Joan Of Arc Biography
Joan of Arc became a hero when people followed her blindly to victory. She attained her heroic qualities through magic, wisdom, and brute strength.
A person becomes a hero when their followers will follow them blindly to victory. Some people attain their heroic qualities through magic, wisdom, or brute strength. Joan of Arc, however, was not a hero for only these reasons; she was worshiped due to a past prophecy. Not long before Joan's arrival in the public's eye, a shaman named Marie Robine prophesized that a maiden from Orleans would "deliver the kingdom of France from the enemy."
Joan reverently claimed that God had sent her as a messenger. Since France was being repetitively beaten by the English in the Hundred Years War, any possibility that God might be on their side was a welcome omen. Had France been in a more prosperous period of time, chances are that the nobility would not have accepted Joan as a figurehead. Timing was a significant factor in Joan's quick rise to fame.
In 1412 Joan of Arc was born to parents Jacques Darc, and Isabelle Romé in Domrémy, France. When Joan was only thirteen years old, she started hearing relentless voices who commanded her to go speak to the Dauphin, Charles VII. Although Joan was uneducated, she knew that a child of her age would not be taken seriously pertaining to such serious matters as war, religion, and life. So Joan waited until she was seventeen years old before she went off to Chinon to meet with Charles. After a series of tests she allegedly proved herself to be sent from God, and was accepted with open hands by the king and his royal theologians.
Joan of Arc first appeared on the historical stage in 1429 during the Hundred Years War between England and France. Charles VII was not a strong leader, and his kingdom was sorely losing in the war. While the upper-class did not immediately see the defeats, the lower-class had to deal with the greedy English soldiers who felt it their duty to punish the peasants for being French. It was customary for English troops to raid villages, rape women, steal goods, and then burn the houses, leaving only the ashes. In such a time of despair, the people would follow anyone who claimed they could provide victory against English. When word came that a maid of Orleans needed an army, men quickly appeared.
Joan believed that her voices came from a number of saints, as well as God himself. Here in the 20th century some psychologists believe that these voices were an alter-ego or paranoid schizophrenia. Joan's temporary success was guaranteed by the religious aspects of French 15th century society. Any person who could display acts of prophecy, or clairvoyance was thought to be a conduit of the supernatural. The question most often posed was, 'is the source God or Satan?'
An example of this fear was when Joan first tried to convince Robert de Baudricourt, a French army captain, to send her to the Dauphin. After attempts of exorcism, and several supposed acts of telepathy, Robert sent Joan on her way. His parting words were "Go, go, and let come what may." He never truly believed in Joan, but if he was an obstacle for God's messenger, he feared he might burn in Hell.
Joan was unorthodox in an age where conformity was demanded: she wore men's clothes, spoke her mind, and claimed to have direct contact to God Himself. The French were initially more tolerant of Joan's differences. However, since her success was the English's demise, "her deeds were much detested in England".
If Joan's thoughts, impulses, and prophecies did not come from God, where did they come from? Somewhere, from someone, Joan had heard tales, had sampled legends, that gave her the kernel of her plot. A teenage girl's imagination can run wild when given the proper seed, however, there are no known accounts of anyone telling Joan about current affairs.
There have been past instances of such "brainwashing" that created powerful prophets. An example is Jean de Roquetaillade, who listened to the abbot Joachim of Fiore for many years, and was told wives-tales about the upcoming twelfth century. Roquetaillade then looked at the current political situation metaphorically and produced many prophecies.
When Joan attacked St. Denis against orders from King Charles VII, she was no longer a puppet, but a threat. In a metaphorical sense Joan was a threat to the Church as the Devil is a threat to God. In 1430 the Christian church started promoting the concept that ordinary magic was devil worship; an effective part of folk culture became heresy. In 1431 Joan was burned at the stake by the English. The people believed in the long established Church over Joan; people started to fear her as messenger from the Devil instead of God.
Symbols which had not long ago proved her pure, were now proving her demonic. This was long believed to be a sign of her pureness, lack of sexuality, yet during her trial, her enemies portrayed it as witchcraft. Any women capable of making men impotent, must have some sort of unexplainable powers which must be sent from the devil. In retrospect, people feared that which they did not understand. Freud probably would have felt that Joan was assaulting man's prize possession, his fertility.