Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

JOAN OF ARC The Warrior Maid


Chapter 26
On Trial
Joan of Arc The Warrior Maid

Great in everything as she was
we here see her at her greatest.

Andrew Lang. “The Maid of France.

The days passed drearily enough in the prison cell, but Jeanne endured the chains, the irons, and the hideous company of the guards rather than give her parole not to attempt an escape. The monotony of her misery was varied by visitors who came to stare at her and to banter her.

In the castle in which she was confined there were many people: Bedford, the Regent, Beaufort, the Cardinal of Winchester, the child king, Henry of England, the Earl of Warwick, the chief officers of both the royal and vice-royal court, and a host of guards and men-at-arms. There were many of these who were inquisitive and malicious concerning her. One of the visitors was Pierre Manuel, advocate of the King of England.

“You would not have come here if you had not been brought,” he accosted her jestingly. “Did you know before you were taken that you would be captured?”

“I feared it,” Jeanne answered sadly.

“If you feared it, why were you not on your guard?”

“I did not know the day nor the hour,” she answered patiently.

The Earl of Warwick himself took more than one occasion to show Jeanne to his friends, and one day he brought the Earl of Stafford and Jean de Luxembourg to see her. De Luxembourg was the same who had sold her to the English.

“Jeanne, I have come to ransom you,” remarked the latter laughingly as the girl rose to a sitting posture from the bed where she was chained to give them courteous greeting. “That is, if you will promise never again to bear arms against us.”

“In God’s name, you mock me,” she cried with a flash of spirit. “I know that you have neither the will nor the power. I know that the English mean to kill me, believing, after I am dead, that they will be able to win the Kingdom of France; but if there were a hundred thousand more Godons than there are, they shall never win the Kingdom.”

Whereupon Lord Stafford was so goaded to rage that he half drew his dagger to slay her, but Warwick stayed his hand. It was too merciful a death, and it was the English policy to have her executed ignominiously as a witch.

After long, comfortless days of waiting Jeanne was informed that she was to be tried for heresy, and piteously she asked that some of her own party should be placed among the judges; but this was refused. The charge of heresy against a girl to whom the ordinances of the Church were as the breath of life seems strange. She who lived in an ecstasy of religious fervour, who spent her time in prayer and religious exercises; who confessed regularly, and partook of the Sacraments of the Church whenever she could receive them, was accused by the Church of being a heretic and schismatic. Her great crime in the eyes of the clergy lay in affirming that she obeyed voices that came from God.

In her cell Jeanne could know but little of the arrangements that were being made for the trial, which were on such a scale as to command the attention of all Europe. No homage ever rendered her by her own party conveys such a sense of her importance as this trial which was instigated by a great nation to neutralize her influence.

Owing to the fact that the meadow land where she was captured lay in the diocese of Beauvais Pierre Cauchon claimed jurisdiction over her. He had ever been a sympathizer with the English faction, and after Jeanne’s triumphs had swept him out of his city he had fled for a while to England, and had come back to France with the Cardinal of Winchester, eager for rewards and revenge. A few months previous Winchester had recommended him to the Pope for the vacant archbishopric of Rouen, but his appointment was opposed by the clergy of that city, and the Pope had not yet come to a decision. He was a man of much learning and more ambition, and he delighted in the opportunity now afforded him of pleasing his English patrons, and avenging his private grudge.

As Cauchon was presiding officer the trial should have been held, of course, in his diocese, but it was deemed expedient to hold it in Rouen, on account of the disturbances near Paris, and Canonical permission was obtained from the Cathedral Chapter of Rouen to hold the court in that city. Bishops, abbés, priors, representatives of the University of Paris, learned doctors, and noted priests, sixty of the greatest intellectuals of the Church,––all of them Frenchmen of the English faction,––were gathered together to bring to death a young, ignorant peasant girl.

To arrange all the preliminaries that were necessary for the opening of the trial took time, so that it was not until toward the last of February that everything was in readiness. Such cases are always preceded by an inquiry into the former life of the accused as had been done at Poictiers, for this is according to French law. This examination was made but it was not of a nature to justify or strengthen any accusation. All that the examiners could discover was that Jeanne D’Arc was a good, honest maid who had left a spotless reputation behind her in her native village. One commissioner reported that he had learned nothing which he would not willingly know of his own sister, although he had made inquiries in five or six parishes. Cauchon called him a traitor, and said that he would not pay for information that could be of no use to him.

