More offline blogging about France

When I last left you, a perpetual scholar of the French Academy was starting her speech. You do not need to skip ahead, as I will not recount it here. I was not standing at the side of the parade route paying rapt attention. I was sitting on the curb with my head cradled in my crossed arms. I dreamt that she talked about Joan of Arc’s blog.
There is widespread consensus that Joan of Arc was illiterate when she started her career, but some scholars believe that she gained literacy by the time she died. Orléans was her first campaign, so the chances of her being able to write by that time are very low. She dictated some letters to the English, but she didn’t write them. Therefore, alas, Joan of Arc could not have blogged her campaign against the English at Orléans unless she dictated it or perhaps did audio posting via her cellphone. What would her blog have said? I sense a work of fiction in my future.
I awoke as a show of French military force rumbled up the street. Tanks, troop carriers and soldiers marching in dress uniform. The announcer gave statistics about who had just come back from Afghanistan, who was about to go and how many had been killed or injured there. Then came the gendarmes, also in dress uniform, marching with bayonets affixed to their machine guns. These military police are used domestically to quell unrest at demonstrations, like the one I had seen the night before. Then, came the firefighters in their shiny silver helmets and with their big red firetrucks. For the first time, the crowd applauded. They’re not too taken with the Gendarmes, but everybody loves a firefighter.
Then, more speechifying. Then the civic / religious parade started in the opposite direction. The Joan of Arc character rode up the street on her horse in show armor, smiling and waving at everyone. She looked radiantly happy and overwhelmed by the moment. You could almost imagine the real Joan of Arc with the same expression. The Orlánaise girl was enjoying the attention, but knew she was standing in for another figure. Joan of Arc might have enjoyed the attention as well, but herself put all the credit on God and the patron saints of the city.
She was followed by a bunch of pages and knights in period dress and then by other folks in period dress including the dancers from earlier and people with what looked to be relics and people whose idea of period dress got farther and farther afield until it devolved into men dressed as wizards and other such silliness. There were also altar boys, town leaders, regional politicians, priests, bishops, archbishops, honored guests and people with various flag sashes pinned to them. There were boy scouts and girl scouts and gymnasts and jugglers and basketball teams and rowing teams carrying their boats and every other civic organization in the entire department proudly marched by.
Nicole and Xena and I went to the medieval market to get lunch and drink mead. I made the only notes in my journal of the entire trip:

8 May 2007, 17:30
I am sitting at a table at the medieval market in Orléans. Xena is sitting at my feet, leaning into my leg for reassurance. Today, she has been surrounded by crowds and subject to barking dogs, marching bands, drum corps and a couple of canons.
I am waiting for Nicole to return with mead and a crepe made from ostrich eggs. [Here] there are also breads and sheep cheeses in traditional styles. Behind me, there is meat smoking over a small wood fire and a few meters to my right, there are sheep awaiting their edible fate.

The people in silly costumes from the march started to come back into the market. The march is exceedingly long and goes all around the city. I don’t recall if Joan dictated the route for the thanksgiving parade, but I believe she may have. It goes from the cathedral, down the main drag, across the bridge and along way down the road on the other side, certainly farther than the city extended when she was there. Perhaps there was a monastery or other shrine at the end. Then they come all the way back. Hours later, exhausted gymnasts and scouts, with encouragement from the parents, finish their long trek around the city.
The Joan of Arc character was in front of the Cathedral where another part of the ceremony took place. Then, they marched to the city hall where some of her colors and banners were retired to wait until next year. She looked exhausted, like she wanted to climb down from her horse and fall asleep right at it’s feet. Again, I can imagine the real Joan of Arc, who had an injury and who had barely eaten anything in the last day, after having lead charge after charge against the English. She would have been even more exhausted. But with a sense of duty the modern girl went on, to the museum to store the rest of her armor for the next year. It poured down rain for this last kilometer. And then she went on to return to normal life and her relative obscurity. Perhaps even now, people she knows are complimenting her on her good work, and next year, people will remind her of, but in the end she holds a place held by hundreds of other girls. Joan the Maid went on to the next town to beat the English there and the next town in victory after victory until the whole Loire Valley was in the hands of the Armagnacs.

May 9

The next morning, we broke down our camp to head the same direction that Joan went. She had with her local guides. We had the camp ground director. We intended to follow the Loiret for a very pretty shortcut through small, lovely villages. But the director sent us off in the opposite direction and then I misread the map several times and we found ourselves on the opposite side of the river than our planned route, with no crossings for quite a long time.
The roads along the left bank had steep inclines, leading to charming tiny clusters of houses, made out of rock, lining narrow cobblestone streets. Chickens hid behind the high walls, heard but not seen. An old lady here and there peeked her head out of a garden gate, preparing to visit her neighbor or ride her motor scooter to the next town with a bakery. It was on one of these steep hills (beside a charming town, leading to a bridge over a small stream) that my gear shifter ceased functioning. I tried shifting it furiously from low to high gear to make it pop back into place, but all I succeeded in doing was getting it stuck in the most difficult gear.
Only one bike has a trailer hitch, so there was no trading dog dragging duties. I carried on, going up steep inclines at slow, difficult paces. My camera batteries had died overnight, so I have no documentation of the steely grey skies threatening rain as the wind blew against us. Nor the outrageously orange wildflowers in large fallow fields on either side of the road. Nor the trees, blowing in the wind. Or the small stone towns. Or the Renault mechanic who said the gear shifter was too complicated for him to fix.
We came to a town with a basilica and a tourist office. This town, like all the others for the last 30 kilometers, had no bike shop, but the town across the river, Meung sur Loire, did. So we crossed the river and went straight for the tourist office there. The desk clerk directed us several kilometers away to a non-existent bike repair place. Fortunately, some locals told us where to find a repair shop – about 3 blocks away from the tourist office. The shop adjusted the cable and fixed the bike in about 5 minutes and charged nothing.
After my bike was fixed, I went back the the tourist office to ask about camping. The municipal campground was closed. I had to go only 7 km to the next town. And so I did, on the hot, sweaty, windy, buggy main road, choked with rush hour traffic, while the humid sun beat down on me. I got to the camp ground and nearly fell asleep while checking in. “Are you tired?” the camp ground guy asked in French. I told him my tale of bike woe.
I did not return to Meung Sur Loire, but on the way to bike repair, we passed the Joan or Arc marker on the side of a building, detailing her stay in the town. When she arrived in town, she first captured the bridge fortifications and then, like us, sped off towards Beaugency.

