Earl of Warwick, Chief Jailer
JOAN was in Rouen nearly two months before she was brought to trial. Pierre Cauchon, Bishop of Beauvais, was making preparations for his beau proces, as he called it. He was picking just the right men as his assistants, and he was gathering, and manufacturing, evidence that he believed would not only convict the Maid, but likewise convince the public of her guilt as a heretic, a blasphemer, and a witch. To convince the public was important, for if he was to hold the great office of Archbishop of Rouen he must be in favor with the people of that city and its tributary towns.
The bishop began by sending special agents to Domremy and Greux to collect evidence of Joan's early life that could be used against her. He wanted to prove that even in childhood she had practiced spells and other witch-work. The venture did not turn out well; the agents only brought back reports that Joan had been much beloved in Domremy, where she had done nothing worse than sing and dance with other children under a so-called "fairy tree," sometimes hanging
wreaths on it. One of those sent declared he had learned nothing about her that he would not gladly have heard of his own sister. Cauchon called him a traitor and at first refused to pay the cost of the, inquiry. The reports about the fairy tree, however, suggested witchcraft and might be twisted into something damaging to the Maid.
Cauchon had other troubles. Some of the priests summoned to assist him did not like the prospect, and even criticized his methods. Furious, the bishop denounced these objectors, so fiercely threatening to drown them that a number of them fled the country. One of them, a worthy man named Nicolas de Houppeville, was thrown into prison and only saved from exile, or worse, through the interference of powerful friends. It was Cauchon's claim that he was prosecuting Joan for the good of her soul, but de Houppeville, later testifying, said:
"I have never thought that the Bishop of Beauvais engaged in this trial for the good of the faith and through zeal for justice, with the desire to redeem Joan. He simply obeyed the hate he had conceived for her because of her devotion to the party of the King of France, and merely followed his own inclinations. I saw this when he rendered an account to the regent of his negotiations for the purchase of Joan, being unable to contain himself for joy." Many others near Cauchon during this period expressed the same opinion, among them the notary and recorder, G. Manchon, of unquestioned integrity.
Joan's situation during these long weeks can hardly be imagined. As prisoner of the Church she was entitled to decent lodging, with female attendance. Neither was allowed her. She was confined in a tower "near the fields" of the great castle of Philip Augustus, and her chief jailer was the Earl of Warwick. Warwick has been called "the father of courtesy," but because Joan was charged with being a heretic and a witch, "courtesy" required no more than that she be kept alive until the day of execution.
Her tower dungeon being but a little above the ground, "eight steps" by one witness, was sunless, for the walls were thick, the windows mere slits. She was not free to walk about; her hands and feet were heavily chained. Connecting them, another chain ran round her body, and was locked to a great block of wood. She carried this load of chains by day, and at night slept in them. They were never removed—she was a witch; without them she might fly away.
Her dungeon was unclean, and bitterly cold. She had no privacy of any sort. By day and by night four or five English guards were in her cell, drunken rioters of brutal behavior and evil language. Notary Manchon spoke of them as "miserable men"—mere tramps, who sang and rioted and buffeted her about, taunting her with her fate. At one moment they pretended that she was about to be released; the next, they shouted at her that she would be tortured and burned.
In such a place how did she keep from going mad? Her
Voices helped, but because of the noise in her cell she could not always hear them. Time and again she begged Warwick to transfer her to the Church prisons, a prayer that was never granted. That after seven weeks of such torture she was still able to go before her judges, and answer as she did, must be held the crowning miracle of her miraculous life.
She had visitors: privileged persons who came out of curiosity, to stare and ask questions, or to taunt and revile her. Warwick one day brought a little group, among them one who must indeed have been callous to face her, John of Luxemburg. With him was that friendly knight, Aimond de Macy, whom the Maid was glad enough to see. It was de Macy who told of this visit.
Addressing the Maid, John of Luxemburg said to her: "Joan, I have come to buy you back; on condition, however, that you promise never again to arm yourself against us." The poor prisoner regarded him scornfully.
In God's name," she said, "you mock me; for I know well that you have neither the power nor the wish."
On John insisting, she answered:
"I know well that these English will put me to death, believing after my death to gain the kingdom of France. But if there were a hundred thousand godons more than now they would not have the kingdom."
An English lord, the Earl of Stafford, drew his dagger half-
way from its sheath, to strike the prisoner. Warwick prevented him. Joan must not be allowed so merciful a death.
It may very well have happened that the little King of England was one of Joan's visitors—that she saw him, as her Voices had foretold. The little King was in Rouen when Joan was brought there, and remained there for several months. His residence was in the great castle where she was held prisoner; the Earl of Warwick, governor of the castle, being at the same time guardian of the little King and jailer of the Maid. The royal boy would surely wish, even demand, to see the witch of whom he must often have heard. Such a visit would be very private, and the knowledge of it kept secret.
The Maid had good reason for her statement that she knew the English meant to put her to death. Not only had they often declared they would do this, but news had come to her that a woman whom she had known as Pierronne, a convert of Brother Richard, had been burned in Paris, for claiming to have visions, and even more for declaring that the works of Joan had been done by the will of God. If poor, harmless Pierronne had been thus brought to the stake, how much more fiercely would the English demand the ashes of one who had destroyed their armies and crowned the rival King. Heretic and witch she was to them, and a deadly enemy. Abandoned by the King she had crowned, the city she had redeemed, the captains she had led, what hope had she, who such a little while before had been the idol of France?
Sixty against one
For the trial of Joan of Arc Cauchon managed to get together a full sixty men of the Church, among them the best and certainly the wariest minds in France. Besides this great array there were some twenty or thirty others, who by invitation appeared at the beau proces from time to time, as special advisers, or merely to look on and admire. This was the prosecution. Ranged against it the defense made a poor showing, for it consisted of but a single person, a peasant girl of nineteen with neither advocate nor counsel.
Not all of Cauchon's assistants were moved by malignity and hatred of the Maid. Many, it is true, were tarred by the same brush as himself, men hating what England hated, and in deadly fear of Bedford. Others served for the few francs it would put into their lean purses; still others were sincere—religious zealots who believed the accused guilty as charged—while among the sixty were a few with little taste for the bishop's undertaking—kindly men who grew to believe in the Maid and would have saved her if they could.
Two of the assistants, Prosecutor Jean d'Estivet and Nicolas Loiseleur, a canon of Rouen, were neither more nor less than prison spies, thoroughly vicious and detestable. On the other hand, the recorders of the testimony, Manchon, Boisguillaume, and Taquel, were for their time liberal, fair-minded men, certainly far better than those about them. Well for us
that this is so; otherwise the story of the Maid would have been worse than lost, for it would have been blackened and distorted out of all semblance.
It was on the morning of February 21, 1431, that Cauchon's grand tribunal finally assembled in the Chapel Royal of the great castle, and Joan was brought before it. Two years earlier, lacking two days, she had ridden from the western gate of the castle of Vaucouleurs and Robert de Baudricourt had called:
"Go, and let come what may!" Whatever that grim soldier had imagined he had never pictured this present scene: fifty or more stern, shaven, black-gowned men facing a single figure on a bench, Joan in a page's suit, also of black, the face above it white with prison pallor, her hands chained. Around and about pressed the crowd, as many as could get in the place.
The bailiff who conducted her to and from the prison said later that in the beginning Joan asked to have counsel, saying she was too inexperienced to hold her own. She was told that she would have no counsel—that she must reply of herself, as best she could. Further, she was warned, that to clear her conscience she must answer truthfully the questions they would ask her; she was commanded to lay her hands on the Bible and make oath to do this. Joan here made her first recorded answer; she said: (In the author's longer work, "Joan of Arc—Maid of France," the report of the Maid's trial, with all the questions and answers, is given complete.)
"I do not know upon what you wish to question me. There may be things you will ask me that I must not tell you."
"Will you swear to tell the truth concerning the questions that will be asked of you as to the faith, and what you know?"
"As to my father and mother, and what I have done since I came to France, I will swear willingly. But as to the revelations from God I have never told them or revealed them to any one except King Charles, and no more would I reveal them here, even should you cut off my head. For I had them through visions and from my secret Council, to reveal to nobody."
At this defiant answer the court broke into confusion. The prisoner had refused to reveal her visions. The bishop and a half dozen or more of his assistants began shouting at the Maid and at each other, the witness being interrupted at every word she tried to speak. Two special secretaries employed by Bedford were excitedly putting down whatever they could catch that would be against her; the regular recorders could get nothing of value. Manchon shouted that unless order was maintained he would not accept the responsibility of making a record at all. The Maid waited while the battle raged around her. Quiet at length restored, and again urged to take the oath, she finally knelt, her hands on the missal, and swore to speak the truth, but in a way that would omit her visions.