As this investigation had been productive of nothing that could be used against her an effort was made to trap Jeanne into admissions against herself. Accordingly one morning a man entered her cell who represented himself as a shoemaker coming from Lorraine. He was a prisoner, he said, but had received permission to visit her. Jeanne was delighted to see any one from the valley of the Meuse, so gave him cordial greeting, and the two fell into conversation. During the talk the supposed cobbler said suddenly in a low tone:

“Pucelle, I am a priest. Nay,” as Jeanne turned toward him with an exclamation of joy, “speak low. Some of the guards may understand French, and I am come to help you.”

“A priest?” The maiden’s thin, white face grew radiant. “A priest, messire? Then you can hear me in confession?”

“Gladly, my child.” And forthwith the girl innocently opened up her heart to him.

The man was in reality a priest, one Nicholas Loyseleur, a representative of the University of Paris, and full of treachery and hypocrisy. He served Cauchon well, for Jeanne trusted him wholly, never dreaming that every word she said to him was overheard and recorded by secret listeners. For there was provision made for espionage, openings being in the walls through which everything that took place in the room, every proceeding could be spied upon, and every word heard. Although the long conversations that this man held with Jeanne elicited nothing that she did not say publicly, he was always giving her advice which, when she followed it, she followed to her hurt.

The preliminaries, as has been said, threatened to be endless, but at length, on Wednesday, February twenty-first, the Great Trial began at eight o’clock in the morning in the royal chapel of the castle.

Jeanne gave a sigh of relief as the officer of the court, who was sent to conduct her to the chapel, released her from her fetters.

“You are summoned to appear before the court, Pucelle,” he explained.

“May I hear mass before entering the court?” asked she wistfully.

“Nay; it is not permitted,” he answered. “Come!”

So, surrounded by a strong guard, the Maid was led through the corridor to the royal chapel. It was but a short distance, but it was the first breath of fresh air that she had had in almost two months, and Jeanne inhaled it eagerly. The chapel was a large room, but it was not large enough to accommodate those who sought admission. Rouen was very full of people, and the leopards of England and the two-tailed lion of Burgundy were to be seen on every side. There was a motley populace of soldiers, citizens, priests and lawyers; for the Great Trial had brought to the town any number of churchmen and men of the robe, each with his attendant train of clerics and secretaries.

Forty-four of the assessors, as the assistants of Cauchon were called, were present in the chapel ranged in a semi-circle around the presiding Bishop. Doctors in theology, doctors in canonical and civil law, abbots and canons were there assembled in the solemnity of their priestly and professional robes; clerks, ready with their pens to record proceedings, lords, and notables of every degree of rank: all gathered to see how easily the Witch would be undone.

To none of these worthies did Jeanne give attention as she was led through the spectators to a solitary bench which stood where all might see on a dais on one side of the room, near to the Bishop’s stand. But, raising her large, grave eyes, she gazed earnestly at the Judge, Pierre Cauchon, Bishop of Beauvais, who this day presided alone. It was a cold cruel face upon which she looked; an intellectual face also, on which ambition sat. No man is so merciless toward an obstacle that stands in the way of his advancement as a cold intellectual man. Involuntarily Jeanne shuddered as she looked at him.

After she was seated Cauchon addressed her, summarizing the accusations, and all the public reports and suspicions upon which the trial was based, exhorting her sternly. Then he required her to take the oath upon the Scriptures, to speak the truth, and to answer all questions addressed to her.

“I know not what things I may be asked,” said Jeanne clearly. “Perhaps you may ask me questions which I cannot answer.”

As the sweet girlish voice rose in answer to the Bishop’s command there was a stir in the assembly and every eye was turned upon the maiden in the prisoner’s seat. They saw a slender girl, just past nineteen, dressed in a page’s suit of black, her dark hair, cut short man fashion, intensifying the pallor of her face, and the melancholy of her large eyes. She looked very young as she sat there, emaciated and fetter-worn from her irons.

“Swear to tell the truth upon whatever you may be asked concerning the faith, and facts within your knowledge,” rejoined the Bishop.

“As to my father and mother,” said Jeanne, “and what I did after setting out for France, I will swear willingly; but the revelations which have come to me from God I will reveal to no man except only to Charles, my King; I shall not reveal them to you though you cut off my head, because I have received them by vision and by secret communication, and am forbidden.” After a moment’s reflection she added: “Before eight days I shall know if I may tell you of them.”

