Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

The Life of Joan of Arc
By Anatole France


WHEN a record of the proceedings came to be written down after the first sitting, a dispute arose between the ecclesiastical notaries and the two or three royal registrars who had likewise taken down the replies of the accused. As might be expected, the two records differed in several places. It was decided that on the contested points Jeanne should be further examined.[623] The notaries of the Church complained also that they experienced great difficulty in seizing Jeanne's words on account of the constant interruptions of the bystanders.

In a trial by the Inquisition there was no place fixed for the examination any more than for the other acts of the procedure. The judges might examine the accused in a chapel, in a chapter-house, or even in a prison or a torture-chamber. According to Messire Guillaume Manchon it was in order to escape from the tumult of the first sitting,[624] and because there was no longer any reason for proceeding with such solemn ceremony as at the opening of the trial, that the judge and his councillors met in the Robing Room, a little chamber at one end of the castle[Pg ii.228] hall;[625] and two English guards were stationed at the door. According to the rules of inquisitorial procedure, the assessors were not bound to be present at all the deliberations.[626] This time forty-two were present, twenty-six of the original ones and six newly appointed. Among these high clerics was Brother Jean Lemaistre, Vice Inquisitor of the Faith, a humble preaching friar. No longer as in the days of Saint Dominic was the Vice Inquisitor the hunting hound of the Lord, now he was but the dog of the Bishop, a poor monk, who dared neither to do nor to abstain from doing. Such was the result of the assertion of Gallican independence against papal supremacy. Dumb and timid, Brother Jean Lemaistre was the last and the least of all the brethren in that assembly, but he was ever looking for the day when he should be sovereign judge and without appeal.[627]

Jeanne was brought in by the Usher, Messire Jean Massieu. Again she endeavoured to avoid taking the oath to tell everything; but she had to swear on the Gospel.[628]

She was examined by Maître Jean Beaupère, doctor in theology. In his University of Paris he was regarded as a scholar of light and leading; it had twice appointed him rector. It had charged him with the functions of chancellor in the absence of Gerson, and, in 1419, had sent him with Messire Pierre Cauchon to the town of Troyes, to give aid and counsel to King Charles VI. Three years later[Pg ii.229] it had despatched him to the Queen of England and the Duke of Gloucester to enlist their support in its endeavour to obtain the confirmation of its privileges. King Henry VI had just appointed him canon of Rouen.[629]

Maître Jean's first question to Jeanne was what was her age when she left her father's house. She was unable to say, although on the previous day she had stated her present age to be about nineteen.[630]

Interrogated as to the occupations of her childhood, she replied that she was busy with household duties and seldom went into the fields with the cattle.

"For spinning and sewing," she said, "I am as good as any woman in Rouen."[631]

Thus even in things domestic she displayed her ardour and her chivalrous zeal; at the spinning-wheel and with the needle she challenged all the women in a town, without knowing one of them.

Questioned as to her confessions and her communions, she answered that she confessed to her parish priest or to another priest when the former was not able to hear her. But she refused to say whether she had received the communion on other feast-days than Easter.[632]

In order to take her unawares, Maître Jean Beaupère proceeded without method, passing abruptly from one subject to another. Suddenly he spoke of her Voices. She gave him the following reply:

"Being thirteen years of age, I heard the Voice of God, bidding me lead a good life. And the first time[Pg ii.230] I was sore afeard. And the Voice came almost at the hour of noon, in summer, in my father's garden...."

She heard the Voice on the right towards the church. Rarely did she hear it without seeing a light. This light was in the direction whence the Voice came.[633]

When Jeanne said that her Voice spoke to her from the right, a doctor more learned and more kindly disposed than Maître Jean would have interpreted this circumstance favourably; for do we not read in Ezekiel that the angels were upon the right hand of the dwelling; do we not find in the last chapter of Saint Mark, that the women beheld the Angel seated on the right, and finally does not Saint Luke expressly state that the Angel appeared unto Zacharias on the right of the altar burning with incense; whereupon the Venerable Bede observes: "he appeared on the right as a sign that he was the bringer of divine mercy."[634] But such things never occurred to the examiner. Thinking to embarrass Jeanne, he asked how she came to see the light if it appeared at her side.[635] Jeanne made no reply, and as if distraught, she said:

"If I were in a wood I should easily hear the Voices coming towards me.... It seems to me to be a Voice right worthy. I believe that this Voice was sent to me by God. After having heard it three times I knew it to be the voice of an angel."

"What instruction did this Voice give you for the salvation of your soul?"[Pg ii.231]

"It taught me to live well, to go to church, and it told me to fare forth into France."[636]

Then Jeanne related how, by the command of her Voice, she had gone to Vaucouleurs, to Sire Robert de Baudricourt, whom she had recognised without ever having seen him before, how the Duke of Lorraine had summoned her to cure him, and how she had come into France.[637]

Thereafter she was brought to say that she knew well that God loved the Duke of Orléans and that concerning him she had had more revelations than concerning any man living, save the King; that she had been obliged to change her woman's dress for man's attire and that her Council had advised her well.[638]

The letter to the English was read before her. She admitted having dictated it in those terms, with the exception of three passages. She had not said body for body nor chieftain of war; and she had said surrender to the King in the place of surrender to the Maid. That the judges had not tampered with the text of the letter we may assure ourselves by comparing it with other texts, which did not pass through their hands, and which contain the expressions challenged by Jeanne.[639]

