Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

Joan of Arc
Chapter 7

Twenty years after the events which I have attempted to describe, an act of tardy justice was accorded to Joan of Arc. Charles VII. at length felt it necessary, more for his own interest than for any care of the memory of Joan of Arc, to have a revision made of the iniquitous condemnation of the heroine.

This King, even if unable to rescue the Maid of Orleans from her captors, might at least have attempted her release, yet during all the time—over a year—of her imprisonment he had not even made a sign in her behalf.

There does not exist in the documents of the time a trace of any negotiation, of the smallest offer made to obtain her exchange by prisoners or by ransom, or of any wish to effect her release. But Charles was anxious on his own account, when France had almost wholly been gained back to its allegiance, that his coronation at Rheims should not be imputed to the actions and to the aid of one whom the French clergy and the French judges had condemned and executed as a heretic and apostate. Hence the vast judicial inquiry set on foot by the King to vindicate the fame of her whom the English and the Anglo-French had hoped, through the condemnation pronounced by Cauchon in the name of the Church, to vilify, and through her, by her trial, condemnation, and death, to discredit Charles and his coronation.

On the 15th of February, 1450, Charles VII. declared that Joan of Arc's enemies had destroyed her 'against reason'—so ran the formula—'and very cruelly,' and that it was his, the King's, intention 'to obtain the truth regarding this affair.'

Pope Nicolas V. made difficulties. Cardinal d'Estouteville, who had undertaken to manage the process of rehabilitation, presented the Pope with a claim for a revision of the sentence of condemnation in the name of Joan of Arc's mother and of her two brothers. The petition ran thus: 'The brothers, mother, and relations of Joan, anxious that her memory and their own should be cleansed from this unmerited disgrace, demand that the sentence of condemnation that was given at Rouen shall be annulled.' Not, however, until the death of Pope Nicolas V., and the accession of Calixtus III., was anything further done.

The new Pope (Alfonso Borgia) did not hesitate as to the line he intended taking in the matter, and he gave his sanction to the rehabilitation of the heroine by a rescript dated the 11th of June, 1455. It was as follows:—

'We, Calixtus, servant of the servants of God, accord a favourable ear to the request which has been made us. There has lately been brought before us on the part of Peter and John of Arc, also of Isabella of Arc, their mother, and some of their relations, a petition stating that their sister, daughter, and relative, Joan of Arc deceased, had been unjustly condemned as guilty of the crime of heresy and other crimes against the Faith, on the false testimony of the late William [John, it should be] d'Estivet of the Episcopal Court of Beauvais, and of Peter of happy memory, at that time Bishop of Beauvais, and of the late John Lemaître, belonging to the Inquisition. The nullity of their proceedings and the innocence of Joan are clearly established both by documents and further by clearest proofs. In consequence of this, the brothers, mother, and relatives of Joan are therefore at liberty to cast off the mark of infamy with which this trial has falsely stamped them; and thus they have humbly supplicated our permission to authorise and to proceed in this trial of rehabilitation.'

The prelates selected by the Pope as commissioners to follow the course of the trial of rehabilitation were John Jouvenel des Ursins, Archbishop of Rheims, William Chartrier, Bishop of Paris, and Richard de Longueil, Bishop of Coutances. On the 7th of November, 1455, this trial was solemnly begun in the Church of Notre Dame, in Paris.

It has been said that Joan of Arc's father died of grief on hearing of his daughter's martyrdom. He was certainly dead before the date of this trial. However, the now aged mother of Joan of Arc, Isabella Romée d'Arc, in her sixty-seventh year, was there. She was supported by her two sons, John and Peter, and was accompanied by many of her relations from Vaucouleurs, and friends from Orleans. The poor soul appears to have been much affected when she appeared before the sympathetic crowd. Many of those present must have come from far to see the mother of the famous heroine claiming at the hands of the Church the vindication of her daughter's fame.

Two meetings took place at Notre Dame, and a third was held at Rouen, at which the family of Joan of Arc were unable to be present—the mother from illness, and the brothers by affairs at home. The Procureur, whose name was Prévosteau, was the advocate for the Arc family. The debates lasted all through the winter, and into the early part of the year 1456. During the debates a hundred articles were drawn up and agreed to, relating to the life, death, and trial of the heroine. None of these are of much importance or interest.

It was not until the witnesses of Joan of Arc's life at home, and of her actions abroad, gave their testimony that the debates became interesting. Then began to pass before the eyes of the spectators a succession of people who had known Joan of Arc, and who had taken part in the same actions as those of the Maid—peasants from her native village, townsfolk from Orleans, generals and soldiers who had ridden with her into battle and fought by her side.

In fact, here appeared all sorts and conditions of men, from farm labourers to princes of the blood royal. The testimony of these people helps one to follow the life of Joan of Arc throughout its short career with something like precision. The sittings of the commissioners took place at Paris, Orleans, Rouen, and also at Domremy. It may be said without exaggeration that the whole of France and all its classes seemed, after an interval of a quarter of a century, to raise its voice in honour of the memory of its martyr Maid, and to attest to the spotless and noble life of her country's saviour.

