The False Jeanne D'Arc
by Andrew Lang
Who that ever saw Jeanne d'Arc could mistake her for another woman? No
portrait of the Maid was painted from the life, but we know the light
perfect figure, the black hair cut short like a soldier's, and we can
imagine the face of her, who, says young Laval, writing to his mother
after his first meeting with the deliverer of France, 'seemed a thing all
divine.' Yet even two of her own brothers certainly recognised another
girl as the Maid, five years after her death by fire. It is equally
certain that, eight years after the martyrdom of Jeanne, an impostor dwelt
for several days in Orleans, and was there publicly regarded as the
heroine who raised the siege in 1429. Her family accepted the impostor for
sixteen years. These facts rest on undoubted evidence.
To unravel the threads of the story is a task very difficult. My table is
strewn with pamphlets, papers, genealogies, essays; the authors taking
opposite sides as to the question, Was Jeanne d'Arc burned at Rouen on May
30, 1431? Unluckily even the most exact historians (yea, even M.
Quicherat, the editor of the five volumes of documents and notices about
the Maid) (1841-1849) make slips in dates, where dates are all important.
It would add confusion if we dwelt on these errors, or on the bias of the
Not a word was said at the Trial of Rehabilitation in 1452-1456 about the
supposed survival of the Maid. But there are indications of the inevitable
popular belief that she was not burned. Long after the fall of Khartoum,
rumours of the escape of Charles Gordon were current; even in our own day
people are loth to believe that their hero has perished. Like Arthur he
will come again, and from Arthur to James IV. of Scotland, from James IV.
to the Duke of Monmouth, or the son of Louis XVI., the populace believes
and hopes that its darling has not perished. We destroyed the Mahdi's body
to nullify such a belief, or to prevent worship at his tomb. In the same
way, at Rouen, 'when the Maid was dead, as the English feared that she
might be said to have escaped, they bade the executioner rake back the
fire somewhat that the bystanders might see her dead.'* An account of a
similar precaution, the fire drawn back after the Maid's robes were burned
away, is given in brutal detail by the contemporary diarist (who was not
present), the Bourgeois de Paris.**
*Quicherat, iii. p. 191. These lines are not in MS. 5970. M.
Save, in Jehanne des Armoises, Pucelle d'Orleans, p. 6 (Nancy, 1893),
interpolates, in italics, words of his own into his translation of this
text, which improve the force of his argument!
**Quicherat, iv. p. 471.
In spite of all this, the populace, as reflected in several chronicles,
was uncertain that Jeanne had died. A 'manuscript in the British Museum'
says: 'At last they burned her, or another woman like her, on which point
many persons are, and have been, of different opinions.'*
*Save, p. 7, citing Bibliotheque de l'Ecole des Chartes, ii., Second
This hopeful rumour of the Maid's escape was certain to arise, populus
Now we reach a point at which we may well doubt how to array the evidence.
But probably the best plan is first to give the testimony of undoubted
public documents from the Treasury Accounts of the town of Orleans. In
that loyal city the day of the Maid's death had been duly celebrated by
religious services; the Orleanese had indulged in no illusions. None the
less on August 9, 1436, the good town pays its pursuivant, Fleur-de-lys,
'because he had brought letters to the town FROM JEHANNE LA PUCELLE'! On
August 21 money is paid to 'Jehan du Lys, brother of Jehanne la Pucelle,'
because he has visited the King, Charles VII., is returning to his sister,
the Maid, and is in want of cash, as the King's order given to him was not
fully honoured. On October 18 another pursuivant is paid for a mission
occupying six weeks. He has visited the Maid at Arlon in Luxembourg, and
carried letters from her to the King at Loches on the Loire. Earlier, in
August, a messenger brought letters from the Maid, and went on to
Guillaume Belier, bailiff of Troyes, in whose house the real Maid had
lodged, at Chinon, in the dawn of her mission, March 1429. Thus the
impostor was dealing, by letters, with some of the people who knew the
Maid best, and was freely accepted by her brother Jehan.*
*Quicherat, v. pp. 326-327.
For three years the account-books of Orleans are silent about this strange
Pucelle. Orleans has not seen her, but has had Jeanne's brother's word for
her reappearance, and the word, probably, of the pursuivants sent to her.
Jeanne's annual funeral services are therefore discontinued.
