Saint Joan of Arc ( ; ca.
1412 – 30 May 1431) is a national heroine
of France and a
born in eastern France, she led the French army to several
important victories during the Hundred Years' War
, claiming divine
guidance, and was indirectly responsible for the coronation of
. She was captured
by the Burgundians
, sold to the
English, tried by an ecclesiastical
court, and burned at the stake when she was nineteen years old.
Twenty-four years later, on the initiative of Charles VII, who
could not afford being seen as having been brought to power with
the aid of a condemned heretic
, Pope Callixtus III
reviewed the decision
of the ecclesiastical court, found her innocent, and declared her a
. She was beatified
in 1909 and canonized
in 1920. She is, along with St. Denis
Martin of Tours
, St. Louis IX
St. Theresa of Lisieux
of the patron saints
asserted that she had visions from God that told
her to recover her homeland from English domination
late in the Hundred Years'
The uncrowned King
sent her to the siege at Orléans
as part of a relief
mission. She gained prominence when she overcame the dismissive
attitude of veteran commanders and lifted the siege in only nine
days. Several more swift victories led to Charles
VII's coronation at Reims and settled
the disputed succession to the throne.
Joan of Arc has remained an important figure in Western culture
. From Napoleon
to the present, French
politicians of all leanings have invoked her memory. Major writers
and composers who have created works about her include Shakespeare
(Henry VI, Part 1
(La Pucelle d'Orléans
(Die Jungfrau von Orléans
), Mark Twain
(Personal Recollections of
Joan of Arc
), Jean Anouilh
(Die heilige Johanna der
), and Maxwell
). Depictions of her
continue in film, television, video games, song, and dance.
The historian Kelly DeVries
the period preceding her appearance with, "If anything could have
discouraged her, the state of France in 1429 should have." The
Hundred Years' War
had begun in
1337 as a succession
dispute to the French throne
with intermittent periods of
relative peace. Nearly all the fighting had taken place in France,
and the English use of chevauchée
(similar to scorched earth
) tactics had devastated the
economy. The French population
had not recovered from the Black Death
of the previous century and its merchants were cut off from foreign
markets. At the outset of her career, the English had almost
achieved their goal of a dual monarchy under English control and
the French army had won no major victory for a generation. In
DeVries's words, "the kingdom of France was not even a shadow of
its thirteenth-century prototype."
The French king at the time of Joan's birth, Charles VI
, suffered bouts of insanity
and was often unable to rule. The king's brother Duke Louis
of Orléans and
the king's cousin John the
, Duke of Burgundy
quarreled over the regency of France and the guardianship of the
royal children. This dispute escalated to accusations of an
extramarital affair with Queen Isabeau of Bavaria
and the kidnappings of
the royal children. The matter climaxed when the Duke of Burgundy
ordered the assassination of the Duke of Orléans in 1407.
The factions loyal to these two men became known as the Armagnacs
and the Burgundians
. The English king,
Henry V, took advantage of this
turmoil to invade France, winning a dramatic victory at
Agincourt in 1415, and capturing northern French
The future French king, Charles VII
, assumed the title of
as heir to the throne at
the age of 14, after all four of his older brothers died. His first
significant official act was to conclude a peace treaty with
Burgundy in 1419. This ended in disaster when Armagnac partisans
murdered John the Fearless during a meeting under Charles's
guarantee of protection. The new duke of Burgundy, Philip the Good
, blamed Charles
and entered into an alliance with the English. Large sections of
France were conquered.
In 1420, Queen Isabeau of Bavaria concluded the Treaty of Troyes
, which granted the French
royal succession to Henry V and his heirs in preference to her son
Charles. This agreement revived rumors about her supposed affair
with the late duke of Orléans and raised fresh suspicions that the
Dauphin was a royal bastard rather than the son of the king. Henry
V and Charles VI died within two months of each other in 1422,
leaving an infant, Henry VI of
, the nominal monarch of both kingdoms. Henry V's
brother, John of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Bedford, acted as regent
By the beginning of 1429, nearly all of northern France and some
parts of the southwest were under foreign control. The English ruled
Paris, while the Burgundians controlled Reims.
latter city was important as the traditional site of French
coronations and consecrations, especially since neither claimant to
the throne of France had yet been crowned. The English had laid
siege to Orléans, which was
the only remaining loyal French city north of the Loire.
strategic location along the river made it the last obstacle to an
assault on the remainder of the French heartland. In the words of
one modern historian, "On the fate of Orléans hung that of the
entire kingdom." No one was optimistic that the city could long
withstand the siege
the daughter of Jacques d'Arc and
Isabelle Romée in Domrémy, a village which was then in the duchy of Bar (later annexed to the
province of Lorraine and renamed Domrémy-la-Pucelle).
parents owned about 50 acres (0.2 square kilometers) of land and
her father supplemented his farming work with a minor position as a
village official, collecting taxes and heading the local watch.
They lived in an isolated patch of northeastern territory that
remained loyal to the French crown despite being surrounded by
Burgundian lands. Several local raids occurred during her childhood
and on one occasion her village was burned.