At Domremy, at Vaucouleurs, and at Toul, thirty-four witnesses were heard on the 28th of January and on the 11th of February, 1456. At Orleans, during the months of February and of March, forty-one depositions were collected by the Archbishop of Rheims.

In Paris, in April and May, the same prelate, assisted by the Bishop of Paris, heard the evidence of twenty witnesses. At Rouen, the same commission heard nineteen others. Finally, at Lyons, the deposition of Joan of Arc's esquire, d'Aulon, who had attended her throughout her campaigns, was made before the Vice-Inquisitor of that province, John Desprès.

All these depositions are recorded in Latin, the only exception being that of d'Aulon, which was taken down in French. All those written in Latin have been translated into French by M. Fabre, and published in his Procès de Réhabilitation de Jeanne d'Arc.

Among the witnesses first appear the friends and neighbours of Joan of Arc in her childhood and early years. From her birthplace came her greatest friends, Henriette, Mengette, and Isabellette. The first of these, in the year 1456, was aged forty-five, the second was a year older, and the third was in her fiftieth year. All three were the wives of labourers. Henriette was married to Gerard, Mengette to John Joyart, and Isabellette to Gerardin d'Epinal. To the child of the last Joan had stood god-mother. Next came from the same village three older women, all three being god-mothers to Joan. In those days the French peasantry seem to have had an almost unlimited number of god-fathers and god-mothers. These were named Jeannette, widow of Thépelin de Viteau, aged sixty; Jeannette Théverien, aged sixty-six; and Beatrix, widow of d'Estelin, a labourer of Domremy, then in her eightieth year.

After these three god-mothers, came to give their evidence her god-fathers. Four of these appear—John Rainguesson, John Barrey, John de Langart, and John Morel de Greux. Of these four god-fathers, only the last one seems to have been called to give evidence; he was in his seventieth year. Gerardin d'Epinal, husband of one of the god-mothers, also gave his evidence; it was his son Nicolas for whom Joan of Arc had stood sponsor. In those days it was held that the god-mother of a child stood to it in the relation of a second mother: hence originated the term of 'commère' and 'compère,' which Joan gave the d'Epinals.

Six labourers, who had been playmates with Joan in childhood, then came forward. These men, named respectively Le Cuin, Guillemeth, Waterin, Colin, Masnier, and Jacquard, were between the ages of forty-four and fifty. All these humbly born witnesses agreed in their answers to the twelve questions asked them in the following order:—

  1. When and where was Joan born?

  2. Who were her parents? Were they of good character and of good repute?

  3. Who were her god-fathers?

  4. Was she piously brought up?

  5. How did she conduct herself between her seventh year up to the time she left her home?

  6. Did she often frequent the churches and places of devotion of her free-will?

  7. How did she occupy herself, and what were her duties?

  8. Did she confess often?

  9. Did she frequent the fairies' tree and the haunted well, and did she go to places with the other young people of the neighbourhood?

10. How did she leave her home, and how did she accomplish her journey?

11. Were any investigations made in her native country at the time she was taken prisoner?

12. Did Joan on one occasion escape to Neufchâteau on account of a military raid, and was she then in the company of her parents?

We now arrive at a higher grade in the ranks of the witnesses, in the shape of 'l'honorable homme Nicolas Bailly.' Bailly was a man of sixty; he had been employed by the English in 1430, and by Cauchon—he was a scrivener (tabellion) by profession—to make investigations into the character of Joan in her native place.

Then came the old bell-ringer of Joan of Arc's village—Perrin le Drassier, aged sixty. He told how the maiden loved the sound of the church bells, and how she would blame him when he neglected ringing them, and of her little gifts to him to make him more diligent in his office. After the bell-ringer came three priests—all belonging to the neighbourhood of Domremy. The first—namely, the 'discrète personne Messire Henri Arnolin'—belonged to Gondrecourt-le-Château, near to Commercy, and was sixty-four. The next is the 'vénérable personne Messire Etienne de Sionne,' curate of the parish church at Raucessey-sous-Neufchâteau, aged fifty-four; and the third was named Dominic Jocab, curate of the parish church of Moutier-sur-Saulx.

Next came an old peasant from Domremy, named Bertrand Laclopssé, a thatcher by profession, ninety years of age; after him three neighbours of Joan's father—Thevenin le Royer, seventy years old; Jacquier, sixty; and John Moen, wheelwright, fifty-six. But a far more important witness than any of the preceding three-and-twenty was the uncle of the heroine, Durand Laxart, farm labourer at Burey-le-Petit, whom, it will be remembered, Joan first took into her confidence regarding her voices and her mission. Laxart was then in his sixtieth year. At the close of his evidence he states that all he had said regarding his niece he had also told Charles VII.—probably at the time of the coronation, for Laxart was then at Rheims. Laxart was followed by the couple with whom Joan of Arc lodged when living at Vaucouleurs, Henry and Joan le Royer (or le Charron). After this worthy pair appeared the two brave knights who had guarded the Maid of Orleans during her perilous journey to Chinon—John de Novelem-hont, commonly called John de Metz, aged fifty-seven, and the other, named Bertrand de Poulangy—one of the King's esquires—aged sixty-three.

