The Trial of Joan of Arc

The following is part of the court transcript available during Joan of Arc’s trial after she was captured by the British in which she was accused of heresy, found guilty, and executed by being burned at the stake.

Second Session (22 February 1431)

…Jeanne was first admonished and required to take the oath that she had taken the day before to tell the truth concerning all that would be asked her of the crimes and evils of which she was accused,
To which Jeanne answered that she had already taken the oath, and this should suffice.
And she was again ordered to swear to tell the absolute truth concerning everything that would be asked her; assuring her that there was not a prince who could or should refuse to take the oath to tell the truth in a matter of faith.
To which she answered: I did so yesterday. You are burdening me too much.
Finally she took the oath in these form in which she had taken it the day before.
The oath being taken, the bishop ordered MaƮtre Jean Beaupere to question her. In obedience to his orders Beaupere questioned her as follows:
Firstly he asked her if she would tell the truth.
To which she replied: You may well ask me such things that as to some I shall tell the truth, as to others, not. She said further: If you are well informed about me, you would wish that I were out of your hands. I have done nothing save by revelation.
Questioned as to what age she was when she left her father’s house,
She said that she did not know the answer.
Questioned as to wether she had learned any craft or trade,
She said yes; and that her mother had taught her to sew; and that she did not believe there was any woman in Rouen who could teach her anything in this matter.
She said also that she had left her father’s house partly for fear of the Burgundians; and that she went to Neufchateau with a woman named La Rousse; where she stayed a fortnight. In this house she did the household tasks, and did not go into the fields to keep the sheep or other animals.
Asked wether she made her confession every year,
She said yes, to her own cure’. And if he were prevented, she confessed to another priest, with her cure”s leave. And she also said that she had confessed two or three times to mendicant friars. And that she received the Body of Our Lord every year at Easter.
Asked whether she had not received the Body of Our Lord at other feasts than Easter,
She answered: Go to the next question. And she said that, from the age of thirteen, she received revelation from Our Lord by a voice which taught her how to behave. And the first time she was greatly afraid. And she said that the voice came that time at noon, on a summer’s day, a fast day, when she was in her father’s garden, and that the voice came on her right side, in the direction of the church. And she said that the voice was hardly ever without light, which was always in the direction of the voice.
She said further that, after she had heard it three times, she knew that it was the voice of an angel.
She said also that this voice had always taken good care of her.
Questioned as to what teaching this voice gave her as to the salvation of her soul,
She answered that it taught her how to behave. And it said to her that she ought to go often to church. And later it said to her that it was necessary that she should go into France.
And it said to her two or three times a week that she must leave and go into France. And that her father knew nothing of her going.
And with this, it said to her that she must hurry and go and raise the siege of Orleans; and that she should go to Robert de Baudricourt, captain of Vaucouleurs; and that he would give her men to accompany her.
To which she answered that she was only a poor woman, who knew nothing of riding or making war.
And after these words, she went to an uncle;s house, where she stayed a week, after which her uncle brought her to Robert de Baudricourt, whom she recognized, although she had never seen him before.
And she said that she recognized him by her voices, which had told her that it was he.
She said further that de Baudricourt refused her twice. The third time her received her, and gave her people to conduct her to France, as the voice had told her.
She said further that when she left Vaucouleurs, she took man’s dress, and also a sword which de Baudricourt gave her, but no other armour. And she said she was accompanied by a knight and four other men; and that day they spent the night in the town of Saint Urbain, where she slept in the Abbey.
She said also that as for her route, she passed through Auxerre, where she heard Mass in the great church; and that she often had her voices with her.
Questioned as to who advised her to take male dress,
She answered that she charge nobody.
She said further that Robert de Baudricourt made her escort swear that they would conduct her well and safely.
She also said that when they left, de Baudricourt said to her:
Go, and let come what may.
She said that she was well assured that God greatly loved the Duke of Orleans, and that she had more revelations concerning him than any man in France, except her king.
She said further that it was absolutely essential for her to change her dress.
Questioned as to what letters she sent the English and what they contained,
She said that she sent letters to the English, who were before Orleans, wherein she wrote to them that they must leave. And she said that in these letters, as she had heard it said, they have altered two or three words; for example, Render to the Pucelle, where it should be Render to the King; and where there is Body for body and Chieftain of war; this was not in the letters.
She said also that she went to her king without hindrance.
Further, she said that she found her king at Chinon, where she arrived about noon, and lodged at an inn, and after dinner went to the king who was in the castle.
She said that she went right into the room where the king was; whom she recognized among many others by the advice of the voice.
She said that she told the king that she wished to make war on the English.
Questioned whether, when the voice pointed the king out to her, there was any light,
she answered: Go on to the next question.
Questioned if she saw an angel above the king,
she answered: Forgive me. Pass on to the next.
She said also that before the king set her to work, he had several apparitions and glorious revelations.
Questioned as to what revelations,
She answered: I shall not tell you yet; go to the king and he will tell you.
She said further that the voice promised her that very soon after she arrived the king would receive her.
She said also that those of her party well knew that the voice came from God; and that they saw and knew the voice; and that she knows this well.
She said that the king and several members of his Council heard and saw the voices who came to her; and amongst others, Charles, Duke of Bourbon.
She said also that she never asked anything of the voice save at the last the salvation of her soul.
She said further that the voice told her that she should stay at Saint Denis in France; and there she wished to remain. But the lords were not willing to leave her there, because she was wounded; otherwise she would not have left. And she said that she was wounded in the moat of Paris; of which wound she was cured within five days.
She said that she had made a great assault on Paris.
Asked whether the day she made this assault were a feast day,
She answered, after being questioned several times, that she believed it was a feast.
Asked if she thought it a good thing to make an assault on a feast day,
She replied: Go on to the next question.
These questions and answers being done, the Bishop of Beauvais postponed the matter until the following Saturday.

