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.
private instructions, through her saints, rather than to the guiding of any priest.  The chief ecclesiastical dignitary of her own party had just held her up to the reprobation of the people for this cause:  she was too independent, so proud that she would take no advice but acted according to her own will.  The more accustomed a Churchman is to experience the unbounded devotion and obedience of women, the more enraged he is against those who judge for themselves or have other guides on whom they rely.  Jeanne was, beside all other sins alleged against her, a presumptuous woman:  and very few of these men had any desire to acquit her.  They were little accustomed to researches which were solely intended to discover the truth:  their principle rather was, as it has been the principle of many, to obtain proofs that their own particular way of thinking was the right one.  It is not perhaps very good even for a system of doctrine when this is the principle by which it is tested.  It is more fatal still, on this principle, to judge an individual for death or for life.  It will be abundantly proved, however, by all that is to follow, that in face of this tribunal, learned, able, powerful, and prejudiced, the peasant girl of nineteen stood like a rock, unmoved by all their cleverness, undaunted by their severity, seldom or never losing her head, or her temper, her modest steadfastness, or her high spirit.  If they hoped to have an easy bargain of her, never were men more mistaken.  Not knowing a from b, as she herself said, untrained, unaided, she was more than a match for them all.

Round about this centre of eager intelligence, curiosity, and prejudice, the cathedral and council chamber teeming with Churchmen, was a dark and silent ring of laymen and soldiers.  A number of the English leaders were in Rouen, but they appear very little.  Winchester, who had very lately come from England with an army, which according to some of the historians would not budge from Calais, where it had landed, “for fear of the Maid”—­was the chief person in the place, but did not make any appearance at the trial, curiously enough; the Duke of Bedford we are informed was visible on one shameful occasion, but no more.  But Warwick, who was the Governor of the town, appears frequently and various other lords with him.  We see them in the mirror held up to us by the French historians, pressing round in an ever narrowing circle, closing up upon the tribunal in the midst, pricking the priests with perpetual sword points if they seem to loiter.  They would have had everything pushed on, no delay, no possibility of escape.  It is very possible that this was the case, for it is evident that the Witch was deeply obnoxious to the English, and that they were eager to have her and her endless process out of the way; but the evidence for their terror and fierce desire to expedite matters is of the feeblest.  A canon of Rouen declared at the trial that he had heard it said by Maitre Pierre Morice, and Nicolas l’Oyseleur,

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