In the beginning of her career, she believed that Our Lord, the true King of France, had ordained her to deliver the government of the realm to Charles of Valois, as His deputy. The words in which she gave utterance to this idea are reported by too many persons strangers one to another for us to doubt her having spoken them. "The King shall hold the king[Pg ii.232]dom as a fief (en commande); the King of France is the lieutenant of the King of Heaven." These are her own words and she did actually say to the Dauphin: "Make a gift of your realm to the King of Heaven."[640] But we are bound to admit that at Rouen not one of these mystic ideas persists, indeed there they seem altogether beyond her. In all her replies to her examiners, she seems incapable of any abstract reasoning whatsoever and of any speculation however simple, so that it is hard to understand how she should ever have conceived the idea of the temporal rule of Jesus Christ over the Land of the Lilies. There is nothing in her speech or in her thoughts to suggest such meditations, wherefore we are led to believe that this politico-theology had been taught her in her tender, teachable years by ecclesiastics desiring to remove the woes of Church and kingdom, but that she had failed to seize its spirit or grasp its inner meaning. Now, in the midst of a hard life lived with men-at-arms, whose simple souls accorded better with her own than the more cultivated minds of the early directors of her meditations, she had forgotten even the phraseology in which those suggested meditations were expressed. Interrogated concerning her coming to Chinon, she replied:

"Without let or hindrance I went to my King. When I reached the town of Sainte-Catherine de Fierbois, I sent first to the town of Château-Chinon, where my King was. I arrived there about the hour of noon and lodged in an inn, and, after dinner, I went to my King who was in his castle."

[Pg ii.233]

If we may believe the registrars, they never ceased wondering at her memory. They were amazed that she should recollect exactly what she had said a week before.[641] Nevertheless her memory was sometimes curiously uncertain, and we have reason for thinking with the Bastard that she waited two days at the inn before being received by the King.[642]

With regard to this audience in the castle of Chinon, she told her judges she had recognised the King as she had recognised the Sire de Baudricourt, by revelation.[643]

The interrogator asked her: "When the Voice revealed your King to you, was there any light?"[644]

This question bore upon matters which were of great moment to her judges; for they suspected the Maid of having committed a sacrilegious fraud, or rather witchcraft, with the complicity of the King of France. Indeed, they had learnt from their informers that Jeanne boasted of having given the King a sign in the form of a precious crown.[645] The following is the actual truth of the matter:

The legend of Saint Catherine relates that on a day she received from the hand of an angel a resplendent crown and placed it on the head of the Empress of the Romans. This crown was the symbol of eternal blessedness.[646] Jeanne, who had been[Pg ii.234] brought up on this legend, said that the same thing had happened to her. In France she had told sundry marvellous stories of crowns, and in one of these stories she imagined herself to be in the great hall of the castle at Chinon, in the midst of the barons, receiving a crown from the hand of an angel to give it to her King.[647] This was true in a spiritual sense, for she had taken Charles to his anointing and to his coronation. Jeanne was not quick to grasp the distinction between two kinds of truth. She may, nevertheless, have doubted the material reality of this vision. She may even have held it to be true in a spiritual sense only. In any case, she had of her own accord promised Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret not to speak of it to her judges.[648]

"Saw you any angel above the King?"

She refused to reply.[649]

This time nothing more was said of the crown. Maître Jean Beaupère asked Jeanne if she often heard the Voice.

"Not a day passes without my hearing it. And it is my stay in great need."[650]

She never spoke of her Voices without describing them as her refuge and relief, her consolation and her joy. Now all theologians agreed in believing that good spirits when they depart leave the soul filled with joy, with peace, and with comfort, and as proof they cited the angel's words to Zacharias and Mary: "Be not afraid."[651] This reason, however, was not[Pg ii.235] strong enough to persuade clerks of the English party that Voices hostile to the English were of God.

And the Maid added: "Never have I required of them any other final reward than the salvation of my soul."[652]

The examination ended with a capital charge: the attack on Paris on a feast day. It was in this connection possibly that Brother Jacques of Touraine, a friar of the Franciscan order, who from time to time put a question, asked Jeanne whether she had ever been in a place where Englishmen were being slain.

"In God's name, was I ever in such a place?" Jeanne responded vehemently. "How glibly you speak. Why did they not depart from France and go into their own country?"

A nobleman of England, who was in the chamber, on hearing these words, said to his neighbours: "By my troth she is a good woman. Why is she not English?"[653]

The third public sitting was appointed for two days thence, Saturday, the 24th of February.[654]

It was Lent. Jeanne observed the fast very strictly.[655]

On Friday, the 23rd, in the morning, she was awakened by her Voices themselves. She arose from her bed and remained seated, her hands clasped, giving thanks. Then she asked what she should reply to her judges, beseeching the Voices thereupon to take counsel of Our Lord. First the Voices uttered words she could not understand. That happened sometimes, in difficult circumstances especially.[Pg ii.236] Then they said:[656] "Reply boldly, God will aid thee."

That day she heard them a second time at the hour of vespers and a third time when the bells were ringing the Ave Maria in the evening. In the night of Friday and Saturday they came and revealed to her many secrets for the weal of the King of France. Thereupon she received great consolation.[657] Very probably they repeated the assurance that she would be delivered from the hands of her enemies, and that on the other hand her judges stood in great danger.

She depended absolutely on her Voices for direction. When she was in difficulty as to what to say to her judges, she prayed to Our Lord; she addressed him devoutly, saying: "Good God, for the sake of thy holy Passion, I beseech thee if thou lovest me to reveal unto me what I should reply to these churchmen. Touching my dress I know well how I was commanded to put it on; but as to leaving it I know nothing. In this may it please thee to teach me."

