In spinning and sewing I do not fear any woman in
FEBRUARY 22, at eight o'clock in the morning, Pierre Cauchon and his peculiar ecclesiastical court increased from forty-two of the day before to forty-eight judges, were in their seats ready for the second day's trial of Joan of Arc for treason to the Catholic Faith.
To one of the judges, Jean Beaupere, a reverend doctor of theology from the University of Paris, was given the privilege of chief questioner.
The plan of the day was to trap her into saying something contrary to Christian doctrine, or something that would cast doubt on the heavenly nature of her revelations, or something that would give any color of witchcraft to her miraculous triumphs.
Of her direct and deadly opposition to the English invasion of France, there was no doubt nor secret, and, of course, for this she was amenable to English law, and liable to quick and cruel death at the hands of her English captors.
But that was never England's way. A hero's death would leave her memory a source of strength to French arms. She must be discredited.
It must be shown that her miraculous powers came from the demon and not from God.
An ecclesiastical court at Poitiers examined her a year before, when she first came to the king for the rescue of Orleans.
That court decided that her mission and her Voices were from God.
But she was in different hands and she must be proved to do wonders in the name of Beelzebub, so the English could burn her with decency.
"Bring in the accused." And for a second time the gentlest, purest, bravest heart in France faced that throng of angry men - seeking from herself an excuse to do away with her as unworthy to live.
The evening before, Cauchon had spent an hour with a man whom he had sent to Domremy to collect evidence against Joan, especially her connection with the Fairy Tree in that village. The man had brought back from Domremy and five adjacent parishes, a great deal of testimony in praise of Joan, from young and old, and as he said himself,
"such things as he would like to hear said of his own sister." But not one word that showed she frequented the neighborhood of the fairy tree.
The Bishop was furious and sent him off without one franc of the promised wage he was to get for his time and trouble.
A further ruffle to Cauchon's temper was occasioned by Joan's jailer, Massieu, who, conducting her to and from her prison, allowed her in passing the chapel door, to pause for a moment's adoration, outside the closed door, of the Blessed Sacrament kept within. Joan had begged it—she who asked no favors of her jailers else.
Cauchon warned Massieu not to let "the Excommunicate" again have such privilege if he did not want to lose his head.
Another vexation Cauchon suffered was the defection of one of the judges who expressing his disapproval of the whole proceedings fled the country.
Cauchon opened the proceedings the second day.
"You are now required to take oath to answer truly all questions asked you."
"I made oath yesterday, my lord, let that suffice."
The bishop flared up at the quiet refusal and insisted. For a long time he urged and
commanded, Joan simply shaking her head in refusal. At last she said slowly and firmly:
"I made oath yesterday, let that suffice. Of a truth you do burden me too much."
Cauchon, disgusted and chagrined, turned to Beaupere and bade him go on with the inquiry.
Rev. Jean Beaupere, doctor of theology, began graciously:
"Now, Jeanne, the matter is very simple. You are to answer truly 'the questions I put to you as you have sworn to do."
But Joan was not to be caught by graciousness any more than by bad temper.
"You may well ask me some things on which I shall tell you the truth, and some on which I shall not tell you anything. If you were well informed about me, you would wish me well out of your hands. I have done nothing except by revelation."
"How old were you when you left your father's house? "
On the subject of my age I cannot vouch."
In your youth did you learn any trade? "
"Yes. I learned to spin and to sew. In spinning and sewing I do not fear any woman in Rouen."
This was greeted with some applause, and a pleased expression lit up her face for a moment.
"Had you other occupations at home?"
"Yes. I helped my mother in the household work and went to the pastures sometimes with the sheep and cattle."
Asked about her religious duties she answered:
"Every year I confessed myself to my own Cure, and, with his permission to another priest, when he was prevented. Sometimes also, two or three times, I confessed 'to the mendicant friars; this was at Neufchateau. At Easter I received the Sacrament of the Eucharist."
"Did you receive the Sacrament of the Eucharist at any other time but Easter?"
Several times was this question put to her, but as if she would say, "Why do ye tempt me, ye hypocrites?" she refused to answer, merely saying:
"Pass on to things you are privileged to pry into."
Beaupere winced, but passed on to 'the question of her Voices:
"When did you first hear these Voices?"
"I was thirteen when I first heard a Voice coming from God to help me to live well. I was frightened. It came at mid-day, in my father's garden in the summer."
"Had you been fasting?"
"The day before?"
"From what direction did it come?"
"From the right. From towards the church. It came with a bright light; rarely do I hear it without its being accompanied by a bright light. This light comes from the same side as the Voice. Generally it is a great light. Since I came into France I have often heard this Voice."
"But how could you see this light you speak of, when the light was at the side?"
Joan brushed aside this question as unworthy an answer, and went on:
"If I were in a wood I could easily hear the Voice which came to me. It seemed to me to come from lips I should reverence."
"I believe it was sent me from God. When I heard it for the third time, I recognized that it was the Voice of an angel. This Voice has always guarded me well and I have always understood it; it instructed me to be good and to go often to church; it told me it was necessary to come into France."
"In what form did the Voice appear?"
Joan hesitated a moment, looking into her questioner's face, and then said quietly:
"As to that I will not tell you."
"Did the Voice seek you often?"
"Yes. Twice or three times a week it said to me: Go into France.' I could stay no longer."
