Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

The Life of Joan of Arc
By Anatole France

Frontispiece for The Life of Joan of Arc book by Anatole France


IN the month of September, 1430, two inhabitants of Tournai, the chief alderman, Bietremieu Carlier, and the chief Councillor, Henri Romain, were returning from the banks of the Loire, whither their town had despatched them on a mission to the King of France. They stopped at Beaurevoir. Albeit this place lay upon their direct route and afforded them a halt between two stages of their journey, one cannot help supposing some connection to have existed between their mission to Charles of Valois and their arrival in the domain of the Sire de Luxembourg. The existence of such a connection seems all the more probable when we remember the attachment of their fellow-citizens to the Fleurs-de-Lis, and when we know the relations already existing between the Maid and these emissaries.[495]

It has been said that the district of the provost of Tournai was loyal to the King of France, who had granted it freedom and privileges. Message after message it sent him; it organised public processions[Pg ii.189] in his honour, and it was ready to grant him anything, so long as he demanded neither men nor money. The alderman, Carlier, and the Councillor, Romain, had both previously gone to Reims as representatives of their town to witness the anointing and the coronation of King Charles. There they had doubtless seen the Maid in her glory and had held her to be a very great saint. In those days, their town, attentively watching the progress of the royal army, was in regular correspondence with the warlike béguine, and with her confessor, Friar Richard, or more probably Friar Pasquerel. To-day they wended to the castle, wherein she was imprisoned in the hands of her cruel enemies. We know not what it was they came to say to the Sire de Luxembourg, nor even whether he received them. He cannot have refused to hear them if he thought they came to make secret offers on the part of King Charles for the ransom of the Maid, who had fought in his battles. We know not, either, whether they were able to see the prisoner. The idea that they did enter her presence is quite tenable; for in those days it was generally easy to approach captives, and passers by when they visited them were given every facility for the performance of one of the seven works of mercy.

One thing, however, is certain; that when they left Beaurevoir, they carried with them a letter which Jeanne had given them, charging them to deliver it to the magistrates of their town. In this letter she asked the folk of Tournai, for the sake of her Lord the King and in view of the good services she had rendered him, to send unto her twenty or thirty crowns, that she might employ them for her necessities.[496]

[Pg ii.190]

It was the custom in those days thus to permit prisoners to beg their bread.

It is said that the Demoiselle de Luxembourg, who had just made her will, and had but a few days longer to live,[497] entreated her noble nephew not to give the Maid up to the English.[498] But what power had this good dame against the Norman gold of the King of England and against the anathemas of Holy Church? For if my Lord Jean had refused to give up this damsel suspected of enchantments, of idolatries, of invoking devils and committing other crimes against religion, he would have been excommunicated. The venerable University of Paris had not neglected to make him aware that a refusal would expose him to heavy legal penalties.[499]

The Sire de Luxembourg, meanwhile, was ill at ease; he feared that in his castle of Beaurevoir, a prisoner worth ten thousand golden livres was not sufficiently secure in case of a descent on the part of the French or of the English or of the Burgundians, or of any of those folk, who, caring nought for Burgundy or England or France, might wish to carry her off, cast her into a pit, and hold her to ransom, according to the custom of brigands in those days.[500]

Towards the end of September, he asked his lord, the Duke of Burgundy, who ruled over fine towns and strong cities, if he would undertake the[Pg ii.191] safe custody of the Maid. My Lord Philip consented and, by his command, Jeanne was taken to Arras. This town was encircled by high walls; it had two castles, one of which, La Cour-le-Comte, was in the centre of the town. It was probably in the cells of Cour-le-Comte that Jeanne was confined, under the watch and ward of my Lord David de Brimeu, Lord of Ligny, Knight of the Golden Fleece, Governor of Arras.

At that time it was rare for prisoners to be kept in isolation.[501] At Arras, Jeanne received visitors; and among others, a Scotsman, who showed her her portrait, in which she was represented kneeling on one knee and presenting a letter to her King.[502] This letter might be supposed to have been from the Sire de Baudricourt, or from any other clerk or captain by whom the painter may have thought Jeanne to have been sent to the Dauphin; it might have been a letter announcing to the King the deliverance of Orléans or the victory of Patay.

This was the only portrait of herself Jeanne ever saw and, for her own part, she never had any painted; but during the brief duration of her power, the inhabitants of the French towns placed images of her, carved and painted, in the chapels of the saints, and wore leaden medals on which she was represented; thus in her case following a custom established in honour of the saints canonised by the Church.[503]

[Pg ii.192]

Many Burgundian lords, and among them a knight, one Jean de Pressy, Controller of the Finances of Burgundy, offered her woman's dress, as the Luxembourg dame had done, for her own good and in order to avoid scandal; but for nothing in the world would Jeanne have cast off the garb which she had assumed according to divine command.

She also received in her prison at Arras a clerk of Tournai, one Jean Naviel, charged by the magistrates of his town to deliver to her the sum of twenty-two golden crowns. This ecclesiastic enjoyed the confidence of his fellow citizens, who employed him in the town's most urgent affairs. In the May of this year, 1430, he had been sent to Messire Regnault de Chartres, Chancellor of King Charles. He had been taken by the Burgundians at the same time as Jeanne and held to ransom; but out of that predicament he soon escaped and at no great cost.