Offline Blogging about France

I am sitting in a room in a hostel in Berlin. The hostel is called “Generator.” The reception floor is anti-skid polished steel, like you see on loading dock sort of area. The walls are a bright blue. There are drunk German kids shouting and running up and down the hallway. I think I may seek a different hotel come morning.

And now, back to our story

When I last left my story of my adventures in France, it was the evening of the 6th of May. On the 7th of May, I walked over to the tourist office in the morning and learned that the municipal campground for Orléans does not open until June. However, the nearby town of Olivet had camping, only 8 km away. I made a reservation and then called the campground to ask when I should arrive. 20:00. So We walked around the cool medieval stuff going on.
Medieval germans had machine-loaded cross bows. The bow was spring steel. To pull it back, two people used a winch and then one of them aimed and pulled the trigger while the other got read for the next shot. The same folks also demonstrated a trebuchet, launching a soccer ball at the cathedral. Then they set off a cannon and we had to leave, since poor Xena was ready to run all the way back to Holland from fear of the noise. As it was, she ran towards a cage bear, which she had surprising little fear of. Bears look a heck of a lot like dogs. Why haven’t people domesticated them? I want a domesticated bear for a pet!
We went to the medieval market and it was nearly identical to the year before. The same booths in the same spots selling the same stuff. I felt disappointed at first for the lack of innovation, but realized that the search for innovation and the search for authenticity were often at odds. Having it the same very year is the point. The authenticity derives from the traditionalness, which comes from slow change. So then I felt better about. Well, that and a glass of honey mead.
One new thing was a vendor of natural horn trumpets made from the horns of former bovines. This instrument is what was meant by the word “bugle” until they came to be replaced by brass version. In modern French, they’re called clairons, but in medieval French, they were called another word, which I can’t recall, but is a cognate of the English word “bugle.” They were used mostly for signaling, especially in military operations. Recall the horn of Boromir in The Lord of the Rings. They play only one pitch well and all the rest sound kind of choked. I got a zebu horn.
One of the food vendors took pity on Xena and brought her some steak. He was feeding it to her with a caution: “C’est chaud!” “It’s hot!” She swallowed it anyway. Thus, all happy, we hopped on bicycles to head for the campground, free tourist map in hand.
We followed the directions provided by the tourist office, and it looks us over streams and next to old water wheels and stone buildings and little bridged and lakes with swans and by all sorts of flowers, and woods and nature. We went back and forth down the street looking for it and then went to a small island in the middle of La Loirette, a tributary of the Loir. It was 19:40. We were standing in a shaded meadow, next to an ancient waterwheel in a picturesque stone tower. The sunlight filtered down through the trees. It was incredibly beautiful, but we were totally lost.
A man biked by and I called out to him, asking if he knew where the campground was. Luckily, he did. He told us to follow him and lead us all the way there. Morever, when I was struggling to get my loaded bike and dog trailer up a steep hill, he went into a super low mountain bike gear and pushed it along. I don’t even know his name.
The camp ground was nowhere near the location the tourist office woman had drawn on my map. It was about 5 km away from there, in fact on an island in the Loirette. The camp ground woman told us to camp in any part of of the tip of the island. It was a small green peninsula, with a picnic table, green grass, wildflowers and several trees, all of which were slowly dropping blossoms like lazy snowflakes. Some ducks were meandering around the island and quakcing, and coming up to peck around. The water floated lazily by, until disturbed by a crew team, quietly rowing past. It was entirely lovely. Xena ran in broad happy circles, pausing only to roll in the grass or chase the ducks. She was the happiest I had seen her in ages. Until I tried to get her back into the dog trailer. She trotted off, with the idea that she could avoid me by wading out into shallow water. But there was no shallow water, only a sudden drop off, so with a look of surprise, she plunged into the Loirette. She confusedly got back on the island and promptly started rolling in dust and dirt to dry off. Once this strategy was successful, I put her in the dog trailer anyway and started back to town for the evening events. She started trying to escape again and succeeded in getting half way out!
We showed up for the evening ceremony and illuminations. Like all big French public events, it started with a speech, which was pretty good about how French identity would not have existed today without Orléans in the 100 years war and Joan of Arc in particular. It went a little long. Then another speech started, so I wandered away in search of dinner. I still have never seen the illuminations.
The night parties were set to go until very late and included more cannon shots, dancers, musicians and all sorts of stuff. Some of the musicians had firecrackers, which they set off quite close to their audience. Between that and the cannon shots, Xena was terrified, so we went back to camp. I calculated later that we rode about 30 km that day, even though it was not supposed to be a biking day.

