Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

The Maid of France
Being The Story Of The Life And Death of Jeanne d'Arc (Joan of Arc)


THE inquiries put to Jeanne were often repeated, and were purposely sprung on her in differnet connections. No point was of more moment in the minds of the judges than the sign which the maid was said to have given to her King at their first interview. This token, as we have seen, Jeanne could not in loyalty reveal. Had she don so, the judges would have triumphed, saying, "Charles de Valois, King as he term himself, is not convinced of his own legitimacy, and is pursuing his claim to the crown of France on the strength of an assurance from a sorceress who deals with devils."

The Maid perfectly understood the intentions of her judges, and wanred them frequently that there were questions which she would not answer, or would nto answer truly. In the course of the long inquiry, she disguised in a flimsy veil of symbolism the truth about the sign given to the King. The sign, she said at last, was a mysterious crown brought by a visible angel, and her symbolsim rested on a blending of the first interview at Chinon with the coronation at Reims. M. Anatole France declares this theory to be "impossible." "The jugges," he says, "had learned through their informers that Jeanne bragged of having given a sign to the King in the shape of a precious crown. That is the truth of the matter." On the suggestion of a story in the legend of St. Catherine of Alexandria (sho was said to have received from an angel a crown of celtial grace, and set it on the head of the Roman Empress), "Jeanne averred that a similar thing had happened to herself, In France" (when at liberty) "she had made up several wonderful tales about crowns, and in on of these she represented that she, in the great chamber of the castle of Chinon, in the midst of the nobles, received from the hands of an angel, a crown to be given to the King."1 M. France cites Proces, vol, i. p. 108. That page contains not a word about the subject.2 There is not a tittle of recorded evidence to prove that Jeanne ever dreamed the dream or told the cock-and-bull stories when free in France.

M. France, who regards Jeanne2 as "unable to distinguish between the true and the false" by reason of her "perpetual hallucinations," conceives that none the less she had her doubts as the actual truth of this marvelous story; perhaps she thought it true in the spiritual sense alone. "However that may be, by the way in which the judges conducted the inquiry," it is plain that they knew all of this extraordinary tale,--which Jeanne according to the critic had habitually told thwn in freedom among her own people.4

M. France gives a reference to chapter and verse for his allegation that Jeanne had told her fairy tales of crowns and angels in France. This is enought for the general reader; but a glance at the reference given, proves that M. France's so-called evidence has not bearing on his statements.5 The passage referred to merely contains part of the story told to the judges, and is not evidence that the tale was told by her in France. I know not how to understand the method of making very strange state- ments, and supporting them by references to books and pages in which I can find no such matter.

1France, vol.ii. pp. 265, 266.
2Ibid., vol. i. p. 520
3Ibid., vol. i. p. iii.
4Ibid., vol. ii. p. 265, note 5.
5Ibid., vol. ii. p. 266. Proces, vol. i. pp. 120-122.

While there is absolutely no evidence that Jeanne ever told any such silly story in France, all the contemporary evidence of letter-writers, and all the evidence of witnesses of 1450-1456, merely represents her as making a verbal communication to the King, which surprised and pleased him, or which he kept secret. In a note I cite examples.1

The evidence merely declares that the sign was conveyed in a verbal communication. Had Jeanne gone about with a tale of an angel and a crown, the fact would appear in the con- temporary news-letters, Italian and German. Moreover, Jeanne was not an idiot. Her first interview with the King was witnessed by many coUrtiers and ecclesiastics, who saw no crown and no angel. Had she chattered in France about an angel and a crown, she would have been contradicted by hundreds of eye-witnesses, and would at once have lost all credit. She perfectly distinguished between what, to her, was real in her visions, and what was her own composition, produced at Rouen, based on the questions put to her, and deliberately adapted to the purpose of concealing the truth as to the King's secret. This can be and will be proved on the evidence of her judges themselves.

We now follow her through the maze of the questions and replies.