He acquitted himself well of his mission[504] to the Maid, and, it would seem, received nothing for his trouble, doubtless because he wanted the reward of this work of mercy to be placed to his account in heaven.[505]

[Pg ii.193]

Neither the capture of the Maid nor the retreat of the men-at-arms she had brought, put an end to the siege of Compiègne. Guillaume de Flavy and his two brothers, Charles and Louis, and Captain Baretta with his Italians, and the five hundred of the garrison[506] displayed skill, vigour, and untiring energy. The Burgundians conducted the siege in the same manner as the English had conducted that of Orléans; mines, trenches, bulwarks, cannonades and bastions, those gigantic and absurd erections good for nothing but for burning. The suburbs of the town Guillaume de Flavy had demolished because they were in the way of his firing; boats he had sunk in order to bar the river. To the mortars and huge couillards of the Burgundians he replied with his artillery, and notably with those little copper culverins which did such good service.[507] If the gay cannoneer of Orléans and Jargeau, Maître Jean de Montesclère, were absent, there was a shoemaker of Valenciennes, an artilleryman, named Noirouffle, tall, dark, terrible to see, and terrible to hear.[508] The townsfolk of Compiègne, like those of Orléans, made unsuccessful sallies. One day Louis de Flavy, the governor's brother, was killed by a Burgundian bullet. But none the less on that day Guillaume did as he was wont to do and made the minstrels play to keep his men-at-arms in good cheer.[509]

In the month of June the bulwark, defending the[Pg ii.194] bridge over the Oise, like les Tourelles at Orléans which defended the bridge over the Loire, was captured by the enemy without bringing about the reduction of the town. In like manner, the capture of Les Tourelles had not occasioned the fall of the town of Duke Charles.[510]


Henry VI


From a portrait in the "Election Chamber" at Eton, reproduced by permission of the Provost


As for the bastions, they were just as little good on the Oise as they had been on the Loire; everything passed by them. The Burgundians were unable to invest Compiègne because its circumference was too great.[511] They were short of money; and their men-at-arms, for lack of food and of pay, deserted with that perfect assurance which in those days characterised alike mercenaries of the red cross and of the white.[512] To complete his misfortunes, Duke Philip was obliged to take away some of the troops engaged in the siege and send them against the inhabitants of Liège who had revolted.[513] On the 24th of October, a relieving army, commanded by the Count of Vendôme and the Marshal de Boussac, approached Compiègne. The English and the Burgundians having turned to encounter them, the garrison and all the inhabitants of the town, even the women, fell upon the rear of the besiegers and routed them.[514] The relieving army entered Compiègne. The flaring of the bastions was a[Pg ii.195] fine sight. The Duke of Burgundy lost all his artillery.[515] The Sire de Luxembourg, who had come to Beaurevoir, where he had received the Count Bishop of Beauvais, now appeared before Compiègne just in time to bear his share in the disaster.[516] The same causes which had constrained the English to depart, as they put it, from Orléans, now obliged the Burgundians to leave Compiègne. But in those days the most ordinary events must needs have a supernatural cause assigned to them, wherefore the deliverance of the town was attributed to the vow of the Count of Vendôme, who, in the cathedral of Senlis, had promised an annual mass to Notre-Dame-de-la-Pierre if the place were not taken.[517]

The Lord Treasurer of Normandy raised aids to the amount of eighty thousand livres tournois, ten thousand of which were to be devoted to the purchase of Jeanne. The Count Bishop of Beauvais, who was taking this matter to heart, urged the Sire de Luxembourg to come to terms, mingled threats with coaxings, and caused the Norman gold to glitter before his eyes. He seemed to fear, and his fear was shared by the masters and doctors of the University, that King Charles would likewise make an offer, that he would promise more than King Henry's ten thousand golden francs and that in the end, by dint of costly gifts, the Armagnacs would succeed in winning back their fairy-godmother.[518] The rumour ran that King[Pg ii.196] Charles, hearing that the English were about to gain possession of Jeanne for a sum of money, sent an ambassador to warn the Duke of Burgundy not on any account to consent to such an agreement, adding that if he did, the Burgundians in the hands of the King of France would be made to pay for the fate of the Maid.[519] Doubtless the rumour was false; albeit the fears of the Lord Bishop and the masters of the Paris University were not entirely groundless; and it is certain that from the banks of the Loire the negotiations were being attentively followed with a view to intervention at a favourable moment.

Besides, some sudden descent of the French was always to be feared. Captain La Hire was ravaging Normandy, the knight Barbazan, la Champagne, and Marshal de Boussac, the country between the Seine, the Marne and the Somme.[520]

At length, about the middle of November, the Sire de Luxembourg consented to the bargain; Jeanne was delivered up to the English. It was decided to take her to Rouen, through Ponthieu, along the sea-shore, through the north of Normandy, where there would be less risk of falling in with the scouts of the various parties.

From Arras she was taken to the Château of Drugy, where the monks of Saint-Riquier were said to have visited her in prison.[521] She was afterwards taken to Crotoy, where the castle walls were washed by the[Pg ii.197] ocean waves. The Duke of Alençon, whom she called her fair Duke, had been imprisoned there after the Battle of Verneuil.[522] At the time of her arrival, Maître Nicolas Gueuville, Chancellor of the Cathedral church of Notre Dame d'Amiens, was a prisoner in that castle in the hands of the English. He heard her confess and administered the Communion to her.[523] And there on that vast Bay of the Somme, grey and monotonous, with its low sky traversed by sea-birds in their long flight, Jeanne beheld coming down to her the visitant of earlier days, the Archangel Saint Michael; and she was comforted. It was said that the damsels and burgesses of Abbeville went to see her in the castle where she was imprisoned.[524] At the time of the coronation, these burgesses had thought of turning French; and they would have done so if King Charles had come to their town; he did not come; and perhaps it was through Christian charity that the folk of Abbeville visited Jeanne; but those among them who thought well of her did not say so, for fear they too should be suspected of heresy.[525]

The doctors and masters of the University pursued her with a bitterness hardly credible. In November, after they had been informed of the conclusion of the bargain between Jean de Luxembourg and the English, they wrote through their rector to the Lord Bishop of Beauvais reproaching him for his delay in the matter of this woman and exhorting him to be more diligent.[Pg ii.198]

"For you it is no slight matter, holding as you do so high an office in God's Church," ran this letter, "that the scandals committed against the Christian religion be stamped out, especially when such scandals arise within your actual jurisdiction."[526]

Filled with faith and zeal for the avenging of God's honour, these clerks were, as they said, always ready to burn witches. They feared the devil; but, perchance, though they may not have admitted it even to themselves, they feared him twenty times more when he was Armagnac.

