On This Day
1456 – A retrial verdict acquits Joan of Arc of heresy 25 years after her death.
The conviction of Joan of Arc in 1431 was posthumously investigated on appeal in the 1450s by Inquisitor-General Jean Bréhal, at the request of Joan’s surviving family (her mother Isabelle Romée and two of her brothers, Jean and Pierre). The appeal was authorized by Pope Callixtus III.
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.
Born On This Day
1861 – Nettie Stevens, American geneticist (d. 1912)
Nettie Maria Stevens (July 7, 1861 – May 4, 1912) was an American geneticist who discovered sex chromosomes. In 1905, soon after the rediscovery of Mendel’s paper on genetics in 1900, she observed that male mealworms produced two kinds of sperm, one with a large chromosome and one with a small chromosome. When the sperm with the large chromosome fertilized eggs, they produced female offspring, and when the sperm with the small chromosome fertilized eggs, they produced male offspring. The pair of sex chromosomes that she studied later became known as the X and Y chromosomes.
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