Here is a beautifully illustrated profile of Jeanne D'Arc, an illiterate farm girl who defied convention to do the right thing -- winning a place in history for herself at the worst possible price.
I enjoyed all of the medieval art provided as scaffolding for this portrait of a waif from Domremy, a pocket of French loyalism in the post-Black Plague-era, early 1400s, when England ruled much of the northern part of Jeanne's native land.
At age 13 Jeanne began hearing voices that convinced her it was her job to return France to the dominion of the crown prince, Charles VII. Her strict father was unsupportive and once said that he'd sooner drown Jeanne than watch her ride off into battle with males, something only prostitutes were known to do at the time. Joan dressed like a man to desexualize herself, and it seemed that for the most part lusty soldiers left her alone to do her job.
I've already reviewed no fewer than three film versions of Jeanne's life on IMDb and I still don't understand what really happened in her battles. I do know that Jeanne's efforts succeeded on some level and that today she is a heroine of France (see her statue in the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris).
Both the English and the Church felt threatened by Jeanne. And Charles didn't really give a fig about a hallucinating, possibly anorexic cross-dresser who was willing to throw her life away. So when the enemy Burgundians captured Jeanne, no one lifted a finger to intervene.
We all know the way this sad tale wound up -- with this inspired leader lashed to a stake and burned alive.
So, what is the lesson in this tragic and inspiring life story? Why do people everywhere remain fascinated by "la Pucelle"?
Maybe she's emblematic of the person who pursues a grand dream despite the risks. Jeanne never sought or needed validation. Maybe she's the ultimate role model -- a woman who unswervingly trusts her gut.
Just because she got burned DOES NOT mean she did the wrong thing!
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