Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

Jeanne d'Arc: Her Life and Death Chapter 15

RE-EXAMINATION.
MARCH-MAY, 1431.

Upon all these contentions followed the calm of Palm Sunday, a great and touching festival, the first break upon the gloom of Lent, and a forerunner of the blessedness of Easter. We have already told how–a semblance of charity with which the reader might easily be deceived– the Bishop and four of his assessors had gone to the prison to offer to the Maid permission to receive the sacrament if she would do so in a woman’s dress: and how after pleading that she might be allowed that privilege as she was, in her male costume, and with a pathetic statement that she would have yielded if she could, but that it was impossible–she finally refused; and was so left in her prison to pass that sacred day unsuccoured and alone. The historian Michelet, in the wonderful sketch in which he rises superior to himself, and which amidst all after writings remains the most beautiful and touching memorial of Jeanne d’Arc, has made this day a central point in his tale, using with the skill of genius the service of the Church appropriate to the day, in heart-rending contrast with those doors of the prison which did not open, and the help of God which did not come to the young and solitary captive. Le beau jour fleuri passed over her in darkness and desertion: her agony and passion lay before her like those of the Divine Sufferer, to whom every day of the succeeding week is specially consecrated. There is almost indeed a painful following of the Saviour’s steps in these dark days, the circumstances lending themselves in a wonderful way to the comparison which French writers love to make, but which many of us must always feel, however spotless the sufferer, to have a certain irreverence in them. But if ever martyr were worthy of being called a partaker of the sufferings of Christ it was surely this girl, free, if ever human creature was, from self-seeking, or thought of reward, or ambitious hope, in whose heart there had never been any motive but the service of God and the deliverance of her country, who had neither looked before nor after, nor put her own interests into consideration in any way. Silently the feast passed with no holy privileges of religion, no blessed token of the spring, no remembrance of the waving palms and scattered blossoms over which her Lord rode into Jerusalem to die. She had not that sweet fallacious triumph; but the darker ordeal remained for her to follow.

On Tuesday the 27th of March, her troubles began again. Before Palm Sunday, the report of the trial had been read to her. She had now to hear the formal reading of the articles founded upon it, to give a final response if she had any to give, or explanation, or addition, if she thought proper. The sitting was held in the great hall of the Castle of Rouen before a band of more than forty, all assembled for this final test. The Bishop made a prefactory speech to the prisoner, pointing out to her how benign and merciful were the judges now assembled, that they had no wish to punish, but rather to instruct and lead her in the right way; and requesting her at this late period in the proceedings to choose one or more from among them to help her. To which Jeanne replied; “In the first place concerning my good and our faith, I thank you and all the company. As for the counsellor you offer me I thank you also, but I have no need to depart from our Lord as my counsellor.”

The articles, in which the former questions put to her and answered by her, were now repeated in the form of accusations, were then read to her one by one; her sorcery, sacrilege, etc., being taken as facts. To a few she repeated, with various forcible and fine turns of phrase, her previous answers, with here and there a new explanation; but to the great majority she referred simply to her former replies, or denied the charge, as follows: “The second article concerning sortilège, superstitious acts and divination, she denied, and in respect to adoration (i.e. allowing herself to be adored) said: If any kissed her hands or her garments, it was not by her will, and that she kept herself from it as much as she could; and the rest of the article she denies.” This is a specimen of the manner in which she responded, with a clear-headed and undisturbed intelligence, point after point– ipsa Johanna negat, is the usual refrain: or else she referred with dignity to previous replies as her sole answer. But sometimes the girl was moved to indignation, sometimes added a word in her own defence: “As for fairies she knew not what they were, and as for her education she had been well and duly instructed what to believe, as a good child should.” This was her answer to the article in which all the folk-lore of Domremy, all the fairy tales, had been collected into a solemn statement of heresy. The matter of dress was once more treated in endless detail, with many interjected questions and reports of what she had already said: and at the end, answering the statement that woman’s dress was most fit for woman’s work, Jeanne added the quick mot/: “As for the usual work of women, there are enough of other women to do it.” On another occasion when the report ran that she claimed to have done all things by the counsel of God, she interrupted and said “that it ought to be, all that I have done well.” To her former answer that she had yielded to the desire of the French knights in attacking Paris, she added the fine words, “It seemed to me that it was their duty to attack their adversaries.” In respect to her visions she added to her former answer, “that she had not asked advice of bishop, curé, or any other before believing her revelations, but had many times prayed God to reveal them to others of her party.” About calling her saints when she required their aid she added, that she asked God and Our Lady to send her council and comfort, and immediately her heavenly visitors came; and that this was the prayer she made:

