The trials of Joan. Joan before the law. Six centuries later, the Maid has continued to provoke anger and awe, scepticism and adoration. Brn about 1412 to a devout peasant fmily, Joan was visited from childhood by her “voices.” Beleiving herself sent of God to drive out the E»nglish from France, she set out in 1428 to gain the ear of the Dauphin. The rst is history. If we can sort it out…
…The Burgundians, of course, did not regard themselves as traitors. Charles VII aside from his doubtful legitimacy, had been barred from the succession for complicity in the foul murder of Jean sans Peur, Duke of Burgundy. By the Treaty of Troyes, Charles own parents, King Charles VI and his queen, Isabella of Bavaria, had repudiated the claim of their son, and this repudiation had been ratified by the “parlement” and by the estates of the realm.
Joan of Arc, the Maid’s visions, so exalted in the eyes of the competing faction, the Armagnacs, become “foolish phantomries” or imposture in the eyes of the Burgundians. They point out that her prophecies were not always fulfilled and sometimes grievously misled her followers. They usually recognize Joan’s courage, and her influence in the course of events, but they tend to see it as something fearful, monstrous, unnatural. Her conduct seems to them vicious and immoral, vain and cruel, and she herself a lowborn pretender to divine inspiration- a detestable woman, the laughingstock of her sex, the scandal of men.
For example, Monstrelet, the chief Burgundian chronicler, has scant appetite for Joan’s miracles and cannot accept her undeniable equestrian skill as a miraculous endowment. The Burgundians and the English had generally circulated the story that she had learned to ride as a chamber-wench at the inn at Neufchateau, and that she had lost her virginity there. Joan herself admitted at her trial that “for dread of the Burgundians” she stayed “about a fortnight” at the inn at Neufchateau and at the time assisted its proprietress, a woman named La Rousse. Doubtless the episode was thought to be a humiliating one, minimizing the heroine’s social status in a society where such matters were all-important, affording ground for the propaganda of the enemy, and casting doubt upon her virginity. We may dismiss that doubt, for even her trial judges, who had verified her virginal status by causing her to be examined physically by the Duchess of Bedford and her ladies, did not dare to question it, though to have done so would have been much to their advantage in proving her guilt, since there was a prevalent belief that the Devil could not make a pact with a virgin. Joan was undoubtedly virginal; but she may have stayed at the inn longer than she admitted at the trial.