Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

The Trial of Joan of Arc
By W.P. Barrett

Chapter 21: Eleven Advocates of the Court of Rouen Give their Opinions

Eleven advocates of the court of Rouen, licentiates in canon or civil law, or both, gave their opinion as follows, as set forth in a public document to this effect. They were Guillaume de Livet, Pierre Carel, Guérould Poustel, Geoffroy du Crotay, Richard des Saulx, Bureau de Cormeilles, Jean Le Doulx, Laurent du Busc, Jean Colombel, Raoul Anguy, Jean le Tavernier

"In the name of the Lord, Amen. Know all those who shall see this present public instrument that in the year of our Lord 1431, indiction nine, the last day of April in the fourteenth year of the pontificate of Our most Holy Father in Christ Martin by divine Providence fifth of that name: in the chapel or oratory of the archiepiscopal manor of Rouen there were assembled the venerable and discreet advocates of the archiepiscopal court, to the number of eleven, whose names and surnames have not been declared herein. They, for their knowledge of law, had been summoned under legal penalties by the reverend father in Christ my lord Pierre by divine mercy bishop of Beauvais and by the religious brother Jean Le Maistre vicar of the Inquisitor, to confer upon certain articles which the said lord judges had dispatched to the said advocates so that they might send in writing their own deliberations to the judges before the Monday following, as is contained in a certain paper memorandum, signed with the signs manual of Guillaume Colles, otherwise called Boisguillaume, and of


Guillaume Manchon, priest, notaries public. In my presence and of the undersigned witnesses especially called and summoned, the said lord advocates assembled, for they were prepared to obey as far as they were able the commands of my lord judges, since they were not anxious to incur the penalties of the law, but as true sons of obedience with a unanimous consent and a single will they deliberated thus, in the manner and form shown below:

"Subject to the kindly correction of our fathers and lords the judges and all other meet persons, although in an affair of such difficulty and importance as that which concerned the articles which your highnesses have dispatched to us we can say and declare in writing very little or nothing, nevertheless, subject to the protestations customary in such matters we think it proper to declare this.

"First, in respect of the revelations mentioned in the article; although it may be that the claims of this woman concerning these articles are possible in God, nevertheless there is no reason to believe this woman, since she has not confirmed her words by working miracles or by the testimony of the Holy Scripture. In respect of her rejection of woman's dress or refusal to wear it, it appears that she acted against the honor of woman's sex: she should be warned of the necessity of resuming woman's dress, otherwise sentence of excommunication can be pronounced against her, if she has not received God's command on this point, which cannot be presumed. When she says she would be deprived of the sacrament of communion with Christ at the times when the faithful are wont to partake of it, rather than put off man's dress, on this point, it appears, she goes directly counter to her holy duties, since every Christian is compelled to receive the sacrament of the Eucharist once a year. When she will not submit to the judgment of the Church Militant, it appears she contravenes


the article Unam Sanctam and the decision of the law. This, be it always understood, on the assumption that her visions and statements do not proceed from God, which is not credible. Nevertheless for the estimate or detail of these propositions and others related in the trial and the articles, we refer ourselves to the decision of the theologians of our mother the University of Paris, who by their learning are more proper judges thereof.

"On each and every one of these points the eleven lord advocates in assembly before me as notary public, asked me to have made and set forth an official declaration, in one or more copies-which was done in the said chapel in the morning of the year, indiction, month, day and pontificate aforesaid, in the presence of master Pierre Cochon and Simon Davy, priests, sworn notaries of the archiepiscopal court of Rouen. And I, Guillaume Lecras, priest and notary of the diocese and archiepiscopal court of Rouen, by imperial and apostolic authority, charged with the inspection of witnesses, was present, with the said witnesses, at each and everything which the said advocates did and said, and I saw and heard their acts and deliberations and wrote them down. Therefore to this present public instrument written by my hand I have fixed my customary seal, and I have signed below as I was required and sworn, in witness of the truth of these things."

Signed: G. Lecras.

