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According to the historical accounts on the trial of Jeanne d’Arc, the Catholic Church damned her, a witch on May the 30th 1431 (Barret and Champion, 1). Five centuries later, the same church declared Jeanne d’Arc a saint, giving the impression that most of the judgments passed by the Catholic Church maybe as well for mere political reasons.
A carefully prepared propaganda was initiated alleging that the heir apparent to the French throne was not illegible to the title of King as he was illegitimate. This sowed a seed of confusion amongst many of the French people leading them to lean towards neutrality and conform to the ways of whichever side was winning (Barret and Champion, 2). This led to a state of low morale among the French such that the French monarchy and country was about to collapse entirely.
In France, the traditionally acknowledged coronations venue was the Rheims Cathedral which was under English control thus preventing Charles, the heir to the French throne from being crowned further demoralizing the French. In her teenage years, Jeanne d’Arc developed a highly spiritual and prayerful nature propelling her to openly declare that she was hearing voices of the saints asking her to lead the Orleans siege, emancipate the Rheims Cathedral to enable the crowning of Charles as King of the French (Barret, 350). She claimed that the saints had asked her to dress in manly clothes during military campaigns (Barret, 351).
At the start of 1428, Jeanne d’Arc left her home after the Poitier’s based Church trial which essentially cleared her of any associations with witchcraft. This served to motivate and raise the morale of both Charles and his army pegged on the notion that God was on their side and victory was surely theirs (Barret and Champion, 3). She played a pivotal role in inspiring the troops with her excellent leadership skills during dire times leading the French to win surprising victories and the eventual crowning of Charles as King in the Rheims cathedral in the seventh month of 1429 (Barret and Champion, 3). This was Jeanne’s ultimate goal but she continued to actively participate in battles against the English which greatly demoralized the English army.
The combined forces of Burgundy and England were at constant awe of Jeanne’s apparently super human abilities and they opted to attribute them to the devil. After she was captured by the English in 1430, the English army commanders called in for the services of Cauchon, a Catholic bishop who leaned more to politics than the Church to institute court proceedings against Jeanne d’Arc and conclusively justify that she was indeed a witch (Barret, 351).
This is suggests that the Catholic Church was heavily manipulated by the English to ensure that they were rid of Jeanne d’Arc (Barret and Champion, 2). To them, Jeanne d’Arc was the source of motivation to the French forces while on the other hand her presence at battle put fear among the English-Burgundy troops (Barret, 351). Their main aim was to use the Church which was highly respected by the French people to depict Jeanne d’Arc as being a witch and by extension a devil.
Cauchon is said to have been an overzealous English supporter and he sought to instill Jury- men who sided with his reasoning. As such, the Catholic Church cannot be held liable for the burning of Jeanne d’Arc at the stake as it was Cauchon himself who declined Jeanne’s request to be tried by an impartial Church Council or the Pope himself. Cauchon not only falsified evidence presented to the court but also intimidated the Jury men as well as corrupting Jeanne’s evidence before the Paris University.
As a result, Jeanne d’Arc was unfairly tried simply for the English and Burgundy people to be able to manipulate the course of war with the French. Jeanne d’Arc was convicted guilty of being a witch and the British sought to oversee her execution. However, this put a lot of fear in Jeanne d’Arc causing her to agree to signing and pledging allegiance to the Catholic Church (Barret, 353). Her sentence was reduced to a light sentence. This demanded that she agree to dress as a woman which she accepted. This sentence infuriated the English as her condemnation as a witch would have implied that King Charles was crowned demonically.
The English arranged for Jeanne’s clothes to be stolen at night and Jeanne d’Arc was subjected to dressing in manly clothes again (Barret, 352). Cauchon was ordered to hurry to her dungeon and convict her of disobedience to the Church. This was enough for Jeanne d’Arc to be accused of witchcraft and in 1431 she was burnt at the stake (Barret, 349).
Apparently Rouen was recaptured by the French in the year 1449 and Jeanne d’Arc trial was investigated on the orders of the Pope. In 1456, Jeanne’s sentencing was declared null and void and centuries later the public opinion asked for Jeanne’s holiness to be reconsidered (Barret and Champion, 9). After careful considerations she was canonized as St. Jeanne d’Arc.
Barret W. P. Ed. The Trial of Jeanne d’Arc. London: Routledge and Paul, Print.
Barret W. P. and Champion, Pierre. The Trial of Jeanne D’Arc. New Orleans, LA: Cornerstone Book Publishers, 2008. Print.