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JOAN OF ARC: The 'Mad' Woman Who Inspired France

 The beautiful virgin who inspires us all today: Joan Of Arc


Joan of Arc, the Maid of Orleans, was the third child of parent Jacques d' Arc and Isabelle de Vouthon. She was born in a peasant's world and spent most of her life helping her parents in the farm.

At the age of twelve, it is said that Joan hear "voices" of St. Michael, St. Catherine, and St. Margaret of which she believed were sent from God. These voices told her that it was her divine mission to liberate her country from the English and help the dauphin gain the French throne. The voices also told Joan to cut her hair, dress in a man's uniform and to "pick up the arms."

Joan gained approval of the captain of the dauphin's forces the board of theologians who gave her troops to command and the rank of captain after she had passed the examination. Joan was a pious leader of her army - by the time her army had reached Orleans, she had every soldier in her army going to Mass and going to confessions. She considered the righteousness of her armies so important that she didn't want to stay in Orleans upon arrival, but wanted to stay with her army, "since they were all well confessed and repentant and of good will."

At the Battle of Orleans, in the May of 1429, Joan led the troops to a miraculous victory over the English. She continued fighting the English in other locations along Loire. Her troops were so feared that when Lord Talbot had learned she was approaching, the arm at Patay, most of the English troops and Commander Sir John Fastlofe fled the battlefield.

When Charles VII was crowned King of France on July 17, 1492 in Reims Cathedral. As for gratitude, Joan was given a place of honor next to the king during the coronation and was ennobled for her services to the country of France.

However, despite all the joyous events, Joan was captured by the Burundians in 1430 while defending Compeigne near Paris and was sold to the English. In return, the English handed Joan over to the Ecclesiastical Court at Rouen led Pierre Cauchon, to be tried for witchcraft and heresy. But, much of the blame to her wearing man's clothing. Joan was told that for a woman to wear men's clothing was a crime against God. She did not change for the voices hadn't told her change and because she needed the armor for protection against sexual abuse by jailors. Her determination was seen as a offense toward the English who finally decided her fate. Joan was convicted after fourteen month interrogation and on May 30, 1431 she was burned at stake in the Rouen market place. She was nineteen years old, and meanwhile all this happened, it said that Charles VII made no attempt to help or rescue her.

A second posthumous trial was held twenty-five years later and she was pronounced innocent of the charges which were pressed on to her. She was beatified in 1909 and canonized in 1920 by Pope Benedict XV.

 The voices that inspired Joan


Joan of Arc attributed her success to the hearing of "voices." Such "voices" led her to do the things that she did and in the way that she did them. Some believe these "voices" to be divinely inspired visions. But what are the scientific explanations for the "voices" of Joan of Arc?

There are at least 10 medical, psychological or behavioral theories.

Some have argued that Joan of Arc suffered from Meniere's disease. This is an ear problem that can cause dizziness and ear (auditory) confusion, sometimes taking the form of sounds similar to "voices."

Others maintain that Joan of Arc suffered from tinnitus. This is a common inner ear problem resulting in hissing or buzzing sounds in the ear that can on occasion resemble "voices."

Still others contend that Joan of Arc suffered from schizophrenia. Auditory hallucinations are common in schizophrenics.

Another view is that Joan of Arc was a psychopath -- and a pretty clever one at that. At her trial, she maintained her wits and poise through tortuous days of hostile cross-examination by skilled interrogators of the Inquisition. They constantly tried to trap her into an admission of guilt.

Yet another view is that Joan of Arc hallucinated on a form of LSD. This came about accidentally from eating contaminated grain. The fungus ergot grows on grains such as rye (Secale), barley (Hordeum) and wheat (Triticium). Poor storage of grain, a common occurrence in the Middle Ages, allowed ergot to thrive. Ergot was known as "mad grain" and "drunken rye" because of the hallucinations it caused. The psychoactive ingredient in ergot is a form of LSD (lysergic diethylamide). LSD would easily account for the "voices."

