Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

The Life of Joan of Arc
By Anatole France


ON Monday, the 12th of March, Brother Jean Lemaistre received from Brother Jean Graverent, Inquisitor of France, an order to proceed against and to pronounce the final sentence on a certain woman, named Jeanne, commonly called the Maid.[743] On that same day, in the morning, Maître Jean de la Fontaine, in presence of the Bishop, for the second time examined Jeanne in her prison.[744]

He first returned to the sign. "Did not the angel who brought the sign speak?"

"Yes, he told my King that he must set me to work in order that the country might soon be relieved."

"Was the angel, who brought the sign, the angel who first appeared unto you or another?"

"It was always the same and never did he fail me."

"But inasmuch as you have been taken hath not the angel failed you with regard to the good things of this life?"

"Since it is Our Lord's good pleasure, I believe it was best for me to be taken."

"In the good things of grace hath not your angel failed you?"[Pg ii.265]

"How can he have failed me when he comforteth me every day?"[745]

Maître Jean de la Fontaine then put her a subtle question and one as nearly approaching humour as was permissible in an ecclesiastical trial.

"Did Saint Denys ever appear to you?"[746]

Saint Denys, patron of the most Christian kings, Saint Denys, the war cry of France, had allowed the English to take his abbey, that rich church, to which queens came to receive their crowns, and wherein kings had their burying. He had turned English and Burgundian, and it was not likely he would come to hold converse with the Maid of the Armagnacs.

To the question: "Were you addressing God himself when you promised to remain a virgin?" she replied:

"It sufficed to give the promise to the messengers of God, to wit, Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret."[747]

They had sought to entrap her, for a vow must be made directly to God. However, it might be argued, that it is lawful to promise a good thing to an angel or to a man; and that this good thing, thus promised, may form the substance of a vow. One vows to God what one has promised to the saints. Pierre of Tarentaise (iv, dist: xxviii, a. 1) teaches that all vows should be made to God: either to himself directly or through the mediation of his saints.[748]

According to a statement made during the inquiry, Jeanne had given a promise of marriage to a young[Pg ii.266] peasant. Now the examiner endeavoured to prove that she had been at liberty to break her vow of virginity made in an irregular form; but Jeanne maintained that she had not promised marriage, and she added:

"The first time I heard my Voices, I vowed to remain a virgin as long as it should please God."

But this time it was Saint Michael and not the saints who had appeared to her.[749] She herself found it difficult to unravel the tangled web of her dreams and her ecstasies. And from these vague visions of a child the doctors were laboriously essaying to elaborate a capital charge.

Then a very grave and serious question was asked her by the examiner: "Did you speak to your priest or to any other churchman of those visions which you say were vouchsafed to you?"

"No, I spoke of them only to Robert de Baudricourt and to my King."[750]

The vavasour of Champagne, a man of mature years and sound sense, when in the days of King John, he, like the Maid, had heard a Voice in the fields bidding him go to his King, went straightway and told his priest. The latter commanded him to fast for three days, to do penance, and then to return to the field where the Voice had spoken to him.

The vavasour obeyed. Again the Voice was heard repeating the command it had previously given. The peasant again told his priest, who said to him: "My brother, thou and I will abstain and fast for three days, and I will pray for thee to Our Lord Jesus Christ." This they did, and on the fourth day the[Pg ii.267] good man returned to the field. After the Voice had spoken for the third time, the priest enjoined his parishioner to go forthwith and fulfil his mission, since such was the will of God.[751]

There is no doubt that, according to all appearances, this vavasour had acted with greater wisdom than La Romée's daughter. By concealing her visions from the priest the latter had slighted the authority of the Church Militant. Still there might be urged in her defence the words of the Apostle Paul, that where the spirit of God is there is liberty.[752] If ye be led of the Spirit ye are not under the law.[753] Was she a heretic or was she a saint? Therein lay the whole trial.

Then came this remarkable question: "Have you received letters from Saint Michael or from your Voices?"

She replied: "I have not permission to tell you; but in a week I will willingly say all I know."[754]

Such was her manner of speaking when there was something she wanted to conceal but not to deny. The question must have been embarrassing therefore. Moreover, these interrogatories were based on a good store of facts either true or false; and in the questions addressed to the Maid we may generally discern a certain anticipation of her replies. What were those letters from Saint Michael and her other saints, the existence of which she did not deny, but which were never produced by her judges? Did certain of her party send them in the hope that she[Pg ii.268] would carry out their intentions, while under the impression that she was obeying divine commands?

Without insisting further for the present, the examiner passed on to another grievance:

"Have not your Voices called you daughter of God, daughter of the Church, great-hearted damsel?"

"Before the siege of Orléans and since, every day when they speak to me, many times have they called me Jeanne the Maid, daughter of God."[755]

The examination was suspended and resumed in the afternoon.

Maître Jean de la Fontaine questioned Jeanne concerning a dream of her father, of which the judges had been informed in the preliminary inquiry.[756]

Sad it is to reflect that when Jeanne was accused of the sin of having broken God's commandment, "Thou shalt honour thy father and thy mother," neither her mother nor any of her kin asked to be heard as witnesses. And yet there were churchmen in her family;[757] but a trial on a question of faith struck terror into all hearts.