Three other knights were heard after them—namely, Albert d'Ourche, from Ourche, near Commercy, aged sixty; Geoffrey du Fay, aged fifty; and Louis de Martigny, living at Martigny-les-Gerboneaux, a village near Neufchâteau, aged fifty-four. These were followed by two curates and a sergeant. 'Discrète personne Messire Jean le Fumeux,' of Vaucouleurs, canon of the Church of Sainte Marie in that village, also curate of the parish church of d'Ugny, aged only thirty-eight, was, as he admitted, a mere child when Joan of Arc came to Vaucouleurs; but he remembered distinctly having seen her praying in the church at Vaucouleurs, and kneeling for a long time in the subterranean chapel of Sainte Marie's Church before an image of the Blessed Virgin.

The other priest, named John Colin, was the curate of the parish church of Domremy, and a canon of the collegiate church of Saint Nicolas de Brixey, near Vaucouleurs. His age was sixty-six. The last of these thirty-four witnesses was the sergeant, Guillot Jacquier, aged thirty-six: why he was called as a witness does not appear. As a child he had heard Joan of Arc spoken of as 'une brave fille, de bonne renommée, et de conduite honnête,' which opinion was the general one given in their evidence by all the other witnesses, whose names only we have been able to give.

Relating to the period in the life of the heroine between the time of the King's coronation and that of her capture, the facts told by the various persons examined are few and far between. In the trial for the rehabilitation of the Maid of Orleans, the story of her deeds in the field was not of much importance to the commissioners. What they principally desired to ascertain was the fact that no taint of heresy could attach to the life of the heroine. It was for this reason that all those persons who could throw any light upon Joan's early days and the actions of her childhood had been collected to give their evidence. We now come to those witnesses who were examined regarding the life of Joan of Arc after her interview with the King at Chinon and about the stirring events which immediately followed that interview. The first of these is the 'nobile et savant homme Messire Simon Charles,' Master of the Requests (Maître des requêtes) in the year 1429. He had been president of the State exchequer in 1456, and was aged sixty. Simon's evidence is of interest and importance both as regards Joan of Arc's arrival at Chinon, and also with respect to the siege of Orleans and the triumphant entry into Rheims. The next witness was one of the clergy who examined Joan when at Poitiers; this was a preaching friar from Limousin who had asked Joan of Arc in what language her saints spoke to her, and had been answered by 'In a better language than yours'—for this good friar, whose name was Brother Sequier, spoke with a strong Limousin accent. When he was giving his evidence before the commission (in 1456) he was an old man in his seventy-third year, and head of the theological college of Poitiers.

Next to him came the evidence given by the 'vénérable et savant homme Maître Jean Barbier, docteur ès lois.' Barbier was King's-Advocate in the House of Parliament, and had also been one of the judges at Joan of Arc's examination at Poitiers: he was aged fifty. Barbier had been at Loches when the people threw themselves before Joan of Arc's horse, and embraced the heroine's feet and hands. Barbier reproved her for allowing them to do so. He told her that if she permitted them to act thus it would render them idolatrous in their worship of her, to which reprimand Joan answered, 'Indeed, without God's help I could not prevent them from becoming so.'

Another of the Poitiers witnesses was Gobert Thibault, also aged fifty. This Thibault had been at Chinon when Joan arrived there, and had followed her to Orleans. Among these Poitiers witnesses was Francis Garivel, aged forty. Garivel, when a lad of fifteen, had seen Joan at Poitiers, and he remembered that on her being asked why she styled Charles Dauphin, and not by his kingly title, she replied that she could not give him his regal title until he had been crowned and anointed at Rheims.

The collected testimony of the above witnesses, whose evidence covers the time passed by Joan at Poitiers, was submitted to Charles VII., and the MSS. exist in the National Library in Paris. It has been edited by the historians Bachon and Quicherat, and translated from the Latin into French by Fabre.

The next batch of witnesses' evidence concerns the fighting period of Joan of Arc's life, and consists principally of the testimony given by her companions in her different campaigns, and this appears to us by far the most interesting and curious.

Of those witnesses the first to testify was a prince of the blood, Joan of Arc's 'beau Duc,' as she loved to call John, Duke of Alençon. He is thus styled in the original document: 'Illustris ac potentissimus princeps et dominus.'

Alençon came of a truly noble line of ancestors, and was descended also from brave warriors. His great-grandfather fell at Crecy, leading the vanguard of the French host. His grandfather was the companion-in-arms of the great Du Guesclin. His father, on the field of Agincourt, after having wounded the Duke of York and stricken him to the ground, crossed swords with King Harry, and then, overwhelmed by numbers, had fallen under a rain of blows.

With Dunois (Bastard of Orleans) Alençon is one of the most prominent of the French leaders who appear in Shakespeare's play, in the first part of Henry VI. Duke John, like his illustrious forebears, had also fought and bled for his country. His first campaign was made when he was but eighteen. Alençon first saw Joan of Arc in 1429. A strong mutual regard sprang up between the prince and the Maid of Domremy. Alençon had wedded the daughter of the Duke of Orleans, and it was to her that the heroine, when she left with the Duke for their expedition against Paris, promised to bring back her husband in safety.

