During Joan’s era in the early 15th century, the rules of chivalry still dictated that armies cease-fire on Sundays and feast days. That is one ironic advantage of Christian being at war with Christian. If there must be a war (and must there be? As Joan spoke plainly in her trial two years later, “Why did not they leave France and go back to their own country?”), at least Christians of old knew enough at least not to offend Our Lord on His most holy of days! Therefore, for various reasons, including the striking one mentioned yesterday, we are at rest for one more day. Stick around though, for tomorrow things begin to get quite exciting!
For today, as we sit in the city square, hoping that the English do not attack in anticipation of Dunois’ return, we will cheat by telling a story from a couple of years ahead, a story that no citizen of Orleans on that day would have known. Ah, but we have the advantage of retrospection!
While Joan was in prison two years later during her trial at the hands of her English captors, we find her facing the most abominable treatment. Yet through it all, witnesses would testify later that she gave the most amazing, indeed even miraculous, responses to the rapid fire questioning of her inquisitors. Those who objected to Joan’s treatment testified that her examiners tried to confuse her. According to these witnesses, Joan gave pleasing and wise responses that even those doctors of theology sitting in attendance from the University of Paris would have had trouble answering! She was particularly noted for her outstanding memory. They would ask her questions on different days to see if she would give conflicting answers. She never did. In fact, she would often point out to them the exact day that she did answer that question and just what she had said. Given that each daily examination lasted between 8 and 12 hours, that is a remarkable feat, particularly for an uneducated teenager! Sometimes, they would even purposely read back false accounts of what she answered, but Joan would always correct them.
One such account demonstrates how remarkably this young woman maintained her composure and even her sense of humor during this devastating, life and death ordeal, sitting all alone with not one friend to support her.
From Pierre Daron at the trial of rehabilitation decades after Joan’s death:
“I heard some people say during the trial that Joan was miraculous in her answers and that she had a remarkable memory. For once when they were interrogating her on a point on which she had already been interrogated a week before, she answered, “I have been asked that before, on such a day, ” or “I was interrogated about that a week ago, and I answered like this.” Even though Boisguillaume, one of the scribes, told her that she had not answered that question, some of those in the court protested that Joan was right. Then they read the answers for that particular day and found that Joan was speaking the truth. She was greatly elated and told Boisguillaume that if he made another mistake she would “pull his ears.” (Pernoud, The Retrial of Joan of Arc, pp. 222-223)
I am sure that made a number of witnesses, including Boisguillaume himself, chuckle inside, though no one would dare show it for fear of the Bishop of Beauvais and the English who threatened the lives any who supported Joan. However, it must have made for a good hushed chuckle over dinner.
Tomorrow: Things begin to roll. Joan takes her first of three bastilles. Joan of Arc takes the Bastille of Saint-Loup! Orleans is just days from being free!