Yet still another view is that Joan of Arc only pretended to hear "voices." Supporters of this theory argue that she faked mental illness in order to gain favour from a sympathetic King Charles VII of France. The King's own father suffered from mental illness and was aptly known as "Charles the Mad."

In 1986, Dr. R.H. Ratnasuriya, a psychologist at the Bethlem Royal and Maudsley Hospital in London, argued in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine that Joan of Arc suffered from a form of tuberculosis that resulted in a tumour (tuberculoma) in the temporal region of her brain. Such a tumour can produce auditory hallucinations, thus explaining her "voices."

In response to this theory, later in 1986 and in the same journal, Dr. D.A. Moore, with the intriguing title of medical services director of the Scottish and Newcastle Breweries, dismissed the tuberculoma theory and instead offered one of his own. He voiced the view that Joan of Arc's "voices" was only one of several symptoms she exhibited. She also suffered profound ill health due to malnutrition (cachexia) and the absence of menstrual periods (amenorrhoea) also due to malnutrition. Thus, Dr. Moore concluded, Joan of Arc more than likely suffered from anorexia nervosa.

In 1991 in the journal Epilepsia, Drs. E. Foote-Smith and L. Bayne of the Department of Neurology at the University of California in San Francisco presented the theory that Joan of Arc suffered from epilepsy.

They write: "We suggest, based on her own words and the contemporary descriptions of observers, that the source of her visions and convictions was in part ecstatic epileptic auras and that she joins the host of creative religious thinkers suspected or known to have [had] epilepsy, from St. Paul and Mohammed to Dostoevsky, [and] who have changed western civilization."

The latest theory explaining Joan of Arc's "voices," but probably not the last, was put forward in 2004. Writing in the American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, Dr. Maggie Phillips, an Oakland, Calif., psychologist and author of Healing the Divided Self (1995) and Finding the Energy to Heal (2000), suggests that Joan of Arc suffered from "post-traumatic fragmentation" associated with post-traumatic stress disorder. This was due to child abuse, parental neglect and other terrifying experiences.

During the Hundred Years War in particular, life ranged from the horrible to the terrible as death, disease, disaster and destruction were everywhere. While the common folk suffered tragically and endlessly, not knowing what the fighting was really all about and never having "victory" clearly defined, their leaders merely repeated for more than 100 years, "Fight on, and on, and on, and on."

Source: National Post

IN a paper entitled "A Medico-psychological Revision of the Story of Jehanne La Pucelle" readbefore the Section of the History of Medicine of the Royal Society of Medicine on December 4, Dr. H. P. Bayon said that modern historians, by interpreting medieval religious conceptions according to the dictates of contemporary critical doctrines, have failed to examine the voices and visions of La Pucelle in their proper light and sequence. The first voices heard at the age of thirteen were, according to him, connected with endocrine activity tinged by intense religious fervour and could not be rightly diagnosed as morbid, even if they ranked as somewhat abnormal.

Joan leads her men into battle

Joan of Arc was NOT a lesbian. Let's get that clear right off the bat -- there's no evidence whatsoever of her sexual orientation.

What's more, she's one of the few people in history who had her virginity proven: the Queen of France and her Ladies, trying to determine if she was a fake, examined Joan and declared her "a virgin true and entire"! Even her enemies examined her, after she was captured, and as much as they would have loved to declare Joan a whore, they had to admit she was a virgin.

France ca. 1400 was in hell: the Hundred Years War with England, not to mention the Black Plague and general famine. The King of France had gone mad and slain some of his nobles. The Queen took over and began sleeping with his brother.

When the brother was assassinated, she ended up sleeping with the assassin -- a rival Duke who was in cahoots with the English! She disowned her son the Dauphin, declaring him a bastard, and signed a treaty handing France over to the English.

Joan was born in a village just outside of France. When she was a teenager she began having visions and hearing voices whom she identified as St. Michael, St. Catherine, and St. Margaret. She took a vow of virginity, which was not merely a renunciation of sexual pleasure, for a woman it was an essential declaration of freedom from control and domination by men.

Her Voices then told her to go save the city of Orleans which was besieged by the English and to take the Dauphin to be crowned King of France at Rheims.