Mention of her in the accounts again appears on July 18, 1439. Money is
now paid to Jaquet Leprestre for ten pints and a chopine of wine given to
DAME JEHANNE DES ARMOISES. On the 29th, 30th, and on August 1, when she
left the town, entries of payments for quantities of wine and food for
Jehanne des Armoises occur, and she is given 210 livres 'after
deliberation with the town council,' 'for the good that she did to the
said town during the siege of 1429.'
The only Jehanne who served Orleans in the siege was Jehanne d'Arc. Here,
then, she is, as Jehanne des Armoises, in Orleans for several days in
1439, feasted and presented with money by command of the town council.
Again she returns and receives 'propine' on September 4.* The Leprestre
who is paid for the wine was he who furnished wine to the real Maid in
*Quicherat, v. pp. 331-332.
It is undeniable that the people of Orleans must have seen the impostor in
1439, and they ceased to celebrate service on the day of the true Maid's
death. Really it seems as if better evidence could not be that Jeanne des
Armoises, nee Jeanne d'Arc, was alive in 1439. All Orleans knew the Maid,
and yet the town council recognised the impostor.
She is again heard of on September 27, 1439, when the town of Tours pays a
messenger for carrying to Orleans letters which Jeanne wrote to the King,
and also letters from the bailli of Touraine to the King, concerning
Jeanne. The real Jeanne could not write, but the impostor, too, may have
employed a secretary.*
*Quicherat, v. p. 332.
In June 1441 Charles VII. pardoned, for an escape from prison, one de
Siquemville, who, 'two years ago or thereabouts' (1439), was sent by the
late Gilles de Raiz, Marechal de France, to take over the leadership of a
commando at Mans, which had hitherto been under 'UNE APPELEE JEHANNE, QUI
SE DISOIT PUCELLE.'* The phrase 'one styled Jehanne who called herself
Pucelle' does not indicate fervent belief on the part of the King.
Apparently this Jeanne went to Orleans and Tours after quitting her
command at Mans in 1439. If ever she saw Gilles de Raiz (the notorious
monster of cruelty) in 1439, she saw a man who had fought in the campaigns
of the true Maid under her sacred banner, argent a dove on an azure
*Quicherat, v. p. 333.
**She never used the arms given to her and her family by Charles VII.
Here public documents about the impostor fall silent. It is not known what
she was doing between August 9, 1436, and September 1439. At the earlier
date she had written to the town of Orleans; at the later, she was writing
to the King, from Tours. Here an error must be avoided. According to the
author of the 'Chronicle of the Constable of Alvaro de Luna,'* the
impostor was, in 1436, sending a letter, and ambassadors, to the King of
Spain, asking him to succour La Rochelle. The ambassadors found the King
at Valladolid, and the Constable treated the letter, 'as if it were a
relic, with great reverence.'
*Madrid, 1784, p. 131.
The impostor flies high! But the whole story is false.
M. Quicherat held at first that the date and place may be erroneously
stated, but did not doubt that the False Pucelle did send her ambassadors
and letter to the King of Spain. We never hear that the true Maid did
anything of the sort. But Quicherat changed his mind on the subject. The
author of the 'Chronicle of Alvaro de Luna' merely cites a Coronica de la
Poncella. That coronica, says Quicherat later, 'is a tissue of fables, a
romance in the Spanish taste,' and in this nonsense occurs the story of
the embassy to the Spanish King. That story does not apply to the False
Pucelle, and is not true, a point of which students of Quicherat's great
work need to be warned; his correction may escape notice.*
*Revue des Questions Historiques, April 1, 1881, pp. 553-566.
Article by the Comte de Puymaigre.
We thus discard a strong trump in the hand of believers that the impostor
was the real Maid; had a Pucelle actually sent ambassadors to Spain in
1436, their case would be stronger than it is.
Next, why is the false Pucelle styled 'Jeanne des Armoises' in the town
accounts of Orleans in 1439?
This leads us to the proofs of the marriage of the false Pucelle, in 1436,
with a Monsieur Robert des Armoises, a gentleman of the Metz country. The
evidence is in a confused state. In the reign of Louis XIV. lived a Pere
Vignier, a savant, who is said to have been a fraudulent antiquary.
