SOPHIA OF WISDOM III - JOAN OF ARC
DECEMBER 8, 2006
LIBRARY OF SOPHIA OF WISDOM III
SOPHIA OF ALL SOPHIA
CAROLINE E. KENNEDY_____________________
JOAN OF ARC
DAUGTHER OF GOD
Daughter of God:
The Real Story of Joan of Arc
At the church of Mary Magdalen at Rennes-le-Chateau,
there is a curiously neglected statue. It is obviously the work of the same Marseilles craftsman who created all of the works
which dominate the church's interior, yet it is essentially abandoned. It is stored on a patio outside the Villa Bethania,
exposed to the elements. Paint cracks and peels from it, and tourists have seemingly chipped off bits of it as souvenirs.
It is a statue of that intrinsically French saint, Joan of Arc.
When we visited the church, the tour guide could not
satisfactorily explain to us why this particular statue has been exiled to this seemingly insignificant location. Neither
did she know if it was ever originally within the church, or indeed anything whatsoever of its original whereabouts. This
statue is a genuine anomaly. It is a piece of history relegated to insignificance in a place where virtually everything is
perceived to be pregnant with potential significance. How did this statue, which, even in its present state of decay, retains
the essence of its original beauty and elegance, come to attain such a poor status in relation to the other objects within
the church? It is very curious.
Another question might be: “What relationship can be shown to exist between
Saint Jean and what is known of the Rennes-le-Chateau mystery?” In fact, there are quite a few connections, but to explore
them in any meaningful manner entails a reevaluation of Joan of Arc and her legacy. The standard notion that she was a young
girl who heard voices (and may have been crazy) seems very inadequate. Even the most superficial inquiries into the life of
Joan of Arc indicate that her real story has never been revealed. Her relationship with the prominent Angevin Grail dynasty
suggests that there is much more than meets the eye.
For ages before the appearance of Joan of Arc on history's timeline,
there was a popular tale in French folklore that in the nation's darkest hour, “The Maiden of Orleans” would appear,
unite its citizens and vanquish its foes. So popular was the legend that certain leaders attempted to manufacture such "Maidens"
to serve their own ends. Invariably, a skeptical public saw through such ploys, and all of these attempts came to naught.
Until Joan came along.
Most tellings of the story of Joan of Arc don't begin to reveal the full extent of how she
was perceived in France in her day. She was thought to be the “Daughter of God”, a sort of feminine French Christ
sent to Earth by the primordial patriarch to save the monarchy of France. Pretty wild stuff, but not at all inconsistent with
what you would expect of an Angevin/Merovingian conspiracy. René de Anjou's ancestors were masters at manipulating archetypes
and reviving old myths with new emanations. Also, both René and Joan were so close that many presumed them to be lovers.
more recent times, an ancestor of René d'Anjou was said to have been married to a woman named Melusine who was half-serpent,
half-human. This is an obvious recapitulation of the cabalistic tradition which states that Cain's mother Lillith was also
a mix of serpent and human. René's distant ancestor Jesus Christ seems to have had a very conscious strategy to fulfill Messianic
prophecy, detail by detail. A prophecy existed promising a Messiah, and a man appeared who embodied that prophecy, or certainly
appeared to. He wasn't the first of his bloodline to recycle old myths and present himself as their embodiment, nor was he
the last. Just as Christ had reconstituted the myth of Osiris, Joan of Arc has, in a way, reconstituted the myth of Christ.
She was the “Daughter of God”, sent to save her people. Had all not gone awfully awry, she would have been worshipped
as a living goddess. In fact, her martyrdom, which she wholeheartedly embraced, lead to essentially the same result. The real
question in all of this seems to be: “To what extent was Joan consciously aware of the process in which she was involved?”
As an illiterate girl of age 19, she exhibited a cleverness above and beyond that of her learned prosecutors and judges.
She was glib, enigmatic, and poetic whilst facing her accusers. They tried repeatedly to trick her and trap her, yet repeatedly
she out-thought them. How does a simple peasant girl become a master of rhetoric, a victor in debates with scholars conversant
in Hebrew, Latin, Greek, and Old English? Was she divinely inspired or simply well-tutored?