May 8

the next morning, I woke up exhausted. The ground was harder than I remembered from previous camping experiences. It had started to rain and attempts to get the dog under the rain flap had proved fruitless. The dog was wet, and I hadn’t slept much. However, the campground provided bread. They gave us 2 croissants and a baguette. It was fantastic. We went back into Orléans for the parades. We missed the start of the first one, but still got to see the traditional dancers perform with traditional instruments. We were very close to the Brittany contingent, who had an extremely loud and fun bag pipe band. The music made me feel like dancing, which is not what I ever would have expected from a bag pipe.
The second parade began with a long speech from some official about how happy he was to be in charge of things this year and probably some other points which I missed. Then a perpetual scholar in the French Academy started to give a long speech about the historical and social role of Joan of Arc and how it’s changed over the years.
this shall be continued

Back from France

I’m back and I want to share all. I wasn’t sure where to start, especially since the trip ended much as it began: biking across Paris, towing a dog, trying to make a train connection. The second trip was a bit more hectic than the first because it involved a much farther away train station, a shorter time and a case of wine. Some Parisian yelled «Bravo!» as I struggled uphill across and intersection, trying to pick up speed to make the train on time. We had an hour and 5 minutes, two foldy bikes, a foldy trailer, dirty clothes, camping gear and the aforementioned dog and case of wine. And a medieval-style bugle that I bought in Orléans. 20 minutes to unfold everything. 20 minutes to bike from Montparnasse to Gare du Nord, 20 minutes to refold. I highly recommend sprinting across Paris with so many things, especially down the hill from the Sorbonne to the Seine.

We arrived in Paris the day of the election. The streets were crawling with Gendarmes, prepared for possible unrest following the results.
First stop, was the bakery near where my apartment used to be. God, they make the best bread in the world. First thing off my bike and I step in dog shit. Yay Paris. Some older French ladies approached me and spoke to me about my dog trailer. Maybe it was the nice weather. Maybe it was the expectant air around the election, but probably it was the dog. I almost never had conversations like that when I lived there.
The streets were full of flics and first-time roller bladers. At every corner, there were grim-looking cops in riot gear and young people on wheels desperately clinging to phone poles. Xena was trying desperately to escape her trailer as we slowly crossed the city. Nicole rode behind me, repeating “good dog!” over and over again. She said the scowling gendarmes broke into amused smiles as they spotted the dog.
We arrived in Orléans later that evening and went to the tourist office, which was closed. They also had cops everywhere. I tried to call the campground listed in the guidebook, but they didn’t answer their phone. Rather than ride the 5km to the campground with the risk of having to ride another 5 km back, we went to the Ibiss, a 2 star hotel chain in Europe, roughly equivalent to the Motel 6 in the US.
And everywhere I went that day, I head over and over «C’est un chien!» It’s a dog! but I felt very proud of myself when a kid added, «C’est genial!» That’s brilliant! indeed. My goal was to take my dog with me and avoid the hassle of trying to find a sitter, but I don’t mind amusing the French also.
Over dinner, I learned that Sarko had won. I hate that guy. He said several months ago that the (poor, immigrant) suburbs should be cleaned out with a pressure hose, a comment that contributed greatly to the riots that followed shortly thereafter, leaving many cars burned. His parents were immigrants! He’s like the Ward Connerly or Clarence Thomas of France. In the time leading to the run off, he actively courted supporters of Le Pen, the ultra-right nationalist who adores Joan of Arc. Not because she was an awesome cross dresser who could place a cannon, but because she drove France’s foreign enemies out of France – you know, like um, immigrants. Because immigrants are totally against the country they want to live in (yeah, I hate France and want to destroy it). And Joan of Arc was not accompanied by a huge bunch of Scots who were also foreign and there to help her.
As I was walking back to the hotel, I heard whistling and shouts. A huge crowd of youths came up behind me on the Rue de Jeanne d’Arc. They had a bedsheet banner that had an anti-sarko slogan on it. Other folks were joining them as they marched. The joiners had their cell phones in hand and busily SMSed and called their friends to let them know to join in. (I heard one guy saying something about “le podcast.”)
as they marched down the largest street in town, towards the cathedral, under the huge patriotic banners and flags the town hung for it’s yearly festival, the older, whiter, richer Orléanaise leaned out their apartment windows and looked worriedly on the crowd below. In the expensive apartment, old white folks worried. In the street, a young, diverse crowd marched, whistled and gave speeches.
WhenI heard Sarko won, I was disappointed, but not surprised. The poll numbers were in favor of him. He was running against a woman. Her “yay I won” speech after the first round was wooden and boring in a manner unsurpassed by even John Kerry or Al Gore (although maybe Bob Dole could give her a run). But still, I hoped somehow she would win and I was angry that she hadn’t. But then, I saw these other angry kids and marched with them for a while. They were unhappy, but engaged. Their actions demonstrated hope. They weren’t in the street just because they were angry. They were in the street in their smallish town because they knew it mattered. Their participation in this semi-spontaneous march meant something, not just to them and the worried old folks, but to their whole nation.
I felt tears in my eyes. How can such a great country be so stupid? I went back to the hotel to sleep.

Travelin’ / Upcoming Concerts

I will be playing in Berlin on May 18th at Zentrale Randlage as a part of a conference going that weekend. I’ll be playing tuba &/| laptop and Nick Fox-Gieg will be playing computer and doing visuals. It will be cool. Our part will only be about 12 minutes. I don’t know what time, yet or much else, really.

