صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

of Rome; would no more carry arms, nor use the dress of men, things deemed scandalous by the church; and would adopt the dress of women, and let her hair grow: upon which conditions her punishment was to be commuted to confinement for life in the prisons of the church, “to eat the bread of grief, and drink the water of anguish.” To save her life she said she was ready to agree to this, and a paper was presented to her, to which she affixed her mark; but it was not the paper that had been read to her, but a long confession of abominable crimes, which she never could be brought by the greatest terrors to confess.

All the vilely deceitful conduct which was practised towards Joan was not counte- . nanced by the rules of the Church of Rome, the commutation of punishment upon submission and confession of a first crime was

obligatory upon its officers. They themselves would be subject to punishment if they denied it. The Bishop of Beauvais, who very well knew how wrongly he had acted, and had done all that he had to please the Duke of Bedford, yet with fear and trembling for the consequences to himself should he commit any informality in a trial and judgment of which he had the management, ought to have now taken the Maid out of the duke's hands, and committed her to a prison over which he had the control. It was with this object—to be placed in the care of her own countrymen, instead of the English, who had treated her with a cruelty which was very shameful—the misery of confinement in a dungeon is quite enough without adding insult to it)—it was with this object that Joan had agreed to do anything to save her life; but when the bishop proposed to take her

[ocr errors]

into his own care, the duke took forcible possession of her, and carrying her back to her old cell, replaced her chains, and had her guarded by five soldiers, some of whom were constantly with her, and had orders to prevent her from sleeping. He, moreover, told the bishop that he was not satisfied with what had passed, and insisted that her life should not be spared. The bishop promised that he should be satisfied, and he kept his word.

Although poor Joan was prevented from taking her rest peaceably, yet human nature cannot endure without sleep. It may be, too, that the hearts of her keepers were not so hard as those of their masters. However this be, one night she slept soundly. One of the conditions she had agreed to, for the permission to live, was to put on woman's clothes, and this she had done. These clothes were, by the bishop's orders,

removed, and the clothes she had been used to wear when she was free and happy, and had led on the soldiers of her king to victory, were laid by her side. When she awoke she had no choice but to put them on, or remain the scoff of the rude soldiers. She dressed herself in them, perhaps sadly thinking of the days that were passed. The bishop was on the watch, and no sooner had he heard that she had done an act contrary to her agreement, than he hastened to make himself a witness of the fact, hurried away, and meeting the Duke of Bedford on his way, told him to “make himself easy, for the thing was done,” proceeded to summon the other judges, and immediately procured a sentence of death on Joan, as one who had a second time disobeyed the orders of the church—as a “relapsed heretic”—and her execution was fixed for the next day.

On the morning of the 31st of May, 1431, the bishop sent Martin, an officer of the Inquisition, who had been one of the judges, to announce to Joan that sentence of death was passed upon her, and that she would be burned alive that morning. She was startled at the intelligence, and fell into such an agony of grief that even the stern inquisitor was moved to pity at the sight of such misery in one so young, and, as he full well knew, so innocent. He strove all he could to console her, and heard her confession. She then entreated that the sacrament might be given her. Now, as sentence of excommunication had been passed upon her, it was against the rules of the church to permit her to receive the sacrament, and Martin hesitated. He consented, however, to send and consult the bishop, who, strange to say, granted his permission, and it was administered to her

« السابقةمتابعة »