No one disagrees that
Joan's tutor and mentor was René d'Anjou's mother Iolande. As asserted in Holy Blood, Holy Grail:
“It was Iolande
who provided the feeble, weak-willed Dauphin with incessant transfusions of morale. It was Iolande who inexplicably appointed
herself Joan's official patroness and sponsor. It was Iolande who overcame the court's resistance to the visionary girl and
obtained authorization for her to accompany the army to Orleans. It was Iolande who convinced the Dauphin that Joan might
indeed be the savior that she claimed to be.”
Iolande de Bar was held in such high regard that the Dauphin immediately
married her daughter. The influence of Iolande cannot be overestimated. Her impact on the politics of France (and in turn,
Europe) is undeniable.
The most difficult aspect of the Joan of Arc story is trying to ascertain the degree to which
she may have been a mere pawn of the Angevins, and the degree to which she was a conscious and willing co-conspirator. There
are, of course, compelling arguments on either side. But for a dynastic family so obsessed with blood, does it seem likely
that they would choose an obscure peasant to occupy a position with such potential politico/religious authority? Of course
not. Joan of Arc must surely have been a natural Angevin (i.e., illegitimate.) It is altogether possible that Joan was the
bastard offspring of René's father, who was the Duke of Bar, where René was born. This would make René and Joan brother and
sister. We needn't belabor the archetype of the divine couple as brother and sister. (Isis and Osiris are the most obvious
example.) Could it be at all possible that, had not everything gone hopelessly awry, Joan and René might have married and
become the focus of a new national cult in France? Ponder it for a second: René was a descendant of Lohengrin, Godfroi de
Bouillon, and ultimately of Christ. Joan was perceived as the Savior of France, sent directly by God. Such a couple would
have been viewed as a modern Adam and Eve: a divine couple whose offspring would be divinely ordained to rule. The monarchical
ideal would have been born anew.
But history is messy business, and things don't always go according to plans. In
the France of Joan, René and Charles VII, Catholic and British influences were seen as being threatened; so the Brits and
Rome garnered their cumulative forces to crush the threat. Joan of Arc was the symbolic “heart” of the French
nation. France, used to the tradition of the French national goddess Marianne, as well as the Magdalen cult, saw Joan as an
emanation of the French spirit, of their very race-soul. Therefore, she and her influence had to be brought to a halt and
discredited. Otherwise Rome and Britain stood no chance. They would have been defeated by a young girl perceived to be the
embodiment of an eternal ideal. Their only recourse was to demonize her and label her a heretic, or to entice her into their
fold and convince her to recant, to deny her past proclamations. But Joan was a tough nut to crack. She told her inquisitors
that even should they “separate [her] soul from her body”, she would not recant. Her judges, learned and scholarly
men all, felt impotent in the face of this bizarre young woman. So strong was her will, her belief, that she refused to give
The transcripts of her trial (never accurately reflected in modern films about Joan) reveal the true modus
operandi of these court sessions. It is not a trial of a heretic, it is a trial in which one historical tradition is being
brushed by another. It is, yet again, the bloodline of the Grail being suppressed by orthodoxy. It is France being subjugated
by Britain and Rome. What one immediately notices in the testimony of Joan at her trial is how closely her responses seem
to match those of the Templars and Cathars tried for heresy. She is asked essentially the same types of questions, and her
answers are at times so identical as to match word for word. When accused of having been sent by the Devil, Joan replied:
“No, it was you who were sent by the Devil, to torture me.” Interestingly, many years later, another woman related
to the Angevins gave a very similar response in a trial related to the attempted overthrow of Louis XIV's monarchy. She was
the Duchess de Bouillon, and when a magistrate inquired as to whether or not she had ever seen the Devil, she stared him in
the face and replied: “I'm looking at him now.”
A true window into Joan's history can be glimpsed in the
remarkable Carl Dreger film, The Passion of Joan of Arc. This is a film that was thought to be forever lost, and then was
“miraculously” rediscovered. All known copies of the movie had, like Joan herself, been “destroyed by fire.”
