INCENSE AND SULPHUR
Besides the tribunal proper, Cauchon created a sort of "steering committee," the members of which deserve a closer look, as Jeanne would have said, from the maleficent part they bore in these proceedings. They are Nicolas Midy, Maurice Beaupere, Nicolas Loyseleur: all three familiars of Cauchon, men of his own stamp, loyal and serviceable.
Midy is a collector of tithes and benefices, busy at the university, busy in the general affairs of the church, busy in politics, self-seeking, adroit, unscrupulous. Like Cauchon, he is a creature of the Duke of Burgundy—to, whom lead so many evil clues! He is in deep with the English; welcomes Henry VI to Paris in the name of the university; a little later by royal act is named canon of the cathedral chapter, Rouen. How close those worthies played, between God and Mammon! Once more the thieves are in possession of the temple!
Midy exhibits a violent prejudice against the Maid, browbeats, objurgates, rants at her; in him appears to be concentrated the hatred which the University of Paris bears her. It is he who draws up the "twelve articles" which condense the accusatory
findings of the prosecution. He is among those who go to Paris for the decree of the university, which condemned her. On the very day of execution, standing before the girl about to die, he preached at her violently, mouthing insult and denunciation. The finger of God is seen in the ultimate doom of this bad man. He was stricken with leprosy, and in a petition to the Pope admits that he cannot touch the Blessed Host nor perform the functions of his canonicate. But he is entirely competent to draw his pension, and drags out thereafter some miserable years.
Maurice Beaupere, of gentler manners and of more priestly consideration, was still well suited to serve the same ends with Midy and Loyseleur. He was rated as a very remarkable theologian (eximius sacra tbeologia professor), venerated member of the two councils of Constance and Basel. Deserting the French national cause, he bettered his fortunes with the English, who made great use of the priestly element in building up their power in France. Beaupere received from them, along with his crony Midy, one of the canonicates of Rouen. The vice which, Gerson rebuked found its culmination in Beaup6re: he was a nest of benefices in himself! But his right hand becoming disabled, he was disqualified for his priestly duties and obtained a dispensation from the Pope. However, his left hand was perfectly able to take the money, and he made a great profit in disposing of his benefices.
Beaupere presided at the trial during three sessions in February, and he has at least the honor of having
provoked from Jeanne some of her noblest and most spirited replies. As officious as Midy in the evil work laid out for him, he takes a prominent part in the university proceedings against Jeanne, himself pronouncing its decree of condemnation. He is present at the false abjuration, and with Midy visits Jeanne in prison in order to convict her of a relapse—that is, of having resumed male attire. Hectored and perhaps hustled by the English guards, who were irritated by the long delays of the trial, the timid man took fear and ran away from Rouen that same day, not waiting for the definitive judgment. Twenty years later he might boast that he was not among those who had condemned her, but the plea avails him little. It seems his wounded pedantic pride never recovered from Jeanne's repartees. At the Rehabilitation he shuffled, equivocated, and professed to have forgotten much, but he did not fail to remember that Jeanne was a very subtle girl, of a subtlety belonging to woman! He would not allow, however, that there was anything supernatural in her visions.
Nicolas Loyseleur, last of this precious trio, is better known than his colleagues, marked as he is with a peculiar infamy. He might be called, in an evil sense, the little joker of that pack of pious knaves or hypocrites, men utterly perverted from the most ordinary regard to justice, not to say Christian duty, by their own selfish motives and craven prostration before the English power. Loyseleur seems indeed rather a creation of the stage than an actual figure in real life, a man with a responsible soul. He is the
Iago of this tragedy and, save for one moment of softness, persists in his villainy to the end; even this seeming repentance is negatived by his after-course and does not avail to qualify our judgment upon his character and conduct. He is primus inter pares as regards his bad equals—first by reason of a conscienceless depravity which none dared challenge or emulate.
Like his associates Midy and Beaupere, he was a priest and a canon of Rouen, of such parts and abilities in his profession as to commend him to the council of Basel, in which city he finished his life, without any manifest sign of divine chastisement or condemnation. He is rated as one of the true promoters of the trial, one of the most active agents in procuring the verdict; he releases his victim only when she is on her way to death.
Loyseleur purchased his unique infamy at no small price. He was the false secretary (greffier) of the first hearings. As a pretended prisoner, he imposed himself upon Jeanne's confidence in her dungeon, received her confession as a priest, and betrayed it to her enemies—little as those innocent avowals might serve them. He whispered false counsels to her, hoping to corrupt her faith and lead her into the snares of Cauchon. He urged her passionately to make the abjuration, which was aimed to discredit her, living and dead. He voted aye upon every clause of the condemnation, and—most incredible and monstrous wickedness of all—he was of the few who urged that
she be put to the torture! His work done, he seems to have had a moment's remorse, which impelled him to spring on the death-cart and, in tears, implore her forgiveness. All things are possible with God!—but I reckon we have had enough of this carrion.
Entitled to particular if not honorable mention is Louis de Luxembourg, Bishop of Therouanne, chancellor of France for the English since i425, eight years after Jeanne's trial to be made cardinal. Thus by anticipation he throws an extra sacrosanct and purple glow upon the proceedings, in conjunction with the English Cardinal of Winchester. Luxembourg's role in the drama of Jeanne d'Arc is of capital importance. He decided his brother John of Luxembourg to deliver her to the English. He followed the trial with the closest vigilance. He was present at the alleged abjuration. And he left his victim only when she was about to ascend the pyre. This amiable prelate had the good taste to end his days in England.
Deserving a slight mention: Jean de Chatillon or Castiglione, Archdeacon of Evreux, cardinal in futurum, a strong supporter of the University of Paris, considered a mighty theologian—magister doctissimus et antiquus in theologia (how long they deceived themselves and the world with that bombast!). He influenced the chapter of Rouen, which had at first hesitated, owing to its dislike of Cauchon, to subscribe to a collective condemnation of the Maid.
Thomas de Courcelles, also a doctor of the University of Paris, more circumspect than his colleagues but as fully committed in the prosecution. During the trial he acted as editor and secretary, and evinced extraordinary diligence. He translated the proces-verbal (report) of the examinations into Latin, which so became on this occasion the language of the devil! He worked on the articles of accusation, on the requisition, busy and serviceable everywhere.
Courcelles was one of the few who wished to put Jeanne to the torture. He was also one of the seven who made up the posthumous report, according to which Jeanne had repudiated her Voices. With the others he was paid up to June 10, in order to include this item. It is known that he erased from the proces matters personal to himself. In him, as in many of his compeers, is typified the great anomaly of that time—viz., that an excellent priest, in worldly estimation, might be utterly lacking in the Christian virtues: justice, mercy, charity. The later career of this man was filled with honor and success. He was eminent amongst the fathers in the council of Basel, and he received the hat from Felix V. He became reconciled to the French court and preached the funeral oration of Charles VII. I wonder what he then said about the latter's association with Jeanne d'Arc!
The Bishop of Coutances makes a bid for remembrance by replying to Cauchon that he considered Jeanne to be wholly the devil's, "because she was without the two qualities required by St. Gregory—virtue and humanity; even though she revoked her
heresies she must be held in strict keeping." Well said, brother in Christ!
And now, patient reader, it is really necessary to change the air, since we have had something too much of this mixed incense-and-sulfur business!