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.
early tourists on the Continent were taught to fear in every chamber door, the idea has descended to our own times.  It would seem, however, to be beyond doubt that this odious means of acquiring information was in full operation during the trial of Jeanne, and various spies were permitted to peep at her, and to watch for any unadvised word she might say in her most private moments.  We are told that the Duke of Bedford made use of the opportunity in a still more revolting way, and was present, a secret spectator, at the fantastic scene when Jeanne was visited by a committee of matrons who examined her person to prove or to disprove one of the hateful insinuations which were made about her.  The imagination, however, refuses to conceive that a man of serious age and of high functions should have degraded himself to the level of a Peeping Tom in this way; all the French historians, nevertheless, repeat the story though on the merest hearsay evidence.  And they also relate, with more apparent truth, how a double treachery was committed upon the unfortunate prisoner by stationing two secretaries at these openings, to take down her conversation with a spy who had been sent to her in the guise of a countryman of her own; and that not only Cauchon but Warwick also was present on this occasion, listening, while their plot was carried out by the vile traitor inside.  The clerks, we are glad to say, are credited with a refusal to act:  but Warwick did not shrink from the ignominy.  The Englishmen indeed shrank from no ignominy; nor did the great French savants assembled under the presidency of the Bishop.  It is necessary to grant to begin with that they were neither ignorant nor base men, yet from the beginning of the trial almost every step taken by them appears base, as well as marked, in the midst of all their subtlety and diabolical cunning, by the profoundest ignorance of human nature.  The spy of whom we have spoken, L’Oyseleur (bird-snarer, a significant name), was sent, and consented to be sent, to Jeanne in her prison, as a fellow prisoner, a pays, like herself from Lorraine, to invite her confidence:  but his long conversations with the Maid, which were heard behind their backs by the secretaries, elicited nothing from her that she did not say in the public examination.  She had no secret devices to betray to a traitor.  She would not seem, indeed, to have suspected the man at all, not even when she saw him among her judges taking part against her.  Jeanne herself suspected no falsehood, but made her confession to him, when she found that he was a priest, and trusted him fully.  The bewildering and confusing fact, turning all the contrivances of her judges into foolishness, was, that she had nothing to confess that she was not ready to tell in the eye of day.

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