The Bishop urged her again and again to take the oath without conditions. She refused, and they were at length obliged to offer a limited oath. Then, kneeling, Jeanne crossed her hands upon the Missal and swore to answer truly whatever might be asked of her, so far as she could, concerning the common faith of Christians, but no more. Being then questioned concerning her name and early life she answered:

“In my own country I was called Jeannette; ever since coming into France [28] I have been called Jeanne. I have as surname D’Arc or Romée; in my country girls take the name of their mother.” Then she told the names of her father and mother, her godfather and godmothers, the priest who had baptized her, the place where she was born, her age, concluding with: “From my mother I learned my Pater, my Ave Marie, and my Credo. From my mother I learned all that I believe.”

“Say your Pater,” commanded the Bishop abruptly; for it was believed that no witch could repeat the Lord’s Prayer except backwards.

“Hear me in confession, and I will say it for you willingly.”

Several times she was asked to say the Pater Noster, but her reply was always the same: “No; I will not say my Pater for you unless you hear me in confession.”

“We will willingly give you one or two worthy men who speak French; will you say your Pater to them?”

“I shall not say it unless in confession,” was her answer, whereby there was an implied protest to this company of priests who had refused her all the exercises of the Church.

Cauchon ignored the appeal, and as the session was about to close forbade her to leave the prison which had been assigned her in the castle under pain of being pronounced guilty of heresy; to this the maiden returned at once:

“I do not accept such an injunction. If ever I escape, no one shall be able to reproach me with having broken my faith, as I have not given my word to any person whatever.” Then she complained that they bound her with chains and shackles.

“You tried several times to escape from the prison where you were detained,” Cauchon reminded her, “and it was to keep you more surely that you were ordered to be put in irons.”

“It is true that I wished to get away,” said Jeanne, “and I wish it still. Is not that a thing allowed to every prisoner?”

Thereupon Cauchon called in John Grey, the English gentleman who had charge of the prison, along with two of his soldiers, and enjoined them to guard the girl securely and not to permit her to talk with any one without the permission of the court. Jeanne was then led back to her cell and her irons.

Now the assessors were not all agreed as to the legality of the trial, but they feared what might befall them if they opposed Cauchon, who wielded a great influence with the English. One Nicolas de Houppeville of Rouen had spoken his mind freely at the preliminary consultation, and now as he presented himself to take a seat among the assistant judges the Bishop had him thrown into prison. This man had said:

“I do not see how we can proceed against the prisoner, as we who are opposed to her are acting as judges. Furthermore, she has already been examined by the clergy at Poictiers under the Archbishop of Reims, who is the metropolitan of the Bishop of Beauvais.”

He stated the case with clearness: the Church which had acquitted her at Poictiers seemed now to be trying Jeanne for the same offense. Cauchon reprimanded the priest sharply, and it now took all the influence that could be brought to bear upon the matter to keep him from being exiled to England. But his misfortune had a salutary effect upon the other assessors. Henceforth, Cauchon found the majority of them pliant to his will.

There had been so much confusion at the first session, the proceedings being much interrupted by shouts and noises from outside, that the next morning the sitting was held in a room at the end of the great hall of the castle. Again the captive was unchained and brought before them––a young girl, alone and friendless, before a convocation of trained men, and without counsel, advocate, or attorney. During the day before she had been interrupted at almost every word, and secretaries of the English King recorded her replies as they pleased, distorting her answers as they saw fit. Guillaume Manchon of the Cathedral Chapter, chief clerk, threatened to throw up his task if this were further permitted, being desirous that the records should be correctly kept. Again the Bishop asked Jeanne to take the oath without conditions. To which she replied:

“I swore yesterday. That ought to suffice.”

“Every person,” said the Bishop, “though he were a prince, being required to swear in any matter relating to the faith, cannot refuse.”

“I took the oath yesterday,” said she, “that ought to be sufficient for you. You ask too much of me.”

The contest ended as on the day before by Jeanne taking a limited oath. Then Jean Beaupère, a distinguished professor in theology, resumed the examination. In all this trial Jeanne was the only witness examined.