Joan said she was about 19 at her trial, so she was born about
1412; she later testified that she experienced her first vision
around 1424 at the age of 12 years when she was out alone in a
field and heard voices. She had said she cried when they left as
they were so beautiful. She would report that Saint Michael
, Saint Catherine
, and Saint Margaret
told her to drive
out the English and bring the Dauphin to Reims for his
At the age
of 16, she asked a kinsman, Durand Lassois, to bring her to nearby
Vaucouleurs where she petitioned the garrison commander, Count
Robert de Baudricourt, for
permission to visit the royal French court at Chinon.
Baudricourt's sarcastic response did not deter her. She returned
the following January and gained support from two men of standing:
Jean de Metz and Bertrand de Poulengy. Under their auspices, she
gained a second interview where she made a remarkable prediction
about a military reversal
Baudricourt granted her an escort to visit Chinon after news
from the front confirmed her prediction.
She made the
journey through hostile Burgundian territory in male disguise. Upon
arriving at the royal court she impressed Charles VII
during a private
conference. During this time Charles's mother-in-law
Yolande of Aragon was financing a
relief expedition to Orléans.
petitioned for permission to travel with the army and wear the
equipment of a knight. She depended on donated items for her armor,
horse, sword, banner, and entourage. Her armor was said to be
white. Historian Stephen W. Richey explains her attraction as the
only source of hope for a regime that was near collapse:
|"King of England, and you, Duke of Bedford,
who call yourself regent of the kingdom of France...settle your
debt to the king of Heaven; return to the Maiden, who is envoy of
the king of Heaven, the keys to all the good towns you took and
violated in France."
|Her Letter to the English, March–April 1429;
Quicherat I, p. 240, trans. Wikipedia.
With Joan's arrival, she effectively turned the long standing
Anglo-French conflict into a religious war. But this was not
without its risks. Charles' advisers were worried that unless
Joan's orthodoxy could be established beyond doubt, that she was
not a heretic or a sorceress, Charles' enemies could easily make
the claim that his kingdom was a gift from the Devil. To circumvent this
possibility, the Dauphin ordered background inquiries and a
theological examination at Poitiers to verify her morality.
In April 1429, the
commission of inquiry "declared her to be of irreproachable life, a
good Christian, possessed of the virtues of humility, honesty and
simplicity." The theologians at Poitiers did not pass judgement on
her divine inspiration; rather, they informed the Dauphin that
there was a 'favourable presumption' to be made on the divine
nature of her mission. This was enough for Charles, but they then
pushed the ball back in his court by stating that he had an
obligation to put Joan to the test. 'To doubt or abandon her
without suspicion of evil would be to repudiate the Holy Spirit and
to become unworthy of God's aid', they declared. The test for the
truth of her claims would be the raising of the siege of Orléans.
She arrived at the siege of
on 29 April 1429, but Jean
, the acting head of the Orléans ducal family,
initially excluded her from war councils and failed to inform her
when the army engaged the enemy. This did not prevent her from
being present at most councils and battles. The extent of her
actual military leadership is a subject of historical debate.
Traditional historians such as Édouard Perroy conclude that she was
a standard bearer whose primary effect was on morale. This type of
analysis usually relies on the condemnation trial testimony, where
she stated that she preferred her standard to her sword. Recent
scholarship that focuses on the nullification trial testimony
asserts that her fellow officers esteemed her as a skilled
tactician and a successful strategist. Stephen W. Richey's opinion
is one example: "She proceeded to lead the army in an
astounding series of victories that reversed the tide of the
In either case, historians agree that the army enjoyed
remarkable success during her brief career.
She defied the cautious strategy that had characterized French
leadership. During the five months of siege before her arrival, the
defenders of Orléans had attempted only one aggressive move and
that had ended in disaster. On 4 May the French attacked and
captured the outlying fortress of Saint Loup, which she followed on
5 May with a march to a second fortress called Saint Jean le Blanc.
Finding it deserted, this became a bloodless victory. The next day
she opposed Jean d'Orleans at a war council where she demanded
another assault on the enemy. D'Orleans ordered the city gates
locked to prevent another battle, but she summoned the townsmen and
common soldiers and forced the mayor to unlock a gate. With the aid
of only one captain she rode out and captured the fortress of Saint
Augustins. That evening she learned she had been excluded from a
war council where the leaders had decided to wait for
reinforcements before acting again. Disregarding this decision, she
insisted on assaulting the main English stronghold called "les
on 7 May. Contemporaries acknowledged her as the
heroine of the engagement after she sustained an arrow wound to her
neck but returned wounded to lead the final charge.
|"...the Maiden lets you know that here, in eight
days, she has chased the English out of all the places they held on
the river Loire by attack or other means: they are dead or
prisoners or discouraged in battle. Believe what you have heard
about the earl of Suffolk, the lord la Pole and his brother, the
lord Talbot, the lord Scales, and Sir Fastolf; many more knights
and captains than these are defeated."
|Her Letter to the citizens of Tournai, 25 June 1429; Quicherat V, pp. 125–126,
The sudden victory at Orléans led to many proposals for offensive
action. The English expected an attempt to recapture Paris or an
attack on Normandy. In the aftermath of the unexpected victory, she
persuaded Charles VII to grant her co-command of the army with Duke
John II of Alençon
gained royal permission for her plan to recapture nearby bridges
along the Loire as a prelude to an advance on Reims and a
coronation. Hers was a bold proposal because Reims was roughly
twice as far away as Paris and deep in enemy territory.
