Excerpts from the Rehabilitation testimony, on the examinations at Poitiers

"Finally, after long examinations by the clergy of several faculties, they all deliberated and concluded that the King could legitimately receive her, and allow her to take a company of soldiers to the siege of Orléans, because they had found nothing in her that was not of the Catholic faith and entirely consistent with reason." 1
- testimony of François Garivel.
From the testimony (April 30, 1456) of Jean Barbin, doctor in law, King's advocate in the Parliament, about 50 years old:
"And in order that Jehanne should be examined, she was sent to the town of Poitiers, where I myself was at that time, and it was in that town that I first made her acquaintance. She was lodged in the home of Master Jean Rabateau, and during the time that she stayed there I heard from Rabateau's wife that each day, after breakfast, she remained on her knees [at prayer] for long periods of time, and also during the night; and that on many occasions she entered a small chapel in the home and prayed there for a long time. And she was visited by a large number of clergy, to wit Master Pierre de Versailles, professor of sacred theology and [later] Bishop of Meaux at the time of his death; and Master Guillaume Aymeri, likewise a professor of sacred theology; and other doctors of theology whose names I don't remember, who similarly questioned her as they wished. And I heard from these doctors that they had examined her and put many questions to her, to which she had responded with much wisdom, as if she had been a member of the clergy: they therefore marvelled at her responses, and they believed that this was by Divine inspiration, considering her life and conduct. And in the end it was concluded by the clergy, after the interrogations and examinations which they had conducted, that there was no evil in her, nor anything contrary to the Catholic faith; and seeing the desperate need in which the King and the kingdom were at that time, seeing that both he and those who had remained loyal to him were then in despair and without hope of any aid, unless it should come from God; that the King could avail himself of her help. And during these deliberations a certain Master Jean Érault, professor of sacred theology, related that he had once heard it said by a certain Marie d'Avignon who had come long ago to the King, to whom she said that the kingdom of France would suffer much and would endure many calamities, also saying that she had had many visions concerning the desolation of the kingdom of France; and among other things Marie saw many pieces of armor which were being presented to her, on account of which Marie was panic-stricken and feared that she would be forced to take up this armor; and she was told to have no fear, and that she would not bear this sort of armor, but that a certain maiden who would come after her would wear the armor and liberate the kingdom of France from its enemies. And he firmly believed that Jehanne was the one of whom Marie d'Avignon had spoken. The soldiers regarded her as if she were a saint, for she conducted herself according to the will of God while in the army, in her deeds and her words, such that no one could have found any fault with her."2

From the testimony (April 5, 1456) of Gobert Thibault, King's equerry, and the man in charge of subsidies in the town of Blois; about 50 years old:
"I know that Jehanne was questioned and examined at Poitiers by the late Master Pierre de Versailles, professor of theology, at that time Abbot of Talmont, and later Bishop of Meaux at the time of his death; also by master Jean Érault, likewise professor of theology; with whom I went on the orders of the late Lord Bishop of Castres. And she was, as I said previously, lodged in the house of the said [Jean] Rabateau, in which house Versailles and Érault spoke to Jehanne in my presence; and when we had come into that house Jehanne came to meet us, and clapped me on the shoulder, saying that she would very much like to have more men of such goodwill as myself. Then [Pierre] de Versailles said to Jehanne that they had been sent to her by the King, to which she replied: 'I well believe that you were sent to question me', adding 'But I do not know either A nor B.' She was then asked why she had come. She replied, 'I have come in the name of the King of Heaven to raise the siege of Orléans, and to bring the King to Rheims for his coronation and anointing.' And she asked if we had paper and ink, saying to Master Jean Erault, 'Write what I tell you. "You, Suffort, Classidas, and La Poule [i.e., Suffolk, Glasdale, and William de la Pole] I call upon you, in the name of the King of the Heavens, to get yourselves back to England.' ("Vous, Suffort, Classidas, et la Poule, je vous somme, de par le Roy des cieulx, que vous en aliez en Angleterre.") And Versailles and Érault did nothing further at that time, as far as I recall; and Jehanne remained at Poitiers as long as the King..."3