He asked about her early life, her trade, her visions, her coming to the King, the sign she had shown him, the wearing of male attire, and about the fairies of the Tree, and the healing properties of the Gooseberry Spring. The questions were purposely mixed and confused so as to entrap her into contradictions. Again and again he returned to the Sign she had shown to the King, and this Jeanne could not in loyalty reveal. Had it been known that Charles had doubts concerning his own right to the throne, it would have been claimed that he held the crown on the strength of an assurance from a sorceress. This Sign and the wearing of male attire were recurred to time after time. The whole judicial process was a succession of snares to catch an unsuspecting victim, a constant violation of justice and the most established rights. Day after day the interrogations continued, and the maiden evinced a courage in facing the learned doctors and divines as great as she had ever shown in battle. The readiness and beauty of her answers often astonished the assembly. They asked her one day:

“Do you know that you are in the grace of God?”

This was an unfair question. If she replied, “yes,” she was presumptuous; if “no,” she condemned herself. One of the assessors, Maître Jean Lefèvre, spoke up quickly:

“That is an unsuitable question for such a girl.”

“Hold your peace,” cried Cauchon angrily. “It will be the better for you.” And Maître Jean was silent. “Answer,” commanded the Bishop, turning sternly to Jeanne.

The assembly awaited the reply in a silence so great that a pin might have been heard to fall.

“If I am not in grace, may God bring me thither; if I am, God keep me there.”

The reply was sublime. The doctors were amazed, and murmurs were heard among them. “Jeanne, you say well,” came from several. Cauchon was plainly chagrined.

At another time she was asked if she had ever been present when English blood was shed.

“In God’s name, yes. How mildly you talk! Why did they not leave France and go back to their own country?”

Thereupon a great English lord cried out: “She is a brave girl! If only she were English!”

These public hearings lasted six days, through long weary hours, filled with tiresome repetitions, and hidden stratagems to catch her unawares. But there had been little progress made, so Cauchon brought them to an abrupt close. It was high time. As at Poictiers Jeanne’s compelling personality was beginning to make itself felt. There was a visible softening toward her, and one or two of the judges tried to give her warnings or to aid her by whispered suggestions.

In the streets men were whispering that the judges were “persecuting her out of perverse vengeance, of which they gave every sign; that she was kept in a secular prison against the opinion of the court for fear of displeasing the English; that the English believed that they could have neither glory nor success while she lived.”

There was passing through Rouen one Jean de Lohier, who boldly declared that the trial was not valid. (1) It was held in a castle, where men were not at liberty to give their free and full opinions. (2) The honour of the King of France was impeached; he was a party in the suit, yet he did not appear, and had no representative. (3) The “libel,” or accusation, had not been given to the Maid, and she had no counsel; she was a simple girl, tried in deep matters of faith. To Manchon, the clerk, he said: “You see how they are going on! They will catch her in her words, as when she says, ‘I know for certain that I touched the apparitions.’ If she said, ‘so it seemed to me,’ I think no man could condemn her.”

Cauchon was very angry when these words came to him, and Lohier had to fly the country. It was quite time proceedings were changed. The Bishop, therefore, chose certain doctors, saying that he would not “fatigue all and each of the masters who at this moment assist us in such great numbers.” He told the others that they should be kept informed of the evidence, which they might study at their leisure, and expressly forbade them to leave Rouen before the end of the trial. Then with his chosen henchmen he proceeded to make the inquiry a private one.

So Jeanne was deprived of even the brief respite which the change from cell to court afforded. The examinations were chiefly repetitions of the interrogations of the public ones, though both questions and answers were fuller and freer, but were in consequence fatiguing and more trying.

Asked one day what she meant when she said that Monseigneur Beauvais put himself in danger by bringing her to trial, she answered that what she had said to Monseigneur Beauvais was:

“You say that you are my judge. I know not whether you are so; but take care that you judge well, or you will put yourself in great danger. I warn you, so that if our Lord should chastise you for it, I may have done my duty in warning you.”

“What is the danger that may befall him?”

“I know not. My Voices have told me that I shall be delivered by a great victory.” Her thin face was filled with sudden radiance. “It may be that judgment may come upon him then. And they add: ‘Be resigned; have no care for your martyrdom; you will come in the end to the Kingdom of Paradise.’ They have told me this simply, absolutely, and without fail. I do not know if I shall have greater suffering to bear; for that I refer me to God.”

It was very plain that the maiden expected to be rescued. “Delivered by a great victory” could mean but one thing to one so young as she; so day after day she answered their questions in the manner of one who is waiting expectantly for some great good to happen.