Miraculously, she did it.

 The capture

Wearing men's clothes because she was doing men's work, as a disguise, and because it helped her fend off groping guys, she went to the Dauphin and picked him out of a crowd where he was hiding to test her. She was able to raise the eight-month-old siege of Orleans in four days. Under her inspiration, the heretofore useless French army conquered its way to Rheims, where the Dauphin, who might best be described as a loser, a wimp, and an ingrate (he had prudently kept away from the battles), was crowned.

Dumped by the King once he was crowned, Joan was ultimately captured by the English.

They needed to prove she was a witch, so they could say all she had accomplished against them was Satan's doing instead of God's will. When they burned her at the stake she was 19 years old.

At least she got to wear a fabulous hat, which said "heretic, relapsed, apostate, idolater".

 The trial by the corrupt


Joan was taken to prison, where she would await trial. Since she was going to be tried in an ecclesiastical court, Joan should have been held in a church prison, guarded by women. Instead, she was shackled in leg irons and thrown in a military prison, surrounded by hostile men. Joan insisted on keeping her men’s clothes, in part to demonstrate loyalty to the voices of “God and the angels” above obedience to worldly authorities, and in part because in this attire she felt less vulnerable to sexual assault by male guards. This insistence on cross-dressing led to her eventual demise.

Her trial began on January 9, 1431, and was engineered by Pierre Cauchon, a toady of the Anglo-Burgundians. With a jury of corrupt clergy and a trial paid for by the English government, officials sought to discredit Joan with an accusation of heresy. On May 24, after a long, grueling trial, Joan was threatened with summary execution. Sick and terrified, she relented and signed a “confession”—and also agreed to wear a dress.

But the devious Cauchon had manufactured a trap. After suffering several rape attempts by her guards as well as by a lord, Joan was stripped of her dress and given back her forbidden men’s clothes. She was forced to either remain naked or recommit the crime of wearing men’s clothing. She chose the latter and was convicted of being a “relapsed heretic.” She was sentenced to death by burning.

Source: woatv

 Joan of Arc when Charles became king of France

There is no logical explanation for Joan's abilities on the field of battle. No one, except those that have been there can speak of the incredible horrors and depravities that the senses of the combatants of war are exposed to on such a grand and monumental scale during actual battle action. Normal people will see the first morbid sight before them and freeze in terror, and perhaps run screaming from the field. Imagine then, the experiences of Joan of Arc , a teenaged girl watching these types of events unfurl around her. Take into consideration the factor that Joan had no military training and the fact that physical strength was a huge obstacle for her when fighting bigger, stronger, professional male soldiers with much experience in the art of swordsmanship and slaying of soldiers of opposing armies. Just the swords used in Medieval times alone weighed many pounds and must have been almost debilitating and exhausting enough to carry on horseback over many miles much less to swing and cut into steel armour and bone and more so when the same is swinging a sword back at you. It is both frightening and awe inspiring to envision a teenage female in a time when women were kept in servitude to men and held as possessions by their husbands on a battlefield with the option of leaving, voluntarily staying and actively participating, and winning hand to hand battles with men stronger and more accustomed to the homicidal tasks at hand.

Source: bookrags


On May 30, 1431, Joan of Arc was executed in the square at Rouen. Eyewitnesses say she listened quietly to a sermon. Then, weeping, she asked forgiveness for her accusers. Most of the judges and a few of the English soldiers and officials were sobbing by the end of her speech. Still, they tied her to a pillar in the center of a woodpile and lit a fire beneath her. A Dominican monk held up a crucifix for her to look at as the flames engulfed her. She screamed the name of Jesus several times before her head dropped to her chest. Joan was 19 years old when she died.


Both the free french armies and the Nazis used Joan for their propaganda aims. De Gaulle used the cross of Lorraine on the flag of Free France. The Nazi propaganda machine hinted that the English were going to invade France again.

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1 Comment:

Ben D. Kennedy said...

I have never before seen the picture you posted of Joan's capture. I was wondering if you had any details about this painting like who the artist was and when it was painted. Thanks!

Ben D. Kennedy

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