- Profiles on
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- Jeanne d’Arc: The End on
- The Scottish Dimension in the Life of Joan of Arc on
- The Scottish Dimension in the Life of Joan of Arc on
- In Joan of Arc’s Footsteps, October 19 to 30, 2012 on
- In Joan of Arc’s Footsteps, October 19 to 30, 2012 on
- In Joan of Arc’s Footsteps, October 19 to 30, 2012 on
Notre Dame Cathedral in Rouen
In Domremy, Jeanne would hear her voices when the church bell rang. I sit in our hotel room in Rouen as the bells of the cathedral ring and think of Jeanne here in this city, in captivity for over 12 months and 5 months on trial, refused communion and not allowed into a church, both so important to her. The tower she was held in is about a 20 minute walk up the hill from the cathedral. Could she hear the bells from there? If so, what affect did they have on her state of mind?
The Donjon Prison, October 30, 2012
There is a different feeling to our trip here where Jeanne met her fate. We are at once awed at her ability to stand up to her judges and reply to their questioning with calm dignity and intelligence but also have a deep sense of the tragedy of her execution. Was she fated to die in such a brutal way? Was this ‘burning’ an essential part of her purpose and what has made her a saint and an inspiration over so many years? Believers say Jesus died on the cross for our sins, something that I’ve never understood. But why did these two people die so violently?
Jeanne d’Arc Burned Alive at the Stake May 30, 1431, age almost 19
If Jeanne had decided to return to Domremy after the coronation, she may have married, raised a family and died in obscurity. This did not seem to be an option for her. What is the message from her life and death? What makes a life worth living?
An incredibly courageous and inspired young woman followed her vision, pursued her fate, confronted the obstacles put on her path and faced death rather than compromise her principles. Perhaps her death is not for our/ my sins but to serve as an inspiration that we/ I can aspire to also be courageous and have the resolve to face my own obstacles and to see them as an invitation to maintain my own integrity and my vision so I rise above my basic instincts of self preservation and keep moving forward on my path.
This trip has been a source of inspiration and a chance to reflect on the meaning of life. How very privileged I feel to have had this opportunity to deepen my appreciation of Jeanne and her mission in life.
The Place where Jeanne was Burned, at the Vieux Marche, Rouen
Joan with Jeanne at the Vieux Marche, Rouen
Winston Churchill said it well in his History of the English-Speaking People.
“Joan was a being so uplifted from the ordinary run of mankind that she finds no equal in a thousand years.”
He concluded that her story would be beyond belief if it were not in fact true.
Joan of Arc’s extraordinary character and career are profoundly inspiring. Her admirable qualities include unparalleled moral authority and charisma, unmatched personal and political audacity, astonishing self-confidence and determination, great physical stamina and endurance and surprising practical and political savoir-faire.
These qualities were activated or transformed into action by her profound Christian faith, expressed through the “Voices” of Saints Catherine, Margaret and Michael.
What is also immensely impressive in her life is her incomparable intelligence. She had no formal education and was illiterate – though she later learned to sign her name. Despite this, at age 17, she quickly became a persuasive confidant of the Dauphin Charles, a military leader accepted by the “captains” of the French Army and revered by the soldiery, an adept military strategist, a tough negotiator and a skillful legal defender of herself against insurmountable odds in her “Trial of Condemnation”. She obviously had an ability to learn rapidly, and the self-confidence to act decisively on the basis of her own analyses – and the advice of her “Voices.”
Throughout her whirlwind career after leaving Domremy, she lived a life of high virtue and serious religious and spiritual practice. Indeed, it is hard to find any significant fault or flaw in her character and her life.
Joan developed her talents as needed in a matter of weeks if not days – talents that took others lifetimes to acquire. Once again, Mark Twain expressed this eloquently, concluding that her ability to learn so quickly was “incomprehensible.”
We can understand how she could be born with military genius, with leonine courage, with incomparable fortitude, with a mind which was in several particulars a prodigy — a mind which included among its specialties the lawyer’s gift of detecting traps laid by the adversary in cunning and treacherous arrangements of seemingly innocent words, the orator’s gift of eloquence, the advocate’s gift of presenting a case in clear and compact form, the judge’s gift of sorting and weighing evidence, and finally, something recognizable as more than a mere trace of the statesman’s gift of understanding a political situation and how to make profitable use of such opportunities as it offers.
