Her faith in what she called her voices continued the same. She heard them constantly in her prison; she often saw the two saints; she received consolation and encouragement from them; it was by their advice that she replied boldly; it was they who instigated her to repeat before this tribunal, composed entirely of the friends of England, that the English would be driven from France. A point often returned to was that of the signs by which she had induced the king to accept her aid. She often refused to reply to this; at other times the voices forbade her to speak of it. Then, notwithstanding, she related various strange things on the subject—of an angel who delivered to the king a crown from Heaven, and of the manner of this vision. Sometimes the king alone had seen it; at others there had been many more witnesses; now the angel was herself; then she appeared to confound this crown with the one which had been really made for the coronation at Rheims. Indeed her ideas about the first interviews that she had had with the king appeared confused, without meaning or coherence. Allegories, or great mysteries have been discerned in them by several persons. In the oaths to reply truthfully which were imposed upon her, she always made a reservation concerning what she had said to the king, and only swore to answer to the points of the action. In other respects nothing could be more pious, more simple, or more truthful than all she said. This only increased the fury of the English, and of the bishop. The councillors who took the side of the accused were insulted, and often threatened with being thrown into the river. The notaries were forced to omit all favourable replies, and it was only with great difficulty that they could escape the insertion of falsehoods. After the first examinations, the bishop judged it advisable to continue the procedure only before a very limited number of assessors: he said that everything should be communicated to them, and that their advice could be taken, without requiring their presence. The process had already disposed of all the charges of sorcery. Not the slightest suspicion of this was warranted by the testimony given, or by any reply of the accused. When asked about a fairy-haunted tree, famous in her village, she said that her godmother testified to having seen the fairies, but, for her own part, she had never had any vision on that spot. Thus the accusation now rested on two points: the crime of wearing male apparel, and the refusal to submit to the Church. This determination not to wear the dress proper to her sex was a singular thing. Doubtless the costume she maintained was better calculated than any other to defend her modesty from the outrages of her keepers; but she never stated this as her motive. The commands of her voices was what she always alleged; she appeared to have no free will on this point, but to be under the constraint of some duty imposed by the Divine will. As to submission to the Church, this was a snare into which she had been entrapped by the malice of her judge. She had been imposed upon by a learned and subtle distinction between the Church triumphant in Heaven, and the Church militant on earth. Her treacherous confessor made her fancy that to submit herself to the Church would be to acknowledge the tribunal, which was composed entirely of her enemies in spite of her constant request that some of her partisans might be admitted. After these first examinations the proctor drew up the articles on which the accusation was to rest; for all hitherto was merely preparatory. The examinations then recommenced before a larger number of assessors: there were now thirty or forty, but never again a hundred. Nearly all endeavoured to escape from this cruel office, and the threats of the English made several withdraw themselves. M. de la Fontaine, the examining commissary, and two other assessors, moved with pity and a sense of justice, could not suffer Joan to be so deceived on the subject of submission to the Church. They visited her, and endeavoured to explain to her that by the Church militant was understood the Pope and the Holy Councils, and that thus she was quite safe in submitting to it. One of them had even the courage to tell her openly during the examinations, that she had better submit herself to the General Council of Bâle, which was then assembled. “What is a General Council 7” said she. “It is a congregation of the Universal Church,” continued brother Isambard, “and it is formed of as many doctors on your side, as on the side of the English.” “Oh in that case I submit myself to it !” she cried. “Be quiet, for the devil's sake,” interrupted the Bishop, and forbade the notary to write this answer: “Alas! you write down all that tells against me, and you will not write what is in my favour,” said the poor girl. Brother Isambard was not suffered to escape with nothing more than the Bishop's anger. The Earl of Warwick overwhelmed him with abuse and threats. “What induced thee to prompt that woman this morning?” he said to him ; “by God's death, villain, if I again find you making any attempt to save her, I will have you thrown into the Seine.” The examining commissary and the other assessor were so alarmed that they left the town; admittance into the prison was henceforth forbidden to all but the bishop. When the examinations were concluded, the substance of the prisoner's replies was reduced into twelve latin articles, and as one of the assessors remarked that these articles conveyed the meaning imperfectly, the bishop, without further consulting any one, despatched this lying report, as a document on which he desired advice, not naming the accused, to the University of Paris, to the Chapter of Rouen, to the Bishops of Lisieux, Avranches and Coutances, and to more than fifty doctors, most of them assessors in the trial. This was a form by which the judges requested to be enlightened on points of doctrine, and things concerning the Catholic faith. All the opinions given were adverse to the accused. Not to mention the ill-will of those who were consulted, it would have been hardly possible to reply otherwise to the false statements laid before them. All considered that the prisoner about whom they were consulted had from foolishness or vanity put faith in apparitions and revelations which were doubtless the work of the Evil Spirit: that she blasphemed God in imputing to Him the