Again her man's dress was reverted to, and not for the last time.[758] We marvel at the profound meditations into which the Maid's doublet and hose plunged these clerics. They contemplated them with gloomy terror and in the light of the precepts of Deuteronomy.

Thereafter they questioned her touching the Duke of Orléans. Their object was to show from her own replies that her Voices had deceived her when they[Pg ii.269] promised the prisoner's deliverance. Here they easily succeeded. Then she pleaded that she had not had sufficient time.

"Had I continued for three years without let or hindrance I should have delivered him."

In her revelations there had been mentioned a term shorter than three years and longer than one.[759]

Questioned again touching the sign vouchsafed to her King, she replied that she would take counsel with Saint Catherine.

On the morrow, Tuesday, the 13th of March, the Bishop and the Vice-Inquisitor went to her prison. For the first time the Vice-Inquisitor opened his mouth:[760] "Have you promised and sworn to Saint Catherine that you will not tell this sign?"

He spoke of the sign given to the King. Jeanne replied:

"I have sworn and I have promised that I will not myself reveal this sign, because I was too urgently pressed to tell it. I vow that never again will I speak of it to living man."[761]

Then she continued forthwith: "The sign was that the Angel assured my King, when bringing him the crown, that he should have the whole realm of France, with God's help and my labours, and that he should set me to work. That is to say, he should grant me men-at-arms. Otherwise he would not be so soon crowned and anointed."

"In what manner did the Angel bring the crown? Did he place it on your King's head?"

"It was given to an archbishop, to the Archbishop of Reims, meseemeth in the King's presence. The[Pg ii.270] said Archbishop received it and gave it to the King; and I myself was present; and it is put in the King's treasury."

"To what place was the crown brought?"

"To the King's chamber in the castle of Chinon."

"On what day and at what hour?"

"The day I know not, the hour was full day. No further recollection have I of the hour or of the month. But meseemeth it was the month of April or March; it will be two years this month or next April. It was after Easter."[762]

"On the first day that you saw the sign did your King see it?"

"Yes. He had it the same day."

"Of what was the crown made?"

"It is well to know that it was of fine gold, and so rich that I cannot count its riches; and the crown meant that he would hold the realm of France."

"Were there jewels in it?"

"I have told you that I do not know."

"Did you touch it or kiss it?"


"Did the Angel who bore it come from above, or did he come from the earth?"

"He came from above. I understand that he came by Our Lord's command, and he came in by the door of the chamber."

"Did the Angel come along the ground, walking from the door of the room?"

"When he was come before the King he did him reverence, bowing low before him and uttering the words concerning the sign which I have already repeated; and thereupon the Angel recalled to the King's mind the great patience he had had in the[Pg ii.271] midst of the long tribulation that had befallen him; and as he came towards the King the Angel walked and touched the ground."

"How far was it from the door to the King?"

"Methinketh it was a full lance's length;[763] and as he had come so he returned. When the Angel came, I accompanied him and went with him up the steps into the King's chamber; and the Angel went in first. And I said to the King: 'Sire, behold your sign; take it.'"[764]

In a spiritual sense we may say that this fable is true. This crown, which "flowers sweetly and will flower sweetly if it be well guarded,"[765] is the crown of victory. When the Maid beholds the Angel who brought it, it is her own image that appears before her. Had not a theologian of her own party said that she might be called an angel? Not that she had the nature of an angel, but she did the work of one.[766]

She began to describe the angels who had come with her to the King:

"So far as I saw, certain among them were very like, the others different. Some had wings. Some wore crowns, others did not. And they were with Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret, and they accompanied the Angel of whom I have spoken and the other angels also into the chamber of the King."[767]

And thus for a long time, as she was pressed by her interrogator, she continued to tell these marvellous stories one after another.[Pg ii.272]

When she was asked for the second time whether the Angel had written her letters, she denied it.[768] But now it was the Angel who bore the crown and not Saint Michael who was in question. And despite her having said they were one and the same, she may have distinguished between them. Therefore we shall never know whether she did receive letters from Saint Michael the Archangel, or from Saint Catherine and from Saint Margaret.

Thereafter the examiner inquired touching a cup lost at Reims and found by Jeanne as well as the gloves.[769] Saints sometimes condescended to find things that had been lost, as is proved by the example of Saint Antony of Padua. It was always with the help of God. Necromancers imitated their powers by invoking the aid of demons and by profaning sacred things.

She was also questioned concerning the priest who had a concubine. Here again she was reproached with being possessed of a magic gift of clairvoyance. It was by magic she had known that this priest had a concubine. Many other such things were reported of her. For example, it was said that at the sight of a certain loose woman she knew that this woman had killed her child.[770]

Then recurred the same old questions: "When you went to the attack on Paris did you receive a revelation from your Voices? Was it revealed to you that you should go against La Charité? Was it a revelation that caused you to go to Pont-l'Evêque?"

She denied that she had then received any revelation from her Voices.[Pg ii.273]

The last question was: "Did you not say before Paris, 'Surrender the town in the name of Jesus'?"

She answered that she had not spoken those words, but had said, "Surrender the town to the King of France."[771]

The Parisians who were engaged in repelling the attack had heard her saying, "Surrender to us speedily in the name of Jesus." These words are consistent with all we know of Jeanne in the early years of her career. She believed it to be the will of Messire that the towns of the realm should surrender to her, whom he had sent to reconquer them. We have noticed already that at the time of her trial Jeanne had completely lost touch with her early illuminations and that she spoke in quite another language.