No one had seen more of Joan of Arc during those days of fighting than had Alençon, and no one bore a higher testimony than did the Duke to her purity, her courage, and the sublime simplicity of her character. It was the Duke of Alençon who was especially struck with the skill shown by the heroine in warlike matters; particularly in her science in the management of artillery—ridiculously rude as that branch of the service appears to us.

'Everybody,' Alençon says, 'was amazed to see that in all that appertained to warfare she acted with as much knowledge and capacity as if she had been twenty or thirty years trained in the art of war.'

Next to Alençon's evidence came that of the famous Bastard of Orleans, the Count de Dunois, one of the most engaging and sympathetic figures of the whole age of chivalry. John of Orleans was the natural son of the Duke of Orleans, and, as Fabre says of him, he 'glorified the appellation of Bastard.' Indeed, the Bastard's name deserves to be handed down in his country's annals with as much glory as that of his great English rival and foe, Talbot, in those of the English. He was a consummate soldier, who even at the early age of twenty-three had brilliantly distinguished himself, and he lived to liberate Normandy and Guyenne from the English.

Well may M. Fabre, in his book on the rehabilitation of Joan of Arc, express his regret that Dunois' evidence was not set forth in the language in which it was delivered, and that it has come down to us weakened by translation into Latin. What is worse is that we have only the translation of a translation.

Dunois had, besides his high military reputation, that of being skilled in oratory. There is, however, in the translation more than a trace of the enthusiasm with which Dunois speaks of the deeds of the heroic maiden. Dunois, Bastard of Orleans as he is always called, bore the following titles, as recited by the chronicler: 'l'illustrieuse prince Jean Comte de Dunois et de Longueville, lieutenant-général de notre seigneur le roi.' He was fifty-one years old in the month of February, 1456. His deposition extends over the entire period of the life of Joan of Arc between the time of her arrival before Orleans and the period of the King's coronation.

Dunois' evidence closes thus:—'To conclude, it was habitual to Joan to speak playfully on matters relating to war, in order to cheer the soldiers, and she may have alluded to many military events which never were to take place. But I declare that, when she spoke seriously about the war, of her deeds, and of her vocation, she said her work was limited to raising the siege of Orleans, to succouring the unhappy people shut up in that town and in its suburbs, and to leading the King to Rheims for his coronation and anointing.'

Next we have the testimony of the noble knight, Raoul de Gaucourt, who had so stoutly defended Orleans during its long siege. De Gaucourt was eighty-five years old. This fine old warrior's evidence confirms all that Dunois had said in praise of Joan of Arc.

The next to appear was the heroine's page, Louis de Contes, aged fifteen when appointed to attend on Joan of Arc: at the time of the trial of her rehabilitation he was forty-two.

Next came a very interesting witness, to wit, Joan of Arc's almoner, 'vénérable et religieux personne Jean Pasquerel.' This worthy priest had been formerly in a Tours monastery. We do not find his age given at this time. The clear graphic testimony of this good man is a pleasure to read. His love and admiration for the heroine appear in every line of his testimony, and although this narrative is already too long, it will not perhaps be considered tedious if some of his evidence is quoted.

'When I first had tidings,' he says, 'of Joan of Arc and of her arrival at Court, I was at Puy, where at that time were her mother and some people who had accompanied her to Chinon. Having come to me, they said, "You must come with us and see Joan; we will not allow you to leave us until you have seen her." So I went with them to Chinon, and also to Tours. At that time I was reader in a convent in that town. When she came to Tours, Joan lived in the house of John Dupuy, a burgher of that place. It was there that I first met her. "Joan," they said to her, "we have brought this good father to see you. When you know him well you will like him very much." And Joan answered them and said, "The good father pleases me much; I have heard about him already, and I will make my confession to him to-morrow."

'And I heard her confession on the day following, when I also sang the Mass before her. Since that I have always followed Joan, and I remained her chaplain till the time of her capture at Compiègne.'

It was in this good priest's evidence that the touching trait of Joan of Arc's fondness for gathering children about her was made known. 'She confessed nearly every day,' he said, 'and took the Sacrament often. When near any community of begging friars she asked me to remind her of the days on which the beggar children received the Eucharist, so that she might receive it at the same time with them. It was her delight,' he said, 'to take the Sacrament along with the poor mendicant children. She shed tears often at confession.'

Later on in his evidence Pasquerel adds to the above, 'that often at night I have seen her kneeling, praying for her King and for the success of her mission. I certainly,' he said, 'firmly believed in the divine source of her mission, for she was always engaged in good works, and she was full of every good quality. During a campaign when provisions ran short Joan would never take that which had been gained by pillage. To the wounded she was ever pitiful—to the English as well as to those of her own country, and she always tried to get them to make their confession, if badly, and even if only slightly, wounded. The fear of God was ever before her, nor would she for anything in the world do anything which she considered contrary to His will: for instance, when she was wounded in the shoulder by the dart from a crossbow, when some people wished her to allow the wound to be charmed, promising that if she had it done her hurt would be healed, Joan said that to do so would be a sin, and that she would sooner die than commit one.