In answer now to questions, she gave her name, birthplace,
age as nearly as she knew it, adding that her religious teaching had been from her mother. She refused, however, to say the Lord's Prayer until she was heard in confession, which had been denied her. Later she asked that she be transferred to the Church prisons. This, too, was denied and she was threatened with certain conviction if she attempted to escape. She looked wearily at her chains and begged to be relieved of them. But they answered that she had more than once tried to escape, for which reason the order had been given to put her in chains. She said:
"It is true I have wished to escape, and would still do so. It is the privilege of every prisoner to escape if he can."
The first session was a brief one. That evening at Cauchon's home, Manchon's record of the day was compared with that made by the English secretaries, and the recorder was sharply reprimanded because his notes differed from theirs. Of this Manchon said later:
"Many times in writing the process I had to undergo reprimands from the Bishop of Beauvais and divers other doctors. They wished to force me to write according to their imagination, and contrary to what Joan had meant to say. They told me in Latin to employ other terms in such fashion as to change the sense of the word, and to record other things than those I heard. But I never wrote except according to my hearing and my conscience."
Manchon may not have won in every contest with the judges,
but many of those present later bore witness to his courage. Had he not been a person of great ability, with influence in Rouen, Cauchon would hardly have let him continue the work.
"At the age of thirteen I heard a Voice"
It was through Manchon's complaint that the scene of the trial was next day transferred from the Royal Chapel to the State Chamber, a room from which the crowds were excluded. English guards were placed at the door and only a select audience admitted.
On this morning Joan again refused to take the oath to reply to all that might be asked of her, saying, more than once:
"I took the oath yesterday; that certainly should be enough."
She finally swore to speak truly on matters touching the faith. She said: "If you were well informed concerning me you would wish that I might be well out of your hands."
Asked if she had learned some special work in youth, she said:
"Yes, to sew linen and to spin, and in these things I fear no woman in Rouen."
When they asked her something to which she did not wish to reply she merely said: "Passez outre"; that is, "Pass to something else."
On this day, of her own will, she told of her Voices, and of her start from Vaucouleurs.
"At the age of thirteen I had a Voice from God to aid and direct me," she began. "The first time it caused me great fear."
The courtroom became silent; the judges leaned forward, to listen.
"The Voice came about the hour of noon, in my father's garden. I had not fasted the day before. I heard this Voice at the right, on the side toward the church, and rarely it came without light. This light came from the same side as the Voice, and there was ordinarily a great light. . . . If I was in a wood the Voice came to me. It seemed to me a worthy Voice, and I believe it was sent to me on the part of God. After having heard it three times I recognized it as the Voice of an angel. This Voice has always guarded me, and I know it well."
Continuing, she said the angel had taught her good conduct and told her she must go to France. She had answered that she was a poor girl, knowing neither how to ride nor conduct war.
We get the impression of a quiet courtroom, with Joan telling her story about in her own way. Here and there she was asked a brief question, but for the most part she was not interrupted. When she reached the point of her meeting with
the King, they stopped her. They wished to know by what signs she recognized him.
"Passez outre," she said, and again: "Spare me; passez outre."
But Joan's hardships had told on her, and on this second day we get the first hint of an illusion as to this sign, an aberration that would develop a sad fantasy, as the days passed and her sufferings of mind and body increased. On this occasion she went no further than to say that "several others heard and saw the Voice that came to her," but later she would say much more, and her prosecutors would not fail to play upon this weakness. On all other matters her mind was, and to the end remained, sound and clear. A moment later she was telling simply enough of her attack on Paris.
Joan's trial and her story became the great interest of Rouen. On the third morning a full court was present, Cauchon and sixty assistant judges. Joan again refusing to take a general oath, there followed a long dispute, in the course of which she warned Cauchon that he assumed a great burden in claiming to be her judge. She finally swore to answer truly concerning whatever related to her indictment. Questioned as to when and how her Voice still came to her; she said it had come yesterday, in her prison, and again today. It had awakened her, and when she had asked for counsel, the Voice had told her to reply boldly to her questioners and that God would comfort her. Here again she warned Cauchon:
"You say that you are my judge. Consider well what you do, for in truth I am sent from God and you place yourself in great danger."
Advice like that, from one whose warnings had been followed by results, could not fail to send a shiver through the superstitious Cauchon. He did not pursue the subject then, but at a later time asked her what she had meant by it. She only repeated that he put himself in great danger, adding, "and I warn you of it, in order that if our Lord chastises you I have done my duty in telling you."
The Bishop uneasily asked her what the danger was. She did not answer, but her warning, as we shall see, was not an empty one.
The tedious questioning went on. In every way they tried to trap her. Some of the judges themselves declared that questions were asked that the most skilled and learned doctor would not have known how to answer. Yet she replied calmly, wisely, and with a presence of mind that amazed them. She appears never to have lost her temper, though her judges constantly lost theirs.
It was on the third day that she made an answer that seems nothing less than inspired. Suddenly out of a clear sky she was asked:
"Do you know yourself to be in the grace of God?"
That is to say, in a state of grace. The judges leaned forward. One of them exclaimed: "It is a mighty question; she
is not obliged to answer!" Cauchon turned on him fiercely: "You would have done better to be silent!"
It was indeed a mighty question. Whichever way she answered could be against her. Joan herself realized this; then, quietly without a wasted word, replied:
"If I am not, God put me there; if I am, God keep me there"; and in the silence that followed added: "I would be the most sorrowful in all the world to know myself not in the grace of God."
Said one of the notaries, later: "Before these words the examiners were stupefied." They left the matter there, and asked her of her childhood. She told of the battles between the boys of Domremy and those of Maxey, of her own warm zeal that her King should regain his kingdom. Asked of the Fairy Tree, she spoke of her childhood games beneath it, and of the fairies having been seen, as she had heard, by her godmother.
Sometimes I went there to play with the other girls, and made under the Tree wreaths of flowers for the picture of Our Lady of Domremy. . . . I have seen little girls hang wreaths on the branches of the Tree, and have sometimes done this with the others. Sometimes we brought them away; sometimes left them there."
She said that when she had known that she must come to France she had taken little part in their play—as little as she could. Whether since the age of understanding she had
danced around the Tree she did not know; but at times she may well have danced there with the others, though she had sung more than she had danced.
Her judges listened greedily, for they meant to twist this innocent testimony into a confession of witch work, black magic that would bring her to the stake. Today it is hard for us to realize that only a few hundred years ago, in a world of real men and women and sunlight, so evil a thing as this could have been true. That it is true we know, for the record of it all was made by her enemies themselves.
"Dress is of small things the least"
We have seen something of the misery of Joan's prison, a hideous place in which she could find no moment of privacy even for prayer. In that bedlam how she must have yearned for the quiet retirement of a church, the consolation of an altar. The castle of Philip Augustus was a huge affair, with its own chapel located in the court through which the Maid each day must pass, on the way to her examination. Of Bailiff Massieu, who conducted her, she begged to be allowed to pause before this chapel. She did not ask to enter, but only to kneel at the entrance and pray. Massieu, a kindly man, consented willingly enough, and Joan, bowed to the ground, devotedly said her prayers. Word of this coming to
Cauchon and to prosecutor d'Estivet, they forbade it, the latter fiercely threatening Massieu with prison. When Massieu repeated the offense, d'Estivet in person stood before the chapel and prevented the prayer.
On the fourth day of her trial Joan was asked if she had seen Saint Michael and the others as in flesh; she answered:
"I saw them with the eyes of my body, as well as I see you yourself, and when they went away from me I wept, and greatly wished they had taken me with them."
Often she declared that her Voices told her to "answer boldly" and sometimes she said that to certain questions her Voices had not given her permission to reply. Again she was not sure as to what the Voices had told her, owing to the noise made by her ruffian guards. Of her coming to France she said:
"I would rather have been drawn and quartered than to have come to France without the permission of God."
For a woman to wear male dress was against the old biblical law. Hoping to convict her of having taken it of her own will, or by the order of some captain, they brought up this point time and again. Once she said to them: "Dress is of small things the least," and added: "I have not taken this dress by the advice of any one whomsoever; I have not taken this dress nor done any other thing except by the command of God and His angels."
"Do you think the commandment given you to dress as a man is lawful?"
"All that I have done has been by the commandment of God; if He had ordered me to take another I would have taken it, since it would have been by the commandment of God."
"Did you take it by the order of Robert de Baudricourt?" They were trying to wear her down, to exasperate her; she answered simply:
Again and again in different forms they repeated their questions, in the end to get no more than the quiet statement:
"I have done nothing except by the commandment of God." Of her revelation to the King she would utter no word, though they tried with all their skill to wring from her these secrets. She freely spoke of the sword that had been brought by her request from Fierbois, and of the banner that had been made for her at Tours. Of the banner she said:
"I had a standard, the field of which was sown with lilies. There, also, was the image of God holding the world, and two angels at His sides. It was white in color, of white linen, or fustian. There was inscribed on it these names, 'Jesus Maria’, as it seems to me, and it was fringed with silk."