As the time passed without bringing either rescue, or help of any sort from her friends Jeanne uttered no word that could discredit or reproach them. There was never such loyalty as hers to her King and her party. A monk, Brother Isambard, was moved one day to give her some advice about submitting to the General Council of Basle, the Congregation of the Universal Church and of Christendom, wherein were men of all parties. Jeanne heard of it gladly.

“Oh! If in that place there are any of our side, I am quite willing to submit to the Council of Basle,” she cried.

“Hold your tongue, in the devil’s name,” shouted Cauchon to Isambard. Turning to Manchon, the clerk, he continued angrily: “Make no note of that answer.” But Jeanne protested:

“You write what is against me, but not what is in my favor.” Manchon had already written, “And she appeals––” He dared write no more.

In the afternoon Isambard, Brother Guillaume Duval and Jean de la Fontaine, three men who honestly wished to aid the Maid, went to the prison to give her further advice, when Warwick intercepted them.

“If any of you take the trouble to deliver her and to advise her for her good, I will have you thrown into the Seine,” he told them.

And Brother Isambard thereafter kept silence in fear of his life, while Brother Duval fled to his convent of St. Jacques, and appeared no more. The private examinations came to an end the day before Passion Sunday, and Cauchon called a meeting of the assessors to consider the evidence and decide upon further action. D’Estivet, his secretary, was instructed to make a digest of the proceedings which should form an act of accusation to be submitted to the assessors. The Bishop meantime visited Jeanne, offering his ultimatum:

If she consented to wear woman’s dress, she might hear mass, as she had so often desired, but not otherwise. To which Jeanne sorrowfully replied; that she would have done so before now if she could; but that it was not in her power to do so. It was for the sake of her womanhood that she retained man’s attire.

In Holy Week her troubles began again. Early Tuesday morning of that week Massieu, the usher of the court, appeared in the cell, removed her fetters, and conducted her to the room at the end of the great hall where the court was held before. All the assessors were present, for Cauchon had sent out a general summons for them. The case was opened, and Cauchon made a prefatory speech in which he told her how merciful were her judges, who had no wish to punish, but rather to instruct and lead her in the right way. And now, at this late stage in the proceedings, he offered her the privilege of having as counsel one or more of the learned doctors present.

Jeanne answered him courteously:

“In the first place, concerning my good and our faith, I thank you and all the company. As for the counsellor you offer me, I thank you also, but I have no need to depart from our Lord as my counsellor.”

Thomas de Courcelles, a young doctor of the University, now began to read the charges against her. The accusations were mostly frivolous, and some were unjust. It was charged that she had received no religious training; that she had worn mandrakes; that she dressed in man’s attire; that she had bewitched her banner and her ring (this was the poor little ring of base metal which her father and mother had given her so long before); that she believed her apparitions were saints and angels; that she had blasphemed; and other charges to the number of seventy. After each one the young doctor paused to ask?

“What have you to say to this article?”

And Jeanne would reply as she could, referring all her acts to the judgment of God. It mattered little how she replied; she was foredoomed by these men. For Jeanne D’Arc was guilty of one thing: she had deeply wounded the English pride. That was her crime. She was a girl, but she had frightened them, had driven them half the length of France, taken them in their fortresses, and conquered them in the field. That was her crime, and it was intolerable. Nothing but burning her alive could satisfy the vengeance of pride so mortified.

This re-examination took several days, and then Jeanne was sent back to her cell, but not to peace. While the seventy articles and the substance of her replies were being reduced to twelve articles by Cauchon and a few picked men, she was admonished “gently and charitably” in her cell, in order to lead her back into the way of truth and to a sincere profession of the faith.

Jeanne fell ill under the strain. Even her magnificent endurance broke under the burden. She was ill with nausea and fever, and Warwick sent immediately for several medical men who were among the judges.

“Do your best for her,” he urged. “My King would on no account have her die a natural death. He bought her dear, and holds her dear, and she shall die by the law, and be burned.”

Thereupon D’Estivet, Cauchon’s secretary, escorted the leeches to the prison where, weak and in chains, Jeanne lay upon her bed.

“I have eaten a fish that was sent me by the Bishop of Beauvais,” she told them when the doctors inquired what caused the indisposition. “I doubt not that this is the cause of my illness.”

“You shameful woman,” shouted D’Estivet. “You have been eating herring, and other unwholesomeness.”[29]

“I have not,” answered Jeanne, summoning all her strength to have it out with him.

The doctors felt her pulse and found some fever. They reported to Earl Warwick that she should be bled.