Whether this be true or not, his brother, after the death of Pere Vignier,
wrote a letter to the Duc de Grammont, which was published in the 'Mercure
Galant' of November, 1683. The writer says that his brother, Pere Vignier,
found, at Metz, an ancient chronicle of the town, in manuscript, and had a
copy made by a notary royal. The extract is perfectly genuine, whatever
the reputation of the discoverer may be. This portion of the chronicle of
the doyen of Saint-Thibaud de Metz exists in two forms, of which the
latter, whoever wrote it, is intended to correct the former.
In the earlier shape the author says that, on May 20, 1436, the Pucelle
Jeanne came to Metz, and was met by her brothers, Pierre, a knight, and
Jehan, an esquire. Pierre had, in fact, fought beside his sister when both
he and she were captured, at Compiegne, in May 1430. Jehan, as we have
already seen, was in attendance on the false Maid in August 1436.
According to the Metz chronicle, these two brothers of the Maid, on May
20, 1436, recognised the impostor for their sister, and the account-books
of Orleans leave no doubt that Jehan, at least, actually did accept her as
such, in August 1436, four months after they met in May. Now this lasting
recognition by one, at least, of the brothers, is a fact very hard to
M. Anatole France offers a theory of the easiest. The brothers went to
Lorraine in May 1436, to see the pretender. 'Did they hurry to expose the
fraud, or did they not think it credible, on the other hand, that, with
God's permission, the Saint had risen again? Nothing could seem
impossible, after all that they had seen.... They acted in good faith. A
woman said to them, "I am Jeanne, your sister." They believed, because
they wished to believe.' And so forth, about the credulity of the age.
The age was not promiscuously credulous. In a RESURRECTION of Jeanne,
after death, the age did not believe. The brothers had never seen anything
of the kind, nor had the town council of Orleans. THEY had nothing to gain
by their belief, the brothers had everything to gain. One might say that
they feigned belief, in the hope that 'there was money in it;' but one
cannot say that about the people of Orleans who had to spend money. The
case is simply a puzzle.*
*Anatole France, 'La Fausse Pucelle,' Revue de Famille, Feb. 15,
1891. I cite from the quotation by M. P. Lanery d'Arc in Deux Lettres
(Beauvais, 1894), a brochure which I owe to the kindness of the author.
After displaying feats of horsemanship, in male attire, and being accepted
by many gentlemen, and receiving gifts of horses and jewels, the impostor
went to Arlon, in Luxembourg, where she was welcomed by the lady of the
duchy, Elizabeth de Gorlitz, Madame de Luxembourg. And at Arlon she was in
October 1436, as the town accounts of Orleans have proved. Thence, says
the Metz chronicle, the 'Comte de Warnonbourg'(?) took her to Cologne, and
gave her a cuirass. Thence she returned to Arlon in Luxembourg, and there
married the knight Robert des Hermoises, or Armoises, 'and they dwelt in
their own house at Metz, as long as they would.' Thus Jeanne became
'Madame des Hermoises,' or 'Ermaises,' or, in the town accounts of
Orleans, in 1439, 'des Armoises.'
So says the Metz chronicle, in one form, but, in another manuscript
version, it denounces this Pucelle as an impostor, who especially deceived
tous les plus grands. Her brothers, we read (the real Maid's brothers),
brought her to the neighbourhood of Metz. She dwelt with Madame de
Luxembourg, and married 'Robert des Armoize.'* The Pere Vignier's brother,
in 1683, published the first, but not the second, of these two accounts in
the 'Mercure Galant' for November.
*Quicherat, v. pp. 321-324, cf. iv. 321.
In or about 1439, Nider, a witch-hunting priest, in his Formicarium,
speaks of a false Jeanne at Cologne, protected by Ulrich of Wirtemberg,
(the Metz chronicle has 'Comte de Warnonbourg'), who took the woman to
Cologne. The woman, says Nider, was a noisy lass, who came eating,
drinking, and doing conjuring feats; the Inquisition failed to catch her,
thanks to Ulrich's protection. She married a knight, and presently became
the concubine of a priest in Metz.* This reads like a piece of confused
*Quicherat, v. pp. 324-325.