On February 22, she said that, " before her King trusted her, he himself had many apparitions and fair revelations." About these she refused to answer in detail. What she meant may be gathered, probably from the following modern instance. Monsieur

1 Rotselaer, April 22, 1429. Prods, iv. 426. Alain Chartier, July 1429. Prods, v. 133. Pasquerel, Prods, iii. 103. D'Aulon, Prods, iii. 209. Morosini, iii. 47, 48, note I : the sense is obscure. Letter from Bruges of May 10 (?), 1429. Ayroles, La Vraie Jeanne d' Arc, iii. 576. Morosini, iii. 97, note 2.

J. B. Estrade was present, in February-March 1858, on several occasions when Bernadette Soubirous was in ecstasy at the Grotto of Lourdes, in view of the apparition, visible only to her, of the lady who described herself as "The Immaculate Conception." In 1888, M. Estrade met the Archbishop of Reims, who said, " It seems that you were one of the favoured witnesses of the apparitions of the Grotto ? " " Yes, Monseigneur, unworthy as I am, the Virgin accorded me that grace." x

The Archbishop and M. Estrade both, quite without reference to the Maid, spoke of apparitions witnessed by M. Estrade, when, in fact, he saw none ; he only saw Bernadette seeing them.

Jeanne employed the same form of speech. The King had many revelations from her about the appearances to her, and perhaps saw her when she was seeing them.

Jeanne went farther, " her King and several others heard and saw the Voice coming to her; Charles de Bourbon was present, and two or three others."2

There are points which seem to indicate that, with the per- mission of the King, she revealed to some of his courtiers the message of the Voices touching his doubts about his legitimacy, under oaths of secrecy.

On February 27, she said, "I have revelations concerning the King which I will not tell to you."

"Does the Voice forbid?"

"I have not taken counsel. Give me a delay of fifteen days and I will answer you. ... I am more afraid of displeasing these Voices than of answering you."3

She had once, at a single interview, told her King what had been revealed to her.4

1 Les Apparitions de Lourdes, p. 9, 1906.
2 Prods, vol. i. pp. 56, 57.
3 Ibid., vol. i. p. 63. Earlier, Procis, vol. i. p. 56.
4 Ibid., vol. i. p. 73.

"Was there an angel above the head of your King when first you saw him ? " "By our Lady, I do not know, I saw none." The judges seem to have heard a legend that she recognised the King in the crowd of men by the vision of an angel hovering above him. "The King had a good token for believing in me, et per clerum " (he had the assent of the Doctors). What revela- tions the King had, she " would not tell in that year," but a token he had de factis suis, " about his own doings," before he trusted her. 1 If I do not mistranslate de factis suzs, Jeanne here told the full truth, except that she kept back the nature of the facta the King's secret prayer.

On March i, she was asked what sign she gave to her King "I have always answered that you shall not hear that from my mouth." " Do you not know what the sign was ? " " You shall not know it from me. I promised in such a place that I cannot tell you without perjuring myself. I promised this to Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret, without their asking my promise. I did it because too many people would have sought an answer from me, if I had not promised these Saints."

"Was any one else present when you showed the sign to your King besides himself? " " I think no one else was present there, although many people were near."

This refers to the first interview at Chinon.

"Did you see a crown on the head of your King, when you showed him the sign ? " " I cannot tell you that without perjury."

They seem to have heard or guessed, that she recognised the King, either by an angel above, or by a visionary crown on his head. It is they who here introduce both crown and angel.

They then asked about the crown used at Reims, and, as we have already shown (in the chapter on the Coronation), she said that a crown found at Reims was used, but that the King could have had one much richer, had he waited. This crown was brought to him later. 2 She appears to have referred, as we saw, to an actual crown, which arrived too late for the ceremony (see pp. 1 81-183). If this crown were that of St. Louis at Liege, or another of the same fashion, it was circled about with figures of angels wrought in silver.

1 Prods, vol. i. p. 75.
2 ibid., vol. i. pp. 90, 91.

On March 10, being asked, " What was the sign that came to your King ? " She answered, " It is fair and honourable, and trusty, and the richest in the world." 1

In the opinion of Quicherat, as has been said, which I share, she thenceforth developed her replies on the lines suggested by the interrogations. The judges had brought in the story about a crown or an angel above the King's head. The real sign was her remark as to the King's secret prayer, his secret doubts of his own legitimacy, and his right to involve the country in war for the sake of the crown. In her answers the Maid henceforth spoke of her revelation to him of his right to the crown, in the terms of her presentation to him of an actual crown, with the further concep- tions of the imperishable symbolic crown, " no goldsmith on earth could fashion it," of righteous rule, and of herself as the angel who brought the crown. As we have seen the Archbishop of Embrun had spoken of her as an angel. 2 The allegory is plain, if the judges did not understand its general drift, they must have been very obtuse.

