On the day of the Coronation of Charles VII, July 17, 1429, Joan of Arc wrote a letter to Philip, Duke of Burgundy as follows: "Prince of Burgundy, I pray, beg, and request as humbly as I can that you wage war no longer in the holy kingdom of France, and order your people who are in any towns and fortresses of the holy kingdom to withdraw promptly and without delay. And as for the noble King of France, he is ready to make peace with you, saving his honor; so it only depends on you."
For a time there were promises of peace but in May 6, 1440 the Burgundians army began to move against Charles VII. On May 23 Joan with a small army of about 600 slipped into Compiegne which had been besieged by the Burgundians. The next day Joan lead a sortie outside the city ran into a Burgundian ambush. She tried to retreat back into the city but the gates had been closed. Joan was pulled off her horse by a Burgundian archer and agreed to surrender to Lionel of Wandomme, a noble. Thus came true what her saints had revealed to her that she would be captured before St. John's Day, June 24. After four months in prison, "Jean de Luxembourg, despite pleas from his wife not to betray Joan, sold Joan of Arc to the English for 10,000 gold livres and an annuity. Joan was ultimately taken to the English-controlled town of Rouen where she was shackled to the wall of a dungeon." (Website: Trials Without Justice - Joan of Arc - Joan is Betrayed - CA. 10)
Joan of Arc trial was held at Rouen, the seat of English occupation government. She was placed in a secular prison with male guards. She requested the bishop to be placed in a Church prison with female guards but she was refused. Fearing to be raped, she wore male clothes even in jail. She was not allowed counsel so she had to defend herself and from all the evidence the English were determined to convict her by bribing different people.
The Bishop of Beauvis, Pierre Cauchon, an English sympathizer became her prosecutor. The bishop wanted her to swear on the gospels to tell the truth in everything she was asked. She did not agree to this. "Jeanne Knelt down, her two hands on the book, that is the say on the missal, and swore that she would tell the truth in all matters asked her concerning the faith. But that, the aforesaid revelations, she would not tell anyone."
During the trial Joan believed firmly that her visions and revelations were from God. The opinion read to her from the theologians from the University of Paris "declared that all the aforementioned things are lies, untrue, pernicious and evil; and that all revelations are superstitions, and proceed from evil and devilish spirits." If these were evil spirits, why would they encourage her to be good and go to Church? Toward the end of the trial under pressure to submit to the judgment of the Church and before a large crowd she signed a declaration which stated "I confess that I have grievously sinned, in falsely pretending that I have had revelations from God and his angels, Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret...." But her voices told her that she had done a great wrong to God in denying the reality of the revelations and she declared that she had not intended to deny the apparitions but she did so out of fear of fire.
Now we turn to the question of Joan wearing man's dress which according to Church law was forbidden although even Thomas Aquinas admitted that under certain circumstances it was allowed. Being among soldiers wearing man's dress served as a protection against rape. When in prison she consented to wear a woman's dress and her guards increased their attempts to rape her. In the end, they took away her woman's dress so she had no choice but to present herself in man's dress. "Cauchon promptly pronounced her as a 'relapse heretic' and condemned her to death."
One of the persistent questions during her trial was whether she was willing to submit to the judgment of the Church on Earth. Perhaps aware of the fallibility of members of the Church Militant, she would always qualify her answer as for example, "I came to the King of France from God, from the Blessed Virgin Mary, from all the Saints of Paradise, and the Church Victorious above, and by their command. To this Church I submit all my good deeds, all that I have done or will do. As to saying whether I will submit myself to the Church Militant, I will now answer no more."(Stjoan-center/Trials, Section 12)
Joan of Arc Burned to death
Her death is a heart-rending episode of French history.
On May 30, 1431, the day of her execution, Bishop of Beauvais sent Brother Martin Ladvenu to announced the death she was to bear and hear her confession. On hearing the sentence she began to tear and said:
'Alas! am I to be so horribly and cruelly treated? Alas! that my body, whole and entire, which has never been corrupted, should today be consumed and burned to ashes! Ah! I would far rather have my head cut off, seven times over, than be thus burned! Alas! had I been in the ecclesiastical prison, to which I submitted myself, and guarded by the Clergy instead of by my enemies, it would not have fallen out so unhappily for me. I appeal to God, the Great Judge, for the great evils and injustice done me.'" (Trial of Nullification: Introductory Notes)
At her execution, she listened calmly to the sermon read to her but began to weep during her address in which she forgave her accusers and asked them to pray for her. Many other present began to cry with her. Friar Martin Ladvenu held a crucifix in front of her as the flames arouse and she screamed in a loud voice the holy name of Jesus and invoked without ceasing the saints of Paradise. Then her head drooped, and it was over.
"Jean Tressard, secretary to the king of England, was returning from the execution exclaiming in great agitation 'We are ruined, for a good and holy person was burned. 'The cardinal of England himself and the Bishop of Therouanne, brother of the same John of Luxembourg whose troops had captured Joan, were said to have wept bitterly.' " The executioner, Geoffroy Therage was in great fear of being damned because he had burned a saint. Because a heretic could not be buried in holy ground, her ashes were were thrown into the Seine River.
Strange enough Cauchon allowed Joan of Ark to receive Holy Communion before her death. If he considered her a heretic, why did he?
Fit panis hominum;
Dat panis coelicus
O re mirabilis!
Sevus et humilis.
Servus et humilis.
That becomes the bread of mankind;
Bread from the angel host
That is the end of all imaginings.
Oh, miraculous thing!
This body of God will nourish
Even the poorest,
The most humble of servants.
Even the poorest,
The most humble of servants.
St. Joan of Arc