Jeanne was taken out of Crotoy at high tide and conveyed by boat to Saint-Valery, then to Dieppe, as is supposed, and certainly in the end to Rouen.[527]

She was conducted to the old castle, built in the time of Philippe-Auguste on the slope of the Bouvreuil hill.[528] King Henry VI, who had come to France for his coronation, had been there since the end of August. He was a sad, serious child, harshly treated by the Earl of Warwick, who was governor of the castle.[529] The castle was strongly fortified;[530] it had seven towers, including the keep. Jeanne was placed[Pg ii.199] in a tower looking on to the open country.[531] Her room was on the middle storey, between the dungeon and the state apartment. Eight steps led up to it.[532] It extended over the whole of that floor, which was forty-three feet across, including the walls.[533] A stone staircase approached it at an angle. There was but a dim light, for some of the window slits had been filled in.[534] From a locksmith of Rouen, one Étienne Castille, the English had ordered an iron cage, in which it was said to be impossible to stand upright. If the reports of the ecclesiastical registrars are to be believed, Jeanne was placed in it and chained by the neck, feet, and hands,[535] and left there till the opening of the trial. At Jean Salvart's, at l'Écu de France, in front of the Official's courtyard,[536] a mason's apprentice saw the cage weighed. But no one ever found Jeanne in it. If this treatment were inflicted on Jeanne, it was not invented for her; when Captain La Hire, in the February of this same year, 1430, took Château Gaillard, near Rouen, he found the good knight Barbazan in an iron cage, from which he would not come out, alleging that he was a prisoner on parole.[537] Jeanne, on the contrary, had been careful to[Pg ii.200] promise nothing, or rather she had promised to escape as soon as she could.[538] Therefore the English, who believed that she had magical powers, mistrusted her greatly.[539] As she was being prosecuted by the Church, she ought to have been detained in an ecclesiastical prison,[540] but the Godons were resolved to keep her in their custody. One among them said she was dear to them because they had paid dearly for her. On her feet they put shackles and round her waist a chain padlocked to a beam five or six feet long. At night this chain was carried over the foot of her bed and attached to the principal beam.[541] In like manner, John Huss, in 1415, when he was delivered up to the Bishop of Constance and transferred to the fortress of Gottlieben, was chained night and day until he was taken to the stake.

Five English men-at-arms,[542] common soldiers (houspilleurs), guarded the prisoner;[543] they were not the flower of chivalry. They mocked her and she rebuked them, a circumstance they must have found consolatory. At night two of them stayed behind the door; three remained with her, and constantly troubled her by saying first that she would die, then that she would be delivered. No one could speak to her without their consent.[544]

Nevertheless folk entered the prison as if it were[Pg ii.201] a fair (comme au moulin); people of all ranks came to see Jeanne as they pleased. Thus Maître Laurent Guesdon, Lieutenant of the Bailie of Rouen, came,[545] and Maître Pierre Manuel, Advocate of the King of England, who was accompanied by Maître Pierre Daron, magistrate of the city of Rouen. They found her with her feet in shackles, guarded by soldiers.[546]

Maître Pierre Manuel felt called upon to tell her that for certain she would never have come there if she had not been brought. Sensible persons were always surprised when they saw witches and soothsayers falling into a trap like any ordinary Christian. The King's Advocate must have been a sensible person, since his surprise appeared in the questions he put to Jeanne.

"Did you know you were to be taken?" he asked her.

"I thought it likely," she replied.

"Then why," asked Maître Pierre again, "if you thought it likely, did you not take better care on the day you were captured?"

"I knew neither the day nor the hour when I should be taken, nor when it should happen."[547]

A young fellow, one Pierre Cusquel, who worked for Jean Salvart, also called Jeanson, the master-mason of the castle, through the influence of his employer, was permitted to enter the tower. He also found Jeanne bound with a long chain attached to a beam, and with her feet in shackles. Much later, he claimed to have warned her to be careful of what she said, because her life was involved in it. It is true that she talked volubly to her guards and that all she[Pg ii.202] said was reported to her judges. And it may have happened that the young Pierre, whose master was on the English side, wished to advise her and even did so. There is a suspicion, however, that like so many others he was merely boasting.[548]

The Sire Jean de Luxembourg came to Rouen. He went to the Maid's tower accompanied by his brother, the Lord Bishop of Thérouanne, Chancellor of England; and also by Humphrey, Earl of Stafford, Constable of France for King Henry; and the Earl of Warwick, Governor of the Castle of Rouen. At this interview there was also present the young Seigneur de Macy, who held Jeanne to be of very modest bearing, since she had repulsed his attempted familiarity.

"Jeanne," said the Sire de Luxembourg, "I have come to ransom you if you will promise never again to bear arms against us."

These words do not accord with our knowledge of the negotiation for the purchase of the Maid. They seem to indicate that even then the contract was not complete, or at any rate that the vendor thought he could break it if he chose. But the most remarkable point about the Sire de Luxembourg's speech is the condition on which he says he will ransom the Maid. He asks her to promise never again to fight against England and Burgundy. From these words it would seem to have been his intention to sell her to the King of France or to his representative.[549]

There is no evidence, however, of this speech having made any impression on the English. Jeanne set no store by it.

"In God's name, you do but jest," she replied;[Pg ii.203] "for I know well that it lieth neither within your will nor within your power."

It is related that when he persisted in his statement, she replied:

"I know that these English will put me to death, believing that afterwards they will conquer France."