We can comprehend how she could be born with these great qualities, but we cannot comprehend how they became immediately usable and effective without the developing forces of a sympathetic atmosphere and the training which comes of teaching, study, practice — years of practice, — and the crowning and perfecting help of a thousand mistakes.
Again in the words of Mark Twain:
She is the Wonder of the Ages. And when we consider her origin, her early circumstances, her sex, and that she did all the things upon which her renown rests while she was still a young girl, we recognize that while our race continues she will be also the Riddle of the Ages. Saint Joan of Arc, by Mark Twain
Joan at the Battle of Orleans
Jeanne d’Arc fulfilled her central mission with the crowning of King Charles VII in Reims on July 17 1429, just a little over five months since she set out from Vaucouleurs on February 12. This was a remarkable achievement.
Continued Action against the English
Rather than returning to her home in Domremy, she turned her attention to driving the English out of France. The newly-crowned King, however, was more interested in making a truce or failing this, an armistice with the Burgundians who were allied with the English. Jeanne led the French armies to a modest victory in a number of inconclusive skirmishes.
An assault on Paris – the largest city in Europe at the time – was begun on August 25. This was unsuccessful and the French withdrew from the attack on September 8. Jeanne was wounded in the assault – for the fourth time. Further attacks in Burgundian territory took place, with success at St. Pierre de Mouthier on November 2 but with failure at La Charite in November-December. The King had disbanded the much of the royal forces, leaving a smaller army with Jeanne.
Jeanne entered a period of relative inactivity during the winter of 1430 but began military actions again in the spring time. On May 23, at an assault on the Burgundians who had laid siege to Compiegne, she was captured. Then came seven months in captivity with the Burgundians,
On January 3, 1431, she was acquired by Pierre Cauchon, Bishop of Beauvais, in whose territory she had been captured, with the English paying the ransom. The professors of the University of Paris pressed the case for handing Jeanne to Church officials rather than the English military authorities.
The French King had refused to pay the ransom.
The “Trial of Condemnation”
The religious procedures against Jeanne began on January 9, 1431. She was tried in an Ecclesiastical Court organized by Bishop Cauchon (Ph.D., former rector of the University of Paris). She faced 62 leading Church and Inquisition officials and theological professors from the University of Paris.
Bishop Pierre Cauchon’s Interrogation, by Paul Delaroche, 1797-1856
The motivation of the English was to remove Jeanne as an inspiration for the French armies, in hopes that the tide of battle would then turn in their favor. Bishop Cauchon and the church officials were willing partners in the proceedings though the English applied pressure on them. Cauchon had his eye on further religious promotion. The ecclesiastical officials supported the claim of the English King to the throne.
Jeanne faced her persecutors and judges alone, with no legal counsel and with little advance notice of the arguments to be brought against her. She was isolated, poorly nourished, in worsening health, unkempt, and perhaps abused by her guards who remained in the prison cell with her. She was denied access to churches and Communion which were so important to her.
Nonetheless, judging from the transcripts of the trial, she defended herself skillfully despite the tricks and ruses that were used against her. In the words of Mark Twain in his essay entitled Saint Joan of Arc:
Although she was on trial for her life, she was the only witness called on either side; the only witness summoned to testify before a packed jury commissioned with a definite task: to find her guilty, whether she was guilty or not. She must be convicted out of her own mouth, there being no other way to accomplish it. Every advantage that learning has over ignorance, age over youth, experience over inexperience, chicane over artlessness, every trick and trap and gin devisable by malice and the cunning of sharp intellects practiced in setting snares for the unwary — all these were employed against her without shame; and when these arts were one by one defeated by the marvelous intuitions of her alert and penetrating mind, Bishop Cauchon stooped to a final baseness which it degrades human speech to describe. A priest who pretended to come from the region of her own home and to be a pitying friend and anxious to help her in her sore need was smuggled into her cell, and he misused his sacred office to steal her confidence; she confided to him the things sealed from revealment by her Voices, and which her prosecutors had tried so long in vain to trick her into betraying. A concealed confederate set it all down and delivered it to Cauchon, who used Joan’s secrets, thus obtained, for her ruin.