The army recovered Jargeau
15 June, then Beaugency
on 17 June. The Duke of Alençon agreed to all of Joan's decisions.
Other commanders including Jean d'Orléans had been impressed with
her performance at Orléans and became her supporters. Alençon
credited her for saving his life at Jargeau, where she warned him
of an imminent artillery attack. During the same battle she
withstood a blow from a stone cannonball to her helmet as she
climbed a scaling ladder. An expected English relief force arrived
in the area on 18 June under the command of Sir John Fastolf
. The battle at
Patay might be compared to Agincourt in reverse.
The French vanguard attacked
before the English archers
finish defensive preparations. A rout ensued that devastated the
main body of the English army and killed or captured most of its
commanders. Fastolf escaped with a small band of soldiers and
became the scapegoat for the English humiliation. The French
suffered minimal losses.
French army set out for Reims from Gien-sur-Loire on 29 June and
accepted the conditional surrender of the Burgundian-held city of
Auxerre on 3 July.
Every other town in their path
returned to French allegiance without resistance. Troyes, the site of
the treaty that had tried to disinherit Charles VII, capitulated
after a bloodless four-day siege.
The army was in short
supply of food by the time it reached Troyes. Edward Lucie-Smith
cites this as an
example of her luck: a wandering friar named Brother Richard had
been preaching about the end of the world at Troyes and had
convinced local residents to plant beans, a crop with an early
harvest. The hungry army arrived as the beans ripened.
|"Prince of Burgundy, I pray of you — I
beg and humbly supplicate — that you make no more war with the
holy kingdom of France. Withdraw your people swiftly from
certain places and fortresses of this holy kingdom, and on behalf
of the gentle king of France I say he is ready to make peace with
you, by his honor."
|"Her Letter to Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy,
17 July 1429; Quicherat V, pp. 126–127, trans. Wikipedia.
Reims opened its gates on 16 July. The coronation took place the
following morning. Although Joan and the duke of Alençon urged a
prompt march on Paris, the royal court pursued a negotiated truce
with the duke of Burgundy. Duke Philip the Good broke the
agreement, using it as a stalling tactic to reinforce the defense
of Paris. The French army marched through towns near Paris during
the interim and accepted more peaceful surrenders. The Duke of
Bedford headed an English force and confronted the French army in a
standoff on 15 August. The French assault at Paris ensued on 8
September. Despite a crossbow bolt wound to the leg, Joan continued
directing the troops until the day's fighting ended. The following
morning she received a royal order to withdraw. Most historians
blame French grand chamberlain Georges de la Trémoille
political blunders that followed the coronation. In October Joan
, receiving a noble status.
minor action at
La-Charité-sur-Loire in November and December, Joan went to
Compiègne the following April to defend against an English and Burgundian siege.
A reckless skirmish on 23 May 1430 led to her being captured. When
she ordered a retreat, she assumed the place of honor as the last
to leave the field. Burgundians surrounded the rear guard, she was
unhorsed by an archer and initially refused to surrender.
It was customary
|"It is true that the king has made a
truce with the duke of Burgundy for fifteen days and that the duke
is to turn over the city of Paris at the end
of fifteen days. Yet you should not marvel if I do
not enter that city so quickly. I am not content with
these truces and do not know if I will keep them, but if I hold
them it will only be to guard the king's honor: no matter how much
they abuse the royal blood, I will keep and maintain the royal army
in case they make no peace at the end of those fifteen
|"Her Letter to the citizens of Reims, 5 August
1429; Quicherat I, p. 246, trans. Wikipedia.
captive's family to ransom a prisoner of
. Unfortunately, Joan and her family lacked the financial
resources. Many historians condemn King Charles VII
for failing to intervene.
attempted several escapes, on one occasion jumping from her 70 foot
(21 m) tower in Vermandois to the soft earth of a dry moat, after which she
was moved to the Burgundian town of Arras.
English government eventually purchased her from Duke Philip of
Burgundy. Bishop Pierre
Cauchon of Beauvais, an English partisan, assumed a prominent role in
these negotiations and her later trial."Joan of Arc, Saint."
Encyclopædia Britannica. 2007. Encyclopædia Britannica Online
Library Edition. 12 September 2007
The trial for heresy
politically motivated. The Duke of Bedford claimed the throne of
France for his nephew Henry VI. She had been responsible for the
rival coronation so to condemn her was to undermine her king's
legitimacy. Legal proceedings commenced on 9 January
1431 at Rouen, the seat of
the English occupation government.
The procedure was
irregular on a number of points.
To summarize some major problems, the jurisdiction of judge Bishop
Cauchon was a legal fiction. He owed his appointment to his
partisan support of the English government that financed the entire
trial. Clerical notary Nicolas Bailly, commissioned to collect
testimony against Joan, could find no adverse evidence. Without
such evidence the court lacked grounds to initiate a trial. Opening
a trial anyway, the court also violated ecclesiastical law in
denying her right to a legal advisor. Upon the opening of the first
public examination Joan complained that those present were all
partisans against her and asked for "ecclesiastics of the French
side" to be invited.