This description, recorded by her enemies, is nothing less than poetry. Joan's words were often of that simple grandeur and loveliness.
They tried to upset her with confusing questions about the banner and the sword. Which had she loved the more? was one of their futile queries. The banner, she told them, far
more, "forty times more"; and her gentle reason: "I carried the banner myself, to avoid killing anybody; I have never killed a man."
Yet she could be relentless in her cause. Once asked if she had ever been in a place where English were killed, she replied sharply:
"In God's name, of course! How softly you speak! Why did they not leave France and go back to their own country?"
At this an English lord present spoke admiringly of her. "If only she were English!" he said.
The Maid's answers were caught up and repeated by the people of Rouen, who began to declare openly that she was being evilly treated. Even some of the judges were moved in her favor. They whispered among themselves that she should be taken from her wretched dungeon to the less disgraceful Church prison. "Many were of this opinion but none dared to speak," one of them testified. Cauchon, dominated by Bedford and Warwick, could not in any case have made the change, but nowhere is there a hint that he was so inclined.
Long, weary days of examination went by, Joan holding her own against the great array of doctors. Harassed by day, beset by a hundred horrors at night, never alone, never free from the galling chains, how did she do it? "The doctors themselves went out of there very fatigued"—the testimony of one of them. And these were men, each morning rested and refreshed.
But perhaps, unlike Joan, they did not have the support and the comfort of angels.
She spoke, fearless of consequence. At most they could only destroy her body. Sometimes she prophesied; as for instance, one day:
"Before seven years the English will lose a greater prize than they did before Orleans; and they will lose everything in France."
They stormed at her, but they could not change or move
her. "I know it by revelation," she told them, "and before seven years it will happen."
They were disturbed and fearful. They tried to make her fix the date. She did not know that, she said, but wished that it might be soon. Saint Catherine and Saint
Margaret had revealed to her only the fact. The "greater prize," as we now know, was Paris, which would yield within the seven years of her prophecy. Joan made no definite predictions that were not fulfilled. She was only uncertain as to the time of occurrence.
They tried to confuse her with silly questions concerning the dress, ornaments, and features of the saints. What promises had they ever made her? She refused to answer; whereupon a tumult broke out, in the midst of which she said the saints had promised that the King would be restored and that they would conduct her to paradise. There was another promise, but of that she would not speak. Before three months she would tell them. They took this to mean that she expected to be delivered from prison in that time. This may have been her meaning, for when they were insistent she said:
"Ask me again in three months; then I will answer. This I know well: that my King will regain the kingdom of France. I know it as well as I know you are here before me, as judges. I should be dead if it were not for the revelation that comforts me each day."
Later they asked her:
"Was Saint Michael without dress?"
"Do you think the Lord had nothing with which to clothe him?"
"Did he have hair?"
"Why should it have been cut off?"
Questions like these were flung at her from every side, sometimes two or three at once. Bailiff Massieu later testified: "Before she replied to one question some one interrupted to ask a new one, which tended to upset her answers. Several times she said to them: 'Fair lords, speak one after the other.' "
Now and then during the rapid fire some one of the assistants braver than the others objected that such procedure was not just. One of these said:
"It is not necessary to proceed thus; you break our ears."
Cauchon shouted: "Silence, and let the judges speak!" To which the other answered: "It is necessary, however, that I acquit my conscience."
Tumult followed. The offender was ordered from the court and told not to return until he was sent for.
"Joan, you speak well!"
Regularly each morning before the questioning began, Joan was commanded to make oath to reply to all questions, and each morning, as in the beginning, she refused, being finally
allowed to take the oath in her own way. On the sixth day of examination but forty of the assistants were present. The beau proces was losing the sympathy of the examiners. Those who dared to remain away sent excuses. During this day Joan was asked:
"Did you not say that pennons, made like yours would be lucky?"
"What I did say, was: 'Enter boldly among the English,' and I did this myself."
"Did you say to them that if they carried them boldly they would have luck?"
"I told them plainly what would happen, and what will still happen."
At another time they asked:
"Do you know that those of your party have offered service, mass, and prayer for you?"
"I know nothing of that. If they have done so, it has not been by my order; and if they have prayed for me, I believe they have done no wrong."
"Did those of your party believe firmly that you were sent from God?"
"I do not know if they believed it. I leave that to their conscience. But whether they believe it or not, still I am sent from God."
"Do you not think that if they believe you were sent by God they have a good belief?"
"If they believe I was sent by God, they are not deceived."
Wishing to convict her of accepting worship, they asked her if she did not well know the sentiments of those who had kissed her hands and feet and clothing. To this she replied that many were glad to see her, and kissed her hands and her clothing, but no more than she could help.
"The poor came to me gladly," she said, "for the reason that I did not cause them unhappiness, but uplifted them as much as was in my power."
Answers like these circulating through Rouen could not improve the public's opinion of Cauchon's case. Once even one of the judges called out:
"Joan, you speak well!"
She told them the story of her leap from the tower at Beaurevoir. When she had finished, they asked:
"Did you not say you would rather die than be in the hands of the English?"
Joan regarded the chains that were eating into her flesh, and thought of her fearful prison. Then she said:
"I would rather give my soul to God than be in the hands of the English."
A distinguished Norman lawyer, named Lohier, came to Rouen. Cauchon sent for him and asked his opinion of the case against Joan. Lohier frankly replied that it was not legal for several reasons: one being that Joan had no counsel; another, that it was carried on behind closed doors; a third, that no witnesses were summoned from the other side.
Cauchon fell into a great fury, declaring he would continue as begun. He told Lohier to remain and hear more of the trial. But Lohier had heard enough, and the same day left Rouen.
Lohier's protest had an immediate effect: Cauchon continued his beau proces, but not "as begun." Too many of his assistants were beginning to think like Lohier. The bishop stopped all examinations for a week; when they were resumed they were no longer held in the fine State Chamber, before sixty or more distinguished churchmen, but in the dim and fetid seclusion of Joan's prison, with an attendance of no more than six or seven, including bailiff and notaries. The beau proces had shrunken to a shabby affair—shabby and shameful, for the Maid's answers could no longer reach the people outside; she no longer had even a glimpse of blue sky and sunshine that she got crossing the court, nor the change of scene thus afforded. In her chains she sat on her bed, the half dozen black-robed men, on benches and stools, grouped about her. The light was dim, the notaries needed candles. She was no longer required to swear.
They asked her of Compiegne. She told them wearily of her capture —of her warning at Melun and of the fatal sortie at Margny.
"Were you not told after Melun that you would be taken?"
"Yes, several times; so to speak, every day. I asked of my Voices that when I was taken I might die soon, without long
suffering in prison. They told me that I must accept all in good will, and that this must be; but they did not tell me the time."
She told them that the sortie on Margny had not been made by the order of her Voices. Continuing, she gave the story of her capture, closing:
"The river was between Compiegne and the place where I was taken. And there was only between Compiegne and the place where I was taken just the river, the boulevard and the moat of the said boulevard."
Since her first curious statement as to the sign and secret between her and the King, when she had declared that several there had heard and seen the Voice, her inquisitors had for some reason avoided this subject. They now came back to it, and while on all other matters the Maid's mind remained clear, there can be no doubt that on this subject she had developed an illusion. Among other things she told them that after the King had seen the sign the angel had brought, she, Joan, had gone to a near-by chapel, and later had heard that after her departure more than three hundred persons had seen the sign.
Again brought to this subject, she said that the sign had been delivered to the archbishop by the angel, that it was a crown of the richest sort, and that the angel who brought it came from on high; also, that she in his company had ascended the steps of the King's audience chamber, the angel first, then
Joan, who said to the King: "Sire, behold your sign; and receive it." Other angels, she said, had accompanied them.
"Of those who were in the company of the angel, were all of the same form?"
"Some resembled each other and some not, as I saw them. Some of them had wings; also, some had crowns, others not, and in the company were Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret. They were with the angel mentioned, and the other angels also, as far as within the King's audience chamber."
Joan had walked with the invisible. What memory of it remained in her poor, disturbed brain we shall never know. Her story, a sad mixture of allegory and illusion, became more fantastic with each telling. She confused her meeting with the King at Chinon, with the coronation, and was no longer clear as to the hour, or the time of year. Some writers have thought that the Maid was trifling with her judges. Such a conclusion is unworthy. Joan was not in a position to trifle, and in her right mind would have been the last person to invent such a tale. First, because her habit was truth; second, because her good sense would tell her that it was exactly such a contradictory tale of signs and wonders that would bring her to the stake. Joan's long privation and mental anguish had upset her mind on this one theme. Many persons, otherwise quite sane, are subject to such special illusions. Joan was absolutely clear on everything except this matter of the sign.
Immediately following her story of the angel, she was asked:
"Why did he come to you rather than to another?"
