Next arrive as witnesses two burghers of Rouen, Peter Cusquel and John Moreaux. Both of them had been spectators of the martyrdom, but they have nothing of interest to say about it. And finally—(and doubtless the reader will be glad to come to the end of this interminable procession, as is the writer)—comes the deposition of John Marcel—’bourgeois’ of Paris. Marcel had been in Rouen during the time of the Maid’s trial, and was also present at the end of her life. M. Fabre, in concluding in his book the translation of the testimonies of the long list of witnesses given by him for the first time in full, makes a great point of the universal concurrence of those who knew Joan of Arc as to her undoubted purity of person as well as of mind: that fact is of the greatest importance as regarded the rehabilitation of the Maid of Orleans. That is a subject which it is not now necessary to do more than to allude to; but to the French judges in the time of the trial of the rehabilitation, the fact of Joan of Arc being proved to have been incontestably a virgin was of the highest interest. It was reserved for a countryman of Joan of Arc’s (Du Bellay) to invent a legend to disprove the fact; and to the everlasting shame of French literature, Voltaire adopted the lying calumny in his licentious burlesque-heroic poem, La Pucelle d’Orleans.
The sentence of rehabilitation which fills in the translation a dozen of M. Fabre’s pages, was solemnly delivered in the great hall of the archiepiscopal palace at Rouen. On that occasion one of Joan of Arc’s brothers, John, was present. The sentence which was framed to wipe away the iniquity of the judgment by which the heroine had been condemned, was delivered by the Archbishop of Rheims in the presence of a vast concourse of people, among whom were the Bishops of Paris and of Coutances. Among other things ordered to honour the memory of the Martyr, it was ordained that after a sermon preached on the spot where the act of abjuration had taken place in the cemetery of the Church of Saint Ouen, and also on the site of the spot where had stood the stake and pyre, two crosses should be erected.
Crosses were placed not only there, and in Rouen, but also on other spots. It is interesting to know that one of these crosses can still be seen in the Forest of Compiegne; and it is traditionally said that this cross at Compiegne was placed there by no other than Dunois himself. Both the crosses at Rouen have disappeared centuries ago. Processions took place at Rouen, and all was done that the Church could do to wash out the indelible stain of its action four-and-twenty years before the time of the rehabilitation. In 1431, the clergy of France, to please the English, had in the name of orthodoxy, and with the tolerance of the Pope, denounced Joan of Arc as ’a heretic and idolatress.’ In 1456, the same French clergy, to please Charles VII., in the name of religion and justice pronounced the memory of Joan of Arc free from all taint of heresy and of idolatry, and ordered processions and erected crosses in her honour to keep her memory fresh in the land.