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RESPECTING 'CHE ORIGINAL MINUTES OF THE PROCESSES OF THE
CONDEMNATION AND ABSOLUTION OF JEANNE D'ARC.
The examination of the thirty-one manuscripts concerning this celebrated affair, has necessarily led to the search after the two original minutes of the proceedings, which has hitherto proved altogether unsuccessful.
Three opinions have been disseminated respecting the loss of these minutes : some have conceived that the English clandestinely got possession of these documents; others pretend that they were committed to the flames by the judges who presided at the revisal ; while a third party have suggested, that they were successively deposited with those of the last process, in the depôt of the Historical Charters, or in that of the Chamber of Accounts.
In regard to the first opinion of the minutes having been conveyed away, it is an ill-judged idea to suppose that the English, ashamed of the flagrant injustice they had committed in dooming Jeanne d'Arc to the stake through the medium of Frenchmen, should have been desirous to conceal from posterity a knowledge of such an infamous proceeding; for it is obvious they never once dreamt of such a measure: on the contrary, the notaries who acted as keepers of the records in this
affair, the principal of whom was named Guillaume Manchon, delivered several copies of this process, the authenticity of which was ratified by their signatures, all being now collated and preserved in the Royal Library at Paris. Now if the English had been desirous of suppressing
these minutes, they would never have suffered so many ,, transcripts to be published, unless they had been pur
posely garbled with falsehoods; while it appears on the contrary that these copies are faithful and exact in every respect.
This is indeed only presumptive, but it is not necessary; for the proof of the minutes having been taken down during the process of condemnation, is formally certified in the process of revisal.
We find that on the 15th of December, 1455, at Rouen, Guillaume Manchon, accompanied by his two colleagues, Guillaume Colés, otherwise surnamed Bos-Guillaume, and Nicholas Tacquel, appeared before Juvenal des Ursins, archbishop of Rheims, Etienne Chartier, bishop of Paris, and Jean Bréhal, the Dominican inquisitor of the faith in France, who were the judges appointed to preside at the revisal of the sentence.
Manchon then declared that he had been the depository of the two minutes of the former process, the one written in French, and the other in Latin; that he had written the commencement of the minute in Latin, but at a certain period, in the progress of the interrogatories, he found himself compelled to adopt the plan of writing in French; and that it was not until a length of time had transpired after the execution of Jeanne, that the whole was translated
into Latin, in order to form the second minute. The French minute he describes in the following terms : certum codicem, in quo continetur tota notitia processus quondam facti contra dictam Johannam la Pucelle, in Gallico, manu suâ propria factum ; and he represents it to the judges.
Speaking of the minute in Latin, he stated : 'in libro conscripto, which he declared was corrected from the original in French, et super quod asserit à Latino in libro conscripto ostenso fuisse facium : the signatures, superscriptions, and the seals of the judges, at the condemnation, were affixed to the Latin copy. The judges at the revisal had them immediately verified, by persons appointed for that purpose; and the audience continued its sittings during the whole time. The writing of the minute in French was equally attested as being from the hand of Manchon, and one of the witnesses recognised it from a note which he had himself written upon the margin of this minute, by order of one of the assessors whom he served in the capacity of a clerk.
The judges at the revisal gave orders that the two minutes in French and in Latin, produced by Manchon, should be deposited in the depôt of their archives; in order to be examined without removal, by the parties interested in these proceedings.
It is consequently proved beyond the possibility of a doubt, that the English left the original minutes of the process in the office of the notary and keeper of the records; and that they were from thence transferred to the record office of the judges appointed for the revisal. Upon this subject there can be no doubt; and the only
point to ascertain is, what subsequently became of these important documents ?
Upon this question,-what became of the French and Latin minutes of the process of condemnation of Jeanne d'Arc, after they had been deposited in the archives of the judges of the revisal ? the notaries and keepers of the records on this occasion, named Denis le Comte and François Ferrebouc, inform us in the interrogatories which were placed at the head of the process, that they united, by virtue of the order of the judges, the minutes of the condemnation with those of the revisal; from whence it is apparent that all the minutes of the two processes were collected together by the express command of the judges at the revisal : and, above all, from the conclusive reason of the notes affixed by them to the minutes of the condemnation, which, in some measure, made those minutes integral parts of the process of revisal; consequently, there is no longer but one body of minutes, so that the whole mass of documents must have shared the same fate.
A third question now occurs; what has become of the manuscripts forming the two proceedings so united together?
It may be necessary to remark, in the first instance, that the value attached to the procuring these manuscripts is not of so much importance as might appear at the first glance.
The minute of the process of revisal is completely supplied by the authentic rough draughts which are preserved of the process. It is impossible to conceive that any fraud was practised, or that there are any gross inaccuracies, since this process contains every allegation
tending to the detriment of Jeanne d'Arc, as well as all that was advanced in her favour; consequently the loss in question is of no such material consequence.
The same argument holds good as regards the Latin minute of the process of condemnation; it is merely a translation from the original minute in French, made by the notaries and keepers of the records, with the assistance of Thomas Courcelles, who died a deacon of the church at Paris, leaving after him, at his demise, the reputation of a learned doctor in theology; the authentic rough draughts of this first process, delivered by the keepers of the records,
are still preserved, being all united together in the Royal · Library at Paris.
After these statements, it must be allowed that the real interest is attached to the French minute of the process
of condemnation, since that document alone would enable us to decide whether the Latin translation is faithful, or, if in certain parts, statements are added prejudicial to the character of Jeanne d'Arc, which did not appear in the French, minute; a circumstance by no means probable, since the original was not made away with, because the appellants at the revisal, and the judges, who had both the Latin and the French minutes before their eyes, did not impeach their fidelity in any one point.
It was for the express purpose of elucidating this subject, that M. Laverdy made every research in his power, without discovering any thing in the Royal Library, as well as in those of Saints Genevieve, Germain des Près, Victor, La Doctrine Chrétienne, of Louis le Grand, of the Faculty of Médecine, of the College Mazarin, of Saint