And she returned this beautiful answer:
"It pleased God, thus through a simple Maid, to drive out the adversaries of the King."
In the beginning Joan's examinations had ended at noon, holding her on the rack during a stretch of four hours. Cauchon decided that this was not enough, and another session was held in the afternoon. This was to wear her down, to drive her into fatal admissions. The strongest witness will often give way after a few days, or even hours, of cross-examination. Again and again we ask ourselves how did this young girl manage to hold her own through those weeks of torture. And then we come to a passage like the following, and find her clinging to her faith in God and men; likewise to her Voices! Of her own accord, answering no question, one day she said:
"Saint Catherine has told me that I will have succor. I do not know if it will be delivery from prison, or if, when I shall be in judgment [brought to execution] some trouble may arise through which I shall be delivered. I think it will be one way or the other. Oftener my Voices say to me that I shall be delivered through great victory, and afterward have told me: `Take all in good part; have no care for your martyrdom; from it you will come finally to the kingdom of paradise!
This my Voices say to me, simply and clearly, and without fail. And I call the martyrdom the sorrow and adversity that I suffer in prison. I do not know whether I shall have to suffer a greater one, but leave that to our Lord."
In all the proceedings there is no passage more pathetic than this.
"After this revelation, do you believe that you can commit mortal sin?"
"I know nothing of that, but in all refer myself to God."
At another time they asked:
"Has the angel not failed you in allowing you to be captured?"
"Since it was pleasing to our Lord, I believe it was for the best that I was taken."
"In the gifts of grace, has not the angel failed you?"
"How has it failed me when it comforts me every day?"
Now and again the question of Joan's dress came up. Once they said to her:
"Since you have asked to hear mass, does it not seem to you that it would be more honest to hear it in woman's dress?"
She agreed to take woman's dress in which to hear mass, but said that upon her return she would take again the habit she wore. She could not wear any other, she told them, in the prison, among her guards. Oh, that hideous prison! The thought of it becomes more sickening as we read. The horrors of it cannot be put into words.
They asked her if she would submit her acts and deeds to the judgment of the Church. To Joan, the Church was represented by the men before her—her enemies. She answered that all her words and deeds were in the hands of God—that she had no wish to do or say anything opposed to the Christian faith.
"Will you submit to the laws of the Church?" they asked.
Joan knew little of Church law and science, but she felt that this was likely to be a serious matter. She would tell them, she said, on Saturday; meaning she would consult her Voices; also, perhaps, the spy Loiseleur, of whom we shall presently hear more.
They asked her if she did nothing without the permission of her Voices. She replied that they had been fully answered as to that—that if they looked in their record they would find it. Some of those present later testified that often she replied like this, and that when the record was consulted they found that in each case it was as she said.
Again, as often before, they asked her of Saint Michael: how she knew him; how she could be certain he was not an evil spirit. She had known these things, she said, by his manner of speech, and his good teachings.
"What doctrine did he teach you?"
"He told me to be a good child in all things, and that God would help me, and among other things that I would go to the rescue of the King. And the greater part of what the
angel taught me is in this record. And the angel spoke to me of the pity that was of the kingdom of France."
"The pity that was of the kingdom of France!" Who but Joan could have found that sublime phrase?
The episode of Nicolas Loiseleur was probably the most detestable feature of Cauchon's beau proces. It was the custom of the Inquisition in dealing with suspected heretics to place near the accused a spy, to give false advice, and through pretense of friendship to obtain damaging evidence. Loiseleur, a canon of Rouen, was selected for this work in Joan's case, assisted by the prosecutor, d'Estivet, both favorites of Cauchon and as villainous a pair of scoundrels as ever disguised themselves in holy garb. Loiseleur, pretending to be a shoemaker from Joan's country, and like herself a prisoner, was from time to time allowed to enter her tower and speak with her privately. A number of those connected with the trial later told of this. Notary Manchon, a man of honesty and good will, was in a position to give the fullest account. Manchon testified that Cauchon, Warwick, and Loiseleur said to him and his associate: "'This Joan tells marvels of her apparitions. To know more fully the truth from her mouth we have reached this conclusion. Master Nicolas will pretend he is
from Lorraine, and of Joan's party; he will enter the prison in short habit [citizen dress] and the guards will retire and leave them alone.'
"There was to the adjoining room an opening, made expressly [probably a stone removed from the partition], where we were placed, my associate and myself, to hear what Joan would say. We were there, hearing all without being seen. Loiseleur entered into conversation with Joan and gave her news, imagined according to his fancy. After having spoken of her King, he spoke of her revelations. Joan replied to his questions, persuaded that he was of her country and her party. The bishop and Warwick told us to record the replies made by Joan. I answered that this should not be done, that it was not honest to use such means."
Loiseleur, however, continued his visits to Joan, bringing whatever she told him to Cauchon, who used it in preparing the questions he would ask her. Furthermore, he went to her at night in his real character of priest, robed and hooded, his voice somehow disguised. He had been sent to confess her, he said, and the poor, beset girl, hungry for the consolation of confession, may have given him her confidence. Manchon said that in general the Maid was never led before the judges without having conferred with Loiseleur.
Accepting Manchon's statement as fact, all this must have happened well along in the trial, when Joan's mind was less keen. She could hardly have been so continuously deceived
in the beginning, and one may ask why she was not warned by her Voices. That Loiseleur played the double role of priest and prisoner is borne out by other witnesses. But perhaps Joan was not altogether deceived. There is little trace of his false advice in her answers. Away from the matter of the sign, her mind is a constant amazement. In the midst of treachery and torment she may yet have known more than the testimony of these witnesses would lead us to believe.
"It had borne the burden, it had earned the honor"
It is the last day of Joan's regular examination. On this day seven priests assemble in her dim cell, with the usual notaries. Cauchon is present, also the Vice Inquisitor of Rouen, who serves unwillingly, and Jean de Lafontaine, a respectable man, appointed by Cauchon as examiner, to give his case a better appearance. Among the others are Isambard de la Pierre, a friendly but timid soul, dominated by Cauchon and Warwick.
This last day was to be memorable, though it began with one of the usual questions as to the form and apparel of Saint Michael. Joan answered:
"He was in the form of a wise and upright man. Of the dress and other things I will say nothing further." And presently she added: "I believe as firmly in the words and deeds of
Saint Michael who appeared to me as I believe that our Lord suffered passion and death for us; and what moves me to believe this, is the good advice, comfort, and doctrine he has brought and given me."
Then again they asked her if she would submit all her words and deeds, whether of good or evil, to the determination of the Church; that is, accept its judgment. Joan may or may not have taken advice on this subject. At all events she knew that if she submitted to the Church in the person of the men she saw before her, her enemies, they could judge her guilty of witchcraft and other offenses. Also, if she refused to submit, she could be held guilty of heresy. In either case she could be burned. Without reference to consequences she answered:
"As for the Church, I love it, and wish to support it with all my power, for our Christian faith. It is not I that should be prevented from going to church and hearing mass. As to the good works I have done, and my coming to France, I would leave that to God who sent me to Charles, King of France."
"Will you refer your words and acts to the judgment of the Church?"
"I refer them to God who sent me, to our Lady, and to all the blessed saints of paradise. And I think it is all one, our Lord and the Church, and that, in this, difficulties should not
be made for me. Why do you make difficulty when it is all one?"
This heartfelt question meant nothing to these doctors of "celestial science." One of them, Pierre Maurice, explained to her that there was the Church of Heaven, called the Church Triumphant; also the Church on earth, called the Church Militant, consisting of the Pope, the priesthood, and all good Christians. It was to the Church Militant that she was asked to submit. Much of this was new to Joan, something to be considered. She answered that she had been sent to the King by God, and by the Church on high, to which Church she would submit all that she had done, or would do. As to submitting to the Church Militant, she could not, at present, reply.
They left the matter for the time, and asked what she had to say of the dress offered her, in which to attend mass. She would not take it, she said, as yet, but if she should be condemned and led to execution she asked that they grant her request for a long garment, and for her head a kerchief. She added: "For I would rather die than revoke what our Lord has made me do; and I firmly believe that our Lord will never let me be brought so low, and that I soon may be rescued, and by a miracle."
It was a belief that she would cherish almost to her last hour, a part of her unshaken faith. Farther along they asked:
"Does God hate the English?"
"Of the love or hate that God has for the English, or what
God will do with their souls, I know nothing; but I know they will be driven out of France, except those who will die here; and that God will send victory to the French against the English."
In the depths of misery, with death staring her in the face, she could still make them such an answer!
"What arms did you offer at St. Denis?"
"I offered an entire suit of white armor, and a sword that I won before Paris.
"Why did you offer it?"
"I offered it through devotion, as the custom of soldiers when wounded. And because I was wounded before Paris, I offered them to St. Denis, whose name is the war cry of France."
