Saturday, July 26, 2014

Anecdotes of A Few Heroic Women of History

Countess de St. Belmont.—When M. de St. Belmont, who defended a feeble fortress against the arms of Louis XIV., was taken prisoner, his wife, the Comtesse de St. Belmont, who was of a most heroic disposition, still remained upon the estates to take care of them. An officer of cavalry having taken up his quarters there without invitation, Madame de St. Belmont sent him a very civil letter of complaint on his ill behaviour, which he treated with contempt. Piqued at this, she resolved he should give her satisfaction, and sent him a challenge, which she signed "Le Chevalier de St. Belmont." The officer accepted it, and repaired to the place appointed. Madame de St. Belmont met him, dressed in men's clothes. They immediately drew their swords, and the heroine had the advantage of him; when, after disarming him, she said, with a gracious smile, "You thought, sir, I doubt not, that you were fighting with the Chevalier de St. Belmont; it is, however, Madame de St. Belmont, who returns you your sword, and begs you in future to pay more regard to the requests of ladies." She then left him, covered with shame and confusion.

French Peasant Girl.—One evening early in 1858, Melanie Robert, daughter of a small farmer, near Corbeil was proceeding to Essonnes, when a man armed with a stout stick suddenly presented himself, and summoned her to give up her money. Pretending to be greatly alarmed, she hastily searched her pocket, and collecting some small pieces of coin held them out to the man, who without distrust approached to take them. But the moment he took the money, Melanie made a sudden snatch at the stick, and wresting it from his hand, dealt him so violent a blow with it across the head that she felled him to the ground. She then gave him a sound thrashing, and, in spite of his resistance, forced him to accompany her to the office of the commissary of police, by whom he was committed for trial.

Gallant Daughter.—Sir John Cochrane, who was engaged in Argyle's rebellion against James II., was taken prisoner, after a desperate resistance, and condemned to be executed. His daughter, having notice that the death-warrant was expected from London, attired herself in men's clothes, and twice attacked and robbed the mails between Belford and Berwick. The execution was by this means delayed, till Sir John Cochrane's father, the Earl of Dundonald, succeeded in making interest with the king for his release.

A Gamekeeper's Daughter.—The Gazette of Augsburg for January, 1820, contained a singular account of the heroism and presence of mind displayed by the daughter of a gamekeeper, residing in a solitary house near Welheim. Her father and the rest of the family had gone to church, when there appeared at the door an old man apparently half dead with cold. Feeling for his situation, she let him in, and went into the kitchen to prepare him some soup. Through a window which communicated from the kitchen to the room in which she had left him, she perceived that he had dropped the beard he wore when he entered; that he now appeared a robust man; and that he was pacing the chamber with a poignard in his hand. Finding no mode of escape, she armed herself with a chopper in one hand and the boiling soup in the other, and entering the room where he was, first threw the soup in his face, and then struck him a blow with the hatchet on his neck, which brought him to the ground senseless. At this moment a fresh knock at the door occasioned her to look out of an upper window, when she saw a strange hunter, who demanded admittance, and on her refusal, threatened to break open the door. She immediately got her father's gun, and as he was proceeding to put his threat in execution, she shot him through the right shoulder, on which he made his way back to the forest. Half an hour after a third person came, and asked after an old man who must have passed that way. She said she knew nothing of him; and after useless endeavours to make her open the door, he also proceeded to break it in, when she shot him dead on the spot. The excitement of her courage being now at an end, her spirits began to sink, and she fired shots, and screamed from the windows, until some gendarmes were attracted to the house; but nothing would induce her to open the door until the return of her father from church.

 The Ladies of Beauvais.—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.

Compiled From Sources In The Public Domain.

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Smiles & Good Fortune,
It is not wealth one asks for, but just enough to preserve one’s dignity, to work unhampered, to be generous, frank and independent. W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) Of Human Bondage, 1915