The Interrogation of Joan of Arc

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Taking Orleans would mean for the English a gateway into Armagnac France. In early February of , they won a major battle near the village of Rouvray, thirteen miles from Orleans. The battle left over Armagnac soldiers dead and reopened supply lines to English soldiers mounting the siege of Orleans.

Joan of Arc to the Rescue. The previous year, a young maid of about 16 years of age showed up in the Armagnac-controlled town of Vaucouleurs. The maid, of course, would become known as Joan of Arc. Joan told the captain of the garrison that God had spoken to her and that she needed to share her message with the dauphin.

At first she was sent away, but Joan came back. On the second trip, in January , the duke of Lorraine agreed to listen to her story. Her story had spread and people were open to a visionary who could give hope of a way out of their current quagmire. Town inhabitants chipped in and provided a horse, riding clothes, and an escort to allow Joan to undertake the perilous mile journey through Burgundian-held lands from Vaucoulers to the royal court in Chinon.

The king and his court were intrigued. They put the question to leading Armagnac theologians. The first step was to test her virginity, because virgins—or so it was believed—were less likely to be recruited by the Devil. A private examination by two women confirmed her virginity. Questioned about her faith and behavior by clerics, Joan appeared to be both a devout and a model of integrity.

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But still there were concerns, especially given her youth. Joan handled the process well. If she—against all odds—succeeded, that would be strong evidence that God had spoken to her as she claimed. If she failed—well, nice try. It was a practical test. Before setting off on her mission, Joan dictated a letter to Henry and his regent. I am sent here by God, the king of heaven, to face you head to head and drive you from all of France. Joan was outfitted with a custom-made suit of armour, presented with a specially prepared banner with the golden fleurs-de-lis France sown on a white background.

She carried a holy sword and rode a topnotch horse given to her by the duke of Alencon. On April 26, , Joan rode into battle.

What a Woman!

She was joined by soldiers that Joan had insisted first take confession and promise neither to pillage, rape, nor engage in prostitution. It took four days, and Joan received a superficial wound from an English arrow, but Orleans was freed. The half-year-long siege was over. The powers-that-be took it as a sure sign that Joan—and France—had God on their side. Joan went on to rack up other victories. Her acclaim spread. Even Burgundians were impressed. At the end of June , the king set out with a royal party and an army that numbered in the thousands for Reims, site of the holy oil deemed essential to his coronation.

With the now almost mystical Joan causing enemy-controlled city gates to open along the way, Charles made it to Reims. And on July 17, holy oil was placed on his head, shoulders, chest, and arms. Joan knelt before her king and wept. Her men were no match for the barrage of arrows fired from above, and they were forced to retreat. Joan was lifted from a ditch and carried to safety. When she again was well enough to lead men into battle, Joan chomped at the bit. She wanted a smashing victory to show skeptics she still had God on her side.

Meanwhile, perhaps in response to the crowning of Charles in Reims, the duke of Bedford decided it was time that young Henry he was only 8 years old receive his crown in Westminster Abbey, with plans made for a second coronation in France.

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In May , Joan was focused on the town of Compiegne and relieving it from a Burgundian siege. Joan ordered a nighttime attack. But then another group of Burgundian and English soldiers moved in behind her, cutting her off from the bridge and possible safety. The city gates closed behind her, Joan found herself surrounded and was captured. Duke Phillip, leader of the Burgundians, was mightily pleased.

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Under the laws of war, Joan was technically a prisoner of Jean de Luxembourg, commander of the Burgundian forces who made the capture. Joan was taken to a castle twenty miles away to await a decision as to what should be done with her.

Three days later, theologians of the University of Paris and the vicar-general of the faith asked the Duke of Burgundy to surrender Joan to them, so that they might try her in an ecclesiastical court for various alleged crimes against God. But the theologians got no answer. Jean of Luxembourg was hoping to win a ransom for his famous prisoner. Eventually, Jean got his price for his prize.

They moved Joan to Rouen, the capital of English Normandy. On January 3, , young King Henry or, more accurately, his key advisors issued an edict charging Joan with a long list religious crimes and ordering officers to deliver her to the bishop of Beauvais.


She would be tried by Church authorities, but still held prisoner each night in the royal castle. The Trial. There she would meet Bishop Pierre Cauchon and 42 clerics. In the preceding weeks, Cauchon and his advisors had reviewed the evidence, created a list of articles of accusation, and prepared a series of question they intended to ask the defendant. Joan appeared dressed in male clothing, with her dark hair cut short. Prior to her appearance, she had again been examined and found to be a virgin.

The proceeding was to begin with Joan touching the Bible and taking a sacred oath to tell the truth. But Joan hesitated. Perhaps you might ask me things I cannot tell you. Finally, Joan knelt and took an oath agreeing to tell the truth about her faith and her doings—but making no promise to reveal those messages God did not mean for her to share with anyone but her king, Charles. Questions about her background were asked, and Joan answered. She was 19, from the village of Domremy. She was baptized into the Catholic faith. Before returning her to her cell, Cauchon warned Joan not to attempt an escape, as she had once before, jumping from her tower cell.

In the interrogation of the following day, Joan answered questions about her letter to the English at Orleans, her assault on Paris, and other military actions. She also, despite her protest of the previous day, spoke of the messages she had received from God. She also testified that a voice from God had revealed her king to her when she arrived at Chinon.

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Joan said she had heard the voice that very day, telling her to answer boldly. Take care what you do, for in truth I am sent by God, and you put yourself in grave danger. I would be the most wretched person in the world if I knew I were not in the grace of God.

Earlier she had refused to provide details about their hair, clothes, and rings and had responded to the clerics' questions about these details by insisting upon the identification of these voices as saints and angels Now, however, in providing a physical description of the voices, she consented to the clerics' demand and portrayed..

By informing the clerics of the minuteness and the multiplicity of the voices without attempting to make sense of what she was describing, Joan spoke like the ideal patient describing her symptoms to the physician. She provided the details of her symptoms without hazarding a diagnosis of her illness.. From Socrates to Heidegger, a tradition of Western philosophy has identified the wisest of men, paradoxically, with those who allege that they themselves possess no wisdom, that wisdom is to be found in the other to whom they appeal, and that wisdom is to be elicited from this other only through such an act of questioning.

Yet if inquiries are distinguished by their location of the truth they seek in an other, why is it that they are so often suspected of planting in their words the seeds of the truth they later profess to find?


If inquiries are marked by their respect for the object that they address, why is it, then, that the quaestio signifies not only the verbal utterance that the interrogator performs but also the physical torture that has so often. An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.