“Away with your bleeding,” cried he. “She is artful, and might kill herself.”

Nevertheless, they bled her and she grew better. As soon as she was somewhat recovered Cauchon proceeded with his “charitable admonitions.”

“We have come to bring you consolation in your suffering,” he said. “Wise and learned men have scrutinized your answers concerning the faith which have seemed to them perilous. But you are only a poor, illiterate woman, and we come to offer you learned and wise men, watchful and honest, who will give you, as is their duty, the knowledge which you have not. Take heed to our words, for if you be obstinate, consulting only your own unschooled brain, we must abandon you. You see to what peril you expose yourself, and it is this we would avoid for you with all the power of our affection.”

“I thank you for what you say to me for my good,” answered Jeanne wearily. “It seems to me, seeing how ill I am, that I am in great danger of death. If it be that God do His pleasure on me, I ask of you that I may have my confession and my Saviour also, and that I may be put in holy ground.”

“If you desire to have the rites and Sacraments of the Church,” said Cauchon, “you must do as good Catholics ought to do, and submit to Holy Church.”

“I can say no other thing to you,” she said, turning from them. Then they exhorted her powerfully, citing chapter and verse from the Scriptures, telling her finally that if she would not obey and submit to the Church she would be abandoned as a “Saracen.”

“I am a good Christian,” she told them. “I have been baptized; I shall die a good Christian. I love God; I serve Him. I wish to help and sustain the Church with all my power.” And that being all they could get from her they left her for the time being.

The sittings in the room at the end of the great hall of the castle were resumed on May second, all the assessors being present. Cauchon summed up all the trial, saying that in spite of the diligence and gentleness of the doctors their efforts had produced nothing. It seemed good, therefore, that the woman should be admonished before them all. Maître Jean Chatillon, the lord Archdeacon of Evreux, was invited to make the address whereby he might “persuade her to leave the criminal path where she now is and return again to that of truth.”

Jeanne listened dutifully to a long preamble by Maître Chatillon, and finally bade her admonisher to come to the point.

“Read your book, and then I will answer,” she said. “I refer myself to God, my master in all things. I love Him with all my heart.”

The trial was turning upon the point as to whether she was willing to submit all her words and deeds to the judgment of the holy Mother Church.

“The Church,” she exclaimed. “I love it, and desire to sustain it with my whole power, for the sake of our Christian faith. It is not I who should be hindered from going to church, and hearing mass.” As to what she had done for her King and her country she submitted it all to God, who had sent her. The question of submission was again asked, and she replied that she submitted all to God, our Lady, and the saints.

“And my opinion is,” she added, “that God and the Church are one.”

To Maître Jean’s specific exhortations, touching upon her submission to the Church, her dress, her visions, and revelations, she gave her old answers.

“I will say no more,” she answered briefly with some impatience, when they urged her further, and threatened her with the sentence of fire. “And if I saw the fire, I should say all that I am saying to you, and naught else.”

A week later she was led forth from her cell again, but this time she was taken to the torture chamber of the great tower, where she found nine of her judges awaiting her, and was once more adjured to speak the truth, with the threat of torture if she remained obdurate. But with the rack and screws before her, and the executioner ready for his work, she said:

“Truly, if you were to tear me limb from limb, and separate soul from body, I will tell you nothing more; and if I were to say anything else, I should always declare that you had compelled me to do it by force.”

She told them that she had asked her Voices if, hard pressed as she was, she should submit to the Church.

“If you would have God come to your aid, wait on Him for all your doings,” was their answer.

“Shall I burn?” she had asked them.

“Wait on our Lord. He will help you.”

Torture was spared that day, as being likely to profit her little, “considering her hardness of heart,” and she was returned to her cell. Cauchon afterward put the question of torture to fourteen of his assessors. Two voted for it: Courcelles, and the spy, Loyseleur, who held that it might be “a salutary medicine for her soul.” The majority, however, were in favor of mercy, considering that there was enough for her condemnation without it.

A few days later the decision of the University of Paris, to whom the twelve articles had been sent, arrived. After an explanation of the consideration which had been given to each article, that learned tribunal gave its verdict upon each indictment; concluding with:

“If the beforesaid woman, charitably exhorted and admonished by competent judges, does not return spontaneously to the Catholic faith, publicly abjure her errors, and give full satisfaction to her judges, she is hereby given up to the secular judge to receive the reward of her deeds.”

