Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

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

Chapter 2: The Officers Appointed take Oath

February 13th, 1431. The officers appointed take oath

On the morning of Tuesday, February 13th of the same year there appeared before us in our dwelling the following lords and masters: Gilles, abbot of Fécamp, Jean Beaupère, Jacques de Touraine, Nicolas Midi, Pierre Maurice, Gerard Feuillet, doctors; Nicolas de Venderès and Jean de La Fontaine, licentiates in canon law; William Haiton, Nicolas Couppequesne, Thomas de Courcelles, bachelors of theology; and Nicolas Loiseleur, canon of the cathedral of Rouen. We summoned the officers already appointed and ordained by us in this suit, namely master Jean d'Estivet, the promoter; Guillaume Boisguillaume and Guillaume Manchon, notaries; master Jean Massieu, executor of our convocations and commands. We required them to take oath to fulfil their offices faithfully, and in obedience to our request they swore between our hands to fulfil and exercise them faithfully.

February 14th 15th and 16th 1431. The preparatory information is drawn up

On the Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday following, the said Jean de La Fontaine with the assistance of the two notaries proceeded to draw up the preparatory information which we had commanded.


February 19th 1431. Decision to summon the Inquisitor

On Monday, February 19th 1431, the following lords and masters appeared before us in our dwelling at eight o'clock in the morning. Gilles, abbot of Fécamp Jean Beaupère Jacques de Touraine, Nicolas Midi, Pierre Maurice, Gerard Feuillet, doctors of theology; Nicolas de Venderès, Jean de La Fontaine, licentiates in canon law; William Haiton, Nicolas Couppequesne, Thomas de Courcelles, bachelors of theology; and Nicolas Loiseleur, canon of the cathedral of Rouen. We the said bishop informed them that we had commanded a preparatory inquiry into certain articles concerning the words and deeds of this woman whom, as we had formerly said, our lord the king had surrendered and entrusted to us, to discover if there were sufficient cause to proceed against her and summon her in matters of faith. In their presence we read the articles and depositions contained in this preparatory evidence. When this had been read they were fully considered by the lords and masters in a long and mature consultation. Finally at their counsel and advice we concluded that we possessed sufficient evidence to proceed against this woman and summon her in matters of faith, and we decreed that she should be cited and summoned to reply to certain interrogations to be addressed to her. Moreover for the more convenient and salutary conduct of the matter, and in our respect for the apostolic holy see which has especially appointed lord Inquisitors of Heretical Error to correct the evils which arise against the orthodox faith, we resolved at the advice of our experienced counselors to invite and summon the lord Inquisitor of Heretics cal Error for the kingdom of France to collaborate with us in this trial if it were according to his pleasure and interest. Since however the said lord Inquisitor was then absent from the city


of Rouen, we commanded that his deputy, who was present in Rouen, should be summoned and called in his stead.

The afternoon of the same day. The Vicar of the Lord Inquisitor is summoned

The same Monday, at four in the afternoon, we were visited in our house by the venerable and discreet master Jean Le Maistre of the order of Preaching brothers, Vicar of the lord Inquisitor of the kingdom of France and appointed by him to the city and diocese of Rouen. We summoned and required the said vicar to join with us so that we might proceed in conjunction in the said matter, and we offered to acquaint him with everything which had been or should in future be done therein. Whereupon the said vicar answered that he was prepared to show us his commission or letters of appointment given him by the lord Inquisitor and according to the tenor thereof he would gladly perform all that he was in duty bound to do on behalf of the holy inquisition. Yet, since he was especially appointed for the diocese and city of Rouen only, he doubted whether his commission could be interpreted to include the present trial, although the territory had been ceded to us, because we had nevertheless undertaken these proceedings in virtue of our jurisdiction in the diocese of Beauvais. We answered that he should return to us on the next day when we should have taken counsel upon the matter.

