Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

Joan of Arc Biography Part 12

By Jules Michelet
The Maid of Orleans

The monk's letter was a document of little weight, and the University was made to write at the same time. It was hardly possible that the heads of the University should lewel any heartfelt aid to expediting a process instituted by the Papal Inquisition, at the very moment they were going to declare war on the people at Bale, on behalf of the episcopacy. Winchester himself, the head of the English episcopacy, must have preferred a trial by bishops, or, if he could, to bring bishops and inquisitors to act in concert together. Now he had in his train and among his adherents, a bishop just jBtted for the business, a beggared bishop, who lived at his table, and who assuredly would sentence or would swear just as was wanted.

Pierre Cauchon, bishop of Beau vais, was not a man without merit. Born at RheimS; near Gerson's place of birth, he was a very influential doc tor of the University, and a friend of Glemengis, who asserts that he was both "good and beneficent." This goodness did not hinder him from being one of the most violent of the violent Cabochien party ; and as such he was driven from Paris in 1413. He reentered the capital with the Duke of Burgundy, became bishop of Beauvais, and, under the English rule, was elected by the University conservator of its privileges. But the invasion of northern France by Charles VII., in 1429, was fatal to Cauchon, who sought to keep Beauvais in the Eng lish interests, and was thrust out by the citizens. He did not enjoy him self at Paris with the dull Bedford, who had no means of rewarding zeal ; and repaired to the fount of wealth and power in England, to Cardinal Winchester. He became English, he spoke English. Winchester perceived the use to which such a man might be put, and attached him to himself by doing for him even more than he could have hoped for. The archbishop of Rouen having been translated else where, he recommended him to the pope to fill that great see. But neither the pope nor the chapter would have any thing to do with Cauchon; and Rouen, at war at the time with the University of Paris, could not well receive as its arch bishop a member of that University. Here was a complete stop ; and Cau chon stood with gaping mouth in sight of the magnificent prey, ever in hopes that all obstacles would disappear before the invincible cardinal, full of devotion to him, and having no other God.

It was exceedingly opportune that the Pucelle should have been taken close to the limits of Cauchon's dio cese;; not, it is true, within the dio cese itself; but there was a hope of making it believed to be so. So Cau chon wrote, as judge ordinary, to the king of England, to claim the right of trying her ; and, on the 12th of June the University received the king's letters to the effect that the bishop and the inquisitor were to proceed to try her with concurrent powers. Though the proceedings of the Inqui sition were not the same as those of the ordinary tribunals of the Church, no objection was raised. The two jurisdictions choosing thus to connive at each other, one difSculty alone remained; the accused was still in the hands of the Burgundians.

The University put herself forward, and wrote anew to the Duke of Bur gundy and John of Ligny. Couchon, in his zeal, undertook to be the agent of the English, their courier, to carry the letter himself, and deliver it to the two dukes,* at the same time, as bishop, he handed them a summons, calling upon them to deliver up to him a prisoner over whom he claimed jurisdiction. In the course of this strange document of his, he quits the character of judge for that of negotia tor, and makes ofifers of money, stating that although this woman cannot be considered a prisoner of war, the king of England is ready to settle a pen sion of two or three hundred livres on the bastard of Vendome, and to give the sum of six thousand livres to those who have her in their keeping : then, towards the close of this missive of his, he raises his offer to ten thousand, but pointing out emphatically the mag nitude of the offer, " As much," he says, " as the French are accustomed to give for a king or a prince."

The English did not rely so implic itly on the steps taken by the Univer sity, and on Cauchon's negotiations^ as to neglect the more energetic means. On the same day that the latter pre sented his summons, or the day after, the council in England placed an em bargo on all traffic with the markets of the Low Countries, and, above all, with Antwerp (July 19), prohibiting the English merchants from purchas ing linens there, and the other goods for which they were in the habit of exchanging their wool. This was in flicting on the Duke of Burgundy, Count of Flanders, a blow in the most sensible part, through the medium of the great Flemish manufactures, lin ens and cloth : the English discontin ued purchasing the one, and supplying the material for the other.

While the English were thus stren uously urging on the destruction of the Pucelle, did Charles VII. take any steps to save her? None, it appears: yet he had prisoners in his hands, and could have protected her by threaten ing reprisals. A short time before, he bad set negotiations on foot through the medium of his chancellor, the arch bishop of Rheims ; but neither he nor the other politicians of the council had ever regarded the Pucelle with much favor. The AnjouLorraine party, with the old queen of Sicily, who had taken her by the hand from the first, could not, at this precise juncture, interfere on her behalf with the Duke of Burgundy. The Duke of Lorraine was on his deathbed; the succession to the duchy disputed before the breath was out of his body, and Philippe was giving his support to a rival of Rene of Anjou's, - soninlaw and heir to the Duke of Lorraine.

Thus, on every side, interest and covetousness declared against the Pu celle, or produced indiference to her. The good Charles VIL did nothing for her, the good Duke Philippe delivered her up. The house of Anjou coveted Lorraine, the Duke of Burgundy coveted Brabant; and, most of all, he desiderated the keeping open the trade between Flanders and England. The little had their interests to attend to as well. John of Ligny looked to in herit SaintPol, and Cauchon was graspingat the archbishopric of Rouen.

In vain did John of Ligny's wife throw herself at his feet, in vain did she supplicate him not to dishonor himself. He was no longer a free man, already had he touched English gold ; though he gave her up, not, it is true, directly to the English, but to the Duke of Burgundy. This house of Ligny and of SaintPol, with its recollections of greatness and its un bridled aspirations, was fated to pur sue fortune to the end - to the Grfive. The surrenderer of the Pucelle seems to have felt all his misery ; he had painted on his arms a camel succumb ing under its burden, with the sad device, unknown to men of heart, "Nul n'est tenu, impossible," (No one is held to impossibilities). What was the prisoner doing the while ? Her body was at Beaurevoir, her soul at Compidgne ; she was fighting, Boul and spirit, for the king who had deserted her. Without her, she felt that the faithful city of Compiegne would fall, and, with it, the royal cause throughout the North. She had pre viously tried to effect her escape from the towers of Beaulieu ; and at Beau revoir she was still more strongly tempted to fly: she knew that the English demanded that she should be given up to them, and dreaded falling into their hands. She consulted her saints, and could obtain no other answer than that it behooved to be patient, " that her delivery 'v^ould not be until she had seen the king of the English." " But," she said within her self, "can it be that God will suffer these poor people of Compiegne to die, who have been, and who are, so loyal to their lord ? " Presented under this form of lively discussion, the temptation prevailed. For the first time she turned a deaf ear to her saints : she threw herself from the tower, and fell at its foot halfdead. Borne in again and nursed by the ladies of Ligny, she longed for death, and persisted in remaining two days without eating.


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