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. 


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. 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. There was political and religious motivation behind her actions. For in Domrémy, God backed the French against the woeful English. 


The context of Joan of Arc's story is historical France, which was not very stable, much like it's Monarch, King Charles VI. He most likely grappled with a type of Schizoaffective disorder, an episodal mental illness which attacks both mood and thought. Clearly he was a strong individual for having to face battles on so many fronts. The King's power was often delegated to his uncles and to his wife when he was down. 


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. 


Eventually, 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.


In 1429, Joan of Arc met with Charles VII and managed to persuade him of her divine mission.  He 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 brave young lady. 


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. Her victories and the respective beliefs surrounding her divine intervention, would have made her presence a token blessing from God to her superstitious contemporaries. I imagine the morale of her men may well have reached great heights.


Joan of Arc was pious, a teenage patriot and a resistance fighter but above all, a strategical advisor to the top brass. Her presence bred mixed feelings within the French and English sides. Joan of Arc proved that a woman 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 staus quo. 


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. 


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 an injustice. 


Even though she persisted her innocent as they sadistically carried out their medieval torture; Joan of Arc was still burnt 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 bitter men jealous enough to conspire, and then murder this successful young female. Why you would betray a great military strategist for the sake of ego is beyond me. 



Sadly, I can't commend her unwavering faith, because from my perspective that 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 was a remarkable soul. On a more solemn note, this is a story of injustice, sexism, religious hypocrisy and politics killing the innocent. 


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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