The trial record demonstrates her remarkable intellect. The
transcript's most famous exchange is an exercise in subtlety.
"Asked if she knew she was in God's grace, she answered: 'If I am
not, may God put me there; and if I am, may God so keep me.'" The
question is a scholarly trap. Church doctrine held that no one
could be certain of being in God's grace. If she had answered yes,
then she would have convicted herself of heresy. If she had
answered no, then she would have confessed her own guilt. Notary
Boisguillaume would later testify that at the moment the court
heard this reply, "Those who were interrogating her were
stupefied." In the twentieth century George Bernard Shaw
would find this
dialogue so compelling that sections of his play Saint Joan
are literal translations
of the trial record.
Several court functionaries later testified that significant
portions of the transcript were altered in her disfavor. Many
clerics served under compulsion, including the inquisitor, Jean
LeMaitre, and a few even received death threats from the English.
should have been confined to an ecclesiastical
prison under the supervision of
female guards (i.e., nuns). Instead, the English kept her in a
by their own soldiers. Bishop Cauchon denied Joan's appeals to the
Council of Basel
and the pope,
which should have stopped his proceeding.
The twelve articles of accusation that summarize the court's
finding contradict the already doctored court record. The
illiterate defendant signed an abjuration
document she did not understand under threat of immediate
execution. The court substituted a different abjuration in the
was a capital crime only for a repeat
offense. Joan agreed to wear women's clothes when she abjured. A
few days later she was sexually
in prison. She resumed male attire either as a
defense against molestation or, in the testimony of Jean Massieu,
because her dress had been stolen and she was left with nothing
else to wear.
Eyewitnesses described the scene of the execution by burning
on 30 May 1431.
Tied to a tall pillar in the Vieux-Marche in Rouen, she asked two
of the clergy, Fr Martin Ladvenu and Fr Isambart de la Pierre, to
hold a crucifix
before her. A peasant also
constructed a small cross
which she put in the
front of her dress. After she expired, the English raked back the
coals to expose her charred body so that no one could claim she had
escaped alive, then burned the body twice more to reduce it to
ashes and prevent any collection of relics. They cast her remains
into the Seine.
executioner, Geoffroy Therage, later stated that he "...greatly
feared to be damned."
A posthumous retrial opened after the war ended. Pope Callixtus III
proceeding, also known as the "nullification trial", at the request
of Inquisitor-General Jean Brehal
Joan's mother Isabelle Romée. The aim of the trial was to
investigate whether the trial of condemnation and its verdict had
been handled justly and according to canon law. Investigations
started with an inquest by clergyman Guillaume Bouille. Brehal
conducted an investigation in 1452. A formal appeal followed in
November, 1455. The appellate process included clergy from
throughout Europe and observed standard court procedure. A panel of
theologians analyzed testimony from 115 witnesses. Brehal drew up
his final summary in June, 1456, which describes Joan as a martyr
and implicates the late Pierre Cauchon with
heresy for having convicted an innocent woman in pursuit of a
court declared her innocence on 7 July 1456.
Joan of Arc wore men's clothing between her departure from
Vaucouleurs and her abjuration at Rouen. This raised theological
questions in her own era and raised other questions in the
twentieth century. The technical reason for her execution was a
biblical clothing law. The nullification trial reversed the
conviction in part because the condemnation proceeding had failed
to consider the doctrinal exceptions to that stricture.
speaking, she was safe to
disguise herself as a page during a journey through enemy territory
and she was safe to wear armor during battle. The Chronique de
states that it deterred molestation while she was
camped in the field. Clergy who testified at her rehabilitation
trial affirmed that she continued to wear male clothing in prison
to deter molestation
. Preservation of chastity
was another justifiable reason for crossdressing: her apparel would
have slowed an assailant, and men would be less likely to think of
her as a sex object in any case.
She referred the court to the Poitiers inquiry when questioned on
the matter during her condemnation trial. The Poitiers record no
longer survives but circumstances indicate the Poitiers clerics
approved her practice. In other words, she had a mission to do a
man's work so it was fitting that she dress the part. She also kept
her hair cut short through her military campaigns and while in
prison. Her supporters, such as the theologian Jean Gerson
, defended her hairstyle, as did
Inquisitor Brehal during the Rehabilitation trial.
Joan of Arc's religious visions have interested many people. The
consensus among scholars is that her faith was sincere. She
identified Saint Margaret
as the source of
although there is some
ambiguity as to which of several identically named saints she
intended. Some Catholics regard her visions as divine
Analysis of her visions is problematic since the main source of
information on this topic is the condemnation trial transcript in
which she defied customary courtroom procedure about a witness's
oath and specifically refused to answer every question about her
visions. She complained that a standard witness oath would conflict
with an oath she had previously sworn to maintain confidentiality
about meetings with her king. It remains unknown to what extent the
surviving record may represent the fabrications of corrupt court
officials or her own possible fabrications to protect state
secrets. Some historians sidestep speculation about the visions by
asserting that her belief in her calling is more relevant than
questions about the visions' ultimate origin.In a parenthetical
note to a military biography, DeVries asserts:
"The visions, or their veracity, are not in themselves
important for this study. What is important, in fact what is key to
Joan's history as a military leader, is that she (author's
emphasis) believed that they came from God," p. 35.