The reverend father in Christ Philibert, lord bishop of Coutances, gave his opinion in this form

"To the reverend father and lord in Christ Pierre by God's grace bishop of Beauvais, my very dear lord. Reverend father and lord in Christ, I received in all cordiality and esteem the letters which you addressed to me in this in my absence, as well as a certain book, containing the confessions and statements


of a certain woman divided into twelve articles and signed with the signs manual of three notaries and with the royal seal. As far as I have been able to gather from these articles, this woman affirms that St. Michael and St. Gabriel with a host of angels, and St. Catherine and St. Margaret, appeared to her, sometimes near a fairy tree: that she bodily touched these saints who comforted her, and promised them, to keep her virginity. And these saints told the woman, at God's bidding, to go to a certain prince and with her he would regain a great kingdom: that she should assume and wear male dress, as she did. Therefore she went to this prince, accompanied by St. Michael and a host of angels and saints; and a most precious crown was given by the angel to the king. She said she knew by revelation that she would escape from prisons, that the French with her company would do a greater deed than ever before or ever was done by all Christendom: that for her to be in man's dress amongst the French as she was before her capture, would be one of the greatest pieces of fortune that could happen to the whole kingdom of France.

"That from her prince she received arms and soldiers, and had often published mandates in which she inserted the words Jhesus and Maria, and also the sign of the cross, when she intended men to do other than as she -declared; in others she threatened with death those who did not obey her letters. Moreover, she hurled herself from a tower in spite of the prohibition of St. Catherine and St. Margaret, which was a great sin, capable of remission however by confession. This she knew by revelation. So she hurled herself out, preferring death to imprisonment in the hands of her enemies and the prospect of seeing the town of Compiègne destroyed. She said she would die and go without holy communion rather than give up man's dress: that she believes she has never been guilty of mortal sin, that she knows she is as assured of the salvation of her


soul as if she were already in the kingdom of heaven. Of certain purely contingent events she Professes to have certain knowledge, as if she saw them in reality. Further she claims to know that God loves certain living persons she has named more than He loves her: also she affirms she did reverence to the angels, St. Catherine and St. Margaret, uncovering her head, bending her knees, kissing the earth on which they walked. She said she was as convinced and positive that her revelations came from God as she firmly believed in the Catholic faith and that Our Lord Jesus Christ suffered passion for our salvation. That if the Church wished her to do aught contrary to the command. she had received she would not for any reason do it, it would be impossible for her. That she is sure that what is written in her trial comes from God, and she will not submit to the judgment of the Church Militant or of any man alive, but to God whose will she does, especially in respect of the revelations. This, reverend father, is what I have been able to gather from the articles summarized from the original trial, and, to my mind, a lawfully conducted one.

"There is naturally no reason to suppose that you, reverend- father, and the lords and masters so learned and experienced whom you have consulted in such an affair, could in anything, much less in such a question, wander from the path of truth. And, although this matter has been conducted in the most learned and accurate fashion, and though I can supply no forceful or new explanation, I will, as you command, require and constrain me, with as little error as possible, speak in this way, but will abstain from evaluating the omissions in each of the articles since I do not wish to seem to teach Minerva herself. Certainly, reverend father, I consider this woman to have a subtle spirit, inclined to evil, excited by a devilish instinct, bereft of the grace of the Holy Spirit, namely


virtue and humility. It is evident that these two signs are in no way present in this woman, if we carefully weigh her words. "Truly, certain of her statements (saving a superior judgment) appear contrary to the Catholic faith, heretical or at least vehemently suspected of heresy. These and others are filled only with boastings, superstitions that are scandalous, seditious of the public weal, and very frequently, more than I can express, offensive and dangerous. These statements even to blind eyes may not be dissimulated or passed over lightly without the timely remedy of justice, and as justice moreover advises, their condemnation may not be put off: for it is possible that some are of the opinion that it is meet to postpone the discussion and decision of this cause. For this woman, even if she were to consent to revoke all those parts of her statements which are in need of it, must be left under excellent guard as long as it is necessary until the day when she shall appear to have been sufficiently reformed and corrected. If she will not revoke what she should, she should be dealt with according to the custom for those who are stiffnecked against the faith: this is all subject to a higher opinion than mine. Thus, reverend father and lord, have I felt it my duty to speak in this circumstance, bating every correction which a higher judgment than my own can bring. I am ready to perform whatever is your pleasure, and may the Most High please to keep you in happiness according to your desires. Written at Coutances, May 5th. Yours in all things, most reverend father, Philibert, bishop of Coutances."

