This is from the (unpublished) novel, The Lost Chronicles, The Story Of Joan of Arc, by Virginia Frohlick, edited by Carlyn Voss Iuzzolino. Copyrighted 1997. All rights reserved.
BISHOP PIERRE CAUCHON'S INFAMOUS POSTHUMOUS DOCUMENT
For more than a hundred and fifty years historians have been debating the legitimacy of the 'Posthumous Document' which Bishop Pierre Cauchon placed into Joan of Arc's trial record eight days after her death. If believed, this document is more damaging to her reputation than the original trial records and in that way it is far more diabolical in nature. It is hard for me to understand why there should be any controversy when you consider the personal integrity, or the lack thereof, of Pierre Cauchon and those of his assistants.
Bishop Pierre Cauchon had no difficulty in suppressing findings that were favorable to Joan of Arc. Nor did he have any difficulty in threatening and intimidating those who held contrary to his own views. He readily agreed to the twisting and manipulation of Joan's own testimony to further his case. Finally he had no difficulty in replacing the form that Joan signed at the cemetery of Saint Owen with the one he had previously drawn up. According to the witnesses at the trial of Nullification the abjuration that Joan signed was no more than seven to eight lines and in it she promised never again to carry arms, wear men's clothing or cut her hair like a soldier. The form that the Bishop put into the record was a page and a half long in which Joan denied she received revelations and apparitions from God and His angels and saint, confessed to having blasphemed God and His saints by attributing to them the wearing of a man's dress, the cutting of her hair in the fashion of a soldier, the bearing of arms and the shedding of human blood. In Pierre Cauchon's document she also confessed to idolatry, the conjuring of evil spirits and to being a schismatic.
Father Thomas de Courcelles had no difficulty in distorting, twisting and very often completely reversing Joan of Arc's own testimony when he drew up the seventy articles against her.
Father Nicolas Loiseleur functioned as the Pierre Cauchon's spy. He purposely deceived Joan of Arc by passing himself off as 'a shoemaker from Lorraine' who was also a prisoner of the English to gain her confidence. At other times he presented himself to her as he really was - a priest to hear her confession and be her spiritual advisor. At night her cell was dark and she could not see his face clearly. He would also cover his head and face with a hood and muffle his voice.
This is the English translation of the June 7th document with my commentary following.
On Thursday, the 7th of June 1431, we, the said judges, have received from many trustworthy persons ex-officio information concerning certain words spoken by the late Joan of Arc while she was still in prison and before she was brought to judgment.
THE EXAMINATION OF THE WITNESSES
The venerable and circumspect master Father Nicolas de Venderes, licentiate in canon law, archdeacon of Eu and canon of the church of Rouen, aged 52, who on this date is a sworn witness and declares upon his oath the following:
Wednesday, May 30th, on the eve of Corpus Christi, Joan of Arc was still being detained in the prison of Rouen. She told me that her Voices had promised she would be delivered from prison. She now saw the contrary and realized and knew that she had been deceived by them.
Jeanne said and confessed that she had seen with her own eyes and heard with her own ears the Voices and apparitions mentioned in this case. Present in her cell at this time were, you, the aforementioned Judge, as well as Master Father Pierre Maurice, Father Thomas de Courcelles, Father Nicolas Loiseleur, Brother Martin Ladvenu, Master Father Jacques Le Camus and several others.
Brother Martin Ladvenu, Priest of the order of Preaching brothers, aged about 33 years, having been sworn and examined this day, declares under oath the following:
On the morning that the sentence was delivered but before she was brought to judgment, and in the presence of Masters Pierre Maurice, Nicolas Loiseleur, and the Dominican Brother Toutmouille, Joan of Arc stated and confessed that she knew and realized that her Voices and apparitions had deceived her because they had promised her, Joan, that she would be delivered and set free from prison. She now saw clearly the contrary.
Asked by the Bishop: "Who induced Joan to speak so?"
His reply: Master Pierre Maurice and Master Nicolas Loiseleur exhorted her to save her soul. They asked her if it were true that she had seen these Voices and apparitions. She answered that it was true. Without precisely describing in what form her apparitions came to her, as far as I could understand and remember, she continued to tell us up to the end that they came to her in a great multitude but in the smallest of size.
In addition I heard Joan state and confess that, inasmuch as the Clergy believed the spirits that she saw came from the evil one, she too would hold and believe likewise and would no longer put faith in these spirits. In my opinion Joan was then of sound mind.
