Now, it’s likely you’ve heard of Joan of Arc before now. Joan rose through the ranks of infamy after multiple television shows, movies, and books. This folk legend gained something of mythic proportions. Yes, folk legend…she achieved THAT status.
Joan was a nobody. I mean, lower than a nobody. She was born to a peasant family, which put her in the hierarchy somewhere below cows and above fleas. However, God and his mysterious ways tends to choose the nobodies to do his bidding. Little peasant Joan seemed the good choice.
It was with this “divine” interference that Joan swept the French countryside and led this young teen to become…oh I don’t know…the general leading a massive army across France and into England.
She did that.
But this wasn’t a quick rise for her. No, little nobody Joan had to get in with the Court. Needless to say, the first time she petitioned, saying something along the lines of, “Hey guys…God sent me…I’m supposed to get rid of the English for you.”…they basically laughed her off the premises. Since we’re talking before restraining orders, she came back and got a couple of gullible guys to listen to her and amazingly enough, got herself in the door.
Joan knew she couldn’t just pop in with the whole, “I’m here to save the day” line, so she opted for telling them some strategic piece of information regarding their army on the front. So they waited, probably way too many days (damn lack of a postal system), and finally news came back from the front. Joan had been right.
But that’s all the Court needed. I mean, the French Court was a wreck at this point. The Hundred Years War had been well on its way for not even half that time yet, and they were in need of a little miracle.
A peasant miracle.
A badass woman who had the bravery (or was maybe more than a little off her rocker) to claim guidance from God.
This was right up the French Court’s alley. They had been losing, one battle after another for so long, I’m sure Dauphin Charles (the guy who ran stuff in France) was like, “Well, why the hell not.”
So she’s off. She’s tearing across the countryside at the head of an army, and they start to win. Again and again and again.
Now, Charlie boy starts getting worried. I mean, this war has turned into a religious machine really quick, and he’s got enemies. Big enemies. English enemies. God and the Devil all sound the same way, depending on who’s side your on. I mean, one second Joan is touched by God, and the next she’s a witch, a sorceress, and possessed. To try to stop this from happening (I mean, this chic was winning the war for him, he had to back her somehow), Charles sent some of his buddies to her home town to look into her character.
They all came back with the same thing: good Christian girl, wonderful morals, fantastic etiquette, beyond reproach, still on the market…
The only thing they didn’t include on her little list of attributes was: stubborn.
For a brief time, there was a truce of sorts. And poor Joan had gotten so far into the bloodshed and mayhem, she just couldn’t figure out what to do with her time. I mean, really, sit back and sew something? Right. I’m sure that’s just what she wanted to do.
Instead, she wrote some nasty letters, riled some people up, and got into a few tiny, little fights. It was one of those, when she refused to leave the battlefield, that she was captured. By the English.
Of course, they put her on trial, because by this point she was a political tool. It was the equivalent of two kids with a toy and the taller one holding it over the head of the other. “Nah nah nah nah, I got it and you can’t get it.”
They went through days of questioning her, trying to get her to admit to something, ANYTHING, they could use for their claims of heresy against her. She was bright though, and while continuing to claim that God spoke to her, she maneuvered the questions pretty skillfully. The English weren’t about to have that though, and some documents were altered and changed and they got her to sign things (when as a peasant, she couldn’t read), and eventually got their wonderful verdict. Guilty.
Here’s where it gets cool though. I mean, for people who wanted everyone to hold this woman in disbelief, the English not only burned her at the stake…
They burnt her ashes.
How badass do you have to be for the English to burn your ashes? I mean really.
Who’s scared of the ashes of some, possibly deranged, peasant girl?
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