And I will be playing a short set of a larger “show and tell” concert in The Hague on May 24th. The venue is Verhulstpl 17. I don’t know what time yet. I’ll probably be playing some tape music, but might also do some live laptop.
I’m leaving Sunday to go to France for the Joan of Arc festival in Orleans. It turned out to be cheaper to buy something called an interrail pass instead of buying a ticket to Paris and another to Berlin. Theoretically, this means that I can go anywhere within commuting distance on the 21- 23 May or 25-27 May. Realistically, this means: Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, France maybe Denmark. It would be nifty if I could play some music someplace, since my transit is already paid, but, yeah, it’s way last minute and I’m not sure who to contact.
Xena now has a very official looking pet passport. It’s a little blue booklet with a Netherlands flag and an EU flag on it. Getting citizenship in the Netherlands is so easy for dogs! she can legally travel all over the EU (except for England). I got her a trailer yesterday, so I can pull her around with a bike. The trailer doubles as a crate/ “pup” tent. (ha ha ha). I’m now looking for a human tent. The idea is that camping is cheaper than hotel rooms. The reality is not so clear however.
Long-time readers will recall that last summer, I was planning a bike trip, but got lyme disease and had to cancel it. This year, hopefully, I’ll avoid dread disease. Nicole, Xena and I will be heading out along the Loire, following the route of Jeanne d’Arc on the the anniversary of her having travelled that way. Except she got to ride a horse and not tow a dog. On the other hand, she was wearing armor and had the constant risk of death, so I think it will be more fun for me than it was for her.

Musical Interludes in the Mystère du Siège d’Orléans





the spring of 1429, things looked bleak for Orléans. The English had nearly encircled the city. They held several defensive
fortifications, including a tower on the bridge, Tourelles. They had constructed several
fortifications called boulevards. Efforts to free the city, such as the Battle of the Herrings had ended
disastrously. The duc d’Orélans
was in an English prison, awaiting ransom. "By March 1429, Orleans seemed ready to fall at he next
serious push." (Pernoud 9) When the city of Orléans fell, the entirety of
the French loyalist side would collapse with it. It seemed only to be a matter of time before the English
were victorious over all of France.


April 29th of that year, supplies and troops were sent to the besieged
city. Among them was an unusual
young woman, known as the Pucelle. Only a few days later, on May 8th, the English withdrew from the city,
after a series of decisive battles. These victories were attributed to La Pucelle. Pernoud writes, "At the moment that the English were
raising the siege and withdrawing from Orléans, the inhabitants of the city
organizes solemn processions to thank god and the patron saints of the city,
Sts. Aignan and Euverte. This
spontaneous thanksgiving celebration became a procession that continues today,
every May 8." (p 243)


raising of the Siege of Orléans was the beginning of the end for the
English. By the end of 1453, the
hundred years war was finally over and Charles VII was king. Orléans continues to celebrate its part
in this victory through its annual festivities and La Pucelle who aided
them. Today, Orléans is home to
many statues and monuments of Jeanne d’Arc. The cathedral that she prayed at in between battles has an
altar dedicated to her and series of stained glass windows depicting scenes
from her life. There is a Rue d’
Jeanne d’Arc, a Jeanne d’Arc cafe, a Jean d’Arc Chocolatier, and the academic
Centre Jeanne d’Arc.


some point, a mystery play, Le Mistere du Siege d’Orléans, was composed about the raising of the siege.
Mystery plays are a genre depicting history. Knight writes,

The Mystery plays, taken as a
whole corpus, dramatized universal history from creation to doomsday . . ..
[T]he mystery plays were historical in sense that they were externally
referential and that their linear model of time had displaced the cyclical
model of time in the liturgy. They
were the collective memory of late medieval Christendom . . . (p 19)

to its genre, the Siege depicts
an actual historical event. However, Hamblin notes, “the creation of such a
play based on contemporary historical events still burning in the memory of the
participants and the spectators, represents a true departure from standard
subject matter.” (p 59-60) Bertrin writes in the Catholic Encyclopedia that the
Siege is only one of “only two
profane mysteries which have been preserved.” However, this is a modern
distinction. Knight writes, “the religious-profane dichotomy constitutes a
methodological error” (p 14) and that medieval people did not “make the same
distinction between religious and profane that we make today.” (p 14) The main generic differentiations
between dramas thus does not hinge on the holiness, but in this, case, on


play Le Mistere du Siege d’Orléans
has never been performed in its current form, according to the staff at the
Centre Jeanne d’Arc. Hamblin
writes that it “is nowhere mentioned in fifteenth-century writings.” (p v)
However, its roots may lie in the May 8th festivities, specifically
in 1435. Hamblin writes,
“Undoubtedly, some kind of dramatic presentation did occur in 1435 . . .. This
presentation . . . took place ‘durant la procession,’ as part of the
celebration.” (p 26) The 1435
presentation indicated “a growing secular interest in the celebration.” (p
27) This interest may have been
partially financed by Gilles de Laval, seigneur de Rais, otherwise known as
Bluebeard. “Depositions taken from his inheritors reveal that Rais financed
several mystères, one of which
was in Orléans, where he spent nearly the entire year of 1435.” (p 28-9) Hamblin goes on to note that Rais’
involvement with the play, could explain why “no more mention is made . . . of
any re-enactment of the Tourelles battle after 1439,” (p 29) as Rais was executed
in 1440.


