The Examination of Joan
There are two parts in this Process, or course of legal proceedings against Joan. First, the examination of witnesses—the only one is the Maid herself—in order to incriminate her; this lasted from February 25th to Palm Sunday, March 25th; and its purpose was to prepare, or procure, an indictment. Secondly, we have the Process proper, which opened on the 27th of March with the charge, or indictment, of Estivet, contained in seventy Articles. This closed on May 24th in the cemetery of Rouen by the condemnation of Joan to perpetual imprisonment on bread and water. On the 28th the trial re-begins as a process of relapse; it was but the simulacra of a trial with judicial forms.
On February 20th Massieu, the apparitor, was ordered to produce in court, "the woman Jeanne, called the Maid, vehemently suspected of heresy for her notorious misdeeds against the Faith." Joan answered, says Massieu, that she would willingly appear—it was her only hope of getting out of prison—but she asked that an equal number of assessors be chosen from the French party with those from the Anglo-Burgundian.
This was refused; and her right to a defender, or legal advocate, was denied. She begged to be allowed to hear Mass before the trial began; but this, too, was refused, on the ground of her alleged crimes and the indecency of her male attire. On this same day Pope Martin V died in Rome.
We may recall that the story of Joan's life is made up chiefly from her own declarations during this trial; but the story of the trial itself is quite incomplete without the additional testimony of the thirty-four witnesses who tell of it at the second trial, or Rehabilitation.
From the insults and hardships of her prison Joan appears at her first interrogatory, in the royal chapel of the castle of Rouen at eight A. M. on February 21st. She sees before her forty-two assessors, all graduates in theology. Fifteen are doctors; there are five graduates in civil and canon law; and five others are Benedictine abbots. The judge read the letter, purporting to be of the boy-king, giving Joan up to judgment; then a document by which the chapter of Rouen undertook to give territorial jurisdiction to Bishop Cauchon. The latter, according to his own account, summed up the charge, and bases his procedure on Joan's "many acts against the Faith," on the command of the English boy-king, and on the counsel of the wise. He declared Joan's crimes were known throughout Christendom. The very opposite was true. He persistently called her a mulier, a woman, in order not to give the common title of La Pucelle.
Yet he knew she was a virgin warrior; the Countess of Bedford was his witness. The promoter of the Rehabilitation trial declared that Cauchon forbade the notaries to write this testimony to Joan's stainless purity. The arbitrary and illegal refusal of assistance at the Divine Offices to one who was not found guilty reveals the character of the judge and judgment.
When asked to take on oath to answer truly, Joan paused. "I know not what you will ask," she said. "You may ask things which I will not answer. My revelations to the king I will not tell to save my life. My apparitions, my secret counsel, tell me not to do so. In a week I will know what answer to give.'' This steadfast loyalty, this noble independence, this heroic fortitude, we see in Joan all through the trial; just as we shall find ad nauseam the constant effort of the accusers to make Joan swear absolutely to reveal everything, and to submit unconditionally to them, as not only her judges, but as representing the Church. Nor must we take the words written in the proses verbal as being always and exactly the words of Joan. An abridged form, a slight color of words, will give an answer, which is unfair to the accused.
With the understanding that she was only to tell what regarded her trial, and not revealed secrets, Joan took the oath kneeling, her two hands on the missal. Then she was asked
about her parents, home, and childhood. She said her mother had taught her the Pater Nos-ter, Ave Maria and Credo; but when asked to say the Our Father, " I will, " she answered, "in confession." Pasquerel, her confessor, testified that Joan confessed daily before her captivity. Toward the end of the session the judge said to Joan, "As bishop, I forbid you to leave the prison." "I accept not this prohibition," she answered. "I have never given my word not to escape; every prisoner has a right to do so. Oh, how much I suffer from the weight of these chains," she exclaimed. In a week, she said, she would have counsel; and on the 1st of March it came with splendid prophecy. The bishop adds in his proses that he handed her over to the brutal guard.