Documents from her own era and historians prior to the twentieth
century generally assume that she was both healthy and sane. A
number of more recent scholars attempted to explain her visions in
psychiatric or neurological terms. Potential diagnoses have
. None of the
putative diagnoses have gained consensus support because, although
enthusiasm can be symptomatic of various
syndromes, other characteristic symptoms conflict with other known
facts of Joan's life. Two experts who analyze a temporal lobe
tuberculoma hypothesis in the medical journal
express their misgivings this way:
"It is difficult to draw final conclusions, but it
would seem unlikely that widespread tuberculosis, a serious
disease, was present in this 'patient' whose life-style and
activities would surely have been impossible had such a serious
disease been present."
In response to another such theory alleging that she suffered from
bovine tuberculosis as a result of drinking unpasteurized
milk, historian Régine Pernoud
wrote that if drinking unpasteurized milk could produce such
potential benefits for the nation, then the French government
should stop mandating the pasteurization of milk. Ralph Hoffman,
professor of psychology at Yale University, points out that visionary and creative states
including "hearing voices" are not necessarily signs of
mental illness and names her religious inspiration as a possible
exception although he offers no speculation as to alternative
Among the specific challenges that potential diagnoses such as
face is the slim
likelihood that any person with such a disorder could gain favor in
the court of King Charles VII. His own father, Charles VI, was
popularly known as "Charles the Mad," and much of the political and
military decline that France had suffered during his reign could be
attributed to the power vacuum that his episodes of insanity had
produced. The previous king had believed he was made of glass, a
delusion no courtier had mistaken for a religious awakening. Fears
that King Charles VII would manifest the same insanity may have
factored into the attempt to disinherit him at Troyes. This stigma
was so persistent that contemporaries of the next generation would
attribute to inherited madness the breakdown that England's King
was to suffer in 1453:
Henry VI was nephew to Charles VII and grandson to Charles VI. Upon
her arrival at Chinon the royal counselor Jacques Gélu
Contrary to modern stereotypes about the Middle Ages, the court of
Charles VII was shrewd and skeptical on the subject of mental
Besides the physical rigor of her military career, which would seem
to exclude many medical hypotheses, Joan of Arc displayed none of
the cognitive impairment that can accompany some major mental
illnesses when symptoms are present. She remained astute to the end
of her life and rehabilitation trial testimony frequently marvels
at her astuteness:
Her subtle replies under interrogation even forced the court to
stop holding public sessions. If her visions had some medical or
psychiatric origin then she would have been an exceptional
Brun de Charmettes
is the first historian who wrote Joan of
Arc's complete history in 1817, in an attempt to restore her family
fortunes from relapsed heretic name.His interest for Joan came at a
time when France was still struggling to define its new identity
after the Revolution
. The national
was in search of non
controversial heroes. A staunch prop to King and country, Joan of
Arc was an acceptable symbol to the monarchists. As a patriot and
the daughter of commoners, she was seen as one prototype of the
low-born volunteers (the soldats de l'an II
) who had
victoriously fought for revolutionary France in 1802 and as such
could be claimed by the Republicans. As a religious martyr, she was
also popular in the powerful Catholic community. De Charmette's
, today largely forgotten, was another attempt to
magnify the national ethos
as writers like Virgil
) had done for Rome and Portugal.
Hundred Years War
The Hundred Years' War continued for 22 years after her death.
Charles VII succeeded in retaining legitimacy as king of France in
spite of a rival coronation held for Henry VI in December 1431 on
the boy's tenth birthday. Before England could rebuild its military
leadership and longbow corps, lost during 1429, the country lost
its alliance with Burgundy at the Treaty of Arras
in 1435. The Duke of
Bedford died the same year and Henry VI became the youngest king of
England to rule without a regent; his weak leadership was probably
the most important factor in ending the conflict. Kelly DeVries
argues that Joan of Arc's aggressive use of artillery and frontal
assaults influenced French tactics for the rest of the war.
Joan of Arc became a semi-legendary figure for the next four
centuries. The main sources of information about her were
chronicles. Five original manuscripts of her condemnation trial
surfaced in old archives during the 19th century. Soon historians
also located the complete records of her rehabilitation trial,
which contained sworn testimony from 115 witnesses, and the
original French notes for the Latin condemnation trial transcript.
Various contemporary letters also emerged, three of which carry the
in the unsteady hand of a person
learning to write. This unusual wealth of primary source material
is one reason DeVries declares, "No person of the Middle Ages, male
or female, has been the subject of more study".