Third Session (24 February 1431)

The following Saturday, which was the twenty-fourth of February, those who were there the previous day were convoked and called together by the Dean of the Christendom of Rouen.
The Bishop of Beauvais directed and admonished Jeanne to swear absolutely and without condition to tell the truth. Three times she was thus admonished and required.
To which she answered: Give me leave to speak.
And the said: By my faith, you might ask me such things as I will not tell you.
She further said: It could be that there are many things you might ask me of which I would not tell you the truth, especially concerning the revelations; for you would perhaps force me to say by mistake something that I have sworn not to say. Thus I should be perjured, which you ought not to wish.
Addressing my lord of Beauvais, she said: Beware of saying that you are my judge. For you take upon yourself great responsibility, and you overburden me.
She also stated that she thought it was enough to have taken the oath twice.
Questioned again and again as to whether she would take the oath simply and absolutely,
She answered: You can well do without it. I have sworn twice; that is enough. And I believe that all the clergy of Rouen and Paris would not condemn me save in error.
And she added that she would not have told all in a week.
She said also that, of her coming into France she will willingly tell the truth but not everything.
As to what was told her, that she would take the advice of those present as to whether or not she should take the oath,
She answered that she would willingly tell the truth as to her coming, but nothing more. And that she should not be spoken to any more concerning the matter.
And being admonished and told that she would make herself suspect by her unwillingness to take the oath,
She answered as before.
The bishop ordering and requiring her to swear precisely and absolutely,
She answered: I shall willingly tell you what I know, but not all.
She also said that she came from God, and ought not to be here; and said that they should remit her into the hands of God, from Whom she came.
After being again and again ordered and required to take the oath and admonished to do so on pain of being found guilty of the acts
She answered: I have sworn enough. Leave the matter.
And when time and again she was admonished to tell the truth in what concerned her trial, it being explained to her that she was endangering herself,
She answered: I am ready to swear and to say all that I know concerning my trial. But I will not say all that I know.
After saying which, she took the oath.
These things being done, she was questioned by Maitre Jean Beaupere. Firstly he asked her when she had last eaten or drunk,
To which she answered: yesterday afternoon.
Questioned since when had she heard her voice,
She answered that she had heard it both yesterday and today.
Questioned at what time she had heard it yesterday,
She said that she had heard it three times; once in the morning; again at the hour of Vespers; and yet again at the hour of the Ave Maria; sometimes she heard it more often than this, she said.
Questioned as to what she was doing yesterday morning when she heard this voice,
She answered that she was asleep, and that the voice awoke her.
Asked whether the voice woke her by its sound, or by touching her on the arms or elsewhere,
She answered that she was wakened by the voice without being touched.
Questioned as to whether the voice was still in her room,
She replied that she thought not, but that it was in the castle.
Asked if she did not thank the voice, and kneel down,
She answered that she thanked it, being seated on her bed. And she said that she joined her hands together, and begged and prayed that it might help and advise her in what she had to do.
To which the voice told her to answer boldly.
Asked what the voice told her when she was awake,
She answered that it said that she must ask advice from Our Lord.
Asked whether it had said anything before she questioned it,
She said before she was awake, the voice had said several words to her that she did not understand. But when she had wakened, she understood that the voice had told her that she must answer boldly.
She said several times to the bishop, You say that you are my judge; consider well what you do; for in truth I am sent from God, and you are putting yourself in great peril.
Asked if this voice had ever varied in its advice,
She answered that she had never found in it two contradictory words.
Asked whether it were an angel coming direct from God, or if it were a saint,
She answered that it came from God.
And added, I am not telling you all I know, for I am greatly afraid of saying something displeasing to it in my answers to you.
And she said further: In this questioning I beg you that I may be allowed a delay.
Asked if she believed that God would be displeased if she told the truth,
She answered my lord of Beauvais that the voices had told her to say some things to the king and not to him.
She also said that the voice told her that night things concerning the king’s good; things that she wished this king to know immediately; and that she would drink no wine till Easter, wherefore he would be happier when he dined.
Asked if she could make this heavenly voice obey her and carry a message to her king,
She answered that she did not know whether it would be willing to obey her, unless it were the will of God, and that Our Lord agreed.
And that, if it pleased God, it would be able to reveal it to the king; if so she would be very happy.
I questioned as to why she cannot speak with her king, as she used to do in his presence.
She said that she did not know if it were God’s will.
She said further that if she were not in the grace of God she could do nothing.
Asked if her counsel [her voices] had not revealed to her that she should escape,
She answered: I have yet to tell you this.
