[The following passage is from Frances Gies’s excellent book, Joan of Arc: The Legend and the Reality, 1981.]
Of the effect of Joan’s death, we have only distant echoes registered in the Rehabilitation record. Some of the stories reflect an already emerging belief that she was a saint. Brother Isambart de la Pierre stated that Joan’s heart and entrails would not burn, no matter how much oil, sulfur, and charcoal the executioner applied, “at which he was astonished as at an evident miracle.” The tale was reminiscent of many accounts of the martyrdom of saints, but the executioner, who also testified, did not mention the miracle.
Brother Isambart also told the story of an English soldier who had hated Joan and had sworn that he would with his own hand add wood to the fire, but who as he did so heard Joan call the name of Jesus and was thunderstruck to see, as her spirit left her body, a white dove fly “in the direction of France.” The Englishman was led off “almost in ecstasy” to an inn near the Old Market. When a drink had restored his strength, he sought out a priest to confess.
Pierre Cusquel, the mason of Rouen who had visited Joan in her cell, was the source of a story involving another Englishman. John Tressart, one of Henry VI’s secretaries, left the scene of the executioner weeping and groaning, “We are all lost, for we have burned a saint.” The story supplied Shaw with the basis for his character Chaplain John de Stogumber. Jean Riquier, at the time of Joan’s execution a fifteen-year-old member of the cathedral choir, testified in similar vein that he heard Jean Alepée, a cathedral canon who had been strongly antipathetic to Joan, say, “Would that my soul were where I believe that woman’s is!”
The notary Manchon reported his own remorse. He “had never wept so much about anything that happened to him, and for a month afterward he did not recover.” With part of the money earned by his participation in the trial he bought “a little missal,” which he still had at the time of the Rehabilitation, and with which he prayed for Joan.
While some of the lesser participants in the trial felt remorse, the principals experienced uncomfortable premonitions. On June 12 Cauchon and the leading assessors obtained “letters of warranty” from Henry VI promising that if any of them were sued for what had happened, the English king would defend them.
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