by Allen Williamson

Joan of Arc's Trial - Motives & Conduct

Excerpts from the Testimony On This Subject At the Appeal.

Here are a few representative samples of the testimony (during the postwar appeal of Joan of Arc's case) concerning 1) the pro-English nature of the tribunal and English control of the trial, and 2) the coercion used against any tribunal members who developed scruples about the process.

The chief trial notary, Guillaume Manchon, summed up the situation concisely when he said: "I was compelled to serve as notary in this matter, and I did so against my will, because I would not have dared to oppose an order given by the lords of the Royal Council. And the English conducted this trial, and by their expense. I believe however that the Bishop of Beauvais [the pro-English Pierre Cauchon] was not forced to prosecute Joan, nor was the Promoter [Jean d'Estivet]; on the contrary they did it voluntarily. Concerning the assessors and other advisors, I believe they would not have dared to put up any opposition, and there wasn't a single one who was not afraid." (From Manchon's fourth deposition, May 12, 1456; for the original language and other translations, see: Quicherat's "Procès...", Vol III, p. 137; DuParc's "Procès en Nullité...", Vol I, pp. 417 - 418; Oursel's "Les Procès de Jeanne d'Arc", p. 310; Pernoud's "The Retrial of Joan of Arc", p. 180)

Most of the other clergy said the same:

From the third deposition [May 12, 1456] of Jean Massieu, bailiff at the trial:
"... Indeed the Bishop [Cauchon] was staunchly supportive of the English faction, and many of the counselors [assessors] were in great fear, and were not able to judge freely; for Master Nicholas de Houppeville, who, seeing what was going on, didn't want to take part in the deliberations, was banished along with a number of others... Master Jean LeMaitre [Vice-Inquisitor for Northern France], who was placed as Inquisitor in this trial, had declined many times to take part in the trial, and did his utmost to not attend the trial; but it was said to him by some persons of his acquaintance that unless he took part, he would be in danger of death; and he did so, thus forced by the English, as I had often heard from LeMaitre himself, who told me: "I see that unless one acts in this matter according to the wishes of the English, death is imminent." And I myself was in great danger, because while bringing Joan to and from [the hearings], I came across a certain Englishman called Anquetil, cantor in the King of England's chapel, who asked me what I thought of Joan. And when I replied that I didn't know of anything but good in her, and that she seemed to be a good woman, the cantor reported this to the Earl of Warwick, who was angry with me, and I had a great deal of trouble because of this; but I nevertheless managed to get out of it by making excuses for myself." (Quicherat, Vol III, pp. 152 - 154; DuParc, Vol I, pp. 430 - 431; Vol IV, pp. 110 - 111; Oursel, pp. 318 - 319).

From the deposition (May 9, 1452) of Richard de Grouchet, Canon of the Church of Le Saussaye, who had served as an assessor during her trial; approx. 60 years old at the time of his testimony:
"... In my opinion, one portion of those who took part in the trial did so willingly and in a spirit of bias. Others were coerced and unwilling, and many fearful; certain of these fled, not wishing to take part in the trial; and among others, Master Nicolas de Houppeville was in great danger. Also Jean Pigache and Pierre Minier, as I heard from them, and myself who was with them - it was from fear, threats, and terror that we gave our opinions and took part in the trial, and we had the intention to flee. I frequently heard from the mouth of Master Pierre Maurice that, since he had warned her to stand firm in her good resolutions after the first sermon, the English were displeased and he was in great danger of a beating, as he said." (Quicherat, Vol II, pp. 356 - 357; DuParc Vol I, p. 228; Oursel pp. 190 - 191; Pernoud, p. 181)

From the deposition (May 12, 1456) of Jean Riquier; at the time of his testimony below he was a priest in the parish of Heudicourt:
"... and among others I heard Master Pierre Maurice and Master Nicolas Loiseleur [two assessors at the trial], 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 should be devised." (Quicherat, Vol III, p. 189; DuParc, Vol I, p. 460; Oursel, p. 338; Pernoud, p. 177)

