptical, but not only did the men unearth a rusted blade, but we found that the sword belonged to Charlemagne, grandfather of France. I shall not doubt her word again. Still visible on the hilt was the fleur-de-lis.

Joan adopted the fleur-de-lis as her symbol and had it blazoned upon her battle standard. Wherever Joan goes, the standard goes also. It goes with us to OrlĂ©ans.    

The City of OrlĂ©ans is one of the finest in France, but it is under siege by our enemies, England and Burgundy, and is about to fall.   

This war has dragged on for one hundred years with precious few French victories. The people of Orléans need a savior. They are to get Joan of Arc.

Illuminated Manuscript. Brussels, KBR, ms. 9392. Christine de Pisan. Loyset Liedet. Jean Miélot. Pentesilea. Queen of the Amazons. Women in Armours.
Pentesilea, Queen of the Amazons, leading the charge – Bruxelles, KBR, ms. 9392, f. 18v

Commentary

This, for one, is a wonderful text. It really helps us to connect with Joan’s story on an emotional level. However, it is filled with inaccuracies


Though Joan’s brothers were given nobility titles after the victory of OrlĂ©ans, she was never invested of any official military title. The “Commander of the Army of France” was the ‘connĂ©table’ and that man, since 1425, was Arthur of Bretagne, count of Richemont. ConnĂ©tables were chosen for life. Richemont himself had fallen into disgrace because of his political actions (he had drowned the king’s favorite courtier) but he still held on his title. Right under him were the ‘marĂ©chaux’ and those titles had also already been handed out to other aristocrats.

Regarding Joan’s famous sword, it didn’t belong to Charlemagne
 First off, the fleur-de-lis only became a symbol of the French royalty during the 12th century, once coat of arms were properly invented. It couldn’t have been Charlemagne’s emblem. Secondly, the sword was not miraculously found, dug up or given to Joan. It was merely an ex-voto that caught her eye when she went in pilgrimage to Sainte-Catherine-de-Fierbois on her way to Chinon.

Finally, when Joan arrived to OrlĂ©ans the Burgundians had already lifted the siege. Poton de Xaintrailles, La Hire’s brother in arm, had risked a dangerous diplomatic move. He’d offered to open OrlĂ©ans to the Duke of Burgundy if he could insure the safety of its inhabitants. Philip the Good wished for nothing less but it angered the Duke of Bedford, Regent of France. The two men were at odds since Anne of Burgundy had passed away. Sister to Philip the Good and Bedford’s former wife, she’d already saved the Anglo-Burgundian alliance in the past and her death left the alliance in tatters. Therefore, the English were left alone to besiege OrlĂ©ans.

1.1. The Map: Orléans surrounded

Age of Empires 2 (1999). Joan of Arc's Campaign. Scenario 2: The Maid of Orléans
Age of Empires 2 (1999). Joan of Arc’s Campaign. Scenario 2: The Maid of OrlĂ©ans

In this scenario we find three French cities: Chinon and Blois, south of the Loire, controlled by the artificial intelligence, and Orléans, north of the Loire, which the player takes over as soon as he steps into it.

Orléans is threatened by four British fortresses, two north of the city, which produce long swordsmen, longbowmen and mangonels, plus two other, south of the city, which produce battering rams and knights.

Furthermore, the Burgundians are still in play, though it is historically inaccurate. They send up spearmen to attack Orléans along other units.

Since all those units will continuously attack the player, he will have to produce a vast variety of counter units to push back the AI efficiently. It will be tricky to balance an economy properly to that end, however, with a population capped at 75


1.2. The Siege of Orléans

Map. Orléans. 1428, 1429. Joan of Arc. Jollois. Harttweig
Plan de la ville et du siĂšge d’OrlĂ©ans en 1428. Jollois restituit ; Harttweig sculpsit

Historically speaking, OrlĂ©ans was surrounded by English bastions, mainly west to the city. John Talbot, knight of the Order of the Garter, was commanding those fortified places himself. He’d been a real thorn in the shoe of the French since he landed on the Continent, back in 1427. The British also had a few bastions eastwards, but first and foremost they occupied the ‘Bastille des Tourelles’ that closed the Loire bridge. It forced the people of OrlĂ©ans to destroy the bridge so that it couldn’t be crossed, contrarily to what the player can do in the Age of Empires 2 scenario.

For its defense, Orléans had no less than thirty towers along its walls and barricades also blocked the city access in the suburbs. Churches also could serve as fortified places. However, the people of Orléans struggle every day a bit more to ration their food and they urgently needed supplies to maintain their spirits up.

2.1. How the scenario plays out

The second scenario of Joan of Arc’s campaign has a few surprises but it plays in a quite straightforward fashion. It starts at Chinon with the Duke of Alençon greeting Joan. He moves towards her on his gorgeous steed: “I’m the Duke d’Alençon, my Lady. I will proudly ride with you to OrlĂ©ans.”

From that point in the very southern corner of the map, Joan, Alençon and their troops ride to Blois where they will meet the king’s army. On their way they’ll fight out a little ambush if they don’t avoid it, but when they reach Blois, the player gets a full load of knights, crossbowmen and trade carts to provide OrlĂ©ans in resources. Those trade carts must reach the city town center, not the market, for the resources to be collected by the player.

Map. Orléans. 1429. Bridge. Loire. Jollois.
Plan de l’ancien Pont d’OrlĂ©ans et de ses abords avec ses bastilles et boulevards, le fort des Tournelles et la bastille des Augustins. Jollois restituit

Exiting Blois, Joan can reach OrlĂ©ans through the dirt path leading to the Loire bridge but that’ll force her into an early battle against Burgundian troops guarding the access. However, transport ships are waiting to help the player across the river and out of harm way. Whatever the choice taken by the player, Joan and the French army reach OrlĂ©ans through one of its two southern gates.

