Joan of Arc was a famous saint and knight who rose from the ranks of peasantry to lead French forces and crown the French king in the early 15th century.
Many people believed that being called Joan of Arc, she was from a place known as Arc. However, this was not the case. The ‘Arc’ in her name came from her father’s surname which was d’Arc. For this reason, Joan’s French name was Jehanne d’Arc. Even the name ‘Joan of Arc’ was never used by Joan herself. Instead, she preferred to refer to herself as ‘Jehanne la Pucelle’ which would translate as ‘John the Maid’.
Joan of Arc is remembered as a fearless knight who commanded the French forces in a number of battles with the English. However, it is an interesting fact that Joan never herself engaged in active fighting. She never fought or killed an opponent in battle. Instead, she led the troops in battle while holding aloft her banner.
So her presence was more a way of inspiring courage and confidence in the French troops. Behind-the-scenes, however, Joan of Arc directed the military strategy of the forces and was instrumental in laying out military plans.
During the fighting at Compiegne, Joan of Arc was captured by the Burgundians and later sold to the English. The English harbored a deep dislike of Joan and sought to have her punished. A number of charges were brought up against her.
Joan was then asked to repent for her sins or face a very harsh punishment. She was promised life imprisonment if she confessed. She apparently did and was sentenced to life imprisonment but later the court decided to have her burned at stake.
Joan of Arc was charged with a number of crimes once she had been arrested by the English. The English sought to make an example of her. Although witchcraft was one of the many crimes brought up against her, Joan was ultimately convicted of two main crimes – cross-dressing and heresy.
Cross-dressing referred to her decision to wear men’s clothes when traveling from her village to the king’s court a few years back. Heresy was based on the contention that she believed she heard voices from the God and angles. Joan of Arc also wore male attire in prison, apparently in a bid to protect herself from the guards. The judges used this final pretext to sentence her to being burned at stake.
At a time when wearing male attire for a woman in Europe was a daring act, Joan of Arc stood against the norm. She wore male attire on many occasions to better protect and disguise her.
On many occasions, she also wore a white coat of armor which earned her the image of a knight. Ultimately, wearing male attire also proved one of the most touted crimes in the charge sheet against her. It was one of the two main crimes for which she was subsequently sentenced to being burned at stake.
The trend of wearing a bob haircut began in early 1900s and really caught on. It really began with Monsieur Antoine, a popular stylist in Paris. Antoine began to cut long hair of his female clients and fashion them into a bob haircut. He also famously cited Joan of Arc as his inspiration. That is true as Joan of Arc wore bob haircut at a time when no other woman did. She apparently did it to better ride during battles and also perhaps to present herself better as a knightly figure.
Once Joan of Arc had been executed, her brothers began an elaborate fraud. They partnered with a woman named Claude des Armoises who looked a lot like Joan of Arc. Armoises and the two brothers began to claim that Joan of Arc had escaped execution. They presented Armoises in the place of Joan.
The trick worked for a time as Armoises bore a strong resemblance to Joan. The trio was successful in the scheme and was received with festivity across many cities and towns. However, the charade was short-lived and it soon ended, although none of the three were punished for it.
Joan of Arc claimed that from an early age, she had received divine visions and voices. The visions were those of different saints and angels. She also claimed to have seen Archangel Gabriel. The voices she heard, she claimed, were from the God who instructed her to help the French king defeat the English forces. These claims were ultimately used against her on charges of heresy.
Joan of Arc was wearing an unusual ring at the time of her execution. It is believed that the ring passed on to one Cardinal Henry Beaufort and later to other people, including a king and several other important personages. In 2016, the purportedly same ring came up for auction in France. However, it is not clear whether this is actually the same historic ring that Joan of Arc wore.
Joan of Arc was never granted a knighthood – Historians believe that Charles VII did grant Joan of Arc her arms and nobility before her trail and subsequent death.