Useful Notes / Joan of Arc

"Hope in God. If you have good hope and faith in him, you shall be delivered from your enemies."
—Joan of Arc, April 1429

Joan of Arc was a peasant girl who rose from obscurity to lead the French army to several victories during The Hundred Years War, leading to the coronation of Charles VII as the French king — she did not personally kill anyone, but carried a battle standard and led the army, as well as making tactical decisions. She was born about 1412, and starting at age twelve claimed to see visions of and hear the voices of Saints Catherine, Michael, and Margaret (one of the less understood aspects of her life — either she was lying, or she was mentally ill in some way, or God really was telling her to drive out the English, the reader can draw their own conclusions without stating them here), who she said told her to drive out the English and bring Charles VII to Rheims, then under English control, for his coronation.

After gaining the approval of Charles and a theological commission, she arrived at the siege of Orleans in 1429, where at the age of 17 she led the French to victory; contemporaries acknowledged her as the heroine of the engagement after she was wounded in the neck by an arrow but returned to lead the final charge. She led the French to several other victories, including at Reims, and was present at Charles VII's coronation. In October, Joan took Saint-Pierre-le-Moûtier and was granted nobility.

However, a risky skirmish on 23 May 1430 led to her capture. Her family were peasants and did not have the money to ransom her, and King Charles VII, despite her winning several battles that strengthened his claim to the crown, refused to intervene. She attempted several escapes, but all failed. The Duke of Burgundy, who actually held much of France under English control, wanted his nephew King Henry VI to be recognized as the legitimate king of France; therefore Joan's victories had put a major crimp in his plans. Formal religion was still very strong during this time, and painting Joan as a heretic helped to cast aspersions on Charles VII's hold on the crown. Perhaps unsurprisingly, she was tried and convicted of heresy by a pro-Burgundy court, and forced to sign a renunciation of heresy she did not understand because she was illiterate. Heresy was a capital crime only for a repeat offense; she promised not to wear male clothing, which was considered heretical, but resumed it either as a defense against rape or, in the testimony of Jean Massieu, because her dress had been stolen and she was left with nothing else to wear. In any case, the church court rejected her supporters' explanations, and she was burned at the stake in 1431. In 1456 her conviction was posthumously reversed, and in 1920 she was declared a Catholic saint.

There are more churches and shrines dedicated to her in England than in France. She also is often painted in a Battle Ballgown.

Her fame also made writers base characters on her, thus the Jeanne d'Archétype.

For further information, see the book Joan of Arc: The Warrior Saint, by Stephen W. Richey. For a famous fictional portrayal, there is George Bernard Shaw's play Joan of Arc which fictionalises large amounts of the story and actually seems to make an attempt to redeem her accusers. Mark Twain's impassioned Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc is considered one of the best things he ever wrote. See also Carl Th. Dreyer's famous and critically lauded The Passion of Joan of Arc, which recreates her final days and is a seminal piece of early cinema in its own right.

Tropes as portrayed in media:

  • Barefoot Poverty: Sometimes depicted as such in paintings, even ones taking place during her war career, to reflect her humble upbringing.
  • Battle Ballgown: Portrayed with this in some illustrations, though there's no proof she wore one. note 
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy:
    • The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel reveal that Joan was actually rescued from her burning by Scathach the Shadow and is alive and well in Paris, now over 500 years old. This is a Retcon from a previous book that implied she did die.
    • And some Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics imply she was the Slayer.
    • Also Puella Magi Madoka Magica states that she was one of many Magical Girls, alongside Cleopatra, Queen Himiko (maybe) and Anne Frank. Joan would later get her own series.
    • In the Nasuverse, there are hints that Joan (spelled Jeanne) was being influenced by the Counter Force, and that she made a deal with Alaya to become a Counter Guardian after she died. Even if she didn't, she likely would have ascended to the Throne of Heroes anyway. She becomes one of the 2 protagonists of Fate/Apocrypha and plays a prominent role in Fate/Grand Order.
    • Axis Powers Hetalia plays her mostly straight when France tells a young woman in the modern day about her, but it's implied that the young woman is actually Joan reincarnated.
    • Jeanne d'Arc casts her as a Magical Girl of sorts who fights against the English... and their demonic allies. In this version, it is not her but her best friend Liane, acting as a Body Double, who is burnt at the stake; Joan herself arrives too late to rescue her and has an Heroic B.S.O.D. at the horrible sight.
    • In Continuum, Joan of Arc was/is a spanner, and makes up a substantial portion of the police force of Atlantis.
    • In Strike Witches: The Movie, one of pictures showcasing Witches across history depicts Joan as being a Witch, depicting her with glowing Mercury's Wings and tail feathers.
    • In Witchblade, she was one of the many holders of the titular sentient weapon.
  • Boyish Short Hair: While many paintings depict her with long flowing hair, she claimed the voices commanded her to cut her hair as well. Her trial transcript describes her as wearing her hair cut above her ears, "en-round like a young coxcomb."
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Japanese popular art has rather fallen in love with Jeanne, especially in the post-Cold War era. While part of this is just Japanese pop culture's love of cute girls, it also helps that Jeanne can be easily compared to several prominent women warriors in Japanese history.
  • Hearing Voices: Part of what makes her story so fun; her Call to Adventure was voices in her head, which she believed were voices of the Saints sending her to lead the French to victory.
  • Historical Badass Upgrade: Fictional examples not only portray her as an Action Girl who is at the lead of her army during a charge, but often even portray her as a Master Swordswoman of immense physical strength enough to match a knight's physical conditioning and often being singlehandedly responsible for changing the tides of the Hundred Years War towards France's eventual victory. Some fictional works even portray her as having magical powers. While nonetheless her real life counterpart had very impressive achievements, she is far from the Knight in Shining Armor propaganda and fictional works portray her as in real life. She was not the only woman to serve in the French army — many widows joined up after their husbands were killed — and not even the only woman to lead an army. But she was by far the youngest to do all those things.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: Retellings of her story tend to leave out less than savory decisions that Joan made, including that she was willing to threaten her enemies with massacres, and in at least one case carried she out her threat on the town of Jergeau, with hundreds of civilians being killed in the process. Also, Joan has been attributed with feminist and/or populist views, despite telling one woman what was, in her era, to Stay in the Kitchen.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: In Henry VI Part 1, where her voices are made more demonic in nature, her virginity is hinted to be a lie, and even some of the French distrust her. To be expected of a Theme Park Version of the English perspective of the Hundred Years' War. Years later, another English dramatist, George Bernard Shaw, wrote Saint Joan which went a long way to rub away centuries of anti-Joan English propaganda.
  • Jeanne d'Archétype: Trope Maker, Trope Codifier and Trope Namer.
  • Knight in Shining Armor: Joan is sort of a female example. She is usually portrayed in full plate armor when not in a Battle Ballgown. She more likely wore leather armor like most soldiers when she was actually in battle. She also had a chain mail overshirt, a long tabard and (rarely depicted) a big hat.
  • Lady of War: One of the common depictions of her, though there's no proof of it.
  • Shrouded in Myth: Even before she died, her name had become legend. And in the centuries that followed, she would come to become associated with various ideologies and causes, in time becoming intertwined with the French nation, thanks in part to her mother's endless campaigning and promotional activities.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": The French spelling of her name is Jeanne, and is pronounced like "Jah-ne"; "Joan" is an Anglicization. Works in the modern era, especially ones not originating in English, have tended to preserve the French spelling and pronunciation out of respect, though some still go for Joan. Her name was the one word she could write, and she spelled it Jehanne.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: She refused to break this commandment, and typically acted as the standard bearer. Since the standard bearer is the most visible and most tempting target a given army can have, it's entirely possible this was a Wounded Gazelle Warcry to motivate her forces.

Appears in the following works:

Alternative Title(s): Joan Of Arc