Joan of Arc came from an obscure village and rose to prominence
when she was barely more than a child, and she did so as an
uneducated peasant. The French and English kings had justified the
ongoing war through competing interpretations of the
thousand-year-old Salic law
. The conflict
had been an inheritance feud between monarchs. She gave meaning to
appeals such as that of squire Jean de Metz when he asked, "Must
the king be driven from the kingdom; and are we to be English?" In
the words of Stephen Richey, "She turned what had been a dry
dynastic squabble that left the common people unmoved except for
their own suffering into a passionately popular war of national
Richey also expresses the breadth of her
"The people who came after her in the five centuries since her
death tried to make everything of her: demonic fanatic, spiritual
mystic, naive and tragically ill-used tool of the powerful, creator
and icon of modern popular nationalism, adored heroine, saint.
She insisted, even when threatened with torture and faced with
death by fire, that she was guided by voices from God.
Voices or no voices, her achievements leave anyone who knows
her story shaking his head in amazed wonder."
In 1452, during the postwar investigation into her execution, the
Church declared that a religious play in her honor at Orléans would
qualify as a pilgrimage
. She became a symbol of the
16th century. Monsignor Félix
, Bishop of
from 1849 to 1878, led the effort for Joan's beatification
, but did not live to see it come
Joan of Arc's beatification finally came in 1909 - directly
following upon the passage of the 1905
French law on the Separation of the Churches and the State
the time considered a major blow to the Catholic Church's position
in French society. Her canonization
followed on 16 May
1920. Her feast day
is 30 May. As Saint
Joan of Arc, she has become one of the most popular saints of the
Roman Catholic Church.
Joan of Arc was not a feminist. She operated within a religious
tradition that believed an exceptional person from any level of
society might receive a divine calling. She expelled women from the
French army and may have struck one stubborn camp follower with the
flat of a sword. Nonetheless, some of her most significant aid came
from women. King Charles VII's mother-in-law, Yolande of Aragon,
confirmed Joan's virginity and financed her departure to Orléans.
Joan of Luxembourg, aunt to the count of Luxembourg who held
custody of her after Compiègne, alleviated her conditions of
captivity and may have delayed her sale to the English. Finally,
Anne of Burgundy
, the duchess of
Bedford and wife to the regent of England, declared Joan a virgin
during pretrial inquiries. For technical reasons this prevented the
court from charging her with witchcraft. Ultimately this provided
part of the basis for her vindication and sainthood. From Christine de Pizan
to the present, women
have looked to her as a positive example of a brave and active
Joan of Arc has been a political symbol in France since the time of
emphasized her humble origins.
support of the monarchy
conservatives recalled her nationalism. During World War II, both the Vichy Regime and the French Resistance used her image: Vichy
propaganda remembered her campaign against the English with posters
that showed British warplanes bombing Rouen and the
ominous caption: "They Always Return to the Scene of Their
Crimes." The resistance emphasized her fight against
foreign occupation and her origins in the province of Lorraine, which had fallen under Nazi
Three separate vessels of the French
have been named after her, including a helicopter carrier
currently in active
service. At present the controversial French far-right
political party Front National
holds rallies at her
statues, reproduces her likeness in party publications, and uses a
tricolor flame partly symbolic of her martyrdom as its emblem. This
party's opponents sometimes satirize its appropriation of her
image. The French civic holiday in her honor is the second Sunday
France and elsewhere, also use her as a symbol of inspiration,
often comparing the 1988 excommunication of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre
(founder of the Society of St. Pius X
and a dissident
against the Vatican II reforms), to her excommunication.
Alleged relics disproven
In 1867, a jar was found in a Paris pharmacy with the inscription
"Remains found under the stake of Joan of Arc, virgin of Orleans".
They consisted of a charred human rib, carbonized wood, a piece of
linen and a cat femur — explained as the practice of throwing
black cats onto the pyre of witches. They are now in the Museum of
Art and History in Chinon museum. In 2006, Philippe Charlier
, a forensic
scientist at Raymond
authorized to study the relics. Carbon-14
tests and spectrometry were
performed, and the results show that the remains come from an
Egyptian mummy from the sixth to the
third century BC.
The charred appearance comes from the
embalming substances, not from combustion. Large amounts of pine
pollen were also found, consistent with the presence of resin used
in mummification and some unburned linen was found to be similar to
that used to wrap mummies. The famous perfumers Guerlain
and Jean Patou
said that they could smell vanilla in the remains, also consistent
with mummification. Apparently the mummy was part of the
ingredients of Medieval pharmacopoeia
and it was relabelled in a time of French nationalism.
- Her name was written in a variety of ways, particularly prior
to the mid-19th century. See Pernoud and Clin, pp. 220–221. She
reportedly signed her name as "Jehanne" (see www.stjoan-center.com/Album/, parts 47 and 49; it is also noted in Pernoud and Clin).
- Andrew Ward (2005)
- Modern biographical summaries often assert a birthdate of 6
January for Joan. In fact, however, she could only estimate her own
age. All of the rehabilitation-trial witnesses likewise estimated
her age even though several of these people were her godmothers and
godfathers. The 6 January claim is based on a single source: a
letter from Lord Perceval de Boullainvilliers on 21 July 1429 (see
Pernoud's Joan of Arc By Herself and Her Witnesses, p. 98:
"Boulainvilliers tells of her birth in Domrémy, and it is he who
gives us an exact date, which may be the true one, saying that she
was born on the night of Epiphany, 6 January"). Boulainvilliers,
however, was not from Domrémy. The event was probably not recorded.