From the first deposition (March 5, 1450) of Isambart de la Pierre (another assessor), a Dominican Friar from the convent of Saint Jacques in Rouen:
"[after he advised Joan to submit to the Council of Basel] ... 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 Basel. 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." (Quicherat, Vol II, pp. 4 - 5; Pernoud, p. 241)
And from his 2nd deposition (May 3, 1452): "Considering the trial and the things that were done during the trial, I believe that the English prosecuted her out of hatred and bitterness, and they sought nothing but her death." (Quicherat, Vol II, pp. 302 - 303; DuParc, Vol I, p. 185; Oursel, p. 158; Pernoud, p. 176)
And from his third deposition (May 9, 1452): "Some of those involved in the trial, namely the Bishop of Beauvais, proceeded from a motive of bias; whereas some, such as the English theologians [e.g., William Haiton], from spite and vengeance; and others, the Parisian theologians, were bought through bribery. Still others were induced by fear, such as the Vice-Inquisitor [Jean LeMaitre] and some others whom I do not recall. And this [the trial] was done at the instigation of the King of England, the Cardinal of Winchester, the Earl of Warwick, and other Englishmen, who paid the expenses in this trial." (Quicherat, Vol II, p. 348; DuParc Vol I, p. 221; Oursel pp. 185 - 186; Pernoud, p. 182)
"[Concerning Article IV] My lord Jean of good memory, at that time Bishop of Avranches, was threatened by Master Jean Benedicite [d'Estivet, called "Benedicite"], then the promoter for the case, because he refused to give his opinion in this matter; and also Master Nicholas de Houppeville was in danger of being exiled because he didn't want to take part in the trial nor give his opinion." (Quicherat, Vol II, pp. 348 - 349; DuParc Vol I, pp. 221 - 222; Oursel p. 186).

From the first deposition (May 8, 1452) of Nicolas de Houppeville (assessor), bachelor of theology, aged approx. 60 at the time of his testimony:
"In my judgment, 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 Fécamp. 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." (Quicherat, Vol II, pp. 325 - 326; DuParc, Vol I, pp. 203 - 204; Oursel, pp. 171 - 172; Pernoud, p. 236)
"According to my perception, as I felt then and still feel, it [the trial] would be better labeled an intentional and studied persecution rather than a judicial process." (Quicherat, Vol II, p. 328; DuParc Vol I, p. 205; Oursel p. 173; Pernoud, p. 237)
And from his second deposition (May 13, 1456): "Around the beginning of the trial, I was present at a few deliberations in which I was of the opinion that neither the Bishop nor any of those who wanted judicial responsibility could [lawfully] serve as judges; nor did it seem to me a proper procedure for those who belonged to the opposite faction to serve as judges, considering that she had already been examined by the clergy of Poitiers and by the Archbishop of Rheims, the Archbishop directly above the Bishop of Beauvais himself. As a result of this opinion I incurred the great anger of the Bishop, so that he had me summoned before him. I appeared before him, stating that I was not subject to him, and that he was not my judge but rather it was only the Ecclesiastic Judge of Rouen [who could serve in that role]; and thus I left. In the end, however, as I wanted to go before the Ecclesiastic Judge of Rouen concerning this matter, I was arrested and brought to the chateau, and then to the Royal prison; and when I asked why I had been arrested, they told me it was at the request of the Bishop of Beauvais." (Quicherat, Vol III, p. 171; DuParc, Vol I, p. 445; Oursel, pp. 328 - 329; Pernoud, p. 238)

Here is Guillaume Manchon again (4th deposition, May 12, 1456), on the violence attempted against one of the clergy who made the mistake of saying something in Joan's favor:
"On one occasion when someone, whose name I don't recall, said something about Joan that displeased the Lord of Stafford [Humphrey, Earl of Stafford], the Lord of Stafford chased him to a place of sanctuary with drawn sword, so that, were it not for the fact that Stafford was told that this location was a holy place of sanctuary, he would have stabbed him." (Quicherat, Vol III, pp. 139 - 140; DuParc, Vol I, p. 420; Oursel, p. 311; Pernoud, p. 178)

