Concerning your private life, these men often write more like malicious enemies than friends; repeating the fabulous scandals of Le Boulanger, and trying vainly to support them by grubbing in dusty parish registers. It is most necessary to defend you from your friends from such friends as the veteran and inveterate M. Arsene Houssaye, or the industrious but puzzle-headed M. Loiseleur.
When he found he gained nothing by the subterfuge, he resumed his clerical garb, and succeeded in getting, under the promise of secrecy from his order, a confession from the prisoner. He also introduced spies into the prison who took notes of Joan's words. When the idea was mooted of putting Joan of Arc to the torture, Loiseleur was one of the most urgent for it to be applied.
In that dark stone chamber with its groined roof, besides the prisoner, were present Cauchon, with the Vice-Inquisitor, the Abbot of Saint Corneille of Compiègne, William Erard, Andrew Marguerie, Nicolas de Venderès, John Massieu, William Haiton, Aubert Morel, and the infamous Loiseleur.
Nicolas Loiseleur, M.A., a canon of Rouen; he was the most abject of all the gang of priests and doctors who formed part of this infamous tribunal. It was Loiseleur who, in the disguise of a layman, attempted to worm secrets from Joan, pretending to be her friend and sympathiser.
Even Joan of Arc's courage failed at that sight, and all the woman in her nature asserted itself. 'Do what I tell you, cried Loiseleur; 'abjure and put on woman's dress, and all will yet be well. The text of the abjuration was then hurriedly read, Joan of Arc following it, and repeating the words, the sense of which she had no time to understand.
One of these, Erard, remarked that it was unnecessary to torture the prisoner seeing that, as he expressed it, 'they had already sufficient evidence to condemn her to death without putting her to torment. But Morel de Courcelles, and Loiseleur were in favour that it should be made use of.
Be this as it may, there is no authority given for this idea of Loiseleur having probed her on this point; and Wallon, in his history of the Maid, makes no allusion to such an interview, and only states that John Beaupère went in the morning of the 24th to the prison, and he was soon followed there by Nicolas Loiseleur, who vehemently urged on Joan to comply with the demands which the judges had made.
From seven to eight hundred soldiers escorted the car and prohibited all approach to it on the part of the crowd, which encumbered the road and the vicinities; but a man forced a passage and flung himself towards Joan. It was a canon of Rouen, Nicholas Loiseleur, whom the Bishop of Beauvais had placed near her, and who had abused the confidence she had shown him.
This Judas half in the character of a layman, half in that of a confessor, and wholly as a sympathetic friend and a fellow-sufferer paid the prisoner long visits, disguised both as priest and layman, as the part suited the day's action best. Loiseleur actually used the means of extracting information from Joan of Arc under the seal of confession, to be afterwards employed against her by Cauchon.
Nothing of any importance could be constructed out of the prisoner's confidence and confessions; but Cauchon was, through Loiseleur, enabled to tender such advice to Joan as made her answers coincide more closely with his wishes than they otherwise could have done; especially those relating to the Church Triumphant and Militant.