The practice of parish registers for non-noble births did
not begin until several generations later.
- DeVries, pp. 27–28.
- DeVries, pp. 15–19.
- Pernoud and Clin, p. 167.
- DeVries, p. 24.
- Pernoud and Clin, pp. 188–189.
- DeVries, pp. 24, 26.
- Pernoud and Clin, p. 10.
- DeVries, p. 28.
- Jacques d'Arc (1380–1440) was a farmer in Domremy who held the
post of doyen a local tax-collector and organiser of
village defenses. He married Isabelle de Vouthon (1387–1468),
called Romée, in 1405. Their other children were Jacquemin, Jean,
Pierre and Catherine. Charles VII ennobled Jacques and Isabelle's
family on 29 December 1429; the Chamber of Accounts registered the
family's designation to nobility on 20 January 1430. The grant
permitted the family to change their surname to du Lys.
- Condemnation trial, p. 37. (Accessed 23 March 2006)
- Pernoud and Clin, p. 221.
- Condemnation trial, pp. 58–59. (Accessed 23 March 2006)
- DeVries, pp. 37–40.
- Nullification trial testimony of Jean de Metz. (Accessed 12 February 2006)
- Oliphant, ch. 2. (Accessed 12 February 2006)
- Richey, p. 4.
- Vale, M.G.A., 'Charles VII', 1974, p. 55.
- Vale, M.G.A., 'Charles VII', 1974, p. 56.
- Histories and fictional works often refer to this man by other
names. Some call him count of Dunois in reference to a title he
received years after Joan's death. During her lifetime he preferred
Bastard of Orléans, which his contemporaries understood as an honor
because it described him as a first cousin of King Charles
VII. That name often confuses modern readers because
"bastard" has become a popular insult. "Jean
d'Orleans" is less precise but not anachronistic. For a short
biography see Pernoud and Clin, pp. 180–181.
- Perroy, p. 283.
- Pernoud and Clin, p. 230.
- DeVries, pp. 74–83
- Devout Catholics regard this as proof of her divine mission. At
Chinon and Poitiers she had declared that she would give a sign at
Orléans. The lifting of the siege gained her the support of
prominent clergy such as the Archbishop of Embrun and
Gerson, who both wrote supportive treatises immediately
following this event.
- DeVries, pp. 96–97.
- Nullification trial testimony of Jean, Duke of Alençon. (Accessed 12 February 2006)
- DeVries, pp. 114–115.
- DeVries, pp. 122–126.
- Lucie-Smith, pp. 156–160.
- DeVries, p. 134.
- These range from mild associations of intrigue to scholarly
invective. For an impassioned statement see Gower, ch. 4. (Accessed 12 February 2006) Milder examples are
Pernoud and Clin, pp. 78–80; DeVries, p. 135; and Oliphant, ch.
6. (Accessed 12 February 2006)
- DeVries, pp. 161–170.
- Judges' investigations 9 January – 26 March, ordinary trial 26
March – 24 May, recantation 24 May, relapse trial 28–29 May.
- The retrial verdict later affirmed that Cauchon had no right to
try the case. See also Joan of Arc: Her Story, by Regine
Pernoud and Marie-Veronique Clin, p. 108. The vice-inquisitor of
France objected to the trial on jurisdictional grounds at its
- Nullification trial testimony of Father Nicholas
Bailly. (Accessed 12 February 2006)
- Taylor, Craig, Joan of Arc: La Pucelle p. 137.
- Condemnation trial, p. 52. (Accessed 12 February 2006)
- Pernoud and Clin, p. 112.
- Shaw, "Saint Joan." Penguin Classics; Reissue edition (2001).
- Pernoud and Clin, p. 130.
- Condemnation trial, pp. 314–316. (Accessed 12 February 2006)
- Condemnation trial, pp. 342–343. (Accessed 12 February 2006) Also nullification
trial testimony of Brother Pierre Migier, "As to the act of
recantation, I know it was performed by her; it was in writing, and
was about the length of a Pater Noster." (Accessed 12 February 2006) In modern English
this is better known as the Lord's Prayer, Latin and English text
available here: (Accessed 12 February 2006)
- See Pernoud, p. 220, which quotes appellate testimony by Friar
Martin Ladvenu and Friar Isambart de la Pierre.
- Nullification trial testimony of Jean Massieu. (Accessed 12 February 2006)
- In February, 2006 a team of forensic scientists announced the
beginning of a six-month study to assess bone and skin remains from
a museum at Chinon and
reputed to be those of the heroine. The study cannot provide a
positive identification but could rule out some types of hoax
through carbon dating and gender determination. (Accessed 1 March 2006) An interim report
released 17 December 2006 states that this is unlikely to have
belonged to her. (Accessed 17 December 2006)
- Pernoud, p. 233.
- Nullification trial sentence rehabilitation. (Accessed 12 February 2006)
- Condemnation trial, pp. 78–79. (Accessed 12 February 2006)
22:5. (Accessed 22 March 2006).
