May 23

May 23, 1431

Wednesday, May 23rd. Jeanne’s faults are expounded to her by master Pierre Maurice. The trial is concluded

On the following Wednesday, May 23rd, the said Jeanne was led to a room near her prison in the castle of Rouen and into the presence of us her judges assembled in tribunal. There were also present the reverend fathers and lords, the lord bishops of Thérouanne and of Noyon, the lords and masters Jean de Châtillon, archdeacon of Évreux, Jean Beaupère, Nicolas Midi, Guillaume Erart, Pierre Maurice, doctors of sacred theology; André Marguerie, licentiate in law, and Nicolas de Venderès, licentiate in decrees, archdeacons and canons of the church of Rouen.

In the presence of the said Jeanne we caused to be explained certain points on which she had erred and strayed according to the deliberation of the Faculties of Theology and Decrees of the University of Paris. The faults, crimes and errors contained in each of these points according to the deliberation were explained to her: and we warned her and caused her to be warned to abandon these shortcomings and errors, to correct and reform herself, to submit to the correction and decision of our Holy Mother the Church, as is declared at greater length in a memorandum transcribed below, which was expounded in French to Jeanne by master Pierre Maurice, canon of Rouen and a celebrated doctor of theology.


Here follows the tenor of the memorandum

Firstly, Jeanne, you have said that from the age of thirteen years or thereabouts you have had revelations and apparitions of angels, of St. Catherine and St. Margaret, whom you have frequently seen with your bodily eyes; and that they have often spoken with you and told you many things set forth at length in your trial.

On this point the clerks of the University of Paris and others have considered the manner and end of these revelations, the matter of the things revealed, and the quality of your person and having considered everything relevant they declare that it is all false, seductive, pernicious, that such revelations and apparitions are superstitions and proceed from evil and diabolical spirits.


You have said that your king received a sign by which he knew that you were sent from God, that it was St. Michael, in the company of a host of angels, some with crowns, others with wings, and St. Catherine and St. Margaret were among them, coming to you in the town and castle of Chinon. They all mounted the stairs of the castle in your company up to the chamber of your king, before whom the angel who bore the crown bowed. At another time you said this crown, which you call a sign, was given to the archbishop of Reims, who presented it to your king, before many princes and lords whom you have named,

Regarding this article, the clergy say it is not probable, but rather a presumptuous, misleading and pernicious lie, an undertaking contrary and derogatory to the dignity of angels.


You have said that you recognized the angels and saints by the good counsel, comfort and doctrine they gave you; by the fact that they told you their names and -the saints greeted you; moreover, that you believe it was St. Michael who appeared to you; that their words and deeds are good; all of which you believe as firmly as you hold the faith of Jesus Christ.

Regarding this article, the clergy say that the signs were not sufficient for the recognition of the angels and saints, that you believed lightly and affirmed rashly, that, moreover, in the comparison you make you deviate from the faith.


You have said you are certain of future and contingent events, that you have known where things were hidden, that you recognized men you had never seen, through the voices of St. Catherine and St. Margaret.

Regarding this article, the clergy find superstition, divination, presumptuous assertions and vain boasting.


You have said that you wore and still wear man’s dress at God’s command and to His good pleasure, for you had instruction from God to wear this dress, and so you have put on a short tunic, jerkin, and hose with many points. You even wear your hair cut short above the ears, without keeping about you anything to denote your sex, save what nature has given you. And often you have in this apparel received the Sacrament of the Eucharist. And although you have many times been admonished to put it off, you would not, saying that you would rather die than put off this dress, unless it were God’s command; and that if you were still in this dress and with those of your own party, it would be for the great welfare of France. You say also that nothing could persuade you to take an oath not to wear this dress and bear these arms; and for all this you plead divine command.

Regarding such matters, the clergy declare that you blaspheme against God, despising Him and His sacraments, that you transgress divine law, Holy Scripture and the canons of the Church, that you think evil and err from the faith, that you are full, of vain boasting, that you are given to idolatry and worship yourself and your clothes, according to the customs of the heathen.


You have often said that in your letters you have put these names Jhesus Maria, and the sign of the cross, to warn those to whom you wrote not to do what was indicated in the letter. In other letters you boasted that you would kill all those who did not obey you, and that by your blows would the favor of the Lord be seen. Also you have often said that all your deeds were by revelation and according to divine command.

In regard to such affirmations, the clergy declare you to be a traitor, perfidious, cruel, desiring human bloodshed, seditious, an instigator of tyranny, a blasphemer of God’s commandments and revelations.


You have said that according to revelations vouchsafed you at the age of seventeen, you left your parents’ house against their will, driving them almost mad. You went to Robert de Baudricourt, who, at your request, gave you a man’s dress and a sword, also men-at-arms to take you to your king. And when you came to the king, you told him that his enemies should be driven away, you promised to bring him into a great kingdom, to make him victorious over his foes, and that for this God had sent you. These things you say you accomplished in obedience to God and according to revelation.