authorship of the Siege is also
uncertain. Hamblin writes, “no
single author stands out as the most likely source of the Siege” and there is a “possibility that the work is
rather a compilation of the endeavors of several writers, and perhaps several
different time periods.” (p 16) Thus, the play possibly commissioned by Rais may have evolved into the Siege as it now exists. The writer or writers was probably a resident of
Orléans. “The author would have
had to be either native to Orléans or very familiar with and very dedicated to
this final stronghold of Loyalists in the Hundred Years’ War.” (p 10) The Siege names “locations which only local residents would
have recognized.” (p 46)


we have an obscure play with a processional background. It is not a small play, however. Hamblin writes, “It is a mystère of considerable length, involving more than 120
speaking roles in twenty different sites.” (p 4) Later, she says, “[In] order to recreate the Siege in its present form, we would need ships,
fortresses, tents, break-away towers, walls, a bridge with detachable parts, a
river and an ocean, a means for hovering saints above the stage, canons and
various dead bodies (one of which can lose its head at will).” (p 54) It’s no wonder that the present form of
the play has never been produced.


is only one extant copy of the Siege. It "is preserved in a single paper manuscript, now in the
Regina collection of the Vatican, but formerly in the library of Fleury."
(Frank 203) “There are no
embellishments or adornments whatsoever in the manuscript.” (Hamblin p 83)
Frank writes, "Our manuscript betrays much interest in the complicated
staging and music required by the play . . .. Detailed rubrics . . . also
indicate exactly which instruments are to be played during the
intermissions." (p 206) Despite this attention to musical detail, there is
no sheet music with the manuscript.


The Siege, however, does mention one chant by name, in folio 354r. Hamblin summarizes the action at this point
in the play:

On Saturday,
May 7, the French attack the defense line of the Tourelles. A heavy battle ensues, and the Pucelle
is wounded. She encourages the
soldiers, who go on to victory. Glasidas and others fall into the Loire and drown. The French enter Orléans victorious and
celebrate the English loss. (92)

This is the high point of action in the play and
the victory considered most miraculous. According to audio in the Maison de Jeanne d’Arc, the French forces were
about to quit the attack for the day, when a badly wounded Jeanne came rushing
back to the battle, waving her standard and leading the French to victory. She had also made a prediction that
“Glasidas” [sic] would die without bleeding. The day after this battle, in the play and historically, the
English retreat to the nearby town of Meung. Therefore it is the battle of Tourelles that raises the
siege. It is also the battle that
was re-enacted as a part of the annual thanksgiving procession. This may be the oldest part of the Mystère and if so, the author probably remembered the


In line 13638, the last line on the night of May
7th, La Pucelle orders the town to chant Te Deum laudamus: “Toute la nuit faites sonner Toutes vos cloches en tous lieux, Et à
forte voix sans reserve Chantez Te Deum laudamus.” (Gros 821) The people must
play their bells and chant in a strong voice and without reserve all through
the night. Te Deum was a widely known and a widely used chant in the
Middle Ages, “sung at the end of Matins on Sundays and feast days . . .. It has
also been used as a processional chant, the conclusion for a liturgical drama,
a song of thanksgiving on an occasion such as the consecration of a bishop, and
a hymn of victory on the battlefield.” (Steiner) This usage is clearly as a hymn of victory on the
battlefield as far as the rubrics of the play are concerned. However, since the play also has a
processional background, the chant is doubly appropriate. The Siege is certainly not a liturgical drama, but the
signing of Te Deum may still
have been recognized as a dramatic cue. The play does not end at this point,
but it lacks mentions of specific points to break off for the night. Perhaps this is a logical place to quit
until the next day. The usage of Te
thus arises not only
naturally out of the rubrics and out of history, but exists in other contexts
as well.


In actual fact, the historical document, the Journal
of the Siege of Orléans,
that “All the clergy and the people of Orléans devoutly sang Te Deum laudamus and rang all the city bells, very humbly thanking
Our Lord for this glorious divine consolation” (Pernoud p 48) Thus, the Mystére, as the name – and the genre – implies, presents
history as the writer and the intended actors would have remembered it.


The rubrics of the play in a pause immediately
below La Pucelle’s lines state, “Alors ici il y une grande pause et un grand
bruit dans la ville, de joie et de vif plaisir; toute la nuit sonnerie de
cloches, sonnerie de trompettes et cris: ‘Noël!'” (Gros 821) Here is a large pause and a great joyous noise in
the city: all night bells are rung, trumpets are sounded and people cry,
“Noël!” The play looks like a
historical document here, unless the playwright actually expected people to
blow trumpets all night, or perhaps, as speculated above, he was envisioning
putting a break for the night at this point.


The performance practice of Te Deum would have used the sort of instrumentation
contained in the rubrics of the play and recommended by La Pucelle. “[A]
festive performance of the Te Deum was
normally accompanied by instruments (in particular organ and bells), the normal
concomitant of which would be polyphony of some kind. Nevertheless, such
polyphony was essentially improvised . . .. 15th-century settings are rare.”
(Steiner) Although, she goes on, there is a setting by Binchois. Thus, historically, the bells of the
town were rung, but in the rubrics of the play cloches, defined by Pocket
Manual of Musical Terms
“chimes” (Baker p 56), were used to improvise polyphony. This is the only playing of cloches in
the play.


The bells of the village are indicated in the play
in other pauses. There is a typical usage after line 2414, “le beffroi de la
ville sonnera sans cesser durant l’assaut.” (Gros p 165) The bells of the village ring
unceasingly during the attack. The
beffroi always function in this play as indicators of battle. They need not indicate that a battle is
happening, but can also ring when a battle is about to occur, as a cue for the
army to assemble. For example, after line 5242, “Alors le beffroi de la ville
sonnera et ceux de la ville sortiront.” (Gros p 349) The bells, or belfry, of the city will sound and the
citizens will leave. They are
leaving, of course, to go fight a battle.


Another particular type of battle bell is the
tocsin, or the alarm bell. In the
pause after line 12174, “Et à
Saint-Loup une cloche sonnera le tocsin, et l’on criera: ‘Alarme!'” (Gros p 775) And in the fortress of
Saint-Loup an alarm bell will sound and someone will cry, “Alarm!” This is the only tocsin in the Siege. The
ringers of it are the English, who are occupying Saint-Loup and whom the French
are attacking.


