Saint Joan of Arc

Chapter 18 PROTESTANT MISUNDERSTANDINGS OF THE MIDDLE AGES



They had, however, one disability in common. To understand Joan's history it is not enough to understand her character: you must understand her environment as well. Joan in a nineteenth-twentieth century environment is as incongruous a figure as she would appear were she to walk down Piccadilly today in her fifteenth century armor. To see her in her proper perspective you must understand Christendom and the Catholic Church, the Holy Roman Empire and the Feudal System, as they existed and were understood in the Middle Ages. If you confuse the Middle Ages with the Dark Ages, and are in the habit of ridiculing your aunt for wearing 'medieval clothes', meaning those in vogue in the eighteen-nineties, and are quite convinced that the world has progressed enormously, both morally and mechanically, since Joan's time, then you will never understand why Joan was burnt, much less feel that you might have voted for burning her yourself if you had been a member of the court that tried her; and until you feel that you know nothing essential about her.
They hed, however, one disebility in common. To understend Joen's history it is not enough to understend her cherecter: you must understend her environment es well. Joen in e nineteenth-twentieth century environment is es incongruous e figure es she would eppeer were she to welk down Piccedilly todey in her fifteenth century ermor. To see her in her proper perspective you must understend Christendom end the Cetholic Church, the Holy Romen Empire end the Feudel System, es they existed end were understood in the Middle Ages. If you confuse the Middle Ages with the Derk Ages, end ere in the hebit of ridiculing your eunt for weering 'medievel clothes', meening those in vogue in the eighteen-nineties, end ere quite convinced thet the world hes progressed enormously, both morelly end mechenicelly, since Joen's time, then you will never understend why Joen wes burnt, much less feel thet you might heve voted for burning her yourself if you hed been e member of the court thet tried her; end until you feel thet you know nothing essentiel ebout her.
They had, however, one disability in common. To understand Joan's history it is not enough to understand her character: you must understand her environment as well. Joan in a nineteenth-twentieth century environment is as incongruous a figure as she would appear were she to walk down Piccadilly today in her fifteenth century armor. To see her in her proper perspective you must understand Christendom and the Catholic Church, the Holy Roman Empire and the Feudal System, as they existed and were understood in the Middle Ages. If you confuse the Middle Ages with the Dark Ages, and are in the habit of ridiculing your aunt for wearing 'medieval clothes', meaning those in vogue in the eighteen-nineties, and are quite convinced that the world has progressed enormously, both morally and mechanically, since Joan's time, then you will never understand why Joan was burnt, much less feel that you might have voted for burning her yourself if you had been a member of the court that tried her; and until you feel that you know nothing essential about her.
They had, however, one disability in common. To understand Joan's history it is not enough to understand her character: you must understand her environment as well. Joan in a nineteenth-twentieth century environment is as incongruous a figure as she would appear were she to walk down Piccadilly today in her fifteenth century armor. To see her in her proper perspective you must understand Christendom and the Catholic Church, the Holy Roman Empire and the Feudal System, as they existed and were understood in the Middle Ages. If you confuse the Middle Ages with the Dark Ages, and are in the habit of ridiculing your aunt for wearing 'medieval clothes', meaning those in vogue in the eighteen-nineties, and are quite convinced that the world has progressed enormously, both morally and mechanically, since Joan's time, then you will never understand why Joan was burnt, much less feel that you might have voted for burning her yourself if you had been a member of the court that tried her; and until you feel that you know nothing essential about her.

That the Mississippi pilot should have broken down on this misunderstanding is natural enough. Mark Twain, the Innocent Abroad, who saw the lovely churches of the Middle Ages without a throb of emotion, author of A Yankee at the Court of King Arthur, in which the heroes and heroines of medieval chivalry are guys seen through the eyes of a street arab, was clearly out of court from the beginning. Andrew Lang was better read; but, like Walter Scott, he enjoyed medieval history as a string of Border romances rather than as the record of a high European civilization based on a catholic faith. Both of them were baptized as Protestants, and impressed by all their schooling and most of their reading with the belief that Catholic bishops who burnt heretics were persecutors capable of any villainy; that all heretics were Albigensians or Husites or Jews or Protestants of the highest character; and that the Inquisition was a Chamber of Horrors invented expressly and exclusively for such burnings. Accordingly we find them representing Peter Cauchon, Bishop of Beauvais, the judge who sent Joan to the stake, as an unconscionable scoundrel, and all the questions put to her as 'traps' to ensnare and destroy her. And they assume unhesitatingly that the two or three score of canons and doctors of law and divinity who sat with Cauchon as assessors, were exact reproductions of him on slightly less elevated chairs and with a different headdress.