command to wear male attire: and that her refusal to submit herself to the Church proved her to be a heretic. In the meantime the judges, without waiting for these opinions, proceeded to make monitions to Joan ; for an ecclesiastical tribunal has no power to demand more than the submission of the culprit. Just then she fell ill, much to the alarm of the English. “The king would rather anything in the world,” said the Earl of Warwick, “than that she should die a natural death; having paid so dearly for her, he expects her to be burnt. Let her be cured as soon as possible.” As soon as she recovered, the monitions were recommenced, no one now explained to the simple-minded and ignorant girl the quibbles about submission to the Church; she appeared therefore to rely solely upon what she herself learnt from God by her voices; she always spoke with respect, however, of the Pope's authority. Her determination not to resume female attire was in no way weakened. At last the sentence was delivered. It was, like the ecclesiastical judgments, a declaration made to the prisoner, that for such and such motives, she was expelled from the Church, as a corrupt member, and delivered up to secular justice. It was added, as a matter of form, that the laymen were recommended to moderate the punishment, as far as concerned death or mutilation. But before her execution it was desirable to obtain from her a sort of public avowal of the justice of her condemnation. To this end, she was advised, through her false confessor, to submit herself, under promise of merciful treatment, and of being delivered out of the hands of the English, and placed in the power of the Church. On the 24th of May, 1431, she was taken to the St. Ouen burying-ground, where two large scaffolds were erected; upon one of these were the Cardinal of Winchester, the Bishop of Beauvais, the Bishops of Noyon and Boulogne, and several assessors. Joan was conducted on to the other scaffold on which were the doctor who was to preach, the notaries employed in the trial, the officers in whose custody she had been during the examinations, M. l'Oiseleur, and another assessor, who had also been her confessor. Close by was the executioner with his cart ready to receive La Pucelle, and to convey her to the pile formed in the Grand Place. An immense crowd of French and English filled the burying-ground. The preacher spoke at great length. “Oh noble house of France,” he said amongst other things, “who, until now, hast always avoided supernatural things, and hast ever protected the faith, hast thou been so deceived as to take part with a heretic and schismatic It is greatly to be deplored Ah! France thou hast been misled; thou, who hast always been the most Christian realm; and Charles, thou who callest thyself her king and governor, thou, heretic as thou art, hast approved the words and the acts of an infamous and a shameful woman.” Here Joan interrupted him: “Speak of me, but not of the king; he is a good christian, and I dare to say and to swear, on pain of death, that he is the best of christians, and a good friend to the faith and the Church. He is not such as you say”—“Make her be silent : * cried the Bishop of Beauvais. At the conclusion of his sermon, the preacher read to Joan a form of adjuration, and told her to sign it. “What is an adjuration ?” asked she. She was answered, that if she refused to sign the articles presented to her, she would be burned, and that she must submit herself to the universal Church. “Well, I will make an adjuration if the universal Church wishes it.” But it was not submission to the Church or to the Pope that was required from her, it was the avowal that her judges had passed a right sentence upon her. Threats, persuasions, and promises were therefore redoubled. Every effort was made to disconcert her. For a long time she remained firm and unshaken. “I was right in doing all that I have done,” said she. This scene lasted for some time. The English began to be impatient at what appeared to them like mercy towards the prisoner. Cries were raised against the bishop, calling him a traitor. “That is false,” he said, “it is the duty of a bishop to endeavour to save both the soul and body of the accused.” The Cardinal of Winchester imposed silence on his men. At last Joan's resistance was overcome. “I desire all that the Church desires,” said she, “and since the churchmen say that my visions are not worthy of belief, I will no longer hold to them.” “Sign then, or you shall perish by fire,” said the preacher to her. In this interval a secretary of the English king had substituted for the articles which had been read to her, and which she had been induced with such difficulty to approve, another paper containing a long adjuration, in which she avowed that all she had said was false, and prayed for pardon of her crimes. She was made to put a cross at the foot of this paper as her signature. A great disturbance then arose among the crowd; the French rejoicing at her escape, the English in their fury throwing stones. The Bishop of Beauvais and the Inquisitor then pronounced another sentence which they had brought, condemning Joan to pass the rest of her days in prison, on the bread of misery, and the water of tribulation. The promises which had just been made to her were immediately broken. She boped to be taken out of

the hands of the English, and delivered over to the clergy; in spite of her remonstrances, she was carried back to the Tower. The English were still very angry, they drew their swords, threatening the bishop and the assessors, and crying that they had not earned the king's money. Even the Earl of Warwick complained to the bishop. “The business has succeeded badly, since Joan has escaped,” said he. “Never fear,” said one of the assessors “we will soon have her again.” To this end operations were commenced, without delay. She had resumed female clothing. Her male apparel was left in the same room. Her English gaolers and even an English lord, conducted themselves towards her with shameful brutality. She was more closely fettered than before, and treated with greater harshness. Nothing was omitted to reduce her to despair. At last, finding that she could not be made to violate her promise to retain the garments of her sex, her keepers removed them during her sleep, and only left her the male suit. “You know, gentlemen, that this is forbidden me,” she said on