Once into Orléans, the objective is quite simple: keep the city cathedral safe, maintain Joan of Arc alive and destroy one of the four English castles. Whenever the trade carts get to the city forum, the player gets resources and he can start to build his economy with the few villagers he finds in Orléans.

Rooftop view of the Cathedral of Orléans

The easiest and quickest way to win the scenario, however, is to get to Castle Age as soon as the trade carts get to OrlĂ©ans forum. Forget about the economy altogether. Cross back the river Loire with a few villagers and build a siege workshop at the back of the southern British fortress. As soon as you can create a few battering rams, break down the British walls, get inside their base and ram down their castles. The knights you get in Blois can also swoop in for extra damages: the castles don’t have the murder holes technology.

Now, if you want to play really tricky, though it requires a bit of skills, station your knights between the two southern British fortresses, wait for villagers to open the gates while passing through it to gather resources, rush into the enemy base and bring fire the old fashion way: through good old sword repetitive smacking.

2.2. How History played out

Map. Orléans. 1429. Joan of Arc. Boucher de Molandon. EugÚne Moreau.
“OrlĂ©ans, la Loire et ses Ăźles lors du siĂšge de 1429. PremiĂšre expĂ©dition de Jeanne d’Arc : ravitaillement d’OrlĂ©ans”

First things first: the Duke of Alençon has nothing to do in this scenario. He only comes up in Joan’s saga much later, notably during the siege of Paris. The real historical character who supervised the military operations on the French side was the bastard of OrlĂ©ans, Jean Dunois. La Hire, who is introduced to the Age of Empires 2 player in the next scenario, was also of the party.

In summary, the French army commanded by the maréchal de Boussac, in company of La Hire, Joan of Arc and a convoy of supplies, journey from Blois to Orléans. In order to reach the besieged city, they decide to go around it from the east and cross the Loire River on transport ships. The bastard of Orléans waits firmly for the resupply and supervise the crossing.

Dunois (the bastard of Orléans) and St John the Evangelist, witnessing the Last Judgement ~ London, BL, Yale Thompson MS 3, f. 32v.

When she meets Dunois, Joan is upset. She demands why they didn’t cross west of OrlĂ©ans, where the English are the most heavily fortified, where John Talbot who commands the troops is located. Dunois is flabbergasted by Joan’s audacity. She dare answer that the advice she brings is better than his, for she’s sent by God. At that point, the wind was not favorable for a crossing. All of a sudden it changed and Dunois interpreted it as a miracle, when he talked about it years later during Joan’s second trial.

The maréchal de Boussac and the French army, however, turn back to Blois. Joan of Arc, La Hire and the resupply convoy cross the Loire. They briefly rest at Reuilly with Dunois then ride to Orléans. The English garrisoned in the bastille of Saint-Loup attempt to attack the convoy but last minute reinforcements from Orléans distract them from their purpose. Joan and the convoy arrive in Orléans untouched to the great relief of the population. One man get so close to Joan to better see her that he actually puts her sleeve on fire with his torch. The disaster is fortunately avoided.

Far to dictate the strategy, Joan is kept in the dark. Nothing is shared to her. The bastard of Orléans and the faithfull captains of Charles VII talk shop without her. When she awakes from a nap, Joan says she saw in a dream that French blood was spilled. She puts on her armor and gallops out of Orléans. She reaches the French troops attacking Saint-Loup and the place is taken.

The bastille of the Augustins is next to fall, then the French mount an attack against the Tourelles, which guards the bridge entry facing OrlĂ©ans. All day long, the French troops can’t overcome the English defenders of the fortress. Nevertheless, thanks to Joan’s last galvanizing speech, they gather their last drops of courage and eventually conquer the place. The French army based in Blois has now a freeway to enter OrlĂ©ans. John Talbot is forced to leave and empties the last English strongholds parked around the besieged city.

The liberation of the Loire can finally begin.

Outro: Joan of Arc’s Campaign, Second Scenario

Joan prophesied that she would be wounded at Orléans. At the height of the battle, an arbalest bolt knocked her from her horse. We could not believe our misfortune.

But as we carried Joan away from the carnage, the battle was won. Orléans was free.

When we entered the city, the entire population cheered us on from windows, rooftops, and city streets.

They fired artillery into the night sky and shouted aloud their nickname for Joan: ‘La Pucelle’—The Maid of OrlĂ©ans.

Commentary

Joan actually predicted her injury. As he travelled to Lyon for the sake of his master, the Duke of Brabant, the lord of Rotselaar gave news from Charles VII’s court. His letter, dated from April 22th, 1429, mentions that a young woman swore to liberate OrlĂ©ans, but that she will be injured during the battle. The attack of the bastille des Tourelles happened two weeks after this letter was sent and Joan is indeed struck by a range weapon in the morning, right in the shoulder. Her prediction is also stated in other sources. To this day the historians remain fascinated.

Joan, once injured, cries. However, she refuses to be healed through witchcraft. She takes the arrow out of her shoulder herself, with nothing else than olive oil and a piece of cloth to ease her pain. She goes back to battle. As the evening drops, the day seems lost but she carries on. “Fear not, the place is ours!” she shouts as she sees her banner close to the fortress walls, pointing out to everybody where to strike. The French muster their morale, dive once more into the breach and eventually conquers the Tourelles in a last assault that will become unforgettable.

The night proceeds with careful celebrations as Talbot hasn’t left yet. However, no artillery fired into the night sky. Canons shot at the start of a siege. The bells rang, from all over the city. Gathered in churches, the people of OrlĂ©ans and their defenders sang the Te Deum Laudamus that Joan had had the French army sing when they left Blois. It wasn’t Joan who was celebrated, but God.

