The next morning, Tuesday after Trinity Sunday, the witnesses hurried with their news to the quickly summoned assembly in the chapel of the Archbishop’s house; thirty-three of the judges, having been hastily called together, were there to hear. Jeanne had relapsed; the sinner escaped had been re-caught; and what was now to be done? One by one each man rose again and gave his verdict. Once more Egidius, Abbot of Fecamp, led the tide of opinion. There was but one thing to be done: to give her up to the secular justice, “praying that she might be gently dealt with.” Man after man added his voice “to that of Abbot of Fecamp aforesaid”—that she might be gently dealt with! Not one of them could be under any doubt what gentle meaning would be in the execution; but apparently the words were of some strange use in salving their consciences.
The decree was pronounced at once without further formalities. In point of view of the law, there should have followed another trial, more evidence, pleadings, and admonitions. We may be thankful to Monseigneur de Beauvais that he now defied law, and no longer prolonged the useless ceremonials of that mockery of justice. It is said that in coming out of the prison, through the courtyard full of Englishmen, where Warwick was in waiting to hear what news, the Bishop greeted them with all the satisfaction of success, laughing and bidding them “Make good cheer, the thing is done.” In the same spirit of satisfaction was the rapid action of the further proceedings. On Tuesday she was condemned, summoned on Wednesday morning at eight ’clock to the Old Market of Rouen to hear her sentence, and there, without even that formality, the penalty was at once carried out. No time, certainly, was lost in this last stage.
All the interest of the heart-rending tragedy now turns to the prison where Jeanne woke in the early morning without, as yet, any knowledge of her fate. It must be remembered that the details of this wonderful scene, which we have in abundance, are taken from reports made twenty years after by eye-witnesses indeed, but men to whom by that time it had become the only policy to represent Jeanne in the brightest colours, and themselves as her sympathetic friends. There is no doubt that so remarkable an occurrence as her martyrdom must have made a deep impression on the minds of all those who were in any way actors in or spectators of that wonderful scene. And every word of all these different reports is on oath; but notwithstanding, a touch of unconscious colour, a more favourable sentiment, influenced by the feeling of later days, may well have crept in. With this warning we may yet accept these depositions as trustworthy, all the more for the atmosphere of truth, perfectly realistic, and in no way idealised, which is in every description of the great catastrophe; in which Jeanne figures as no supernatural heroine, but as a terrified, tormented, and often trembling girl.