Then, in 1981, a negative of the film was discovered in (of all places) a Norwegian mental institution. The film is most well-known
perhaps for its use of “Theatre of Cruelty” advocate Antonin Arteau, acting as a monk. But this is the film's
least compelling offering, although Arteau gives a brilliant performance. The most compelling aspect of the film is that it
documents the trial of Joan word for word, based on manuscripts still held at a library in Paris. As the film opens, it proclaims
these manuscripts to be the “most important” documents in the history of the
but “most” important? Is someone trying to convey the idea that the Joan of Arc drama represented a crossroads
in history? One in which the True Faith was (yet again) suppressed by
orthodoxy? It certainly seems likely.
notices in the title sequence that certain members of Jean Cocteau's inner circle seem to be involved in some capacity, for
we see the names of Jean Hugo and Valentine Hugo. Mr. Hugo was a close associate of Cocteau, and son of the Priory of Sion's
former Grand Master, Victor Hugo, whose time in office immediately preceded that of Cocteau himself. In fact, the whole film
seems to emanate the Priory of Sion ethos. That Catholics are all fat, debauched, decadent, and have faces covered with ugly
warts. Joan represents the French race-soul as it should be: pure and unyielding.
The upshot of the narrative is never
that she was a heretic, but that she refused to submit to the authority of Rome, that one who experiences a direct connection
with God has no need of the Church. This was also the message, essentially, of the German mystic Meister Eckart, who proclaimed
that God lives in and through all things; therefore, to experience communion with God required no church and no priesthood.
Eckart's fate, not surprisingly, was not much different than Joan's. He too was a mystic, a visionary, and a prophet far beyond
his times. In consequence, he is remembered as a heretic and not a saint. Joan, in fact, received sainthood, as did other
key Merovingian “heretics” such as King Dagobert II. The Church, recognizing the futility of opposing public opinion,
attempted to incorporate all that they couldn't entirely expunge from public memory. This is by no means anything new.
building of cathedrals on ancient pagan holy sites was an early example, as was the co-opting of ancient holidays. Right or
wrong, the Church knows what it's doing, just as it knew that Joan of Arc was a viable threat. Here was the “Virgin
of Orleans”, a warrior and a reputed “Daughter of God”, a French Christ in feminine form. Given the proper
circumstances, a figure of this magnitude might well have overshadowed the Church of Rome. She could have made France (and
not Rome) the focal point of global religion, and indeed, the center of the world.
Was Joan a mere pawn of the Angevins,
or a conscious co-conspirator? We opt for the latter, because Joan was always conscious of the bigger picture, and fanatical
in her devotion to her ideals. She embraced her martyrdom, as Christ did his, understanding full well that she would exercise
far more power living on as an ideal than she ever could in the course of her day-to-day life. She told her accusers that
she would win a “great victory” over them. A monk, preparing her for death at the stake, inquired as to what had
happened to the “great victory” her God had promised her. Where was it now? Unhesitatingly, she replied: “My
martyrdom.” And she was correct.
Joan of Arc, or Jeanne d'Arc in French, (c. 1412 – May 30, 1431) also known as "the Maid of Orleans", was a 15th century virgin saint and national heroine of France. She led the French army to several important victories and led king Charles VII to his coronation. She was captured by the English and tried by an ecclesiastical court led by Bishop Pierre Cauchon, an English partisan; the court convicted her of heresy and she was burned at the stake by the English when she was nineteen years old. Twenty-four years
later, the Vatican reviewed the decision of the ecclesiastical court, found her innocent, and declared her a martyr. She was beatified in 1909 and canonized as a saint in 1920.
Joan asserted that she had visions from God that told her to recover her homeland from English domination late in the Hundred Years' War. The uncrowned King Charles VII 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.
