Click Here

Home » Historical Law » Trials » Joan of Arc :


Joan of Arc Trial Transcripts

Charged with Heresy and Witchcraft

circa A.D. 1430


      Joan of Arc (1412-31) was a national heroine and patron saint of France, who united the nation at a critical time and decisively turned the Hundred Years' War in France's favor.

Summary of Events

      When Joan of Arc was just thirteen years old, she believed she was hearing voices, sometimes accompanied by visions. She was convinced the voices belonged to St. Michael and to the early martyrs St. Catherine of Alexandria and St. Margaret. In 1429, during the Hundred Years' War when the English were about to capture Orleans, the voices spoke unto her to help the Dauphin (later Charles VII, King of France). Joan convinced Charles of her divine mission and she was given a small number of troops to command. Dressed in armor and greatly out numbered, she led the French to a decisive victory over the English at the battle of Orleans.

      After the campaign at Orleans, Charles opposed any further agression against the English. As it came to be in 1430, without royal support, Joan conducted a military operation against the English at Compihgne, near Paris. She was captured by Burgundian soldiers, who in turn sold her to their English allies. Joan was brought before an ecclesiastical court at Rouen to be tried for heresy and witchcraft. After fourteen months of interrogation, she was accused of wrongdoing in wearing masculine dress and of heresy for believing she was directly responsible to God rather than to the Roman Catholic church. The court condemned her to death, but she confessed her crimes, and the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. Because she resumed masculine dress after returning to jail, she was condemned again. This time by a secular court and, on May 30, 1431, Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in the Old Market Square at Rouen as a relapsed heretic. Twenty-five years after her death, the church re-tried her case and pronounced her innocent. In 1920, she was canonized by Pope Benedict XV.

Selected Trial Excerpts

By the Court:  At what age were you when you first did hear these voices?

By Joan of Arc:  I was thirteen when I had a voice from God for my help and guidance. The first time that I heard this voice, I was very much frightened, it was mid-day, in the summer, in my father's garden ... I heard this voice to my right, towards the Church, rarely do I hear it without its being accompanied also by a light. This light comes from the same side as the voice. Generally it is a great light ...

Q:  How long is it since you heard your voices?

A:  I heard them yesterday and today.

Q:  What were you doing yesterday morning when the voice came to you?

A:  I was asleep. The voice awoke me.

Q:  Was it by touching you on the arm?

A:  It awoke me without touching me.

Q:  Was it in your room?

A:  Not so far as I know, but in the Castle.

Q:  Did you thank it? Did you go on your knees?

A:  I did thank it. I was sitting on the bed. I joined my hands. I implored its help. The voice said to me, "Answer boldly, God will help thee" ... (then addressing the Bishop of Beauvais) You say you are my judge. Take care what you are doing, for in truth I am sent by God, and you place yourself in great danger.

Q:  Has this voice sometimes varied its counsel?

A:  I have never found it give two contrary opinions.

Q:  This voice that speaks to you, is it that of an Angel, or of a Saint, of from God direct?

A:  It is the voice of Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret. Their faces are adorned with beautiful crowns, very rich and precious.

Q:  How do you know if these were the two Saints? How do you distinguish one from the other?

A:  I know quite well it is they, and I can easily distinguish one from the other.

Q:  How do you distinguish them?

A:  By the greeting they give me. It is seven years now since they have undertaken to guide me. I know them well because they were named to me.

Q:  What was the first voice that came to you when you were about thirteen?

A:  It was Saint Michael. I saw him before my eyes, he was not alone, but quite surrounded by the Angels of Heaven.

Q:  Did you see Saint Michael and these Angels bodily and in reality?

A:  I saw them with my bodily eyes as well as I see you, when they went from me, I wept. I should have liked to be taken away with them.

Q:  What sign did you give to your King that you came from God?

A:  The sign was that an Angel assured my King, in bringing him the crown, that he should have the whole realm of France, by the means of God's help and my labors, that he was to set me to work ... that is to say, to give me soldiers; and that otherwise he would not be so soon crowned and consecrated.

Q:  Of what material was the said crown?

A:  It is well to know it was of fine gold, it was so rich that I do not know how to count its riches or to appreciate its beauty. The crown signified that my King should possess the Kingdom of France.

Q:  Were there stones in it?

A:  I have told you what I know about it.

Q:  Did you touch or kiss it?

A:  No.

Q:  Did the Angel who brought it come from above, or along the ground?

A:  He came from above, I mean, he came at our Lord's bidding. He entered by the door of the chamber.

Q:  Did he move along the ground from the door of the chamber?

A:  When he came into the King's presence, he did him reverence, bowing before him and speaking the words I have told you about the sign. Then he reminded him of the beautiful patience he had shown in the face of the great tribulations which had come to him. And from the door of the chamber he stepped and moved along the ground as he came to the King. When the Angel came I accompanied him and went with him up the steps to the King's chamber, and the Angel went in first. And then I said to the King, "Sire, there is your sign ... take it."

Q:  Do you know if you are in the Grace of God?

A:  If I am not, may God place me there. If I am, may God so keep me. I should be the saddest in all the world if I knew that I were not in the grace of God. But if I were in a state of sin, do you think the voice would come to me! I would that every one could hear the voice as I hear it.

A:  He came for a great purpose. I was in hopes that the King would believe the sign, and that they would cease to argue with me, and would aid the good people of Orleans. The Angel came for the merits of the King and of the good Duke d'Orleans.

Q:  Why to you rather than to another?

A:  It has pleased God so to do by a simple maiden, in order to drive back the enemies of the King.

Q:  If the Church Militant tells you that your revelations are illusions, or diabolical things, will you defer to the Church?

A:  I will defer to God, Whose Commandment I always do ... In case the Church should prescribe the contrary, I should not refer to any one in the world, but to God alone, Whose Commandment I always follow.

Q:  Do you not then believe you are subject to the Church of God which is on earth, that is to say to our Lord the Pope, to the Cardinals, the Archbishops, Bishops, and other prelates of the Church?

A:  Yes, I believe myself to be subject to them, but God must be served first.

Q:  Have you then command from your voices not to submit yourself to the Church Militant, which is on earth, not to its decision?

A:  I answer nothing from my own head, what I answer is by command of my voices, they do not order me to disobey the Church, but God must be served first.

- End -

     See also :


Gavel2Gavel Home
Copyright © 2004 Re-QUEST dot Net™  ~  All rights reserved
Gavel2Gavel is a trademark of Re-QUEST dot Net