Posted by: goodmorningmystic | January 11, 2012

Happy 600th Birthday, Joan!

Warrior, mystic, martyr.

It’s really difficult for a 21st century woman to understand how a young 17 year old peasant woman could have convinced the then uncrowned Charles VII, one of the claimants for the throne of France, to allow her to lead his army against the English.  She served in the French army for less than two years, just long enough to prevail on the battlefield and win Charles VII the French Crown.  Yes, things must have been very, very bad in France in 1429.  They needed a miracle.  They got one in Joan.

Born on Epiphany circa 1412 (or somewhere thereabouts, they didn’t keep birth records for non-nobles at this time in France), this 15th century woman received a message from St. Michael instructing her to go to the aid of France against the English during the later part of the Hundred Years War.   And so, after much effort to insert herself into the machinations of the French military leadership, Joan led several swift victories against the English which ultimately resulted in Charles VII’s coronation.  The matter of the disputed succession to the throne of France was finally settled.  You can imagine the enemies Joan made along the way, on both sides of the battle lines.  It was a mere matter of days after Charles VII’s coronation that Joan met her downfall. 

And so it was that Joan, or Jehanne as she signed her name, was captured on May 23, 1430, by members of the Burgundian camp during a minor skirmish.  I note that the Burgundian’s did not support Charles VII’s claim to the crown.  And so, since Charles VII did not provide ransom for the return of Joan, she was sold to the English government.  She was kept a prisoner in the men’s prison for nearly a year until she was tried for heresy and on May 30, 1431, burned as a heretic at Rouen, the seat of the English government.  Her crime had nothing to do with God or her claim to hear voices from the saints.  Her crime was a violation of papal law.  She had worn men’s clothes and armor on the battlefield. 

You see, warrior nuns posed such a problem in the fifteenth century that various popes established decrees against women engaging in martial combat in an attempt to weaken the power of the sisterhood.  It was a papal ban against women wearing armor that proved to be a technicality on which Joan was sentenced and burned to death when she was only 19 years of age.


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