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The Interrogation of Joan of Arc

Karen Sullivan
Volume: 20
Copyright Date: 1999
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 232
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  • Book Info
    The Interrogation of Joan of Arc
    Book Description:

    The transcripts of Joan of Arc’s trial for heresy at Rouen in 1431 and the minutes of her interrogation have long been recognized as our best source of information about the Maid of Orleans. Focusing on the minutes recorded by clerics, however, Karen Sullivan challenges the accuracy of the transcript. In The Interrogation of Joan of Arc, she re-reads the record not as a perfect reflection of a historical personality’s words, but as a literary text resulting from the collaboration between Joan and her interrogators.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8986-6
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xi-xxvi)

    What does it mean to question? The Latin termquaestio, from which our word “question” derives, indicates an act of seeking and, by extension, an act of seeking truth. It suggests, through its linking of seeking and truth, that truth is something that must be sought and, hence, something that is not already present or not already evident among us. Because the process of questioning assumes that truth lies not in the self who seeks it but, rather, in an other outside that self, it is inherently modest and unassuming in its approach and inherently sensitive to the dangers of...

  5. 1 The Fairy Tree
    (pp. 1-20)

    In 1429, the year Joan of Arc appeared in the public realm, the Bourgeois of Paris expressed two views of the Maid of Orléans in his journal. He reported, first, that “things were said of her..., by those who loved the Armagnacs better than the Burgundians or the Regent of France, such as that, when she was very small and looked after the sheep, birds would come from the woods and fields when she called them and eat bread in her lap as if they were tame.”¹ In his account of her alleged ability to attract birds, the Bourgeois attributed...

  6. 2 The Voices from God
    (pp. 21-41)

    During the late Middle Ages, when Joan claimed to hear voices speak to her, women visionaries were increasingly prominent in religious life.¹ Between the twelfth and the thirteenth centuries, the rate of women among those canonized doubled from 11.8 to 22.6 percent and, during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, stabilized at 25 and 23 percent, only to decline in subsequent years.² This shift in figures can be attributed primarily to a shift in the identification of sanctity from those who exhibited holiness in ruling an outer kingdom, bishopric, or monastery, who were normally upper-class and male, to those who exhibited...

  7. 3 The Departure for France
    (pp. 42-60)

    When Joan donned a man’s tunic and leggings, mounted a horse, and rode off to France to lead Armagnac forces into battle, she behaved in a manner that was, to medieval clerics, deeply troubling,¹ On the one hand, these clerics generally condemned women who wore men’s clothes and performed men’s deeds out of their own desire to do so. The Book of Deuteronomy had long ago warned that a woman who wears a man’s clothes is an abomination to God, and medieval clerics never failed to cite this biblical prohibition to justify their opposition to the practice.² Among canonists, Gratian...

  8. 4 The Sign for the King
    (pp. 61-81)

    Throughout the sessions of the trial in which the participants discussed Joan’s festivities near the Fairy Tree, her audition of voices from God, and her departure for France, they also addressed the sign with which Joan allegedly proved the legitimacy of her mission to her king and with which she might again prove it to her interrogators. In the exchanges about the fairy ladies, the voices, and the departure, the clerics questioned Joan in the manner of scholastics. They sought to elicit her views as to whether a Christian should join in rites held near locales associated with supernatural beings,...

  9. 5 The Inquiry at Rouen
    (pp. 82-105)

    When one considers the clerics participating in Joan’s trial not as scholastics, interested in the speculative truths of theology, but as inquisitors interested in the practical truths of legal matters, one discovers a paradox in their treatment of Joan’s speech during these proceedings. On the one hand, as we have seen, Pierre Maurice compared himself and his fellow clerics to captains-at-arms because he viewed it as their duty to protect the church by refusing to believe people who claimed to have come in God’s name “unless this is established sufficiently otherwise than by their own words” (382).¹ Maurice and his...

  10. 6 The Confession of Conscience
    (pp. 106-128)

    The clerics who tried Joan for heresy approached her not just as scholastics, trained at the university in theology or canon law, and as inquisitors, experienced in the evaluation of evidence, but also as pastors devoted to thecura animarum, or the care of souls, and it is from this angle that Joan might seem to have been most likely to satisfy them.¹ In the course of their interrogations, the clerics asked Joan about her sacramental practices and received altogether orthodox answers to their questions. When they inquired whether Joan had been in the habit of confessing her sins every...

  11. 7 The Prison Cell
    (pp. 129-148)

    According to the transcripts of Joan’s trial, the judges and their assistants clashed with the accused until the very last week of the proceedings. As scholastics, the clerics expected Joan to think logically, analytically, and objectively, while Joan insisted upon thinking intuitively, synthetically, and subjectively. As inquisitors, they required her to provide them with a sign whose inherent certainty would establish the authenticity of her mission, while Joan indicated that it was not simply the sign she provided but the clerics’ capacity to recognize the sign as such that would determine whether or not they were persuaded of her calling....

  12. Notes
    (pp. 149-178)
  13. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 179-198)
  14. Index
    (pp. 199-204)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 205-205)