A strange silence followed the death of Jeanne d'Arc, a silence universal, absolute, so far as we may gather. The English Government communicated a report of the affair to other governments, and its accomplice, the University of Paris, reported to the Pope. Then again silence complete, unfathomable. Nobody made a note on the Pope's "reaction"; he forgot to say anything about it himself. Not a significant word was written or spoken at the moment concerning her death, the manner of it, and what people thought of it. And this martyred girl had been one of the most famous persons in all Christendom!
Perhaps the silence itself was the portentous thing —the paralysis that seized all minds and hearts at the consummation of that awful crime, the reaction from which was to traverse the ages.
The English Government paid, and paid well for the whole proceeding, trial, condemnation, execution. Cauchon received a great sum, as money was reckoned in those times; and his chief aids were proportionately recompensed, especially the delegates of the University of Paris. All took the wage of blood and rejoiced in it. We don't know which we execrate and
despise the more—those death's-head priests or their paymasters!
A WHIFF FROM THE HOLY OFFICE
The Grand Inquisitor himself, a Dominican named Graverend, had not figured in the trial, having delegated his understudy, Jean Lemaitre, to that solemn duty. But we gather that he would have honored the proceeding, from the liberality of his knowledge, the simplicity of his faith, and the charity of his spirit! On the Sunday following Jeanne's death he preached about her in the Church of St. Martin des Champs at Paris. I translate a small portion of his edifying sermon.
"Jeanne La Pucelle was a girl of very humble origin; from the age of thirteen she had dressed herself in men's clothes; her father and mother would have killed her could they have done so without wounding their conscience. Possessed by the devil, she left them, and since then she had lived in the slaughter of humanity, breathing fire and blood, until the day she was burned. If she had retracted (On this point, at least, the Grand Inquisitor seems to have been correctly informed. There was no retraction.) they would have given her a penance of four years in prison on bread and water, with a woman to serve her. The devil appeared to her under three forms, as St. Michael, Ste. Catherine, and Ste. Marguerite. He (the devil) was very much in fear of losing her—you should have heard him under those holy disguises! He said to her, 'Wicked creature, why have
you laid aside your clothes [her male dress] for fear of the fire? We. shall guard you against them all.'
"Then she stripped off her woman's clothes and put on those she had carried when riding horseback with the soldiers, and which she had hidden in the straw of her bed. When the university, or those who represented it, saw that she was thus obstinate, they delivered her to the laic justice for death. Seeing herself in this plight, she called the demons who had frequented her under the image of saints, but never did one of them appear to help her after her condemnation, whatever invocation or appeal she might address to them. And then at last she was willing to submit herself, but it was too late." ("'Jeanne d'Arc devant Paris," par Abbe Couget (1926). An extremely valuable and suggestive work.)
So this was a Grand Inquisitor of the faith, as he "functioned" in the fifteenth century. Well, thank goodness, his job was abolished a very long time ago —though it was revived early in the nineteenth century, when Napoleon put it to sleep again. It would seem to a candid mind that the business of creating comfortable jobs for lunkheads within the bosom of the church, has been the cause of most of her troubles down to a later period than that of Jeanne d'Arc.