“Gentle God, in honour of Your[1] passion, I pray You, if You love me, that You would reveal to me how I ought to answer these people of the Church. I know well by what command it was that I took this dress, but I know not in what manner I ought to give it up. For this may it please You to teach me.”

In respect to the reproach that she had been a general in the war (/chef de guerre), she explained that if she were, it was to drive out the English, repelling the accusation that she had assumed this title in pride; and to that which accused her of preferring to live among men, she explained that when she was in a lodging she generally had a woman with her; but that when engaged in war she lived in her clothes whenever there was not a woman present. In respect to her hope of escaping from prison, she was asked if her council had thrown any light on that question, and replied, “I have yet to tell you." Manchon, the clerk, makes a note upon his margin at these words, “Proudly answered"–/superbe responsum.

This re-examination lasted for two long days, the 27th and 28th of March. On several points Jeanne requested that she might be allowed to give an answer on Saturday, and accordingly, on Saturday, the last day of March, Easter Eve, she was visited in prison by the Bishop and seven or eight assessors. She was then asked if she would submit to the judgment of the Church on earth all that she had done and said, specially in things that concerned her trial. She answered that she would submit to the judgment of the Church militant, provided that it did not enforce anything that was impossible. She explained that what she called impossible was to acknowledge that the visions and revelations came otherwise than from God, or that what she had done was not on the part of God: these she would never deny or revoke for any power on earth: and that which our Lord had commanded or should command, she would not give up for any living man, and this would be impossible to her. And in case the Church should command her to do anything contrary to the command given her by God she would not do it for any reason whatsoever. Asked whether she would submit to the Church if the Church militant pronounced that her revelations were delusions or from the devil, or superstitious, or evil things, she answered that she would refer everything to our Lord, whose command she always obeyed; and that she knew well that everything had come to her by the commandment of God; and that what she had affirmed during this trial to have been done by the commandment of God it would be impossible for her to deny. And in case the Church militant commanded her to go against God, she would submit herself to no man in this world but to our Lord, whose good commandment she had always obeyed. She was asked if she did not believe that she was subject to the Church on earth, that is, to our Holy Father the Pope, the Cardinals, Bishops, and other prelates of the Church. She answered, “Yes, our Lord being served first.” Asked if she had directions from her voices not to submit to the Church militant which is on earth, nor to its judgment, she replied that she does not answer according to what comes into her head, but that when she replies it is by commandment; and that she has never been told not to obey the Church, our Lord being served first (/noster Sire premier servi).

Other less formal particulars come to us long after, from various witnesses at the procès de rehabilitation, in which a lively picture is given of this scene. Frère Isambard had apparently managed, as was his wont, to get close to the prisoner, and to whisper to her to appeal to the Council of Bâle. “What is this Council of Bâle?” she asked in the same tone. Isambard replied that it was the “congregation of the whole Church, Catholic and Universal, and that there would be as many there on her side as on that of the English.” “Ah!” she cried, “since there will be some of our party in that place, I will willingly yield and submit to the Council of Bâle, to our Holy Father the Pope, and to the sacred Council."[2] And immediately–continues the deposition–the Bishop of Beauvais cried out, “Silence, in the devil’s name!” and told the notary to take no notice of what she said, that she would submit herself to the Council of Bâle; whereupon a second cry burst from the bosom of Jeanne, “You write what is against me, but you will not write what is for me.” “Because of these things, the English and their officers threatened terribly the said Frère Isambard, warning him that if he did not hold his peace he would be thrown in the Seine.” No notice whatever is taken of any such interruption in the formal record. It must have been before this time that Jean de la Fontaine disappeared. He left Rouen secretly and never returned, nor does he ever appear again. Frère Isambard is said to have taken temporary refuge in his convent; they scattered, de par l’diable, according to the Christian adjuration of Mgr. De Beauvais; though l’Advenu would seem to have held his ground, and served as Confessor to Jeanne in her agony, at which Frère Isambard was also present. We are told that the Deputy Inquisitor Lemâitre, he who had been got to lend the aid of his presence with such difficulty, fiercely warned the authorities that he would have no harm done to those two friars, from which we may infer that he too had leanings towards the Maid; and these honest and loyal men, well deserving of their country and of mankind, should not lose their record when the tragic story of so much human treachery and baseness has to be told.