"What else did it say?"
"That I should raise the siege of Orleans."
"Was that all?"
"No; I was to go to Vaucouleurs and Robert de Baudricourt would give me soldiers to go with me to France. I replied that I was a poor girl, who did not know how to ride, neither how to fight. At last I went to my uncle and said I wished to stay near him for a time. I remained with my uncle eight days. Then I said to him: 'I must go to Vaucouleurs.' He took me there. When I arrived I recognized Robert de Baudricourt, though I had never seen him. I knew him, thanks to my Voice, which made me recognize him. I said to Robert: ‘I must go into France.'
"Twice Robert refused to hear me and repulsed me. The third time, he received me, and furnished me with men; the Voice had told me it would be thus. The Duke of Lorraine gave orders that I should be taken to him. I went there. I told him that I wished 'to go into France."
"The Duke asked me questions about his health; but I said of that I knew nothing.
I spoke to him a little of my journey. I told him he was to send his son with me, together with some people to conduct me into France, and that I would pray to God for his health. I had gone to him with a safe conduct from Vaucouleurs and from him I returned. From Vaucouleurs I departed for the Dauphin."
"How were you dressed?"
Now this was her chief sin in their eyes—her man's dress.
The Court at Poitiers, over which an Archbishop had presided, had tried her on this and other matters, and decided 'that as she had a man's work to do, it was proper for her to wear a man's dress.
But this court made no account of that decision.
"How were you dressed?" And every ear was keen for the answer.
The answer came quickly and simply:
"I wore a man's dress, and also a sword which Robert de Baudricourt gave me, but no other weapon."
"Who advised you to wear the dress of a man?"
She paid no heed but went on:
"I had with me a knight, a squire, and their servants, with whom I reached 'the town of St. Urbain, where I slept in an abbey.
On the way later I passed through Auxerre, where I heard Mass in the principal church. Thence forward I often heard my Voices."
Who counseled you to take a man's dress? At last she answered:
"With that I charge no one."
"What did Baudricourt say to you when you were leaving?"
"He made them that were with me promise to conduct me well and safely, and to me he said: I Go, and let come what may!' "
Again the subject of her man's dress was brought up: "Did your Voice advise you to wear man's dress?"
"I believe my Voice gave me good advice."
That was as definite an answer as they could get. Then she was asked how she happened to be let near the king.
"I went without hindrance to the king. Having arrived at the village of St. Catherine de Fierbois, I sent for the first time to the castle of Chinon, where the king was.
"I went to the king who was at the castle. When I entered the room where he was I recognized him among many others by the counsel of my Voice, which revealed him to me. I told him that I wished to go and make war on the English."
"When the Voice showed you the king, was there any light?"
"Pass that! "
"Did you see an angel over the king?"
"Pass that! Before the king set me to work he had many apparitions and beautiful revelations."
"What revelations and apparitions had the king?"
"I will not tell you. It is not time to answer about them; but send to the king and he will tell you."
"The Voice had promised me that as soon as I came to the king he would receive me."
"Those of my party knew well that the Voice had been sent me from God; my king and many others, I am sure, have also heard the Voices which came to me.
"There were there Charles de Bourbon and two or three others."
"Do you still hear the Voices?"
"There is not a day when I do not hear my Voices; indeed I have much need of them."
"What do you ask of them?"
"I have never asked any recompense but the salvation of my soul."
"Did the Voice tell you to follow the army?"
"The Voice told me to remain at St. Denis.
I wished to do so, but, against my will, the lords made me leave. If I had not been wounded I should not have left."
"When were you wounded?"
"In the moat before Paris, in the assault."
"Was it a Festival day?
"Yes, it was a Festival."
Now they had her. She acknowledged she made an assault, and it was a Feast day of the Church. The next question was supposed to annihilate her: "Is it right to make an assault on a Festival?"
If she said "Yes" her piety could be impeached. If she said "No" then her own conduct and the integrity of her counsel could be impeached.
After just a moment's thoughtful pause Joan said: "Let it pass." As if to say: we are not the judges of the right or wrong of it. It is done, let it stand.
The record ends: "And as it appeared that enough had been done for to-day, we have postponed the affair to Saturday next, at 8 o'clock in 'the morning."
The great men were tired after the four or five hours' anxious searching into the poor girl's life and motives with such meager results.
As for her, she was fasting in the first place and there was no rest for her body in the hard unbacked seat. Her woman's heart must have sank like lead at 'the cold cruelty manifested towards her, and the hypocrisy shown in the name of Catholic piety.
In connection with this second day's proceedings, the sworn testimony of a Rouen theologian, Master Nicholas de Houpperville, one of the judges, is pertinent here.
He swore at the inquiries instituted some years later: "I was called at the beginning of the Process. I could not come the first day. When I presented myself the second day I was not admitted. I was even driven away by the bishop, because, talking one day with Master Michel Colles, I had told him that it was dangerous for many reasons to take part in this Process. This was repeated to the bishop; and for this cause he had me shut up in the king's prison a t Rouen, whence I was delivered only by the prayers of the Lord Abbot of Fecamp; and I heard that some whom the bishop summoned, advised that I should be exiled to England or elsewhere beyond the bounds of Rouen, 'had I not been delivered by the Abbot and his friends.
"I never thought that zeal for the faith, nor desire to bring her back to the right way, caused the English to act thus."