What roles do the inquisitor and Dominican priests play in Joan's trial?

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In Scene VI, Joan is on trial for heresy; in the ecclesiastical court scene, the inquisitor is named as one Brother John Lemaitre. As an inquisitor, he is a judge, along with the Bishop of Beauvais, Pierre Cauchon. The prosecutor or promoter is Canon John D'Estivet. Dominican priests or monks are also present at the proceedings; they are labeled as 'assessors' or monitors who oversee the trial. During the proceedings, Ladvenu, a Dominican monk, asks whether there can be any harm in a simple girl's religious conviction and attendant sensibilities. He questions the necessity of labeling such a girl a heretic.

The Inquisitor's answer is eloquent but resolute in tone. He warns his fellow monks to refrain from supposing that evil can be easily ascertained from the outward demeanor of the accused.

This girl is not one of those whose hard features are the sign of hard hearts, and whose brazen looks and lewd demeanor condemn them before they are accused. The devilish pride that has led her into her present peril has left no mark on her countenance. Strange as it may seem to you, it has even left no mark on her character outside those special matters in which she is proud; so that you will see a diabolical pride and a natural humility seated side by side in the selfsame soul. Therefore be on your guard.

In 1231, Pope Gregory IX charged both the Franciscan and the Dominican orders with the responsibility of rooting out heretics from the Catholic Church. In due time, the Dominican order of friars who became inquisitors, prosecutors, and assessors during ecclesiastical trials became known as the 'Hounds of God,' a negative appellation. The order was respected for its emphasis on academic purity in matters of theology and its unswerving fidelity in removing heresy from the ranks of the Catholic Church. The Inquisition was most active in France (where Joan was tried) and in Italy. Joan's own trial was on May 30, 1431.

Accordingly, the inquisitor, as the judge, has the right to raise an accusation against anyone. However, he must question the accused before at least two witnesses. During Joan's trial, Dominican monks are present in order to monitor or to assess the proceedings of the court. Meanwhile, the Bishop slyly manipulates the assessors to view Joan's actions as heretical rebellion against the authority of the Catholic Church. Joan does recant and is sentenced to perpetual imprisonment. However, she rebels against the court's decision and is subsequently condemned to be burnt at the stake. Throughout the proceedings, the Inquisitor, with the support of his Dominican brothers, has full authority to decide Joan's fate.

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