Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

Joan of Arc Part 36

BROUGHT BEFORE HER JUDGES

Unjustifiable as this trial appears in its general scope and design, it was further darkened in its pro- gress by many acts of firaud and violence, and aa evident predetermination to condemn. A private investigation, similar to those at Poitiers, and with the same result, having been appointed, the Duke of Bedford is said to have concealed himself in a neigi- bouring apartment, and looked on through a rent in the wall. A priest, named Nicolas TOiseleur, wiS instructed to enter the prison . of Joan, to represent himself as her countryman from Lorraiae, and as a sufferer in the cause of King Charles ; thus, it was hoped, gaining upon her confidence, giving her false counsels, and betraying her, under the seal of con- fession, into some unguarded disclosures. A burgher of Rouen was sent to Domremy to gather some accounts of her early life ; but, as these proved uniformly favourable, they were suppressed at the trial. In like manner, many answers tending to her vindication were garbled or omitted in the written reports. She waa allowed neither counsel nor advifier. In short, every artifice was used to entrap, every threat to overawe, an untaught and helpless girl.

It will, we trust, be acknowledged that, in our statement of this trial, we have neither denied nor palliated its evil deeds. But when we find them urged by some French writers, even at the present day, as an eternal blot upon the English name--as a still subsisting cause of national resentment--we may perhaps be allowed to observe, in self-defence, that the worst wrongs of Joan were dealt upon her by the hands of her own countrymen. Her most bitter enemy, the Bishop of Beauvais, was a Frenchman ; so was his colleague, the vicar-general of the Inqui- sition ; so were both the malignant Estlvet and the perfidious L'Oiseleur--the judges, the accuser, and the spy ! Even after this large deduction, there will still remain a heavy responsibility against the Eng- lish authorities--both civil and religious--against the Duke of Bedford and the Cardinal of Winchester.

On the 21st of February, 1431, Joan was brought for the first time before her judges. She underwent, nearly on successive days, fifteen examinations. The scene was the castle-chapel at Rouen ; and she appeared clad, as of yore, in military attire, but loaded with chains.

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