Signed: Santigny.

The reverend father in Christ, the lord bishop of Lisieux, gave the following opinion

"To the reverend father and lord in Christ my lord Pierre by divine grace bishop of Beauvais and to the prudent and


learned master Jean Le Maistre, vicar of the Lord Inquisitor of Heretical Error, Zanon, by the same grace bishop of Lisieux, greeting in Our Lord and cordial goodwill in complying with your demands. Reverend father and lord, know that I have received your letters and the statements confessed recently by a certain woman commonly called The Maid in her trial, in the form of articles drawn up in a paper memorandum, with all the integrity of purpose proper to your reverence from my part. And having seen, examined, and carefully studied them all, I send you herewith the articles with my judgment and opinion, under my seal. Given at Lisieux this 14th day of March, 1431."

Signed: Langlois.

"Reverend father, it is extremely difficult to establish a certain judgment in the matter of apparitions and revelations contained in the articles you have addressed to me under the seals of certain notaries: for according to the words of the Apostle 'the natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God, and will not know the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him'; and as St. Augustine declares in his treatise De spiritu et anima, the mind is often deceived and mocked in this kind of vision or apparition; for -now it sees true things, now false, and at times either a good or a false spirit is in control. It is not easy to distinguish by what spirit the mind is directed; therefore we cannot give credence to any person who simply and barely affirms he is sent from God to show forth in the world the secret and invisible judgment of God, unless he is justified by the appearance of signs and miracles or by the special testimony of the Scriptures (as is declared in the decretal concerning heretics, Cum ex injuncto): but no conjecture or external appearance, or sign of admirable holiness or distinguished life appear in her, to my mind, from which it

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may be presumed that God has breathed into this woman the breath of prophecy, in virtue whereof she might have per. formed such marvelous deeds as she boasts. Therefore and in view of these facts I. Zanon, bishop of Lisieux, subject to the protestations and submissions usual in these affairs, after a mature examination and deliberation, I declare that considering the vile condition of her person, the foolish and presumptuous statements she has made, the manner and form in which she claims to have received these visions and revelations, and after having reflected on her other words and deeds, there is in truth reason to conclude that her visions and revelations do not come from God through the ministry of His angels, as she affirms.

"One of two things must be accepted: either that there have been deceptions and phantasms on the part of devils who usurp the form of angels and sometimes counterfeit the appearance and likeness of different persons, or that they are lies humanly conceived and invented to abuse gross and ignorant natures. In the first case many of the said articles contain false and scandalous innovations, rash and presumptuous declarations, full of false pride offensive to pious ears, of impiety, and of contempt of the sacrament of Communion. When she says she will not submit her acts and sayings to the decision and judgment of the Church Militant she utterly destroys the power and authority of the Church. Wherefore, after she has been properly and charitably admonished and exhorted, and solemnly required and summoned to submit the interpretation of her declarations and confessions as every faithful Christian must to the judgment and decision of Our Holy Father the Pope, of the Church Universal met together in general council, or of the other prelates of the Church who possess this authority, if she refuses and disdains with an obstinate mind to submit, she must be judged schismatic and vehemently


suspected in the faith. This is my opinion in the present matter, bating a superior judgment. In witness whereof I affix my seal on the year and day above mentioned."

Signed: Zanon of Lisieux.

The reverend fathers in Christ, masters Nicolas, abbot of Jumièges, and Guillaume, abbot of Cormeilles, doctors of decrees, gave their opinion in a memorandum signed with their hand, of which the tenor follows

