Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Jeanne's Trial (Part 1)


Jeanne was captured as a result of the French, a faction of the French, capturing her and giving her over to the English, who had made their attempts to occupy France increasingly difficult, to say the least.

Having captured her, that did not want to turn her into a martyr (knowing full well the public support she had), so they wanted to ruin her reputation, declare her a heretic and kill her. The court case was a contrivance to that end. This is an excellent example of hypocrisy, where the leaders of the church assemble to exercise their power, with no regard for the actual truth of things, unless the truth serves their purposes.

Prior to the testimony below, there is a long and boring speech about the church and how sanctimonious it is. At the end of the day, you have a Bishop and 42 assessors (at one point Jeanne had 60 judges trying to incriminate her). If you can imagine 1 18 year old girl, with hardly any education, who could not even write, or take notes (as her judges were), you might think the court case would have been over and done with in a few hours, or days. In fact, it took months and months. Bare in mind that Jeanne was a prisoner of war, while she was on trial, and her guards were soldiers. Can you imagine what a difficult situation that must have been for her for such a protracted length of time.

She found it difficult - so much so that she at one point jumped out of the prison/castle window and miraculously survived the fall, but wasn't able to escape.
All in all, her testimony lasts about 1 year. It is interrupted by her suffering food poisoning at one point, but otherwise, recorded as it is, word for word, in her own words, it provides an extraordinary glimpse into the world, especially life in France, in 1430.

For more background, go to this link: http://www.stjoan-center.com/Trials/sec01.html


On Wednesday, February 21st, at 8 o'clock in the morning, in the Chapel Royal of the Castle of Rouen.

The Bishop and 42 Assessors Present.

And in the first instance we did require her, in the appointed form, her hand on the Holy Gospels, to swear to speak truth on the questions to be addressed to her.

To which she did reply:

"I know not upon what you wish to question me; perhaps you may ask me of things which I ought not to tell you."

"Swear," We did then say to her, "to speak truth on the things which shall be asked you concerning the Faith, and of which you know."

"Of my father and my mother and of what I did after taking the road to France, willingly will I swear; but of the revelations which have come to me from God, to no one will I speak or reveal them, save only to Charles my King; and to you I will not reveal them, even if it cost me my head; because I have received them in visions and by secret counsel, and am forbidden to reveal them. Before eight days are gone, I shall know if I may reveal them to you."

Again did We several times warn and require her to be willing, on whatsoever should touch on the Faith, to swear to speak truly. And the said Jeanne, on her knees, her two hands resting on the Missal, did swear to speak truth on that which should be asked her and which she knew in the matter of the Faith, keeping silence under the condition above stated, that is to say, neither to tell nor to communicate to any one the revelations made to her.

After this oath, Jeanne was interrogated by Us as to her name, and surname, her place of birth, the names of her father and mother, the place of her baptism, her godfathers and godmothers, the Priest who baptized her, etc.

"In my own country they call me Jeannette; since I came into France I have been called Jeanne. Of my surname I know nothing. I was born (2)....(On January 6th, 1412. "In nocte Epiphiniarum Domini." (Letter from Boulainvilliers to the Duke of Milan. Quicherat, vol. V., 116.) in the village of Domremy, which is really one with the village of Greux. The principal Church is at Greux.

My father is called Jacques d'Arc ; my mother, Ysabelle. I was baptized in the village of Domremy. (3)....(The Font and Holy water stoup in the old Church at Domremy are said to be of the 15th century, and to have been used at Jeanne's baptism.) One of my godmothers (4)....(Jeanne appears to have had a great many godparents. In the inquiry made at Domremy in 1455, eight are mentioned, viz. : Jean Morel, Jean Barrey, Jean de Laxart, and Jean Raiguesson, as godfathers; and Jeannette Thévenin, Jeannette Thiesselin, Beatrix Estellin, and Edith Barrey, as godmothers.) is called Agnes, another Jeanne, a third Sibyl. One of my godfathers is called Jean Lingué another Jean Barrey. I had many other godmothers, or so I have heard from my mother. I was, I believe, baptized by Messier Jean Minet; he still lives, so far as I know. I am, I should say, about nineteen years of age. From my mother I learned my Pater, my Ave Maria, and my Credo. I believe I learned all this from my mother."

"Say your Pater."

"Hear me in confession, and I will say it willingly."

To this same question, which was many times put to her, she always answered: "No, I will not say my Pater to you, unless you will hear me in confession."

"Willingly," We said to her, "We will give you two well-known men, of the French language, and before them you shall say your Pater."

"I will not say it to them, unless it be in confession."

And then did We forbid Jeanne, without Our permission, to leave the prison which had been assigned to her in the Castle, under pain of the crime of heresy.

"I do not accept such a prohibition," she answered; "if ever I do escape, no one shall reproach me with having broken or violated my faith, not having given my word to any one, whosoever it may be."

And as she complained that she had been fastened with chains and fetters of iron, We said to her:

"You have before, and many times, sought, We are told, to get out of the prison, where you are detained; and it is to keep you, more surely that it has been ordered to put you in irons."

"It is true I wished to escape; and so I wish still; is not this lawful for all prisoners?"

We then commissioned as her guard the noble man John Gris, (5)....(John Gris, or Grey, a gentleman in the Household of the Duke of Bedford, afterwards knighted. He was appointed chief guardian to the Maid, with two assistants, all members of the King's Body Guard. They appear to have left her entirely in the hands of the common soldiers, five of whom kept constant watch over her.) Squire, one of the Body Guard of our Lord the King, and, with him, John Berwoit and William Talbot, whom We enjoined well and faithfully to guard the said Jeanne, and to permit no person to have dealings with her without Our order. Which the forenamed, with their hands on the Gospels, did solemnly swear.

Finally, having accomplished all the preceding, We appointed the said Jeanne to appear the next day, at 8 o'clock in the morning, before Us in the Ornament Room, at the end of the Great Hall of the Castle of Rouen.

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