On May 30, 1431, Jeanne D’Arc—more commonly known to us as “Joan of Arc”—was tied to a pillar in the village of Rouen and burned to death.
Nearly everyone has heard of Joan’s unjust execution—but who was this young woman, really?
According to a recent survey, one out of every eight Americans thought that Joan of Arc was the wife of Noah! But the truth about Joan is a little more complex, a lot more interesting, and many years after Noah’s spouse. Here’s a quick video that explains more about her:
Who Was Joan of Arc?
“If I Am Not in God’s Grace, May God Put Me There”
From the records that survive, it is difficult to tell the degree to which Joan of Arc authentically trusted Jesus Christ. At one point, she threatened a crusade against the followers of Jan Hus, but this threat was partly in response to a false rumor that followers of Hus “massacred Christians unless they adopted [Hussite] beliefs.”
During her trial, Joan was asked whether or not she was in God’s grace—a trick question, since many medieval theologians didn’t believe it was possible for an individual to know whether he or she was in God’s grace. To this, Joan responded, “If I am not in God’s grace, may God put me there. If I am, may God keep me there.”
In the end, Joan of Arc was charged with having worn men’s clothing—which she had done to lessen the likelihood of sexual assault—and having relapsed into heresy after abjuring false teachings and practices. Whatever the final status of Joan’s soul, her death was one of many tragic outcomes of the intertwining of church and state in the Middle Ages. In 1456, a posthumous retrial concluded that Joan of Arc had been innocent; in the early twentieth century, she was declared a saint.
If you’re interested in learning more about the history of Christianity, take a look at the book and video series Christian History Made Easy.
Watch the video about Joan of Arc. Consider reading a selection or two from the transcript of her trial. What did you learn about Joan of Arc that you didn’t know before? What surprised you the most? What did you already know?
If you are interested in Joan of Arc and live near the north central United States, consider visiting the Joan of Arc Chapel at Marquette University. This chapel was built in the early fifteenth century in Chasse, France, and relocated to Wisconsin in 1966. According to tradition, Joan prayed in this chapel on March 9, 1429, after meeting with King Charles VII of France.