"You ask and require us in a memorandum, most reverend father and lord in Christ, Pierre, bishop of Beauvais, and you brother Jean Le Maistre, vicar of the lord Inquisitor, that we humble abbots, Nicolas de Jumièges and Guillaume de Cormeilles, should present to you in writing before Monday next our deliberations upon the subject of whether the statements contained in the articles that you have addressed to us in regard to a certain woman are contrary to the orthodox faith or suspect, etc., as is declared more fully in the memorandum. Formerly, however, we made answer to your demand under our seals that the whole trial of this woman should be submitted to our mother the University of Paris, whose opinion in such a difficult task we are most anxious to follow. Nevertheless you were not satisfied with our answer and have once more made this request: therefore, submitting our opinion to the decision of the Holy Roman Church and the Council General, we declare today that the case of this woman may be reduced to four points. First, concerning submission to the Church Militant, this woman should be charitably admonished in public and before all eyes, and the danger she is incurring should be explained to her; if after this lawful warning she persists in her evil-doing she must be deemed suspect in the faith. As for her revelations, and the wearing of man's dress which she claims to have from God, it does not prima facie


appear to us that we can hold or believe or give faith to them, since they are not supported by holiness of life or miracles. The fourth point, that she is not guilty of mortal sin, God alone knows, who reads the heart of men; and as these are things we cannot know who may not judge of what is hidden, the more so since we were not present at her examination, we refer ourselves to the masters of theology for a further decision. In witness whereof we fix our signs manual to this scrip, Sunday, April 29th, 1431."

Signed: N. de Jumièges. G., abbot of Cormeilles.

Master Raoul Roussel, doctor of canon and civil law, treasurer of the church of Rouen, gave his opinion as follows

"Reverend father in Christ my most feared lord and you, our honored lord and master, may your highnesses know that beyond what I have already written to you I can say nothing, except that I believe these statements to be false, treacherous and cunningly invented by this woman and her abettors to accomplish her aims and those of her party. For further qualification of these propositions I defer to the masters of theology and intend to adhere to their opinion. These opinions are subject to the customary protestations in such difficult affairs. Given this last day of April, 1431."

Signed: Your servant, R. Roussel.

Master Pierre Minier, Jean Pigache, and Richard de Grouchet, bachelors of theology, gave their opinion in the following manner

"Subject to the protestations we elsewhere indicate, and to which we adhere, upon those things which you reverend father and the vicar of the lord Inquisitor demand our reply, namely a formal judgment on certain statements of this woman's


which we heard, whether they are contrary to the orthodox faith, to Holy Scripture, and suspect in matters of faith, it appeared to us then as now, that a formal answer on these statements, subject to a higher decision, is dependent upon a positive distinction which our insufficiency cannot attain, concerning the origin of the revelations mentioned in the articles which you addressed to us. Because, if these revelations proceed from an evil spirit or demon, or are imagined by her own efforts, it appears to us that many of the statements are suspect in faith, injurious, contrary to honest living and infected with many errors indicated in the memorandum. If on the contrary these revelations come from God or a good spirit, which is however not clear to us, they cannot in our opinion be interpreted in an evil sense. Thus, reverend father and lord, our consciences dictate in all humility and due submission in respect of the points whereon you seek our answer."

Signed: P. Minier, J. Pigache, R. de Grouchet.

Master Raoul Le Sauvage, bachelor of theology, gave his opinion on a memorandum signed with his own hand of which the tenor follows

"Subject to all due protestations and submissions which I have elsewhere expressed in my deliberation, to which I adhere and which I beg you once more to receive, reverend father in Christ, my most feared lord and you, my reverend master lord vicar of the Inquisitor; of the statements concerning certain revelations in respect of which you lately addressed me, some, as I have already indicated, prima facie appear to me and formally are scandalous: others are suspect in faith, others still are rash, inciting to evil and error. And the better to expound them I have referred myself and do so once more to the lords and masters my superiors. Nevertheless now, without affirming anything which may not be affirmed, and humbly submitting


my person and sayings to your kindly correction, reverend father and lord, as well as that of the lords and masters my superiors, when in Articles I and XI she says she saw St. Michael in the flesh, I do not know whether she is speaking the truth, but I fear there is some phantasm or invented lie. In respect of St. Catherine and St. Margaret ordering her in God's name to wear man's dress which she would rather die than put off, there is, I fear, presumptuousness. To prefer not to receive Mass, to be deprived of the sacrament of the Eucharist at the time ordained by the Church, rather than to give up her male costume, seems to me scandalous and of evil example. When she postponed and refused the submission of her person and deeds to the Church Militant, after being repeatedly admonished and required so to do, and in Article XII when she will not refer herself in respect of her revelations to the decision of the Church Militant or any living man, she appears in my opinion schismatic, suspect of error, and of evil example, for she is the more firmly and with greater assurance bound to obey the instructions and commands of the Church rather than her apparitions which are perchance fantastic and diabolical, since evil spirits sometimes counterfeit the appearance of good angels.