Vignier's brother goes on to say (1683) in the 'Mercure Galant,' that his
learned brother found the wedding contract of Jeanne la Pucelle and Robert
des Armoises in the charter chest of the M. des Armoises of his own day,
the time of Louis XIV. The brother of Vignier had himself met the son of
this des Armoises, who corroborated the fact. But 'the original copy of
this ancient manuscript vanished, with all the papers of Pere Vignier, at
Two months later, in the spring of 1684, Vienne de Plancy wrote to the
'Mercure Galant,' saying that 'the late illustrious brother' of the Duc de
Grammont was fully persuaded, and argued very well in favour of his
opinion, that the actual Pucelle did not die at Rouen, but married Robert
des Armoises. He quoted a genuine petition of Pierre du Lys, the brother
of the real Maid, to the Duc d'Orleans, of 1443. Pierre herein says he has
warred 'in the company of Jeanne la Pucelle, his sister, jusqu'a son
absentement, and so on till this hour, exposing his body and goods in the
King's service.' This, argued M. de Grammont, implied that Jeanne was not
dead; Pierre does not say, feue ma soeur, 'my late sister,' and his words
may even mean that he is still with her. ('Avec laquelle, jusques a son
absentement, ET DEPUIS JUSQUES A PRESENT, il a expose son corps.')*
*The petition is in Quicherat, v. pp. 212-214. For Vienne-Plancy
see the papers from the Mercure Galant in Jeanne d'Arc n'a point ete
brulee a Rouen (Rouen, Lanctin, 1872). The tract was published in 100
Though no copy of the marriage contract of Jeanne and des Armoises exists,
Quicherat prints a deed of November 7, 1436, in which Robert des Armoises
and his wife, 'La Pucelle de France,' acknowledge themselves to be
married, and sell a piece of land. The paper was first cited by Dom
Calmet, among the documents in his 'Histoire de Lorraine.' It is rather
There seems no good reason, however, to doubt the authenticity of the fact
that a woman, calling herself Jeanne Pucelle de France, did, in 1436,
marry Robert des Armoises, a man of ancient and noble family. Hence, in
the town accounts of Tours and Orleans, after October 1436, up to
September 1439, the impostor appears as 'Mme. Jehanne des Armoises.' In
August 1436, she was probably not yet married, as the Orleans accounts
then call her 'Jehanne la Pucelle,' when they send their pursuivants to
her; men who, doubtless, had known the true Maid in 1429-1430. These men
did not undeceive the citizens, who, at least till September 1439,
accepted the impostor. There is hardly a more extraordinary fact in
history. For the rest we know that, in 1436-1439, the impostor was dealing
with the King by letters, and that she held a command under one of his
marshals, who had known the true Maid well in 1429-1430.
It appears possible that, emboldened by her amazing successes, the false
Pucelle sought an interview with Charles VII. The authority, to be sure,
is late. The King had a chamberlain, de Boisy, who survived till 1480,
when he met Pierre Sala, one of the gentlemen of the chamber of Charles
VIII. De Boisy, having served Charles VII., knew and told Sala the nature
of the secret that was between that king and the true Maid. That such a
secret existed is certain. Alain Chartier, the poet, may have been
present, in March 1429, when the Maid spoke words to Charles VII. which
filled him with a spiritual rapture. So Alain wrote to a foreign prince in
July 1429. M. Quicherat avers that Alain was present: I cannot find this
in his letter.* Any amount of evidence for the 'sign' given to the King,
by his own statement, is found throughout the two trials, that of Rouen
and that of Rehabilitation. Dunois, the famous Bastard of Orleans, told
the story to Basin, Bishop of Lisieux; and at Rouen the French examiners
of the Maid vainly tried to extort from her the secret.** In 1480, Boisy,
who had been used to sleep in the bed of Charles VII., according to the
odd custom of the time, told the secret to Sala. The Maid, in 1429,
revealed to Charles the purpose of a secret prayer which he had made alone
in his oratory, imploring light on the question of his legitimacy.*** M.
Quicherat, no bigot, thinks that 'the authenticity of the revelation is
beyond the reach of doubt.'****
*Quicherat, Apercus Nouveaux, p. 62. Proces, v. p. 133.
**For the complete evidence, see Quicherat, Apercus, pp. 61-66.
***Quicherat, v. p. 280, iv. pp. 258, 259, another and ampler account,
in a MS. of 1500. Another, iv. p. 271: MS. of the period of Louis XII.
****Apercus, p. 60, Paris, 1850.
Thus there was a secret between the true Maid and Charles VII. The King,
of course, could not afford to let it be known that he had secretly
doubted whether he were legitimate. Boisy alone, at some later date, was
admitted to his confidence.