From the third deposition [May 9, 1452] of Friar Martin Ladvenu (assessor), on the fear which prevented the clergy from advising her (despite some of the modern popular treatments of the subject, the standard rule in Inquisitorial trials was that the accused was supposed to be allowed advice from the clergy. The lack of this counsel was one of the many violations of procedure which was later cited by Inquisitor Jean Bréhal at the retrial):
"I know for certain that Joan had no director, counselor, or defender up to the end of the trial, and that no one would have dared apply themselves to counseling, directing, or defending her, from fear of the English; and I heard it said that some of those who went to the chateau [i.e., her prison in Rouen], under orders from the judges to counsel and advise Joan, were roughly driven away and threatened." (Quicherat, Vol II, p. 364; DuParc, Vol I, p. 234; Oursel, p. 196; Pernoud, p. 196)
And from his fourth deposition, May 13, 1456:
"...one time during the trial, some were sent by order of the judges to advise Joan; but were driven away by the English, and threats made against them. Furthermore, I know that Friar Jean LeMaitre, Vice-Inquisitor, who took part in the trial, and with whom I frequently went, was coerced into taking part in the trial; for instance, when Friar Isambart de la Pierre, who was a companion of the Vice-Inquisitor, wanted to advise her on one occasion, he was told that he should keep quiet and refrain from [advising her] in the future, otherwise he would be drowned in the Seine."
"...[Concerning Article IX] I only know that Joan was in a secular prison [i.e., rather than a Church prison], in shackles and bound with chains, and no one could speak with her except by permission of the English, who guarded her day and night." (Quicherat, Vol III, pp. 166 - 167; DuParc, Vol I, p. 441; Oursel, p. 326).

From the deposition [March 5, 1450] of Jean Toutmouillé, a Dominican Friar who accompanied Isambart de la Pierre during the trial:
"... public report said that they had persecuted her out of a perverse desire for revenge... prior to her death, the English had intended to lay siege to Louviers but they soon changed their mind, saying that they would never place the town under siege until the Maiden had been put on trial: clear proof of this was provided by what followed, for immediately after her burning they went to besiege Louviers, figuring that while she was still living they wouldn't have had any glory or success in war." (Quicherat, Vol II, p. 3; Pernoud, p. 177)

From the 2nd deposition (May 12, 1456) of Jean LeFevre (assessor), professor of theology, about 70 years old.
"... the English proceeded against her from the hatred they had for her, because they greatly feared her; but whether the judges proceeded from hatred or bias, I know nothing; however I know that the trial was conducted at English expense. And I certainly know that all those who took part in the trial were not at full liberty, for no one dared say anything lest they be held in ill repute; for, once when Joan was questioned by someone whether she was in a state of grace, and I had said that this was a grave question, and that Joan was not bound to answer such a question, the Bishop of Beauvais said to me, 'It would have been better for you if you had kept your mouth shut!'
... it greatly bothered some of the assessors that Joan had not been placed in the prisons of the Church, and a number of times I muttered complaints under my breath, because it didn't seem to me a proper procedure to abandon her into the hands of laymen, and especially the English, considering that she had been given into the hands of the Church. Many were of this opinion; but no one dared to speak of it." (Quicherat, Vol III, pp. 174 - 175; DuParc, Vol I, p. 448; Oursel, p. 330; Pernoud, (included piecemeal on pp. 188, 196)).

From the deposition of Jean LeMaire (May 12, 1456); at the time of her trial he had been a theology student at the English-controlled University of Paris, which had helped initiate the trial; at the time of his testimony he was about 45 years old, serving as a priest at Saint-Vincent church in Rouen:
"...I arrived in the town of Rouen on the day when the sermon was made [to Joan] at Saint-Ouen by Master Guillaume Erard, where I saw Joan... The public opinion in Rouen at that time was that the English had caused the trial to be conducted against Joan due to the hatred and fear that they had of her. I have no doubt that concerning the form and manner of the trial and the subsequent sentences handed down, the cause of justice was gravely wronged. And at that time I heard it said that many of the assessors at the trial were greatly disgusted by this trial, and discontented with the procedure; and that for some of them their own lives were in great danger, especially the late Master Pierre Maurice, the Abbot of Fécamp [Gilles de Duremort], Master Nicolas Loiseleur, and a number of others. (Quicherat, Vol III, pp. 177 - 178; DuParc, Vol I, p. 450; Oursel, p. 332).