'I am greatly surprised,' continued the unsophisticated old priest, 'that such great lawyers (grands clercs) as were those at Rouen could have sentenced Joan to death. How could they put to death that poor child, who was such a good and such a simple Christian, and that too, so cruelly, without a reason—for surely they had not sufficient reason at any rate to kill her!'

Pasquerel could evidently not grasp the real reason for the part played by Cauchon in the execution of the Maid of Orleans, or imagine that in order to obtain an archbishopric his beloved Joan had been condemned by the Bishop of Beauvais to the flames. Pasquerel's evidence ends thus:—

'I have nothing more to add except this. On several occasions Joan told me that if she were to die, she hoped our lord the King would found chantries in which the Almighty might be entreated in intercession for the souls of those who had been slain in the defence of the kingdom.'

The next witness is John d'Aulon, knight, Seneschal of Beaucaire, member of the King's Council. It was he who had served Joan of Arc as esquire during all her campaigns. His evidence is of importance, as it proves clearly the grounds on which the trial of rehabilitation was held—namely, to clear the King of having been crowned and anointed through the agency of one condemned by the Church as an apostate and heretic. The Archbishop thus wrote to d'Aulon on the 20th of April, 1456:—

'By the sentence pronounced against Joan the English wish it to be believed that the Maid was a sorceress, a heretic, and in league with the devil, and therefore that the King had received his kingdom by those means; and thus they hold as heretics the King and those that have served him.'

Nothing can be clearer than this declaration, or show better the real object for which that utterly selfish prince, Charles VII., had, after the lapse of a quarter of a century since the death of Joan of Arc, instituted these proceedings—not at all in order to do honour to the heroine's memory, but in order that his position as King of France should not be tainted with the heresy which had been charged to the account of Joan by and through the clergy and French doctors of theology and learning.

D'Aulon's evidence is one of the most complete of the entire set of testimonies. It was given, not at Rouen, but at Lyons, in 1456, before the Vice-Inquisitor, John Desprès.

His depositions are remarkable in this, that, unlike those of the other witnesses, they are recorded in French, and not in Latin.

Next to d'Aulon succeeds, in the chain of witnesses, Simon Beaucroix, aged fifty. Simon was a youth at Chinon when Joan of Arc came there. Beaucroix's evidence is followed by that of John Luillier, a citizen of Orleans. He bore evidence to the immense popularity of the Maid during and after the siege of Orleans. At the time of the trial of rehabilitation Luillier was fifty. To the part played by the Maid at the siege of his native town he speaks thus:—

'As to the question you put me, whether I think the siege of Orleans was raised and the town saved from the enemy by the intervention and the ministration (ministère) of the Maid, even more than by the force of arms, this is my answer: All my fellow citizens, as well as I myself, believe that had the Maid not come there by the will of God to our rescue, we should very soon, both town and people, have been in the power of the besiegers. It is my belief,' he adds, 'that it was impossible for the people of Orleans and for the army present at Orleans to have held out much longer against the superior strength of the enemy.'

More people from Orleans next gave their evidence: viz. William le Charron, John Volant, William Postian, Denis Roger, James de Thou, John Canelier, Aignan de Saint-Mesmin, John Hilaire, Jacques l'Esbalny, Cosmé de Commy, John de Champcoux, Peter Hue, Peter Jonqualt, John Aubert, William Rouillart, Gentien Cabu, Peter Vaillant, John Beaucharnys, John Coulon. All these men were burghers of the town, and their ages varied between forty and seventy. All agreed with Luillier in their belief that, under God, it was Joan of Arc who rescued their city from the English.

Following these men we now come to the evidence of some of the women who had seen or known the heroine. First of these is Joan, wife of Gilles de Saint-Mesmin, aged seventy. She says: 'The general opinion was and is still at Orleans that Joan was a good Catholic—simple, humble, and of a holy life.' Such, too, is the opinion of Joan, the wife of Guy Boyleau, and of Guillemette, wife of John de Coulon; also of the widow of John de Mouchy. All these agree with the first lady's testimony.

We have next the evidence of the daughter of James Boucher, the treasurer of Orleans, at whose house Joan of Arc lodged while in Orleans. Charlotte Boucher had married William Houet. When her deposition was taken in 1456 she was thirty-six years old, and consequently only nine when Joan lodged at her father's house. However, young as she was then, the visit of the Maid had left a great memory behind; she had been Joan's bed-fellow.

'Often,' she says, 'Joan said to my mother, "Hope in God, for He will deliver the town of Orleans, and drive the enemy away."'

And last we find the evidence of two good wives of Orleans, one widow of John Huré, the other Petronillé, wife of Beaucharnys. After these came six clerics, canons of the Church of Saint Aignan at Orleans—Robert de Farciaux, Peter Compaing, Peter de la Censurey, Raoul Godert, Hervé Bonart, and André Bordez. Peter Milet and his wife, Colette, were also witnesses. All had known Joan when she was at Orleans, as had Aignan Viole, an advocate of Parliament, who had been in Orleans during the siege.

