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.
before him, half boy half girl, was not likely to be overawed by his presence or questions; but it cannot have been but a wonder to the others, all gazing at her, the first men in Normandy, the most learned in Paris, to hear her voice, assez femme, young and clear, arising in the midst of them, “I know not what things I may be asked,” said Jeanne.  “Perhaps you may ask me questions which I cannot answer.”  The assembly was startled by this beginning.

“Will you swear to answer truly all that concerns the faith, and that you know?”

“I will swear,” said Jeanne, “about my father and mother and what I have done since coming to France; but concerning my revelations from God I will answer to no man, except only to Charles my King; I should not reveal them were you to cut off my head, unless by the secret counsel of my visions.”

The Bishop continued not without gentleness, enjoining her to swear at least that in everything that touched the faith she would speak truth; and Jeanne kneeling down crossed her hands upon the book of the Gospel, or Missal as it is called in the report, and took the required oath, always under the condition she stated, to answer truly on everything she knew concerning the faith, except in respect to her revelations.

The examination then began with the usual formalities.  She was asked her name (which she said with touching simplicity was Jeannette at home but Jeanne in France), the names of her father and mother, godfather and godmothers, the priest who baptised her, the place where she was born, etc., her age, almost nineteen; her education, consisting of the Pater Noster, Ave Maria, and Credo, which her mother had taught her.

Here she was asked, a curious interruption to the formal interrogatory, to say the Pater Noster—­the reason of which sudden demand was that witches and sorcerers were supposed to be unable to repeat that prayer.  As unexpected as the question was Jeanne’s reply.  She answered that if the Bishop would hear her in confession she would say it willingly.  She had been refused all the exercises of piety, and she was speaking to a company of priests.

There is a great dignity of implied protest against this treatment in such an answer.  The request was made a second time with a promise of selecting two worthy Frenchmen to hear her:  but her reply was the same.  She would say the prayer when she made her confession but not otherwise.  She was ready it would seem in proud humility to confess to any or to all of her enemies, as one whose conscience was clear, and who had nothing to conceal.

She was then commanded not to attempt to escape from her prison, on pain of being condemned for heresy, but to this again she demurred at once.  She would not accept the prohibition, but would escape if she could, so that no man could say that she had broken faith; although since her capture she had been bound in chains and her feet fastened with irons.  To this, her examiner said that it was necessary so to secure her in order that she might not escape.  “It is true and certain,” she replied, “whatever others may wish, that to every prisoner it is lawful to escape if he can.”  It may be remarked, as she forcibly pointed out afterwards, that she had never given her faith, never surrendered, but had always retained her freedom of action.

Project Gutenberg
Jeanne D'Arc: her life and death from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook