In 1450, the resistance movement that had been led by Joan of Arc became once again a live issue for all France, when Rouen, the city of her bogus trial for heresy, was liberated by French forces. A re-examination of Joan's trial, which would ultimately lead to her complete exoneration, was undertaken. The process of Joan's retrial and exoneration—which was a public process that engaged the entire population of France—created the preconditions for the founding of the modern French nation under Louis XI.
On February 15, 1450, Charles VII requested that the Canon of Rouen Cathedral report what occurred during the trial. An initial inquiry was held in March, and witnesses were heard. The process of Papal examination of the legal travesty of Joan's trial was begun in 1451, when Pope Nicholas V sent the Papal legate Guillaume d'Estouville to seek peace in France after a renewed English invasion in March of 1450.
D'Estouville conferred with the King in February of 1452, and arrived in Rouen in April. On May 2 the first official Church inquiry was opened. Further inquiries quickly followed, and the decision for a complete review of the entire trial proceedings was reached by July, with the newly appointed French Inquisitor Jean Bréhal was ordered to review all the records and summon the appropriate expert panels. D'Estouville was made Archbishop of Rouen in April of 1453, but the process of retrial was slowed by the shock felt throughout Europe with the fall of Constantinople to the Turks on May 29.
On June 11, 1455, Pope Calixtus, in office a mere two months, accepted a petition from Joan's mother for a full Papal exoneration. Hearings were held all over France, at Notre Dame of Paris in November of 1455, in Rouen in December, in January and February of 1456 in Domremy, Joan's birthplace, and Vaucouleurs, where she initially presented her mission to the local military commmand. Inquiries were resumed in Rouen, Orléans, and Paris from February 16 through March 16, where nobles, churchmen, and common laborers were all called before the Church to testify about what they knew of Joan and of the accusations raised at the 1431 trial. Throughout May, churches throughout France were plastered with posters calling for any witnesses to come forward.
By June 2 of 1456, all evidence had been officially accepted by the Church court, and on June 24 notices were posted on churches in Rouen asking for objections. The official verdict was rendered on July 7. Joan was officially exonerated. The town of Orléans declared July 27 an official holiday to celebrate.
The exoneration of Joan of Arc is an extraordinary example of how a popular uprising led to the overturning of a judicial travesty and created the basis for establishing a nation committed to a higher, universal concept of justice, as Louis XI eloquently outlines in his Rosebush of War.
Never underestimate the power of the people. If, and when, WE THE PEOPLE decide to take back our nation from the unfettered expansion of big government and its intrusive policies; from the dictates of unprincipled men and women who choose to ram their agendas down our throats without the consent of the governed, no man, no, weapon, no institution will be able to stand in our way.