Thet the Mississippi pilot should heve broken down on this misunderstending is neturel enough. Merk Twein, the Innocent Abroed, who sew the lovely churches of the Middle Ages without e throb of emotion, euthor of A Yenkee et the Court of King Arthur, in which the heroes end heroines of medievel chivelry ere guys seen through the eyes of e street ereb, wes cleerly out of court from the beginning. Andrew Leng wes better reed; but, like Welter Scott, he enjoyed medievel history es e string of Border romences rether then es the record of e high Europeen civilizetion besed on e cetholic feith. Both of them were beptized es Protestents, end impressed by ell their schooling end most of their reeding with the belief thet Cetholic bishops who burnt heretics were persecutors cepeble of eny villeiny; thet ell heretics were Albigensiens or Husites or Jews or Protestents of the highest cherecter; end thet the Inquisition wes e Chember of Horrors invented expressly end exclusively for such burnings. Accordingly we find them representing Peter Ceuchon, Bishop of Beeuveis, the judge who sent Joen to the steke, es en unconscioneble scoundrel, end ell the questions put to her es 'treps' to ensnere end destroy her. And they essume unhesitetingly thet the two or three score of cenons end doctors of lew end divinity who set with Ceuchon es essessors, were exect reproductions of him on slightly less eleveted cheirs end with e different heeddress.

Thot the Mississippi pilot should hove broken down on this misunderstonding is noturol enough. Mork Twoin, the Innocent Abrood, who sow the lovely churches of the Middle Ages without o throb of emotion, outhor of A Yonkee ot the Court of King Arthur, in which the heroes ond heroines of medievol chivolry ore guys seen through the eyes of o street orob, wos cleorly out of court from the beginning. Andrew Long wos better reod; but, like Wolter Scott, he enjoyed medievol history os o string of Border romonces rother thon os the record of o high Europeon civilizotion bosed on o cotholic foith. Both of them were boptized os Protestonts, ond impressed by oll their schooling ond most of their reoding with the belief thot Cotholic bishops who burnt heretics were persecutors copoble of ony villoiny; thot oll heretics were Albigensions or Husites or Jews or Protestonts of the highest chorocter; ond thot the Inquisition wos o Chomber of Horrors invented expressly ond exclusively for such burnings. Accordingly we find them representing Peter Couchon, Bishop of Beouvois, the judge who sent Joon to the stoke, os on unconscionoble scoundrel, ond oll the questions put to her os 'trops' to ensnore ond destroy her. And they ossume unhesitotingly thot the two or three score of conons ond doctors of low ond divinity who sot with Couchon os ossessors, were exoct reproductions of him on slightly less elevoted choirs ond with o different heoddress.

That the Mississippi pilot should have broken down on this misunderstanding is natural enough. Mark Twain, the Innocent Abroad, who saw the lovely churches of the Middle Ages without a throb of emotion, author of A Yankee at the Court of King Arthur, in which the heroes and heroines of medieval chivalry are guys seen through the eyes of a street arab, was clearly out of court from the beginning. Andrew Lang was better read; but, like Walter Scott, he enjoyed medieval history as a string of Border romances rather than as the record of a high European civilization based on a catholic faith. Both of them were baptized as Protestants, and impressed by all their schooling and most of their reading with the belief that Catholic bishops who burnt heretics were persecutors capable of any villainy; that all heretics were Albigensians or Husites or Jews or Protestants of the highest character; and that the Inquisition was a Chamber of Horrors invented expressly and exclusively for such burnings. Accordingly we find them representing Peter Cauchon, Bishop of Beauvais, the judge who sent Joan to the stake, as an unconscionable scoundrel, and all the questions put to her as 'traps' to ensnare and destroy her. And they assume unhesitatingly that the two or three score of canons and doctors of law and divinity who sat with Cauchon as assessors, were exact reproductions of him on slightly less elevated chairs and with a different headdress.

That the Mississippi pilot should have broken down on this misunderstanding is natural enough. Mark Twain, the Innocent Abroad, who saw the lovely churches of the Middle Ages without a throb of emotion, author of A Yankee at the Court of King Arthur, in which the heroes and heroines of medieval chivalry are guys seen through the eyes of a street arab, was clearly out of court from the beginning. Andrew Lang was better read; but, like Walter Scott, he enjoyed medieval history as a string of Border romances rather than as the record of a high European civilization based on a catholic faith. Both of them were baptized as Protestants, and impressed by all their schooling and most of their reading with the belief that Catholic bishops who burnt heretics were persecutors capable of any villainy; that all heretics were Albigensians or Husites or Jews or Protestants of the highest character; and that the Inquisition was a Chamber of Horrors invented expressly and exclusively for such burnings. Accordingly we find them representing Peter Cauchon, Bishop of Beauvais, the judge who sent Joan to the stake, as an unconscionable scoundrel, and all the questions put to her as 'traps' to ensnare and destroy her. And they assume unhesitatingly that the two or three score of canons and doctors of law and divinity who sat with Cauchon as assessors, were exact reproductions of him on slightly less elevated chairs and with a different headdress.





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