The 'noble homme Guillaume de Richarville, panetier de la cour,' gave his evidence, relating to Joan of Arc's appearance at Court, as also did an old Court physician named Reginald Thierry; it is he who relates how, at the capture of Saint Pierre-le-Moutier, Joan prevented its church from being pillaged.

A doughty warrior follows, namely, 'noble et prudent Seigneur le chevalier Thibauld d'Armagnac, Sire de Thermes, Bailli de Chartres.' D'Armagnac was fifty years old; he had followed Joan of Arc all through her campaign, and, like Alençon, had a very high opinion of her military talents. At the close of his evidence, he says: 'In the manner of the conduct and ordering of troops, in that of placing them in battle array, and of animating the men, Joan of Arc had as much capacity for these things as the most accomplished captain in the art of war.'

After the soldier, the peasant. This peasant, or rather mechanic, is a coppersmith named Husson Lemaître. Lemaître hailed from Domremy. Being in the year 1456 at Rouen, he then and there gave his evidence. He had known Joan of Arc's family, and Joan too in her childhood; of all of them he spoke most highly.

Next comes 'honnête et prude femme demoiselle Marguerite la Tournelle,' the widow of Réné de Bouligny. It was at her house at Bourges that Joan lodged after the coronation at Rheims.

We now pass to an entirely different category of witnesses. These are the men who sat in the trial of the heroine. One can well understand the embarrassment shown by such folk in their replies to the questions they had to answer, and their wish if it were possible to turn the responsibility of their previous judgment on the heads of those who were no longer in this world to answer the charges made against them.

The first of these men is 'vénérable et savante personne Maître Thomas de Courcelles.' De Courcelles was only fifty-six in 1456, when called on to make his deposition as to the part he had played in the heroine's trial at Rouen, five-and-twenty years before. His evidence is full of the feeblest argument, and his memory appears to have been a very convenient one, as he repeatedly evades an answer by the plea of having forgotten all about the incident alluded to.

Next follows that 'vénérable et circonspecte personne, Maître Jean Beaupère'—a doctor of theology, and canon of Rouen, Paris, and Besançon. This circumspect person was now in his seventieth year. He laid most of the blame of Joan of Arc's death upon the English, and the rest on Cauchon. The English being away, and Cauchon dead, the circumspection of this doctor's evidence is evident.

We next have that of the Bishop of Noyon, John de Mailly. This bishop had been in the service of the English King, but had, when Charles became prosperous, returned to him. In 1456 he was aged sixty. An intimate of the Prince Cardinal of Winchester, and one of the foremost of the judges who condemned Joan of Arc to death, his deposition in 1456 is quite a study in the art of trying to convince people that black is white. He had shown some kind of feeling of humanity at the time of the martyrdom of the Maid, and had left that scene of horror early. To the memory of his old friend and colleague, Cauchon, he gives a parting kick by saying at the close of his examination that of one thing he was quite certain, and that was that Cauchon received money for the conduct of the trial from his friends, the English. But he might have now been reminded that he too had received some of this blood-money.

Next to appear is another French bishop, Monseigneur Jean Le Fèvre, Evêque in partibus de Démétriade. This prelate was in his seventieth year. At the time of Joan of Arc's trial he was professor of theology of the order of hermit monks of Saint Augustins. The Bishop had taken an active part in the trial and condemnation. Like his brother bishop, Le Fèvre enjoyed a very convenient memory, and had quite forgotten many things of importance which occurred during the trial in 1430. Nor did he even take part as a spectator in the martyrdom which he had helped to bring about—'I left before the end,' he said, 'not feeling the strength to see more.' Let that shred of humanity in the composition of priests like him be allowed before we entirely condemn them.

The next witness is also a Churchman, Peter Migiet, the prior of Longueville, aged seventy. He also had been one of Cauchon's crawling creatures. There is little of interest in his evidence, except the passage where he says that an English knight had told him that the English feared Joan of Arc more than a hundred soldiers, and that her very name was a source of terror to the foe. Although this sounds an exaggerated statement, it is not so, as is proved by an edict having been issued by the English Government in the May of 1430, in which English officers and soldiers who refused to enter France for fear of 'the enchantments of the Maid' were threatened with severe punishment. There is, moreover, an edict, bearing the date of December 1430, which was also issued by the English military authorities, describing the trial and the punishment by court martial of all soldiers who had deserted the army in France from fear of Joan of Arc.

After the above priests, on whom rests the infamy of having taken part in the death of the heroine, it is a relief to find the next witness, although a Churchman, a man of sufficient honesty and courage to have been one of those few who refused to take any part in the iniquitous proceedings connected with Joan of Arc's trial, and who suffered imprisonment owing to his unwillingness to carry out Cauchon's wishes. This worthy priest was named Nicolas de Houppeville, a doctor of theology, now in his sixty-fifth year.