Also linked to armies and battles is the clairon,
the instrument called for second most often. What sort of instrument is meant by “clairon” is not clear.
Non-musicians, when commenting on the Siege, translate this as bugle. This is a logical translation because
the clarions are so often associated with the army in the play. However, since the subject matter of
the play is a military victory, most things in it have at least some
association to the army. If this
was a bugle, then it was a signal horn, made out of a cow’s horn. (Baines) It would have played bugle calls, such as signals to attack,
retreat, assemble, etc. As a
natural horn, it only would have been able to play overtones of the fundamental
pitch, just as modern bugle calls only use harmonics.


Gros, when translating the Siege from Old French to modern French, leaves the old
French word clairon intact. The
modern French word clairon unequivocally refers to a bugle. The Old French word may have had a
different meaning. In fact, there
existed a separate term for bugles. Baines begins his bugle article with the entomology for the world
‘bugle’, “In the Middle Ages a not very common Old French word (also cor
buglèr, bugleret)
for a small
bovine signaling horn.” Thus there
existed, although not in wide usage, a term that specifically referred to


Another possible definition of clairon is “The high
register of a trumpet; in its variant forms, the term also designates a kind of
trumpet.” (Dahlqvist) The Pocket
Manual of Musical Terms
defines it
as “a small, shrill-toned trumpet.” (Baker p 55) This term has it’s own entomology. It comes “[f]rom the medieval Latin clario
and claro, the French form ‘claron’ was developed, and in
the 14th century such forms as ‘clairin’, ‘clarin’, ‘clerain’, ‘clerin’,
‘clairon’ (with the diminutives ‘claroncel’, ‘claronchiel’ etc.) began to appear.
‘Clairon’ became the most common of these.” (Dalhqvist) The term ‘clairon’ is
the one used by the playwright or the Siege.


There are reasons to believe that the rubrics of
the Siege could have been
intended to refer either to a short, shrill trumpet, or to the high register of
a normal trumpet. “During the
Middle Ages trumpeters played in the low register. Johannes de Grocheo wrote (De
musica, c1300
) that only the first
four partials of the harmonic series were used, a fact corroborated by the
earliest surviving trumpet music.” (Tarr, ‘Trumpet’) Thus, if the trumpets in the Siege are only playing in the low register, and the
playwright wanted a sound in the higher register, he would be able to so
indicate in the rubrics by specifically calling for a clairon sound. Or,
perhaps, it was a separate instrument, “Very often clairon and trompette (or
the like) are mentioned in pairs, suggesting two distinct instrument forms. In
1468, for example, Margaret of York was greeted ‘à son de trompes et de clarons’.”
(Dahlqvist) Similarly, “trompettes
et clairons” is oft repeated in the rubrics of the Siege. In
fact, the clairon is never mentioned without also calling for trumpets. Untangling exactly what instrument the
playwright intended to specify is probably impossible, or at least, beyond the
scope of this paper. Dahlqvist
states, “The precise meaning of these terms may never be understood


One example of the clairon being used as a
signaling instrument occurs in lines 5595-5. Talbot says, “Allons, trompettes et clairons, Sonnez pour
assembler l’armée.” (Gros p 371) Go trumpets and clarions, sound to assemble the army. Interestingly, the rubrics immediately
following Talbot’s speech call for trumpets to be played – but not clairons. “Alors
sonneront les trompettes des Anglais, et ils s’assembleront pour venir
assaillir Orléans.” (Gros p. 371) Then the trumpets of the English will sound and they will be assembled
to go attack Orléans. This may be
an error on the part of the copyist. Hamblin documents many copyist errors and notes that it is the nature of
hand-copied documents to contain errors. However, if it is not an error, it shows that trumpets alone are enough
to signal the army, and thus casts doubt on translating “clairon” to “bugle.”


A similar omission occurs around line 15907. La Pucelle says, “Allons! trompettes et
clairons! Pour donner courage et vigueur Aux Français très loyaux et bons . .
..” (Gros p 875) Go trumpets and
clairons! To give courage to the
very honest and good French . . .. The pause immediately below however calls
for ” . . . trompettes et d’autres instruments.” Trumpets and the other instruments. If clairons refer to army bugles, it is
perhaps unlikely that they would be played during an instrumental break, since
their function is to play signal calls. The “other instruments” could refer to
organs, stringed instruments, bells or other instruments not specifically
mentioned in the rubrics of the play. These might make an unlikely paring with bugles.


Clairons are also played during military
parades. For example, after line
12198, “Alors elle viendra à Orléans: une pause. – Et tous en bon ordre –
clairons, trompettes -, amènent foison de prisonniers avec les croix rouges,
ligotés;” (Gros p 777) Then La Pucelle will come to Orléans: a pause. And with trumpets and clairons playing,
bound English prisoners will enter in good order. Thus, the French are triumphantly marching English prisoners
(with red crosses) into Orléans. In a pause after line 12678, the French again march with clairons,
“Alors, ici une pause de trompettes, clairons. – Et tous, en ordre harmonieux,
leurs étendards déployés,
partent; ils iront, descendre de cheval au droit des Bouterons, et là se
rassembleront tous.” (Gros p 795) Then, here a pause of trumpets, bugles. – And all will leave, in harmonious
order, with their standards unfurled; they will go, down from their horses, to
the right of Bouterons, and will all gather there.