The session, or interrogatory, of February 22nd was held at eight o'clock in the morning, in the presence of forty-eight assessors, in a room off the great hall of the castle. This room continued to be the usual place of meeting. Beaupere, an "eminent professor," questioned Joan. She would answer only what regarded the Faith. "If you were well informed," she continued, "you should wish me out of your hands. I have done nothing but by revelation." To the question of age when she left home, however the question was put, she answered, "I cannot tell you." This was perhaps a protest very much abridged, as we know, from the witnesses, she often made. She refused to tell why she
assumed man's clothing; but acknowledged afterwards it was by counsel of her Voices. Then she recounted her revelations up to her stay at St. Denis, near Paris. "Did you attack Paris on a feast-day?" "I think it was a feast-day." "Was that well done?"' "Pass on."
This session was tumultuous, according to the witnesses. There were many confused and confusing questions and interruptions. We have only a skeleton resume of it. There was "a very great tumult" says Manchon; they interrupted nearly every word of Joan when she spoke of her apparitions. There were present, he continues, three or four secretaries of the English king, who wrote as they pleased the explanations of Joan; they omitted her defense, and everything favorable to her. Manchon then declared he would not act as notary in a trial of this kind. The place of session, he says, was changed, and the door was guarded by two English soldiers. Complaints, he continues, were made that he had not written the answers of Joan correctly. Cauchon and Estivet did their work spontaneously. The others were afraid to refuse. There was not one who, did not tremble. Warwick and Cauchon were angry with La Fontaine and the two Dominicans, Ladvenu and de la Pierre, for their visit to Joan and exhortation to submit to the Church. The first escaped, and the other two were in danger. Houppeville was imprisoned for refusing to take part in the trial.
Lemaitre was much displeased at his task, and took little part in the matter. Chatillon showed some interest in Joan's case, saying she was not obliged to answer, or some such word. There occurred thereupon "a great tumult," and Cauchon peremptorily told Chatillon to hold his tongue. Another spoke to Joan, and gave her some advice regarding submission to the Church, about which she was much confused. The bishop's reprimand was more emphatic: "Hold your tongue in the name of the devil." So Manchon says. Another, by some kindly word, enraged the Earl of Stafford, who drew his sword, and pursued the man to a place of sanctuary.
Manchon tells of Loyseleur's perfidious visits to Joan, feigning to be of her own country and cause. In the next room, the two notaries were made listen through an opening. Warwick and Cauchon told them to write Joan's answers; but Manchon objected. She was harassed, he says, with questions daily for hours. She was very simple, and appeared unable of herself to meet her adversaries. She had a splendid memory; and when her foes changed and confused the questions, she would say, "I have already answered." Neither Manchon nor his companion dared to make a correction in the XII Articles, which were pointed out to be faulty and unfair. The whole Process was written out only after Joan’s death. Yet upon the Articles were based the deliberations of the University of Parish, and of the Norman
Norman clergy. In the beginning, when Joan was questioned, concealed notaries—amongst them Loyseleurwrote as they pleased. Between Manchon and the other notaries there was so much difference in the proces, that "a great discussion" arose over the matter. For five or six days, at the beginning of the trial, the judges spoke to Manchon in Latin, telling him to change what he had written. The three most opposed to Joan, in the questioning, adds Manchon, were Beaupere, Midi, and Touraine.
On the 24th of February there was a large assembly—sixty-three assessors—in the same room, off the great hall. Again Cauchon admonished Joan to answer all questions truly. She qualified her testimony as before. She warned the judge of the character of his work, and complained of her distress. It was enough, she said, to swear twice in one trial. Cauchon made the demand for an absolute oath no less than six or seven times; and Joan at length agreed to answer fully all that concerned the trial. "All the clergy of Paris and Rouen cannot condemn me without any right," she protested. "I have been sent by God. I have nothing to do here." We have only an. outline of this important session, in which, very probably, Joan uttered the words in which she rejected Cauchon as her "mortal enemy." "The king has appointed me," he retorted; "and I will judge." The king was a boy, and the
bishop was one of the chief members of the council; that is to say, he appointed himself.
In answer to Beaupere Joan said she had not tasted food or drink from the afternoon of the preceding day; it was Lent, and she observed the ancient rigorous fast. "How long since you heard your Voices?" "To-day and yesterday I heard them." "At what hour yesterday?" "Three times--in the morning, at the hour of Vespers, and at the evening Ave Maria." The Voices awaked her, and she sat up, and joined her hands to thank God. They told her to answer boldly in her trial. Again she warned the judge of his danger of doing injustice, and of his punishment; for she was sent by God. "Did the Voice tell you not to answer!" "I won't tell you. If the Voice told me not to reveal, what have you people to do with it? I have much more fear of displeasing the Voices than of displeasing you. "Is God displeased if you tell the truth?" "The Voices told me to reveal certain things to the king, not to you. Last night I was told many things for his good; and I wish he knew them, though I should have to go without wine until Easter. He would be much happier at his dinner." The examination pushing questions about the Voices, she declined to answer. "Are you in grace?" "If not, may God put me in it. Nothing on earth would pain me more than not to be in it. If I were in sin, I believe the Voices would not come." There were questions about her childhood, the May tree, ect.
