10 facts about Joan of Arc that you might not know

1. Jeanne did not have the surname d’Arc

The people of Troyes hand over the keys to the city to the Dauphine and Joan of Arc. Miniature of the 15th century. Image: Wikimedia Commons

The name “Jeanne d’Arc” is familiar to everyone who knows the least bit of history. However, if you called the national heroine of France that way in a personal conversation, she would not understand who you are referring to.

The fact is that the name “d’Arc” Jeanne was assigned at least in the 19th century. In the French names of the 15th century, apostrophes were never used, and this led to many confusions between people and place names.

D’Arc means “from Arc”, but Jeanne was born and raised in the village of Domremy.

Her father, Jacques, was from Ark. And his last name may indeed have been Dark. Well, or Dars, Dai, Darks, Dare, Tark, Tart or Dart – in different sources it is mentioned in at least nine different forms. In the 15th century, the chroniclers did not bother too much with spelling, so we do not know exactly what the name of Jeanne’s parent was.

With Jeanne’s mother, too, not everything is simple: she could be called both Isabelle Rome and Isabelle de Vauton, and both surnames had different spelling variations. And Rome, strictly speaking, is not a surname, but a prefix that was attached to everyone who made a pilgrimage to Rome .

During the interrogation of the British, Jeanne generally stated that she did not know her last name. In the surviving documents of the 15th century, she signed simply Jehanne. This word and cross was the only thing she could write with her own hand, because she was illiterate. In conversation, the heroine called herself Jehanne la Pucelle, which means “the maiden Jeanne” or “the virgin Jeanne.”

2. Jeanne’s family was not poor

The house where Jeanne was born. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Traditionally, Joan of Arc is represented as a simple poor peasant girl who heard the voice of God. He ordered her to push back the regiments of the aggressive British from the borders of her native France. Jeanne went to the king, he gave her an army, and she became a commander and defender of France.

But this is a slightly incorrect version of events: in fact, the girl did not come from a poor family at all. Her father, Jacques, was a doyen , that is, the foreman of the village. He owned his own estate and 20 acres of land – farmland, meadows and even forest. In addition, Jacques served as a fiscal prosecutor who collected fines and taxes.

The annual income of Jeanne’s family was about 200 francs, and this was then a very significant amount.

Why is Jeanne presented as poor? Well, when a poor girl becomes a military leader, it’s cool. And if the same happens to a middle-class woman , the story becomes less exciting.

3. Jeanne was haunted by voices in her head

Jules Bastien-Lepage, The Vision of Joan of Arc (1879). Image: Wikimedia Commons

Around the age of 13, a simple girl Jeanne from Domremy began to hear the voices of the Archangel Michael, St. Catherine of Alexandria and the Great Martyr Margaret of Antioch. They persistently repeated that it was she who was destined to expel the English invaders from France (recall: at that time, the Hundred Years War dragged on for more than 80 years).

When Jeanne turned 16, she went to the local captain Robert de Baudricourt with a request to give her a detachment of knights to beat the British. For the first time, he slightly doubted the expediency of such measures and sent Jeanne home.

But a year later she returned, and the captain, impressed by her perseverance, helped her get to the very heir to the French throne.

Charles VII decided that an immaculate girl who heard the saints would be an excellent symbol for the French army. He ordered to give her armor, a horse and a banner. And away we go.

When someone today says that he hears voices, they begin to be viewed with suspicion. But in the Middle Ages it was considered normal. It’s just that either God and his messengers speak to you like that – then everything is in order, or Satan – but here everything is not healthy at all.

Modern neurologists believe that the source of the voices in Jeanne’s head was idiopathic partial epilepsy with an auditory disorder. This is a genetic disease that affects part of the brain and causes auditory hallucinations.

Jeanne mentioned that the voices of the saints sounded clearest in her head when she heard bells – according to neurologists from the University of Foggia and the University of Bologna, loud sounds are a trigger for patients with this disorder.

Another version, also allowed by historians: Jeannette had a banal schizophrenia .

4. Jeanne did not fight on the battlefield

Charles Leneuveux “Joan of Arc at the Siege of Orleans” (1886-1890). Image: Wikimedia Commons

Jeanne is often depicted galloping ahead of the French army and personally leading the soldiers into the attack . Some even imagine her as a military leader who personally developed plans to counter the British. But it is not.

Jeanne did not take part in the hostilities, limiting herself to the role of a symbol that rallied the French soldiers and reminded them that God was with them. She herself admitted this during interrogation by the British.

I loved my banner 40 times more than my sword. And when I went against my enemy, I carried only the banner so as not to kill anyone. I have never killed a person.

Joan of Arc

Some knights who allegedly knew Jeanne personally claimed that this girl was better than “the most experienced commander in leadership and building armies, in waging war.” And also “in handling the pike and placing artillery, she acted with prudence and insight.”