 

After this there came a long pause, full of much business to the judges, councillors, and clerks who had to reduce the seventy articles to twelve, in order to forward a summary of the case to the University of Paris for their judgment. Jeanne in the meantime had been left, but not neglected, in her prison. The great Feast of Easter had passed without any sacred consolation of the Church; but Monseigneur de Beauvais, in his kindness, sent her a carp to keep the feast withal, if not any spiritual food. It was quite congenial to the spirit of the time to imagine that the carp had been poisoned, and such a thought seems to have crossed the mind of Jeanne, who was very ill after eating of it, and like to die. But it was not thus, poisoned in prison, that it would have suited any of her persecutors to let her die. As a matter of fact, as soon as it was known that she was ill, the best doctors procurable were sent to the prison with peremptory orders to prolong her life and cure her at any cost. But for a little time we lose sight of the sick-bed on which the unfortunate Maid lay fully dressed, never relinquishing the garb which was her protection, with her feet chained to her uneasy couch. Even at the moment when her life hung in the balance we read of no indulgence granted in this respect, no unlocking of the infamous chain, nor substitution of a gentler nurse for the attendant houspillers, who were her guards night and day.

When the Bishop and his court had completed their business and sent off to Paris the important document on which so much depended, they found themselves at leisure to return to Jeanne, to inquire after her health and to make her “a charitable admonition.” It was on the 18th of April, after the silence of more than a fortnight, that their visit was made with this benevolent purpose. Seven of her judges attended the Bishop into the sick-chamber. They had come, he assured her, charitably and familiarly, to visit her in her sickness and to carry her comfort and consolation. Most of these men were indeed familiar enough: she had seen their faces already through many a dreadful day, though there were one or two which were new and strange, come to stare at her in the depths of her distress. Cauchon reminded her how much and how carefully she had been questioned by the most wise and learned men; and that those there present were ready to do anything for the salvation of her soul and body in every possible way, by instructing or advising her. He added, however, that if she still refused to accept advice, and to act according to the counsel of the Church, she was in the greatest danger–to which she replied:

“It seems to me, being so ill as I am, that I am in great danger of death. And if it is thus that God pleases to decide for me, I ask of you to be allowed to confess and receive my Saviour, and to be laid in holy ground.”

“If you desire to have the rites and sacraments of the Church,” said Cauchon, “you must do as good Catholics ought to do, submit to Holy Church.” She answered, “I can say no other thing to you.” She was then told that if she was in fear of death through sickness she ought all the more to amend her life; but that she could not have the privileges of the Church as a Catholic, if she did not submit to the Church. She answered: “If my body dies in prison, I hope that you will bury me in consecrated ground: yet if not, I still hope in our Lord.”

She was then reminded that she had said in her trial–if anything had been said or done by her against our Christian faith ordained by our Lord, that she would not stand by it. She answered, “I refer to the answer I made, and to our Lord.”

It was then asked of her, since she believed herself to have had many revelations from God by St. Michael, St. Catherine, and St. Margaret, whether if there should appear some good creature (/sic) who professed to have had a revelation from God in respect to her, she would believe that? She answered that there was no Christian in the world who could come to her professing to have had a revelation, of whom she should not know whether he spoke the truth or not: she would know it through St. Catherine and St. Margaret.

Asked, if she could not imagine that God might reveal something to a good creature who might be unknown to her, she answered: “Yes; but I would not believe either man or woman without a sign.”

Asked, if she believed that the Holy Scripture was revealed by God, she answered, “You know that I do, and it is good to know.”