Tuesday, February 20th 1431. The Vicar of the lord Inquisitor refuses to act

On the following Tuesday, February 20th there appeared before us in our dwelling brother Jean Le Maistre, vicar of the lord Inquisitor; master Jean Beaupère Jacques de Touraine, Nicolas Midi, Nicolas de Venderès, Pierre Maurice, Gerard Feuillet, Thomas de Courcelles, Nicolas Loiseleur, canon of


the cathedral of Rouen, and brother Martin Ladvenu, of the order of Preaching brothers. In their presence we reported that we had seen the commission or letter of appointment given to the said brother Jean Le Maistre by the lord Inquisitor, and that it was the opinion of the learned authorities to whom we had shown this letter that the said vicar could in virtue of this commission collaborate with us, that this commission included this city and the entire diocese of Rouen, and that he could conduct the present trial conjointly with us. But nevertheless to avoid the nullification of the trial we had resolved to address a summons or requisition in the form of letters patent to the lord inquisitor, requesting him to come in person to this town of Rouen and conduct the trial in person or provide a deputy authorized with more extensive and particular powers, according to the tenor of our letters transcribed below.

Whereupon the said brother Jean Le Maistre replied that for the serenity of his conscience and the safer conduct of the trial he would not participate in the present matter, unless he received especial authority. Nevertheless as far as he lawfully might he allowed that we the said bishop should proceed further until he had received more ample counsel upon the question whether he could in virtue of his commission undertake the conduct of this trial. Thus with his consent we once again offered to acquaint him with the past and future procedure. And after receiving the decisions of the assessors, we decreed in our letters of citation transcribed below, that this woman should be summoned to appear before us on the following Wednesday, February 29th.

First follows the tenor of letters of appointment of the said lean Le Maistre

"Brother Jean Graverent, of the order of Preaching brothers, professor in sacred theology, by apostolic authority Inquisitor


of Heretical Error in all the kingdom of France, to his well loved brother in Christ, Jean Le Maistre, of the same order, greeting in Our Lord Jesus Christ, the author and consummator of our faith. Heresy is a disease which creeps like a cancer, secretly killing the simple, unless the knife of the inquisitor cuts it away. Hence, with confidence in your zeal for the faith, in your discretion and integrity, and in virtue of the apostolic authority which we enjoy, we have made, created and constituted you, and by the tenor of these present letters we make, create and constitute you our vicar in the town and diocese of Rouen, giving and granting you entire authority in this town and diocese against all heretics and them suspected of heresy, their accomplices, protectors and concealers, to investigate, cite, summon, excommunicate, apprehend, detain, correct and proceed against them by all opportune means, up to and including the final sentence, with absolution and the pronouncement of salutary penances, to perform and exercise in general each and every duty pertaining to the office of inquisitor by law, custom or special privilege, which we ourselves should perform if we were acting in person. Given at Rouen, August 21st in the year of Our Lord 1424."

Follows the tenor of the letter which we the said Bishop addressed to the Lord Inquisitor of Heretical Error

"Pierre, by divine mercy Bishop of Beauvais, to the venerable father master Jean Graverent, doctor of theology, Inquisitor of Heretical Error, greeting and sincere love in Christ. Our lord the King, burning with zeal for the orthodox faith and the Christian religion, has surrendered to us as ordinary judge a certain woman named Jeanne, commonly called The Maid, who, notoriously accused of many crimes against the Christian faith and religion, suspected of Heresy, was captured and apprehended in our diocese of Beauvais. The chapter of the


cathedral of Rouen, in the vacancy of the archiepiscopal see, having granted and assigned us territory in this city and diocese in which to hold this trial, we, desiring to drive out all unholy errors disseminated among the people of God, to establish the integrity of the wounded Catholic faith, and to instruct the christian people, teaching them salvation, particularly in this diocese and other parts of this most Christian realm, resolved to examine the case of this woman with all diligence and zeal, to inquire into her acts and ways concerning the Catholic faith, and, after assembling a certain number of doctors of theology and canon law, with other experienced persons, did, after great and mature consultation, begin her legal trial in this town. But as this particularly concerns your office of inquisitor, whose duty is to direct the light of truth upon the suspicions of heresy, we beg you, venerable father, require and summon you for the faith's sake to return without delay to the town of Rouen for the further conduct of the trial and to participate therein as is incumbent upon your office, according to legal form and apostolic sanctions, so that we may continue in this suit with a common sentiment and uniform procedure. And if your occupation or other reasonable cause should occasion any delay, at least entrust your authority to brother Jean Le Maistre your vicar in this city and diocese of Rouen, or to some other deputy, so that you are not charged with the grievous delay caused by your absence after so urgent a summons, to the prejudice of the faith and the scandal of the Christian people. Whatever you decide to do, please inform us of forthwith in your letters patent. Given under our seat at Rouen, February 22nd, in the year of Our Lord 1431."

Signed: G. Boisguillaume. G. Manchon



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