On the morrow, Wednesday, the 14th of March, there were two more examinations in the prison. The morning interrogatory turned on the leap from Beaurevoir. She confessed to having leapt without permission from her Voices, preferring to die rather than to fall into the hands of the English.[772]

She was accused of blasphemy against God; but that was false.[773]

The Bishop intervened: "You have said that we, the Lord Bishop, run great danger by bringing you to trial. Of what danger were you speaking? In what peril do we stand, we, your judges, and others?"

"I said to my Lord of Beauvais: 'You declare that you are my judge, I know not if you be. But take heed that ye judge not wrongly, for thus would ye run great danger; and I warn you, so that[Pg ii.274] if Our Lord chastise you for it, I have done my duty by warning you.'"

"What is this peril or this danger?"

"Saint Catherine has told me that I shall have succour. I know not whether it will be my deliverance from prison, or whether, during the trial, some tumult shall arise whereby I shall be delivered. I think it will be either one or the other. My Voices most often tell me I shall be delivered by a great victory. And afterwards they say to me: 'Be thou resigned, grieve not at thy martyrdom; thou shalt come in the end to the kingdom of Paradise.' This do my Voices say unto me simply and absolutely. I mean to say without fail. And I call my martyrdom the trouble and anguish I suffer in prison. I know not whether still greater sufferings are before me, but I wait on the Lord."[774]

It would seem that thus her Voices promised the Maid at once a spiritual and a material deliverance, but the two could hardly occur together. This reply, expressive alike of fear and of illusion, was one to call forth pity from the hardest; and yet her judges regarded it merely as a means whereby they might entrap her. Feigning to understand that from her revelations she derived a heretical confidence in her eternal salvation, the examiner put to her an old question in a new form. She had already given it a saintly answer. He inquired whether her Voices had told her that she would finally come to the kingdom of Paradise if she continued in the assurance that she would be saved and not condemned in Hell. To this she replied with that perfect faith with which her Voices inspired her: "I believe what my Voices have told me touching my[Pg ii.275] salvation as strongly as if I were already in Paradise."

Such a reply was heretical. The examiner, albeit he was not accustomed to discuss the Maid's replies, could not forbear remarking that this one was of great importance.[775]

Accordingly in the afternoon of that same day, she was shown a consequence of her error; to wit, that if she received from her Voices the assurance of eternal salvation she needed not to confess.[776]

On this occasion Jeanne was questioned touching the affair of Franquet d'Arras. The Bailie of Senlis had done wrong in asking the Maid for her prisoner,[777] the Lord Franquet,[778] in order to put him to death, and Jeanne's judges now incriminated her.

The examiner pointed out the mortal sins with which the accused might be charged: first, having attacked Paris on a feast-day; second, having stolen the hackney of the Lord Bishop of Senlis; third, having leapt from Beaurevoir; fourth, having worn man's dress; fifth, having consented to the death of a prisoner of war. Touching all these matters, Jeanne did not believe that she had committed mortal sin; but with regard to the leap from Beaurevoir she acknowledged that she was wrong, and that she had asked God to forgive her.[779]

It was sufficiently established that the accused had fallen into religious error. The tribunal of the Inquisition, out of its abounding mercy, desired the salvation of the sinner. Wherefore on the morning[Pg ii.276] of the very next day, Thursday, the 15th of March, my Lord of Beauvais exhorted Jeanne to submit to the Church, and essayed to make her understand that she ought to obey the Church Militant, for the Church Militant was one thing and the Church Triumphant another. Jeanne listened to him dubiously.[780] On that day she was again questioned touching her flight from the château of Beaulieu and her intention to leave the tower without the permission of my Lord of Beauvais. As to the latter she was firmly resolute.

"Were I to see the door open, I would go, and it would be with the permission of Our Lord. I firmly believe that if I were to see the door open and if my guards and the other English were beyond power of resistance, I should regard it as my permission and as succour sent unto me by Our Lord. But without permission I would not go, save that I might essay to go, in order to know whether it were Our Lord's will. The proverb says: 'Help thyself and God will help thee.'[781] This I say so that, if I were to go, it should not be said I went without permission."[782]

Then they reverted to the question of her wearing man's dress.

"Which would you prefer, to wear a woman's dress and hear mass, or to continue in man's dress and not to hear mass?"

"Promise me that I shall hear mass if I am in woman's dress, and then I will answer you."

"I promise you that you shall hear mass when you are in woman's dress."

"And what do you say if I have promised and sworn to our King not to put off these clothes?[Pg ii.277] Nevertheless, I say unto you: 'Have me a robe made, long enough to touch the ground, but without a train. I will go to mass in it; then, when I come back, I will return to my present clothes.'"

"You must wear woman's dress altogether and without conditions."

"Send me a dress like that worn by your burgess's daughters, to wit, a long houppelande; and I will take it and even a woman's hood to go and hear mass. But with all my heart I entreat you to leave me these clothes I am now wearing, and let me hear mass without changing anything."[783]

Her aversion to putting off man's dress is not to be explained solely by the fact that this dress preserved her best against the violence of the men-at-arms; it is possible that no such objection existed. She was averse to wearing woman's dress because she had not received permission from her Voices; and we may easily divine why not. Was she not a chieftain of war? How humiliating for such an one to wear petticoats like a townsman's wife! And above all things just now, when at any moment the French might come and deliver her by some great feat of arms. Ought they not to find their Maid in man's attire, ready to put on her armour and fight with them?