Asked if this voice has not now given her advice and counsel as to what she should answer,
She replied that if it had revealed or said anything to her, she had not well understood it.
Questioned as to whether, on the last two days that she heard her voices, a light had appeared,
She answered that the light comes before the voice.
Asked if with the voice she sees something,
She answered: I am not going to tell you everything, for I have not permission; and also my oath does not touch that; but I do say to you that it is a beautiful voice, righteous and worthy; otherwise I am not bound to answer you.
For this reason she asked to see in writing the points upon which they desired to question her.
Asked if the voice could see; that is to say, whether it had eyes,
She answered: You may not know that yet.
She said also that there is a saying among little children that people are often hanged for telling the truth.
Asked if she knew whether she were in the grace of God,
She answered: If I am not, may God put me there; If I am, may He keep me there.
She said further that if she knew she were not in the grace of God, she would be the most miserable person in the world. She said also that if she were in mortal sin, the voice would not come to her. And she would that everyone might hear them as well as she did.
She also that that she thought she was thirteen years of age when the voice came to her the first time.
Asked whether in her childhood she used to go and play in the fields with the others,
She said she did so sometimes. But she did not know at what age.
Asked if the people of Domremy sided with the Burgundians or the Armagnacs,
She answered that she only knew one Burgundian, whose head she would like to see chopped off, that is if it had pleased God.
Asked whether at Maxey they were Burgundians or Armagnacs,
She said they were Burgundians.
Questioned as to whether her voice told her in her childhood to hate the Burgundians,
She answered that ever since she learned that the voices were for the King of France, she did not love the Burgundians.
She added that the Burgundians would have war, if they did not do as they ought; she knew this from the voice.
Asked if the voice told her in her childhood that the English should come into France,
She said they were already in France when the voice first spoke to her.
Asked if she were ever with the other children when they played at fights between English and French,
She said no, as far as she could remember. But she had often seen those of her village fighting against those of Maxey, and sometimes coming back wounded and bleeding.
Asked if in her youth she had a great desire to defeat the Burgundians,
She answered that she had a great desire that the king should have his kingdom.
Asked if she had wanted to be a man when she knew that she had to come into France,
She said that she had answered elsewhere.
Asked if she ever used to lead the animals to pasture,
She replied that she had already answered; and that, since she had grown up and reached years of understanding, she did not look after them; but she did help to drive them to the meadows, and to a castle called de l’Ile, for fear of the soldiers; but as to whether she looked after them or not in her childhood, she did not remember.
Questioned concerning the tree,
She answered that quite close to Domremy there was a tree which was called the Ladies’ tree; others called it the Fairies’ tree; and near it there was a spring; and she had heard it said that persons suffering from fever drank of it; and she has seen them going to it be cured. But she did not know whether they were cured or not.
She said also that she had heard that the sick, when they could get up, went to the tree to walk about; and she said it was a large tree called a beech, from whence come the beau mai; and it belonged to Messire Pierre de Bourlemont.
She said that she sometimes went there with the other girls in summer time, and made wreathes for Notre Dame de Domremy.
She had heard several old folk say, not of her family, that the fairies frequented it; and she had heard her godmother Jeanne, wife of the village mayor of Domremy, say that she had seen them there. Whether this was true, she does not know.
She said that she herself had never seen a fairy, as far as she knew, either at the tree or anywhere else.
She said further that she had seen garlands hung on the branches of the tree by the girls; and she herself had hung them there with the other girls. Sometimes they took them away, and sometimes they left them.
She also said that ever since she learned that she must come into France, she played very little, the least that she could. And she did not know whether, since she had reached years of discretion, she had danced near the tree. Sometimes she may have danced there with the children, but she more often sang than danced.
She also said that there was a wood called the Bois Chesnu that one could see from her father’s house, not more than a league away; butt she was unaware and had never heard it said that the fairies frequented it.
She had heard from her brother that it was said in the neighborhood that she received her revelations at the tree and from fairies. But she had not. And she told him quite the contrary.
She said further that when she came before the king, many people asked whether in her country there was not a wood called the Bois Chesnu, for there was a prophecy saying that from the Bois Chesnu should come a maiden who would perform marvellous acts; but she put no faith in it.
Questioned as to whether she wanted a woman’s dress,
She answered: If you give me permission, give me one, and I will take it and go. Otherwise no. I am content with this one, since it is God’s will that I wear it.
After these questions were done, the following Tuesday was appointed, at eight o’clock. And the assessors were requested to assemble on that day at the said hour, under pain of displeasure.