"Did you do this that your arms might be worshipped?"
On that day, during the noon recess, Joan was visited by de Lafontaine, the examiner, the well-meaning Isambard, and another kindly priest, Brother Martin Ladvenue, a little group of pitying souls who came with advice. She should submit to the Church, they told her, to the Pope and the Holy Council, especially as in the Council were as many of her party as of the others. Joan at this time was very willing to have her case laid before the Pope, and before the Holy Council among which were priests of her own party. The result of this advice appeared during the afternoon.
First, however, her questioners touched upon her banner, in the use of which they scented witchcraft.
"Did you ask of them [the saints] that by virtue of this standard you should gain all the battles in which you fought, and that you might have victory?"
"They told me that I should take it boldly and that God would aid me."
"Which aided the more, you the standard or the standard you?"
The victory, whether from the standard or from me, came wholly from our Lord."
Was the hope of victory based upon your standard or yourself ?"
It was founded upon our Lord, and not elsewhere."
They tried this question in different ways, but the answer did not vary. It was hard to squeeze witchcraft out of such a reply. They took another tack and asked her if she would not reply to certain questions more fully if she were before the Pope. She answered that she had replied as truthfully as she knew. On a second mention of the Pope, she remembered what had been said by the priests who had visited her; Isambard, as it appears, gave her a signal.
"Take me to the Pope," she said, "and I will reply before him to all that I should."
It was a demand that Joan had a right to make, but it fell like a bombshell in the midst of Cauchon's faithful, no less
than four of whom were present. A tumult followed. The bishop asked fiercely who had been talking to the prisoner. He was told by the guard of the visit of Lafontaine and the others during the noon hour, on which he savagely denounced them.
In the midst of all this Joan called out that since some of her own party were there, she would submit to the Holy Council. Isambard, betrayed by his feelings, evidently upheld her, for Cauchon shouted at him:
"Silence, in the devil's name!"
"Shall I register the submission?" asked Manchon.
"No!" snapped Cauchon, "and you will take good care not to write it!"
"Ha," said Joan, "you write well enough whatever is against me, and will not write that which is for me."
The scene lasted a good while. The official record does not give it; it was reported by Manchon and others, later. Warwick, who was present, threatened those who had visited Joan with drowning in the Seine; Isambard especially, for having signaled her. Quiet at last restored, Joan was asked about one of the rings she had worn—rings being well known to have magic power.
"Why did you like to look at this ring when you went into battle?"
"Out of pleasure, and in honor of my father and my mother;
and having this ring on my finger I have touched Saint Catherine who appeared to me. . ."
"When the saints appeared to you did you not make them reverence by kneeling or inclining?"
"Yes, the most that I could I made to them, for I know that they are those who are of the kingdom of paradise."
"Do you know anything of those who go up into the air with fairies?"
"I have never done this, or known of it, though I have often heard of it, and that it happens on Thursday. I do not believe in it and I think it is sorcery."
On this last day Cauchon was determined to establish his charge of sorcery.
"Did not some one wave or turn your standard about the head of the King, at his coronation?"
"Not that I know of."
"Why, rather than those of other captains, was it carried into the Church of Reims?"
It was their final question, and only Joan could have answered:
"It had borne the burden; it had earned the honor."
In the old French: "I1 avoit estl a la paine, c'estoit bien raiwa que it fut d Ponneur"—the words will live as long as the language. (More literally, "It had been in the strife; it had good right to the honor." The rendering in the text is Mark Twain's, and more closely conveys the subtle delicacy of the original, which is like an elusive perfume.)
Joan's wearying days of cross-examination had come to an
end. Cauchon did not like the turn of affairs, and perhaps thought he had about all he would be likely to get from her. One against many, without counsel or advocate, under conditions indescribable, the Maid had more than held her own. After twelve days of inquisition such as no modern witness can ever know, she had ended with that serene and immortal answer. Many have testified of her wise and prudent replies to questions that would have puzzled the doctors themselves.
"In all conscience they asked her questions too difficult," said Brother Ladvenu; "they wished to catch her."
The Seventy Articles
It was on March 17 that Joan's examination ended. A week later a copy of the questions, with her answers to them, was brought to her prison and read to her. The official report says that she acknowledged its correctness, and again asked that she might hear mass. On the next morning, which was Palm Sunday, the bishop and a few others came to her with the proposal that she take woman's dress. She asked that she might be permitted to hear mass in the dress she wore, and further that she might receive the sacrament on Easter—to her a dear and precious privilege. Again asked if she would change her dress, she said:
"You could very well allow me to hear mass in this dress
and I desire it above anything. But change I cannot, and it does not rest with me." And a little later she pleaded: "To wear it is nothing against the Church—and lays no burden upon my soul."
To Joan in her bleak desolation the consolation asked meant more than we can possibly imagine. It was denied.
Cauchon, meantime, had ordered a list of "articles" prepared from Joan's testimony—articles claiming to contain her "confessions," but which in reality were a mere mass of false charges, statements twisted out of all semblance to her words. They would be read to her, and Cauchon offered to let her have one of the assistants to advise her as to her answers. She quietly thanked him for his interest in her welfare and added: "I have no intention to depart from the counsel of our Lord."
There were seventy of the articles, and according to Cauchon they had been prepared with the aid of God, in the glory of the Lord, and for the exaltation of the faith. In the first of them Joan was advised of the right and duty of her judges to prosecute and punish heretics and witches. Of this she said:
"I well believe that our holy father, the Pope of Rome, and the bishops and others of the Church, are to guard the Christian faith, and to punish those who fall away from it; but as for myself, as concerns my facts, I will submit only to the Church of Heaven; that is to say, to God, to the Virgin Mary,
and the saints of paradise. And I believe I have in no way failed in our Christian faith, nor would I fail in it. And I require . . ."
What it was that Joan required of them we shall never know, for the record of her answer breaks off here.
A few examples of the Seventy Articles will be enough to show their character. Following the charge of being a sorceress, witch, divineress, false prophetess, invoker of evil spirits, and conjurers, a woman given to the practice of magic arts, a blasphemer of God and the saints, one given to inciting war, and cruelly athirst for human blood, etc., etc., it was declared that even in childhood Joan had mixed and prepared the potions and spells of witch work, made pacts with demons and evil spirits which she regularly consulted, and had allowed herself to be adored and venerated.
Joan merely denied these things, adding that if she had been adored it had not been by her wish.
Other articles declared that at Domremy fairies collected around the Tree and the spring, and that the Maid—taught witchcraft by certain old women—had gone there at night to work evil spells.
Joan's only reply to this attempt to warp and twist the innocent play of childhood into something dark and loathsome was to refer to her former answers.
They charged that, aided and abetted by demons, she had hidden a sword at Fierbois, in order that she might mislead
her followers by finding it. Any one else would indignantly have denied this accusation; Joan did no more than refer to her former answers.
When they piled up charges of heresy and blasphemy, she listened patiently and replied that she was a good Christian, referring herself to God.
They charged her with placing her banner in the church at Reims, during the coronation, wishing in her pride and vainglory to make others pay tribute to it.
"It had borne the burden; it had earned the honor!" They had twisted it into this. She referred them to that answer, and to God.
The final article declared that before men worthy of the faith the Maid several times had confessed these charges to be true. Joan merely denied this, referring to her recorded answers.
The reading of the Seventy Articles consumed two long days. If Cauchon's purpose in them had been to goad his victim to violence and damaging confessions, it had failed. Weakened as Joan was, her health even then at the very breaking point, she had remained outwardly unmoved by the false charges, their wicked and cruel words.
A few days later the bishop and seven of his trusted assistants came again to her prison, to hear her decision as to submitting her words and acts to the Church; that is, to themselves. Would she, they asked, abide by their verdict? Joan
replied that her words and deeds proceeded from divine source. She would submit them only to the Lord, she said, "obeying always His good commandment."
"Are you not," they asked, "subject to the Church on earth, the Pope, the cardinals, the bishops, and the rest?"
"I am, our Lord being first served."
"He intends that she shall die by law"
Joan next morning was taken desperately ill. The strain of long confinement and mental anguish had undermined her strength, upset her physical organism. She ate of a fish, which Cauchon had sent her, it being Easter Sunday, and was seized with a violent congestion. It has been thought that the fish was poisoned, but this is not likely. The bishop did not intend her to die in that way.
Three physicians were hastily sent for, two of whom testified later. From them we learn that Joan, sick unto death as she was, was still loaded with chains. (One of the notaries, Nicholas Taquel, also testified to this.)
Warwick said to them:
"I have sent for you that you may try to cure her. The King [of England—meaning Bedford] would not for anything. in the world have her die a natural death; for he holds her dear, having paid dearly for her, he intends she shall die by
law, and be burned. Do therefore what is necessary. Attend her with great care, and try to cure her."