Since she certainly did not believe it, it seems highly improbable that she should have said that the English would have put her to death. Throughout the trial she was expecting, on the faith of her Voices, to be delivered. She knew not how or when that deliverance would come to pass, but she was as certain of it as of the presence of Our Lord in the Holy Sacrament. She may have said to the Sire de Luxembourg: "I know that the English want to put me to death." Then she repeated courageously what she had already said a thousand times:

"But were there one hundred thousand Godons more than at present, they would not conquer the kingdom."

On hearing these words, the Earl of Stafford unsheathed his sword and the Earl of Warwick had to restrain his hand.[550] That the English Constable of France should have raised his sword against a woman in chains would be incredible, did we not know that about this time this Earl of Stafford, hearing some one speak well of Jeanne, straightway wished to transfix him.[551]

In order that the Bishop and Vidame of Beauvais might exercise jurisdiction at Rouen it was necessary that a concession of territory should be granted him. The archiepiscopal see of Rouen was vacant.[552] For[Pg ii.204] this concession, therefore, the Bishop of Beauvais applied to the chapter, with whom he had had misunderstandings.[553] The canons of Rouen lacked neither firmness nor independence; more of them were honest than dishonest; some were highly educated, well-lettered and even kind-hearted. None of them nourished any ill will toward the English. The Regent Bedford himself was a canon of Rouen, as Charles VII was a canon of Puy.[554] On the 20th of October, in that same year 1430, the Regent, donning surplice and amice, had distributed the dole of bread and wine for the chapter.[555] The canons of Rouen were not prejudiced in favour of the Maid of the Armagnacs; they agreed to the demand of the Bishop of Beauvais and granted him the formal concession of territory.[556]

On the 3rd of January, 1431, by royal decree, King Henry ordered the Maid to be given up to the Bishop and Count of Beauvais, reserving to himself the right to bring her before him, if she should be acquitted by the ecclesiastical tribunal.[557]

Nevertheless she was not placed in the Church prison, in one of those dungeons near the Booksellers' Porch, where in the shadow of the gigan[Pg ii.205]tic cathedral there rotted unhappy wretches who had erred in matters of faith.[558] There she would have endured sufferings far more terrible than even the horrors of her military tower. The wrong the Great Council of England inflicted on Jeanne by not handing her over to the ecclesiastical powers of Rouen was far less than the indignity they thereby inflicted on her judges.

With the way thus opened before him, the Bishop of Beauvais proceeded with all the violence one might expect from a Cabochien, albeit that violence was qualified by worldly arts and canonical knowledge.[559] As promoter in the case, that is, as the magistrate who was to conduct the prosecution, he selected one Jean d'Estivet, called Bénédicité, canon of Bayeux and of Beauvais, Promoter-General of the diocese of Beauvais. Jean d'Estivet was a friend of the Lord Bishop, and had been driven out of the diocese by the French at the same time. He was suspected of hostility to the Maid.[560] The Lord Bishop appointed Jean de la Fontaine, master of arts, licentiate of canon law, to be "councillor commissary" of the trial.[561] One of the clerks of the ecclesiastical court of Rouen, Guillaume Manchon, priest, he appointed first registrar.

In the course of instructing this official as to what would be expected of him, the Lord Bishop said to Messire Guillaume:

"You must do the King good service. It is our[Pg ii.206] intention to institute an elaborate prosecution (un beau procès) against this Jeanne."[562]

As to the King's service, the Lord Bishop did not mean that it should be rendered at the expense of justice; he was a man of some priestly pride and was not likely to reveal his own evil designs. If he spoke thus, it was because in France, for a century at least, the jurisdiction of the Inquisition had been regarded as the jurisdiction of the King.[563] And as for the expression "an elaborate prosecution" (un beau procès), that meant a trial in which legal forms were observed and irregularities avoided, for it was a case in which were interested the doctors and masters of the realm of France and indeed the whole of Christendom. Messire Guillaume Manchon, well skilled in legal procedure, was not likely to err in a matter of legal language. An elaborate trial was a strictly regular trial. It was said, for example, that "N—— and N—— had by elaborate judicial procedure found such an one to be guilty."[564]

Charged by the Bishop to choose another registrar to assist him, Guillaume Manchon selected as his colleague Guillaume Colles, surnamed Boisguillaume, who like him was a notary of the Church.[565]

Jean Massieu, priest, ecclesiastical dean of Rouen, was appointed usher of the court.[566]

[Pg ii.207]