Then straightway the Voices came.[658]

At the third sitting, held in the Robing Chamber, there were present sixty-two assessors, of whom twenty were new.[659]

Jeanne showed a greater repugnance than before to swearing on the holy Gospels to reply to all that should be asked her. In charity the Bishop warned her that this obstinate refusal caused her to be suspected, and he required her to swear, under pain of being convicted upon all the charges.[660] Such was in[Pg ii.237]deed the rule in a trial by the Inquisition. In 1310 a béguine, one La Porète, refused to take the oath as required by the Holy Inquisitor of the Faith, Brother Guillaume of Paris. She was excommunicated forthwith, and without being further examined, after lengthy proceedings, she was handed over to the Provost of Paris, who caused her to be burned alive. Her piety at the stake drew tears from all the bystanders.[661]

Still the Bishop failed to force an unconditional oath from the Maid; she swore to tell the truth on all she knew concerning the trial, reserving to herself the right to be silent on everything which in her opinion did not concern it. She spoke freely of the Voices she had heard the previous day, but not of the revelations touching the King. When, however, Maître Jean Beaupère appeared desirous to know them, she asked for a fortnight's delay before replying, sure that before then she would be delivered; and straightway she fell to boasting of the secrets her Voices had confided to her for the King's weal.

"I would wish him to know them at this moment," she said; "even if as the result I were to drink no wine from now till Easter."[662]

"Drink no wine from now till Easter!" Did she thus casually use an expression common in that land of the rose-tinted wine (vin gris), a drop or two of which with a slice of bread sufficed the Domremy women for a meal?[663] Or had she caught this manner of speech with the habit of dealing hard clouts and good blows from the men-at-arms of her company? Alas! what hypocras was she to drink during the[Pg ii.238] five weeks before Easter! She was merely making use of a current phrase, as was frequently her custom, and attributing no precise meaning to it, unless it were that wine vaguely suggested to her mind the idea of cordiality and the hope that after her deliverance she would see the Lords of France filling a cup in her honour.

Maître Jean Beaupère asked her whether she saw anything when she heard her Voices.

She replied: "I cannot tell you everything. I am not permitted. The Voice is good and worthy.... To this question I am not bound to reply."

And she asked them to give her in writing the points concerning which she had not given an immediate reply.[664]

What use did she intend to make of this writing? She did not know how to read; she had no counsel. Did she want to show the document to some false friend, like Loiseleur, who was deceiving her? Or was it her intent to present it to her saints?

Maître Beaupère asked whether her Voice had a face and eyes.

She refused to answer and quoted a saying frequently on the lips of children: "One is often hanged for having spoken the truth."[665]

Maître Beaupère asked: "Do you know whether you stand in God's grace?"

This was an extremely insidious question; it placed Jeanne in the dilemma of having to avow herself sinful or of appearing unpardonably bold. One of the assessors, Maître Jean Lefèvre of the Order of the[Pg ii.239] Hermit Friars, observed that she was not bound to reply. There was murmuring throughout the chamber.

But Jeanne said: "If I be not, then may God bring me into it; if I be, then may God keep me in it."[666]

The assessors were astonished at so ready an answer. And yet no improvement ensued in their disposition towards her. They admitted that touching her King she spoke well, but for the rest she was too subtle, and with a subtlety peculiar to women.[667]

Thereafter, Maître Jean Beaupère examined Jeanne concerning her childhood in her village. He essayed to show that she had been cruel, had displayed a homicidal tendency from her earliest years, and had been addicted to those idolatrous practices which had given the folk of Domremy a bad name.[668]

Then he touched on a point of prime importance in elucidating the obscure origin of Jeanne's mission:

"Were you not regarded as the one who was sent from the Oak Wood?"

In this direction he might have succeeded in obtaining important revelations. False prophecies had indeed established Jeanne's reputation in France; but these clerks were incapable of discriminating amongst all these pseudo-Bedes and pseudo-Merlins.[669]

Jeanne replied: "When I came to the King, certain asked me whether there were in my country a wood called the Oak Wood; because of prophecies saying that from the neighbourhood of this wood[Pg ii.240] should come a damsel who would work wonders. But to such things I paid no heed."

This statement we must needs believe; but if she denied credence to the prophecy of Merlin touching the Virgin of the Oak Wood, she paid good heed to the prophecy foretelling the appearance of a Deliverer in the person of a Maid coming from the Lorraine Marches, since she repeated that prophecy to the two Leroyers and to her Uncle Lassois, with an emphasis which filled them with astonishment. Now we must admit that the two prophecies are as alike as two peas.[670]

Passing abruptly from Merlin the Magician, Maître Jean Beaupère asked: "Jeanne, will you have a woman's dress?"

She answered: "Give me one; and I will accept it and depart. Otherwise I will not have it. I will be content with this one, since God is pleased for me to wear it."

On this reply, which contained two errors tending to heresy, the Lord Bishop adjourned the court.[671]

The morrow, the 25th of February, was the first Sunday in Lent. On that day or another, but probably on that day, my Lord Bishop sent Jeanne a shad. Having partaken of this fish she had fever and was seized with vomiting.[672] Two masters of arts of the Paris University, both doctors of medicine, Jean Tiphaine and Guillaume Delachambre, assessors in the trial, were summoned by the Earl of Warwick, who said to them:

"According to what has been told me, Jeanne is[Pg ii.241] sick. I have summoned you to devise measures for her recovery. The King would not for the world have her die a natural death. She is dear to him, for he has bought her dearly; his intent is that she die not, save by the hand of justice, and that she should be burned. Do all that may be necessary, therefore, visit her attentively, and endeavour to restore her."[673]

Conducted to Jeanne by Maître Jean d'Estivet, the doctors inquired of her the cause of her suffering.