The renewed French confidence outlasted her own brief career. She refused to leave the field
when she was wounded during an attempt to recapture Paris that autumn. Hampered by court intrigues, she led only minor companies from then onward and fell
prisoner at a skirmish near Compiègne the following spring. A politically motivated trial convicted her of heresy. The English regent John of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Bedford had her burnt at the stake in Rouen. She had been the heroine of her country at 17 and died when only 19 years old. Some 24 years
later, Pope Callixtus III reopened the case, and a new finding overturned the original conviction. Her piety to the end
impressed the retrial court. She was beatified in the 20th century, and Pope Benedict XV canonized her on May 16, 1920.
She has remained an important figure throughout 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, Voltaire, Schiller, Verdi, Tchaikovsky, Twain, and Shaw. Depictions of her continue in film, television, song, and dance.
The historian Kelly DeVries describes 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 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
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 Fearless, 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 towns. The future French king, Charles VII, assumed the title of Dauphin 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
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 England, 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. The 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. Its 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.
- See also: Name of Joan of Arc
Her birthplace is now a museum. The village church where she worshipped is on the right
behind the trees.
Joan of Arc's parents' names were Jacques d'Arc and Isabelle Romée in Domrémy, a village which was then in the duchy of Bar (and later annexed to the province of Lorraine and renamed Domrémy-la-Pucelle). Her 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 St. Michael, St. Catherine, and St. Margaret told her to drive out the English and bring the Dauphin to Reims for his coronation.
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 near Orléans.
Ruin of the great hall at Chinon where she met King Charles VII. The castle's only remaining intact tower has also become a museum
dedicated to her.
Robert de 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. He then ordered background inquiries and a theological examination
at Poitiers to verify her morality. During this time Charles's mother-in-law Yolande of Aragon was financing a relief expedition to Orléans. Joan petitioned for permission to travel with the army and wear the equipment of a knight. She
depended on donated items for her armour, 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:
years of one humiliating defeat after another, both the military and civil leadership of France were demoralized and discredited.
When the Dauphin Charles granted Joan’s urgent request to be equipped for war and placed at the head of his army, his
decision must have been based in large part on the knowledge that every orthodox, every rational, option had been tried and
had failed. Only a regime in the final straits of desperation would pay any heed to an illiterate farm girl who claimed that
the voice of God was instructing her to take charge of her country’s army and lead it to victory.
|"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.|
She arrived at the siege of Orléans on 29 April 1429, but Jean d'Orléans, 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 war." In either case, historians agree that the army enjoyed remarkable success during her brief career.
The inner keep at Beaugency is one of the few surviving fortifications from Joan's battles. English defenders retreated to
the tower at upper right after the French breached the town wall.
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 Tourelles" 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, trans. Wikipedia.|
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 and 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.
Reims cathedral, traditional site of French coronations. The structure had additional spires prior to a 1481
The army recovered Jargeau on 12 June, Meung-sur-Loire on 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 could 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.
The 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
why she was more lucky than skilled: 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
|"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 for the political blunders that followed the coronation.
The tower in Rouen, where she was imprisoned during her trial, has become known as the Joan of Arc tower. During
one of her escape attempts, she leaped from a different tower, probably of similar construction.
After 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 skirmish on May 23, 1430 led to her capture. When she ordered a retreat, she assumed the place of honor as the last to
leave the field. Burgundians surrounded the rear guard.
|"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 days."|
|"Her Letter to the citizens of Reims, 5 August 1429; Quicherat I, p. 246, trans. Wikipedia.|
It was customary for a captive's family to ransom
a prisoner of war. Joan and her family lacked the financial resources. Many historians condemn Charles VII for failing to intervene. She 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. The
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. 
- See also: Trial of Joan of Arc
Joan's trial for heresy was 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. In 1456, Pope Callixtus III declared her innocent of the heresy
charges brought against her.
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. Under Inquisitorial guidelines, Joan should have been confined to an ecclesiastical prison under the supervision of female guards (i.e., nuns). Instead, the English kept her in
a secular prison guarded 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 official record.
A modern church in Joan's honor stands on the site of her execution in Rouen.