From the testimony (March 7, 1456) of François Garivel, Counselor-General in the matter of subsidies, about 49 years old:
"I remember that at the time of Jehanne the Maiden's arrival the King sent her to Poitiers, and she was lodged at the house of the late Master Jean Rabatiau [Rabateau], at that time the King's advocate in Parliament. And in this city of Poitiers by the orders of the King were deputed solemn doctors and masters, namely my lord Pierre de Versailles, at that time Abbot of Talmot and later Bishop of Meaux; Jean Lambert; Guillaume Aymeri of the Order of Preaching Friars [the Dominicans]; Pierre Seguin of the Order of Carmelite Friars, doctors of Holy Scripture; Mathieu Mesnaige [Mesuage]; Guillaume Le Marié [Lemaire], bachelors of Theology; along with several other royal counselors, licentiates in both [Civil and Canon] law, who repeatedly examined Jehanne over a period of about three weeks, coming to see her and judging her words and actions; and in the end, concerning her condition and her responses, they concluded and attested that the Maiden was a girl of great simplicity, who, in responding to their questions, always maintained that she had been sent by God to aid the noble Dauphin, to restore him to his kingdom, to lift the siege of Orléans, and to convey the Dauphin to Rheims to anoint him there; but it was first necessary that she send a letter summoning the English to leave, because such was the will of God. When they asked Jehanne why she called the King "Dauphin" and not "King", she replied that she would not give him the title of king until he was anointed and crowned at Rheims, to which city she intended to bring him. The clerics one day said to her that she must show them a sign that would make them believe that she was truly sent by God; but she replied that the sign which God had intended was the lifting of the siege of Orléans, and she had no doubt of success, provided that the King should give her a company of soldiers. She was a simple shepherdess, intensely loving God, for she often confessed and frequently received the sacrament of the Eucharist. Finally, after long examinations by the clergy of several faculties, they all deliberated and concluded that the King could legitimately receive her, and allow her to take a company of soldiers to the siege of Orléans, because they had found nothing in her that was not of the Catholic faith and entirely consistent with reason."4

From the testimony (May 14, 1456) of Friar Seguin Seguin, professor of sacred theology, Dean of the University of Poitiers, about 70 years old:
"They told us that we had orders from the King to question Jehanne, and to refer our verdict to the Royal Council; and they sent us to the house of Master Jean Rabateau, in the town of Poitiers, where Jehanne was staying, to examine her. After we arrived in that place we put several questions to her, and among other questions, Master Jean Lombard asked her why she had come, and that the King greatly wished to know what had inspired her to come before him. And she answered in impressive form that when she was watching the animals a certain voice had manifested itself to her, and said that God had great compassion for the people of France, and that it was necessary for her to come to France. Having heard this, she had begun to weep... Master Guillaume Aymeri asked her: 'You have said that the voice told you that God wishes to liberate the people of France from the calamity which it is in. If He wishes to deliver it, there's no need to have soldiers.' Then Jehanne responded: 'In God's name, the soldiers will fight and God will grant victory.' ["En nom De, les gens darmes batailleront et Dieu donnera victoire"] Of which answer Master Guillaume was satisfied. I asked her what dialect her voice spoke; she replied that it was a better dialect than the one I speak [and here the scribe has noted that the witness speaks the Limousin dialect]. And additionally I asked her if she believed in God, and she said yes, better than I. And then I said to Jehanne that God would not wish for us to believe in her, if nothing else appeared to make it seem that she was credible; and that we would not advise the King, based solely on her simple assertion, to give her soldiers and place them in danger, if she had nothing else to say. She replied 'In God's name, I did not come to Poitiers to produce signs; but send me to Orléans; I will show you the signs for which I was sent,' and [she said] that we should give her men [i.e., soldiers], in whatever number as should seem right to us, and she would go to Orléans."5

Copyright © 2000, Allen Williamson. All rights reserved.

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