What came to Cauchon and others
Punishment did not fail to overtake those who had most fiercely hunted Joan to her doom. Immediately after the Maid's death, Cauchon and others held responsible for it were "pointed out with horror" by the people of Rouen, few of whom had been misled by the bishop's trickeries. Cauchon tried to counteract this by preparing a document in which certain of the assistants were made to say that Joan on the morning of her execution had acknowledged her Voices to be the work of evil spirits, and the story of the sign a sinful invention. But as none of the assistants signed this document, and none of the notaries would certify to their supposed testimony, it proved wasted effort on Cauchon's part. He never became Archbishop of Rouen. He was given the small Bishopric of Lisieux, where he added to his church a beautiful chapel of the Virgin, in expiation, it is said, of his sin against Joan. If he did this in hope of averting the Maid's prophecy that ill would befall him, his effort failed. He was struck with death while being shaved, and though honorably laid in his
tomb, he was later excommunicated by the Church for defaulting in moneys due to Rome. His body was exhumed and thrown into an open ditch.
Cauchon's prosecutor, Jean d'Estivet, who not only spied on Joan but assailed her with evil names, was found dead in a slough (sewage ditch) at the gates of Rouen. The other spy, the miserable Loiseleur, fell into disrepute, and, deprived of his office as canon of the church of Rouen, soon died. Nicolas Midi, who pursued the Maid even to the stake, where he denounced her almost in her last moments, became a leper and dragged out many fearful years before he found relief in death. What happened to the others of those who, with Cauchon, plotted Joan's destruction is not certain, but with these examples before them they must have lived in a state of dread.
Four years after Joan's martyrdom her chief enemy, Bedford, came to his end at the comparatively early age of forty-six.
Georges La Tremoille, King's counselor, the traitor who did more than any other man to bring about Joan's failure after Reims, deserves a fuller story.
Following the tragedy at Rouen there came a period of anarchy when the war became little more than a series of raids, made by armed bands from both parties. Yet the cause for which Joan had died was never entirely lost sight of. Her captains were still fighting to rid French soil of English armies. Joan was dead, but her spirit carried on. It would never
again be true that two hundred English soldiers were equal to a thousand of the French. Orleans, Jargeau, and Patay were not forgotten by either side. A leader, who could unite the French armies, as Joan had done, was needed. The Constable, Arthur of Richemont, was the man; but though Joan had reconciled Charles to him, little result could follow so long as La Tremoille was at Charles's ear. Richemont and La Tremoille, in fact, had been for years engaged in what was nothing less than a war of their own.
Finally in 1433 there came a dark night when Richemont concluded this matter in his own way. La Tremoille, then at Chinon, was lodged in the very tower of Coudray, which Joan had occupied. Charles's nearest relatives had long wished to get rid of this evil adviser, especially Queen Yolande, who may have known how a door in the lower wall came to be left open, through which crept fifty of Richemont's men, commanded by three knights, one of them a relative of La Tremoille himself.
La Tremoille, an excessively fat person, waking when a light flashed in his face, made a futile grab for a dagger at the head of his bed and was promptly stabbed by one of the leaders. The victim's great bulk saved his life. The glancing blade pierced only the gross tissue and did not find a vital part. A second thrust was prevented by his relative.
"He is my uncle," he said, "and as rich as he is fat. I will hold him for ransom."
La Tremoille was trussed like a chicken and carried to his nephew's castle, Montresor. Charles, hearing next morning what had taken place, was only briefly disturbed. Calmed by his Queen, he appointed her brother, Charles of Anjou, to fill the office of La Tremoille. The latter paid his ransom, but never returned to court.
The war now went forward with renewed vigor. Under Richemont and Dunois the armies were united. Even Charles, rid of his fat counselor, tried to be a king. The Duke of Burgundy saw how affairs were going and became lukewarm in his love for the English. When Bedford died he delayed no longer, but joined with Charles in a treaty which wrote the doom of England in France. Richemont and his army entered Paris, and in November, 1437, well within the seven years of Joan's prophecy, Charles VII made his formal entry. But for La Tremoille and his own paltry nature, Charles would have made that entry, with Joan at his side, immediately after Reims. Did he remember her in his hour of triumph? Perhaps; for Nicolas Midi, the same who had preached to Joan at the stake, forgiven and restored to favor, and not yet a leper, now preached Charles's sermon of welcome to Paris!