She answered that she had eaten a carp sent her by the Lord Bishop of Beauvais, and that she believed it to be the cause of her sickness.

Did Jeanne suspect the Bishop of designing to poison her? That is what Maître Jean d'Estivet thought, for he flew into a violent rage:

"Whore!" he cried, "it is thine own doing; thou hast eaten herrings and other things which have made thee ill."

"I have not," she answered.

They exchanged insults, and Jeanne's sickness thereupon grew worse.[674]

The doctors examined her and found that she had fever. Wherefore they decided to bleed her.

They informed the Earl of Warwick, who became anxious:

"A bleeding!" he cried; "take heed! She is artful and might kill herself."

Nevertheless Jeanne was bled and recovered.[675]

On Monday, the 26th, there was no examination.[676][Pg ii.242] On the opening of the fourth sitting, Tuesday, the 27th, Maître Jean Beaupère asked her how she had been, which inquiry touched her but little. She replied drily:

"You can see for yourself. I am as well as it is possible for me to be."[677]

This sitting was held in the Robing Chamber in the presence of fifty-four assessors.[678] Five of them had not been present before, and among them was Maître Nicolas Loiseleur, canon of Rouen, whose share in the proceedings had been to act the Lorraine shoemaker and Saint Catherine of Alexandria.[679]

Maître Jean Beaupère, as on the previous Saturday, was curious to know whether Jeanne had heard her Voices. She heard them every day.[680]

He asked her: "Is it an angel's voice that speaketh unto you, or the voice of a woman saint or of a man saint? Or is it God speaking without an interpreter?"

Said Jeanne: "This voice is the voice of Saint Catherine and of Saint Margaret; and on their heads are beautiful crowns, right rich and right precious. I am permitted to tell you so by Messire. If you doubt it send to Poitiers, where I was examined."[681]

She was right in appealing to the clerks of France. The Armagnac doctors had no less authority in mat[Pg ii.243]ters of faith than the English and Burgundian doctors. Were they not all to meet at the Council?

The examiner asked: "How know ye that they are these two saints? Know ye them one from another?"

Said Jeanne: "Well do I know who they are; and I do know one from the other."


"By the greeting they give me."[682]

Let not Jeanne be hastily taxed with error or untruth. Did not the Angel salute Gideon (Judges vi), and Raphaël salute Tobias (Tobit xii)?[683]

Thereafter Jeanne gave another reason: "I know them because they call themselves by name."[684]

When she was asked whether her saints were both clothed alike, whether they were of the same age, whether they spoke at once, whether one of them appeared before the other, she refused to reply, saying she had not permission to do so.[685]

Maître Jean Beaupère inquired which of the apparitions came to her the first when she was about thirteen.

Jeanne said: "It was Saint Michael. I beheld him with my eyes. And he was not alone, but with him were angels from heaven. It was by Messire's command alone that I came into France."

"Did you actually behold Saint Michael and these angels in the body?"

"I saw them with the eyes of my head as plainly as I see you; and when they went away I[Pg ii.244] wept and should have liked them to take me with them."

"In what semblance was Saint Michael?"[686]

She was not permitted to say.

She was asked whether she had received permission from God to go into France and whether God had commanded her to put on man's dress.

By keeping silence on this point she became liable to be suspected of heresy, and however she replied she laid herself open to serious charges,—she either took upon herself homicide and abomination, or she attributed it to God, which manifestly was to blaspheme.

Concerning her coming into France, she said: "I would rather have been dragged by the hair of my head than have come into France without permission from Messire." Concerning her dress she added: "Dress is but a little thing, less than nothing. It was not according to the counsel of any man of this world that I put on man's clothing. I neither wore this attire nor did anything save by the command of Messire and his angels."[687]

Maître Jean Beaupère asked: "When you behold this Voice coming towards you, is there any light?"

Then she replied with a jest, as at Poitiers: "Every light cometh not to you, my fair lord."[688]

After all it was virtually against the King of France that these doctors of Rouen were proceeding with craft and with cunning.

Maître Jean Beaupère threw out the question:[Pg ii.245] "How did your King come to have faith in your sayings?"

"Because they were proved good to him by signs and also because of his clerks."

"What revelations were made unto your King?"

"That you will not hear from me this year."

As he listened to the damsel's words, must not my Lord of Beauvais, who was in the counsels of King Henry, have reflected on that verse in the Book of Tobias (xii, 7): "It is good to keep close the secret of a king"?

Thereafter Jeanne was called upon to reply at length concerning the sword of Saint Catherine. The clerks suspected her of having found it by the art of divination, and by invoking the aid of demons, and of having cast a spell over it. All that she was able to say did not remove their suspicions.[689]

Then they passed on to the sword she had captured from a Burgundian.

"I wore it at Compiègne," she said, "because it was good for dealing sound clouts and good buffets."[690] The buffet was a flat blow, the clout was a side stroke. Some moments later, on the subject of her banner, she said that, in order to avoid killing any one, she bore it herself when they charged the enemy. And she added: "I have never slain any one."[691]

The doctors found that her replies varied.[692] Of course they varied. But if like her every hour of the day and night the doctors had been seeing the heavens descending, if all their thoughts, all their instincts,[Pg ii.246] good and bad, all their desires barely formulated, had been undergoing instant transformation into divine commands, their replies would likewise have varied, and they would have doubtless been in such a state of illusion that in their words and in their actions they would have displayed less good sense, less gentleness and less courage.