In that kind of trial, which was very common in those days, there were strictly only two judges, the Ordinary and the Inquisitor. But it was the custom for the Bishop to summon as councillors and assessors persons learned in both canon and civil law. The number and the rank of those councillors varied according to the case. And it is clear that the obstinate upholder of a very pestilent heresy must needs be more particularly and more ceremoniously tried than an old wife, who had sold herself to some insignificant demon, and whose spells could harm nothing more important than cabbages. For the common wizard, for the multitude of those females, or mulierculæ, as they were described by one inquisitor who boasted of having burnt many, the judges were content with three or four ecclesiastical advocates and as many canons.[567] When it was a question of a very notable personage who had set a highly pernicious example, of a king's advocate, for instance like Master Jean Segueut, who that very year, in Normandy, had spoken against the temporal power of the Church, a large assembly of doctors and prelates, English and French, were convoked, and the doctors and masters of the University of Paris were consulted in writing.[568] Now it was fitting that the Maid of the Armagnacs should be yet more elaborately and more solemnly tried, with a yet greater concourse of doctors and of prelates; and thus it was ordained by the Lord Bishop of Beauvais. As councillors and assessors he summoned the canons of Rouen in as great a number as possible. Among those who[Pg ii.208] answered his summons we may mention Raoul Roussel, treasurer of the chapter; Gilles Deschamps, who had been chaplain to the late King, Charles VI, in 1415; Pierre Maurice, doctor in theology, rector of the University of Paris in 1428; Jean Alespée, one of the sixteen who during the siege of 1418 had gone robed in black and with cheerful countenance to place at the feet of King Henry V the life and honour of the city; Pasquier de Vaux, apostolic notary at the Council of Constance, President of the Norman Chambre des Comptes; Nicolas de Vendères, whose candidature for the vacant see of Rouen was being advocated by a powerful party; and, lastly, Nicolas Loiseleur. For the same purpose, the Lord Bishop summoned the abbots of the great Norman abbeys, Mont Saint-Michel-au-Péril-de-la-Mer, Fécamp, Jumièges, Préaux, Mortemer, Saint-Georges de Boscherville, la Trinité-du-mont-Sainte-Catherine, Saint-Ouen, Bec, Cormeilles, the priors of Saint-Lô, of Rouen, of Sigy, of Longueville, and the abbot of Saint Corneille of Compiègne. He summoned twelve ecclesiastical advocates; likewise famous doctors and masters of the University of Paris, Jean Beaupère, rector in 1412; Thomas Fiefvé, rector in 1427; Guillaume Erart, Nicolas Midi,[569] and that young doctor, abounding in knowledge and in modesty, the brightest star in the Christian firmament of the day, Thomas de Courcelles.[570] The Lord Bishop is bent[Pg ii.209] upon turning the tribunal, which is to try Jeanne, into a veritable synod; it is indeed a provincial council, before which she is cited. Moreover, in effect, it is not only Jeanne the Maid, but Charles of Valois, calling himself King of France, and lawful successor of Charles VI who is to be brought to justice. Wherefore are assembled so many croziered and mitred abbots, so many renowned doctors and masters.

Nevertheless, there were other bright and shining lights of the Church, whom the Bishop of Beauvais neglected to summon. He consulted the two bishops of Coutances and Lisieux; he did not consult the senior bishop of Normandy, the Bishop of Avranches, Messire Jean de Saint-Avit, whom the chapter of the cathedral had charged with the duty of ordination throughout the diocese during the vacancy of the see of Rouen. But Messire Jean de Saint-Avit was considered and rightly considered to favour King Charles.[571] On the other hand those English doctors and masters, residing at Rouen, who had been consulted in Segueut's trial, were not consulted in that of Jeanne.[572] The doctors and masters of the University of Paris, the abbots of Normandy, the chapter of Rouen, held firmly to the Treaty of Troyes; they were as prejudiced as the English clerks against the Maid and the Dauphin Charles, and they were less suspected; it was all to the good.[573]

On Tuesday, the 9th of January, my Lord of Beauvais summoned eight councillors to his house: the abbots of Fécamp and of Jumièges, the prior of[Pg ii.210] Longueville, the canons Roussel, Venderès, Barbier, Coppequesne and Loiseleur.

"Before entering upon the prosecution of this woman," he said to them, "we have judged it good, maturely and fully to confer with men learned and skilled in law, human and divine, of whom, thank God, there be great number in this city of Rouen."

The opinion of the doctors and masters was that information should be collected concerning the deeds and sayings publicly imputed to this woman.

The Lord Bishop informed them that already certain information had been obtained by his command, and that he had decided to order more to be collected, which would be ultimately presented to the Council.[574]

It is certain that a tabellion[575] of Andelot in Champagne, Nicolas Bailly, requisitioned by Messire Jean de Torcenay, Bailie of Chaumont for King Henry, went to Domremy, and with Gérard Petit, provost of Andelot, and divers mendicant monks, made inquiry touching Jeanne's life and reputation. The interrogators heard twelve or fifteen witnesses and among others Jean Hannequin[576] of Greux and Jean Bégot, with whom they lodged.[577] We know from Nicolas Bailly himself that they gathered not a single fact derogatory to Jeanne. And if we may believe Jean Moreau, a citizen of Rouen, Maître Nicolas, having brought my Lord of Beauvais the result of his researches, was treated as a wicked man and a traitor; and obtained no reward for his expenditure or his[Pg ii.211] labour.[578] This is possible, but it seems strange. It can in no wise be true, however, that neither at Vaucouleurs nor at Domremy, nor in the neighbouring villages was anything discovered against Jeanne. Quite on the contrary, numbers of accusations were collected against the inhabitants in general, who were addicted to evil practices, and in particular against Jeanne, who held intercourse with fairies,[579] carried a mandrake in her bosom, and disobeyed her father and mother.[580]

Abundant information was forthcoming, not only from Lorraine and from Paris, but from the districts loyal to King Charles, from Lagny, Beauvais, Reims, and even from so far as Touraine and Berry;[581] which was information enough to burn ten heretics and twenty witches. Devilries were discovered which filled the priests with horror: the finding of a lost cup and gloves, the exposure of an immoral priest, the sword of Saint Catherine, the restoration of a child to life. There was also a report of a rash letter concerning the Pope and there were many other indications of witchcraft, heresy, and religious error.[582] Such information was not to be included among the documents of the trial.[583] It was the custom of the Holy Inquisition to keep secret the evidence and even the names of the witnesses.[584] In this case the Bishop of Beauvais might have pleaded as an excuse for so doing the safety of[Pg ii.212] the deponents, who might have suffered had he published information gathered in provinces subject to the Dauphin Charles. Even if their names were concealed, they would be identified by their evidence. For the purposes of the trial, Jeanne's own conversation in prison was the best source of information: she spoke much and without any of the reserve which prudence might have dictated.

A painter, whose name is unknown, came to see her in her tower. He asked her aloud and before her guards what arms she bore, as if he wished to represent her with her escutcheon. In those days portraits were very seldom painted from life, except of persons of very high rank, and they were generally represented kneeling and with clasped hands in an attitude of prayer. Though in Flanders and in Burgundy there may have been a few portraits bearing no signs of devotion, they were very rare. A portrait naturally suggested a person praying to God, to the Holy Virgin, or to some saint. Wherefore the idea of painting the Maid's picture doubtless must have met with the stern disapproval of her ecclesiastical judges. All the more so because they must have feared that the painter would represent this excommunicated woman in the guise of a saint, canonised by the Church, as the Armagnacs were wont to do.

