Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

Joan of Arc Part 39

HER BRUTAL TREATMENT

The submission of Joan having been thus extorted, the Bishop of Beauvais proceeded to pass sentence in the name of the tribunal. He announced to her, that out of " grace and moderation " her life should be spared, but that the remainder of it must be passed in prison 'with the bread of grief and the water of anguish for her food."*Joan heard the sentence immoved, saying only, "Well, then, ye men of the church, lead me to your own prisons, and let me no longer remain in the hands of these English." But she was taken back to the same dungeon as before.

* "Au pain de donlears et a leau d'angoisse."--Collection des Memoirea, vol. viii. p. 304.

Nor was it designed that her life should indeed be spared. Her enemies only hoped, by a short delay and a pretended lenity, to palliate the guilt of her murder, or to heap a heavier load upon her me- mory. She had promised to resume a female dress ; and it is related that a suit of men's apparel was placed in her cell, and her own removed during the night, so that she had no other choice- next morning but to clothe herself again in the forbidden gar- ments. Such is the common version of the story. But we greatly fear that a darker and a sadder tale remains behind. A priest, named Martin TAdvenu, who was allowed to receive her confession at this period, and to shrive her in her dying moments, was afterwards examined at the trial of revision, and declared that an English lord {un millourt d' Angleterre) had entered her prison and attempted vio- fence ; that on his departure she was found with her lace disfigured and in tears ; and that she had resumed men's apparel as a more effectual safeguard to her honour.2

2 Compare Sismondi, vol, xiii. p. 190, with tlie 'Supplement aux Memoires' (Collection, vol. viii. p. 304).

But whether the means employed in this in- famous transaction were of fraud or of force, the object was clearly the same--to find a pretext for further rigour. For, according to the rules of the Inquisition, it was not heresy in the first instanc5e, but only a relapse into heresy, that could be punished with death. No sooner then was the Bishop of Beauvais apprized of Joan's change of dress, than he hastened to the prison to convict her of the fact. He asked her whether she had heard "her Voices" again? " I have," answered Joan; " St. Catherine and St. Margaret have reproved me for my weakness in signing the abjuration, and commanded me to resume the dress which I wore by the appointment of God." This was enough ; the Bishop and his compeers, straightway pronounced her a heretic relapsed ; no pardon could now be. granted--scarce any delay allowed.

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