But historians believe that these noble French chevaliers simply exaggerated slightly in order to make their subjects believe in the invincibility and coolness of the Maid of Orleans. After all, the morale will obviously be higher when you are given orders not by some snickering nobles, but by a saint, through whose mouth the Lord himself speaks.

5. But she beat women of easy virtue

Jeanne chases away the prostitutes with a sword. Miniature from a manuscript by Martial d’Auvergne, circa 1484. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Although Zhanna did not take part in the hostilities, she still used weapons. She had two swords – just like the witcher Geralt. True, unlike the latter, she did not know how to use them. But she liked them because they were “great for delivering hard blows and thrusts.”

Jeanne received her first sword in the chapel of St. Catherine Fierbois. According to legend, it belonged to the hero of the Battle of Poitiers Charles Martell. The sword, it is true, was old and rusty, but it was cleaned for Jeanne.

This relic did not particularly prove itself in battle, but it helped to maintain the moral qualities and spiritual purity of the knights who swore allegiance to Jeanne.

For example, when the Maid of Orleans discovered that her warriors had brought two prostitutes to the camp, she beat the hapless sex workers with the flat of her sword so hard that the blade broke. This aroused personal dissatisfaction with King Charles VII, who remarked that it was inappropriate to treat sacred relics in this way. In addition, the Majesty expressed surprise: why beat women of easy virtue with a sword when a stick should be used for this purpose?

After the breakdown of the guns of St. Catherine Fierbois, Jeanne was given the sword of a certain Franca d’Arras, a Burgundian taken prisoner at the battle of Lagny. Apparently, the French decided that it was better to let the Maid of Orleans carry a weapon that would not be a pity to break.

In general, Jeanne’s conflicts with her army were not limited to the beating of prostitutes. She was mentioned to have had a rather irascible temper and yelled at the knights who used foul language, gambled , missed Mass, and did not live up to the high standards of the holy protectors of France enough.

In addition, she generously slapped the Scottish soldiers who stole food from the wagon train who had nailed to the army, and reprimanded the commanders of the French army for insufficient zeal during battles.

6 Jeanne Was Burned For Wearing Men’s Clothing And Attempted Suicide

Joan is captured by the Burgundians at Compiègne. Fresco in the Pantheon, Paris, c. 1886–1890 Image: Wikimedia Commons

Jeanne “commanded” the French troops for a little over a year. During the liberation of the city of Compiegne, besieged by the Burgundians, she was captured and sold to the British for 10,000 gold livres.

They began to decide how to get rid of it. It seems that you can’t execute – a prisoner of war. But it’s also somehow inconvenient to leave alive: after all, it is a symbol of French resistance. As a result, they decided to transfer it to the Inquisition for the trial of Pierre Cauchon, Bishop of Beauvais. He did not argue and quickly concocted accusations.

It is believed that Jeanne was burned for witchcraft, but in fact the claims of English justice against the Maid of Orleans were a little different.

At the beginning, 70 accusations were made, including the use of black magic. But after several months of investigation, the list was reduced to 12. The intention to convict Jeannette of witchcraft was abandoned, but they were accused of heresy.

The fact is that the saints in her head spoke French, which could not be : all reasonable people knew that they spoke exclusively in pure English with an Oxford accent. At least that’s what the Cardinal of Winchester thought, and he won’t say nonsense. So Jeanne is a heretic.

In addition, she violated divine law by wearing men’s clothes and cutting her hair short. She did this, according to historians, for two reasons. Firstly, for the convenience of traveling on horseback. And secondly, so as not to seduce with their appearance the French soldiers who were hungry in long campaigns for the attention of women.

In addition, Zhanna violated the covenant of honoring her parents by leaving her father’s house without their consent, and this is also a serious crime.

Paul Delaroche Interrogation of Joan by the Cardinal of Winchester (1824). Image: Wikimedia Commons

And finally, the maiden tried to escape by jumping out of the window of the Beaurevoir tower, in which she was tried. This reckless act was recognized as a suicide attempt – a terrible sin of despair, contrary to the Lord.

Naturally, Jeanne would not agree with all the points of the accusation, so they were not voiced. They read a paper to her, in which they promised: if she repents and apologizes to the holy Church, she will be forgiven and pardoned. Then Jeanne was given to sign this document, at the last moment replacing it with a confession on all counts of the accusation, and the illiterate maiden stuck a cross into it.

Because of all these offenses, as well as because of gullibility, superstition, idolatry, unwillingness to rely on the authority of the holy Church, and so on, Jeanne was sentenced to be burned and the judgment was immediately executed. This happened on May 30, 1431.