The doctors advised bleeding. Warwick said:
"A bloodletting? Take care! She is sly, and could very well kill herself."
Nevertheless they bled the patient and she seemed better; then d'Estivet came to the prison and standing over the sick girl called her evil names and charged her with eating forbidden food. Joan denied this, but his insults threw her into a relapse. Her fever returned and she was again at the point of death. Warwick drove d'Estivet from the prison. D'Estivet was not only Cauchon's prosecutor but a priest in high standing.
The Twelve Articles
Joan, hovering between life and death, was apparently untroubled by her persecutors for more than two weeks, a period the details of which we shall never know. Cauchon did not remain idle. Realizing that the Seventy Articles had not advanced his case, he had the number skillfully reduced to twelve, omitting most of the distortions and false charges. The result was a document as reasonable, under the circumstances, as could be expected. Its substance may be briefly stated:
Joan claimed to have seen and spoken to the saints. They had spoken to her at a profane place, haunted by fairies.
She claimed to have been commanded by God to take the dress of a man. She prophesied and still continued to prophesy.
She had left her home without consent, and to the great grief of her parents
In company with an angel she claimed to have brought a very precious crown and delivered it to the King as a sign.
She refused to submit her acts and words to the Church. There was much more, but this was sufficient. Under the Church law of that day Joan could be convicted on her own words. The University of Paris, to which the articles would be submitted, could decide that her Voices were those of demons. In the matter of the sign, she could be charged with falsehood and presumption. For prophesying, she could be held guilty of divination and witchcraft. In refusing to submit to the Church, she was open to the charge of heresy. As to her male dress, there was the authority of the Bible itself for holding it an abomination.
Cauchon's mistake had been in wanting a grand trial. With a few judges of his own kind he could have convicted Joan and sent her to the stake as promptly as poor Pierronne had been disposed of in Paris, the year before. His idea had been to invite the admiration of Rouen, where he expected to become archbishop. Instead, he had stirred up the city in
Joan's favor! As a result, his beau proces had shrunken from a great court in the State Chamber to a squalid hearing in a jail. Still, with Bedford and the English army behind him, in one way or another he meant to win. From his assistants and others he invited opinions on the Twelve Articles. Nearly all agreed that Joan had committed the acts as charged, and should be held guilty. Some who made this report were moved by cowardice. Others, ardent zealots, indorsed it in good faith. Still others, like Loiseleur, did so because they were mere human vermin, eager to see this young girl put to death. The Twelve Articles were now sent to the University of Paris.
Joan's illness had begun on the first of April. On April 18, the bishop and seven of his assistants visited her, "to console and recomfort her," as he said. She was to be admonished and exhorted to return to the "path of truth" and he offered, "in all affection," to send some one to instruct her in order that she might know what to reply. We need only remember the "affection" that had invented the shameful Seventy Articles, to put a proper value on Cauchon's consolation and advice. Joan, weak and wasted as she was, still in death's shadow, was not deceived by it. She thanked them, however,
and asked that in case of her death she be laid in consecrated ground.
She must submit to the Church, they told her, if she wanted the benefits of the Church. She replied wearily:
"I would not know what further to say to you."
Exhausted as she was by her illness, they took turns in ' threatening and denouncing her as they had upon the witness stand. Once she said:
"Let happen to me what must. I can do or say nothing further. I have said it all at my trial."
"You are no more than a pagan and a publican," they flung at her. "Unless you submit you will be abandoned like a heathen!" A threat terrible in that day. Joan answered resignedly: "I am a good Christian, properly baptized, and a good Christian I would die."
They tried to tempt her with an offer of a procession for the restoration of her health. To this she only whispered:
"I greatly wish that the Church and the Catholics would pray for me."
They left her then. Whether she submitted, or refused to submit, she was doomed. Their only real fear was that she would die and leave them.
Ah, why didn't she? But Joan was young, and of powerful, physique. Spring had come back, the wonderful Norman spring. Her tower stood near the fields, and such of their breath and glory as could, creep into her narrow windows
brought renewed strength to the fever-wasted prisoner. Perhaps she could even get a glimpse of meadows breaking into green. On the second of May she was able to be led before her judges for special admonition.
It was nothing new. Long charges were read to her, and she replied in her customary way. At one point she was warned that if she did not submit to the Church she would undergo punishment by fire. She said: "I will answer nothing further, as to that; and if I saw fire before me, I would say all that I say now, and not otherwise." Against this, on the margin of the page, Manchon wrote, "Proud response."
Asked if she would submit to the Pope, she answered:
"Take me there, and I will reply to him," and of that she would say nothing further. She had no vestige of faith in them, and they knew it.
Again they warned her of the fires waiting her, if she allowed herself to abandon the Church. She said:
"You will never do what you say against me without evil befalling you, body and soul"—words calculated to send a shiver through that craven group, and be long remembered.
If the reader is uncertain as to what Cauchon really wanted jam to do, he is probably no worse off than was Cauchon himself. Whether she submitted or not he could convict her, and this he meant to do, his chief wish being to do it in a way that would give his public the least offense. After all, it might be better to condemn the Maid for not submitting to the
Church. Everybody in that day belonged to the Church and held by it. For Joan to set herself against submission made her lawfully a public enemy. Of those who told the story later, the notaries as well as other witnesses believed that while Cauchon outwardly was urging Joan to submit, she was by his orders being urged by Loiseleur to put no faith in the. churchmen, who, as he said, would not dare to do her any harm. All of which may well be true, though in any case Joan would hardly have answered other than she did.
The Torture Chamber
As we have seen, Joan from time to time had refused to reply to certain questions, especially those concerning her "secret" with the King. The bishop now decided to wring these from her under the threat of torture. Whether he really intended to torture her is uncertain. It is only certain that he would not have hesitated to do so, had he thought such a course would make Joan confess. That it would damage him with the people of Rouen, could, however, have held him back. Whatever his intention, all was made ready. The torture chamber was in the main tower of the castle, and here the instruments were laid out. Cauchon, with Loiseleur and other assistants, arrived and Massieu brought Joan dragging her chains—weakly enough, having risen from her bed of illness
less than a fortnight before. Cauchon, addressing her, said:
"Joan, certain questions asked of you have been ignored by you, or answered in a lying manner. On these questions we have information. If, therefore, you do not here and now avow the facts by answering these questions truly, you will at once be put to torture, with these instruments and by these men which you see before you."
Joan had probably never seen torture, but its processes were well known to her. The word itself means to twist; among the instruments were those designed to distort, rack, and shatter the entire human frame. If she hesitated, Cauchon's own record does not mention the fact. It reports her exact answer as follows:
"Truly, if you should tear me limb from limb, and part my soul from my body, I would not tell you anything more; and if I did tell you something, afterward I would say always that you made me say it by force!"
No torture chamber ever heard a more sublime answer.
She then spoke of the comfort she had received from the saints. She had asked her Voices if she would be burned, and had been told that in this she must wait on our Lord, who would aid her.
The report further states that "seeing the callousness of her soul, the judges, fearing that the torments of torture would be of small profit to her, decided to wait for fuller advice." Three days later, thirteen of the assistants were
appointed to vote on the matter. Ten of them, to their eternal credit, voted against torture. The remainder were for it. Two of these, Thomas de Courcelles and Aubert Morel, were religious zealots. The third was Nicolas Loiseleur, the spy, at that very moment posing as Joan's confessor and friend.
The University of Paris reported on the Twelve Articles, finding Joan guilty of blasphemy, divination, presumption, heresy, and uttering false oaths. It recommended that she be abandoned to the civil judges to receive the sentence suited to her crime—that of death by fire. The Church could not pronounce that sentence; Joan must be judged and executed by the civil authorities. On the evidence as presented in the Twelve Articles—in view of the law and belief of that day and the fact that Joan was a deadly and dangerous enemy—the university's verdict could hardly have been other than it was.
Cauchon, however, was in no hurry to carry it out. He wanted to have the people with him, as well as the university. His court, duly assembled, decided that Joan, once more and for the last time, should be admonished to submit to the Church. One of the assistants suggested that this should be done in public, before the people, an idea which Cauchon
promptly seized upon. The people must be shown an example of Joan's heresy and his own charitable pleading for repentance. If she still refused she would be burned at once, the executioner's cart would be waiting. If at the last moment she submitted, all the better. He knew Joan, and that such repentance would not last. She would relapse! Why, that was the best plan of all! She must be driven to submit, then to relapse. With everything in his hands he believed that he could bring this about, and for the relapsed penitent who would dare to speak?
He would go softly, however. Joan must first be led before her judges and gently urged to return to the path of duty. She would, of course, refuse, as heretofore; but by proceeding thus gradually the dignities would be preserved.