Close your eyes, picture the cathedral of Orléans and transport yourself back to 1429. Your own mind remains the best time travelling machine.

Top 3 overlooked facts

The very last assault on the Tourelles gave place to great moments which are worth remembering.

The Loire Bridge had been partly destroyed. Seeing that the fight reached no conclusion, the people of Orléans decided to help out their allies. They threw planks across the long narrow bridge. The first one to come forth was a Knight Hospitaller, Nicolas de Giresme. His crossing was perceived as a miracle.

The English captains, however, were not so lucky
 The drawbridge of the Tourelles collapses under their very feet and they all drown in the Loire. According to an Italian merchant relating the events of the siege, the drawbridge collapsed because of a demolition ship prepped on Joan of Arc’s orders, then moved forward at the most strategic moment!

Silent and deadly.

Finally, as the English withdrawn from their strongholds, a war prisoner, the bastard of Bar, managed to escape his jailers in a way nothing short of fabulous. He gets the personal priest and confessor of John Talbot to carry him to Orléans! Not only does he come back to reinforce his friends, but he also hands them a very valuable informant.

Historians still debate today on Joan’s real impact over the commandment of the French army. It is rather excluded that she ever held any official title or ordered the troops herself, even if the most daring historians have argued that he left a “legacy”. She feared no danger, she was pro-active on the battlefield, she never backed down from a fight. In that, however, she was La Hire’s perfect pupil, minus the wisdom and experience. Nevertheless, without her, it is undisputable that the Tourelles wouldn’t have been conquered the day they were and the siege of OrlĂ©ans could have dragged on more.

The English were already in a pickle. Their alliance with the Burgundians was in tatters and the earl of Salisbury, their military genius, was dead during the first days of the siege of Orléans. The town, meanwhile, was defended by the best and bravest, the cream of the French army. La Hire, Poton de Xaintrailles, their brothers and their friends were all there. They had no pompous title but they counted among the most professional soldiers in France at the time.

Joan of Arc only put more oil on a fire the fire and the tide was already turning against the English. Yet it takes nothing away from her bravery, her valor and her charm, that History consecrated forever.

More About Joan:

In-Depth

Soluce & Commentaire historique de “La Pucelle d’OrlĂ©ans” (Age of Empires 2 : Jeanne d’Arc, niveau #2)

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Age of Empires 2 m’a fait tombĂ© amoureux de Jeanne d’Arc. Il s’agit d’un amour dont je n’ai jamais guĂ©ri. Comme le dit Ovide : « Quod nullis amor est sanabilis herbis Â». Il n’existe aucun remĂšde Ă  l’amour.

Tower. Beaurevoir. Joan of Arc. John of Luxembourg.
Tower of Beaurevoir © Stéphane Bloch, 19/07/2013

Une fois entrĂ© Ă  l’universitĂ©, j’ai redĂ©couvert Jeanne d’Arc Ă  la lumiĂšre de mes Ă©tudes. Elle m’apparaissait dĂ©sormais au travers des recherches historiques et des sources d’époque. J’ai entendu sa voix en lisant son procĂšs. J’ai perçu sa fiĂšre allure Ă  la lecture des chroniques. Ensuite j’ai visitĂ© la Picardie et j’ai dĂ©couvert des endroits oĂč elle s’était rendue. J’ai marchĂ© au pied de la tour, Ă  Beaurevoir, dont elle aurait sautĂ© pour tenter de se sauver des Anglais.

Dans les paragraphes qui suivent, je vais dĂ©monter piĂšce par piĂšce le scĂ©nario du siĂšge d’OrlĂ©ans dans Age of Empires 2. NĂ©anmoins, il s’agit bien d’une lettre d’amour. Age of Empires 2 est un jeu fantastique pour dĂ©couvrir le Moyen Âge et s’intĂ©resser Ă  son histoire. Il y a beaucoup Ă  redire sur les scĂ©narios et l’encyclopĂ©die du jeu, mais ce n’est que pour le mieux.

Tower. Beaurevoir. Joan of Arc. John of Luxembourg.
Tower of Beaurevoir, from afar © Stéphane Bloch, 19/07/2013

Intro

26 mars, Chinon

Remettre toute sa confiance en une jeune fille, pour une bande de soldats abattus, ce n’est pas rien. Mais pour cette jeune fille, se retrouver Ă  la tĂȘte de l’armĂ©e de toute une nation, c’est bien autre chose.

Nous Ă©tions gonflĂ©s d’orgueil quand nous avons entendu les hĂ©rauts du Dauphin dĂ©clarer Jeanne la Pucelle, Chef de l’ArmĂ©e de France.

Pour que Jeanne ait l’allure d’un gĂ©nĂ©ral, le Dauphin lui a offert un cheval de bataille et une armure blanche.

Jeanne m’a chargĂ© d’aller chercher une ancienne Ă©pĂ©e sous l’autel d’une Ă©glise.

J’étais sceptique et pourtant non seulement les hommes ont dĂ©terrĂ© un fer rouillĂ© mais nous avons dĂ©couvert que cette Ă©pĂ©e avait appartenu Ă  Charlemagne, le pĂšre de la France. Je ne douterai plus jamais de ses paroles. La fleur de lys se voyait encore sur la poignĂ©e.

Jeanne a adoptĂ© la fleur de lys comme symbole, qu’elle a fait reprĂ©senter sur son Ă©tendard de bataille. Partout oĂč Jeanne allait, son Ă©tendard la suivait. Et il nous a accompagnĂ© jusqu’à OrlĂ©ans.

La ville d’OrlĂ©ans est l’une des plus belles villes de France mais elle est assiĂ©gĂ©e par nos ennemis, l’Angleterre et la Bourgogne et elle est sur le point de succomber.

