Some of the Sanhedrin
WITH Bishop Cauchon we are already acquainted. He had no more right to judge Joan than had the Khan of Tartary. He appointed himself; and whatever authority was lacking was conferred, in intent at least, by the University of Paris and the king of England. Neither had he any ecclesiastical jurisdiction. That Joan was taken prisoner at Compiegne was no more a reason for Cauchon to judge her anywhere, and least of all out of his diocese, than that which the University of Paris had for judging the Pope. Fecit, tamen, as St. Augustine says of Pontius Pilate: they did it, nevertheless.
The unworthy bishop's superior, the archbishop of Reims, had approved as of heavenly origin what Bishop Cauchon condemns as meriting death by fire. The cathedral chapter of Rouen had no more right to hand over Joan for trial to Cauchon, her deadly enemy, than had the child unborn. There was scarcely a form, or aspect of justice, that he did not violate, no matter what other false Frenchmen may have later said. Let them read the list of illegalities--there is no difficulty in finding them.
And it is an unvarnished falsehood to say that the procedure of the French Inquisition was the same as that of the Sanhedrin of Rouen.
Thomas Courcelles was especially chosen by Cauchon. He was one of the six doctors sent by the University of Paris to examine the Maid. All through the trial he was very exact in his task, and very well paid in the sum of one hundred and thirteen livres. Courcelles was one of the few in favor of subjecting Joan to torture. M. Quicherat calls him, and truly enough, "the father of Gallican liberties"; for probably no one dictated more articles than he in the schismatical council of Basle. He was the foe of Pope Eugene IV, and supporter of the antipope Felix V.
Erard, another of the doctors, preached at Joan in the cemetery at Rouen a discourse of extreme and unworthy violence. He was one of those who brutally tried to force Joan to sign a lying retraction. He had been rector of the University of Paris; and, like his brethren, was as antipapal as he was anti-French.
Nicolas Midi, another of the Paris envoys, the last to preach at Joan before her execution, is supposed to have been the author—and calumniator—of the famous, or infamous XII Articles, sent from Rouen to Paris as a summary of the trial, and in which the defense is mutilated, or omitted.
Estivet, the prosecutor, canon of Beauvais, whence he was driven with Cauchon,
was, of all this group, the lowest. His language resembled that of the English soldiers to Joan at Orleans.
The clergy of Rouen had been won over by the Duke of Bedford, who showed them many favors. On October 23rd, 1430, when the price of the Maid was being handed over, he was admitted into the body of canons of the cathedral of Rouen. The religious orders, especially the Benedictines, were very numerous. We find them, unfortunately, cutting an evil figure in the trial of Joan. Gilles Duremort, abbot of Fecamp, and member of the English royal council, received the sum of one thousand livres for his share in the iniquitous transaction. He was an intimate friend of Bishop Cauchon, and was afterwards made bishop of Coutances. He did not reside in his monastery, but in his fine palace at Rouen; as did his fellow-religious of like character, Nicolas Leroux, abbot of Jumieges, and Pierre Miget, prior of Longueville.
Several Englishmen took part in the Process, especially at decisive points. Of these was William Hayton, a bachelor in theology, secretary of the king and member of the royal council, who voted for Joan's death.
"What a spectacle," says Father Ayroles, "to see this unlettered girl of nineteen years, weakened by the torments of her prison, defending herself unaided against an army of men, who were reputed to be depositaries of human and divine
knowledge, banded together to drag from her some incriminating word!" What a shocking scandal for the gentle, pious peasant maiden from fair Domremy! It was an evil time; a time of schismatics and anti-popes, when king and nobles intruded into the highest ecclesiastical positions their illegitimate sons or unworthy favorites. Relaxation of discipline was notorious, and all the excesses of the next century, the sixteenth, naturally followed.