Brother Martin Ladvenu added: That same day I heard Joan, without being constrained to do so and of her own free will, state and confess the following: Although in her trial she had confessed and boasted that in her company an angel from God had brought a crown to him she called King, there was no angel but that she, Joan, was the angel who had told and promised her king that she would have him crowned at Reims if she were put to work and that there had been no other crown sent from God.
The venerable and discreet Master Father Pierre Maurice, Professor of Sacred Theology, Canon of Rouen, aged about 38 years declared upon oath the following:
While Joan of Arc was still in prison and on the day of the sentence, I exhorted her to save her soul. Then I asked her about the angel she had mentioned in her trial who had brought a crown to her King. She replied that she herself was the angel.
I then asked her about the crown she had promised the king and the host of angels who accompanied her. She answered that the multitude of angels who had accompanied her did appear to her in the form of very minute things. Finally, I asked her if her apparitions were real? She replied, 'Whether they were good or evil spirits, they really did appeared to me. She then added, that she heard her voices mostly at the hour of Compline and Matins, when the bells were rung.
When I told her that it appeared they were evil spirits because they had deceived her by promising her deliverance, she answered me saying, 'It is true they have deceived me." I also heard her say that she referred herself to the decision of the Church as to whether they were good or evil spirits. When Joan spoke this, it is my opinion that she was sound in mind and understanding.
Brother Jean Toutmouille, priest of the order of Preaching brothers, about 34 yeas of age, who was sworn and examined on Thursday declares upon oath the following:
On the morning of the day when the sentence was delivered against Joan, Wednesday, the day before the Feast of Corpus Christi, I accompanied Brother Martin Ladvenu to Joan's cell where we exhorted her to save her soul. I heard her say to Father Pierre Maurice, who had gone earlier to see her, that what she had confessed during the trial about the crown was pure fiction, that in fact she was the angel. This the said Master Pierre took down in Latin.
Then she was questioned about the Voices and apparitions that came to her. She answered that she really did hear them when the bells for Compline and Matins were rung. She persisted in saying this even though Master Pierre Maurice told her that sometimes when the bells ring, a person could imagine that he hears and catches certain words.
Joan also confessed that she had had apparitions that came to her sometime in great number and sometimes in a small number. Also she stated that sometimes they came in a minute form but she did not otherwise describe their form or figure.
That same day, I heard you, the Bishop, after you came with the Lord Deputy Inquisitor into the room, say to Joan in French, "Now, Joan, you have always told us that your Voices promised to deliver you. Tell us the truth. Do you see now how they have deceived you?" Joan answered you, the Bishop, "Truly I see they have indeed deceived me."
Before you, the Bishop, had arrived in her cell, I heard Joan being asked if her Voices and apparitions came from good or evil spirits. She replied, "I do not know. I refer myself to my Mother the Church." In my opinion Joan was then in sound mind, and I heard her confess that she was in sound mind.
Jacques Le Camus, priest, Canon of Reims, aged about 53 years, sworn and examined on this day, declares upon oath the following:
Wednesday, Eve of Corpus Christi, I accompanied you, the Bishop, to Joan's prison cell in the castle of Rouen. I heard Joan confess publicly in a voice heard by all those present that she had had apparitions and heard Voices. These Voices had promised that she would be delivered. But now that she saw the truth that they had deceived her, she believed that they were not good Voices or good things.
A little while later, she confessed her sins to Brother Martin of the Order of the Preaching Brothers, The Dominicans. After receiving the sacrament of confession and penance, while Brother Martin held before her the Consecrated Host in his hands, he asked, "Do you believe that this is the Body of Christ?" Joan replied, "Yes, and He alone can deliver me. I ask for the Host to be given to me." Then the same brother asked, "Do you still believe in your Voices?" She answered, "I believe in God alone, and will no longer put faith in these Voices, because they have deceived me."
Master Father Thomas de Courcelles, master of arts and bachelor of Theology, aged about 30 years, sworn and examined on this day, declares under oath the following:
Wednesday, the day before of Corpus Christi, being in the presence of you, the Bishop, in Joan's prison cell of the castle of Rouen I heard and understood that you asked Joan if it were not true that her Voices had promised to deliver her. She replied that her Voices had told her she would be delivered and that she should keep a good countenance. It appears to me that she answered sententiously ( which means, given to pompous moralizing.) And then you, the Bishop, said to Joan, "You can now see that your Voices are not good spirits and that they did not come from God because they had spoken falsely and thus have lied." She replied, "I see indeed that I have been deceived."