7. After the execution of Jeanne, her brothers gave her an impostor

Death of Joan of Arc at the stake, by Hermann Stilke (1843). Image: Wikimedia Commons

When it became known in France about the execution of Jeanne, rumors immediately spread that this was not true: well, they couldn’t burn the holy Virgin of Orleans like a witch without 5 minutes.

Therefore, many French willingly believed that she was alive, and some enterprising ladies took advantage of this. They called themselves Joan of Arc and begged money from everyone they met and crossed for a good mission – the salvation of France.

The most successful of these adventurers was a certain Claude des Armois. In the past, by the way, she even served in the Papal army in Italy, so the girl was very combative.

It should be mentioned that Jeanne d’Arc was not the only child in the family – the Middle Ages after all. It is known that she had at least three brothers and a sister. And so Claude des Armois went to Jeanne’s two older brothers, Jean and Pierre, and offered them to earn extra money.

The resurrected Maid of Orleans made a splash: commoners gathered in crowds to look at the savior of France, and, of course, left donations.

In addition, the woman was generously presented with such interesting personalities as Duchess Elisabeth of Luxembourg and Count Ulrich of Württemberg. This holiday of easy money lasted from 1434 to 1440.

But then the Inquisition became interested in the new Jeanne, and the impostor was tied to a pillory. True, when Claude tearfully repented, she was pardoned. It is known that later she married a certain wealthy gentleman and gave birth to two children.

8. Jeanne knew Bluebeard

Gilles de Laval, Sir de Re, companion of Joan of Arc, marshal of France. Painting by Eloi Firmin Feron (1835). Image: Wikimedia Commons

Just an interesting fact: one of the associates of the Maid of Orleans in her campaign against the British and the Burgundians was Marshal Gilles de Montmorency-Laval, Baron de Re . He served as bodyguard and commander of Jeanne’s militia.

This nobleman was not only a warrior, but also a noble erudite, the owner of a huge library and an alchemist. Maly tried to produce elixirs of youth and gold nuggets with the help of shark teeth, mercury and arsenic. It turned out or not, history is silent.

Sincerely devoted to Jeanne, after her capture and execution, Baron de Ré gave up on everything, retired to his castle Tiffauges and continued his research there.

In the process, he allegedly sacrificed between 150 and 800 children to Satan, and also killed several of his wives, who constantly poke their noses into his affairs. De Re was captured, accused of witchcraft, murder and heresy, and burned.

The story of Baron Gilles de Rais acquired numerous details and turned into a fairy tale about Bluebeard, which was later written down by Charles Perrault.

True, modern historians believe that he was innocent. Firstly, he could not kill several spouses, because he was married only once.

Secondly, no children’s remains were found in his castle of Tiffauges, although during the trial the prosecutors swore that the estate was littered with them to the very roof. And finally, the baron’s “confession” was pulled out only after several days of torture, so it can hardly be considered 100% sincere.

Most likely, Bluebeard was executed because of the money. Since shark teeth cost a pretty penny, Gilles owed the church, and his property was under collateral. When the baron could not pay his bills, the churchmen dealt with him in their own way. Severe medieval business.

9. For some time, an Egyptian mummy was mistaken for Jeanne.

Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, Joan of Arc at the Coronation of Charles VII (1854). Image: Wikimedia Commons

In 1867, in the attic of a Parisian pharmacy , a jar was found with the inscription “Remains found under the fire of Joan of Arc, Maiden of Orleans.” Inside was a charred human rib, a burnt piece of wood, a piece of linen, and a cat’s femur.

The church hastened to announce the find as the relics of the French Saint Jeanne.

The presence of cat bones in the dust was explained by the medieval practice of throwing this black animal into the fire to the witch – well, just for good luck.

But in 2006, scientists did radiocarbon dating and ruined all the fun. They found out that the owner of the relics died somewhere between the 7th and 3rd centuries BC, so it could hardly be Jeanne. In addition, the remains contained traces of tree resin used to embalm Egyptian mummies.

10 Members Of A Vietnamese Religious Cult Worship Jeanne As A Saint

Temple “Holy See” in Taining, the center of the Caodaist church. Image: Wikimedia Commons

It would seem, where is France – and where is Vietnam. However, Jeanne has fans in the far East. In Vietnam , there is a religion called Cao Dai, which is a mixture of Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, ancestor worship and Catholicism.

Kaodaists are calm guys who practice non-violence and practice meditation and séances to connect with the spirits of their ancestors.

In addition to Buddha and Confucius, they worship numerous saints who are considered the most worthy representatives of humanity. In the pantheon of Caodaists, Joan of Arc is revered on a par with Jesus Christ, Mohammed, Moses, Sun Yat-sen, Lenin, Shakespeare and Victor Hugo. And the Kaodaists also wanted to canonize Gorbachev, but then for some reason changed their minds.

The virgin is especially respected: it is believed that she received revelations directly from the spirit of Kaodai, the supreme deity of this religion.

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