1. According to this document, how and why did the English troops destroy the town's fortifications?
2. Why is the scene with the bishop significant?
3. What does this passage reveal about the ideals of chivalry?
The Trial of Joan of Arc (1431)
Joan of Arc (ca. 1412-143 1), a peasant woman from eastern France, helped the French win important victories against the English in the Hundred Years' War. She claimed to have heard the voices of Saint Michael, Saint Catherine, and Saint Margaret commanding her to drive out the English and to take the crown prince to Reims for coronation. Some historians argue that Joan was important symbolically for inspiring French morale while others argue that she was a skillful military strategist. After her capture by Burgundian troops, the English put her on trial for heresy, and she was burned at the stake.
JOAN [to her inquisitors]: When I was thirteen years old, I had a voice from God to help one govern my conduct. And the first time I was very fearful. And came this voice, about the hour of noon, in the summertime, in my father's garden.... I heard the voice on the right-hand side ... and rarely do I hear it without a brightness.... It has taught me to conduct myself well, to go habitually to church.... The voice told me that I should raise the siege laid to the city of Orleans ... and me, I answered it that I was a poor girl who knew not how to ride nor lead in war.
JEAN PASQUEREI, [priest, Joan's confessor]: "On the morrow, Saturday, I rose early and celebrated mass. And Joan went out against the fortress of the bridge where was the Englishman Classidas. And the assault lasted there from morning until sunset. In this assault ... Joan ... was struck by an arrow above the breast, and when she felt herself wounded she was afraid and wept.... And some soldiers, seeing her so wounded, wanted to apply a charm to her wound, but she would not have it, saying: "I would rather die than do a thing which I know to be a sin or against the will of God." ... But if to her could be applied a remedy without sin, she was very willing to be cured. And they put on to her wound olive oil and lard. And after that had been applied, Joan made her confession to me, weeping and lamenting."
COUNT DUNOIS: "The assault lasted from the morning until eight ... so that there was hardly hope of victory that day. So that I was going to break off and ... withdraw.... Then the Maid [Joan] came to me and required me to wait yet a while. She ... mounted her horse and retired alone into a vineyard.... And in this vineyard she remained at prayer.... Then she came back ... at once seized her standard in hand and placed herself on the parapet of the trench, and the moment she was there the English trembled and were terrified. The king's soldiers regained courage and began to go up, charging against the boulevard without meeting the least resistance."
JEAN PASQUEREL: "Joan returned to the charge, crying and saying: `Classidas, Classidas, yield thee, yield thee to the King of Heaven; thou hast called me `whore'; I take great pity on thy soul and thy people's! Then Classidas, armed from head to foot, fell into the river of Loire and was drowned. And Joan, moved by pity, began to weep much for the soul of Classidas and the others who were drowned in great numbers." .. .
READING AND DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
1. Why is it important that at first the voice Joan heard seems principally to have been concerned with her good conduct?
2. Why would the claim that Joan was a "poor girl who knew not how to ride nor lead in war" have been an important issue at her trial?
3. What does the testimony of the two witnesses establish?