The last answer she made in respect to submission to Holy Church was this, “Whatever may happen to me I will neither do nor say anything else, for I have answered before, during the trial.”

She was then “exhorted powerfully by the venerable doctors present" (four are mentioned by name) to submit to our Mother the Church, with many authorities and examples drawn from the Holy Scriptures; and finally, Magister Nicolas Midi made her an exhortation from Matthew xviii.: “If your brother trespass against you,” and what follows, “If he will not hear the Church, let him be to you as a heathen man and a publican.” This was expounded to Jeanne in the French tongue and, finally, she was told that if she would not obey and submit to the Church she must be given up as if she was a Saracen. To which Jeanne replied that she was a good Christian and well baptised, and that she desired to die as a Christian. She was then asked whether, since she begged leave of the Church to receive her Saviour, she would submit to the Church if it were promised to her that she should receive. She answered that she would say no more than she had said; that she loved God, served Him, and was a good Christian, and would aid and uphold the Holy Church with all her power. Asked if she wished that a beautiful procession should be made for her to restore her to health, she answered that she would be glad if the Church and the Catholics would pray for her.

For another fortnight Jeanne was sent back into the silence, and to her own thoughts, which must have grown heavier and heavier as the weary days went on, and no sound of approaching deliverance came, no rumour of help at hand. All was quiet and safe at Rouen; amid the babble of the courtyard which she might hear fitfully when her guardians were quieter than usual, there was not one word which brought the hope of a French army at hand, or of any movement to rescue her. All was silent in the world around, not a breath of hope, not the whisper of a friend. It was not till the 2d of May that the dreadful blank was again broken, and she was called to the great hall of the castle for another interview with her tormentors. When she was led into the hall it was full, as in the first sitting, sixty-three judges in all being present. The interest had flagged or the pity had grown as the trial dragged its slow length along; but now, when every day the verdict was expected from Paris, the interest had risen again. On her way from her prison to the hall, it was necessary to pass the door of the castle chapel: and here once or twice Massieu, the officer of the court, had permitted her to pause and kneel down as she passed. This was all the celebration of the Paschal Feast that was permitted to Jeanne. The compassionate official, however, was discovered in this small service of charity, and sternly reprimanded and threatened. Henceforward she had to pass without even a longing look through the door at the altar on which was the holy sacrament.

She came in on the renewed sitting of the 2d May to find the assembled priests settling themselves, after the address which had been made to them, to hear another address which John de Chasteillon, Archdeacon, had prepared for herself, in which he said much that was good both for body and soul, to which she consented. He had a list of twelve articles in his hands, and explained and expounded them to her, as they were the occasion of the sitting. He then “admonished her in charity,” explaining that those who were faithful to Christ hold firmly and closely to the Christian creed, and adjuring her to consent and to amend her ways. To this Jeanne answered: “Read your book," meaning the schedule held by Monseigneur the Archdeacon, “and then I will answer you. I refer myself to God my master in all things; and I love Him with all my heart.”

To read this book, however, was precisely what Monseigneur the Archdeacon had no intention of doing. She was never allowed to hear the twelve articles upon which the verdict against her was founded; but the speaker gave her a long discourse by way of explanation, following more or less the schedule which he held. This “monition general,” however, elicited no detailed reply from Jeanne, who answered briefly with some impatience, “I refer myself to my judge, who is the King of Heaven and earth.” The “Lord Archdeacon” then proceeded to “monitions particulares.”

It was then once more explained to her that this reference to God alone was a refusal to submit to the Church militant, and she was instructed in the authority of the Church, which it was the duty of every Christian to believe–/unam sanctam Ecclesiam always guided by the Holy Spirit and which could not err, to the judgment of which every question should be referred. She answered: “I believe in the Church here below; but my doings and sayings, as I have already said, I refer and submit to God. I believe that the Church militant cannot err or fail; but as for my deeds and words I put them all before God, who has made me do that which I have done"; she also said that she submitted herself to God, her Creator, who had made her do everything, and referred everything to Him, and to Him alone.

She was then asked, if she would have no judge on earth and if our Holy Father the Pope were not her judge; she answered: “I will tell you nothing more. I have a good master, that is our Lord, on whom I depend for everything, and not an any other.”

