Joan of Arc: Her Story

Brilliant historical reconstruction by Ragine Pernoud and Marie-Varonique Clin, translated into English by Jeremy DuQuesnay Adams. My interest was piqued reading the Joan of Arc chapter of Dworkin’s Intercourse, where I learned that the actual crime she was executed for was the resumption of wearing “men’s clothing” after she swore not to a few days prior. It’s an open question about whether she was forced into the men’s clothing or if she put it on willingly after being attacked by soldiers in her cell. Pernoud picks out the narrative thread from the extensive documentation made of the original trial (1431) and the later nullification trial (1455-6). Lucky for us, the evil trial leader Pierre Cauchon cemented Joan’s legacy for future generations by such detailed proceedings. Her public life was a diptych– a year of action and leading the French to victory in Orleans and returning the crown to the king in Reims, then a year of imprisonment and trial, dying at age 19 when burned to death. The court is fairly shocked by her eloquent arguments for faith, this uneducated shepherdess blowing them away with lyrical, poetic and logical arguments. Also a good reminder of how terrible life was in the Middle Ages, constant war and strife plus plague.