The next witness is John Tiphanie, a canon of the Sainte Chapelle of Paris. He was also a doctor in medicine. Tiphanie had been compelled much against his inclination to take part in the trial of Joan. He was one of the doctors who were sent to see her when she lay ill in prison.

Then follows another doctor; this is William Delachambre, aged only forty-eight in 1456. He must have practised his vocation at a very early age. Delachambre had also joined in the trial of the Maid, from fear of Cauchon. His evidence relating to the scene at Saint Ouen is important.

'I remember well,' he says, 'the abjuration which Joan of Arc made. She hesitated a long while before she made it. At length William Erard determined her to make it by telling her that, when she had made it, she should be delivered from her prison. Under this promise she at length decided to do so, and she then read a short profession of some six or seven lines written on a piece of folded paper. I was so near that I could see the writing on the paper.'

We next come to the witness whose evidence is, next to that of Dunois, of the greatest importance; it is that of the Recorder, or judges' clerk, William Manchon. Born in 1395, he was sixty-one years of age when the rehabilitation trial took place. Manchon's evidence takes up thirty pages in M. Fabre's work, already often referred to—Le Procès de Réhabilitation de Jeanne d'Arc. Much against his will was Manchon obliged to act in the trial of the Maid, but he did not dare disobey the orders of those who formed the Council of Henry VI. All that he deposed has been made use of in the account of the heroine's life; so now we need do no more than refer to it. The other Recorder who helped Manchon to draw up the minutes of the trial was also examined; this was William Colles, called Boisguillaume. He was in his sixty-sixth year. Colles relates that, after the execution, the people used to point out the author of Joan's death with horror—'besides,' he adds, 'I have been told that the most prominent of those who took part in her condemnation died miserably. Nicolas Midi [who had preached the sermon on the day of her execution, and just before it took place] was stricken with leprosy, and Cauchon died suddenly, while being shaved.'

A third Recorder was also examined, Nicolas Taquel. Then followed the priest Massieu. During the trial of Joan he had acted as bailiff to the Court, and in that capacity had seen much of the prisoner; he had always conveyed her to and from her prison. It may be remembered that it was he who, on Joan's petition to be allowed to kneel before the chapel on her way to the hall of judgment, granted her request, and was threatened by Cauchon, should it again occur, to be thrown into prison where, as Cauchon said to him, he would not have 'the light of sun or moon.' Massieu remained till the end with Joan, and it is he who records that the executioner found, after the body had been destroyed, that the heart remained unconsumed. He also relates that the executioner was ordered to collect the ashes and all that remained, and to throw those few relics of humanity into the Seine, which was accordingly done. Martin Ladvenu followed Massieu. Ladvenu was a Dominican friar: he was one of the few priests who showed some humanity to the victim. It was to him that Joan of Arc confessed on the morning of her death, and it was also to him that the executioner came on the night of the martyrdom, and said that no execution had ever affected him as that one had done. Next to arrive was Isambard de la Pierre, a Dominican priest. He had been an acolyte of the Vice-Inquisitor, Lemaître; he too, like Ladvenu, had shown sympathy with the sufferer, had given her advice during the trial, and had helped to soothe her last moments. De la Pierre states in his evidence regarding her supposed refusal to submit herself to the Church, that Joan of Arc, when she was told by her judges to submit herself, thought they meant themselves by the Church of which they spoke to her; but when she was told by him what the Church really signified she always said she submitted herself to it and to the Pope. It was to Isambard de la Pierre that Joan begged for a cross when on the pile and about to die. 'As I was close by the poor child,' he says, 'she begged me humbly to go to the church close at hand and bring her a cross to hold up right before her eyes, till her death, so that the cross on which God hung might as long as she lived appear before her. She died a true and good Christian. In the midst of the flames she never ceased calling on the sacred name of Jesus, and invoking the aid of the saints in Paradise. When the fire was lit she begged me to get down from off the stake with my cross, but to hold it still before her, which I did. At last, bending down her head, with a strong voice calling on the name of Jesus, she gave up the ghost.'

Yet another priest succeeds: this is 'vénérable et religieux personne, frère Jean Toutmouillé,' of the order of the preaching friars of Rouen. Toutmouillé was quite a youth at the time of Joan of Arc's death. Another priest follows, William Daval, also one of the order of preaching friars, and belonging to the Church of Saint James at Rouen. He, too, had been, with Isambard, one of the acolytes of the Vice-Inquisitor. In his evidence, he tells of how, after Isambard had been advising Joan in her prison, he was met by Warwick, who threatened to have him thrown into the river if he continued seeing the prisoner.