The Reading of the Censures of the University

Read and pronounced by Maitre Pierre Maurice, doctor in theology, together with the University’s deliberations upon each of the Articles.
Firstly, he addressed himself to Jeanne, saying to her:

I You, Jeanne, have said that from the age of thirteen you have had revelations and apparitions of angels, of Saint Catherine and of Saint Margaret, and that you have frequently seen them with your bodily eyes; and that they have spoken to you.
One this first point the clerks of the University of Paris have considered the form of the said revelations and apparitions and the purpose and matter of the things revealed, and the condition of the person. Taking all these things into consideration, they have said and declared that all the aforementioned things are lies, untrue, pernicious and evil; and that all such revelations are superstitious, and proceed from evil and devilish spirits.

II You have said that your king had a sign whereby he knew that you were sent from God; for Saint Michael, accompanied by several angels, some having wings, and others crowns, and with them Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret, came to you in the castle of Chinon, and climbed the steps of the castle as far as the hall of your king, before whom the angel who carried a crown, bowed. On one occassion you said that when your king received this sign, he was alone; on another occasion you said that this crown, which you call ‘a sign’, was given to the archbishop of Rheims, who handed it to your king in the presence of several princes and lords whom you named.

As for this Article, the clerks say that it is not true; but is a presumptuous lie, seductive and pernicious, and a pretense that is derogatory of both ecclesiastical and angelic dignity.

III You have said that you recognized the angels and the saints by the good advice, and the comfort and teaching that they gave you. And you also believe that it was Saint Michael who appeared to you; and you declare that their deeds and words are good; and that you believe this as firmly as you believe the Faith of Jesus Christ.