awaking, “I do not wish to wear this dress. “However, she was obliged to rise and put it on. This was a great delight to the English. “She is taken " cried the earl of Warwick. Information was immediately sent to the bishop. The assessors who arrived a short time before him, were menaced and driven back by the English, who filled the court of the castle. Without listening to Joan's excuses, without suffering any mention in the verbal process of the outrages to which she had been submitted, and the manner in which she had been forced to change her clothing, without paying the least attention to her just complaints, the bishop began saying that he found she still adhered to her illusions. “Have you again heard your voices?” he added. “It is true I have,” she replied. “What did they say?” pursued the bishop. “God has revealed to me,” continued she, “that it was a great mistake to sign your adjuration in order to save my life. The two saints told me on the scaffold to reply boldly to that false preacher, who accused me of what I had never done; they reproached me for my fault.” After this she affirmed more positively than ever, that she believed her voices came from God; that she had never understood what the adjuration was: that she had signed from fear of being burnt : that she would rather die than remain in chains: that the only thing she could do was to wear female clothing. “For the rest, imprison me leniently. I will behave well, and do all the church desires.” This was enough, she was doomed. “Farewell !” cried the bishop to the earl of Warwick, and the rest of the English who were awaiting him outside the prison. The judges now resolved to deliver her over to secular justice, that is to say, to give her up to death. When this hard and cruel fate was announced to the poor girl, she began to weep and tear her hair. Her voices had often warned her that she would perish; but she had often fancied also that they promised her deliverance; now she could think of nothing but this dreadful death. “Alas!” said she, “my body which is pure and undefiled to be reduced to ashes! I would seven times rather be beheaded. If, as I requested, I had been placed in the custody of the church, I should not have met with such a terrible fate. Ah! I appeal to God, the great Judge, against the cruelty and injustice which I suffer.” When she saw Pierre Cauchon, she said, “Bishop, you are my murderer.” To one of the assessors she said, “Ah M. Pierre, where shall I be to-day !” “Have you not hope in God?” he asked in reply, “yes,” answered she, “I trust, with God's help, to go to Paradise.” By a singular contradiction to the sentence, she was allowed to take the sacrament. On the 30th of May, a week after her adjuration, she entered the executioner's cart. Her confessor, not he who had betrayed

her, but brother Martin l’Advenu, and brother Isambard, both of whom had more than once during the trial demanded that justice should be done her, were by her side. Eight hundred Englishmen, armed with axes, lances, and swords, surrounded the cart. On the road, she prayed so fervently, and lamented her fate with such meekness, that no Frenchman could restrain his tears. Some of the assessors were so overcome as to be unable to follow her to the scaffold. Suddenly a priest broke through the crowd, and reaching the cart, mounted into it. It was Nicolas l’Oiseleur, the false confessor, who, full of contrition, came to implore Joan's pardon for his perfidy. The English, overhearing him, were furious at his repentance, and the earl of Warwick had great difficulty in saving his life. On arriving at the place of execution, Joan said, “Ah! Rouen Rouen! is it here that I am to die?” The cardinal of Winchester, and several French prelates were placed on one scaffold, the ecclesiastical and the secular judges on the other. Joan was conducted before them. A sermon was then delivered, upbraiding her with her relapse; she listened to it with patience and great calmness. “Joan, go in peace; the church can no longer protect thee, and delivers thee into secular hands.” Thus the preacher concluded. She then kneeled down, and implored the mercy of God, of the Holy Virgin, and of the Saints, especially St. Michel, St. Catherine, and St. Marguerite; she displayed so much fervour, that all around her wept, even the cardinal of Winchester, and several other Englishmen. The bishop of Beauvais read the sentence, declaring her a relapsed heretic, and abandoning her to the secular power. After having been thus repulsed by the church, she asked for a cross. An Englishman formed one of two staffs, and gave it her. She took it devoutly, and kissed it; but she desired to have the cross of the parish; it was sent for, and she pressed it closely to her heart, whilst continuing to pray. The English soldiers, and even some captains, began to be impatient at this delay. “Come, priest, are you going to make us dine here 7" said some. “Give her to us,” said others, “and it shall soon be over.” “Do your duty,” they said to the executioner. Without waiting for any further order, or for the sentence of the secular judge, the executioner seized her. She embraced the cross, and walked towards the pile. The English soldiers dragged her forward with fury. Jean de Muilli, bishop of Noyon, and some other ecclesiastics, unable to endure this sight, descended from their scaffold and retired. The pile was formed on a heap of rubbish. As soon as Joan had ascended it, a mitre was placed on her head, on which were inscribed the words heretique, relapse, apostate, idolátre. Brother Martin l’Advenu, her confessor, had ascended the pile with her ; he was still on it, when the executioner kindled the fire. “Jesus,” cried Joan, and made the good priest descend from the pile. “Remain below,” said she, “raise the cross before me, that I may see it as I die, and continue to repeat to me words of religious consolation to the last.” The bishop of Beauvais approaching her, she repeated to him: “You are my destroyer.” She again affirmed that the voices came from God; that she did not think she had been deluded, and that all she had done had been by command of God. “Ah! Rouen she added, “I fear that thou wilt suffer for my death.” Thus protesting her innocence, and commending her soul to God, her prayers were still heard when the flames surrounded her, the last word that could be distinguished being, “Jesus /*

« ForrigeFortsett »