In 1431, Joan of Arc’s first trial took place from February 21st to March 25th, initially in the Robing Room at the castle of Rouen, and subsequently in the chamber there which was used as her prison. Perhaps the most significant person in the room, aside from Joan herself, was Guillaume Manchon, trial notary. He took the trial minutes, in French, and later translated them into Latin, writing out in his own hand three of the five known copies. Because of him, we have a presumably accurate, and incredibly detailed, record of what actually occurred during the trial: what the concerns of the judges were, what the balance of power in the room looked like, what was significant to both them and to Joan herself.

The Said Woman is an exploration of the document itself, the embedded and complex layerings of translation, transcription, and framing within the text, separate from the mythologies surrounding its subject. In 2014, beginning on February 21st, the date of the first public session of the trial, two versions of the date’s session were posted here, a recording of the English translation read aloud, and images of the document transcribed by hand. The audio for each date was available only until the next recording was posted, on the next trial date.

Language comes into us through reading or hearing, and out of us by writing and speaking. Reading aloud and writing the trial document are a way to have physical embodied contact with the text, a way of learning and thinking with the body as well as the mind.

The trial dates are February 21, 22, 24, 27, March 1, 3, 4 (-9), 10 (beginning the prison portion of the trial), 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 18, 22, 24, and 25.

If you would like an inbox message when a new post is made for this project, click HERE to add yourself to the email list. Though the 2014 segment of the piece is over, the project will continue where it left off next year, as the second trial begins on March 26th.

Henceforth termed the Preparatory Trial.

On which day it is decided to continue in a new format, which will be called the Ordinary Trial, thus ending the portion of the proceedings that will henceforth be termed the Preparatory Trial.  This next portion is dominated by the involvement and guidance of the Vicar of the lord Inquisitor and his Promoter.  The Said Woman will resume at this point and on this date next year, and continue to the last day of the trial on May 30th.  History affords us this relation to time, which the said woman, of course, did not similarly enjoy.

March 25th.

In which the said woman is approached by some of her judges for a negotiation about hearing Mass.  In which the said woman admits that it is not in her to change her attire to a woman’s, even for the Eucharist at Easter.

Five judges are named as having made this attempt; four others are named to write an account.

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March 24th.

In which our notary, Guillaume Manchon, is mentioned by name.  In which it is attempted to prove that everything in the trial register happened as it is recorded, questions as well as answers.  In which, following this, the documents are read out to the said woman by the said notary.  In which she demands a woman’s dress in which to leave the prison. In which she is understood to have confessed all else in the document, without contradiction.

Give me a woman’s dress to go to my mother’s house, and I will take it.

Ten men named present in the prison chamber with the said woman, including our notary.


Follows the trial in full, as it was read to the said woman on this day:

March 22nd.

In which a larger number of the judges are present in order to decide on next steps; in which the said woman is not.  In which it is decided they will compile statements and propositions to be presented to the judges, in order to ease their process.  Easing the process for the said woman is not considered.  In which it is decided that things will proceed in such a way that the trial of the said woman will be without flaw.

Twenty-four men named present for today’s discussion.  The said woman remains with the guards in her prison.


March 18th. The statements are presented to the assessors.

In which it is decided, after reading extracts of the interrogations, that the documents be studied at length.  In which the following Thursday is set as the day on which the said judges will confer on the fate of the said woman.

There are fourteen men named in the proceedings today.  The said woman is not present, but remains in her prison while her statements are read aloud to the judges.


March 17th.

In which the said woman is told to submit to the Church, and will agree to submit only to God.  In which much is made of her clothing, as usual.  Also, this time, of her standard, its meanings and uses, and her ring.  In which the said woman can be understood to have said that God hates the English.  In which she is questioned about touching angels, and what they feel like.

You will get no answer from me.

Six men named in the prison chamber.

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March 15th.

In which the said woman is exhorted admonished and required to submit to the judgement of the church, which she will not do, though she is fairly cooperative on this point.  In which is discussed escape from prisons, desires, options, and permissions.  In which she bargains to wear women’s dress in exchange for permission to attend Mass.  In which the goodness of her voices, and how she knows they are good, is questioned.  In which the Enemy is mentioned as a possible pretender.

You have my answer to this.  Read your book carefully, and you will find it.

The same seven named men present in the cell with the said woman. 

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March 14th.

In which even more Inquisitorial bureaucracy occurs.  In which the present tense, answers, is introduced into the transcript.  In which the incident at the tower of Beaurevoir is discussed in detail, alternately as leaping or falling.  In which she reveals what she has asked of her voices, just 3 things.  In which the said woman defends herself against specific charges listed: horse thievery, murder, her leap from the tower, and her man’s dress.

I leave it to God and none other.

I do not know; but in everything I commit myself to God.

I do not think I am in mortal sin.

I did it not out of despair, but in hope of saving my body and of going to the aid of many good people in need.

Since I do it by God’s command and in His service I do not think I do wrong; and so soon as it shall please God to command I will put it off.

Six men named in the prison today.

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March 13th.

In which bureaucratic machinations appoint more men to denounce, examine, interrogate, procure, and conduct, requiring obedience, submission, goodwill, counsel, help and aid for said appointees.  In which many interesting details of the sign are finally revealed, including physical details of the angel who brought it.  In which, in particular, the odor of the sign is discussed.  In which the influence of nobles and soldiers as well as angels is admitted.


I was nearly always praying that God would send the king’s sign, and I was in my lodging, in the house of a good woman, near the castle of Chinon, when the angel came; and afterwards we went together to the king; and the angel was well accompanied by other angels whom no one saw.


The same 7 named men in the prison chambers.  It is interesting to note that the notary is never named, though the notes are all in his hand, and he was indeed present.  How many more like this were there, men doing something but not significant enough to name?  How many guards?  How many unnamed witnesses?

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