As for this Article, the clerks say that such things are not sufficient to enable you to recognize these angels and saints; that you believed too lightly and affirmed your belief too rashly; and that inasmuch as you make a comparison saying you believe these things as firmly as you believe in the Faith of Jesus Christ, you err in the faith.

IV You have said that you are aware of certain things to come, and that you have known hidden secrets; and that you have recognized people whom you had never seen before; and that you have done so by means of the voices of Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret.

As for this Article, they say that in this matter there are both superstition and divination, presumptuous assertion, and vain boasting.

V You have said that, by God’s command, you have continually worn man’s dress, wearing the short robe, doublet, and hose attached by points; that you have also worn your hair short, cut en rond above your ears, with nothing left that could show you to be a woman; and that on many occasions you received the Body of our Lord dressed in this fashion, although you have been frequently admonished to leave it off, which you have refused to do, saying that you would rather die than leave it off, save by God’s command. And you said further that if you were still so dressed and with the king and those of his party, it would be one of the greatest blessings for the kingdom of France; and you have said that not for anything would you take an oath not to wear this dress or carry arms; and concerning all these matters you have said that you did well, and obediently to God’s command.

As for these points, the clerks say that you blaspheme God in His sacraments; that you transgress divine law, the Holy Scriptures and the canon law; you hold the Faith doubtfully and wrongly; you boast vainly; you are suspect of idolatry; and you condemn yourself in being unwilling to wear the customary clothing of your sex, and following the custom of the Gentiles and the heathen.

VI You have said that often in your letters you have put the two names JESUS MARIA and the sign of the Cross, in token that those to whom you have written should not do that which is contained in your letters; and in others of your letters you have boasted that you would see by the result who had the best right; and on many occasions you said that you have done nothing save by revelation and by God’s command.

As for this Article, the clerks say that you are cruel and murderess, desirous of the shedding of human blood, seditious, provoking to tyranny, and blaspheming God and His commandments and revelations.

VII You have said that, following the revelations you had had, at the age of seventeen you left your father and mother against their will, causing them such anxiety that they went almost out of their minds. And you went to Robert de Baudricourt, who, at your request, gave you a man’s garments and a sword, and also men to lead you to your king, to whom you said that you had come to drive out his enemies; and you promised him that you would install him in his kingdom; and that he would have victory over all his enemies; and that God had sent you to do so. And you said that you had done all these things in obedience to God’s revelation.

As for this Article, the clerks say that you have acted wrongly and impetuously towards your father and mother, therein transgressing the commandment of God to honour thy father and thy mother; that you have behaved scandously, blaspheming God and erring in the Faith. And the promise that you made your king was presumptuous and rash.

VIII You have said that of your own will you leaped from the tower of Beaurevoir into the most, preferring to die rather than to be put in the hands of the English and to live on after the destruction of Compiegne; and that Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret forbade you to leap, but you could not refrain from doing so, although you sinned greatly in leaping contrary to their orders; but you have since learned from your voices that God had forgiven the sin, after you had confessed it.

As for this Article, the clerks say that in this was cowardice tending to despair and to suicide; and that you have made a rash and presumptuous assertion in saying that God had forgiven the sin; showing that you wrongly understand the doctrine of free-will and man’s right to choose.

IX You have said that Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret promised to bring you to heaven, provided you kept your virginity which you vowed and promised them. And of this you are as certain as if you were already in the glory of Paradise; and you do not believe that you have committed mortal sin; for if you were in mortal sin, Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret would not come to you as they do.

As for this Article, the clerks say that herein you are guilty of a rash and presumptuous assertion and of pernicious lies; that you contradict what you previously said, and that you incorrectly understand the Christian Faith.

X You have said that you are well assured that God loves certain others living more than yourself, and that you know this by revelation from these saints, who speak in the French language; and not in English, because they are not of their party. And that, ever since you learned that the voices were on your king’s side, you have not loved the Burgundians.

As for this Article, the clerks say that this is a rash presumption and assertion, blasphemy against the saints, and transgression of God’s commandment to love one’s neighbor.