Thereafter the examiner asked her whether she would submit to the Church, whether she made a reverence to her Voices, whether she believed the saints, whether she offered them lighted candles, whether she obeyed them, whether in war she had ever done anything without their permission or contrary to their command.[784]

[Pg ii.278]

Then they came to the question which they held to be the most difficult of all:

"If the devil were to take upon himself the form of an angel, how would you know whether he were a good angel or a bad?"

She replied with a simplicity which appeared presumptuous: "I should easily discern whether it were Saint Michael or an imitation of him."[785]

Two days later, on Saturday, the 17th of March, Jeanne was examined in her prison both morning and evening.[786]

Hitherto she had been very loath to describe the countenance and the dress of the angel and the saints who had visited her in the village. Maître Jean de la Fontaine endeavoured to obtain some light on this subject.

"In what form and semblance did Saint Michael come to you? Was he tall and how was he clothed?"

"He came in the form of a true prud'homme."[787]

Jeanne was not one to believe she saw the Archangel in a long doctor's robe or wearing a cope of gold. Moreover it was not thus that he figured in the churches. There he was represented in painting and in sculpture, clothed in glittering armour, with a golden crown on his helmet.[788] In such guise did he appear to her "in the form of a right true prud'homme," to take a word from the Chanson de Roland, where a great sword thrust is called the thrust of a prud'homme. He came to her in the garb of a great knight, like Arthur and Charlemagne, wearing full armour.

[Pg ii.279]

Once again the examiner put to Jeanne that question on which her life or death depended:

"Will you submit all your deeds and sayings, good or bad, to the judgment of our mother, Holy Church?"

"As for the Church, I love her and would maintain her with all my power, for religion's sake," the Maid replied; "and I am not one to be kept from church and from hearing mass. But as for the good works which I have wrought, and touching my coming, for them I must give an account to the King of Heaven, who has sent me to Charles, son of Charles, King of France. And you will see that the French will shortly accomplish a great work, to which God will appoint them, in which they will shake nearly all France. I say it in order that when it shall come to pass, it may be remembered that I have said it."[789]

But she was unable to name the time when this great work should be accomplished; and Maître Jean de la Fontaine returned to the point on which Jeanne's fate depended.

"Will you submit to the judgment of the Church?"

"I appeal to Our Lord, who hath sent me, to Our Lady and to all the blessed saints in Paradise. To my mind Our Lord and his Church are one, and no distinction should be made. Wherefore do you essay to make out that they are not one?"

In justice to Maître Jean de la Fontaine we are bound to admit the lucidity of his reply. "There is the Church Triumphant, in which are God, his saints, the angels and the souls that are saved," he said. "There is also the Church Militant, which is our Holy Father, the Pope, the Vicar of God on earth; the cardinals, the prelates of the Church and[Pg ii.280] the clergy, with all good Christians and Catholics; and this Church in its assembly cannot err, for it is moved by the Holy Ghost. Will you appeal to the Church Militant?"

"I am come to the King of France from God, from the Virgin Mary and all the blessed saints in Paradise and from the Church Victorious above and by their command. To this Church I submit all the good deeds I have done and shall do. As to replying whether I will submit to the Church Militant, for the present, I will make no further answer."[790]

Again she was offered a woman's dress in which to hear mass; she refused it.

"As for a woman's dress, I will not take it yet, not until it be Our Lord's will. And if it should come to pass that I be taken to judgment and there divested of my clothes, I beg my lords of the Church the favour of a woman's smock and covering for my head. I would rather die than deny what Our Lord hath caused me to do. I believe firmly that Our Lord will not let it come to pass that I should be cast so low, and that soon I shall have help from God, and that by a miracle."

Thereafter the following questions were put to her: "Do you not believe to-day that fairies are evil spirits?"

"I do not know."

"Do you know whether Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret hate the English?"

"They love what Our Lord loves and hate what God hates."

"Does God hate the English?"

"Touching the love or hatred of God for the English and what he will do for their souls I know noth[Pg ii.281]ing. But I do know that they will all be driven out of France, save those who die there, and that God will send victory to the French and defeat to the English."

"Was God on the side of the English when they prospered in France?"

"I know not whether God hated the French. But I believe that he permitted them to be beaten for their sins, if they were in sin."[791]

Jeanne was asked certain questions touching the banner on which she had caused angels to be painted.

She replied that she had had angels painted as she had seen them represented in churches.[792]

At this point the examination was adjourned. The last interrogation in the prison[793] took place after dinner. She had now endured fifteen in twenty-five days, but her courage never flagged. This last time the subjects were more than usually diverse and confused. First, the examiner essayed to discover by what charms and evil practices good fortune and victory had attended the standard painted with angelic figures. Then he wanted to know wherefore the clerks put on Jeanne's letters the sacred names of Jésus and Marie.[794]

Then came the following subtle question: "Do you believe that if you were married your Voices would come to you?"

