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.
of the fee of the English, the daily allowance which it was the English habit to make.  That were to imagine a France, base indeed beyond the limits of human baseness.  All the Norman dignitaries of the Church, all the most learned doctors of the University—­no! that is too great a stretch of our faith.  The greater part no doubt believed as an indisputable fact, that Jeanne was either a witch or an impostor, as we should all probably do now.  And the vertigo of Inquisition gained upon them; they became day by day more exasperated with her seeming innocence, with what must have seemed to them the cunning and cleverness, impossible to her age and sex, of her replies.  Who could have kept the girl so cool, so dauntless, so embarrassing in her straight-forwardness and sincerity?  The saints? the saints were not dialecticians; far more likely the evil one himself, in whom the Church has always such faith.  “He hath a devil and by Beelzebub casteth out devils.”  It was all like a play, only more exciting than any play, and going on endlessly, the excitement always getting stronger till it became the chief stimulus and occupation of life.


It was in the chapel of the Castle of Rouen, on the 21st of February, that the trial of Jeanne was begun.  The judges present numbered about forty, and are carefully classed as doctors in theology, abbots, canons, doctors in canonical and civil law, with the Bishop of Beauvais at their head (the archepiscopal see of Rouen being vacant, as is added:  but not that my lord of Beauvais hoped for that promotion).  They were assembled there in all the solemnity of their priestly and professional robes, the reporters ready with their pens, the range of dark figures forming a semicircle round the presiding Bishop, when the officer of the court led in the prisoner, clothed in her worn and war-stained tunic, like a boy, with her hair cut close as for the helmet, and her slim figure, no doubt more slim than ever, after her long imprisonment.  She had asked to be allowed to hear mass before coming to the bar, but this was refused.  It was a privilege which she had never failed to avail herself of in her most triumphant days.  Now the chapel—­the sanctuary of God contained for her no sacred sacrifice, but only those dark benches of priests amid whom she found no responsive countenance, no look of kindness.

Jeanne was addressed sternly by Cauchon, in an exhortation which it is sad to think was not in Latin, as it appears in the Proces.  She was then required to take the oath on the Scriptures to speak the truth, and to answer all questions addressed to her.  Jeanne had already held that conversation with L’Oyseleur in the prison which Cauchon and Warwick had listened to in secret with greedy ears, but which Manchon, the honest reporter, had refused to take down.  Perhaps, therefore, the Bishop knew that the slim creature

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