On September 29th, the NBS Middle School class re-tried Joan of Arc, with the 5th- and 6th- graders as jurists. While the trial differed from Joan’s 1431 trial in many ways, the spirit of the 15th-century trial filled the Middle School classroom for weeks as they prepared. Background information about the events that led to the trial is below the series of photos.
Imagine yourself in 15th-century France. For the past century, France has been battling with England over who should be king. England claims the French throne, due to a complicated family tree and a questionable treaty. The French people are split in their loyalty: some are loyal to Charles, the son of the former French king. Others are loyal to Henry VI, the English king, who claims the French throne because of a treaty signed in 1420 by Charles VI and his wife, Isabeau, giving the throne to Henry’s father, Henry V. Parts of France are under the control of Charles and parts are under Henry’s control.
Enter Joan of Arc. The daughter of a farmer, Joan came to Charles seemingly out of the blue and said that God had spoken to her and commanded her to 1) get Charles officially crowned king, and 2) rescue Orleans from the English. Joan succeeded at both of these things: she successfully brought Charles through enemy territory to be crowned king, and she went on to lift–in only ten days–the English siege at Orleans that had last for five months.
Those are the facts. But that’s where the certainty ends and the questions begin. Is Joan a saint or a heretic, a hero or a traitor? During the Middle School trial, Joan was charged with heresy, accusing her of faking her religious zeal, and treason, accusing Joan of fighting against the true king of France. The charges had ample evidence on both sides, which is what makes recreating the trial so interesting.
After carefully listening to the testimony, taking notes, and deliberating, the jury of 5th- and 6th-graders found Joan of Arc innocent of both charges. An informal poll of parents present also acquitted her of the charges.
Many thanks to Coe Sweet Photography for capturing the trial.