Throughout the Trials, whatever the foredoomed witness said was twisted from its true meaning when possible, and made to tell against her; and whenever an answer of hers was beyond the reach of twisting it was not allowed to go upon the record. It was upon one of these latter occasions that she uttered that pathetic reproach — to Cauchon: “Ah, you set down everything that is against me, but you will not set down what is for me.”
Not surprisingly, she was found guilty. Her crimes were wearing mens’ clothes, attempting suicide, sorcery with regard to her “voices”, and refusal to submit to the “church militant.”
On May 24, 1431 she was burned alive at the stake at the central marketplace in Rouen as a “relapsed heretic, idolater and apostate.”
The ecclesiastical kangaroo court that condemned Jeanne, under pressure from the English, stands as a disgraceful monument to ecclesiastical and institutional corruption. Bishop Cauchon’s name lives in infamy for his vile twisting and distorting of the facts in fabricating the case against Jeanne. Likewise, the Professors of the University of Paris disgraced themselves deeply for their willingness to kowtow to the English military authorities and for their role in the trial.
The “Trial of Rehabilition”
In 1455-1456, a new trial was held in view of the irregularities of the 1430 trial. Presumably it was awkward for King Charles VII to have been crowned King through the efforts of one who had been convicted and executed for sorcery, heresy and apostasy. The trial was brought about through the efforts of Jeanne’s Mother and Brothers who, with the help of the Papal legate in France , persuaded Pope Callixtus III to reopen the case. The French church agreed with some hesitation but also undoubtedly with damage-limitation in mind.
In the trial, some 150 witnesses were summoned from the various stages of Jeanne’s life from Domremy to Compeign. Their testimony upheld Jeanne’s courage, honesty and virtue. The Court declared Jeanne’s innocence and found that the trial of condemnation had been based on false accusations. Jeanne was declared a martyr and Cauchon was implicated in heresy.
Some Further Sources:
Trial of Condemnation, http://www.stjoan-center.com/Trials/index.html#condemnation
Biographical sketch of Charles VII, http://xenophongroup.com/montjoie/chas_vii.htm
Trial of Joan of Arc, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trial_of_Joan_of_Arc
Bishop Pierre Cauchon, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierre_Cauchon
Edward Lucie-Smith, Joan of Arc, London: Penguin Books, 1976 (not available on line.)
Regine Pernoud, Joan of Arc By Herself and her Witnesses, Lantham Maryland,: Scarborough House, 1994. (The definitive history of Joan of Arc in her own words and those of the witnesses transcribed in her Trial of Condemnation and Trial of Rehabilitation. Not available on the Web.)
Rouen Cathedral, 1944; War Damage
Unrepaired Souvenirs of World War II, Central Rouen
Approximate Location where Jeanne’s Ashes were Thrown in the Seine
By Joan and Arch
After leaving Troyes, Jeanne went on to Chalons with the dauphin and an ever increasing army, men fired into action by her presence, willing to fight at their own expense. Chalons surrendered and they continued to Sepsaults just outside Reims where Charles once again hesitated and the Remois stalled. Joan convinced Charles to move forward and on Saturday July 16, a delegation from the city finally agreed to ally Reims with the royal cause and preparations were made for the coronation the next day!
The entry to the Cathedral, even today, is impressive. Looking up the wide boulevard from the river, the Cathedral fills the square about 1 kilometer ahead.
Reims, October 29, 2012, Photo by Arch Ritter
Jeanne rode up this boulevard with throngs of people crushing forward to see her, more interested in her than the dauphin! At her side was the dauphin, soon to be King Charles along with some 60 members of the Garde Ecossaise and much of her army.
They came into the church together, Joan bearing her standard. When asked at her trial of condemnation about the presence of her standard she replied ‘It had born the burden and it is right that it have the honor.’ When I read this passage to Arch my eyes teared up. After some 600 years, Jeanne is still communicating an important message of affirming what one knows is right even in face of criticism and condemnation from authorities.
We spent time in the beautiful cathedral and went to the service on Sunday morning absorbing the energy of the place and absorbed in our thoughts. The sermon was about the blind man outside of Jerusalem who Jesus restored sight to: where are we blind? When do we lack insight into our actions? I think of Joan and am humbled, inspired to continue on my own path.