Asked why she would not show the sign, as she herself had wished to see the vision claimed by Catherine of Rochelle, she said that she would have been content had Catherine's sign been shown as hers was, before the Archbishop of Reims, and other prelates ; Charles de Bourbon, La Tr^moi'lle, d'Alenc^on, and other knights, who saw and heard it as distinctly as she saw her judges.

Asked if the sign still existed, she said, " It will last a thousand years," and--returning to the actual crown of France--" it is in the King's treasury." " Is it gold or silver, precious stone, or a crown ? " She refused to reply.

Her Voices at Domremy had told her " to go boldly before the King, he will have a good token to persuade him to believe in and accept you."3

1 Proces, vol. i. p. 1 19.
2 Ibid., vol. iii. p. 409.
3 Ibid., vol. i. p. 120.

" An Angel from God and from no other gave the sign to the King, and the learned men ceased to argue over me when they had knowledge of that token." M. France writes that " she seems to forget that the interview at Chinon came before the examination at Poitiers, while Pasquerel, who had the facts from her, makes the same error in his deposition." 1 Jeanne's reply is clear ; it is true that the clerks began to trouble her after her words to the King, but then they ceased to trouble after they were told what her words had been.

Jeanne said that the King expressed his content with the sign that she withdrew into a little chapel, and " heard say " that after she departed more than three hundred persons saw the sign. It is highly improbable that so many were admitted to the knowledge of the secret. Asked if she and her King did reverence to the angel, she replied, " I did, and knelt and took off my cap "-- probably in prayer in the chapel.2

The judges must now have been sufficiently puzzled, or must have seen that she would only amuse them with a story.

On March 12, they got no more from her, but persevered on March 13. "I promise that I will speak of it no more to any man," she said, and after this warning, averred that the angel promised to the King his realm by aid of God and herself, and not

1 France, vol. ii. p. 301, note I.

M. France has misread the passage, I think, for Pasquerel speaks of Jeanne's reply to the King, " I tell thee from my Master, that thou art true heir of France, and son of the King," as coming after many inquiries made by the King, not by the clergy at Poitiers. At her first interview with him, the King, says Pasquerel, then said to those standing by that " Jeanne had told him certain secrets which none knew or could know but God only." {Prods, vol. iii. p. 103, note I.)

D'Alencon was not present at this interview, and Jeanne meant that he and the others, with the Archbishop and several other Bishops, were present, at the end of the second inquiry at Poitiers, and were informed of what the real sign had been. After this the clerks ceased to argue with her.

While the King lived, the real nature of the secret could not be revealed to the world, but Jeanne's insistence that she told much to the clerks at Poitiers, which they certainly never revealed, suggests that, at the time, oaths of secrecy were scrupulously kept. The theory that the secret was twice revealed, once to the King, later to his Council and some Churchmen, seems more probable than that Jeanne forgot the order of events and placed her first interview with Charles after the inquiries at Poitiers ; forgot the facts so early that she misinformed Pasquerel. But Pasquerel merely refers, later, to the Poitiers interrogations, and to the delays caused by tantis interrogationibus, "by so great inquiries otherwise." Did the angel put the crown on the King's head ? " "It was given to an Archbishop, him of Reims, in the presence of the King, and the Archbishop took it and gave it to the King, in my presence, and it is in the King's treasury."

2 Prods, vol. i. p. 122.

This merely means the Coronation at Reims.

Asked when the crown was brought? she returned to the scene at Chinon ; it was late in the evening, in March or April.

"The crown is of fine gold, . . . and signifies that the King shall hold the kingdom of France."

"Did you handle or kiss it?"