Joan did refuse. On May 23 she was led before a group of judges, and one of them, Pierre Maurice, an earnest and probably sincere man, read her the substance of the Twelve Articles and the university's decision on each, addressing to her such persuasions and arguments as he could offer to one whom he must have known to be already doomed, whatever her reply. Joan listened patiently, as was her habit, until he had finished, then answered:
"As to my deeds and my words, I refer to what I have said in the proces, and will stand by it."
"Do you not think you are held to submit your words and deeds to the Church Militant, or to other than God?"
"What I have said and held during the proces I maintain still," replied Joan; then she added:
"If I stood in judgment and saw the fire lit, and the faggots burning, and the executioner willing to put out the fire; and if I stood in the fire, I would say nothing more, and would hold to what I have said in the proces, until death."
And again Manchon wrote on the margin of his page, Johannae responsio superba (Joan's proud response). To this day it stands there, adding its touch of reality.
The beau proces had reached its official close. Cauchon pronounced the case concluded, and assigned next day for the delivery of the sentence, and for such further procedure as should be required by law and right."
Joan, led back to her dungeon, had no reason to suppose that another day would not see her end. Her state of mind we can only dimly guess. Weakened by her illness, she could still resist, as we have seen. She may still have expected aid from without—some miracle of rescue; she believed her Voices had promised that. She must have known that La Hire, eighteen miles below Rouen, had captured Louviers, which the English, while she lived, dared not attack. Remembering his former exploits she must at times have cherished the thought that this old comrade, in company with others Dunois, Alencon, de Boussac, Poton, and the rest—had planned an assault, a swift wave of battle that would break over the walls of Rouen, dash her enemies aside, and bear
her away to freedom. Her heart bounded at any unusual noise in the street; she strained her ears for tumult of attack. But the ghastly hours went by without a sign or a word from those she had known.
Weakened and deserted, she began to waver. All the judges, even the more friendly, held her in sin, and now the great university. As she lay on her wretched bed she was not in a condition to think clearly on any course of action, and later she said that her Voices told her she would yield. For a year she had been a captive, and during five months had lain in this loathsome prison, in chains. The physical and mental torture of her days and nights cannot be put into words, or even imagined. That she was weakened, her mental balance disturbed, may be taken for granted. She was not a spirit but a human being, and the human being never lived of which this would not have been true. The marvel is that --he escaped complete insanity.
At St. Ouen
Next morning early—it was May 24, 1431—Bailiff Massieu arrived in Joan's prison, to conduct her to the cemetery adjoining the church of St. Ouen, where she was to be preached to; if she then still refused to recant and submit to the Church,
she would be burned. Manchon was also present and one or two of the assistants, among them Loiseleur. Acting as her counsel, the spy now advised her to yield to the judges.
"Joan," he urged, "believe me, if you would be saved, take the dress of your sex and do all that you are commanded. Otherwise you are in peril of death. If you do what I tell you, nothing bad will happen to you. You will have much that is good, and you will be restored to the Church."
She was now taken to St. Ouen, where two high platforms or scaffolds had been erected, on one of which was Cauchon and his assistants, the other being for Joan and the preacher, Erard. With Joan also were Massieu and Loiseleur; waiting near by with his cart was the executioner, ready to take her to the stake. A great crowd had assembled.
The Maid in chains labored up the steps of the platform, and was directed to a stool. At once Erard began to preach to her. Bending over the despairing girl, he poured upon her head a torrent of accusation that dazed and bewildered her. There had never been in France, he said, such a monster as herself; she was a sorceress and a heretic; the King and clergy who had protected her, upholding the words and deeds of a woman defamed and full of dishonor, were no better than herself. Twice or oftener Erard repeated this charge, then fiercely raising his finger he shouted:
"It is to thee, Joan, I am speaking; and I say to thee that thy King is a heretic and a schismatic!"
Joan roused herself to defend the King who had betrayed and deserted her.
"By my faith, messire," she answered, "with all due reverence I dare say to you, and to swear at the risk of my life, that he is the most noble Christian of all Christians, and best loves the faith and the Church. He is by no means what you say!"
Erard shouted to Massieu:
"Make her keep still!"
For an hour the fierce, black-robed figure denounced the Maid and her King. On the adjoining platform sat other black-robed men with hard, unpitying faces. Below waited the executioner's cart and the soldiers. In all directions swarmed the multitudes, feeding upon the sight of the Maid, impressed by the preacher's storm of invective, eager for the promised spectacle. Overhead the sky was blue, the air was full of glorious spring when it was not easy to leave the world.
Bringing his seemingly endless sermon to a close, Erard began reading the charges, which Joan was required to abjure and revoke, if she would save herself from the flames. Exhausted in mind and body, she looked at him dazed, not understanding his words. Erard handed the paper to Massieu.
"Read and explain it to her," he said.
The paper contained six or seven lines, eight at most. Among other things, the Maid was required to promise that she would not wear arms, nor man's dress, nor have her hair
cut short. As Massieu addressed Joan a tumult arose among the throng of spectators. Joan was being asked to sign something; they believed her about to escape. Many were glad; others were angry at the prospect of being cheated of their spectacle.
"Advise her to make abjuration—tell her to sign," said Erard to Massieu.
Massieu said something to Joan; Erard shouted at her that unless she signed forthwith she would be burned that very day. Joan confused, dimly comprehending, struggled to her feet, and, looking across to where sat Cauchon and the judges, said:
"Let all the things I have spoken and done be reported to Rome, to our Holy Father, the Pope, to whom after God I refer them. As to my words and deeds I have said and done them through God. I lay them on nobody, neither on my King nor on any other. If there has been wrong in them, I am to blame and no other."
The judges were on their feet, Cauchon shaking at her a menacing finger.
"Your case cannot be taken to the Pope!" he bellowed: "Rome is too far. We are your proper judges."
"I refer to God and our Holy Father, the Pope," repeated the distracted Joan.
Cauchon had prepared two sentences. He produced the
one of condemnation and began to read it. Loiseleur at Joan's ear was urging her to yield.
"Abjure, Joan; abjure and take woman's dress, and be saved!" Erard was also urging her to sign, telling her she would thus be delivered from prison. Bewildered, distracted, overborne, understanding little and that vaguely, Joan at some point in the confusion about her, said that if what they asked of her agreed with their consciences, she would sign; saying further, according to Massieu who was nearest her, that she would rather sign than be burned.
Cauchon put aside the sentence he was reading, and asked the English cardinal, Winchester, if Joan should be admitted to penitence. An English priest, believing the Maid was about to escape, called out to Cauchon that he was a traitor. "You lie! " Cauchon shouted back, adding that it was his duty to save body and soul. The commotion in the crowd was renewed; stones were thrown. The English priest was reprimanded by the cardinal. According to Aimond de Macy, who here appears for the last time, an English secretary now drew a paper from his sleeve and handed it to Joan.
"I can neither read nor write," she said.
A pen was put into her hand, and she made a kind of circle, seeming to smile as she did so. The secretary took her hand and guided it to form a signature, or cross. Those who had seen the look on Joan's face called the abjuration a farce, as
indeed it was, for her smile reflected a mind driven beyond the bounds of responsibility.
The paper that Joan signed was not the one that had been read to her by Massieu, but another, more than seven times as long, containing much that she could not have heard. Except as it bears on the guilt of her enemies, this is not very important. Joan, that morning, had reached a place where she would have signed whatever they put before her.
Cauchon now read the other sentence, which condemned her to perpetual imprisonment, her fare to be the "bread of affliction and the water of sadness," in order, as he said, that she might weep for her transgressions and sin no more. Hard fate as this seemed, it must have appeared welcome to Joan, who now believed that at least she would be taken from her dungeon and placed in the Church prisons, with female attendance. A bitter disappointment awaited her. As they left the place of St. Ouen, English soldiers insulted her, and their leaders permitted it. The crawling Loiseleur whined:
"Joan, you have done a good day's work. If God please, you have saved your soul."
"Well, then," she said anxiously, "you men of the Church, take me to your prisons, and leave me no longer in the hands of these English."
But here Cauchon, speaking up, said: "Take her back where she came from."
Of all his acts this may rank as Cauchon's chief villainy.
That afternoon with certain of his assistants, the bishop visited Joan and explained to her the goodness of God, and of the men of the Church in admitting her to pardon. Also, that in case she sinned again she could have no further hope for forgiveness. They brought with them the woman's garments, and Joan, retiring to such poor privacy as she had, put them on. The official record does not say that Joan begged them to place her in the Church prisons, but that she did so is certain. Cauchon by no means intended to do that. In the Church prison the Maid might not relapse.
The story of what happened in Joan's prison during the next three days and nights will always be something of a mystery. It is only certain that to the unfortunate girl they were days and nights of horror. She told the friendly priests,
Isambard and Ladvenu, that she had been attacked by her guards; also by another who had been admitted to her dungeon. Of this, Isambard said:
"I saw her weeping, her face full of tears, and disfigured and outraged in such a manner that I was moved to pity and compassion." She was thus being driven to resume her male garments, which had been kept handy in her cell. On the third morning, one of the guards took away her woman's dress
and another emptied a sack containing the man's clothing on her bed, saying: "Get up!" The woman's garments they put out of her reach.