We walked to the church of Saint-Remi a few kilometers away where the holy ampulla containing the holy oil used for the coronation is still kept. The church, much simpler than the cathedral, has a special feeling. Jeanne seemed present, at least for us, as we explore the city.
Choir, Abbey of Saint Remi, Reims
Interior Rems Cathedral, from the Choir
The Vesle Canal, Reims Centre
Statue in front of Reims Cathedral, circa 1945
There is a major Scottish dimension in the consciousness as well as in the military activities of Joan of Arc.
Joan herself seems to have been much aware of Scotland and charmed by its mystique (as we are.) When she was awaiting an audience with Robert de Baudricourt at Vaucouleurs in February 1429, she stated that it was urgent for her to be taken to the dauphin.
“I must be at the King’s side though I wear my feet to the knees. For there is nobody in all the world, neither king nor duke, nor daughter of the King of Scotland, nor any other who can recover the kingdom for France.” Regine Pernoud, Joan of Arc, p.35.)
Some 6,000 Scottish soldiers had arrived in France in 1419, four years after the massive French defeat at Agincourt, under the leadership of John Stewart, Earl of Darnley. The Scots saw considerable action prior to the arrival on the scene of Joan of Arc, and gained a major victory over the English on Easter Sunday 1421 at the Loire town of Baugé. On learning of this victory, the Pope of the day, Martin V, reputedly said “The Scots are well-known as an anti-dote to the English.” (This might be a good argument for maintaining the British union in the forthcoming referendum on Scottish independence.)
Joan of Arc’s Scots Guard, by John Duncan
A Scots Guard was formed for the immediate entourage for the dauphin around 1420.
When Joan was outfitted by the citizens of Tours, who provided her with armour for her military career, she also had her famous pennant designed and made. The pennant maker was one Hamish Power, a displaced Scot.
The Scots soldiers constituted about 25% of Joan’s army at Orleans. According David Kerr, author of St. Joan of Arc And The Scots Connection, Joan approached Orleans to the sound of the pipes playing the tune of “Scots Wha Hae wi Wallie Bled…” though the tune was titled “Hey Tuttie Taiti” at the time. A great story for a piper who is also a Joan of Arc afficionado!
John Stewart was killed during the English siege of Orleans just before the arrival of Joan’s army and is buried at the Saint-Croix Cathedral there.
John Stewart’s Tomb in the Orleans Cathedral
When Joan and the dauphin rode to the Reims Cathedral for the coronation on July 17, 1429, she rode with a Scots Guard of 60 men.
The role of the Scots in Joan of Arc’s activities are discussed and outlined in the following locations on the Web:
By Joan and Arch
After the victory at Orleans, the French forces pursued the English down the Loire river and defeated them repeatedly, Jeanne’s aggressive drive at this time is reminiscent of General George Patton during the Second World War when he drove the Germans back so definitively in 1944. (He also passed through Orleans, which was damaged severely from the war.)
After returning to Orleans, the French forces, under Jeanne’s insistence, continued their pursuit of the English forces to Patay, a village some 15 kilometers away across flat, fertile farm land. Jeanne’s value at this time as a talisman was understood by the captains of the French forces. Much to her rage, she was relegated to the rearguard.
The English were in disarray when the confrontation took place. They were routed with little loss of life to the French but the English foot soldiers were slaughtered. Jeanne was very upset by the bloodbath and at one point, held the head of a dying English soldier in her arms, hearing his last confession.
Patay today is a tiny, sleepy village with four wonderful patisseries around the village square. We bought a baguette and had a coffee in the local cafe along with several laborers enjoying their morning flavored wine and a few laughs.
When we asked where the Joan of Arc battle had taken place, they seemed mystified. There was no memorial, museum, signage to the battlefield or mention of the battle anywhere we could find in Patay.
we concluded that a minor battle 600 or so years ago wasn’t the first thing on their minds. Jeanne did stay here for several days, once again stalled by the dauphin’s indecisiveness.
The defeat at Patay was devastating for the English who retreated to their base in Janville only to find the gates shut and the people manning the walls against them. They lost their supplies and military arsenal and were forced to retreat further toward Paris. Jeanne’s determination to pursue the English paid off and continued to lift the morale of the French army.