Heresy 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 assaulted 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 on 30 May 1431. Tied to a tall pillar, she asked two of the clergy, Martin Ladvenu and 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. The executioner, Geoffroy Therage, later stated that he "...greatly feared to be damned."
A posthumous retrial opened after the war ended. Pope Callixtus III authorized this proceeding, also known as the "nullification trial", at the request of Inquisitor-General
Jean Brehal and 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 secular vendetta. The court declared her innocence on 7 July 1456.
Joan at the coronation of Charles VII, by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres (1854), is typical of attempts to feminize her appearance. Note the long hair and the skirt around
Joan 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.
Doctrinally 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 la Pucelle 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 and rape. 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.
Jeanne d' Arc, by Eugene Thirion (1876). Late 19th century images such as this often
had political undertones because of French territorial cessions to Germany in 1871. (Chautou, Church of Notre Dame)
Joan's religious visions have interested many people. The consensus among scholars is that
her faith was sincere. She identified St. Margaret, St. Catherine, and St. Michael as the source of her revelations although there is some ambiguity as to which of several identically named saints she intended.
Some Catholics regard her visions as divine inspiration.
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. 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 included epilepsy, migraine, tuberculosis, schizophrenia, and Meniere's disease. None of the putative diagnoses have gained consensus support because, although hallucination and religious 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 Neuropsychobiology
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."
Historian Régine Pernoud was sometimes sarcastic about speculative medical interpretations.
In response to another such theory alleging that she suffered from bovine tuberculosis as a result of drinking unpasteurized milk, Pernoud wrote that if drinking unpasteurized milk can 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 causes.
Among the specific challenges that potential diagnoses such as schizophrenia face is the slim
likelihood that any person with such a disorder could gain favor in the court of Charles VII. This king's 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 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 Henry VI 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
should not lightly alter any policy because of conversation with a girl, a peasant... so susceptible to illusions; one should
not make oneself ridiculous in the sight of foreign nations....
Contrary to modern stereotypes about the Middle Ages, the court of Charles VII was shrewd and
skeptical on the subject of mental health.
Besides the physical rigor of her military career, which would seem to exclude many medical
hypotheses, she 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:
they [the judges] turned from one question to another, changing about, but, notwithstanding this, she answered prudently,
and evinced a wonderful memory.
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 case.
- Further information: Alternative historical interpretations of Joan of Arc, Cultural depictions of Joan of Arc, Canonization of Joan of Arc
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 and his weak leadership were probably the most important factors 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 became a semi-legendary figure for the next four centuries. One of the many legends that
has circulated about her, though unsubstantiated, is that she was miraculously spared from feeling the actual pain of the
fire during her execution, and died a physically, as well as spiritually peaceful death. However, the best known film and
stage dramatizations of her life clearly show her experiencing at least some pain at the time of the execution, with the notable
exception of Shaw's play Saint Joan, but that is only because the burning takes place offstage in the play—it is shown in the 1957 Otto Preminger film version with Jean Seberg.
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 signature "Jehanne" 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".
She dictated her letters. Three of the surviving ones are signed.
She 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. 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 liberation." Richey also expresses the breadth of her subsequent appeal:
- 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 meriting an indulgence. She became a symbol of the Catholic League during the 16th century. Félix Dupanloup, bishop of Orléans from 1849 to 1878, led the effort for Joan's beatification, but did not live to see it come about.
Her beatification finally came about in 1909 - directly following upon the passage of the 1905 French law on the Separation of the Churches and the State, at 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. She has become one of the most popular saints of the Roman Catholic Church.
Joan 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. 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 female.
Joan has been a political symbol in France since the time of Napoleon. Liberals emphasized her humble origins. Early conservatives stressed her support of the monarchy. Later 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 control. Traditional Catholics, especially in France, 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 Joan's excommunication. Three separate vessels
of the French Navy 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 of May.
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. The Catholic Church recognized them
and they are now in a Chinon museum.
In 2006, Philippe Charlier, a forensic scientist at Raymond Poincaré Hospital (Garches) was 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. Apparently the mummy was part of the ingredients of Medieval pharmacopeia and it was relabelled in a time of French nationalism.