- Nullification trial testimony of Guillaume de Manchon. (Accessed 12 February 2006)
- According to medieval clothing expert Adrien Harmand, she wore
two layers of pants (trousers in British-English) attached to the
doublet with 20 fastenings. The outer pants were made of a
boot-like leather. "Jeanne d'Arc, son costume, son armure."
(Accessed 23 March 2006)
- Condemnation trial, p. 78. (Accessed 12 February 2006) Retrial testimony of
Brother Seguin de Seguin, Professor of Theology at Poitiers, does
not mention clothing directly, but constitutes a wholehearted
endorsement of her piety. (Accessed 12 February 2006)
- Fraioli, "Joan of Arc: The Early Debate," p. 131.
- Condemnation trial, pp. 36–37, 41–42, 48–49. (Accessed 1
- Many of these hypotheses were devised by people whose expertise
is in history rather than medicine. For a sampling of papers that
passed peer review in medical journals, see ""I heard voices...":
From semiology, a historical review, and a new hypothesis on the
presumed epilepsy of Joan of Arc," d'Orsi G, Tinuper P,
Epilepsy Behav. August, 2006; 9(1):152–7. Epub 2006 5
June (idiopathic partial epilepsy with auditory
features); "Joan of Arc," Foote-Smith E, Bayne L,
Epilepsia. Nov-Dec, 1991; 32(6):810–5 (epilepsy); "Joan of
Arc and DSM III," Henker FO, South Med J. December, 1984;
77(12):1488–90 (various psychiatric definitions); "The schizophrenia of Joan of Arc," Allen
C, Hist Med. Autumn–Winter 1975;6(3–4):4–9
(schizophrenia). (Accessed 1 September 2006)
- "A historical case of disseminated chronic tuberculosis," Nores
JM, Yakovleff Y, Neuropsychobiology. 1995;32(2):79–80
(temporal lobe tuberculoma) (Accessed 1 September 2006)
- Pernoud, p. 275.
- Hoffman, "Auditory Hallucinations: What's It Like Hearing
Voices?" in HealthyPlace.com, 27 September 2003. (Accessed 12 February 2006)
- Pernoud and Clin, pp. 3, 169, 183.
- Nullification trial testimony of Dame Marguerite de Touroulde,
widow of a king's counselor: "I heard from those that brought her
to the king that at first they thought she was mad, and intended to
put her away in some ditch, but while on the way they felt moved to
do everything according to her good pleasure." (Accessed 12 February 2006)
- Histoire de Jeanne d`Arc by P.A Le Brun de
Charmettes-Tome1 Tome2 Tome3 Tome4
- DeVries, pp. 179–180.
- Pernoud and Clin, pp. 247–264.
- DeVries in "Fresh Verdicts on Joan of Arc," edited by Bonnie
Wheeler, p. 3.
- Richey, (Accessed 12 12 February 2006)
- She is the most requested saint profile at
Catholic.org. (Accessed 12 February 2006)
- Contrary to popular myth, the primary role of camp followers
was not prostitution. They performed support functions such as
laundry, cooking, and hauling. Female camp followers were often the
wives of soldiers. Some prostitution also took place. Byron C.
Hacker and Margaret Vining, "The World of Camp and Train: Women's
Changing Roles in Early Modern Armies". (Accessed 12 February 2006)
- The duke of Alençon reported seeing her break a sword against a
camp follower at Saint Denis. Her page Louis de Contes described
the event as happening near Chauteau-Thierry and insisted that it
was only a verbal warning. Nullification trial testimony. (Accessed 12 February 2006)
- These tests, which her confessor describes as hymen
investigations, are not reliable measures of virginity. However,
they signified approval from matrons of the highest social rank at
key moments of her life. Rehabilitation trial testimony of Jean
Pasquerel. (Accessed 12 March 2006)
- English translation of Christine de Pizan's poem "La Ditie de
Jeanne d'Arc" by L. Shopkow. (Accessed 12 February 2006) Analysis of the poem
by Professors Kennedy and Varty of Magdalen College,
Oxford. (Accessed 12 February 2006)
- Front National publicity logos include the tricolor flame and
reproductions of statues depicting her. The graphics forums at
Étapes magazine include a variety of political posters
from the 2002 presidential election. (Accessed 7 February 2006)
- Declan Butler. Joan of Arc's relics exposed as forgery,
Nature, 4 April 2007,
- Related history
- Catholic Encyclopedia: Bl. Joan of Arc
Jeanne d'Arc Centre biography and research.
- Jeanne-darc.dk Various materials including a complete
English translation of the rehabilitation trial transcript.
- Joan of Arc in the First World War by B.J.
Omanson, covers interest in Joan of Arc during the First World War.
- Joan of Arc Museum in Rouen, France.
- Britannica article on Joan of Arc
- A Stirring Icon of Girl Power: A Father and a
Daughter Follow the Trail of Joan of Arc, The Washington Post,
Steve Hendrix, Oct. 12, 2008
- Medieval Sourcebook: The Trial of Joan of Arc: The Trial
of Jeanne d'Arc, Translated into English, From the Original Latin
and French Documents, W. P. Barrett, Gotham House, Inc., 1932, fordham.edu
- Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven extensive biographical
- St. Joan
of Arc Center of Albuquerque, New Mexico; maintained by