Cette guerre dure depuis cent ans avec de rares victoires françaises. Le peuple d’OrlĂ©ans a besoin d’un sauveur. Ils auront Jeanne d’Arc.

Illuminated Manuscript. Brussels, KBR, ms. 9392. Christine de Pisan. Loyset Liedet. Jean Miélot. Pentesilea. Queen of the Amazons. Women in Armours.
Pentesilea, Queen of the Amazons, leading the charge – Bruxelles, KBR, ms. 9392, f. 18v

Commentaire

Ce texte est magnifique et il nous investit de façon trĂšs Ă©motionnelle dans les aventures de Jeanne. Toutefois, il est parsemĂ© d’erreurs


Si les frĂšres de Jeanne d’Arc ont Ă©tĂ© anoblis aprĂšs la victoire d’OrlĂ©ans, elle-mĂȘme ne reçut jamais le moindre titre officiel au sein de l’armĂ©e du roi. Le « chef de l’armĂ©e de France Â» Ă©tait le connĂ©table, et ce titre appartenait en 1429 Ă  Arthur de Bretagne, comte de Richemont. Il s’agissait d’un titre dĂ©tenu Ă  vie, et si le connĂ©table de Richemont Ă©tait en disgrĂące en raison de ses partis-pris et de ses actions politiques, il disposait toujours de son titre. En dessous du connĂ©table se trouvaient les marĂ©chaux, et ces fonctions Ă©taient Ă©galement occupĂ©es.

La cĂ©lĂšbre Ă©pĂ©e de Jeanne d’Arc, dĂ©jĂ  cĂ©lĂšbre de son vivant, n’avait pas appartenu Ă  Charlemagne. Ici, les auteurs du scĂ©nario commettent plusieurs erreurs. Tout d’abord, il eut Ă©tĂ© impossible qu’une Ă©pĂ©e ayant appartenu Ă  Charlemagne fĂ»t ornĂ©e d’une fleur de lys. Le principe des armoiries ne vit le jour qu’au XIIe siĂšcle. Ce n’est pas avant cette Ă©poque que les rois de France adoptĂšrent la fleur de lys comme emblĂšme. Ensuite, l’épĂ©e fut tout simplement prise Ă  l’église de Sainte-Catherine-de-Fierbois, oĂč Jeanne se rendit en pĂšlerinage et priĂšre avant d’atteindre Chinon. Plusieurs Ă©pĂ©es y avaient Ă©tĂ© laissĂ©es en ex-voto et l’une d’entre elle attira certainement l’intĂ©rĂȘt de Jeanne, mais il ne faut pas croire que l’épĂ©e fut trouvĂ©e par miracle.

Enfin, quand Jeanne arriva Ă  OrlĂ©ans, les Bourguignons n’assiĂ©geaient plus la ville. Suite Ă  une manƓuvre diplomatique aussi rusĂ©e que risquĂ©e, Poton de Xaintrailles, le frĂšre d’armes de La Hire, offrit d’ouvrir les portes de la ville au duc de Bourgogne si ce dernier acceptait d’en assurer la protection. Rien n’aurait fait plus plaisir Ă  Philippe le Bon, mais cette Ă©ventualitĂ© fĂącha le duc de Bedford, rĂ©gent de France. Les deux hommes n’étaient plus en trĂšs bons termes depuis le dĂ©cĂšs d’Anne de Bourgogne, Ă©pouse de Bedford et sƓur de Philippe le Bon. Ce dernier dĂ©cida donc de lever le siĂšge et de laisser les Anglais seuls devant OrlĂ©ans


1.1. La carte du jeu

Age of Empires 2 (1999). Joan of Arc's Campaign. Scenario 2: The Maid of Orléans
Age of Empires 2 (1999). Joan of Arc’s Campaign. Scenario 2: The Maid of OrlĂ©ans

Telle qu’est prĂ©sentĂ©e la carte du second scĂ©nario de Jeanne d’Arc, on trouve tout d’abord trois villes françaises : Chinon et Blois, au sud de la Loire, contrĂŽlĂ©es par l’intelligence artificielle, et OrlĂ©ans, au nord de la Loire, dont le joueur prend le contrĂŽle dĂšs qu’il y parvient.

OrlĂ©ans est menacĂ©e par quatre forteresses britanniques. Les deux forteresses au nord produisent des fantassins Ă  Ă©pĂ©e longue, d’autres fantassins Ă  arc longs et des mangonneaux, tandis que les deux forteresses au sud produisent des bĂ©liers et des chevaliers.

Enfin, les Bourguignons participent encore au siĂšge, mĂȘme si cela constitue une erreur historique. Ils menacent notamment OrlĂ©ans avec leurs piquiers et d’autres types d’unitĂ©s.

Compte tenu que ces unitĂ©s viendront assaillir le joueur continuellement, il devra se parer d’unitĂ©s de plusieurs types pour contrer l’intelligence artificielle de façon efficace. Or, avec une population maximale bloquĂ©e Ă  75 unitĂ©s, cela pourra s’avĂ©rer difficile Ă  accomplir tout en maintenant une Ă©conomie stable et bien Ă©quilibrĂ©e


En outre, le joueur peut rencontrer quelques dangers sur la route, entre Chinon et Blois, notamment, mais surtout Ă  l’entrĂ©e du pont de la Loire, oĂč une troupe bourguignonne importante l’attend au pied d’une vilaine tour.