It was well known that she dearly cherished her virginity. Certain of her words might be interpreted to mean that she considered this virginity to be the cause of her good fortune; wherefore her examiners were curious to know whether if she were adroitly[Pg ii.282] approached she might not be brought to cast scorn on the married state and to condemn intercourse between husbands and wives. Such a condemnation would have been a grievous error, savouring of the heresy of the Cathari.[795]

She replied: "I know not and I appeal to Our Lord."[796] Then there followed another question much more dangerous for one who like Jeanne loved her King with all her heart.

"Do you think and firmly believe that your King did right to kill or cause to be killed my Lord of Burgundy?"

"It was sore pity for the realm of France."[797]

Then did the examiner put to her this grave question: "Do you hold yourself bound to answer the whole truth to the Pope, God's Vicar, on all that may be asked you touching religion and your conscience?"

"I demand to be taken before him. Then will I make unto him such answer as behoveth."[798]

These words involved an appeal to the Pope, and such an appeal was lawful. "In doubtful matters touching on religion," said St. Thomas, "there ought always to be an appeal to the Pope or to the General Council." If Jeanne's appeal were not in regular judicial form, it was not her fault. She was ignorant of legal matters and neither guide nor counsel had been granted to her. To the best of her knowledge, and according to wont and justice, she appealed to the common father of the faithful.[Pg ii.283]

The doctors and masters were silent. And thus was closed against the accused the one way of deliverance remaining to her. She was now hopelessly lost. It is not surprising that Jeanne's judges, who were partisans of England, ignored her right of appeal; but it is surprising that the doctors and masters of the French party, the clerks of the provinces loyal to King Charles, did not all and with one voice sign an appeal and demand that the Maid, who had been judged worthy by her examiners at Poitiers, should be taken before the Pope and the Council.

Instead of replying to Jeanne's request, the examiners inquired further concerning those much discussed magic rings and apparitions of demons.[799]

"Did you ever kiss and embrace the Saints, Catherine and Margaret?"

"I embraced them both."

"Were they of a sweet savour?"

"It is well to know. Yea, their savour was sweet."

"When embracing them did you feel heat or anything else?"

"I could not have embraced them without feeling and touching them."

"What part did you kiss, face or feet?"

"It is more fitting to kiss their feet than their faces."

"Did you not give them chaplets of flowers?"

"I have often done them honour by crowning with flowers their images in churches. But to those who appeared to me never have I given flowers as far as I can remember."

"Know you aught of those who consort with fairies?"[Pg ii.284]

"I have never done so nor have I known anything about them. Yet I have heard of them and that they were seen on Thursdays; but I do not believe it, and to me it seems sorcery."[800]

Then came a question touching her standard, deemed enchanted by her judges. It elicited one of those epigrammatic replies she loved.

"Wherefore was your standard rather than those of the other captains carried into the church of Reims?"

"It had been in the contest, wherefore should it not share the prize?"[801]

Now that the inquiries and examinations were concluded, it was announced that the preliminary trial was at an end. The so-called trial in ordinary opened on the Tuesday after Palm Sunday, the 27th of March, in a room near the great hall of the castle.[802]

Before ordering the deed of accusation to be read, my Lord of Beauvais offered Jeanne the aid of an advocate.[803] If this offer had been postponed till then, it was doubtless because in his opinion Jeanne had not previously needed such aid. It is well known that a heretic's advocate, if he would himself escape falling into heresy, must strictly limit his methods of defence. During the preliminary inquiry he must confine himself to discovering the names of the witnesses for the prosecution and to making them known to the accused. If the heretic pleaded guilty then it was useless to grant him an advocate.[804] Now[Pg ii.285] my Lord maintained that the accusation was founded not on the evidence of witnesses but on the avowals of the accused. And this was doubtless his reason for not offering Jeanne an advocate before the opening of the trial in ordinary, which bore upon matters of doctrine.

The Lord Bishop thus addressed the Maid: "Jeanne," said he, "all persons here present are churchmen of consummate knowledge, whose will and intention it is to proceed against you in all piety and kindness, seeking neither vengeance nor corporal chastisement, but your instruction and your return into the way of truth and salvation. As you are neither learned nor sufficiently instructed in letters or in the difficult matters which are to be discussed, to take counsel of yourself, touching what you should do or reply, we offer you to choose as your advocate one or more of those present, as you will. If you will not choose, then one shall be appointed for you by us, in order that he may advise you touching what you may do or say...."[805]

Considering what the method of procedure was, this was a gracious offer. And even though my Lord of Beauvais obliged the accused to choose from among the counsellors and assessors, whom he had himself summoned to the trial, he did more than he was bound to do. The choice of a counsel did not belong to the accused; it belonged to the judge, whose duty it was to appoint an honest, upright person. Moreover, it was permissible for an ecclesiastical judge to refuse to the end to grant the accused any counsel whatsoever. Nicolas Eymeric, in his Directorium, decides that the Bishop and the In[Pg ii.286]quisitor, acting conjointly, may constitute authority sufficient for the interpretation of the law and may proceed informally, de plano, dispensing with the ceremony of appointing counsel and all the paraphernalia of a trial.[806]

We may notice that my Lord of Beauvais offered the accused an advocate on the ground of her ignorance of things divine and human, but without taking her youthfulness into account. In other courts of law proceedings against a minor—that is, a person under twenty-five—who was not assisted by an advocate, were legally void.[807] If this rule had been binding in Inquisitorial procedure the Bishop, by his offer of legal aid, would have avoided any breach of this rule; and as the choice of an advocate lay with him, he might well have done so without running any risk. "Our justice is not like theirs," Bernard Gui rightly said, when he was comparing inquisitorial procedure with that of the other ecclesiastical courts which conformed to the Roman law.

