Law, Custom, and Joan of Arc / Joan of Arc and the Law

deadline for submissions: 
September 1, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
International Joan of Arc Society
contact email: 

International Congress on Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University

Kalamazoo, MI, USA

10-13 May 2018          

Although Jean Estivet’s preamble to the original 70 Articles of Accusation against Joan of Arc lists a dozen or more “crimes,” ranging from sorcery to schism, sacrilege, apostasy, blasphemy, transvestism, and heresy, the articles themselves are devoid, for the most part, of references to specific laws. Modern indictments employ such language as “all in violation of Title N, United States Code, Section X.” No such system pertained in the fifteenth century, yet Joan’s judges were adamant that she had violated “Canonical Rules” (Article 13), “laws and sanctions of the church” (Article 60), and most expansively, in Article 66, that she deviated from “divine, evangelical, canon, and civil law, contrary to the statutes of general Councils.” The final Twelve Articles are even less explicit about her violation of any category of law, save only the “article of faith ‘One holy Catholic church.’” Once the assessors referred the articles to “doctors and experts in theology and in canon and civil law, to have their advice on them,” the ensuing deliberations at last specify certain of the laws Joan transgressed.  As “precedents,” they cite both the Old and New Testaments, the writings of St. Jerome, and the Nicene Creed.

            The International Joan of Arc Society (Société International de l’étude de Jeanne d’Arc) is sponsoring two paper sessions at the ICMS in 2018 that examine the application of various laws in the early fifteenth century to persons in similar situations to Joan of Arc, as well as her own encounters with the law. The first, “Law, Custom, and Joan of Arc,” seeks analogues that enrich our understanding of how written laws or custom were brought to bear on Joan’s perceived transgressions, such as breach of promise, the trial of Franquet d’Arras, and her own status as prisoner of war. The second, “Joan of Arc and the Law,” seeks to understand to what purpose theologians and philosophers evoked specific categories of law both to her detriment and in her favor during both of her trials, including the University of Paris opinions, and the introductory and closing summations.