She was then told that if she would not believe the Church and the article Ecclesiam sanctam Catholicam, that she might be reckoned as a heretic and punished by burning: to which she answered: “I can say nothing else to you; and if I saw the fire before me, I should say only that which I say, and could do nothing else.” (Once more at this point the clerk writes on his margin, “Proud reply"–/Superba responsio–but whether in admiration or in blame it would be hard to say.)

Asked, if the Council General, or the Holy Father, Cardinals, etc., were there–whether she would submit to them. “You shall have no other answer from me,” she said.

Asked, if she would submit to our Holy Father the Pope: she answered, “Take me to him and I will answer him,” but would say no more.

Questioned in respect to her dress, she answered, that she would willingly accept a long dress and a woman’s hood to go to church to receive her Saviour, provided that, as she had already said, she were allowed to wear it on that occasion only, and then to take back that which she at present wore. Further, when it was set before her that she wore that dress without any need, being in prison, she answered, “When I have done that for which I was sent by God, I will then take back a woman’s dress.” Asked, if she thought she did well in being dressed like a man, she answered, “I refer every thing to our Lord.”

Again, after the exhortation made to her, namely, that in saying that she did well and did not sin in wearing that dress, and in the circumstances which concerned her assuming and wearing it, and in saying that God and the saints made her do so–she blasphemed, and as is contained in this schedule, erred and did evil: she answered that she never blasphemed God or the saints.

She was then admonished to give up that dress, and no longer to think it was right, and to return to the garb of a woman; but answered that she would make no change in this respect.

Concerning her revelations: she replied in regard to them, that she referred everything to her judge, that is God, and that her revelations were from God, without any other medium.

Asked concerning the sign given to the King if she would refer to the Archbishop of Rheims, the Sire de Boussac, Charles de Bourbon, La Tremouille, and La Hire, to them or to any one of them, who, according to what she formerly said, had seen the crown, and were present when the angel brought it, and gave it to the Archbishop; or if she would refer to any others of her party who might write under their seals that it was so; she answered, “Send a messenger, and I will write to them about the whole trial”: but otherwise she was not disposed to refer to them.

In respect to her presumption in divining the future, etc., she answered, “I refer everything to my judge who is God, and to what I have already answered, which is written in the book.”

Asked, if two or three or four knights of her party were to be brought here under a safe conduct, whether she would refer to them her apparitions and other things contained in this trial; answered, “Let them come and then I will answer:” but otherwise she was not willing to refer to anyone.

Asked whether, at the Church of Poitiers where she was examined, she had submitted to the Church, she answered, “Do you hope to catch me in this way, and by that draw advantage to yourselves?”

In conclusion, “afresh and abundantly,” she was admonished to submit herself to the Church, on pain of being abandoned by the Church; for if the Church left her she would be in great danger of body and of soul; and she might well put herself in peril of eternal fire for the soul, as well as of temporal fire for the body, by the sentence of other judges. “You will not do this which you say against me, without doing injury to your own bodies and souls,” she said.

Asked, whether she could give a reason why she would not submit to the Church: but to this she would make no additional reply.

Again a week passed in busy talk and consultation without, in silence and desertion within. On the 9th of May the prisoner was again led, this time to the great tower, apparently the torture chamber of the castle, where she found nine of her judges awaiting her, and was once more adjured to speak the truth, with the threat of torture if she continued to refuse. Never was her attitude more calm, more dignified and lofty in its simplicity, than at this grim moment.

“Truly,” she replied, “if you tear the limbs from my body, and my soul out of it, I can say nothing other than what I have said; or if I said anything different, I should afterwards say that you had compelled me to do it by force.” She added that on the day of the Holy Cross, the 3d of May past, she had been comforted by St. Gabriel. She believed that it was St. Gabriel: and she knew by her voices that it was St. Gabriel. She had asked counsel of her voices whether she should submit to the Church, because the priests pressed her so strongly to submit: but it had been said to her that if she desired our Lord to help her she must depend upon Him for everything. She added that she knew well that our Lord had always been the master of all she did, and that the Enemy had nothing to do with her deeds. Also she had asked her voices if she should be burned, and the said voices had replied to her that she was to wait for the Lord and He would help her.