1.2. Orléans encerclée

Map. Orléans. 1428, 1429. Joan of Arc. Jollois. Harttweig
Plan de la ville et du siĂšge d’OrlĂ©ans en 1428. Jollois restituit ; Harttweig sculpsit

Comme nous l’avons dĂ©jĂ  prĂ©cisĂ©, les Bourguignons n’étaient plus prĂ©sents au siĂšge d’OrlĂ©ans quand Jeanne d’Arc vint au secours de la ville. En revanche, OrlĂ©ans Ă©tait encerclĂ©e par un vĂ©ritable chapelet de forteresses et de bastilles occupĂ©es par les Anglais. Sur la rive droite, Ă  l’Ouest d’OrlĂ©ans, les bastilles Ă©taient d’ailleurs gouvernĂ©es par Jean Talbot en personne, un chevalier de l’ordre de la JarretiĂšre qui donnait bien du fil Ă  retordre aux Français depuis son arrivĂ©e sur le continent. Les Anglais disposaient encore d’une ou l’autre bastille Ă  l’est, mais ils bloquaient principalement le pont de la Loire en occupant la bastille des Tourelles, directement au sud d’OrlĂ©ans. Pour cette raison, les habitants de la ville avaient sabotĂ© le fameux pont et il Ă©tait en vĂ©ritĂ© infranchissable, ce qui n’est pas reflĂ©tĂ© dans le scĂ©nario d’Age of Empires 2.

Pour se dĂ©fendre, OrlĂ©ans disposait de puissantes murailles, garnies d’une trentaine de tours. Les faubourgs de la ville, de surcroĂźt, avaient Ă©tĂ© bardĂ©s de barricades pour entraver l’accĂšs Ă  la ville aux Anglais. Les Ă©glises pouvaient Ă©galement servir de lieux fortifiĂ©s. Toutefois, OrlĂ©ans se trouvait peu Ă  peu asphyxiĂ©e et le besoin de ravitaillement se faisait chaque jour plus urgent.

2.1. Les étapes du scénario

Le second scĂ©nario de la campagne de Jeanne d’Arc nous rĂ©serve quelques petites surprises, mais il se joue de façon assez linĂ©aire. Le duc d’Alençon rencontre Jeanne dĂšs les premiĂšres secondes de la partie et s’avance vers elle, sur son magnifique destrier. « Je suis le duc d’Alençon, Madame. Je serais fier de vous accompagner jusqu’à OrlĂ©ans. Â»

De lĂ , Jeanne, Alençon et la petite troupe quitte Chinon, dans le coin infĂ©rieur de la carte, pour se rendre Ă  Blois, au Nord-Ouest. Une petite embuscade attend le joueur sur la route, mais quand il parvient Ă  Blois, le joueur obtient un grand nombre de chevaliers et plusieurs charrettes de ravitaillements, qu’il doit escorter jusqu’au Forum d’OrlĂ©ans, au Nord de la Loire.

Map. Orléans. 1429. Bridge. Loire. Jollois.
Plan de l’ancien Pont d’OrlĂ©ans et de ses abords avec ses bastilles et boulevards, le fort des Tournelles et la bastille des Augustins. Jollois restituit

En sortant de Blois, le joueur peut suivre le chemin de terre, mais il tombera alors sur une troupe bourguignonne, et passer le pont de la Loire relĂšvera d’un vĂ©ritable dĂ©fi. S’il explore les berges du fleuve, en revanche, le joueur pourra trouver quelques embarcations qui lui permettront de franchir l’eau sans ĂȘtre ennuyĂ©, et de parvenir indemne Ă  OrlĂ©ans.

DĂšs que le joueur entre dans OrlĂ©ans par le Sud (s’il a traversĂ© le pont) ou le Sud-Ouest (s’il a empruntĂ© les embarcations), il prend possession de la ville et sa mission principale devient d’en dĂ©fendre la cathĂ©drale des assauts britanniques et bourguignons. Afin de gagner la partie, il doit abattre au moins un chĂąteau anglais, maintenir la cathĂ©drale debout et s’assurer que Jeanne reste en vie.

CathĂ©drale d’OrlĂ©ans, vue depuis les toits de la ville.

La mĂ©thode la plus facile consiste Ă  passer Ă  l’Âge des ChĂąteaux sitĂŽt que les charrettes de ravitaillement parviennent au Forum d’OrlĂ©ans. Ensuite, il suffit de repasser la Loire avec quelques villageois et de construire un Atelier de SiĂšge Ă  proximitĂ© de la forteresse anglaise la plus au Sud de la carte. Quelques bĂ©liers suffisent pour percer une faille dans les remparts et dĂ©molir le chĂąteau qui s’y cache et terminer le scĂ©nario endĂ©ans les quinze minutes, montre en main. Il n’est pas mĂȘme nĂ©cessaire d’amener les chevaliers trouvĂ© Ă  Blois jusqu’à OrlĂ©ans, ils peuvent s’engouffrer dans la forteresse anglaise dĂšs qu’une brĂšche est faite et aider Ă  dĂ©truire le chĂąteau ennemi, qui ne dispose pas de la technologie « meurtriĂšres Â» pour se dĂ©fendre.

2.2. La véritable histoire

Map. Orléans. 1429. Joan of Arc. Boucher de Molandon. EugÚne Moreau.
“OrlĂ©ans, la Loire et ses Ăźles lors du siĂšge de 1429. PremiĂšre expĂ©dition de Jeanne d’Arc : ravitaillement d’OrlĂ©ans”

Tout d’abord, le Duc d’Alençon n’a rien Ă  faire dans ce scĂ©nario. Il n’intervient que plus tard dans la saga de Jeanne d’Arc, notamment au siĂšge de Paris. Le vĂ©ritable personnage historique ayant supervisĂ© les opĂ©rations militaires du cĂŽtĂ© français, lors du siĂšge d’OrlĂ©ans, Ă©tait Jean Dunois, le bĂątard d’OrlĂ©ans. Il y avait Ă©galement La Hire, que le joueur d’Age of Empires 2 ne rencontre qu’à la mission suivante.