Map of the Troop Movements at the Battle of Patay
It’s Friday October 25 2012, and we’re in Troyes, a city with an incredibly well preserved medieval centre. It almost feels that we’re back in the 15th century as we explore the old parts of the city so Jeanne seems very present. Our hotel is a converted cloth factory, a beautifully built structure on the edge of the old town.
Jeanne came here with the dauphin on their way to Rheims for the coronation. The people of Troyes weren’t sure if they wanted to ally themselves with Charles and wanted to delay a decision in order to see what kind of deal the Duke of Burgundy would offer. After five days of waiting and with the troops starving, Charles and his councillors wanted to return to base. Jeanne insisted that they prepare to fight if they were denied immediate entry into the city. She persuaded the dauphin and, with the threat of fighting, the citizens of Troyes opened the city gates and swore allegiance to Charles. The royal army entered the city, another step, with no bloodshed, on their way to Rheims.
Once again Jeanne showed her incredible ability to take a clear stand and follow her convictions. I’m amazed! I think of Durga, the Hindu goddess, riding on her ferocious lion to destroy the buffalo headed demon and restore harmony to the world. Jeanne has fierce Durga energy. And I think of Malala, the Pakistani girl taking a stand against the Taliban, risking her life for the right of women to receive an education. On the news yesterday, her father said that when Malala fell, Pakistan stood. The world needs these Durga women!
Troyes as of 1695, as it must have looked in Jeanne d’Arc’s Era
Where Jeanne Stayed when in Troyes
The Citizens of Troyes Paying Allegiance to the Dauphin Charles
St. Paul Cathedral in Troyes where the infamous Treaty of Troyes was signed in 1420 giving the affiliation of the city to the English King, and where Jeanne and the Dauphin received the fealty of the citizens on July 10, 1429
Troyes, October 26, 2012
In late April 1429, after she was equipped with a suit of armour provided by the citizens of Tours and had her pennant made by the Scotsman Hamish Power also in Tours, Jeanne set out with the armies of the dauphin and the key commanding officers or “captains.”
Her presence in the armies of France as a commander in chief but without prior experience must have been ambiguous. She was part mascot, part cheerleader, part talisman but quickly becoming an unorthodox but effective military leader – according to two military historians who have examined her military record. (Joan of Arc as a Military Commander, by John Egan and Joan of Arc: A Military Appreciation, by Stephen Richey.) She managed to win the support of the “captains’ and the affection from some, notably the famous “La Hire.” She was also an inspiration and a catalyst for the soldiers, attracting numerous recruits to the French cause. She led the soldiers into battle at ultimate personal risk. Indeed she was wounded in her first battle at Orleans and captured on the front line later at Compiegne.
The battle at Orleans was complicated and difficult. It has been described and analysed in various places including the web site SIEGE OF ORLÉANS (1428-1429) and THE LOIRE VALLEY CAMPAIGN (1429).
The English had been laying siege to the town (of some 30,000 citizens) since 1428 with some 5,500 English and Burgundian soldiers. They had built protective towers and fortifications around the town and were trying to starve it into submission and capture it by force. The French forces approached the end of April and Joan and her army entered on April 29, 1429 – about 10 weeks after she had left Vaucouleurs. The French armies, with Joan at the forefront, then fought the English and by May 8 they had been vanquished and retreated.
Orleans: Map of Military Situation, April 29, 1429
Jeanne d’Arc at the Battle of Orleans
Battle of Orleans
“The disparate array of forces defending Orléans was drawn together with the appearance of Jeanne d’Arc, and there developed a unity of focus in their actions. There were no signs of a great religious conversion, though the era was ripe for popular acceptance of mysterious Divine intervention. For those warriors at the time who might not accept the Divine, they recognized a pragmatic military value in the sentiment and found it easy to go along with drama.
The 4 May attack appears to have evolved from a minor demonstration but fueled by group emotion that can be traced to the appearance and the excitement demonstrated by Jeanne. She did not appear to have specifically formulated the action, but joined in — and certainly became a dominant ‘leader’ of the critical attack. This action reflects the circumstances that pertain to most all of the military actions related to the siege and the subsequent operations. Many of the French initiatives were unplanned and could not be anticipated by the English. The degree of the enthusiastic involvement of the French militia was obviously inspired in part by Jeanne’s appeal that raised the resolve for group action. It was a real cheerleading performance. For though she exposed herself to harm and endured wounds, she did not exchange blows or personally cause direct harm to an enemy warrior. ” (http://xenophongroup.com/montjoie/orleans.htm#map2)
There is little left of the 1429 city of Orleans that Joan would have known. The Choir of the Cathedral and the reconstructed house where she stayed in the city is almost all that one can find of the old city. The walls have gone and very little if any housing of the era remains. This is due to various epochs of modernization and also probably to the destruction of the US-German fighting and shelling in WW II.