The poor Maid pleaded that this was forbidden her, but to no purpose. She was finally obliged to put on the forbidden garments, which meant her death. This was on Trinity Sunday, May 27, 1431.
The news that Joan had relapsed quickly reached Cauchon, who sent some of his assistants, to make sure. But the English guards had lost faith in priests, and drove them away. The bishop himself, with Isambard and others, came next morning and found her, truly enough, in male dress. She had taken it, she said, because it was more decent, being among men, and because they had not kept their promise that she should go to mass and be unchained. Asked if she had not abjured and sworn not to resume man's clothing, she replied that she would rather die than be in chains, "but that if we would allow her to go to mass, and would put her into a suitable prison where there was a woman, she would be good, and do what the Church wished."
This is from the official record, the report of her enemies! The misery behind those calm official lines! (Recorder Manchon, who prepared the official report, later testified personally:
"In my presence Joan was asked why she had resumed man's dress. She replied that she had done so to defend her decency, because she had no safety in the dress of a woman, with her guards, etc." For Manchon's fuller testimony see the author's larger work: "Joan of Arc—Maid of France.")
She would rather die than be in chains.
She had dragged their galling burden through all the fearful months. Even a small chafing weight can become almost unbearable. What, then, must this young girl, loaded down with shackles, have suffered. And her plea for a suitable prison—she was willing to promise anything for that! "I will be good," she told them; it is a child that speaks.
Had she heard her Voices since Thursday, the day at St. Ouen, they asked? She replied that she had; that God through Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret had sent her word of the great pity of her sin in denying herself to save her life.
"Before Thursday my Voices had told me that I would do this. If I should say now that God did not send me I would again deny myself, for it is true that I was sent by God. It was through fear of the fire that I said what I did, having before my eyes the executioner ready with his cart."
Overwrought as she was it must have been in anguish and tears that she said these things.
"Do you believe your Voices to have been those of Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret?"
"I do, and that they came from God."
For the last time on the margin of his page the notary made a comment; only, this time, it is "Responsio mortifera—fatal answer."
"What have you to say as to the sign of the crown?"
"Of all that, I have told you the truth in the proces, the best that I knew. I did not intend to deny Saint Catherine
and Saint Margaret, and I would rather die at once than to endure any longer the torture of prison. If you will put me in a safe place, where I am without fear, I will again put on woman's dress. For the rest I can do nothing."
They left her then, and to the Earl of Warwick and the crowd of English waiting outside, Cauchon said gaily: "Farewell, have good cheer! It is all over!"
Next day the bishop and forty of his assistants gathered in the chapel of the archbishop's palace to vote away her life. Cauchon read to them the report of his interview with Joan and asked for their verdict. Not one of those present, even of those who had been friendly to her and, shrank now from what they were about to do, dared to offer a word in her favor. One after another, in that shadowy room, they voted for her death.
The Church itself could not take life. The form of their verdict was that Joan was to be handed over to the civil authorities with the request that they deal with her tenderly, such being the ghastly phrase which cloaked the sentence of death by fire. The bishop thanked them, and spoke of the next step to be taken.
Joan's days in prison were over. The night of the twenty- ninth of May, 1431, was the last she would spend there. She must have known this—that except for some miraculous rescue there could be no hope for her now. Did she still expect La Hire and the others to burst in at the last moment and bear her to safety, or some more directly divine intervention? Perhaps she did not even think of these things any more, but when her ruffian guards would allow it, gave her mind to prayer.
At moments she may have remembered phases of her brief life. She was only nineteen; a little more than two years before she had been spinning by her mother's side. In the midst of her anguish she could hardly fail to remember this and the Fairy Tree, and the peaceful chapel of Bermont; the coming of the saints, and Vaucouleurs; the long night ride to Chinon; the King--Orleans and Patay. Had she ever ridden with her King to Reims, at the head of a great cavalcade? Her faithful captains—where were they all? Oh, she was alone - her Voices –
It was early morning when Brother Martin Ladvenu came to tell her of the judges’ verdict. She must die, he said – by fire.
At these words the tortured girl’s strength gave way. How
could they treat her so cruelly, she wailed, as to require this terrible death; and she said:
"Oh, I appeal before God, the Great Judge, as to the wrongs and injuries done me!" and to Cauchon, who entered:
"Bishop, I die through you."
Cauchon replied that she was to die because she had not held to her promise, but returned to her first wickedness. She answered:
"Alas, if you had placed me in the Church prisons that would not have happened. This is why I summon you before God!"
Pierre Maurice came, and she said to him:
"Master Pierre, where shall I be tonight?"
And Maurice, who had meant to be kindly, replied:
"Have you not good hope in the Lord, Joan?"
"Yes," she answered, "and God aiding, I will be in paradise."
She now asked for communion, and with Cauchon's permission received it. It was first brought irreverently, but Brother Ladvenu sent for lights and all that belonged to the service. Litanies were chanted, voices cried "Pray for her!" and there was a multitude of candles.
And now the executioner's cart came, and leaving the prison with Massieu and Brother Ladvenu, Joan entered it. She was clad in white, the "long garment" she had once asked for, if brought to judgment. On her head was the square paper cap of the condemned. Surrounded by soldiers they set out for
the Old Market, an open square, already thronged with waiting people.
Joan of Arc began to pray—prayers, we are told, "so beautiful and devout" that those hearing them wept without ceasing. The wretched Loiseleur, struck with remorse, pushing from the crowd, tried to mount beside Joan to cry her pardon. Assailed by angry soldiers, but for Warwick he might have been killed.
By narrow streets the sorrowful procession reached the open market place, the soldiers pushing a way through the throng. Near a corner of the butchers' hall across from the church of St. Saviour, three temporary structures had been erected—two platforms, one each for the churchmen and civil judges, the third a high base of plaster, surmounted by a grim post to which were attached chains, the stake. Around and about were heaped faggots; at its top was nailed a placard bearing such words as Heretic, Relapsed, Blasphemer, Idolatress—meaningless calumny.
Joan was now led to the platform on which sat the judges. The chosen preacher, Nicolas Midi, an assistant who had been especially active throughout the trial, began his sermon. It was a long and bitter tirade, but the Maid heard it patiently to the end. She then began to pray, so fervently and devoutly that all who listened were moved to tears. Of the priests she asked that each say a mass for her, and for herself and all
others she asked God's pardon, for her judges and the English, for the King of France, and all the princes of the kingdom.
It was now about eleven o'clock, and the soldiers, impatient at the delay, called out to Massieu:
"How, priest, are you going to make us dine here?"
Joan finished her prayer, and Cauchon read the Church sentence in which were repeated .all the harsh, abusive terms they had applied to her so often. Closing with the request that she be dealt with gently, it abandoned her to the civil judge, whose faculties may have been beyond his control, for he did no more than wave her to the executioner, with the words:
"Do your duty."
And again was heard to say:
"Go on—go on!"
Thus, with no other sentence than that pronounced by the Church, which was not a sentence of death, but a mock recommendation to mercy, the Maid was seized by two soldiers and hurried to the stake.
From the high scaffold, Joan's gaze swept the thronging square and windows and roofs of the city of her captivity.
"Rouen! Rouen! Must I die here?" she cried; and another thought that she said:
"Ah, Rouen, I fear you will suffer greatly for my death!"
And presently she begged for a cross. An English soldier
broke a stick and tied it into a small cross, which he handed up to her.
Taking it, she kissed it tenderly, praying meanwhile, and placed it in her bosom, between the flesh and the garment.
Then she asked to have a cross brought from a near-by church, in order that she might always have it before her eyes, until the last.
Brother Isambard hurried to the near-by church and came back with the processional crucifix. Mounting the scaffold with it, for she was now chained to the stake, he held it to her lips.
But now the fire was lighted, and as the flames crept up she begged him to descend, holding it always before her.
Many of the judges, unable to look upon their work, hurried from the place, some of them sobbing, and uttering wild cries.
"I am not what their writings charge!" she wailed, meaning the cruel words on the placard over her and on the miter cap they had placed on her head.
And once she asked for holy water.
But then, as in the past, she called only on beings of light—Saint Michael, and Saint Catherine, and Saint Margaret.
And often she uttered the name of Jesus—more than six times the name of Jesus.
Some of those who heard it believed they saw that name written in the flames.
And one said that at the moment when she surrendered her spirit, there appeared above her a white dove that flew toward France.
That no relic of her might be preserved, the execution scattered her ashes in the Seine. Later in the day, he sought out Isambard and Ladvenu, overcome by remorse and fear.
"I shall never be saved," he said, "for I have burned a holy woman!"
A churchman said:
"Would God my soul were where I believe the soul of that woman to be!"