Afterwards in respect to the crown which had been handed by the angel to the Archbishop of Rheims, she was asked if she would refer to him. She answered: “Bring him here, that I may hear what he says, and then I shall answer you; he will not dare to say the contrary of that which I have said to you.”

The Archbishop of Rheims had been her constant enemy; all the hindrances that had occurred in her active life, and the constant attempts made to balk her even in her brief moment of triumph, came from him and his associate La Trémouille. He was the last person in the world to whom Jeanne naturally would have appealed. Perhaps that was the admirable reason why he was suggested in this dreadful crisis of her fate.

A few days later, it was discussed among those dark inquisitors whether the torture should be applied or not. Finally, among thirteen there were but two (let not the voice of sacred vengeance be silent on their shame though after four centuries and more), Thomas de Courcelles, first of theologians, cleverest of ecclesiastical lawyers, mildest of men, and Nicolas L’Oyseleur, the spy and traitor, who voted for the torture. One man most reasonably asked why she should be put to torture when they had ample material for judgment without it? One cannot but feel that the proceedings on this occasion were either intended to beguile the impatience of the English authorities, eager to be done with the whole business, or to add a quite gratuitous pang to the sufferings of the heroic girl. As the men were not devils, though probably possessed by this time, the more cruel among them, by the horrible curiosity, innate alas! in human nature, of seeing how far a suffering soul could go, it is probable that the first motive was the true one. The English, Warwick especially, whose every movement was restrained by this long-pending affair, were exceedingly impatient, and tempted at times to take the matter into their own hands, and spoil the perfectness of this well constructed work of art, conducted according to all the rules, the beautiful trial which was dear to the Bishop’s heart–and destined to be, though perhaps in a sense somewhat different to that which he hoped, his chief title to fame.

Ten days after, the decision of the University of Paris arrived, and a great assembly of counsellors, fifty-one in all, besides the permanent presidents, collected together in the chapel of the Archbishop’s house, to hear that document read, along with many other documents, the individual opinions of a host of doctors and eminent authorities. After an explanation of the solemn care given by the University to the consideration of every one of the twelve articles of the indictment, that learned tribunal pronounced its verdict upon each. The length of the proceedings makes it impossible to reproduce these. First as to the early revelations given to Jeanne, described in the first and second articles, they are denounced as “murderous, seductive, and pernicious fictions,” the apparitions those of “malignant spirits and devils, Belial, Satan, and Behemoth.” The third article, which concerned her recognition of the saints, was described more mildly as containing errors in faith; the fourth, as to her knowledge of future events, was characterised as “superstitious and presumptuous divination.” The fifth, concerning her dress, declared her to be “blasphemous and contemptuous of God in His Sacraments.” The sixth, by which she was accused of loving bloodshed, because she made war against those who did not obey the summons in her letters bearing the name Jhesus Maria, was declared to prove that she was cruel, “seeking the shedding of blood, seditious, and a blasphemer of God.” The tenor is the same to the end: Blasphemy, superstition, pernicious doctrine, impiety, cruelty, presumption, lying; a schismatic, a heretic, an apostate, an idolator, an invoker of demons. These are the conclusions drawn by the most solemn and weighty tribunal on matters of faith in France. The precautions taken to procure a full and trustworthy judgment, the appeal to each section in turn, the Faculty of Theology, the Faculty of Law, the “Nations,” all separately and than all together passing every item in review–are set forth at full length. Every formality had been fulfilled, every rule followed, every detail was in the fullest order, signed and sealed and attested by solemn notaries, bristling with well-known names. A beautiful judgment, equal to the trial, which was beautiful too–not a rule omitted except those of justice, fairness, and truth! The doctors sat and listened with every fine professional sense satisfied.

“If the beforesaid woman, charitably exhorted and admonished by competent judges, does not return spontaneously to the Catholic faith, publicly abjure her errors, and give full satisfaction to her judges, she is hereby given up to the secular judge to receive the reward of her deeds.”