The English army also marches with clairons. The pause after line 8954 indicates,
“Alors ils arriveront joyeusement avec trompettes, clairons; Talbot et d’autres
vont au-devant d’eux.” (Gros p. 569) Then they will joyfully arrive with trumpets and clairons. Talbot and others will go ahead of
them. In addition, battles and
other military actions, such as gathering their arms or putting on armor also
call for clairons.


Because the clairon is never played without
trumpets, trumpets fill the same roles as the clairons. Trumpets alone may be specified in
contexts that in other pauses call for trumpets and clairons. For instance, sometimes trumpets alone
are played to assemble the army. Trumpets, however, are called for far more often than clairons,
sometimes in contexts where clairons are not used. No less than forty-seven pauses specifically indicate that
trumpets should play. As noted
above, trumpets were played in the low range. “Medieval trumpeters puffed out their cheeks when blowing
and produced a tone that was described as airy and trembling, not unlike the vibrato
produced by a boy soprano.” (Tarr, ‘Trumpet’) The trumpets of the time were sometimes straight and
sometimes folded. “Shortly before 1400 instrument makers learned to bend brass
tubing . . ..” (Tarr, ‘Slide Trumpet’) 
It is possible that, in order to get more pitch variety, the playwright
may have intended to use – or at
least not objected to – slide trumpets. “The single-slide trumpet seems to have
been introduced . . . – according to Polk (1997) between 1400
and 1420, probably first in Burgundy, then in the Cologne-Flanders area – and
was soon ubiquitous. It was used until the invention of the double slide around
1490.” (Tarr, ‘Slide Trumpet’) Of
course, the Burgundians sided with the English during the Hundred Years War,
making it tempting to speculate that the instrument may have been tainted by
this association. The playwright
simply calls for “trompettes,” but what other name he might have used to refer
to the new instrument is not clear to modern scholars. “Terminology and nomenclature in a
period of transition are always problematic. Early mentions of ‘pusun’, for
example in Basle in 1410, could refer to either the long straight trumpet or
perhaps the slide trumpet; ‘trompette saicqueboute’, in Burgundy in 1468,
probably meant a slide trumpet . . ..” (Tarr, ‘Slide Trumpet’) 


One place that trumpets are called for, but
clairons are not, is to play some specific signal calls to the army, such as
sounding a retreat. For example,
in the pause following line 2950, the rubrics indicate, “Ensuite ici les
trompettes des Français sonneront une retraite . . ..” (Gros p 197) Then, here, the French trumpets will sound a retreat. This use of trumpets and not clairons
to play a specific signal call is additional evidence that the clairons were
not bugles. This usage of trumpets
is part of the action of the play. Instead of providing a musical pause, the trumpet playing advances the
plot. There are other examples of
this sort of usage, for instance, heraldry. In line 15665, Lord John instructs his herald to quickly
take his trumpet and make an announcement to the town. “Héraut, prenez votre trompette Vite,
et veuillez écouter . . .” (Gros p 861) The following pause indicates that the
herald plays the trumpet and then makes the announcement. “Alors il sonnera la trompette; ensuite
il dit:” (Gros p 861)


For the most part, trumpets are played alone in the
same contexts that they are paired with clairons. That is, they are played during battles, marches, and to
assemble the army.  They also
appear in victory celebrations, for example, when the town chants Te Deum and during the plundering of the defeated town of
Jargeau in the pause after line 16642, “les trompettes sonneront, et la ville
de Jargeau sera pillée: vaisselle d’argent, étain, lits, meubles meublants,
draps, couvertures et tous autres ustensiles de ménage . . ..” The trumpets will sound and the town of
Jargeau will be plundered: silver plate, tin, furniture, cloths, covers and all
other household utensils. This
rubric, like one that calls for trumpets and clairons, also calls for prisoners
to be marched out by the army.


The third most-oft appearing musical instrument is
the organ. Unlike, bells,
clairons, and trumpets, the organ fills a purely musical role and is not part
of the action of the play. It is
first called for in folio 171. Hamblin summarizes the action at this point in
the play: 

kneels and prays to God that He have pity on France. Nostre Dame, Saints
Michel, Euvertre and Aignan convince God that Charles is sincere. He sends
Michel to Barrois, where a young girl will be given the mission of winning the
siege of Orléans. The French, because of their loss of faith, will have no
personal glory in the victory. (p

The pause occurs after God speaks on line 7066, ordering
St. Michel to go to La Pucelle. The rubrics say, “Pause d’orgues. Et il vient auprès de la Pucelle
occupée à garder les brebis de son père et à coudre du linge.” (Gros p 459) Pause of organs. And then he goes to the Pucelle, who is
occupied keeping her father’s ewes and sewing linen. Thus the organ plays while Michel descends from heaven,
possibly a separate stage from where La Pucelle is spinning wool, or, at the
very least, requiring a scene change. Gros attaches a footnote to “orgues,”
where he states, “Pour le première fois, dans le Mystére, ce sont les orgues
qui se font entendre durant la pause Aussi bien le ciel rend-il alors visite à
la terre: le veritable nature de la mission de Jeanne se précise.” (p 459) For
the first time in the play it is the organs which we hear in the pause. It is at this time that the heavens
visit the earth and reveal the precise nature of Jeanne’s mission. Thus Gros implies a connection between
the organ and themes of holiness.


As this scene was most likely not intended to be
performed in a church, the organ called for is a portative organ. These small, “easily transported
organ[s],” (Seay p 73) have “a keyboard of up to two octaves.” (Owen) Seay
describes the portative as, “[s]mall and capable of being worked by one man
without assistance, it carried none of the religious overtones associated with
its larger [church organ] brother.” (p 73) However, the rubrics only call for organs on four occasions,
all of which invoke God. The
playwright clearly intends his choice of instrument to convey religious
overtones, as Gros states.