Jeanne did not accept the judge's offer: "First," she said, "touching what you admonish me for my good and in matters of religion, I thank you and the company here assembled. As for the advocate you offer me, I also thank you, but it is not my intent to depart from the counsel of Our Lord. As for the oath you wish me to take, I am ready to swear to speak the truth in all that concerns your suit."[808]

Thereupon Maître Thomas de Courcelles began to read in French the indictment which the Pro[Pg ii.287]moter had drawn up in seventy articles.[809] This text set forth in order the deeds with which Jeanne had already been reproached and which were groundlessly held to have been confessed by her and duly proved. There were no less than seventy distinct charges of horrible crimes committed against religion and Holy Mother Church. Questioned on each article, Jeanne with heroic candour repeated her previous replies. The tedious reading of this long accusation was continued and completed on the 28th of March, the Wednesday after Palm Sunday.[810] As was her wont, she asked for delay in order to reply on certain points. On Easter Eve, the 31st of March, the time granted having expired, my Lord of Beauvais went to the prison, and, in the presence of the doctors and masters of the University, demanded the promised replies. They nearly all touched on the one accusation which included all the rest, the heresy in which all heresies were comprehended,—the refusal to obey the Church Militant. Jeanne finally declared her resolve to appeal to Our Lord rather than to any man; this was to set at naught the authority of the Pope and the Council.[811]

The doctors and masters of the University of Paris advised that an epitome should be made of the Promoter's voluminous indictment, its chief points selected, and the seventy charges considerably reduced.[812] Maître Nicolas Midi, doctor in theology, performed this task and submitted it when done to the judges and assessors.[813] One of them proposed[Pg ii.288] emendations. Brother Jacques of Touraine, a friar of the Franciscan order, who was charged to draw up the document in its final stage, admitted most of the corrections requested.[814] In this wise the incriminating propositions,[815] which the judges claimed, but claimed falsely, to have derived from the replies of the accused, were resolved into twelve articles.[816]

These twelve articles were not communicated to Jeanne. On Thursday, the 12th of April, twenty-one masters and doctors met in the chapel of the Bishop's Palace, and, after having examined the articles, engaged in a conference, the result of which was unfavourable to the accused.[817]

According to them, the apparitions and revelations of which she boasted came not from God. They were human inventions, or the work of an evil spirit. She had not received signs sufficient to warrant her believing in them. In the case of this woman these doctors and masters discovered lies; a lack of verisimilitude; faith lightly given; superstitious divinings; deeds scandalous and irreligious; sayings rash, presumptuous, full of boasting; blasphemies against God and his saints. They found her to have lacked piety in her behaviour towards father and mother; to have come short in love towards her neighbour; to have been addicted to idolatry, or at any rate to the invention of lying tales and to schismatic conversation destructive of the unity, the authority and the power of the Church; and, finally,[Pg ii.289] to have been skilled in the black art and to have strongly inclined to heresy.[818]

Had she not been sustained and comforted by her heavenly Voices, the Voices of her own heart, Jeanne would never have endured to the end of this terrible trial. Not only was she being tortured at once by the princes of the Church and the rascals of the army, but her sufferings of body and mind were such as could never have been borne by any ordinary human being. Yet she suffered them without her constancy, her faith, her divine hope, one might almost say her cheerfulness, ever being diminished. Finally she gave way; her physical strength, but not her courage, was exhausted; she fell a victim to an illness which was expected to be fatal. She seemed near her end, or rather, alas! near her release.[819]

On Wednesday, the 18th of April, my Lord of Beauvais and the Vice-Inquisitor of the Faith went to her with divers doctors and masters to exhort her in all charity; she was still very seriously sick.[820] My Lord of Beauvais represented to her that when on certain difficult matters she had been examined before persons of great wisdom, many things she had said had been noted as contrary to religion. Wherefore, considering that she was but an unlettered woman, he offered to provide her with men learned and upright who would instruct her. He requested the doctors present to give her salutary counsel, and he invited her herself, if any other such persons were known to her, to indicate them, promising to summon them without fail.

[Pg ii.290]

"The Church," he added, "never closes her heart against those who will return to her."

Jeanne answered that she thanked him for what he had said for her salvation, and she added: "Meseemeth, that seeing the sickness in which I lie, I am in great danger of death. If it be thus, then may God do with me according to his good pleasure. I demand that ye permit me to confess, that ye also give me the body of my Saviour and bury me in holy ground."

My Lord of Beauvais represented to her that if she would receive the sacraments she must submit to the Church.

"If my body die in prison," she replied, "I depend on you to have it put in holy ground; if you do not, then I appeal to Our Lord."[821]

Then she vehemently maintained the truth of the revelations she had received from God, Saint Michael, Saint Catherine, and Saint Margaret.

And when she was asked yet again whether she would submit herself and her acts to Holy Mother Church, she replied: "Whatever happens to me, I will never do or say aught save what I have already said at the trial."[822]

The doctors and masters one after the other exhorted her to submit to Holy Mother Church. They quoted numerous passages from Holy Writ. They promised her the body of Our Lord if she would obey; but she remained resolute.