The examinations were long; they lasted between three and four hours.[693] Before closing this one, Maître Jean Beaupère wished to know whether Jeanne had been wounded at Orléans. This was an interesting point. It was generally admitted that witches lost their power when they shed blood. Finally, the doctors quibbled over the capitulation of Jargeau, and the court adjourned.[694]

A famous Norman clerk, Maître Jean Lohier, having come to Rouen, the Count Bishop of Beauvais commanded that he should be informed concerning the trial. On the first Saturday in Lent, the 24th of February, the Bishop summoned him to his house near Saint-Nicolas-le-Painteur, and invited him to give his opinion of the proceedings. The views of Maître Jean Lohier greatly disturbed the Bishop. Off he rushed to the doctors and masters, Jean Beaupère, Jacques de Touraine, Nicolas Midi, Pierre Maurice, Thomas de Courcelles, Nicolas Loiseleur, and said to them:

"Here's Lohier, who holds fine views concerning our trial! He wants to object to everything, and says that our proceedings are invalid. If we were to take his advice we should begin everything over again, and all we have done would be worthless! It is easy to see what he is aiming at. By Saint John,[Pg ii.247] we will do nothing of the kind; we will go on with our trial now it is begun."

The next day, in the Church of Notre Dame, Guillaume Manchon met Maître Jean Lohier and asked him:

"Have you seen anything of the records of the trial?"

"I have," replied Maître Jean. "This trial is void. It is impossible to support it on many grounds: firstly, it is not in regular form."[695]

By that he meant that proceedings should not have been taken against Jeanne without preliminary inquiries concerning the probability of her guilt; either he did not know of the inquiries instituted by my Lord of Beauvais, or he deemed them insufficient.[696]

"Secondly," continued Maître Jean Lohier, "the judges and assessors when they are trying this case are shut up in the castle, where they are not free to utter their opinions frankly. Thirdly, the trial involves divers persons who are not called, notably it touches the reputation of the King of France, to whose party Jeanne belonged, yet neither he nor his representative is cited. Fourthly, neither documents nor definite written charges have been produced, wherefore this woman, this simple girl, is left to reply without guidance to so many masters, to such great doctors and on such grave matters, especially those concerning her revelations. For all these reasons the trial appears to me to be invalid." Then he added: "You see how they proceed. They will catch her if they can in her words. They take advantage of the statements in which she says, 'I[Pg ii.248] know for certain,' concerning her apparitions. But if she were to say, 'It seems to me,' instead of 'I know for certain,' it is my opinion that no man could convict her. I perceive that the dominant sentiment which actuates them is one of hatred. Their intention is to bring her to her death. Wherefore I shall stay here no longer. I cannot witness it. What I say gives offence."[697]

That same day Maître Jean left Rouen.[698]

A somewhat similar incident occurred with regard to Maître Nicolas de Houppeville, a famous cleric. In conference with certain churchmen, he expressed the opinion that to appoint as Jeanne's judges members of the party hostile to her was not a correct method of procedure; and he added that Jeanne had already been examined by the clerks of Poitiers and by the Archbishop of Reims, the metropolitan of this very Bishop of Beauvais. Hearing of this expression of opinion, my Lord of Beauvais flew into a violent rage, and summoned Maître Nicolas to appear before him. The latter replied that the Official of Rouen was his superior, and that the Bishop of Beauvais was not his judge. If it be true, as is related, that Maître Nicolas was thereafter cast into the King's prison, it was doubtless for a reason more strictly judicial than that of having offended the Lord Bishop of Beauvais. It is more probable, however, that this famous cleric did not wish to act as assessor, and that he left Rouen in order to avoid being summoned to take part in the trial.[699]

Certain ecclesiastics, among others Maître Jean Pigache, Maître Pierre Minier, and Maître Richard[Pg ii.249] de Grouchet, discovered long afterwards that being threatened they had given their opinions under the influence of fear. "We were present at that trial," they said, "but throughout the proceedings we were always contemplating flight."[700] As a matter of fact, no violence was done to any man's opinions, and such as refused to attend the trial were in no way molested. Threats! But why should there be any? Was it difficult to convict a witch in those days? Jeanne was no witch. But, then, neither were the others. Still, between Jeanne and the other alleged witches there was this difference, that Jeanne had cast her spells in favour of the Armagnacs, and to convict her was to render a service to the English, who were the masters. This was a point to be taken into consideration; but there was something else which ought also to be borne in mind by thoughtful folk: such a conviction would at the same time offend the French, who were in a fair way to become the masters once more in the place of the English. These matters were very perplexing to the doctors; but the second consideration had less weight with them than the first; they had no idea that the French were so near reconquering Normandy.

The fifth session of the court took place in the usual chamber on the 1st of March, in the presence of fifty-eight assessors, of whom nine had not sat previously.[701]

The first question the examiner put Jeanne was:

"What say you of our Lord the Pope, and whom think you to be the true pope?"