Seay goes on to describe the performance practice
of the portative organ. “Since one
hand of the executant was occupied in building up the air pressure, its
position was not that of a polyphonic instrument, but one used in group
performance, as a member of chamber combinations.” (p 73) Hence, the playwright specifies
multiple organs for the pause.


Finally, string instruments are mentioned once in
the rubrics of the Siege. The pause after line 17614 says, “Pause
de trompettes, de musiciens jouant d’instruments à cordes, et d’autres
instruments. – Puis après,
le messager arrive devant le roi et dit:” (Gros p 911) Pause of trumpets,
musicians playing of string instruments, and other instruments. – Then after, the messenger arrives in
front of the king and speaks. In
her summary of the action in this folio, Hamblin writes, “A messenger reports
to Charles on the progress made by the French army.” (p 93) This scene takes place at court. The unique mention of strings and other
instruments helps distinguish court musically from outdoor scenes with the
army. Of course, the court scene
would be performed outdoors along with the rest of the play. The music helps provide cues to the
audience about the scene.


At the very end of the Siege, “Jehanne again admonishes the citizens to thank
God for these victories, and to conduct processions in memory of the victories
granted them for God.” (Hamblin p 93) Loyal to Jehanne’s wishes, the citizens of Orléans have not forgotten
the procession, but unfortunately, have neglected the play. The recent publication of Gros’
translation into modern French may spark popular interest. Perhaps the Siege, after so many centuries, will finally have a

More More More

the catholic encyclopedia, specifically, The Te Deum atricle at notes that:

The general rubrics (titulus XXXI) of the Roman Breviary direct the recitation of the Te Deum at the end of Matins: (a) on all feasts throughout the year, whether of nine or of three lessons, and throughout their octaves. It is said on the octave day of the feast of the Holy Innocents, but not on the feast itself unless this should fall on Sunday; (b) on all Sundays from Easter (inclusively) to Advent (exclusively) and from Christmas (inclusively) to Septuagesima (exclusively); (c) on all ferial days during Eastertide (namely from Low Sunday to Ascension Day) except Rogation Monday.

Guess what day le Mystère du Siège D’Orléans (erroneously) states is the day that the English left Orléans! Guess!

Ascension Day!!!!
since the writer of the play certainly knew that the English left on the 8th and not the 9th, s/he must have had a reason for writing in the wrong date. Is there symbolism involved? Since the play is closely tied to the annual thanksgiving procession and celebration, the establishment of that process, described here as Joan of Arc direction the town to sing Te Deum may have had very very strong import to the writer. It might have been the point of writing the whole play.
It sure would be a lot easier to tell if I could read French…

in other news

(still news about the MdsO) Slobin thought that kids here would be really excited to stage the play. So I asked some kids about it, and they were really excited. hopefully, they can be excited long enough to translate it. Putting it on for all 4+ days that it would take is probably overly ambitious, so i’m thinking: pick one day. and i can write music for the pauses (using the correct instruments were directed). and undergrads can take the 129 speaking parts. and maybe the SCA could help out with the battle stuff. i just need a vision and an army of excitable undergrads.
It would be the first ever staging too, which could add to the excitement.

Research status

The manuscript of the play, La Misterie du Siege d’ Orleans, does not have any sheet music with it, nor any ornamentation of any kind. However, it does have many, many pauses that were intended to be filled with music. Many of these pauses contain instructions for orchestration. The most common instruments mentioned are trumpets, bugles and organ. No 15th century document even mentions the play. The librarian at the Joan of Arc center says that it has never been performed in it’s current form. some scholars believe that it is not really a play, but rather a collection of smaller action vignettes associated with the annual May 8th festivities commemorating the raising of the siege. This hypothesis seems logical, given the evidence above and also because no-one has really been able to date the manuscript. Parts of it seem to be written right after the siege and other parts appear to date from later years.

The play (or series of processional events) seems to have been written for the entire town to take part in. entire battles are re-acted out. It calls for thousands of actors. Part of the town is supposed to be set ablaze for it. It would take several days to stage it in it’s entirety. and it has over a hundred “major” characters.

The play certainly grew out of the May 8th processions, whether or not it was just a collection of past processional events. It’s possible that musical sources for it were battle songs, hymns and some courtly processional music. the librarian at the Joan of Arc Center (whose name I wish I had gotten), says that all of these sources are lost. there is some evidence around the music at the cathedral, however.

For my paper, I intend to analyze the instrumentation in connection with the action. I’m going to read _Aspects of Genre in Late Medieval French Drama_ by Alan Knight and talk to Professor Alden to figure out what to do with this.

Research for this semester – maybe thesis

Celeste Hutchins
1 October 2003
Research Proposal

I would like to research music from around the last section of the 100 years war. I am specifically interested in music somehow related to Joan of Arc. For instance, after she raised the Siege of Orleans, a mystery play was written in her honor, which has been performed nearly every year since. I don’t know anything about the music attached to this play, but would like to find out how much it has changed over time and if early transcriptions are available, so that I can analyze the music. If this music is unavailable, I will instead focus on music she might have heard, including the liturgical music performed at Dom Remy, her local cathedral, or the music played then at Charles’ court.

I am interested in this topic because I would like to write a Mass for Joan of Arc (since she’s a saint) and eventually an opera and I would like to represent her with music that would have been somehow meaningful to her. I don’t know what research has been done on this topic, but I’ll be talking with Professor Alden about it. Also, I will be in France over fall break and hopefully will be able to do some research then.