"In respect of Article II and the sign that she claims the prince to whom she was sent received, I do not know: perhaps as before, an invention and lying fiction. In respect of Article III, that she is certain that he who visited her was St. Michael because he so named himself, it appears a presumption beyond credence of any spirit, and perhaps as before the illusion of the evil one. In respect of her belief in her own truth and goodness, which she holds as firmly as she believes that Christ suffered and died for us, it appears that she is suspect of heresy, that she exposes our faith to derision and so endangers its strength.

"In respect of Article IV, that she is as sure of divers future events as of that which is actually before her eyes, she is presumptuous,


for the things to come are not established of necessity; and even if one allowed it to be a divine revelation, it is perhaps merely in the category of the prophet Jonah's foretelling, 'Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown! In respect of St. Catherine and St. Margaret revealing to her that they would deliver her, it is doubtless a false invention or boasting. In respect of the revelation of the sword, perhaps it was the revelation of an evil or human spirit, and there is no reason to give it credence. In respect of Article V, that she assumed man's dress at God's command, it is not probable, but scandalous, shameful, and dishonest, especially for the woman and young girl she claims to be, unless she did it to escape violence and keep her virginity. In respect of Article VI, that in the letters she had written she inserted the sign of the cross and this sign was to indicate to those whom she wrote that they must not do as she commanded, although crosses signify what we wish, nevertheless she can be suspected of having done it at the instigation of the enemy to the scorn and blasphemy of Christ crucified, that is of the highest truth, which she hates.

"In respect of the remainder of the proposition, it discloses nothing but haughtiness and boasting. In Article VII, when she joined the company of a squire she had never seen, she acted with rashness and lay herself open to outrage; and in respect of Article VIII, of hurling herself from a high tower, that is evident. When of her own will she left her father's house against her parents' will, she showed less than the honor and love we owe our parents; she broke the commandments of honoring her father and mother, and doubtlessly acted from headstrong malice and a hard heart. In respect of Article VIII, as we have already said, when she threw herself from the tower she was ill and madly advised, and it appears that the evil spirit incited her and showed her the sign of despair; the remainder of this proposition can only be boasting.


In respect of Article IX, that St. Catherine and St. Margaret gave her promises, I do not know; but it is undoubtedly a rash invention and boastful lie. When she imagines she has not committed mortal sin, that seems to be presumptuousness, and contrary to her leap from the tower. With regard to Article X, when she affirms that God loves certain people, it is well: but when she says that St. Catherine and St. Margaret do not speak English, she utters a rash statement and what seems to me a sort of blasphemy, for is not God lord of all, the supreme providence, both for the English and others? Thus she appears to have spoken contrary to the law of love which we should bear our neighbor. In respect of Article XI, that she embraced and kissed bodily and with her senses St. Catherine and St. Margaret, I see in this nothing but imagination, and fictitious lies, or the deception of demons: and if she had adored them, simply and unconditionally, she would not have rashly exposed herself to the charge of idolatry. In respect of Article XII, I have the same opinion as of Article I. Nevertheless, my reverend father and my lords, it is meet to take into account the frailty of womankind; and the propositions and statements should be repeated to her in French, she should be charitably admonished to reform, and not to presume so much upon revelations which may be uttered and invented by the evil spirit or some other. Therefore, as I said, to bring this to a more certain and positive conclusion and issue, so that it cannot be suspect from any quarter, I think, though submitting to higher opinion, that for the honor of his royal majesty and of yourself, for the peace and tranquillity of your conscience, the said articles should be sent with the appropriate comments to the apostolic Holy See. These, reverend father in Christ, and my master the lord vicar of the Inquisitor, are my opinions in this matter, subject to all correction and in all obedience."

Signed: R. Le Sauvage.



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