War Damage, 1944, Orleans, facing the Cathedral of Saint-Croix
The (Reconstructed) House where Joan of Arc stayed in Orleans, May 1429. One of the few remaining buildings of her era.
Tapestry of Jeanne d’Arc, Saint-Croix Cathedral, Orleans
Saint-Croix Cathedral, Orleans
Traditional Boats on the Loire at Orleans
Jeanne arrived in Chinon to see the dauphin on February 23, after what must have been an extremely arduous journey through enemy territory. It took Charles two days to decide to receive her. This kind of dithering typified Charles and caused Joan much anxiety throughout her campaign as she felt the urgency to act and Charles dragged his feet and put roadblocks in her way.
We arrived in Chinon from Orleans, going in the opposite direction from Joan who left Chinon on her way to her first major battle, the liberation of Orleans from the siege of the English. Chinon castle is high on a promontory offering an incredible view of the valley of the Vienne river and therefore a wonderful defensive position for its medieval rulers. We learned the history of the castle and the close relationship between France and England as we made our way through the exhibits. A few hundred years before Joan’s visit, this castle belonged to King Henry II of England who spent most of his life here with his wife Catherine of Aragon. His sons, Richard the Lion Hearted and King John II both spent time here as they intrigued and plotted against each other and their father for power and the English throne.
Joan was eventually successful in convincing Charles to let her lead the French army and, at the end of April, she left Chinon for Orleans which had been under siege for 7 months, the inhabitants starving. The town was liberated on May 8. In all of her battles, Joan requested that the English leave in peace and return to England where they belonged rather than fight, seeking to avoid bloodshed, seeking peace.
I am intrigued by her confidence and determination as she carried out the mission her voices commanded of her. How did she maintain her connection with her inner guides in the face of all the obstacles put in her path? What is the message for today? What does Joan have to tell us about life and its purpose? Facing adversity with courage, keeping love and compassion in the forefront of the mind and one’s actions at all times, under all conditions… this challenge is huge. Joan did this, can I?
The Ancient Plantagenet Castle at Chinon
On February 13, 1429, Joan of Arc passed through the “Porte de France” in Vaucouleurs and set out for the ancient fortified castle of the Plantagenets at Chinon where the dauphin had his court. Chinon is southwest of Tours and perhaps 200 kilometers southwest of Paris. From Vaucouleurs it was a journey of around 500 kilometers, through territories controlled by the English and their Burgundian allies and in a difficult winter of cold and rainy weather and rivers at high water.
It took three attempts to persuade Robert de Boudricourt, the King’s representative or “Captain” in Vaucouleurs just north of Domremy. Ultimately she persuaded him of her mission and he provided a military escort and support for the journey.
Joan leaving Vaucouleurs, painting by Scherrer
At this time, Domremy was a small isolated pocket in the north-east of what is now France. It was still in French hands, separated by a long distance from the rest of the French territories as can be seen on the map below. The journey through enemy territory had to be undertaken discreetly, off the main roads and often at night. They slept “rough” when they could and travelled 55 to 60 kilometers per day, often during the night. Only when they left Gien on the Loire were they back into French territory.
The “Porte de France,” on 25 October 2012
Today this journey is still surprisingly longish if one tries to follow her route even by car mainly because one travels along country roads with numerous pauses for villages. However, the regions we passed through are interesting, ranging from prairie-like open rolling land to the calcium stony vineyards of Chablis that go on forever. 0ne also passes through small villages with ancient churches dating back to the era of Charlemagne and larger towns such as Auxerre. We also paused at some locks and a port of the Paris to Dijon Canal.
“Joan of Arch” at the “Porte de France”
Jeanne at Vaucouleurs
Chablis Vineyards October 25 2012
At a set of locks and a port on the Paris to Dijon Canal