The attendant judges, each in his place, now added their adhesion. Most of them simply stated their agreement with the judgment of the University, or with that of the Bishop of Fecamp, which was a similar tenor; a few wished that Jeanne should be again “charitably admonished"; many desired that on this selfsame day the final sentence should be pronounced. One among them, a certain Raoul Sauvage (Radulphus Silvestris), suggested that she should be brought before the people in a public place, a suggestion afterwards carried out. Frère Isambard desired that she should be charitably admonished again and have another chance, and that her final fate should still be in the hands of “us her judges.” The conclusion was that one more “charitable admonition” should be given to Jeanne, and that the law should then take its course. The suggestion that she should make a public appearance had only one supporter.

This dark scene in the chapel is very notable, each man rising to pronounce what was in reality a sentence of death,–fifty of them almost unanimous, filled no doubt with a hundred different motives, to please this man or that, to win favour, to get into the way of promotion,–but all with a distinct consciousness of the great yet horrible spectacle, the stake, the burning:–though perhaps here and there was one with a hope that perpetual imprisonment, bread of sorrow and water of anguish, might be substituted for that terrible death. Finally, it was decided that–always on the side of mercy, as every act proved–the tribunal should once more “charitably admonish” the prisoner for the salvation of her soul and body, and that after all this “good deliberation and wholesome counsel” the case should be concluded.

Again there follows a pause of four days. No doubt the Bishop and his assessors had other things to do, their ecclesiastical functions, their private business, which could not always be put aside because one forsaken soul was held in suspense day after day. Finally on the 24th of May, Jeanne again received in her prison a dignified company, some quite new and strange to her (indeed the idea may cross the reader’s mind that it was perhaps to show off the interesting prisoner to two new and powerful bishops, the first, Louis of Luxembourg, a relative of her first captor, that this last examination was held), nine men in all, crowding her chamber–/exponuntur Johannæ defectus sui, says the record–to expound to Jeanne her faults. It was Magister Peter Morice to whom this office was confided. Once more the “schedule” was gone over, and an address delivered laden with all the bad words of the University. “Jeanne, dearest friend,” said the orator at last, “it is now time, at the end of the trial, to think well what words these are.” She would seem to have spoken during this address, at least once–to say that she held to everything she had said during the trial. When Morice had finished she was once more questioned personally.

She was asked if she still thought and believed that it was not her duty to submit her deeds and words to the Church militant, or to any other except God, upon which she replied, “What I have always said and held to during the trial, I maintain to this moment"; and added that if she were in judgment and saw the fire lighted, the faggots burning, and the executioner ready to rake the fire, and she herself within the fire, she could say nothing else, but would sustain what she had said in her trial, to death.

Once more the scribe has written on his margin the words Responsio Johannæ superba–the proud answer of Jeanne. Her raised head, her expanded breast, something of a splendour of indignation about her, must have moved the man, thus for the third time to send down to us his distinctly human impression of the worn out prisoner before her judges. “And immediately the promoter and she refusing to say more, the cause was concluded,” says the record, so formal, sustained within such purely abstract limits, yet here and there with a sort of throb and reverberation of the mortal encounter. From the lips of the Inquisitor too all words seemed to have been taken. It is as when amid the excited crowd in the Temple the officers of the Pharisees approaching to lay hands on a greater than Jeanne, fell back, not knowing why, and could not do their office. This man was silenced also. Two bishops were present, and one a great man full of patronage; but not for the richest living in Normandy could Peter Morice find any more to say.

These are in one sense the words of Jeanne; the last we have from her in her prison, the last of her consistent and unbroken life. After, there was a deeper horror to go through, a moment when all her forces failed. Here on the verge of eternity she stands heroic and unyielding, brave, calm, and steadfast as at the outset of her career, the Maid of France. Were the fires lighted and the faggots burning, and she herself within the fire, she had no other word to say.

[1] It is correct in French to use the second person plural in addressing God, thou being a more intimate and less respectful form of speech. Such a difference is difficult to remember, and troubles the ear. The French, even those who ought to know better, sometimes speak of it as a supreme profanity on the part of the profane English, that they address God as thou.

[2] The French report goes on, “et requiert ––,” but no more. It is not in the Latin. The scribe was stopped by the Bishop’s profane outcry, and forbidden to register the fact she was about to make a direct appeal to the Pope.

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