On this day in 1431 a nineteen-year-old French girl named Jehanne la Pucelle, Joan the Maid, was burned to death in France for dressing like a man. A court of the Catholic Church, citing chapter 22 verse 5 in the Old Testament Book of Deuteronomy, convicted the maiden and sentenced her to burn. In The Holy Bible women are strictly forbidden from wearing men’s clothing. It’s an “abomination unto the Lord thy God.” So of course, the young girl had to burn. Jehanne liked to wear French military clothing and lead men into battle during the Hundred years War in France. The Hundred Years War pitted England against France for control of Northern France. Jehanne grew up in northeast France in Domremy. She was the child of Jacque D’Arc and Isabelle. Jehanne testified at her trial that at the age of 13 the Archangel Micheal, St. Catherine and St. Margaret visited her in her father’s garden and told her to drive out the English. Three years later she gained an audience with the future French king, Charles VII. She impressed him so much that pretty soon she was advising him on battle tactics and participating in battles. At the Battle of Orleans in 1429 she was wounded in the neck by an arrow while holding her banner as the battle raged. She returned to the field to see the English driven out of Orleans. After that she became known as the “Maid of Orleans.” In 1430 she was captured during a skirmish near Compiegne, France. She was convicted of heresy and cross-dressing by an English court. She was burned on May 30, 1431 at Rouen, France. Twenty-five years later during an investigation into the trial she was cleared of all charges and declared a martyr. In 1920 Jehanne was Sainted by the Catholic Church. Enjoy a tribute song to Jehanne by Leonard Cohen featuring Jennifer Warnes in the Youtube Link below.
Michael E. Palmer is a writer and photographer based in Alabama.
He can be reached at email@example.com