A careful consideration of this incident inclines us to think that this man was no painter but a spy. Jeanne told him of the arms which the King had granted to her brothers: an azure shield bearing a sword between two golden fleurs de lis. And our suspicion is confirmed when at the trial she is reproached with pomp and vanity for having caused her arms to be painted.[585]

[Pg ii.213]

Sundry clerks introduced into her prison gave her to believe that they were men-at-arms of the party of Charles of Valois.[586] In order to deceive her, the Promoter himself, Maître Jean d'Estivet, disguised himself as a poor prisoner.[587] One of the canons of Rouen, who was summoned to the trial, by name Maître Nicolas Loiseleur, would seem to have been especially inventive of devices for the discovery of Jeanne's heresies. A native of Chartres, he was not only a master of arts, but was greatly renowned for astuteness. In 1427 and 1428 he carried through difficult negotiations, which detained him long months in Paris. In 1430 he was one of those deputed by the chapter to go to the Cardinal of Winchester in order to obtain an audience of King Henry and commend to him the church of Rouen. Maître Nicolas Loiseleur was therefore a persona grata with the Great Council.[588]

Having concerted with the Bishop of Beauvais and the Earl of Warwick, he entered Jeanne's prison, wearing a short jacket like a layman. The guards had been instructed to withdraw; and Maître Nicolas, left alone with his prisoner, confided to her that he, like herself, was a native of the Lorraine Marches, a shoemaker by trade, one who held to the French party and had been taken prisoner by the English. From King Charles he brought her tidings which were the fruit of his own imagination. No one was dearer to Jeanne than her King. Thus having won her confidence, the pseudo-shoemaker asked her sundry questions concerning the angels and saints[Pg ii.214] who visited her. She answered him confidingly, speaking as friend to friend, as countryman to countryman. He gave her counsel, advising her not to believe all these churchmen and not to do all that they asked her; "For," he said, "if thou believest in them thou shalt be destroyed."

Many a time, we are told, did Maître Nicolas Loiseleur act the part of the Lorraine shoemaker. Afterwards he dictated to the registrars all that Jeanne had said, providing thus a valuable source of information of which a memorandum was made to be used during the examination. It would even appear that during certain of these visits the registrars were stationed at a peep-hole in an adjoining room.[589] If we may believe the rumours current in the town, Maître Nicolas also disguised himself as Saint Catherine, and by this means brought Jeanne to say all that he wanted.

He may not have been proud of such deceptions, but at any rate he made no secret of them.[590] Many famous masters approved him; others censured him.[591]

The angel of the schools, Thomas de Courcelles, when Nicolas told him of his disguises, counselled him to abandon them.

Afterwards the registrars pretended that it had been extremely repugnant to them thus to overhear in hiding a conversation so craftily contrived. The golden age of inquisitorial justice must have been well over when so strict a doctor as Maître Thomas was willing thus to criticise the most solemn forms of that justice. Inquisitorial proceedings must in[Pg ii.215]deed have fallen into decay when two notaries of the Church dream of eluding its most common prescriptions. The clerks who disguised themselves as soldiers, the Promoter who took on the semblance of a poor prisoner, were exercising the most regular functions of the judicial system instituted by Innocent III.

In acting the shoemaker and Saint Catherine, if he were seeking the salvation and not the destruction of the sinner, if, contrary to public report, far from inciting her to rebellion, he was reducing her to obedience, if, in short, he were but deceiving her for her own temporal and spiritual good, Maître Nicolas Loiseleur was proceeding in conformity with established rules. In the Tractatus de Hæresi it is written: "Let no man approach the heretic, save from time to time two persons of faith and tact, who may warn him with precaution and as having compassion upon him, to eschew death by confessing his errors, and who may promise him that by so doing he shall escape death by fire; for the fear of death, and the hope of life may peradventure soften a heart which could be touched in no other wise."[592]

The duty of registrars was laid down in the following manner:

"Matters shall be ordained thus, that certain persons shall be stationed in a suitable place so as to surprise the confidences of heretics and to overhear their words."[593]

As for the Bishop of Beauvais, who had ordained[Pg ii.216] and permitted such procedure, he found his justification and approbation in the words of the Apostle Saint Paul to the Corinthians: "I did not burden you: nevertheless, being crafty, I caught you with guile." "Ego vos non gravavi; sed cum essem astutus, dolo vos cepi" (II Corinthians xii, 16).[594]

Meanwhile, when Jeanne saw the Promoter, Jean d'Estivet, in his churchman's habit she did not recognise him. And Maître Nicolas Loiseleur also often came to her in monkish dress. In this guise he inspired her with great confidence; she confessed to him devoutly and had no other confessor.[595] She saw him sometimes as a shoemaker and sometimes as a canon and never perceived that he was the same person. Wherefore we must indeed believe her to have been incredibly simple in certain respects; and these great theologians must have realised that it was not difficult to deceive her.

It was well known to all men versed in science, divine and human, that the Enemy never entered into dealings with a maid without depriving her of her virginity.[596] At Poitiers the French clerks had thought of it, and when Queen Yolande assured them that Jeanne was a virgin, they ceased to fear that she was sent by the devil.[597] The Lord Bishop of Beauvais in a different hope awaited a similar examination. The Duchess of Bedford herself went to the prison. She was assisted by Lady Anna Bavon and another matron. It has been said that the Re[Pg ii.217]gent was hidden meanwhile in an adjoining room and looking through a hole in the wall.[598] This is by no means certain, but it is not impossible; he was at Rouen a fortnight after Jeanne had been brought there.[599] Whether the charge were groundless or well founded he was seriously reproached for this curiosity. If there were many who in his place would have been equally curious, every one must judge for himself; but we must bear in mind that my Lord of Bedford believed Jeanne a witch, and that it was not the custom in those days to treat witches with the respect due to ladies. We must remember also that this was a matter in which Old England was greatly concerned, and the Regent loved his country with all his heart and all his strength.

