Photograph by Tijmen Stam of the painting Jeanne d'Arc at the Siege of Orléans by Jules Eugène Lenepveu, painted 1886–1890. Original maintained by Panthéon de Paris. Online courtesy, Wikimedia Commons. License: CC-BY-SA-2.5.
You state that you are my judge.
I am not aware that you are such;
But I charge you
Take heed and
Do not judge me wrongfully,
As in such case
You will place your soul
In great jeopardy.
It was the morning of March 14, 1431. Joan of Arc, age 19, was standing trial for heresy. She had no lawyer.
Her chief accuser - Pierre Cauchon - was also her judge. Cauchon, a Bishop of the Catholic Church, was a man whose strongest loyalties were to himself and to his own ambitions.
After three weeks of cross examination, Cauchon had not broken Joan of Arc. With incredible courage, Joan warned her accuser to "take heed" that he "not judge [her] wrongfully."
Cauchon threatened Joan with death by burning if she were found guilty of heresy, but Joan reminded him of the penalty of eternal damnation if he continued to be unfair and biased in his responsibilities.
What facts brought this young woman to trial? On whose authority was she tried, without legal representation? What crimes did she allegedly commit, resulting in a charge of heresy, among other things?
To understand the trial, and the basis of the charges against Joan, we have to take a trip back to the Middle Ages. We have to examine what life was like then. We have to understand who Joan of Arc was in order to comprehend why her story is still fascinating, nearly six centuries later.
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Bos, Carole "Joan of Arc" AwesomeStories.com. Date of access
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