She adroitly made answer by asking another question: "Are there two?"[702]

[Pg ii.250]

No, there were not two; Clement VIII's abdication had put an end to the schism; the great rift in the Church had been closed for thirteen years and all Christian nations recognized the Pope of Rome; even France who had become resigned to the disappearance of her Avignon popes. There was something, however, which neither the accused nor her judges knew; on that 1st of March, 1431, far from there being two popes, there was not even one; the Holy See had fallen vacant by the death of Martin V on the 20th of February, and the vacancy was only to be filled on the 3rd of March, by the election of Eugenius IV.[703]

The examiner in questioning Jeanne concerning the Holy See was not without a motive. That motive became obvious when he asked her whether she had not received a letter from the Count of Armagnac. She admitted having received the letter and having replied to it.

Copies of these two letters were included in the evidence to be used at the trial. They were read to Jeanne.

It appeared that the Count of Armagnac had asked the Maid by letter which of the three popes was the true one, and that Jeanne had replied to him, likewise by letter, that for the moment she had not time to answer, but that she would do so at her leisure when she should come to Paris.

Having heard these two letters read, Jeanne declared that the one attributed to her was only partially hers. And since she always dictated and could never read what had been taken down, it is conceivable that hasty words, uttered with her foot in the stirrup, may not have been accurately transcribed;[Pg ii.251] but in a series of involved and contradictory replies she was unable to demonstrate how that which she had dictated differed from the written text;[704] and in itself the letter appears much more likely to have proceeded from an ignorant visionary than from a clerk who would have some knowledge, however little, of church affairs.

It contains certain words and turns of expression which are to be found in Jeanne's other letters. There can hardly be any doubt that this letter is by her; she had forgotten it. There is nothing surprising in that; her memory, as we have seen, was curiously liable to fail her.[705]

On this document the judges based the most serious of charges; they regarded it as furnishing proof of a most blamable temerity. What arrogance on the part of this woman, so it seemed to them, to claim to have been told by God himself that which the Church alone is entitled to teach! And to undertake by means of an inner illumination to point out the true pope, was that not to commit grave sin against the Bride of Christ, and with sacrilegious hand to rend the seamless robe of our Lord?

For once Jeanne saw clearly how her judges were endeavouring to entrap her, wherefore she twice declared her belief in the Sovereign Pontiff of Rome.[706] How bitterly she would have smiled had she known[Pg ii.252] that the lights of the University of Paris, these famous doctors who held it mortal sin to believe in the wrong pope, themselves believed in his Holiness about as much as they disbelieved in him; that at that very time certain of their number, Maître Thomas de Courcelles, so great a doctor, Maître Jean Beaupère, the examiner, Maître Nicolas Loiseleur, who acted the part of Saint Catherine, were hastening to despatch her, in order that they might bestride their mules and amble away to Bâle, there in the Synagogue of Satan to hurl thunderbolts against the Holy Apostolic See, and diabolically to decree the subjection of the Pope to the Council, the confiscation of his annates, dearer to him than the apple of his eye, and finally his own deposition.[707] Now would have been the time for her to have cried, with the voice of a simple soul, to the priests so keen to avenge upon her the Church's honour: "I am more of a Catholic than you!" And the words in her mouth would have been even more appropriate than on the lips of the Limousin clerk of old. Yet we must not reproach these clerics for having been good Gallicans at Bâle, but rather for having been cruel and hypocritical at Rouen.

In her prison the Maid prophesied before her guard, John Grey. Informed of these prophecies, the judges wished to hear them from Jeanne's own mouth.

"Before seven years have passed," she said to them, "the English shall lose a greater wager than any they lost at Orléans. They shall lose everything in France. They shall suffer greater loss than ever they have suffered in France, and that shall come to pass because God shall vouchsafe unto the French great victory."[Pg ii.253]

"How do you know this?"

"I know it by revelation made unto me and that this shall befall within seven years. And greatly should I sorrow were it further delayed. I know it by revelation as surely as I know that you are before my eyes at this moment."

"When shall this come to pass?"

"I know neither the day nor the hour."

"But the year?"

"That ye shall not know for the present. But I should wish it to be before Saint John's Day."

"Did you not say that it should come to pass before Saint Martin in the winter?"

"I said that before Saint Martin in the winter many things should befall and it might be that the English would be discomfited."

Whereupon the examiner asked Jeanne whether when Saint Michael came to her he was accompanied by Saint Gabriel.

Jeanne replied: "I do not remember."[708]

She did not remember whether, in the multitude of angels who visited her, was the Angel Gabriel who had saluted Our Lady and announced unto her the salvation of mankind. So many angels and archangels had she seen that this one had not particularly impressed her.

After an answer of such perfect simplicity how could these priests proceed to question her on her visions? Were they not sufficiently edified? But no! These innocent answers whetted the examiner's zeal. With intense ardour and copious amplification, passing from angels to saints, he multiplied petty and insidious questions. Did you see the hair on their heads? Had they rings in their ears? Was there[Pg ii.254] anything between their crowns and their hair? Was their hair long and hanging? Had they arms? How did they speak? What kind of voices had they?[709]

This last question touched on an important theological point. Demons, whose voices are as rasping as a cart wheel or a winepress screw, cannot imitate the sweet tones of saints.[710]

Jeanne replied that the Voice was beautiful, sweet, and soft, and spoke in French.

Whereupon she was asked craftily wherefore Saint Margaret did not speak English.

She replied: "How should she speak English, since she is not on the side of the English?"[711]

Two hundred years before, a poet of Champagne had said that the French language, which Our Lord created beautiful and graceful, was the language of Paradise.