Boisy went on to tell Sala that, ten years later (whether after 1429 or
after 1431, the date of the Maid's death, is uncertain), a pretended
Pucelle, 'very like the first,' was brought to the King. He was in a
garden, and bade one of his gentlemen personate him. The impostor was not
deceived, for she knew that Charles, having hurt his foot, then wore a
soft boot. She passed the gentleman, and walked straight to the King,
'whereat he was astonished, and knew not what to say, but, gently saluting
her, exclaimed, "Pucelle, my dear, you are right welcome back, in the name
of God, who knows the secret that is between you and me."' The false
Pucelle then knelt, confessed her sin, and cried for mercy. 'For her
treachery some were sorely punished, as in such a case was fitting.'*
*Quicherat, v. p. 281. There is doubt as to whether Boisy's tale
does not refer to Jeanne la Feronne, a visionary. Varlet de Vireville,
Charles VII., iii. p. 425, note 1.
If any deserved punishment, the Maid's brothers did, but they rather
flourished and prospered, as time went on, than otherwise.
It appears, then, that in 1439-1441 the King exposed the false Pucelle, or
another person, Jeanne la Feronne. A great foe of the true Maid, the
diarist known as the Bourgeois de Paris, in his journal for August 1440,
tells us that just then many believed that Jeanne had not been burned at
Rouen. The gens d'armes brought to Paris 'a woman who had been received
with great honour at Orleans'—clearly Jeanne des Armoises. The
University and Parlement had her seized and exhibited to the public at the
Palais. Her life was exposed; she confessed that she was no maid, but a
mother, and the wife of a knight (des Armoises?). After this follows an
unintelligible story of how she had gone on pilgrimage to Rome, and fought
in the Italian wars.* Apparently she now joined a regiment at Paris, et
puis s'en alla, but all is very vaguely recorded.
*Quicherat, v. pp. 334, 335; c.f. Lefevre-Pontalis, Les Sources
Allemands, 113-115. Fontemoing, Paris, 1903.
The most extraordinary circumstance remains to be told. Apparently the
brothers and cousins of the true Maid continued to entertain and accept
the impostor! We have already seen that, in 1443, Pierre du Lys, in his
petition to the Duc d'Orleans, writes as if he did not believe in the
death of his sister, but that may be a mere ambiguity of language; we
cannot repose on the passage.
In 1476 a legal process and inquest was held as to the descendants of the
brother of the mother of Jeanne d'Arc, named Voulton or Vouthon. Among
other witnesses was Henry de Voulton, called Perinet, a carpenter, aged
fifty-two. He was grandson of the brother of the mother of Jeanne d'Arc,
his grand-maternal aunt. This witness declared that he had often seen the
two brothers du Lys, Jehan and Pierre, with their sister, La Pucelle, come
to the village of Sermaise and feast with his father. They always accepted
him, the witness, as their cousin, 'in all places where he has been,
conversed, eaten, and drunk in their company.' Now Perinet is clearly
speaking of his associations with Jeanne and her brothers AFTER HE HIMSELF
WAS A MAN GROWN. Born in 1424, he was only five years old when the Maid
left Domremy for ever. He cannot mean that, as a child of five, he was
always, in various places, drinking with the Maid and her brothers.
Indeed, he says, taking a distinction, that in his early childhood—'son
jeune aage'—he visited the family of d'Arc, with his father, at
Domremy, and saw the Maid, qui pour lors estoit jeune fille.*
*De Bouteiller et de Braux, Nouvelles Recherches sur la Famille de
Jeanne d'Arc, Paris, 1879, pp. 8, 9.
Moreover, the next witness, the cure of Sermaise, aged fifty-three, says
that, twenty-four years ago (in 1452), a young woman dressed as a man,
calling herself Jeanne la Pucelle, used to come to Sermaise, and that, as
he heard, she was the near kinswoman of all the Voultons, 'and he saw her
make great and joyous cheer with them while she was at Sermaise.'* Clearly
it was about this time, in or before 1452, that Perinet himself was
conversant with Jehan and Pierre du Lys, and with their sister, calling
herself La Pucelle.
*Op. cit. p. 11.
Again, Jehan le Montigueue, aged about seventy, deposed that, in 1449, a
woman calling herself Jeanne la Pucelle came to Sermaise and feasted with
the Voultons, as also did (but he does not say at the same time) the
Maid's brother, Jehan du Lys.* Jehan du Lys could, at least, if he did not
accept her, have warned his cousins, the Voultons, against their pretended
kinswoman, the false Pucelle. But for some three years at least she came,
a welcome guest, to Sermaise, matched herself against the cure at tennis,
and told him that he might now say that he had played against la Pucelle
de France. This news gave him the greatest pleasure.