"Touching this submission," she said, "I will reply naught save what I have said already. I love God, I serve him, I am a good Christian, and I wish with all my power to aid and support Holy Church."[823]

[Pg ii.291]

In times of great need recourse was had to processions. "Do you not wish," she was asked, "that a fine and famous procession be ordained to restore you to a good estate if you be not therein?"

She replied, "I desire the Church and all Catholics to pray for me."[824]

Among the doctors consulted there were many who recommended that she should be again instructed and charitably admonished. On Wednesday, the 2nd of May, sixty-three reverend doctors and masters met in the Robing Room of the castle.[825] She was brought in, and Maître Jean de Castillon, doctor in theology, Archdeacon of Évreux,[826] read a document in French, in which the deeds and sayings with which Jeanne was reproached were summed up in six articles. Then many doctors and masters addressed to her in turn admonitions and charitable counsels. They exhorted her to submit to the Church Militant Universal, to the Holy Father the Pope and to the General Council. They warned her that if the Church abandoned her, her soul would stand in great peril of the penalty of eternal fire, whilst her body might be burned in an earthly fire, and that by the sentence of other judges.

Jeanne replied as before.[827] On the morrow, Thursday, the 3rd of May, the day of the Invention of the Holy Cross, the Archangel Gabriel appeared to her. She was not sure whether she had seen him before. But this time she had no doubt. Her Voices told her that it was he, and she was greatly comforted.

That same day she asked her Voices whether she[Pg ii.292] should submit to the Church and obey the exhortation of the clerics.

Her Voices replied: "If thou desirest help from Our Lord, then submit to him all thy doings."

Jeanne wanted to know from her Voices whether she would be burned.

Her Voices told her to wait upon the Lord and he would help her.[828] This mystic aid strengthened Jeanne's heart.

Among heretics and those possessed, such obstinacy as hers was not unparalleled. Ecclesiastical judges were well acquainted with the stiff-neckedness of women who had been deceived by the Devil. In order to force them to tell the truth, when admonitions and exhortations failed, recourse was had to torture. And even such a measure did not always succeed. Many of these wicked females (mulierculæ) endured the cruellest suffering with a constancy passing the ordinary strength of human nature. The doctors would not believe such constancy to be natural; they attributed it to the machinations of the Evil One. The devil was capable of protecting his servants even when they had fallen into the hands of judges of the Church; he granted them strength to bear the torture in silence. This strength was called the gift of taciturnity.[829]

On Wednesday, the 9th of May, Jeanne was taken to the great tower of the castle, into the torture-chamber. There my Lord of Beauvais, in the presence of the Vice Inquisitor and nine doctors and[Pg ii.293] masters, read her the articles, to which she had hitherto refused to reply; and he threatened her that if she did not confess the whole truth she would be put to the torture.[830]

The instruments were prepared; the two executioners, Mauger Leparmentier, a married clerk, and his companion, were in readiness close by her, awaiting the Bishop's orders.

Six days before Jeanne had received great comfort from her Voices. Now she replied resolutely: "Verily, if you were to tear my limbs asunder and drive my soul out of my body, naught else would I tell you, and if I did say anything unto you, I would always maintain afterwards that you had dragged it from me by force."[831]

My Lord of Beauvais decided to defer the torture, fearing that it would do no good to so hardened a subject.[832] On the following Saturday, he deliberated in his house, with the Vice-Inquisitor and thirteen doctors and masters; opinion was divided. Maître Raoul Roussel advised that Jeanne should not be tortured lest ground for complaint should be given against a trial so carefully conducted. It would seem that he anticipated the Devil's granting Jeanne the gift of taciturnity, whereby in diabolical silence she would be able to brave the tortures of the Holy Inquisition. On the other hand Maître Aubert Morel, licentiate in canon law, counsellor to the Official of Rouen, Canon of the Cathedral, and Maître Thomas de Courcelles, deemed it expedient to apply torture. Maître Nicolas Loiseleur, master of arts, Canon of Rouen, whose share in the pro[Pg ii.294]ceedings had been to act Saint Catherine and the Lorraine shoemaker, had no very decided opinion on the subject, still it seemed to him by no means unprofitable that Jeanne for her soul's welfare should be tortured. The majority of doctors and masters agreed that for the present there was no need to subject her to this trial. Some gave no reasons, others alleged that it behoved them yet once again to warn her charitably. Maître Guillaume Erard, doctor in theology, held that sufficient material for the pronouncing of a sentence existed already.[833] Thus among those, who spared Jeanne the torture, were to be found the least merciful; for the spirit of ecclesiastical tribunals was such that to refuse to torture an accused was in certain cases to refuse him mercy.

To the trial of Marguerite la Porète, the judges summoned no experts.[834] Touching the charges held as proven, they submitted a written report to the University of Paris. The University gave its opinion on everything but the truth of the charges. This reservation was merely formal, and the decision of the University had the force of a sentence. In Jeanne's trial this precedent was cited. On the 21st of April, Maître Jean Beaupère, Maître Jacques de Touraine and Maître Nicolas Midi left Rouen, and, at the risk of being attacked on the road by men-at-arms, journeyed to Paris in order to present the twelve articles to their colleagues of the University.