XI You have said that to those whom you call Saint Michael, Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret you made several reverences, kneeling and kissing the ground they walked on, and vowing your virginity to them; and even that you have kissed and embraced them, and from the beginning believed that they came from God, without asking advice from your cur or from any churchman; but that none the less you believe that this voice has come from God, as firmly as you believe in the Christian Faith and that Jesus Christ suffered His death and passion; and that if any evil spirits were to appear in the form and feature of Saint Michael, you would know it. You have also said that not for anyone in the world would you tell the sign given to your king, save by God’s command.

To which the clerks say that, supposing you have had the revelations and apparitions of which you boast, in the way that you say, you are an idolater, and invoker of demons, a wanderer from the Faith, and have rashly taken an unlawful oath.

XII You have said that if the Church desired you to do the opposite of the commandment which you say you have received from God, you would not do so for anything in the world. And you know for certain that what is contained in your trial came by God’s command; and that it would be impossible for you to do the contrary. And that, concerning all the afore-mentioned matters, you are not willing to refer them to the judgment of the Church on earth, nor of any man alive, but only to God alone. And you say further that you do not give your answers of your own intelligence, but by command of God, regardless of the fact that the article of the Faith which says that everyone must believe in the Catholic Church has been several times explained to you; and that every good Catholic Christian must submit all his deeds to the Church, and especially facts concerning revelations and such-like.

As for this Article, the clerks say that you are schimastic, having no comprehension of the truth and authority of the Church; and that up to the present you have perniciously erred in the faith of God.

The Definitive Sentence (30 May)

And on Wednesday the penultimate day of May, being the last day of the trial,

By Us the said Jeanne was cited to hear the law and to appear in person before Us in the Old Market of the town of Rouen at eight o’clock in the morning, to see herself declared relapsed into her errors, heretic and excommunicate; together with the intimations customary to be made in such a case.

Later on the same day, at about nine o’clock in the morning, We the bishop and judges being in the Old Market of Rouen, near to the church of Saint Sauveur, in the presence of the Bishops of Therouanne and Noyon, and several other doctors, clerks and masters, after the sermon had been preached, We admonished Jeanne, for the salvation of her soul, that she should repent her evil deeds and show true contrition, by means of counsel from two Friar Preachers, who were near her in order that they might continually advise her, whom for this purpose We had appointed.

All these matters referred to being done, We, the aforesaid bishop and Vice-Inquisitor, having regard to the afore-mentioned matters wherein it appeared that Jeanne remained obstinate in her errors, and through malice and devilish obstinacy and falsely shown signs of contrition and penitence; and that she had blasphemed the holy and divine Name of God; and showing herself an incorrigible heretic had relapsed into heresay and error, and was unworthy and incapable of any pity,
We proceeded to the Definitive Sentence in the manner following:
In the name of The Lord, Amen. We Pierre, by Divine pity, humble Bishop of Beauvais, and We, Brother Jean le Maitre, deputy of the Inquisitor of the Faith, judges competent in this matter,
Since you, Jeanne, called the Pucelle, have been found by Us relapsed into divers errors and crimes of schism, idolatry, invocation of devils, and carious other wickedness,
And since for these reasons by just judgment We have found you so to be,
Nevertheless, since the Church never closes her arms to those who would return to her, We did believe that, with full understanding and unfeigned faith, you had left all the errors which you had renounced, vowing, swearing, and publicly promising that never again would you fall into such errors, not into any other heresies, but would live in Catholic unity and communion with our Church and our Holy Father the Pope, as is stated in a schedule signed by your own hand.

None the less time and again you have relapsed, as a dog that returns to its vomit, as We do state with great sorrow.
Wherefore We declare that you have again incurred the Sentence of excommunication which you formerly incurred, and are again fallen into your previous errors, for which reasons We now declare you to be a heretic.

And by this Sentence, seated upon Our tribunal of justice, as it is herein written, We do cast you forth and reject you from the communion of the Church as an infected limb, and hand you over to secular justice, praying the same to treat you with kindness and humanity in respect of your life and of your limbs.

The Execution

After the Sentence was read, the bishop, the Inquistitor, and many of the judges went away, leaving Jeanne upon the scaffold.

Then the Bailli of Rouen, an Englishman, who was there, without any legal formality and without reading any Sentence against her, ordered that she should be taken to the place where she was to be burned.

Source from International Joan of Arc Society.