In accordance with this decision the final session of the court was held on the twenty-third of May in a small room near Jeanne’s cell to hear Maître Pierre Maurice deliver their final admonition to the captive.

Jeanne listened as always with courtesy to the preacher, though he was expounding to her all her faults. All this to a girl who had lived with but one motive: the service of God, and the deliverance of her country. When he had finished she was again questioned personally. Her answer was clear and undaunted:

“What I have always said in the trial, and held, I wish still to say and maintain. If I were condemned, if I saw the torch lighted, the faggots prepared, and the executioner ready to kindle the fire, and if I myself were in the fire, I would not say otherwise, and would maintain to the death all that I have said.”

And Manchon, the clerk, was so struck by this reply that he wrote on the margin of his paper: “Responsio Johannae superba.”

“Have you nothing further to say?” asked Cauchon of promoter and prisoner.

“No;” was the reply, and he declared the trial concluded.

“We summon you to-morrow to hear the law which will be laid down by us, to be carried out afterward and proceeded with according to law and right.”

Jeanne was led back to her prison and the company of John Grey’s men. It was the twenty-third of May, and she had been a prisoner a year. A year, and for nearly five months of that time she had been chained and ironed like a wild beast. Through almost four months of it she had been tortured, badgered, and bullied through the most cruel and unjust trial the world has ever known. And she had faced this daily torment with high spirit and undaunted mien. But she was weary, and worn, and the despondency that follows a period of high exaltation came upon her. Her Voices had promised “deliverance by a great victory,” and deliverance had not come. The next day there would be the sentence, and death by fire. All night the girl lay in her chains striving to commune with her saintly visitors, but her guards were noisy, and she could catch but little of what they were saying:

“Answer boldly all that is said to you,” they told her. “God will help you. Fear naught.”

The morning came, and found her listless, sad, and inexpressibly weary. The false Loyseleur was on hand early, urging her to submit to the Church.

“Do all that you are told, and you may be saved,” he said to her. “Accept the woman’s dress, and do as I tell you; then you will be given over to the Church. Otherwise you are in peril of death.”

Came also Jean Beaupère, one of the assessors.

“You will soon be led to the scaffold to be preached to,” he said. “If you are a good Christian place all your deeds and words in the ordering of our Holy Mother Church, and especially of the ecclesiastical judges.”

So they talked to her. Presently the cart came that was to carry her to the cemetery of St. Ouen, which was to be the place of her sentence. Loyseleur, Massieu and a number of the priests rode with her, exhorting, explaining, and pleading with her to submit. They drove through the marketplace that she might see the preparations that had been made for the execution of the sentence should she persist in her obduracy. Jeanne was not spared one pang. A lofty scaffold with a stake upon it, the logs all arranged ready for the lighting, stood in the midst of the marketplace waiting for its victim.

It was a beautiful day in May. The blue sky had not one cloud to mar its cerulean depths. The streets were filled with crowds of excited people who pushed and struggled behind the rows of erect English soldiers who guarded the passage of the tumbril to the place of sentence: all speaking of life, life and liberty. And beside Loyseleur was whispering, “Submit! Submit!”

Before the stately church of St. Ouen there was an open space that afforded room for a large assemblage of people. Here were erected two platforms, one facing the other. On one of these, in the midst of prelates and nobles, Cardinal Winchester sat with the Bishop of Beauvais and the Earl of Warwick; on the other was the preacher, Maître Guillaume Erad, for it was usual to preach to a witch before burning her. Here also stood Jeanne, and the priests who had accompanied her. Below and all around were a vast concourse of people, and many soldiers.

When all were in their places the preacher arose, and began his sermon: “A branch cannot bear fruit of itself except it abide in the vine.” It was long and eloquent. When it was half over he suddenly began to apostrophise France and her King: “Ah, France! thou art much abused; thou hast always been the most Christian of nations, and Charles, who calls himself thy king and governor, hath joined himself, a heretic and schismatic, which he is, to the words and deeds of a worthless woman, defamed and full of dishonour; and not only he but all the clergy within his jurisdiction and lordship by whom she hath been examined and not reproved, as she hath said.” Then pointing at the Maid, he cried: “It is to thee, Jeanne, that I speak. I tell thee that thy king is a heretic and schismatic.”

Jeanne could bear, and had borne much; but she could not stand an assault upon her King. Clearly her voice rang out as it had been wont to do on field of battle:

“By my faith, sire, saving your respect, I swear upon my life that my King is the most noble Christian of all Christians, that he is not what you say.”

