The Joan of Arc Trial 1431
Jeanne d’Arc (1412–1431), Pierre Cauchon (1371–1442), Callixtus III (1378–1458)
Jeanne d’Arc claimed to have received visions of saints when she was twelve years old, encouraging her to help put an end to the horrific Hundred Years’ War that had already been raging for decades between Plantagenet England and Valois France for hereditary control of the latter realm. She began campaigning for a military position when she was sixteen years old. Her leadership on the battlefield is unknown in the historical record, but her dramatic presence helped the French turn the tide of the fight in their favor.
Despite this, a succession of military setbacks led to her capture and trial for heresy in Rouen, France, by an English-supported church led by Pierre Cauchon, the bishop of Beauvais. Because of her male traits and defiant refusal to answer inquiries, church investigators suspected Joan of being a witch or sorceress during her trial. Despite the lack of evidence, Joan’s brief recollections of her visions and her aversion to wearing women’s clothing — most likely to prevent being raped in prison — were enough to persuade Church officials that she had an immoral nature.