She was afterwards asked concerning her rings. This was a hard matter; in those days there were many magic rings or rings bearing amulets. They were fashioned by magicians under the influence of planets; and, by means of wonder-working herbs and stones, these rings had spells cast upon them and received miraculous virtues. Constellation rings worked miracles. Jeanne, alas! had possessed but two poor rings, one of brass, inscribed with the names Jésus and Marie, which she received from her father and mother, the other her brother had given her. The Bishop kept the latter; the other had been taken from her by the Burgundians.[712]

[Pg ii.255]

An attempt was made to incriminate her in a pact made with the Devil near the Fairy Tree. She was not to be caught thus, but retorted by prophesying her deliverance and the destruction of her enemies. "Those who wish to banish me from this world may very likely leave it before me.... I know that my King will win the realm of France."

She was asked what she had done with her mandrake. She said she had never had one.[713]

Then the examiner appeared to be seized with curiosity concerning Saint Michael. "Was he clothed?"

She replied: "Doubt ye that Messire lacks wherewithal to clothe himself?"

"Had he hair?"

"Wherefore should he have cut it off?"

"Did he hold scales?"

"I don't know."[714]

Their object was to ascertain whether she saw Saint Michael as he was represented in the churches, with scales for weighing souls.[715]

When she said that at the sight of the Archangel it seemed to her she was not in a state of mortal sin, the examiner fell to arguing on the subject of her conscience. She replied like a true Christian.[716] Then he returned to the miracle of the sign, which had not been referred to since the first sitting, to the mystery of Chinon, to that wondrous crown, which Jeanne, following Saint Catherine of Alexandria, believed she had received from the hand of an angel. But she had promised Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret to say nothing about it.

[Pg ii.256]

"When you showed the King the sign was there any one with him?"

"I think there was no other person, albeit there were many folk not far off."

"Did you see a crown on the King's head when you gave him this sign?"

"I cannot say without committing perjury."

"Had your King a crown at Reims?"

"My King, methinketh, took with pleasure the crown he found at Reims. But afterwards a very rich crown was brought him. He did not wait for it, because he wished to hurry on the ceremony according to the request of the inhabitants of Reims who desired to rid their town of the burden of men-at-arms. If he had waited he would have had a crown a thousand times more rich."

"Have you seen that richer crown?"

"I cannot tell you without committing perjury. If I have not seen it I have heard tell how rich and how magnificent it is."[717]

Jeanne suffered intensely from being deprived of the sacraments. One day when Messire Jean Massieu, performing the office of ecclesiastical usher, was taking her before her judges, she asked him whether there were not on the way some church or chapel in which was the body of Our Lord Jesus Christ.[718]

Messire Jean Massieu, dean of Rouen, was a cleric of manners dissolute; his inveterate lewdness had involved him in difficulties with the Chapter and with the Official.[719] He may have been neither as brave[Pg ii.257] nor as frank as he wished to make out, but he was not hard or pitiless.

He told his prisoner that there was a chapel on the way. And he pointed out to her the chapel of the castle.

Then she besought him urgently to take her into the chapel in order that she might worship Messire and pray.

Readily did Messire Jean Massieu consent; and he permitted her to kneel before the sanctuary. Devoutly bending, Jeanne offered her prayer.

The Lord Bishop, being informed of this incident, was highly displeased. He instructed the Usher that in the future such devotions must not be tolerated.

And the Promoter, Maître Jean d'Estivet, on his part, addressed many a reprimand to Messire Jean Massieu.

"Rascal," he said, "what possesses thee to allow an excommunicated whore to approach a church without permission? If ever thou doest the like again I will imprison thee in that tower, where for a month thou wilt see neither sun nor moon."

Messire Jean Massieu heeded not this threat. And the Promoter, perceiving this, himself took up his post at the chapel door when Jeanne went that way. Thus he prevented the hapless damsel from engaging in her devotions.[720]

The sixth sitting was held in the same court as before, in the presence of forty-one assessors, of whom six or seven were new, and among them was Maître Guillaume Erart, doctor in theology.[721]

In the beginning, the examiner asked Jeanne whether she had seen Saint Michael and the saints,[Pg ii.258] and whether she had seen anything but their faces. He insisted: "You must say what you know."

"Rather than say all that I know, I would have my head cut off."[722]

They puzzled her with questions touching the nature of angelic bodies. She was simple; with her own eyes she had seen Saint Michael; she said so and could not say otherwise.

The examiner, now as always, informed of the words she had let fall in prison, asked her whether she had heard her Voices.

"Yes, in good sooth. They told me that I should be delivered. But I know neither the day nor the hour. And they told me to have good courage, and to be of good cheer."[723]

Of all this the judges believed nothing, because demonologists teach that witches lose their power when an officer of Holy Church lays hands upon them.

The examiner recurred to her man's dress. Then he endeavoured to find out whether she had cast spells over the banners of her companions in arms.

He sought out by what secret power she led the soldiers.

This power she was willing to reveal: "I said to them: 'Go on boldly against the English;' and at the same time I went myself."[724]

In this examination, which was the most diffuse and the most captious of all, the following curious question was put to the accused: "When you were before Jargeau, what was it you were wearing behind your helmet? Was there not something round?"[725]

[Pg ii.259]

At the siege of Jargeau she had been struck on the head by a huge stone which had not hurt her; and this her own party deemed miraculous.[726] Did the judges of Rouen imagine that she wore a golden halo, like the saints, and that this halo had protected her?

Later she was examined on a more ordinary subject, concerning a picture in the house of her host at Orléans, representing three women: Justice, Peace, Union.