Asked how the angel came, she answered that he came in by the doorway, bowed down before the King, and spoke the words of the sign which she had already given, namely, that the King should be crowned by her aid, and hold the realm. Here the allegory is thin indeed--any one could see that no "angel" but herself did reverence to a mortal King by bowing down before him!

Then she went far towards revealing the truth of the sign and secret.

"The angel put the King in memory of his fair patience in the great troubles that had come upon him!' It was in the stress of these troubles that Charles made the prayer of patience reported by Pierre de Sala on the authority of de Boisy, who was informed by the King:

"Saying within his heart, without word spoken, that, if so it were that he was the true heir, born of the noble House of France, and the kingdom justly his own, God might be pleased to guard and defend him, or at least give him grace to avoid death or prison, and escape to Spain or Scotland, ancient brothers in arms and allies of the Kings of France." l

Such was " his fair patience " of which the angel, that is Jeanne herself, had actually spoken to her King. Before her judges, she came perilously near to telling the secret.

1 Sala, Prods, vol. iv. p. 280.

She then threw in descriptions of an angelic company with the angel, and an account of her regret at the departure of the angel ; conceivably she had one of her visions : perhaps she merely accom- modated them to the occasion.1

As to the crown ; being asked where the angel obtained it, she deviated into open allegory. " There was no goldsmith in the world who could make it so rich and fair ... it is of right good fragrance, and will so remain, if it be kept well, as it should be." That is, the crown is not made with hands, and will endure while Kings of France rule righteously. M. France maintains that she had forgotten all the " coaching "about righteous rule under God given to her by the piously fraudulent priests. 2 She had not forgotten any of her ideas, as we see.

Finally, on the day of her Martyrdom, if we accept the informal document which the clerks refused to sign, Jeanne confessed that the story of the crown " was a fiction, and that she was the angel."3 That was sufficiently obvious, but the dull judges appear to have been mystified. The confession proves that Jeanne did know facts from fancies.

They did not get the King's secret, though Jeanne hovered on the verge of it.

Nowhere is there extant a hint of a rumour about a material crown or any material object connected with a secret about such an object, except in the Italian news letter of July 1429. 4

In replying to her judges, Jeanne said nothing about a crown, real or symbolical, till they themselves introduced the questions at the fifth day of her examination (March 1, 143 1), " Did you see a crown on your King's head, when you showed him the sign ? Had he a crown when he was at Reims ? "5

Throughout the inquiry, she showed her appreciation of the truth of the case. She was asked if she would refer her story of the crown to Charles de Bourbon, La Tr6moille, La Hire, and de Boussac, of whom, or of some of whom, she had spoken as witnesses. They would write their evidence under their seals. She answered, "Give me a messenger, and I will write to them all about this trial." If this be not permitted, she will not refer to them. " Bring them here, and then I will answer."

1 Prods, vol. i. pp. 140-144.
2 Prods, vol. i. pp. 48.
3 Prods, vol, i. p. 91.
4 France, vol. ii. pp. 263, 264.
5 Morosini, vol. iii. pp. 161-163.

Will you refer to and submit to the Church of Poitiers ? " " Do you think to catch me thus and betray me to you ? " Neither clerics nor courtiers, as she knew, could swear to the presence of crown or angel.1

From beginning to end, her mind was perfectly clear, undimmed by dreams. There were no l rives incertains d'une enfant"2 She had from the first warned her judges that in certain points she would not tell all the truth ; she did tell more than was quite safe.

The Male Costume

The wearing of man's dress was a point of the first magnitude in the minds of the judges. " The dress is nothing ; is a trifle," she said, with her robust common sense.3 On February 27, she was asked by whose advice she wore male attire ? " She several times refused to answer, said at last that she burdened no man with this, and several times varied in her answers," which are not textually reported.4 On February 24, she said that she dressed as she did by the counsel of no mortal man, and that she did nothing but by command of God and the Angels.5

We have already seen (p. 77) the evidence of Jean de Novelonpont on this matter. He asked her if she would ride to Chinon in his clothes, and she replied that she would willingly ride in man's dress. 6

1 Prods, vol. i. pp. 396, 397.
2 Prods, vol. i. p. 74.
3 Ibid., vol. i. p. 74.
4 France, vol. ii. pp. 305, 306.
5 Ibid., vol. i. p. 54.
6 Ibid., vol. ii. pp. 436, 437.

