Joan’s Last Prison

JOAN was imprisoned in the fortress of Rouen, a place of enormous strength, situated near the walls of the city, with towers one hundred and fifty feet high and forty feet in diameter, the walls being twelve feet thick. She may have thought on entering that her deliverance was near; for the boy-king of England, whom St. Catherine said she was to see, had been residing here since July of that year, and continued to reside during her entire captivity. The prison of Joan looked" toward the fields," said Aymond de Macy; although Massieu, who was apparitor, or usher, at the trial, calls it a camera media, or middle chamber; that is, we may suppose, in the interior of the castle. It was a dark room, approached by eight steps. There was apparently nothing in it, by way of furniture, save a bed, on which Joan was chained by the feet to a large beam. We cannot give the name of furniture to an iron cage, in which Joan was enclosed in wild-beast fashion from her arrival in Rouen to the beginning of the trial; that is, for the space of two months, from the closing days of December to February 21st. In this she stood, chained by the hands, feet and neck.


She was guarded by five English soldiers, who are described by a name, which leaves no doubt as to their character—they were pillagers of houses, who committed nameless outrages on the people of the country. Their conduct toward Joan showed what they were. These men the intruded judge, who was really the prosecutor, Bishop Cauchon, made swear to guard Joan well, which, from the sense and circumstances, means that she must have no hope of escape. Three of these men were in the room day and night, and two at the door.

In ecclesiastical trials the accused should be placed in an ecclesiastical prison; and women should be guarded by women. Such prisons there were in Rouen, attached to the courts of the Archbishop. Joan saw the interior of none of these. She begged to be sent there; and once they promised her the -desired boon in order to make her retract, as they said. " Oh, men of the Church," she exclaimed, "take me to your prison, out of the hands of the English."

The soldiers amused themselves by tormenting her with the threat of approaching death. They mocked her, and attempted to do her immoral violence. Hence she would not, and could not, renounce male attire—no longer, in fact forbidden in the Bible, since we are not under the Old Law. At night she drew her garments as tightly as possible around her for safety. Except these precious guards, no one was allowed to see Joan, unless authorized by Cauchon.


Traitors, however, and spies, were introduced, to deceive her by false counsel, or by obtaining an incriminating confession. The traitorous Loyseleur, a priest - to our Christian shame, be it said—so deceived Joan that she confessed to him. He had, in fact, asked to be appointed her confessor, and was the only one approved by Cauchon.


De la Pierre, who was most intimately acquainted with the circumstances of Joan's trial and prison, swore at the Rehabilitation that Joan declared publicly "the great wrong and violence" done her by the English when she had assumed female attire after the so-called abjuration. And he saw her sorrowful face bathed in tears, disfigured and outraged to such a great extent that he had great pity for her. Ladvenu, a similar witness, said that the simple Maid revealed to him that they had tormented her with violence in the prison; that they had beaten her; and that an English milord—Warwick is the only one suspected—had attempted to violate her. She was, by the way, committed to his charge. The great and pious Bedford, canon of the cathedral of Rouen, looked on concealed while his wife subjected the Maid to a. physical examination. She complained extraordinarily, said Toutmouille, of the violence done her in prison by the jailers and others who were allowed to enter. "We do not know, writes Mr. Andrew Lang, "that Philip of Burgundy would have sunk to the depths of


shame that were reached by the Duke of Bedford and the Earl of Warwick….. When an earl thus forgot himself, we may imagine the ribaldry of her daily and nightly companions, "five English houcepailliers of the basest degree."