En rĂ©sumĂ©, l’armĂ©e française dirigĂ©e par le marĂ©chal de Boussac, en compagnie La Hire, Jeanne d’Arc et un convoi de ravitaillements, voyagent depuis Blois jusqu’à OrlĂ©ans. Afin d’atteindre la ville assiĂ©gĂ©e, ils dĂ©cident de la contourner par l’est et de traverser la Loire Ă  l’aide de navires de transports. Le bĂątard d’OrlĂ©ans attend le convoi de pied ferme pour superviser la traversĂ©e.

Dunois (le bĂątard d’OrlĂ©ans) et saint Jean l’apĂŽtre observant le Jugement Dernier ~ London, BL, Yale Thompson MS 3, f. 32v.

Quand elle rencontre Jean Dunois, Jeanne d’Arc est Ă©nervĂ©e. Elle demande pourquoi ils ne franchissent pas la Loire Ă  l’Ouest, oĂč les Anglais se sont le plus lourdement fortifiĂ©s, lĂ  oĂč se trouve leur commandant Jean Talbot. Jean Dunois est Ă©patĂ© par l’audace de la jeune femme. Elle lui rĂ©torque que le conseil de Dieu, qu’elle reçoit, est certainement meilleur que le sien. Jusque-lĂ , le vent empĂȘchait la traversĂ©e du fleuve. Quand Jeanne finit de parler, il tourna. Des annĂ©es plus tard, le bĂątard d’OrlĂ©ans interprĂ©tera ce moment comme un « droit miracle Â».

Le marĂ©chal de Boussac et l’armĂ©e française, toutefois, tournent les talons et retournent Ă  Blois. Jeanne d’Arc, La Hire et les ravitaillements franchissent la Loire. Ils se reposent briĂšvement avec Jean Dunois Ă  Reuilly, puis font route vers OrlĂ©ans. Les Anglais en garnison Ă  la bastille de Saint-Loup tentent une sortie pour attaquer le convoi, mais sont distraits par des troupes qui jaillissent en renfort d’OrlĂ©ans. Jeanne et les ravitaillements arrivent intacts dans la ville, pour le plus grand bonheur des habitants. L’un d’entre eux s’approchent si prĂšs de Jeanne pour l’observer qu’il met feu Ă  sa manche avec une torche, mais la catastrophe est Ă©cartĂ©e.

Loin de diriger les opĂ©rations, Jeanne est maintenue dans le noir. Rien ne lui est communiquĂ©, le bĂątard d’OrlĂ©ans et les capitaines fidĂšles Ă  la cause des Valois discutent de stratĂ©gie sans elle. Quand elle se rĂ©veille d’une sieste, elle dit avoir rĂȘvĂ© que le sang français Ă©tait versĂ©. Elle se pare de son armure et galope Ă  tout rompre hors d’OrlĂ©ans. Elle rejoint en vitesse les troupes françaises qui assaillent la bastille de Saint-Loup, et celle-ci est prise.

La bastille des Augustins tombe ensuite, puis la prochaine bastille attaquĂ©e est celle des Tourelles, de l’autre cĂŽtĂ© du pont de la Loire. Pendant toute la journĂ©e, les troupes françaises ne parviennent pas Ă  s’emparer de la place. NĂ©anmoins, grĂące aux ultimes encouragements de Jeanne, les Français reprennent courage et conquiĂšrent la bastille. La voie est libre pour l’armĂ©e française de venir depuis Blois sans entrave jusqu’à OrlĂ©ans. Jean Talbot est contraint de plier bagages et il Ă©vacue les forteresses campĂ©es autour de la ville assiĂ©gĂ©e.

La libération de la Loire peut enfin commencer.

Outro

Jeanne a prĂ©dit qu’elle serait blessĂ©e Ă  OrlĂ©ans. Au point culminant de la bataille, un carreau d’arbalĂšte l’a frappĂ©e, la faisant tomber de son cheval. Nous ne pouvions croire Ă  notre malchance.

Mais tandis que nous transportions Jeanne Ă  l’écart du carnage, nous avions remportĂ© la bataille. OrlĂ©ans Ă©tait libĂ©rĂ©e.

Quand nous sommes entrĂ©s dans la ville, la population tout entiĂšre nous acclamait des fenĂȘtres, sur les toits et dans les rues.

Ils ont tirĂ© des coups de canon dans la nuit et criĂ© Ă  tue-tĂȘte le surnom de Jeanne : ‘La Pucelle’ – La Pucelle d’OrlĂ©ans.

Commentaire

Jeanne d’Arc a bel et bien bien prĂ©dit sa blessure. Tandis qu’il est en voyage Ă  Lyon pour son seigneur, le duc de Brabant, le sire de Rotselaar donne des nouvelles de la cour de Charles VII. Sa lettre, datĂ©e du 22 avril 1429, mentionne qu’une jeune femme a promis de libĂ©rer OrlĂ©ans, mais qu’elle serait blessĂ©e durant les combats. L’attaque de la bastille des Tourelles se joue deux semaines aprĂšs l’envoi de cette lettre, et durant l’assaut, Jeanne est en effet frappĂ©e au matin d’un projectile dans l’épaule. Sa prĂ©diction est relatĂ©e par d’autres sources. Les historiens en sont encore Ă©tonnĂ©s aujourd’hui.

Jeanne, blessĂ©e, pleure. Mais elle refuse d’ĂȘtre soignĂ©e Ă  l’aide de « sortilĂšges Â». Elle retire elle-mĂȘme la flĂšche de son Ă©paule, n’ayant rien d’autre pour soulager sa peine qu’un bout de tissu et de de l’huile d’olive. Elle retourne aussitĂŽt au combat. Au soir, la journĂ©e semble perdue, mais elle insiste. Â« Ne craignez pas, la place est nĂŽtre ! Â» s’écrie Jeanne quand elle voit son Ă©tendard prĂšs des murs de la bastille, et indique que c’est lĂ  qu’il faut attaquer. Les Français reprennent courage et conquiĂšrent enfin les Tourelles, dans un ultime assaut qui gravera toutes les mĂ©moires.