Regarding such things, the clergy declare that you have been irreverent to your father and mother, thereby disobeying God’s commandment, that you have given occasion for scandal, that you have blasphemed; that you have erred from the faith; and that you have made a rash and presumptuous promise.


You have said that of your own will you hurled yourself from the tower of Beaurevoir, preferring to die rather than be delivered into the hands of the English and live after the destruction of Compiègne. And although St. Catherine and St. Margaret forbade you to leap, you could not restrain yourself. And in spite of the great sin you have committed in offending these saints, you knew by your voices that after your confession your sin was forgiven.

This act the clergy declare you committed because of cowardice verging on despair and possibly suicide. In this matter you also uttered a rash and presumptuous statement in asserting that your sin is forgiven, and you err from the faith touching the doctrine of free will.


You have said that St. Catherine and St. Margaret promised to lead you to Paradise provided that you preserved the virginity which you vowed and promised them, and that you are as well assured of it as if you had already entered into the glory of the Blessed. You believe you have not committed mortal sin, and it seems to you that if you were in mortal sin the saints would not visit you daily as they do.

Such an assertion the clergy declare to be a pernicious lie, presumptuous and rash, that it contains a contradiction of what you had previously said, and that finally your beliefs err from the true Christian faith.


You have declared that you know well that God loves certain living persons better than you, and that you learned this by revelation from St. Catherine and St. Margaret; also that those saints speak French, not English, as they are not on the side of the English. And since you knew that your voices were for your king, you began to dislike the Burgundians.

Such matters the clergy pronounce to be a rash and presumptuous assertion, a superstitious divination, a blasphemy uttered against St. Catherine and St. Margaret, and a transgression of the commandment to love our neighbors.


You declared that to those whom you call St. Michael, St. Catherine and St. Margaret, you did reverence, bending the knee, taking off your cap, kissing the ground on which they trod, vowing to them your virginity: that you believed in the instruction of these saints, whom you invoked, kissed and embraced, as soon as they appeared to you, without seeking counsel from your priest or from any other ecclesiastic. And, notwithstanding, you believe these voices came from God as firmly as you believe in the Christian religion and the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Moreover, you said that if any evil spirit should appear to you in the form of St. Michael you would know such a spirit and distinguish him from the saint. And again you said, that of your own accord, you have sworn not to reveal the sign you gave to your king. And finally you added: “Save at God’s command.”

Now touching these matters, the clergy affirm that if you had the revelations and saw the apparitions of which you boast in such a manner as you say, then you are an idolatress, an invoker of demons, an apostate from the faith, a maker of rash statements, a swearer of an unlawful oath.


And you have said that if the Church wished you to disobey the orders you say God gave you, nothing would induce you to do so; that you know that all the deeds of which you have been accused in your trial were wrought according to the command of God and that it was impossible for you to do otherwise. Touching these deeds, you refuse to submit to the judgment of the Church on earth or of any living man, and will submit therein to God alone. And, moreover, you declared that this reply itself was not made of your own accord but by God’s command; in spite of the article of faith, Unam Sanctam Ecclesiam Catholicam, having been many times declared before you, and notwithstanding that it behooves all Christians to submit their deeds and sayings to the Church Militant especially all that concerns revelations and similar matters.

Wherefore the clergy declare you to be schismatic, an unbeliever in the unity and authority of the Church, apostate and obstinately erring from the faith.

Now when these assertions with the qualifications of the University of Paris had thus been related and explained to Jeanne she was finally admonished in French by the same doctor to think very carefully over her acts and sayings, especially in the light of the last article. He spoke to her thus:

“Jeanne, dearest friend, it is now time, near the end of your trial to think well over all that has been said. Although you have four times already, by the lord bishop of Beauvais, by the lord vicar of the Inquisitor, by other doctors sent to you on their behalf, been most diligently admonished for the honor and reverence of God, for the faith and law of Jesus Christ, for the tranquillity of their consciences, and the alleviation of the scandal you have caused, to the salvation of your body and soul; although you have been shown the perils to which you expose your body and soul if you do not reform yourself and your sayings and correct them by submitting your acts and your words to the Church, and by accepting her judgment, nevertheless up till now you have not wished to listen.