Upon the examination of the Duchess of Bedford as upon that of the Queen of Sicily Jeanne appeared a virgin. The matrons knew various signs of virginity; but for us a more certain sign is Jeanne's own word. When she was asked wherefore she called herself the Maid, whether she were one in reality, she replied: "I may tell you that such I am."[600] The judges, as far as we know, set no store by this favourable result of the examination. Did they believe with the wise King Solomon that in such matters all inquiry is vain, and did they reject the matrons' verdict by virtue of the saying: Virginitatis probatio non minus difficilis quam custodia? No, they knew well that she was indeed a virgin. They allowed it to be understood when they did not assert the contrary.[601] And since they persisted in believing her a witch, it[Pg ii.218] must have been because they imagined her to have given herself to devils who had left her as they found her. The morals of devils abounded in such inconsistencies, which were the despair of the most learned doctors; every day new inconsistencies were being discovered.

On Saturday, the 13th of January, the Lord Abbot of Fécamp, the doctors and masters, Nicolas de Venderès, Guillaume Haiton, Nicolas Coppequesne, Jean de la Fontaine, and Nicolas Loiseleur, met in the house of the Lord Bishop. There was read to them the information concerning the Maid gathered in Lorraine and elsewhere. And it was decided that according to this information a certain number of articles should be drawn up in due form; which was done.[602]

On Tuesday, the 23rd of January, the doctors and masters above named considered the terms of these articles, and, finding them sufficient, they decided that they might be used for the examination. Then they resolved that the Bishop of Beauvais should order a preliminary inquiry as to the deeds and sayings of Jeanne.[603]

On Tuesday, the 13th of February, Jean d'Estivet, called Bénédicité, Promoter, Jean de la Fontaine, Commissioner, Boisguillaume and Manchon, Registrars, and Jean Massieu, Usher, took the oath faithfully to discharge their various offices. Then straightway Maître Jean de la Fontaine, assisted by two registrars, proceeded to the preliminary inquiry.[604]

On Monday, the 19th of February, at eight o'clock[Pg ii.219] in the morning, the doctors and masters assembled, to the number of eleven, in the house of the Bishop of Beauvais; there they heard the reading of the articles and the preliminary information. Whereupon they gave it as their opinion, and, in conformity with this opinion, the Bishop decided that there was matter sufficient to justify the woman called the Maid being cited and charged touching a question of faith.[605]

But now a fresh difficulty arose. In such a trial it was necessary for the accused to appear at once before the Ordinary and before the Inquisitor. The two judges were equally necessary for the validity of the trial. Now the Grand Inquisitor for the realm of France, Brother Jean Graverent, was then at Saint-Lô, prosecuting on a religious charge a citizen of the town, one Jean Le Couvreur.[606] In the absence of Brother Jean Graverent, the Bishop of Beauvais had invited the Vice-Inquisitor for the diocese of Rouen to proceed against Jeanne conjointly with himself. Meanwhile the Vice-Inquisitor seemed not to understand; he made no response; and the Bishop was left in embarrassment with his lawsuit on his hands.

This Vice-Inquisitor was Brother Jean Lemaistre, Prior of the Dominicans of Rouen, bachelor of theology, a monk right prudent and scrupulous.[607] At length in answer to a summons from the Usher, at four o'clock on the 19th of February, 1413, he appeared in the house of the Bishop of Beauvais. He declared[Pg ii.220] himself ready to intervene provided that he had the right to do so, which he doubted. As the reason for his uncertainty he alleged that he was the Inquisitor of Rouen; now the Bishop of Beauvais was exercising his jurisdiction as bishop of the diocese of Beauvais, but on borrowed territory; wherefore was it not rather for the Inquisitor of Beauvais not for the Inquisitor of Rouen, to sit on the judgment seat side by side with the Bishop?[608] He declared that he would ask the Grand Inquisitor of France for an authorisation which should hold good for the diocese of Beauvais. Meanwhile he consented to act in order to satisfy his own conscience and to prevent the proceedings from lapsing, which, in the opinion of all, must have ensued had the trial been instituted without the concurrence of the Holy Inquisition.[609] All preliminary difficulties were now removed. The Maid was cited to appear on Wednesday, the 21st of February,[610] 1431.

On that day, at eight o'clock in the morning, the Bishop of Beauvais, the Vicar of the Inquisitor, and forty-one Councillors and Assessors assembled in the castle chapel. Fifteen of them were doctors in theology, five doctors in civil and canon law, six bachelors in theology, eleven bachelors in canon law, four licentiates in civil law. The Bishop sat as judge. At his side were the Councillors and Assessors, clothed either in the fine camlet of canons or in the coarse cloth of mendicants, expressive, the one of[Pg ii.221] sacerdotal solemnity, the other of evangelical meekness. Some glared fiercely, others cast down their eyes. Brother Jean Lemaistre, Vice-Inquisitor of the faith, was among them, silent, in the black and white livery of poverty and obedience.[611]

Before bringing in the accused, the usher informed the Bishop that Jeanne, to whom the citation had been delivered, had replied that she would be willing to appear, but she demanded that an equal number of ecclesiastics of the French party should be added to those of the English party. She requested also the permission to hear mass.[612] The Bishop refused both demands;[613] and Jeanne was brought in, dressed as a man, with her feet in shackles. She was made to sit down at the table of the registrars.

