Story of Joan of Arc - Andrew Lang

How the Priests Betrayed the Maid

At last, on May 24, 1431, they determined to force her to acknowledge herself in the wrong, and to deny her Saints. On that day they took her to the graveyard of the Church of St. Ouen. Two platforms had been built; on one stood the wretched Cauchon with his gang; Joan was placed on the other. There was also a stake with faggots, for burning Joan. They had ready two written papers: on one it was written that Joan would submit to them, and wear woman's dress. On the other was a long statement that her Saints were evil spirits, and that she had done all sorts of wrong things. She was told that if she would sign the short paper, and wear woman's dress, she would be put in gentle prison, with women about her instead of English soldiers. Seeing the fire ready, Joan repeated the short  form of words, and made her mark, smiling, on the piece of paper that they gave her, but—it was the paper with the long speech, accusing herself of crimes and denying her Saints.

This is what we are told; but, later, she showed that she thought she had denied her Saints, so it is not easy to be quite sure of what happened. It is certain that Cauchon broke his word. She was not taken away from her cruel prison and the English soldiers, as was promised. She was given woman's dress; but, as they were determined to make her "relapse," that is, return to the sin of wearing man's dress, for then they could burn her, they put her boy's dress in her room, and so acted that she was obliged to put it on. It is a horrid story, not fit to be told, of cruelty and falseness.

"Now we have her!" said Cauchon to an Englishman.

They went to her, and asked her if the Voices had come to her again?


"What did they say?"

"St. Catherine and St. Margaret told me that I had done very wrong, when I said what I did to save my life, and that I was damning myself to save my life."

"Then you believe that the Voices were the voices of the Saints."

"Yes, I believe that, and that the Voices come from God;" and she said that she did not mean ever to have denied it.

On the day of her burning, the Bishop and the rest went to Joan again, and wrote out a statement that she left it to the Church to say whether her Voices were good or bad. The Church has decided that they were good, and has given Joan the title of "Venerable," which is the first step towards proclaiming her to be one of the Saints. Whatever the Voices were, she said they were real, not fancied things.

But this paper does not count, for the clerk who took all the notes refused to go with the Bishop to see Joan, that time, saying that it was no part of the law, and that they went as private men, not as Judges, and he had the courage not to sign the paper. He was an honest man, and thought Joan a good girl, unlawfully treated, and was very sorry for her. "He never wept so much for any sorrow in all his life, and for a month he could not be quiet for sorrow: and he bought a book of prayers and prayed for the soul of the Maid."

This honest man's name was Gilbert Manchon.