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The Ladies of Beauvais

Anecdotes Home




Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, laid siege to
the City of Beauvais in the year 1472. After investing it closely for
twenty-one days, his troops made a general assault, and were on the point
of carrying the place, when a band of women, headed by a lady of the name
of Jeanne Hachette, rushing to the walls, opposed such a resistance, with
showers of stones, and other missiles, that the tide of fortune was
instantaneously turned. A Burgundian officer, who attempted to plant the
duke's standard on the walls, was fiercely attacked by Jeanne Hachette,
who, snatching the standard from his hands, threw him headlong over the
wall. The assailants, in short, were completely repulsed; nor was the
distaff, once thrown aside, resumed, till the ladies of Beauvais had forced
the Duke of Burgundy to retire in shame from their walls. In memory of this
gallant achievement, the Municipality of Beauvais ordered a general
procession of the inhabitants to take place every year, on the 10th of
July, the day on which the siege was raised, in which the ladies were to
have the privilege of preceding the men. As long as Jeanne Hachette lived,
she marched in this annual procession, at the head of the women, bearing
the standard which she had captured from the Burgundian officer; and at
her death this standard was deposited in the church of the Dominicans, and
a portrait of the heroine placed in the Town-Hall of Beauvais.


Charles XII. was dictating a letter to his secretary during the siege of
Stralsund, when a bomb fell through the roof into the next room of the
house where they were sitting. The terrified secretary let the pen drop
from his hand. "What is the matter?" said Charles, calmly. The secretary
replied, "Ah, sire, the bomb!" "But what has the bomb to do," said Charles,
"with what I am dictating to you?--go on."





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