Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

Joan of Arc Biography Part 15

By Jules Michelet
The Maid of Orleans

" Did not the voices call you daughter of God, daughter of the Church, the maid of the great heart?" - " Before the siege of Orleans was raised, and since then, the voices have called me, and they call me every day, ' Jehanne the Pucelle, daughter of God.' "

" Was it right to attack Paris, the day of the Nativity of Our Lady ?" - " It is fitting to kee^ the, festivals of Our Lady ; and it would be so, I truly think, to keep them every day."

" Why did you leap from the tower of Beaurevoir?" (the drift of this question was to induce her to say that she had wished to kill herself.) - "I heard that the poor people of Compiegne would all be slain, down to children seven years of age, and I knew, too, that I was sold to the English; I would rather have died than fall into the hands of the English."

" Do St. Catherine and St. Margaret hate the English ?" - " They love what our Lord loves, and hate what he hates." - "Does God hate the English ? " - " Of the love or hate God may bear the English, and what he does with their souJs, I know noth ing ; but I know that they will be put forth out of Prance, with the excep tion of such as shall perish in it."

" Is it not a mortal sin to hold a man to ransom, and then put him to death ? " - " I have not done that." - " Was not Franquet d'Arras put to death ? " - "I consented to it, having been unable to exchange him for one of my men; he owned to being a brig and and a traitor. His trial lasted a fortnight, before the bailli of Senlis." - " Did you not give money to the man who took him ? " - "I am not treasurer of 'France, to give money."

" Do you think that your king did well in killing, or causing to be killed, my lord of Burgundy ? " - " It was a great pity for the realm of France; but, whatever might have been be tween them, God sent me to the aid of the king of France."

"Jehanne, has it been revealed to you whether you will escape?" - " That does not bear upon your trial. Do you want me to depone against myself?" - "Have the voices said nothing to you about it ? " - " That does not concern your trial ; I put my self in our Lord's hands, who will do as it pleaseth him." . . . And, after a pause, " By my troth, I know neither the hour nor the day. God's will be done." - " Have not your voices told you any thing about the result, gene rally ? " - *' Well then, yes ; they have told me that I shall be delivered, and have bade me be of good cheer and courage. . , ."

Another day she added: "The saints tell me that I shall be victori ously delivered, and they say to me besides, ' Take all in good part ; care not for thy martyrdom ; thou shalt at the last enter the kingdom of Paradise.' - 'And since they have told you so, do you feel sure of being saved, and of not going to hell ? " - " Yes, I believe what they have told me as firmly as if I were already saved." - "This assurance is a very weighty one." - "Yes, it is a great treasure to me." - " And so, you be lieve you can no longer commit a mor tal sin ? " - "I know nothing of that ; I rely altogether on our Lord."

At last, the judges had made out the true ground on which to bring the accusation; at last, they had found a spot on which to lay stronghold. There was not a chance of getting this chaste and holy girl to be taken for a witch, for a familiar of the dev il's; but, in her very sanctity, as is invariably the case with all mystics, there was a side left open to attack : the secret voice considered equal, or preferred to, the instruction of the Church, the prescriptions of authority - inspiration, but free and independ ent inspiration - revelation, but a personal revelation - submission to God ; what God ? the God within.

These preliminary examinations were concluded by a formal demand, whether she would submit her actions and opin ions to the judgment of the Church ; to which she replied, "I love the Church, and would support it to the best of my power. As to the good works which I have wrought, I must refer them to the King of heaven, who sent me."

The question being repeated, she gave no other answer, but added, " Our Lord and the Church, it is all one."

She was then told, that there was a distinction ; that there was the Church triumphanty God, the saints, and those who had been admitted to salvation; and the Church militant, or, in other words, the pope, the cardinals, the clergy, and all good Christians - the which Church, "properly assembled," cannot err, and is guided by the Holy Ghost. "Will you not then submit yourself to the Church militant? " - " I am come to the king of Prance from God, from the Virgin Mary, the saints, and the Church mctorious there above ; to that Church I submit my self, my works, all that I have done or have to do." - " And to the Church militant ? " - "I will give no other answer."

According to one of the assessors she said that, on certain points, she trusted to neither bishop, pope, nor any one ; but held her belief of God alone.

The question on which the trial was to turn was thus laid down in all its simplicity and grandeur, and the true debate commenced : on the one hand, the visible Church and authority, on the other, inspiration attesting the invisible Church; . . . invisible to vul gar eyes, but clearly seen by the pious girl, who was forever contemplating it, forever hearing it within herself, for ever carrying in her heart these saints and angels. . . . There was her Church, there God shone in his brightness; everywhere else, how shadowy He was I . . .

Such being the case at issue, the accused was doomed to irremediable destruction. She could not give way ; she could not, save falsely, disavow, deny what she saw and heard so dis tinctly. On the other hand, could authority remain authority if it abdi cated its jurisdiction; if it did not punish? The Church militant is an armed Church, armed with a two edged sword ; against whom? Appar ently, against the refractory.

Terrible was this Church in the person of the reasoners, the scholas* tics, the enemies of inspiration ; terri ble and implacable, if represented by the bishop of Beauvais. But were there, then, no judges superior to this bishop? How could the episcopal party, the party of the University, fail, in this peculiar case, to recognize as supreme judge its Council of Bale, which was on the eve of being opened? On the other hand, the papal Inquisition, and the Dominican who was its vicar, would undoubtedly be far from disputing the superiority of the pope's jurisdiction to its own, which emanated from it.

A legist of Rouen, that very Jean de la Fontaine who was Cauchon's friend and the enemy of the Pucelle, could not feel his conscience at ease in leaving an accused girl, without counsel, ignorant that there were judges of appeal, on whom she could call without any sacrifice of the ground on which she took up her defence. Two monks likewise thought that a reservation should be made in favor of the supreme right of the pope. However irregular it might be for assessors to visit and counsel the accused, apart from their coadjutors, these three worthy men, who saw Cauchon violate every legal form for the triumph of iniquity, did not hesi tate to violate all forms themselves for justice's sake, intrepidly repaired to the prison, forced their way in, and advised her to appeal. The next day, she appealed to the pope and to the council. Cauchon, in his rage, sent for the guards and inquired who had visited the Pucelle. The legist and the two monks were in great danger of death. From that day they disappear from among the assessors, and with them the last semblance of justice disappears from the trial.

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