Who was Joan of Arc?

Answering the question, “Who was Joan of Arc?” is the primary purpose of my biography, Joan of Arc: The Mystic Legacy. I sincerely welcome your questions, participation and comments on this interactive website as blogs containing informative, provocative topics of discussion will be posted frequently. I look forward to actively engaging with you! The book will be released in both print and in a variety of eBook formats by the end of October, 2011. Marcia Quinn Noren

January 6th, 2012 marks the six hundredth anniversary of Joan of Arc’s birth in the rural French village of Domremy. Although the events that unfolded during her lifetime (1412-1431) are well documented, her accomplishments as a military leader have been historically overshadowed by controversy over her physical appearance as a luminous visionary in armor, wrapped in the form of a teen aged, post-biblical prophet.

One of the most captivating, extraordinary aspects of Joan’s story is the speedy pace at which pivotal events unfolded within a single year, 1429. The historic time line shows that within six months of leaving her natal village, she had accomplished the goals that were so boldly set forth during her first public appearance in January of that year. How did Joan gain the attention of men in power, let alone influence their decisions? At age seventeen, how did she overcome her fear, and what was the source of her confidence? The answers are found in Joan’s own words, taken from her trial testimony.

Joan’s stated intentions were formidable. First, she would meet with Charles, the dauphin and convince him that under her leadership, the French army would remove English invaders from the city of Orleans and then move on to take back control of other occupied towns along the Loire Valley. Those victories would clear the way for his coronation in the great cathedral of Reims.

Joan’s unwavering stamina, demonstrated throughout interrogations that preceded the battles she led and during her imprisonment and trial, came from the same sources that had given her the courage to leave her father’s house; despite his threats that he would drown her if she attempted to do so. Through the guidance and direction that came to her daily from the three angelic counselors who were named and described in the details of her testimony, Joan transcended mortal limitations.

Nonfiction historic chronologies are written from a wide variety of viewpoints. In the case of the young woman who referred to herself as Jehanne, La Pucelle, (Joan, the Maid), the influence held by the Roman Catholic Church during her lifetime and in the centuries that followed her death at the age of nineteen has been an ongoing source of argument between scholars who interpret her socio-political legacy.

Joan’s claim, that her mission to unite France was instigated and orchestrated by God, has limited her credibility as a witness to the events of her own life and presented conceptual obstacles for scholars confined by the limitations of scientific materialism. David. H. Bailey briefly summarizes this worldview: “As defined by twentieth century philosophers William James and Alfred North Whitehead…scientific materialism is the belief that physical reality, as made available to the natural sciences, is all that truly exists. There is little room for…faith in unseen and presumably empirically untestable entities.”

In attempting to comprehend the life of a mystic whose true story contains unfathomable events that were witnessed by multitudes, and whose own sworn testimony is saturated with references to her interaction with angelic guides, rigid belief systems must be set aside. The question “Who Was Joan of Arc?” will be answered by each individual who chooses to apply their own independent faculties to investigate the historic records.