Jeanne knew nothing about it;[727] she was no connoisseur in tapestry and in paintings, like the Duke of Bar and the Duke of Orléans; neither were her judges, not on this occasion at any rate. And if they were concerned about a picture in the house of Maître Boucher, it was not so much on account of the painting as of the doctrine. These three women that the wealthy Maître Boucher kept in his house were doubtless nude. The painters of those days depicted on small panels allegories and bathing scenes, and they painted nude women. Full foreheads, round heads, golden hair, short figures of small build but with embonpoint, their nudity minutely represented and but thinly veiled; many such were produced in Flanders and in Italy. The illustrious masters, to whom those pictures appeared corrupt and indecent, doubtless wished to reproach Jeanne with having looked at them in the house of the treasurer of the Duke of Orléans. It is not difficult to divine what were the doctors' suspicions when they are found asking Jeanne whether Saint Michael wore clothes, in what manner she greeted her saints, and how she gave them her rings to touch.[728]

[Pg ii.260]

They also wanted to make her admit that she had caused herself to be honoured as a saint. She disconcerted them by the following reply: "The poor folk came to me readily, because I did them no hurt, but aided them to the best of my power."[729]

Then the examination ranged over many and various subjects: Friar Richard; the children Jeanne had held over the baptismal fonts; the good wives of the town of Reims who touched rings with her; the butterflies caught in a standard at Château Thierry.[730]

In this town, certain of the Maid's followers were said to have caught butterflies in her standard. Now doctors in theology knew for a certainty that necromancers sacrificed butterflies to the devil. A century before, at Pamiers, the tribunal of the Holy Inquisition had condemned the Carmelite Pierre Recordi, who was accused of having celebrated such a sacrifice. He had killed a butterfly and the devil had revealed his presence by a breath of wind.[731] Jeanne's judges may have wished to involve her in similar fashion, or their design may have been quite different. In war a butterfly in the cap was a sign either of unconditional surrender or of the possession of a safe conduct.[732] Were the judges accusing her or her followers of having feigned to surrender in order treacherously to attack the enemy? They were quite capable of making such a charge. However that may be, the examiner passed on to inquire concerning a lost glove found by Jeanne in the town of Reims.[733] It[Pg ii.261] was important to know whether it had been discovered by magic art. Then the magistrate returned to several of the capital charges of the trial: communion received in man's dress; the hackney of the Bishop of Senlis, which Jeanne had taken, thus committing a kind of sacrilege; the discoloured child she had brought back to life at Lagny; Catherine de La Rochelle, who had recently borne witness against her before the Official at Paris; the siege of La Charité which she had been obliged to raise; the leap which she had made in her despair from the keep of Beaurevoir, and, finally, certain blasphemy she was falsely accused of having uttered at Soissons concerning Captain Bournel.[734]

Then the Lord Bishop declared the examination concluded. He added, however, that should it appear expedient to interrogate Jeanne more fully, certain doctors and masters would be appointed for that purpose.[735]

Accordingly, on Saturday, March the 10th, Maître Jean de la Fontaine, the Bishop's commissioner, went to the prison. He was accompanied by Nicolas Midi, Gérard Feuillet, Jean Fécard, and Jean Massieu.[736] The first point touched upon at this inquiry was the sortie from Compiègne. The priests took great pains to prove to Jeanne that her Voices must be bad or that she must have failed to understand them since her obedience to them had brought about her destruction. Jacques Gélu[737] and Jean Gerson had foreseen this dilemma and had met it in anticipation[Pg ii.262] with elaborate theological arguments.[738] She was examined concerning the paintings on her standard, and she replied:

"Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret bade me take the standard and bear it boldly, and have painted upon it the King of Heaven. And this, much against my will, I told to my King. Touching its meaning I know nought else."[739]

They tried to make her out avaricious, proud, and ostentatious because she possessed a shield and arms, a stable, chargers, demi-chargers, and hackneys, and because she had money with which to pay her household, some ten to twelve thousand livres.[740] But the point on which they questioned her most closely was the sign which had already been twice discussed in the public examinations. On this subject the doctors displayed an insatiable curiosity. For the sign was the exact reverse of the coronation at Reims; it was an anointing, not with divine unction but with magic charm, the crowning of the King of France by a witch. Maître Jean de la Fontaine had this advantage over Jeanne, he knew what she was going to say and what she wished to conceal. "What is the sign that was given to your King?"

"It is beautiful and honourable and very credible; it is the best and the richest in the world...."

"Does it still last?"

"It is well to know that it lasts and will last for a thousand years. My sign is in the King's treasury."

"Is it of gold or silver, or of precious stones, or is it a crown?"

"Nothing more will I tell unto you and no man[Pg ii.263] can devise anything so rich as is this sign. Nevertheless, the sign that you need is that God should deliver me out of your hands and no surer sign can he send you...."

"When the sign came to your King what reverence did you make to it?"

"I thanked Our Lord for having delivered me from the troubles caused me by the clerks of our party, who were arguing against me. And I knelt down several times. An angel from God and from none other gave the sign to my King. And many times did I give thanks to Our Lord. The clerks ceased to attack me when they had seen the said sign."[741]

"Did the churchmen of your party behold the sign?"

"When my King and such as were with him had seen the sign and also the angel who gave it, I asked my King whether he were pleased, and he replied that he was. Then I departed and went into a little chapel near by. I have since heard that after my departure more than three hundred persons saw the sign. For love of me and in order that I should be questioned no further, God was pleased to permit this sign to be seen by all those of my party who did see it."

"Did your King and you make any reverence to the angel when he brought the sign?"

"Yes, for my part, I did. I knelt and took off my hood."[742]


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