*Op. cit. pp. 4,5, MM. de Bouteiller and de Graux do not observe the
remarkable nature of this evidence, as regards the BROTHERS of the Maid;
see their Preface, p. xxx.
Jehan Guillaume, aged seventy-six, had seen both the self-styled Pucelle
and the real Maid's brothers at the house of the Voultons. He did not know
whether she was the true Maid or not.
It is certain, practically, that this PUCELLE, so merry at Sermaise with
the brothers and cousins of the Maid, was the Jeanne des Armoises of
1436-1439. The du Lys family could not successively adopt TWO impostors as
their sister! Again, the woman of circ. 1449-1452 is not a younger sister
of Jeanne, who in 1429 had no sister living, though one, Catherine, whom
she dearly loved, was dead.
We have now had glimpses of the impostor from 1436 to 1440, when she seems
to have been publicly exposed (though the statement of the Bourgeois de
Paris is certainly that of a prejudiced writer), and again we have found
the impostor accepted by the paternal and maternal kin of the Maid, about
1449-1452. In 1452 the preliminary steps towards the Rehabilitation of the
true Maid began, ending triumphantly in 1456. Probably the families of
Voulton and du Lys now, after the trial began in 1452, found their jolly
tennis-playing sister and cousin inconvenient. She reappears, NOT at
Sermaise, in 1457. In that year King Rene (father of Margaret, wife of our
Henry VI.) gives a remission to 'Jeanne de Sermaises.' M. Lecoy de la
March, in his 'Roi Rene' (1875) made this discovery, and took 'Jeanne de
Sermaises' for our old friend, 'Jeanne des Ermaises,' or 'des Armoises.'
She was accused of 'having LONG called herself Jeanne la Pucelle, and
deceived many persons who had seen Jeanne at the siege of Orleans.' She
has lain in prison, but is let out, in February 1457, on a five years'
ticket of leave, so to speak, 'provided she bear herself honestly in
dress, and in other matters, as a woman should do.'
Probably, though 'at present the wife of Jean Douillet,' this Jeanne still
wore male costume, hence the reference to bearing herself 'honestly in
dress.' She acknowledges nothing, merely says that the charge of imposture
lui a ete impose, and that she has not been actainte d'aucun autre vilain
cas.* At this date Jeanne cruised about Anjou and the town of Saumur. And
here, at the age of forty-five, if she was of the same age as the true
Maid, we lose sight for ever of this extraordinary woman. Of course, if
she was the genuine Maid, the career of La Pucelle de France ends most
ignobly. The idea 'was nuts' (as the Elizabethans said) to a good
anti-clerical Frenchman, M. Lesigne, who, in 1889, published 'La Fin d'une
Legende.' There would be no chance of canonising a Pucelle who was twice
married and lived a life of frolic.
*Lecoy de la Marche, Le Roi Rene, ii. 281-283, 1875.
A more serious and discreet scholar, M. Gaston Save, in 1893, made an
effort to prove that Jeanne was not burned at Rouen.* He supposed that the
Duchess of Bedford let Jeanne out of prison and bribed the two priests,
Massieu and Ladvenu, who accompanied the Maid to the scaffold, to pretend
that they had been with her, not with a substituted victim. This victim
went with hidden face to the scaffold, le visage embronche, says Percival
de Cagny, a retainer of Jeanne's 'beau duc,' d'Alencon.** The townspeople
were kept apart by 800 English soldiers.*** The Madame de Luxembourg who
entertained the impostor at Arlon (1436) was 'perhaps' the same as she who
entertained the real Jeanne at Beaurevoir in 1430. Unluckily THAT lady
died in November 1430!
*Jehanne des Armoises, Pucelle d'Orleans, Nancy, 1893.
**Quicherat, iv. 36.
***Quicherat, ii. 14, 19.
However, the Madame de Luxembourg who entertained the impostor was aunt,
by marriage, of the Duke of Burgundy, the true Maid's enemy, and she had
means of being absolutely well informed, so the case remains very strange.
