1456 – A retrial verdict acquits Joan of Arc of heresy 25 years after her death.
The Retrial of Joan of Arc, also known as the “nullification trial” or “rehabilitation trial”, was a posthumous retrial of Joan of Arc authorized by Pope Callixtus III at the request of Inquisitor-General Jean Bréhal and Joan’s mother Isabelle Romée. The purpose of the retrial was to investigate whether the trial of condemnation and its verdict had been handled justly and according to ecclesiastical law. Investigations started in 1452, and a formal appeal followed in November 1455. The inquisitor’s final summary of the case in June 1456 described Joan as a martyr and implicated the late Pierre Cauchon with heresy for having convicted an innocent woman in pursuit of a secular vendetta. The court declared her innocent on 7 July 1456.
Following Joan of Arc’s death in 1431, Charles VII was said to have “felt a very bitter grief” when he heard the news, “promising to exact a terrible vengeance upon the English and women of England”. However, for many years his government failed to make much headway on the battlefield, and the English held on to most of their conquests in northern France.
Prior to 1449, a number of factors stood in the way of any possible review of Joan’s condemnation. Firstly, the English were still in possession of Paris. The University of Paris had provided assessors for the trial of condemnation at Rouen. In May 1430, Paris had been held by the Anglo-Burgundian alliance, and the theologians and masters of the university had written to Duke Philip the Good of Burgundy asking that Joan be transferred to the English so she could be placed on trial. Since the university had played an active part in the proceedings, they could only be brought to account once Paris was captured on 13 April 1436.
Secondly, Rouen – the site of the trial – was also still held by the English. The documents relating to the original trial were kept in Rouen, and the town did not fall into Charles VII’s hands until November 1449. Historian Régine Pernoud makes the point that “So long as the English were masters of Rouen, the mere fact that they held the papers in the case, a case which they had managed themselves, maintained their version of what the trial had been”. She adds: “to reproach the King or the Church with having done nothing until that time is tantamount to reproaching the French government with having done nothing to bring the Oradour war criminals to justice before 1945”.
1831 – Jane Elizabeth Dexter Conklin, American poet and religious writer (d. ?)
Jane Elizabeth Dexter Conklin (née Jane Elizabeth Dexter; July 7, 1831 – ) was a 19th-century American poet and religious writer from New York. For three years, she served as president of the Woman’s Relief Corps of the Grand Army of the Republic. She enjoyed a reputation as an elocutionist; and was the author of three volumes of poetry.
Early years and education
Jane Elizabeth Dexter was born in Utica, New York, July 7, 1831. Her great-grandfather, Gregor Grant (or George Grant), chieftain of Clan Grant, from Abernethy, Scotland, came to the United States in 1774. He joined the Continental Army and served during the American Revolutionary War. Her mother was the daughter of William W. Williams, an architect of Albany, New York. Conklin’s uncle, Asahel Dexter, was a captain in the War of 1812. Conklin’s father was born in Paris, New York, his parents having removed to that town from Mansfield, Connecticut in the latter part of the 18th century. He was a cousin of John G. Saxe, the poet.
Conklin received her education in the Utica Female Academy and in Mrs. Brinkerhof’s School for Young Ladies in Albany. Her first composition was written in verse. When she was 14 years old, her poems were first published, and after that time, she wrote continuously.
While none of her poems were strictly hymns, many of them were sung in religious meetings. She was, for many years, a contributor to the Utica Gospel Messenger. She also wrote prose and poetry for a New York City weekly, and for several local papers. In 1884, she published a book of poems, which was favorably received. In 1897, she was preparing a second volume of poems, ultimately publishing three books of poetry in total. Conklin was also remembered as an elocutionist.
In December, 1865, she married Cramer H. Conklin, a veteran of the American Civil War, and they subsequently lived in Binghamton, New York. Conklin took great interest in the American Civil War and in the defenders of the Republic. When the Grand Army of the Republic post to which her husband belonged formed a Relief Corps of wives and daughters, she was one of the first to sign a call for a charter. Shortly after the Corps was organized, she was elected its president, and for three years, she held that office.