“Now although many of your judges would have been satisfied with the evidence collected against you, in their anxiety for the salvation of your body and soul they have submitted your sayings for examination to the University of Paris, the light of all knowledge and the extirpator of errors. When the lord judges received the deliberations of the University they decided that you should to this end be once more admonished, warned of your errors, scandals and other crimes, and that we should beg, exhort and advise you by the bowels of Our Lord Jesus Christ who suffered cruel death for the redemption of mankind, to correct your words and submit them to the judgment of the Church, as every loyal Christian is bound and obliged to do. Do not permit yourself to be separated from Our Lord Jesus Christ who created you to be a partaker in His glory; do not choose the way of eternal damnation with the enemies of God who daily endeavor to disturb men, counterfeiting often the likeness of Christ, His angels and His saints, who they profess and [affirm themselves to be, as is shown more fully in the lives of the Fathers and in the Scriptures. Therefore if such apparitions have appeared to you, do not believe them: more than that, put away the belief or imagination you had in such things, and believe rather in the words and opinions of the University of Paris and other doctors who, being well acquainted with the law of God and the Holy Scriptures, have concluded that no fait] should be given to such apparitions or in any extraordinary apparition or forbidden novelty which is not supported by Holy Scripture or sign or miracle, none of which you have

“You have believed these apparitions lightly, instead of turning to God in devout prayer to grant you certainty; and you have not consulted prelates or learned ecclesiastics to enlighten yourself: although, considering your condition and the simplicity of your knowledge, you ought to have done so. Take this example: suppose your king had appointed you to defend a fortress, forbidding you to let any one enter. Would you not refuse to admit whoever claimed to come in his name but brought no letters or authentic sign? Likewise Our Lord Jesus Christ, when He ascended into Heaven, committed the government of His Church to the apostle St. Peter and his successors, forbidding them to receive in the future those who claimed to come in His name but brought no other token than their own words. So you should not have put faith in those which you say came to you, nor ought we to believe in you, since God commands the contrary.

“First, Jeanne, you should consider this: if when you were in your king’s domain, a soldier or other person born in his realm or fealty had arisen and said, ‘I will not obey the king or submit to any of his officers,’ would you not have said this man should be condemned? What shall you say of yourself, who, brought up in the faith of Christ by the sacrament of baptism, have become the daughter of the Church and the spouse of Christ, if you do not obey Christ’s officers, that is to say, the prelates of the Church? What judgment shall you deliver upon yourself ? Cease, I pray you, from uttering these things if you love your Creator, your precious spouse and your salvation; obey the Church and submit to its judgment; know that if you do not, if you persevere in this error, your soul will be condemned to eternal punishment and perpetual torture, and I do not doubt that your body will come to perdition.

“Let not human pride and empty shame, which perhaps constrain you, hold you back because you fear that if you do as I advise you will lose the great honors which you have known. For the honor of God and the salvation of your body and soul must come first: you will lose all if you do not as I say, for you will separate yourself from the Church and from the faith you swore in the holy sacrament of baptism, you cut the authority of Our Lord from the Church which is nevertheless led, ruled and governed by His spirit and authority. For He said to the prelates of the Church: ‘He that heareth you heareth Me, he that despiseth you despiseth Me.’ Therefore if you will not submit to the Church you separate yourself in fact, and if you will not submit to her you refuse to submit to God, and you err in respect of this article: Unam Sanctam Ecclesiam. What the Church is, and her authority, has been sufficiently explained to you already in former admonitions.

“Therefore, in view of all these things, on behalf of your judges the lord bishop of Beauvais and the lord vicar of the Inquisitor, I admonish, beg and exhort you by the pity you have for the passion of your Creator, by the love you bear for the salvation of your body and soul, correct and amend these errors, return to the way of truth, by obedience to the Church and submission in all things to her judgment and decision. By so doing you will save your soul and redeem, as I hope, your body from death; but if you do not, if you persist, know that your soul will be overwhelmed in damnation and I fear the destruction of your body. From these ills may Our Lord preserve you!”

After Jeanne had been admonished in this manner and had heard these exhortations she replied thereto in this way: “As for my words and deeds, which I declared in the trial, I refer to them and will maintain them.”

Asked if she thinks she is not bound to submit her words and deeds to the Church Militant or any one other than God, She answered: I will maintain that manner of speech which I always said and held in the trial.”

She said that if she were condemned and she saw the fire and the faggots alight and the executioner ready ‘to kindle the fire, and she herself were in it, she would say nothing else and would maintain until death what she said in the trial.

Then we her judges asked the Promoter and Jeanne whether they had anything further to say. They answered that they had not. Then we proceeded to conclude the proceedings according to the formula of a certain schedule which we the said bishop held in our hands, and of which the tenor follows:

“We, competent judges in this trial, as we esteem and declare ourselves in so far as it is necessary, according to your refusal to say anything further, we declare the trial has ended; and, this conclusion pronounced, we assign to-morrow as the day on which you shall hear us give justice and pronounce sentence, which shall afterwards be carried out and proceeded with according to law and reason. In the presence of the witnesses brother Ysambard de La Pierre, master Mathieu le Bateur, priests, and Louis Orsel, clerk, of the dioceses of Rouen, London and Noyon.”

Return to top