On the 28th of April, the University, meeting in its general assembly at Saint-Bernard, charged the Holy[Pg ii.295] Faculty of Theology and the Venerable Faculty of Decrees with the examination of the twelve articles.[835]

On the 14th of May, the deliberations of the two Faculties were submitted to all the Faculties in solemn assembly, who ratified them and made them their own. The University then sent them to King Henry, beseeching his Royal Majesty to execute justice promptly, in order that the people, so greatly scandalised by this woman, be brought back to good doctrine and holy faith.[836] It is worthy of notice that in a trial, in which the Pope, represented by the Vice-Inquisitor, was one judge, and the King, represented by the Bishop, another, the Eldest Daughter of Kings[837] should have communicated directly with the King of France, the guardian of her privileges.

According to the Sacred Faculty of Theology, Jeanne's apparitions were fictitious, lying, deceptive, inspired by devils. The sign given to the King was a presumptuous and pernicious lie, derogatory to the dignity of angels. Jeanne's belief in the visitations of Saint Michael, Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret was an error rash and injurious because Jeanne placed it on the same plane as the truths of religion. Jeanne's predictions were but superstitions, idle divinations and vain boasting. Her statement that she wore man's dress by the command of God was blasphemy, a violation of divine law and ecclesiastical sanction, a contemning of the sacraments and tainted with idolatry. In the letters she[Pg ii.296] had dictated, Jeanne appeared treacherous, perfidious, cruel, sanguinary, seditious, blasphemous and in favour of tyranny. In setting out for France she had broken the commandment to honour father and mother, she had given an occasion for scandal, she had committed blasphemy and had fallen from the faith. In the leap from Beaurevoir, she had displayed a pusillanimity bordering on despair and homicide; and, moreover, it had caused her to utter rash statements touching the remission of her sin and erroneous pronouncements concerning free will. By proclaiming her confidence in her salvation, she uttered presumptuous and pernicious lies; by saying that Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret did not speak English, she blasphemed these saints and violated the precept: "Thou shalt love thy neighbour." The honours she rendered these saints were nought but idolatry and the worship of devils. Her refusal to submit her doings to the Church tended to schism, to the denial of the unity and authority of the Church and to apostasy.[838]

The doctors of the Faculty of Theology were very learned. They knew who the three evil spirits were whom Jeanne in her delusion took for Saint Michael, Saint Catherine, and Saint Margaret. They were Belial, Satan, and Behemoth. Belial, worshipped by the people of Sidon, was sometimes represented as an angel of great beauty; he is the demon of disobedience. Satan is the Lord of Hell; and Behemoth is a dull, heavy creature, who feeds on hay like an ox.[839]

The venerable Faculty of Decrees decided that this schismatic, this erring woman, this apostate, this liar, this soothsayer, be charitably exhorted and duly[Pg ii.297] warned by competent judges, and that if notwithstanding she persisted in refusing to abjure her error, she must be given up to the secular arm to receive due chastisement.[840] Such were the deliberations and decisions which the Venerable University of Paris submitted to the examination and to the verdict of the Holy Apostolic See and of the sacrosanct General Council.

Meanwhile, where were the clerks of France? Had they nothing to say in this matter? Had they no decision to submit to the Pope and to the Council? Why did they not urge their opinions in opposition to those of the Faculties of Paris? Why did they keep silence? Jeanne demanded the record of the Poitiers trial. Wherefore did those Poitiers doctors, who had recommended the King to employ the Maid lest, by rejecting her, he should refuse the gift of the Holy Spirit, fail to send the record to Rouen?[841] Before the Maid espoused their waning cause, these Poitiers doctors, these magistrates, these University professors banished from Paris, advocates and counsellors of an exiled Parlement, had not a robe to their backs nor shoes for their children. Now, thanks to the Maid, they were every day regaining new hope and vigour. And yet they left her, who had so nobly served their King, to be treated as a heretic and a reprobate. Where were Brother Pasquerel, Friar Richard, and all those churchmen who but lately surrounded her in France and who looked to go with her to the Crusade against the Bohemians and the Turks? Why[Pg ii.298] did they not demand a safe-conduct and come and give evidence at the trial? Or at least why did they not send their evidence? Why did not the Archbishop of Embrun, who but recently gave such noble counsels to the King, send some written statement in favour of the Maid to the judges at Rouen? My Lord of Reims, Chancellor of the Kingdom, had said that she was proud but not heretical. Wherefore now, acting contrary to his own interests and honour, did he refrain from testifying in favour of her through whom he had recovered his episcopal city? Wherefore did he not assert his right and do his duty as metropolitan and censure and suspend his suffragan, the Bishop of Beauvais, who was guilty of prevarication in the administration of justice? Why did not the illustrious clerics, whom King Charles had appointed deputies at the Council of Bâle, undertake to bring the cause of the Maid before the Council? And finally, why did not the priests, the ecclesiastics of the realm, with one voice demand an appeal to the Holy Father?

They all with one accord, as if struck dumb with astonishment, remained passive and silent. Can they have feared that too searching a light would be cast on Jeanne's cause by that illustrious University, that Sun of the Church, which was consulted on religious matters by all Christian states? Can they have suspected that this woman, who in France had been considered a saint, might after all have been inspired by the devil? But if what they had once believed they still held to be true, if they believed that the Maid had come from God to lead their King to his glorious coronation, then what are we to think of those clerks, those ecclesiastics who denied the Daughter of God, on the eve of her passion?


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