Term Paper: Inquisition / Jeanne D' Arc

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[. . .] These involuntary participants were "coerced and unwilling, and many fearful; certain of these fled, not wishing to take part in the trial."

Another reason for such a before trial decision was the fear of the English from the living Jeanne as the priest Jean Riquier of Heudicourt testifies:

heard Master Pierre Maurice and Master Nicolas Loiseleur, and others who I don't remember, say that the English feared her to such a degree that they didn't dare - she being still alive - to lay siege to the town of Louviers until she was dead, and that it was necessary to please them, that a case against her must quickly be made, and a pretext for her execution would be devised."

Isambart de la Pierre was a Dominican Friar at the Saint Jacques convent in Rouen. He testified that "immediately, in great anger and indignation, the Bishop of Beauvais began to shout: 'Be quiet, in the Devil's name!' And told the notary that he should be certain to never write down the submission she had made to the General Council of Basle. As a result of these things and several others, the English and their officers threatened me horribly that if I did not keep my mouth shut they would throw me in the Seine" and he held the opinion that the English take legal action against Jeanne merely "out of hatred and bitterness, and they sought nothing but her death."

Another evaluator at the trial, Nicolas de Houppeville testified that in his views the "judges and assessors were for the most part willing; and as for the others I believe that many were afraid... Moreover, I heard that threats were made by the Earl of Warwick against Friar Isambart de la Pierre of the Order of Preaching Friars [Dominicans], who took part in the trial, saying that he would be drowned unless he kept quiet, for the reason that he had guided Joan with words, then she repeated them to the notaries. I believe I heard of this from Friar Jean LeMaitre of the Dominican Order, at that time Vice-Inquisitor. One day at the beginning of the trial I was summoned but didn't come since I was detained by other matters; and upon arriving on the second day I wasn't allowed in, but instead was barred by the Lord Bishop of Beauvais; and because I had previously said, while conferring with Master Michel [sic: should be "Guillaume"] Colles that it was dangerous to undertake this trial for a number of reasons, statements which were relayed to the Bishop; for which reason the Bishop had me thrown into the Royal prison at Rouen, from which I was freed at the request of the Lord Abbot of Fecamp. And I heard that it was decided, upon the advice of certain people whom the Bishop had summoned for this purpose, that I would be exiled to England or somewhere else outside the city of Rouen, but the Abbot and certain of my friends intervened. I know for certain that the Vice-Inquisitor was in great fear, and many times I saw him looking troubled during the trial" and marks the trial as an "intentional and studied persecution" instead of being a just trial.

These are just a few dispositions that were recorded in the second trial after her death that lead to the nullification of the first conviction. It is rather evident from these testimonies that the jury at that time was decided, even before hearing the case, that Jeanne ought to be convicted and executed for her crimes that included heresy, cross-dressing and sorcery.

With respect to cross-dressing it was rather evident at that time too that there are exceptions given at the time of need in pure Christian belief too as in Summa Theologica it is given:

Nevertheless, this [cross-dressing] may at times be done without sin due to some necessity, either for the purpose of concealing oneself from enemies, or due to a lack of any other clothing, or on account of some other thing of this sort"

In another theological work it is given:

Men and women should not wear each other's clothes except in necessity. A man should never put on feminine dress or woman use male attire... Unless a man's life or a woman's chastity is in danger; in such an hour a man may change his dress for a woman's or a woman for a man's."

Here again, it is quite evident that the issue of male dressing was nothing but a biased and political move to convict Jeanne. Jeanne dressed out of necessity not out of her wish to wear a man's clothes.

In a biographical record it is given that the trial of Jeanne comprised of a progression of tribunal that started from the 21st of February and continued without a halt till March of the year 1431. More often than not, an Inquisitorial court would listen to witness's deposition in opposition to the indicted, however, in Jeanne's trial there was no witness and no testimony that was called to speak and provide proof against Jeanne. It seems that Jeanne has to perform two tasks in the court, one of the accused and the other of the witness of herself. Throughout the court's hearing, every attempt was made in the court to provoke her and to excite her in to saying anything that can be turned as a proof against her "resolved" crimes. This is confirmed by the disposition of the assessors in the trial after her death where many present at the first trial confirmed their doubts and injustice that led to the execution of Jeanne d' Arc. The testimonies and the transcripts that are available in the record provide heavy proof in this matter and for the sanctity and veracity of Jeanne.

Even from the religious motives, we see that all the arguments that were put forward to indict Jeanne were pre-planned and there was no room for Jeanne to justify herself, except to accept that she was guilty. The authority of the tribunal was misused and manipulated as standards of a tribunal demands that the courts of heresy may be supervised by the presence of non-devotee adjudicators and the standards also permitted the accused to plea before the Pope, however, she was denied both. In the testimony of an eyewitness in the second trial of Jeanne, it was stated in the disposition that Jeanne asked for the hearing to be conducted by the non-partisan jury, but she was denied that; she asked for appeal before the Pope, and she was denied that too.

She was accused of witchcraft by asserting that her banner of white stating fleur-de-lis was powered by magic and that she used to pour wax on small children's heads. However, these sorcery and witchcraft accusations were dropped along with another acquisition that she acquiesced with Papacy's as well as the Council of Basle's authority.

The final transcript of accusations thus contained only two charges, one of heresy and the other of cross-dressing. She succumbed to the court that she would not wear man's clothes in future but as the history records she relapsed on her promise. This she did on purpose of evading the greedy eyes of the guards who intended to rape her. Hence, she resumed to her clothing standards, which was later proved to be another sin in the inquisition trial. This was a trap set for her and she fell in to it. This relapse proved to be the final nail in the coffin of Jeanne d' Arc as in indicated by Cauchon remarks:

Farewell, be of good cheer, it is done!."

At her death stake, she was heard of calling "Jesus." All through her trial, she has been reported to stick to her claims in public, except where she was threatened with torture or threatened with other torturous faith. However, her confidence and her poise all thorough her trial was enough to see that Jeanne did not apprehend her death till the ending when she was burned alive. Her attempt of suicide, in my opinion was an attempt to escape the English, not to escape life. The attempt of suicide was in fact a sought after brave and respected death. At such a minor age one could not expect any person to act as she did and one could not even expect any person to hear a minor to lead an army and to get convinced of the plan that she laid forth in front of the Catholic Church in France. It was indeed her greatness and he veracity that compelled everyone to follow her plans and then lead to a second trial out of the conscience of those, many in numbers in fact, who thought that Jeanne was wrongly convicted and executed.

Works Cited

Avalon Project available at http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/treatise/jean_darc/intro.htm

Bingen, St. Hildegard von; Scivias; Mother Columba Hart and Jane Bishop (translators); Paulist Press, New… [END OF PREVIEW]

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