Master Father Nicolas Loiseleur, master of arts, canon of the churches of Rouen and Chartres, aged about 40 years, sworn and examined on this day, declares under oath the following:
Wednesday, the day before of Corpus Christi, I with the venerable Father Pierre Maurice, professor of Sacred Theology, went to the place where Joan, commonly known as the Maid, was confined. We exhorted and admonished her for her soul's salvation to speak the truth on the subject of the angel who had brought to her king a crown that was very precious and of the purest gold. She was urged not to hide the truth inasmuch as she had nothing more to do but consider the salvation of her soul. I then heard her declare that it was she herself who had brought her king the crown in question. It was she who was the angel of whom she had spoken and that there were no other angel other than herself. Asked if she had really sent a crown to her king, she replied that she had no other crown but the promise of his coronation, which she had made assuring him that he would be crowned.
In the presence of Father Pierre Maurice, the two Preaching brothers, you, the Bishop, and of several others, I heard Joan say that she really had received revelations and apparitions of spirits. She recognized and perceived that these same spirits had given her deceiving revelations because they had promised her deliverance from prison and she now saw only the contrary. As to the question of whether these spirits were good or evil, she was willing to refer herself to the Clergy. But as for herself she would no longer put faith in them.
I exhorted her to destroy the error she had sown among the people, to declare publicly that she herself had been deceived and that through her fault she had deceived the people by putting faith in these revelations and in counseling the people to believe in them. I told her it was necessary for her humbly to ask pardon of the people for this. She told me she was will to do so, but she did not think she would remember when she was in judgment before the people. Therefore she asked her confessor to remind her of it and of the other things which might lead to her salvation. From this and from many other indications, I concluded that Joan was then of sound mind. She showed great penitence and great contrition for her crimes. In the presence of a great many witnesses, I heard her confess, in the prison and subsequently after her sentencing, and asked pardon with much contrition of heart, of the English and Burgundians for having caused a great number of them to be slain, beaten, and damned.
The first discrepancy I find in this addition to the trial record is that Bishop Pierre Cauchon waited a total of eight days before preparing and adding it to the trial record. This document purports to be the deposition of no less than seven of his assistants who testify to the words Joan spoke in prison before she was brought to the place of execution. In the main body of the trial record there are two entries dated Wednesday, 30th of May. The first describes Father Massieu's going to Joan's cell to deliver the Bishop's summons for her to appear at the Old Market by eight in the morning. The second entry entitled Final Sentence given before the People is also dated Wednesday, May 30th. This record is a summary of the events that took place at the Old Market of Rouen up to and including the Sentence of Excommunication. Remember that Joan's trial of condemnation did not officially end until the sentence of Excommunication was read to Joan at the place of execution. If the Bishop had time to put these two documents into the record, why did he not have time to put this June 7th document in also?
What then, prompted Bishop Pierre Cauchon to create this shameless report? The people of Rouen were freely calling Joan's death a 'martyrdom,' and were pointing 'with horror' at him and his assistants. He soon hoped to be appointed Archbishop of Rouen by the English and he knew he had to do something that would justify his actions to the people.
The second discrepancy: All three of the notaries refused to sign this 'so called' exchange with Joan. Bishop Pierre Cauchon made sure that all the previous sessions were officially documented by the court's notaries, whether they took place in the courtroom or her cell. It is hard to understand why this document, so essential to the prosecution, was not made available at once and inserted into the trial records on that day. Why was the notary, Manchon, summoned later to attest to the truthfulness of this document, if he was present at the time and why did all the three notaries refuse to sign it? Was it because they knew the document to be a fraud and to their credit, they refused to take part?
The third discrepancy: It was common practice for the people who officially took part in the proceeding to sign their names to the document. None of the men named in this document as taking part in the exchange was willing to sign it!
The fourth discrepancy: The overall wording of the report is completely different from the main body of the trial record. For a total of twelve times this document records Joan's repudiations of her Voices saying that they had deceived her, as well as her statement that she was the angel that brought the crown to her King. It is as if Bishop Pierre Cauchon were beating us over the head with Joan's supposed statements in an attempt to convince us of the document's truthfulness.