If he first made the suggestion, she certainly would not burden him with it ; she was loyal to the most minute point of honour, and we must presume that her Voices sanctioned her attire. But there is, as we saw (pp. j6, jy), proof that she had thought of walking to France, and actually did set out, in man's attire, before she had any hope of getting a horse and an escort. Her kinsman, Lassart or Lassois, deponed thus, " When the Maid saw that Robert de Baudricourt would not have her taken to the Dauphin, she borrowed clothes from him, the witness, and said that she wished to depart, and he took her to St. Nicholas," whence, says Katherine Royer, "they returned to Vaucouleurs, because, as she heard, Jeanne herself said that she could not honourably depart thus " : that is, on foot. The St. Nicholas spoken of cannot be that which Jeanne actually visited, when at Nancy, for that is in the opposite direction from the road to France.1

Thus the idea of wearing male dress was prior to the hopes held out by Jean de Novelonpont. On later occasions2 she remained firm in her resolution to wear her male costume. It was not only the sign that she had not abandoned her mission, but, among soldiers alone with her in her cell, as among soldiers in war, the costume was the protection of her modesty. The doctors of her party had approved of it, while, as she said, it was otherwise a trifle of no importance.

Question of Confession

As to her Visions and Voices, the Maid frankly admitted that she had not revealed these experiences to her cure* or to any Churchman. 3 Her motive for this silence was no command of her Voices, but fear that the facts would come to be known, and that the Burgundians or her father would prevent her from setting forth to France.

1 Prods, vol. ii. p. 444 and note 1, p. 447.
2 Ibid., vol. i. pp. 133, 165, 166.
3 Ibid,, vol. i. p. 128.

In 1428-29 her neighbours knew of her intention ; they did not know that she believed herself to be advised by the Saints whom she saw and heard.

Her abstinence from revealing her Visions and Voices to priests was one of the main charges on which she was condemned. " You accepted their instructions at once without consulting your cure or any other ecclesiastic. And yet you believe in them and that they are of God as firmly as you believe in the Christian faith, and in the Passion of our Lord." 1 Apparently the mere failure to men- tion the experiences in confession was no great sin ; the sin was the acceptance of the Voices and of their counsel, before they had been passed as orthodox by a priest. Yet they were later confided to the clerks at Poitiers, and were passed as orthodox by the Arch- bishop of Embrun and by Gerson.

Jeanne might have had to wait long enough had she gone about consulting confessors. St. Theresa told no one, or at least for long concealed her first vision of our Lord. 2 But it must be admitted that she took no action on the vision, did not make it the ground of apparently impossible military enterprises. When her visions became more frequent, one confessor advised St. Theresa to say nothing about them to anybody. St. Theresa was much pleased with the advice. But our Lord Himself told her that the confessor was mistaken ; at confession she must always tell all about her visions.3

These are subjects on which it is obvious that much variety of clerical opinion prevails, and Jeanne might have wasted her time among the disputes of directors. But she took the matter into her own hands, and, from the age of thirteen, kept her own secret.

The writings of St. Theresa concerning her own visions, her remarks about seeing them "with the eyes of the spirit," and in a state " almost of ravishment," so that she sat down to keep her hold on herself (sometimes she was lifted up bodily from the earth), do not make the same impression on the mind as the Maid's report of her own Visions. Those of St. Theresa seem less " external " and less substantial. 4 Yet she had control enough when, on her confessor's orders, she made the sign of the Cross (as Jeanne also did), and a contemptuous gesture against the most sacred appear- ance."

1 Prods, vol. i. p. 436.
2 Ceuvres de Sainte Thirhe, vol. i. p. 62. Paris, 1880.
3 Ibid., vol. i. pp. 271, 273, 280, 281.
4 did., vol. i. pp. 391, 39

When the sacred appearance was present, men might have torn me to pieces without compelling me to believe that it was the demon," 1 says St. Theresa.

Jeanne was equally hard to be convinced by her accusers and judges that her Visions were other than holy.

1 Ceuvres de Sainte Thirhe, vol. i. pp. 315, 316.


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