Le soir se prĂȘte aux cĂ©lĂ©brations, mais il n’y a pas de coups de canons tirĂ©s dans la nuit. Le canon Ă©tait tirĂ© pour marquer le dĂ©but officiel d’un siĂšge. Les cloches de la ville, en revanche, sonnĂšrent toutes de concert. Recueillis dans les Ă©glises, les habitants d’OrlĂ©ans et leurs dĂ©fenseurs chantĂšrent le Te Deum Laudamus, que Jeanne avait fait chanter Ă  l’armĂ©e française au dĂ©part de Blois. Ce n’était pas Jeanne, mais Dieu, que l’on remerciait pour la victoire.

Fermez les yeux et imaginez vous à Orléans, au soir de la victoire, par la magie intemporelle de la musique et des chants grégoriens.

 Trois anecdotes truculentes du siĂšge

L’ultime assaut de la bastille des Tourelles donna lieu Ă  de grands moments, qui mĂ©ritent d’ĂȘtre remĂ©morĂ©s.

Le pont de la Loire avait Ă©tĂ© dĂ©truit, mais voyant que le combat s’éternise, les habitants d’OrlĂ©ans dĂ©cident de venir en aide Ă  leurs alliĂ©s. Ils jettent des planches en bois au travers du pont. Le premier Ă  oser s’avancer sur ces constructions de fortune est un chevalier de l’ordre de l’HĂŽpital de Saint-Jean de JĂ©rusalem, Nicolas de Giresme. Alors qu’il franchit le pont sans que la planche ne cĂšde sous lui, on crie au miracle.

Les capitaines anglais dans la bastille des Tourelles, en revanche, voient le pont levis s’écrouler sous eux et se noient dans la Loire. D’aprĂšs un marchand italien, cela tient d’un navire de dĂ©molition, prĂ©parĂ© par Jeanne d’Arc, et avancĂ© sous le pont au moment le plus fatidique.

Enfin, alors que les Anglais Ă©vacuent leurs bastilles, un prisonnier de guerre, le bĂątard de Bar, parvient Ă  s’échapper de la façon la plus originale du monde. Il se fait porter par le prĂȘtre-confesseur de Jean Talbot en personne jusqu’à OrlĂ©ans ! Non seulement vient-il renforcer ses amis, mais il leur apporte un informateur de rĂȘve.

Les historiens dĂ©battent encore aujourd’hui pour dĂ©terminer l’impact rĂ©el de Jeanne sur le commandement de l’armĂ©e française. S’il est dĂ©sormais exclu qu’elle ait dirigĂ© elle-mĂȘme les troupes, les plus audacieux prĂ©tendent qu’elle a laissĂ© derriĂšre elle un « hĂ©ritage Â». Elle allait au-devant du danger et ne reculait devant rien. En cela, toutefois, elle Ă©tait une parfaite Ă©lĂšve de La Hire, la sagesse et l’expĂ©rience en moins. Pourtant, sans elle, il est indĂ©niable que les Tourelles n’auraient pas Ă©tĂ© conquises et que le siĂšge d’OrlĂ©ans aurait pu s’enliser davantage.

Les Anglais Ă©taient en mauvaise posture. Leur alliance avec les Bourguignons fondait comme neige au soleil et le comte de Salisbury, leur gĂ©nie militaire, Ă©tait mort aux premiĂšres heures du siĂšge d’OrlĂ©ans. La ville, en revanche, Ă©tait dĂ©fendue par les capitaines d’armĂ©es les plus retords et les plus braves de l’armĂ©e française. La Hire, Poton de Xaintrailles, leurs frĂšres et leurs amis, ils Ă©taient tous lĂ . Ils n’avaient aucun titre pompeux, mais ils Ă©taient de vĂ©ritables professionnels de la guerre.

Jeanne d’Arc ne jeta jamais que de l’huile sur le feu, alors que les braises Ă©taient encore chaudes et que le vent avait dĂ©jĂ  commencĂ© Ă  tourner. Cela ne retire nĂ©anmoins rien Ă  son courage, Ă  sa vaillance et Ă  son charme, consacrĂ©s Ă  jamais par l’histoire.

Illuminated Manuscript. Alexander the Great. British Library. Royal MS 20 B XX. Le Roman d’Alexandre en prose.
In-Depth

4 Reasons as to Why Alexander the Great is Depicted like a 15th Century Knight in Medieval Manuscripts

Medieval Meme
Medieval Meme – Revision
Illuminated Manuscript. Alexander the Great. British Library. Royal MS 20 B XX. Le Roman d’Alexandre en prose.
Alexander unhorsing Porrus (London, British Library, Royal MS 20 B XX, f. 53r)

I enjoy browsing digitized manuscripts so much that I lose my sleep over it. A few days ago I started a best off of Alexander the Great’s illumination in medieval manuscripts. That when I observed for myself that he is depicted as a 14th-15th century knight in full armour in most of pre-Renaissance manuscripts and we even find him depicted jousting against his enemy, King Porus!

Alexander the Great jousting and unhorsing King Porus. ~ London, British Library, Royal MS 15 E VI, 16r.

Contemporary scholars like AndrĂ© Petit or FrĂ©dĂ©ric Duval have thought hard and long about those medieval so-called anachronisms. They came up with such complex theories about the concepts and representations of time that I couldn’t properly translate them in here. Not to say that I didn’t understand what they wrote under the obvious influence of crack
 But they certainly had a long hard puff of the good shit.

