Thursday, June 27, 2013

Brief Reflections on the Life and Death of Joan of Arc.

"I am not Afraid. I was born to do this." - Joan of Arc.

"No person of the Middle Ages, male or female, has been the subject of more study." (DeVries in "Fresh Verdicts on Joan of Arc", edited by Bonnie Wheeler)

"Consider this unique and imposing distinction. Since the writing of human history began, Joan of Arc is the only person, of either sex, who has ever held supreme command of the military forces of a nation at the age of seventeen." - Louis Kossuth. 

"Joan was a being so uplifted from the ordinary run of mankind that she finds no equal in a thousand years." - Winston Churchill.

" to the Christ, the highest spiritual being of whom we have any exact record upon this earth is the girl Jeanne" - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

"Whatever thing men call great, look for it in Joan of Arc, and there you will find it." 
- Mark Twain. 

"The history of this woman brings us time and again to tears." - Jules Michelet-19th Century French Historian. 

In her own words:
"I was thirteen when I had a Voice from God for my help and guidance. The first time that I heard this Voice, I was very much frightened; it was mid-day, in the summer, in my father's garden. I had not fasted the day before. I heard this Voice to my right, towards the Church; rarely do I hear it without its being accompanied also by a light. This light comes from the same side as the Voice. Generally it is a great light. Since I came into France I have often heard this Voice. … If I were in a wood, I could easily hear the Voice which came to me. It seemed to me to come from lips I should reverence. I believe it was sent me from God. When I heard it for the third time, I recognized that it was the Voice of an Angel. This Voice has always guarded me well, and I have always understood it; it instructed me to be good and to go often to Church; it told me it was necessary for me to come into France. You ask me under what form this Voice appeared to me? You will hear no more of it from me this time. It said to me two or three times a week: 'You must go into France.' My father knew nothing of my going. The Voice said to me: 'Go into France !' I could stay no longer. It said to me: 'Go, raise the siege which is being made before the City of Orleans. Go !' it added, 'to Robert de Baudricourt, Captain of Vaucouleurs: he will furnish you with an escort to accompany you.' And I replied that I was but a poor girl, who knew nothing of riding or fighting. I went to my uncle and said that I wished to stay near him for a time. I remained there eight days. I said to him, 'I must go to Vaucouleurs.' He took me there. When I arrived, I recognized Robert de Baudricourt, although I had never seen him. I knew him, thanks to my Voice, which made me recognize him." (Second Public Examination) 

"You say that you are my judge; take good heed of what you do, because, in truth, I am sent by God, and you put yourself in great peril" (Barrett, "The Trial of Jeanne D'Arc".)
  "I have told you often enough that I did nothing but by God's commandment. I bore this standard when we went forward against the enemy to avoid killing anyone. I have never killed anyone." 
Of the love or hatred God has for the English, I know nothing, but I do know that they will all be thrown out of France, except those who die there.
[Trial records (15 March 1431)]

"God forgive us: we have burned a saint."

(An anonymous English soldier after the execution, as quoted in Fools, Martyrs, Traitors : The Story of Martyrdom in the Western World (199) by Lacey Baldwin Smith, p. 11)

"We declare that you are fallen again into your former errors and under the sentence of excommunication which you originally incurred we decree that you are a relapsed heretic; and by this sentence which we deliver in writing and pronounce from this tribunal, we denounce you as a rotten member, which, so that you shall not infect the other members of Christ, must be cast out of the unity of the Church, cut off from her body, and given over to the secular power: we cast you off, separate and abandon you, praying this same secular power on this side of death and the mutilation of your limbs, to moderate its judgment towards you, and if true signs of repentance appear in you to permit the sacrament of penance to be administered to you."
(A portion of the final sentence pronounced to Joan in public after her trial.)

To this day, Joan of Arc has remained a significant figure in Western civilization. From Napoleon I onward, French politicians of all leanings have invoked her memory. Famous writers, filmmakers and composers who have created works about her include: William Shakespeare (Henry VI, Part 1), Voltaire (The Maid of Orleans), Friedrich Schiller (The Maid of Orleans), Giuseppe Verdi (Giovanna d'Arco), Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (The Maid of Orleans), Mark Twain (Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc), Jean Anouilh (L'Alouette), Bertolt Brecht (Saint Joan of the Stockyards), George Bernard Shaw (Saint Joan), Maxwell Anderson (Joan of Lorraine), Carl Theodor Dreyer (The Passion of Joan of Arc), Robert Bresson (The Trial of Joan of Arc), Arthur Honegger (Jeanne d'Arc au bûcher), Leonard Cohen (Joan of Arc), and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (Joan of Arc). Cultural depictions of Joan of Arc have continued in film, theatre, television, video games, music, and performances. (Source: Wikipedia)

Links and Sources:

Maid of Heaven.

Joan of Arc, Brief Biography.

7 Things You Didn’t Know About Joan of Arc.

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