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Joan of Arc


Joan of Arc

Introduction

Joan of Arc! Her story is so incredible that it looks like a fairy tale. And maybe this is what they think it must be, those who only vaguely know about her. But she is real. She did exist. She did become at seventeen—seventeen!—the commander of the royal army of France, at a time in the Middle Ages when women were strictly confined to domestic chores.

Indeed, difficult to believe. How could it happen? And, further, how could this totally inexperienced girl conduct herself creditably as the head of the army, to the extent of being accepted as their leader by tough, battle-tested veterans? In less than one year, despite avoidable delays due to the Kings indecision, she won major victories and did put the English in a precarious situation from which they would never be able to recover. This is why she earned the title of Liberator of France even though she died quite a long time before the English were finally vanquished.

Such an extraordinary story, happening at a time, in the high Middle Ages, around 1430, when recording of facts was. not particularly precise, could have been by now shrouded in some mystery by default of much hard evidence. But something remarkable happened, as a result, unfortunately, of the terrible fate that befell her—she was burned at the stake as heretic. We have the official records of her trial. Moreover — and, again, remarkably — she was rehabilitated thirty years later, an exceptional event which resulted in a large amount of testimonies from still live witnesses, which have been very precisely recorded.