Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

Joan of Arc Part 37


Undepressed, either by her Mien fortunes or by her long and cruel captivity, she displayed in her answers the same courageous spirit with which she had defended Orleans and stormed Jargeau. Nor was it courage only ; her plain and clear good sense often seemed to letrieve her want oi education, and to pierce through the subtle wiles and artifices elaborately prepared to ensnare hec Thus, for example, she was asked whether she knew herself to be in the grace of God ? Had she answered in the affirmative, then arrogance and presumption would forthwith have been charged upon her ; if in the negative, she would have been treated as.guiltj by her own confession. "It is a great matter," she said, "to reply to such a question." " So great a matter," interposed one of the assessors, touched with pity--his name deserves to be recorded, it was Jean Fabry-^*'that the prisoner is not bound in law to answer it." " You had better be silent," said the Bishop of Beauvais fiercely to Fabry, and he repeated the question to Joan. "If I am not in the grace of God," she said, " I pray God that it may be vouch- safed to me ; if I am, I pray Gtxl that I may be preserved in it."

Thus, again, she was asked whether the saints of her visions, Margaret and Catherine, hated the Eng- lish nation ? If the answer was that they did, such partiality would ill beseem the glorified spirits of heaven, and the imputation of it might be punished as blasphemy ; but if Joan should reply that they did not, the retort was ready; --" Why then did they send you forth to fight against us ?" She answered, "They love whatever God loves, and hate whatever he hates." " Does God, then, hate the English?" pursued the inexorable Bishop of Beauvais. " Whether God may love or may hate the English I know not ; but I know that the I shall be driven forth from this reahn by the King of France--all but those who will die in the field."

The two points on which Joan's enemies and judges (the terms are here synonymous) mainly relied were --first, the " Tree of the Fairies," near Domremy ; and, secondly, the banner borne by herself in battle. Both of these it was attempted to connect with evil spirits or magical spells. As to the first, Joan replied, clearly and simply, that she had often been round the tree in procession with the other maidens of the village, but had never beheld any of her visions at that spot. With regard to the banner, she declared that she had assumed it in battle on purpose to spare the lance and the sword ; that she wished not to kill any one with her own hand, and that she never had. But she was closely pressed with many other questions :--

"When you first took this banner, did you ask whether it would make you victorious in every battle ?" " The Voices," answered she, "told me to take it without fear, and that God would help me."
"Which gave the most help--you to the banner, or the banner to you ?" " Whether victory came from the banner or from me, it belonged to our Lord alone."
" Was the hope of victory founded on the banner or on yourself?" "It was founded on God, and on nought besides."
"If another person had borne it, would the same success have followed?" "I cannot tell : I refer myself to God."
"Why were you chosen sooner than another?" "It was the pleasure of God that thus a simple maid should put the foes of the King to flight."
" Were not you wont to say, to encourage the soldiers, that all the standards made in semblance of your own would be fortunate?" I used to say to them, ' Rush in boldly among the English ;' and then I used to rush in myself."

The clearness and precision of her replies on these points stand forth in strange contrast to the vague and contradictory accounts which she gives of her first interview with the King. On this topic she at first refuses to answer altogether, saying that she is forbidden by her Voices. But afterwards she drops mysterious hints of an angel bringing a crown to Charles firom heaven ; sometimes saying that the King alone had beheld this vision, and sometimes that it had been before many witnesses. In other examinations she declares that she herself was this angel ; in others, again, she appears to confound the imaginary crown of the vision with the real one at Rheims.* In short, this was clearly one mainspring of her enthusiasm, or a morbid point in her mind where judgment and memory had been overpowered by imagination.

* De Barante, vol. vi. p. 121 ; and Quiclierat, 'Proces de Jeanne d'Arc' vol, i. passim. This is a recent and well-edited collection of the origiiud documents referring to the trial.


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