"Would you like to have woman's dress?" "Give it to me, and I will go away. Otherwise I will take it. I am content as I am. God wishes it so."
On February 27th, fifty-f our assessors were present in the usual place. There is the selfsame insistence ad nauseam on answering everything that will be asked. Joan returns her usual answer. "You ought to be content," she said. "I have sworn enough." Beaupere asked how she had been since the last session. "I have been as well as I could expect," she replied. "Have you fasted each day in Lent?" "Does that concern your Process?" "It does." "Yes. I have fasted all the Lent." Asked again, as ever, about her Voices, she said she had heard them in the courtroom, and again on entering her prison. She would answer only by consultation with her heavenly visitors. Warwick himself and Cauchon expressed, according to Manchon, their admiration at her manner of speaking of her, Voices and their revelations. "Was it Our Lord told you to take male attire?" "That is a small matter," she replied; "it is a point of little importance. It was no one on earth told me."
There was much questioning over her sword and banner, all to prove her guilty of superstition. Her brothers, she said, were in possession of her last sword, her horses, and things, which were hers, valued in all twelve thousand crowns.
The session of March 1st was particularly interesting because of the startling prophecies made by Joan. There were fifty-eight assessors present. We have recurring constantly the question of an unconditional oath. "As regards the Process, I will tell the truth," said Joan, "as if I were before the Pope of Rome." "What do you think of him? Is he the true Pope?" "Are there two?" she cleverly asked. Then she was questioned regarding the message from Count Armagnac. "As for me," concluded Joan, "I believe in the Pope of Rome, and obey him." After the reading of her letter to the king of England, she said, "Before seven years the English will lose a greater pledge than Orleans. They will lose all they have in France. They will suffer a greater loss than ever was seen in France, by a great victory sent by God to the French. . . . I wish it would come before St. John" (the time of her promised deliverance). She probably said more; the Process seems elliptical. "Did you say it would come before St. Martin's Day?" "I said you will see many things before St. Martin. It may be that England will bite the dust." Paris was taken five years and forty-three days after. The great victory of Castillon was won on July 17th, 1453, the twenty-fourth anniversary of the crowning at Reims. All but Calais was lost to the English. Here there are omissions, apparently, and disorder in the Process. Perhaps she announced the capture of Rouen; it occurred a little before St. Martin’s Day, several years
later. D'Aulon, her faithful guardian, figured prominently at the taking of Rouen and the royal entry into Paris. He held the bridle of the king's horse, as if representing Joan. Her Saints told her the king would have his kingdom in spite of his foes. Yet another promise there was—she would tell it before three months—her Saints promise to lead her to Heaven by a great victory. "I would die," she said, "were it not for the revelation which comforts me daily."
The harassing cross-examination; ever recurring, about the sign she had given to the king, about his crowning, and the revelations made regarding him, forced her, in order to conceal her secret, to give an allegorical answer, speaking of a crown a thousand times richer than that of Reims, to be given him if he waited.
On the 3rd of March there were forty-one assessors. And there were some important new ones. These were the deputies sent by the University of Paris to the Council of Basle, which opened on this very day. Notwithstanding the extreme partisan zeal of the University in Church matters, the deputies went out of their way, and were late for the Council, for the sake of helping in the condemnation of Joan of Arc.
In this session there was much drivel about superstition, the mandrake plant, the appearance and clothing of the saints. Again efforts to prove the superstitious use of the banner, sword, ect. Her frequent answer is "I have told you before. Pass on. This is regards not your Process." They question the reverence of the people, the child of Lagny, the hackney of the Bishop of Senlis, Friar Richard, Catherine of La Rochelle, Beaurevoir. The Bishop’s hackney was taken without Joan’s approval. It was paid for; and in fact, sent back; because it was useless for the campaigns.