Joan of Arc: Whispers of the Saints.

A Historical Blog about the Amazing Joan of Arc: Treasure of France.

Jeanne d'Arc, was born in the year 1412 in Domrémy, a village in north eastern France. Her father was Jacques d'Arc, a farmer, and Isabelle Romée. To English speakers she is known as Joan of Arc, and we might picture her in the same light as how the movies and entertainment might portray her: like a pious Wonder women, but raised on Catholicism instead of the old Greek gods. For all we know her personality might have been awful!

A beautiful depiction of Joan of Arc

Joan grew up surrounded by a community that shared a dominant religious worldview, in a land of political unrest, which she would have accepted from a very young age. This fits my mental imagining of this highly religionised unlikely warrior woman. The key to her story however, was that she told people that she heard the voices of various saints urging her to help France in it's war against England. 

Honestly, as a child I was told about this woman hearing voices speak to her and I believed she had something in common with Arkham Asylum patients. However, there is a gorgeous theory about her divine 'voices' impressively being put to political and strategical uses; a code to secretly communicate orders to their own troops! What has always been seen as Joan of Arc's unfaltering faith and self sacrificial stance with the English, may well have been the woman protecting a 'secret command' which was directed and inspired French resistance! For as we saw in Domrémy, God backed the French against the woeful English. So clever!

The context of Joan of Arc's story is historical France, which was not very stable, much like it's Monarch, King Charles VI. Looking past the psychiatry he most likely grappled with a type of Schizoaffective disorder, an episodal condition which attacks both mood and thought. What a bloke, facing battles on so many fronts. The King's power was often delegated to his uncles and to his wife when he was down, so, he might have been more of an average bloke after all. 

Henry V of England took advantage of Charle's mental illness and attacked aggressively, winning at Agincourt. Henry V invaded France and dominated; declaring himself successor to Charles who, was deemed illegitimate. The Treaty of Troyes stipulated that Henry's heirs would succeed him and in doing so, keep an English backside on the French Throne. There was a joint reign after both Charles VI and Henry V died. A dual monarchy of Charles VII and Henry VI. Isn't that crazy? 

Eventually, we English, well the ancestors of the English, had taken most of Northern France. At this time, Joan of Arc, was a teenager and she told people that God had chosen her to save France; she convinced a nobleman, Robert de Baudricourt, to take her to see the King. Today, she'd be on a psychiatric ward with a dose of clozapine. 

Retro, vintage Joan looking sepia.

In 1429, Joan of Arc met with Charles VII and managed to persuade him of her divine mission. The dopey b*****d responded by granting the teenage girl a small army, a horse and armour. According to contemporary sources she rode into battle clad in armour carrying a banner! A very psychotic young lady. 

Joan of Arc depicted in late cinema

In May, the same year, Joan of Arc was a respected leader of the French army; she led her men to victory at the Battle of Orléans, this was a major game changer in the Hundred Years' War! She won victories and people started to believe in her divine intervention (voices in her head), would have made her presence a token blessing from God to her superstitious  contemporaries. I imagine the morale of her men may well have soured, because people believed so much b*****ks back then! 

Joan of Arc was pious, a teenage patriot and a resistance fighter, but above all, a strategical advisor to the top brass. Can you believe this sh*t? A child. Her presence bred mixed feelings within the French and English sides. Joan of Arc proved that a girl could do the most demanding work of any man in the middle ages. Society was patriarchal with roles specific for women, this young woman challenged the status quo. Dangerous thing to do in a world of thugs. 

There are quite a few contemporary accounts, especially letters, saying that she was of average height, which was just under five feet going on fifteenth century skeletal remains. She had dark hair and was slightly tanned and a strong woman; a great horse rider, attractive, but not pretty. 

Fifteenth century highly expensive armour worn by Joan of Arc

In 1430, the English captured the girl at the Battle of Compiègne and she ended up on trial by the Roman Catholic Church in Rouen; the charge was heresy of all things! Joan of Arc, had innocently gave herself to her religion, King and country. Iron willed, this catholic farmers daughter stood accused of crossdressing, not just some biblical sin, but doubtlessly a charge they conjured up to bring her down. Other so-called charges focused on her claims to hear divine voices and witchcraft; they claimed she was a threat to church authority. This religious moral inconsistency was a disgusting injustice. 

Even though she persisted her innocent as they sadistically carried out their medieval torture; they still burnt her alive. It happened on May 30, 1431, in Rouen, she had only lived nineteen years. The triumph and glory of Joan of Arc was, arguably, the real trigger, that made miserable men jealous enough to conspire, and then murder this successful young mental female. Why you would betray a great military strategist for the sake of ego is beyond me. 

Young actress portraying the legend

Sadly, I can't speak highly of her unwavering faith, because from my perspective that nasty religion put her on the stake. Without a shadow of a doubt, I admire her defiance, grit and determination in the face of persecution, she seemed like a remarkable soul. On a more solemn note, this is a story of injustice, sexism, religious hypocrisy and political scum killing an innocent youth

This young woman became the enduring symbol of French nationalism and female empowerment. In 1920, Joan of Arc was canonized by the Catholic Church, which, I find to be an audacity after the faith initially betrayed her good graces. Today at least, she is rightly honoured by the people of France, those for whom she strived for all along. 


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