From the deposition [May 9, 1452] of Thomas Marie, a Benedictine Monk, Prior of the convent of Saint Michel:
"... some took part in the trial out of fear and others as a result of bias." (Quicherat, Vol II, p. 370; DuParc, Vol I, p. 239; Oursel, p. 200; Pernoud, p. 181)
"Since Joan had worked miracles [or marvels] during the war, and since the English are generally superstitious, they figured there was something sinister about her; for that reason, I believe, they desired her death in all their deliberations and otherwise." (Quicherat, Vol II, p. 370; DuParc, Vol I, p. 238; Oursel, p. 199; Pernoud, p. 175)
"I certainly think that if the English had a similar woman, they would have greatly honored her and not treated her [as they did during the trial]". (Quicherat, Vol II, p. 372; DuParc, Vol I, p. 240; Oursel, p. 201; Pernoud, p. 178)

From the first deposition (May 2, 1452) of Pierre Miget (assessor), Prior of Longueville-le-Giffard:
"If not for the fact that she had been harmful to the English, she would never have been thus treated or condemned; since they feared her more than a large army." (Quicherat, Vol II, p. 301; DuParc, Vol I, p. 184; Oursel, p. 157; Pernoud, p. 175)
From his final deposition, May 12, 1456:
"...And as I heard from a certain English knight, the English feared her more than a hundred men-at-arms; and they claimed that she used sorcery, fearing her because of the victories that had been won by her; and they decided to bring a judicial action against her which, in my view, the judges undertook under pressure and provocation from the English, since the English always detained her in their own custody and did not allow her to be held in ecclesiastic prisons." (Quicherat, Vol III, p. 130; DuParc, Vol I, p. 412; Oursel, p. 306).

From the deposition (March 5, 1450) of Jean Beaupère (assessor), 70 years old, Canon of Rouen, Master of Theology at the University of Paris, a friend of Cauchon's. He's not the most credible of witnesses when he complains about the threats made against himself and Midi (who was of much the same ilk); but since other witnesses repeatedly describe occasional threats against even the most pro-English members of the tribunal, his testimony on this point may be valid.
"... my lord of Beauvais, judge, sent myself and Master Nicolas Midi in the hope of speaking to Joan to instruct and admonish her that she should persevere and maintain the good purpose she had had on the platform, and that she should take care not to relapse; but we couldn't find the one who had the key to the prison, and while we were waiting for the prison guard, threatening words were said by some Englishmen in the chateau's court, as Midi told me - to wit, that anyone who would throw both of us into the river would be doing well. For which reason we turned back after having heard these words, and on the chateau's bridge Midi heard, as he told me, similar words spoken by other Englishmen; for which we were dismayed, and we came away without speaking to Joan." (Quicherat, Vol II, p. 21; Pernoud, p. 227)

From the deposition (April 2, 1456) of Guillaume de la Chambre, a physician who was called in to take care of Joan during her illness; he was about 48 years old at the time of his testimony:
"...concerning the zeal possessed by the judges, I refer that to their own consciences; however I know I never gave an opinion during the trial, although I signed because I was forced by the Lord Bishop of Beauvais; and a number of times I excused myself to the Bishop, saying that it was not of my profession to judge such a matter; finally I was told that if I didn't sign as the others had, then it was to my misfortune that I had come to Rouen; and I signed because of this. Threats were additionally brought against Master Jean Louhier and Master Nicolas de Houppeville, under penalty of drowning because they didn't want to take part in the trial." (Quicherat, Vol III, p. 50; DuParc, Vol I, p. 350; Oursel, p. 265; Pernoud, pp. 199-200.)
"...the Earl of Warwick told us [the witness and the other doctors] that Joan was ill, as he had been told, and he ordered us to look into the matter, because the King [of England] didn't want her to die a natural death... and didn't want her to die except by judicial action, and by burning..." (Quicherat, Vol III, p. 51; DuParc, Vol I, p. 351; Oursel, p. 266; Pernoud, p. 187).

From the testimony [April 2, 1456] of the Bishop of Noyon, Jean de Mailly, who had taken part in Joan's trial and, like Cauchon, had served as an advisor to the English occupation government:
"... I know however that the Bishop of Beauvais did not fund the trial from his own money, but from the money of the King of England, and the expenses paid out were paid by the English." (Quicherat, Vol III, p. 56; DuParc, Vol I, p. 355; Vol IV, p. 39; Oursel, p. 268).


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