Compare this document to the original trial records and specifically to the document recorded on the 28th of May. On that day there were Bishop Pierre Cauchon and seven assistants in her cell. Only Bishop Pierre Cauchon asked the questions. He asked Joan three times why she resumed her male attire and twice about her Voices. The others were silent.
The fifth discrepancy: The June 7th document states that Father Pierre Maurice took down in Latin Joan's statement in which she confessed that her story about the crown was pure fiction and that she herself was the angel. What happened to this piece of paper? It is not in the original trial records nor is it attached to this fraudulent document either. If Father Pierre did write her answers down in Latin, why did he not sign it and have the notaries sign it too, after which it could be made a part of the original trial transcripts.
The sixth discrepancy: "When the bells ring, a person could imagine that he hears and catches certain words." This statement is true for a disordered mind. In modern terms those who are tormented by 'voices' are usually overwhelmed and preoccupied by them. Their mental illness affects their lives in fundamental and profound ways. Without medication, this type of mentally ill person is unable to remain consistently directed toward one focused goal. However, Joan was not dysfunctional; her 'Voices' did not interfere with her daily living nor did they preoccupy her to the exclusion of all other persons or events.
The seventh discrepancy: According to the June 7th document, Bishop Pierre Cauchon was present when Joan received Holy Communion in her cell on May 30th. According to the testimony at the trial of nullification it was stated that the Bishop had left hastily after Joan appealed to God against him! Therefore, he could not have been there.
The eighth discrepancy: Joan asks Father Loiseleur to remind her to tell the crowd that she deceived herself and the people about her revelations and to ask pardon for this. In the original trial transcripts there is no mention that Father Loiseleur or any other priest reminded her to inform the people of her deceptions. You would think they would want her to confess her wrongdoing publicly and for this confession to be a part of the trial record. Another interesting point, according to the witnesses at the trial of Nullification, Father Loiseleur was at no time anywhere near the old market square.
The ninth discrepancy: In the document there occurs the statement, 'when she was in public afterward, (after leaving her cell) she asked pardon of the English and Burgundians for having caused them to be slain, put to flight and be sorely afflicted.' This admission is not found in the original trial transcripts. At the trial of Nullification, Father Massieu stated that Joan had asked all the people, no matter what their social status or nationality to pardon her in a general way. He also stated that she had requested those present to pray for her and she forgave them the evil that they had done her.
The tenth discrepancy: There were three surviving assessors, Fathers Martin Ladvenu, Thomas de Courcelles and Jean Toutmouillé, lived to testify at the Trial of Nullification, twenty-five years later. None of them referred to this supplementary report! On the contrary, Brother Ladvenu significantly closed his deposition with these words: "Until her last hour, as ever, Joan affirmed that her Voices were of God, that all she had done, she had done by the order of God, that she did not believe she had been deceived by her Voices and that her revelations were of God."
There are those historians who believe that this document is true. They explain that it reveals Joan as being very human. Because her desire to receive the sacraments was great, the clergy was able to pressure her into confessing that she had lied just so she could go to Confession and receive Holy Communion. Then once she was on the scaffolding in the Old Market square she took back her words to them and publicly declared the truthfulness of her mission and Voices.
It is more likely that the Bishop and his assistants pieced together this document from Joan's own trial statements. Father Jean Toutmouille states that he heard her say "she really did hear them (her Voices) when the bells for Compline and Matins were rung." This answer could have easily come from Joan's February 24th exchange in which she replied, "I had heard it (her Voices) three times: once in the morning, once at vespers, and once when the Ave Maria was rung in the evening." Father Courcelles states that he heard Joan reply to the Bishop by saying, "She would be delivered and she should keep a good countenance." This answer could have easily been lifted from Joan's March 3 statement in which she replied, "Yes, truly, they (her Voices) have told me that I shall be delivered, and that bravely I should show you a cheerful face." Father Nicolas Loiseleur states he heard Joan say, "That she, Jeanne, was the angel who had told and promised her king that she would have him crowned at Reims, if she were set to work." Joan gave this reply on March 13th when she was asked about the sign she gave her King. "The sign was... that he would have all the kingdom of France entirely by the aid of God and by means of her efforts...."
This document makes it sound as if she had said these things on May 30th when in reality they were statements made several months earlier. In the twelve articles that were used to condemn her, the judges explicitly stated that her story about the sign was 'presumptuous falsehood.' Since they believed that she had lied about the angel who gave her king the sign, it was easy for them to come up this report.