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