From my readings I can give you four reasons as to why Alexander the Great (d. 323 BCE), Julius Cesar (d. 44 BCE) and King Arthur (supposed to have lived during the 5th and 6th centuries) were depicted as full-on 15th century knights by 15th century illuminators.

Fateful moment when Julius Cesar crossed the Rubicon. ~ Paris, BnF, MS fr. 5088, f. 192v.

#1. Another perception of the passing of time

The people living at the end of the Middle Ages sensed no rupture between the Classical Era and their own times. They didn’t know about our very 19th century fashion of cutting History into three to four main periods. They hadn’t all heard nor agreed to Petrarch’s claim that following the fall of Rome—that he himself dated back to 96 AD, by the way, and not 476 AD—Europe had sunk into some Dark Age
 What really differentiated the Renaissance humanists with their intellectual predecessors, who also knew their Classical texts by heart, was that very feeling of rupture, that urge to find again what had been lost for they entertained that proto-romantic idea of loss. Medieval scholars and humanists—for the Middle Ages had its own humanists indeed—had a different relationship with Antiquity. They lived by the metaphor of dwarves standing on the shoulders of giants: they were not as great as their Roman founding fathers, but thanks to them, they could see farther than mankind ever could before.

Washington D.C., Library of Congress, Rosenwald MS 4, f. 5r

#2. Linguistic issues

Medieval scholars knew pretty well that the world was in a different state during Alexander’s times. When reading their books in Latin they were very conscious that some of the words that they were encountering used to describe realities that no longer existed. That was the whole meaning of their numerous glosses. Historical, judicial and literary Latin texts were sometimes heavily annotated. Young university students learning Latin were not only studying a new language, they were also discovering a different world. They could even, I bet, differentiate the various meanings that one single Latin word could cover if written in a classical text or in a medieval texts. That was not a problem. However, to translate Latin texts into vernacular languages came out as quite a challenge from the 13th to the 15th century for French, English or German were “poor” languages when compared to Latin. They didn’t beneficiated yet from a fixed grammar or an extensive scholarly vocabulary. That’s why the pontifex becomes the bishop, the praetor becomes a provost and the miles (originally the foot-soldier!) becomes the knight. Medieval scholars could still tell the difference of course, but this constructed a representation of Antiquity that was “very close from home” for non-erudite medieval readers.

Ovid’s Metamorphoses and its glosses ~ CittĂ  del Vaticano, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Vat. lat. MS 1598, f. 2r.

#3. Capitalizing on a sense of legacy

When noble men read the stories of Alexander and Arthur, they certainly wished to picture themselves along those mighty heroes, fighting side by side with them on their way to immortal glory. As a matter of fact, aristocrats would very often play the part and dress up as Arthurian knights for jousting events or knightly tournaments. They were dressing up alright, but they were fighting for real. Back in the 13th century, when Wace translated into Anglo-Norman Monmouth’s Historia Regum Britanniae, he did it with a purpose: to prove that Henry II Plantagenet was the rightful ruler of England as per a translatio imperii, a “shift of power” from East to West which made England the natural heir of both Troy and Rome through the figures of Brutus (the Trojan legendary founder of Britain) and King Arthur. If such characters were to be depicted the same way late medieval Kings of England were, then it would be much easier for the latter to claim their legacy. So that’s what happened. Alexander, David, Caesar, Arthur and Charlemagne were all depicted in a way that made them somehow familiar. It would even further the idea that knighthood was a concept impervious from the passing of time: good Kings and noble knights had always existed. It was up to the new generation to carry on their long-lasting and exemplary tradition.

By the end of the 15th century, King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table were all given imaginary coats of arms. There was yet no such thing as a coat of arms during the 5-6th centuries. Though they were reenacting the Arthurian tales they loved so much, 15th century knights were mostly carving their favourite knights according to their own customs and fashion. ~ Paris, Arsenal, MS 4976, f. 3r.

#4. History as a set of examples

Eventually, who do we see when we look at Alexander or Arthur in medieval manuscripts? Is it really Alexander? Or Arthur?—Does it even matter? What we actually see is the concept they symbolise: a most perfect King. It is very important to remember that History had a very clear purpose in the Late Middle Ages. It served as a set of good and bad moral examples. The real truth behind every story were not the facts they told, but the message they carried. Our very world was considered to be only the mirror of another and higher reality known as God’s own realm. The Matrix was the shit. Charles IV of the Holy Roman Empire believed that himself as we can read in his autobiography. He starts by reminding that we have two faces or two shapes. One, anchored in this very world, means nothing in itself. However, as it fulfils God’s will then it can serve a purpose and escape the void that is the matter. Medieval scholars went as far as to give theological meaning to Alexander or Caesar’s adventures. Such was the real purpose of their story. Factual accuracy had nothing to do with it.

At the ripe age of 12 years old, Alexander the Great was taught no less than the science of astronomy! Much impressive indeed. ~ London, British Library, Royal MS 20 B XX, f. 6v.

When the Portuguese humanist Vasco de Lucena decided to translate Alexander the Great’s biography for Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, at the very end of the 15th century, he frowned upon the many tales that surrounded the Macedonian monarch. He bluntly rejected the romances as any kind valid historical source. Alexander was no more to be equal to Lancelot or Tristan. He had to be more. He had to be real, historically accurate. Vasco de Lucena returned to the source that he deemed the most reliable, the biography of Quintus Curtius. He followed a “scientific method” establishing Alexander’s reign period thanks to the Bible and cross-referencing other classical sources. It was the beginning of a new era but it would yet take some time for the classical aesthetic models to impose themselves and cast away the charming gothic depictions of antique heroes, as the Burgundian manuscripts holding Vasco’s translation show.

In this copy of Vasco de Lucena’s translation of Quintus Curtius, Alexander still carries his sentences in a very medieval fashion ~ Paris, BnF, MS fr. 257, f. 192r.

Further readings