And now from the very outset these theologians and this damsel regarded each other with mutual horror and hatred. Contrary to the custom of her sex, a custom which even loose women did not dare to infringe, she displayed her hair, which was brown and cut short over the ears. It was possibly the first time that some of those young monks seated behind their elders had ever seen a woman's hair. She wore hose like a youth. To them her dress appeared immodest and abominable.[614] She exasperated and irritated them. Had the Bishop of Beauvais insisted on her appearing in hood and gown their anger against her would have been less violent. This man's attire brought before their minds the works performed by the Maid in the camp of the Dauphin Charles, calling himself king. By the stroke of a magic wand she[Pg ii.222] had deprived the English men-at-arms of all their strength, and thereby she had inflicted sore hurt on the majority of the churchmen who were to judge her. Some among them were thinking of the benefices of which she had despoiled them; others, doctors and masters of the University, recalled how she had been about to lay Paris waste with fire and sword;[615] others again, canons and abbots, could not forgive her perchance for having struck fear into their hearts even in remote Normandy. Was it possible for them to pardon the havoc she had thus wrought in a great part of the Church of France, when they knew she had done it by sorcery, by divination and by invoking devils? "A man must be very ignorant if he will deny the reality of magic," said Sprenger. As they were very learned, they saw magicians and wizards where others would never have suspected them; they held that to doubt the power of demons over men and things was not only heretical and impious, but tending to subvert the whole natural and social order. These doctors, seated in the castle chapel, had burned each one of them ten, twenty, fifty witches, all of whom had confessed their crimes. Would it not have been madness after that to doubt the existence of witches?

To us it seems curious that beings capable of causing hail-storms and casting spells over men and animals should allow themselves to be taken, judged, tortured, and burned without making any defence; but it was constantly occurring; every ecclesiastical judge must have observed it. Very learned men were able to account for it: they explained that wizards and witches lost their power as soon as they fell[Pg ii.223] into the hands of churchmen. This explanation was deemed sufficient. The hapless Maid had lost her power like the others; they feared her no longer.

At least Jeanne hated them as bitterly as they hated her. It was natural for unlettered saints, for the fair inspired, frank of mind, capricious, and enthusiastic to feel an antipathy towards doctors all inflated with knowledge and stiffened with scholasticism. Such an antipathy Jeanne had recently felt towards clerks, even when as at Poitiers they had been on the French side, and had not wished her evil and had not greatly troubled her. Wherefore we may easily imagine how intense was the repulsion with which the clerks of Rouen now inspired her. She knew that they sought to compass her death. But she feared them not; confidently she awaited from her saints and angels the fulfilment of their promise, their coming for her deliverance. She knew not when nor how her deliverance should come; but that come it would she never once doubted. To doubt it would indeed have been to doubt Saint Michael, Saint Catherine, and even Our Lord; it would have been to believe evil of her Voices. They had told her to fear nothing, and of nothing was she afeard.[616] Fearless simplicity; whence came her confidence in her Voices if not from her own heart?

The Bishop required her to swear, according to the prescribed form with both hands on the holy Gospels, that she would reply truly to all that should be asked her.

She could not. Her Voices forbade her telling any one of the revelations they had so abundantly vouchsafed to her.[Pg ii.224]

She answered: "I do not know on what you wish to question me. You might ask me things that I would not tell you."

And when the Bishop insisted on her swearing to tell the whole truth:

"Touching my father and mother and what I did after my coming into France I will willingly swear," she said; "but touching God's revelations to me, those I have neither told nor communicated to any man, save to Charles my King. And nought of them will I reveal, were I to lose my head for it."

Then, either because she wished to gain time or because she counted on receiving some new directions from her Council, she added that in a week she would know whether she might so reveal those things.

At length she took the oath, according to the prescribed form, on her knees, with both hands on the missal.[617] Then she answered concerning her name, her country, her parents, her baptism, her godfathers and godmothers. She said that to the best of her knowledge she was about nineteen years of age.[618]

Questioned concerning her education, she replied: "From my mother I learnt my Paternoster, my Ave Maria and my Credo."

But, asked to repeat her Paternoster, she refused, for, she said, she would only say it in confession. This was because she wanted the Bishop to hear her confess.[619]

The assembly was profoundly agitated; all spoke at once. Jeanne with her soft voice had scandalised the doctors.[Pg ii.225]

The Bishop forbade her to leave her prison, under pain of being convicted of the crime of heresy.

She refused to submit to this prohibition. "If I did escape," she said, "none could reproach me with having broken faith, for I never gave my word to any one."

Afterwards she complained of her chains.

The Bishop told her they were on account of her attempt to escape.

She agreed: "It is true that I wanted to escape, and I still want to, just like every other prisoner."[620]

Such a confession was very bold, if she had rightly understood the judge when he said that by flight from prison she would incur the punishment of a heretic. To escape from an ecclesiastical prison was to commit a crime against the Church, but it was folly as well as crime; for the prisons of the Church are penitentiaries, and the prisoner who refuses salutary penance is as foolish as he is guilty; for he is like a sick man who refuses to be cured. But Jeanne was not, strictly speaking, in an ecclesiastical prison; she was in the castle of Rouen, a prisoner of war in the hands of the English. Could it be said that if she escaped she would incur excommunication and the spiritual and temporal penalties inflicted on the enemies of religion? There lay the difficulty. The Lord Bishop removed it forthwith by an elaborate legal fiction. Three English men-at-arms, John Grey, John Berwoist, and William Talbot, were appointed by the King to be Jeanne's custodians. The Bishop, acting as an ecclesiastical judge, himself delivered to them their charge, and made them swear on the holy Gospels to bind the damsel and confine her.[621][Pg ii.226] In this wise the Maid became the prisoner of our holy Mother, the Church; and she could not burst her bonds without falling into heresy. The second sitting was appointed for the next day, the 22nd of February.[622]


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