We next have 'vénérable et circonspecte personne Maître André Marguerie'; this was one of Cauchon's most trusted creatures. His 'âme damnée,' Richard de Grouchet, canon of the collegiate Church of Sans Faye, is the next witness. There is nothing of any interest in the testimony of these Churchmen, nor in that of Nicolas Dubesert, another canon of Rouen, nor in that of Nicolas Caval. Next appears a prior, Thomas Marie, of the Church of Saint Michel, near Rouen. Four other ecclesiastics follow them—John Roquier, Peter Bouchier, John Bonnet, John de Lenozoles; but none of these men's testimony is of any interest. The evidence of no less a person than the torturer is called next. He is named—to give him his titles in full—'Honnête homme Mauger Lessarmentrer, clerc non marier, appariteur de la cour archiepiscopalle de Rouen.' The name of the chief torturer of the good city of Rouen, Mauger, has a gruesome ring about it—it reminds one of the headsman in Harrison Ainsworth's novel of the Tower of London. Aged fifty-six in 1456, Mauger had seen Joan of Arc when she was brought into the yet extant tower of the castle, and threatened by Cauchon with the torture. 'We were,' deposed Mauger, 'my companion and myself, ordered to go there to torture her. She was questioned, and she answered with much prudence, and so well, that every one was amazed. Finally, I and my companion left the tower without having laid hands upon her.' Mauger attended at the execution, and this is what he heard and saw there and then. 'As soon as the Bishop (Cauchon) had read the sentence, Joan was taken to the fire. I did not hear whether the civil judges delivered the sentence or not. Joan was placed instantly upon the fire. In the midst of the flames she called out more than six times the name of Jesus. It was when about to give the last breath that she called out with a loud voice, "Jesus!" so that every one could hear her. Nearly everybody wept, for all were overcome with pity.'

After the torturer's witness came that of a soldier, Aimonde de Macy, who was thirty years old when he met Joan in the Castle of Beaurevoir; she being then a prisoner in the charge of Ligny.

De Macy was at Rouen at the time when Lord Stafford came so nearly stabbing the Maid in her prison, and was only prevented from that dastardly act by Warwick.

We next hear the evidence of an attorney, Peter Daron: he had also seen Joan in her prison at Rouen, and had seen her die.

Next we have 'prudent homme Maître Jean Fave, maître des requêtes du roi Charles VII.': he, too, was present at the execution.

Next appears upon the scene 'honnête personne Laurent Guesdon,' clerk and advocate to the lay court of Rouen. He also had been present at the death of Joan of Arc, and, from his office as lieutenant of the Bailiff of Rouen, he held an important position at the execution; and this is some of his evidence relating to it: 'I assisted at the last sermon preached at the old market-place. I had accompanied the Bailiff, being then his deputy. The sentence was read by which Joan was abandoned to the secular arm; after that sentence had been pronounced the executioners seized her, before either the Bailiff or myself had time to read the sentence; and she was led up to the stake—which was not as it should have been ordered.'

Next arrive as witnesses two burghers of Rouen, Peter Cusquel and John Moreaux. Both of them had been spectators of the martyrdom, but they have nothing of interest to say about it. And finally—(and doubtless the reader will be glad to come to the end of this interminable procession, as is the writer)—comes the deposition of John Marcel—'bourgeois' of Paris. Marcel had been in Rouen during the time of the Maid's trial, and was also present at the end of her life. M. Fabre, in concluding in his book the translation of the testimonies of the long list of witnesses given by him for the first time in full, makes a great point of the universal concurrence of those who knew Joan of Arc as to her undoubted purity of person as well as of mind: that fact is of the greatest importance as regarded the rehabilitation of the Maid of Orleans. That is a subject which it is not now necessary to do more than to allude to; but to the French judges in the time of the trial of the rehabilitation, the fact of Joan of Arc being proved to have been incontestably a virgin was of the highest interest. It was reserved for a countryman of Joan of Arc's (Du Bellay) to invent a legend to disprove the fact; and to the everlasting shame of French literature, Voltaire adopted the lying calumny in his licentious burlesque-heroic poem, La Pucelle d'Orléans.

The sentence of rehabilitation which fills in the translation a dozen of M. Fabre's pages, was solemnly delivered in the great hall of the archiepiscopal palace at Rouen. On that occasion one of Joan of Arc's brothers, John, was present. The sentence which was framed to wipe away the iniquity of the judgment by which the heroine had been condemned, was delivered by the Archbishop of Rheims in the presence of a vast concourse of people, among whom were the Bishops of Paris and of Coutances. Among other things ordered to honour the memory of the Martyr, it was ordained that after a sermon preached on the spot where the act of abjuration had taken place in the cemetery of the Church of Saint Ouen, and also on the site of the spot where had stood the stake and pyre, two crosses should be erected.

Crosses were placed not only there, and in Rouen, but also on other spots. It is interesting to know that one of these crosses can still be seen in the Forest of Compiègne; and it is traditionally said that this cross at Compiègne was placed there by no other than Dunois himself. Both the crosses at Rouen have disappeared centuries ago. Processions took place at Rouen, and all was done that the Church could do to wash out the indelible stain of its action four-and-twenty years before the time of the rehabilitation. In 1431, the clergy of France, to please the English, had in the name of orthodoxy, and with the tolerance of the Pope, denounced Joan of Arc as 'a heretic and idolatress.' In 1456, the same French clergy, to please Charles VII., in the name of religion and justice pronounced the memory of Joan of Arc free from all taint of heresy and of idolatry, and ordered processions and erected crosses in her honour to keep her memory fresh in the land.


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