One of the Maid's predictions still remained to be fulfilled—the enemy must go. By a lonely roadside far on the way to Cherbourg is a small stone column, which marks the site of the Battle of Formigny, where on April 15, 1450, the English made their last stand in Normandy. Three years later they
had lost everything but the single seaport of Calais, which they held by sufferance.
Joan had died, but her spirit had carried on, her mission and her prophecy had been fulfilled.
When Joan had been dead more than twenty years, Charles VII decided to clear her name of the stain that had been put upon it, when she had been sentenced to die as a heretic and a witch. It was not on the Maid's account that he wished to do this, but on his own. The English had burned Joan to damage his title to the crown. A crown acquired through witchcraft was not legally held, they said; hence, Charles was not the true King of France.
Charles and his advisers agreed that this would not do. To make it appear, however, that they acted for the sake of justice to the dead girl, claim for the revision of Joan's sentence was made in the name of her mother and two brothers, "anxious that her memory should be cleared of unmerited disgrace." Isabelle Romee was brought to Paris, to plead in person at Notre Dame for her daughter's rehabilitation. Jacques d'Arc was no longer living, having died, it was said, from grief on hearing of his daughter's martyrdom.
The new trial opened in 1450, and continued at intervals
during six years. Sittings were held in Paris, Orleans, Domremy, and Rouen. Many were still alive who had known Joan, and men and women in every walk of life were examined—all, with the possible exception of certain priests, eager to testify. Those who had played with her, little Hauviette and Mengette, and many more—men and women, now with children of their own; those who had marched with her Dunois, Alencon, Louis de Contes, d'Aulon, and many others; those who had helped to try her (though many were dead, Cauchon among them); those who had ministered to her last sorrowful needs—Massieu, Isambard, and Ladvenu, told each his memories. All three of the potaries, Manchon and his two assistants, happily lived to tell their stories, and from the various records, along with the records of Joan's own trial, it was clearly shown how little the Maid had deserved her fate. (Today, after five hundred years, the reports of both trials are still carefully preserved. It is largely from them that our story of Joan has been written.)
In the archbishop's palace at Rouen, where, twenty-five years earlier, Joan had been declared sorceress, idolatress, heretic, and relapsed, on the seventh of July, 1456, in the presence of her brother, Jean d'Arc, and the assembled court, a sentence was pronounced which bitterly censured her former judges, annulled their verdict, and declared the Maid to be without sin, body and soul. Sermons and solemn processions
were ordered at St. Ouen where she had been forced into an abjuration, and at the Old Market, where under the May sky she had found martyrdom, the service at the Old Market including the planting of an expiatory cross.
Of those of her family who survived Joan something may be told. Her mother, Isabelle Romee, was pensioned by the city of Orleans, and died there in 1458, two years following the verdict that restored her daughter to the full favor of the Church. She was very religious, and the patent of nobility which Charles had conferred upon the family made her a lady of rank. Altogether, she must have been held in high esteem, and greatly honored.
Joan's brothers, with their title, took the name of du .Lys and lived as gentlemen. Jean du Lys in time succeeded de Baudricourt as captain of Vaucouleurs, a distinction beyond his wildest boyhood dreams. Pierre du Lys remained in Orleans. He received a pension from that city, and from its poet duke, Charles, who after twenty-five years of captivity in England had returned to his dominions. Both these brothers left descendants; some of their blood may be found in France to this day.
Honest, lovable Durand Laxart, Joan's first convert and
faithful support, lived many years. Whether he assumed the airs of nobility under the King's grant, as was his right, we do not know. He seems to have testified at the Rehabilitation as a "laborer"; so we may suppose he did not. He probably died as he had lived, a loyal and upright peasant of Buret', leaving France in his eternal debt.
When Joan had been dead well toward five hundred years there was instituted a movement to declare her a saint. An element in the Church opposed this, largely on the grounds that she had not confided her visions and Voices to her priest, or to any churchman. Nevertheless, in 1904, she was designated "Venerable"; in 1908-9 she was beatified; and on May 16, 1920, at the great church of St. Peter's, in Rome, amid splendid ceremonies she was duly canonized, to take her place with those whose Voices had directed her to the salvation of her people, and to martyrdom.
Joan of Arc—Maid of France! Burned as a heretic and a witch, long regarded as a half-legendary figure, today she lives again, patron saint of her nation's armies, divine symbol of love and sacrifice, not only in France but throughout Christendom. England, her old enemy, has set up statues of her. America has done the same, and holds her in its heart.
Across the night of history's blackest pages
One name is scrolled as by a shaft of sun:
Joan of Arc, the glory of the ages,
Who battled hate, and lost—and, "losing, won."