Strange, too, it is that, in the records of payment of pension to the true
Maid's mother, from the town of Orleans, she is 'mere de la Pucelle' till
1452, when she becomes 'mere de feue la Pucelle,' 'mother of the LATE
Pucelle.' That is to say, the family and the town of Orleans recognised
the impostor till, in 1452, the Trial of Rehabilitation began. So I have
inferred, as regards the family, from the record of the inquest of 1476,
which, though it suited the argument of M. Save, was unknown to him.
His brochure distressed the faithful. The Abbe, Dr. Jangen, editor of 'Le
Pretre,' wrote anxiously to M. P. Lanery d'Arc, who replied in a tract
already cited (1894). But M. Lanery d'Arc did not demolish the sounder
parts of the argument of M. Save, and he knew nothing of the inquest of
1476, or said nothing. Then arose M. Lefevre Pontalis.* Admitting the
merits of M. Save's other works, he noted many errors in this tract. For
example, the fire at Rouen was raked (as we saw) more or less (admodum)
clear of the dead body of the martyr. But would it be easy, in the
circumstances, to recognise a charred corpse? The two Mesdames de
Luxembourg were distinguished apart, as by Quicherat. The Vignier
documents as to Robert des Armoises were said to be impostures. Quicherat,
however, throws no doubt on the deed of sale by Jehanne and her husband,
des Armoises, in November 1436. Many errors in dates were exposed. The
difficulty about the impostor's reception in Orleans, was recognised, and
it is, of course, THE difficulty. M. Lefevre de Pontalis, however, urges
that her brothers are not said to have been with her, 'and there is not a
trace of their persistence in their error after the first months of the
imposture.' But we have traces, nay proofs, in the inquest of 1476. The
inference of M. Save from the fact that the Pucelle is never styled 'the
late Pucelle,' in the Orleans accounts, till 1452, is merely declared
'inadmissible.' The fact, on the other hand, is highly significant. In
1452 the impostor was recognised by the family; but in that year began the
Trial of Rehabilitation, and we hear no more of her among the du Lys and
the Voultons. M. Lefevre Pontalis merely mentions the inquest of 1476,
saying that the impostor of Sermaise (1449-1452) may perhaps have been
another impostor, not Jeanne des Armoises. The family of the Maid was not
capable, surely, of accepting TWO impostors, 'one down, the other come
on'! This is utterly incredible.
*Le Moyen Age, June 1895.
In brief, the family of Jeanne, in 1436,1449-1452, were revelling with
Jeanne des Armoises, accepting her, some as sister, some as cousin. In
1439 the Town Council of Orleans not only gave many presents of wine and
meat to the same woman, recognising her as their saviour in the siege of
1429, but also gave her 210 livres. Now, on February 7, 1430, the town of
Orleans had refused to give 100 crowns, at Jeanne's request, to Heliote,
daughter of her Scottish painter, 'Heuves Polnoir.'* They said that they
could not afford the money. They were not the people to give 210 livres to
a self-styled Pucelle without examining her personally. Moreover, the
impostor supped, in August 1439, with Jehan Luillier, who, in June, 1429,
had supplied the true Maid with cloth, a present from Charles d'Orleans.
He was in Orleans during the siege of 1429, and gave evidence as to the
actions of the Maid at the trial in 1456.** This man clearly did not
detect or expose the impostor, she was again welcomed at Orleans six weeks
after he supped with her. These facts must not be overlooked, and they
have never been explained. So there we leave the most surprising and
baffling of historical mysteries. It is, of course, an obvious conjecture
that, in 1436, Jehan and Pierre du Lys may have pretended to recognise the
impostor, in hopes of honour and rewards such as they had already received
through their connection with the Maid. But, if the impostor was unmasked
in 1440, there was no more to be got in that way.*** While the nature of
the arts of the False Pucelle is inscrutable, the evidence as to the
heroic death of the True Maid is copious and deeply moving. There is
absolutely no room for doubt that she won the martyr's crown at Rouen.
*Quicherat, v. 155.
**Quicherat, v. pp. 112,113,331, iii. p. 23.
***By 1452 Pierre du Lys had un grand hotel opposite the Ile des Boeufs,
at Orleans, given to him for two lives, by Charles d'Orleans, in 1443. He
was also building a town house in Orleans, and the chevalier Pierre was no
snob, for he brought from Sermaise his carpenter kinsman, Perinet de
Voulton, to superintend the erection. Nouvelles Recherches, pp. 19, 20.