Jeanne D'Arc: her life and death eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 397 pages of information about Jeanne D'Arc.

The name of Pierre Cauchon, Bishop of Beauvais, appears to us at this long distance as arising out of the infernal mists, into which, when his ministry of shame was accomplished, he disappeared again, bearing with him nothing but hatred and ill fame.  Yet in his own day and to his contemporaries, he was not an inconsiderable man.  He was of Rheims, a great student, and excellent scholar, the friend of many good men, highly esteemed among the ranks of the learned, a good man of business, which is not always the attribute of a scholar, and at the same time a Burgundian of pronounced sentiments, holding for his Duke, against the King.  When Beauvais was summoned by Charles, after his coronation, at that moment of universal triumph when all seemed open for him to march upon Paris if he would, the city had joyfully thrown open its doors to the royal army, and in doing so had driven out its Bishop, who was hot on the other side.  He would not seem to have been wanted in Paris at that moment.  The “triste Bedford,” as Michelet calls him, had no means of employing an ambitious priest, no dirty work for the moment to give him.  It is natural to suppose that a man so admirably adapted for that employment went in search of it to the ecclesiastical court, not beloved of England, which the Cardinal Bishop of Winchester held there.  Winchester was the only one of the House of Lancaster who had money to carry on the government either at home or abroad.  The two priests, as the historians are always pleased to insinuate in respect to ecclesiastics, soon understood each other, and Winchester became aware that he had in Cauchon a tool ready for any shameful enterprise.  It is not, however, necessary to assume so much as this, for we have not the least reason to believe that either one or the other of them had the slightest doubt on the subject of Jeanne, or as to her character.  She was a pernicious witch, filling a hitherto invincible army with that savage fright which is but too well understood among men, and which produces cruel outrages as well as cowardly panic.  The air of this very day, while I write, is ringing with the story of a woman burnt to death by her own family under the influence of that same horrible panic and terror.  Cauchon was the countryman, almost the pays—­an untranslatable expression,—­of Jeanne; but he did not believe in her any more than the loftier ecclesiastics of France believed in Bernadette of Lourdes, who was of the spiritual lineage of Jeanne, nor than we should believe to-day in a similar pretender.  It seems unnecessary then to think of dark plots hatched between these two dark priests against the white, angelic apparition of the Maid.

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Jeanne D'Arc: her life and death from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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