So she spoke, defending the craven who had made no effort in her behalf. There was a sensation among the people as she made her cry; a stir as though moved in spite of themselves, and voices began to murmur excitedly. At this the English soldiers who surrounded the two platforms in a close ring drew closer, and made threatening gestures toward the crowd which silenced them. The preacher resumed his sermon, which he concluded with a last solemn exhortation to the prisoner to yield submission to the Church.

As her Voices had bade her do, Jeanne replied to the preacher’s words boldly: “I have told you Doctors that all my deeds and words should be sent to Rome to our Holy Father, the Pope, to whom, and to God first, I appeal. As for my deeds, I burden no man with them, neither my King nor any other. If fault there be, it is my own and no other’s.”

Three times she was asked if she was willing to renounce those of her acts and words which the court condemned. To which she replied only:

“I appeal to God, and to our Holy Father, the Pope.”

She was told that the Pope was too far away, and that the Ordinaries were judges each in his own diocese, and that it was necessary that she should confess that the clergy and officers of the Church had a right to determine in her case. Then the Bishop began to read her sentence. He had prepared two: one in case she recanted; the other, the death by fire. It was this latter that he now began to pronounce. And all around the maiden there broke forth a tumult of voices urging her to submit. Some among the crowd dared to call to her entreatingly:

“Submit, Jeanne, submit. Save yourself.”

Almost distracted, the girl folded her hands, and raised her eyes. “St. Michael, help,” she called pleadingly. Her Voices were speaking, but in the confusion she could not hear, but about her sounded those others: “Submit! Submit! Why will you burn?”

There is a limit to human endurance. Through months the girl had preserved a clear mind that had guided her through the tortuous intricacies of the snares that treacherous legality and perverted ingenuity could devise for her; she had been loyal, in despite of all perils, to her belief in her mission, to her faith in her Voices, to her duty to her King: but now––the indomitable spirit broke under the strain. She could bear no more.

“I submit,” she cried in anguish. “I am willing to hold all that the Church ordains, all that you judges shall say and pronounce. I will obey your orders in everything. Since the men of the Church decide that my apparitions and revelations are neither sustainable nor credible, I do not wish to believe or to sustain them. I yield in everything to you, and to our Holy Mother Church.”

“Then sign,” cried a churchman, thrusting forward a paper. “Sign, and so abjure.”

The girl looked at him, bewildered and confused by the commotion about her.

“Abjure?” she said. “What is abjure?”

Massieu, who had been among those who conducted her thither, now began to explain. “Sign,” he said, “Sign.”

“Sign,” cried Erad, the preacher. “Sign, and you will be put in charge of the Church.”

Jeanne could not write, but she mechanically made her mark, placing it where they told her. Then one of them guiding her hand, traced the name, Jehanne, at the bottom of the page. Jeanne gave one last cry as she permitted it:

“All that I did was done for good, and it was well to do it.”

And Manchon, the clerk, wrote on the margin of his record, “And Jeanne in fear of the fire said that she would obey the Church.”

This done Cauchon substituted the other sentence:

“Seeing that thou hast returned to the bosom of the Church by the grace of God, and hast revoked and denied all thy errors, we, the Bishop aforesaid, commit thee to perpetual prison, with the bread of sorrow and water of anguish, to purge thy soul by solitary penitence.”

A tumult arose in the square at this, and stones were thrown amid cries of disappointment and rage; for the English feared that they were to be cheated of their prey, and many were angered that there was to be no burning. In the midst of it, Jeanne called feverishly to the priests about her:

“Now, you people of the Church, lead me to your prison; let me be no longer in the hands of the English.”

One of the priests left her side, and ran over to Cauchon to ask where she was to be taken.

“Back whence she came,” said Cauchon grimly.

Dismayed, miserable beyond words, Jeanne was taken back to the irons, and the unspeakable torment of her awful cell.


[28] “Into France.” A phrase used frequently by people living on the borderland; also because all the country about Domremy and adjacent villages was held by the enemy. This must be crossed to reach the king. Where he dwelt was regarded as the real France.
[29] Herring, sprats, shad––in warm countries acquire, probably from their food, highly poisonous properties so as to be dangerous to persons eating them.

RETURN TO TABLE OF CONTENTS                          CONTINUE to CHAPTER 27 Warrior Maid

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