You probably know Joan of Arc as a French heroine who risked her life and bravely fought enemies. But is that all there is to the Maid of Orleans? Not really. There are many other things that you might not yet know about her but will surely pique your interest. These include the following.
1. She Had Lots Of Possible Names As Well As Many Nicknames.
We know her as Joan d’Arc or Joan of Arc, but she didn’t really come from a place named Arc. Rather, d’Arc was her father’s surname (his name was Jacques d’Arc). However, it’s worth noting that Joan’s real name might have been Jehanne Romée. She had revealed that many girls in their village took the surname of their mother and not their father, adding that her mother’s name was Isabelle Romée. Some sources say that her mother was named Isabelle de Vouthon, which meant that Joan was called Jehanne de Vouthon.
Joan later called herself Jehanne la Pucelle. “La Pucelle” means “The Maid” in French, but it can also mean “The Virgin”. This was important because the society she lived in highly valued virginity in women who were not married. This was also considered to be significant because there was a popular prophecy back then that stated that France would be saved by a virgin —which, many people believed, was Joan of Arc.
2. Experts Think She Had Certain Types Of Disorders.
When she was 13 years old, Joan begin hearing voices, which were accompanied with bright light and often appeared when the church bells rang. At first, these voices advised her to be good and go to church often but, later on, they told her that it was her mission to save France. The voices then gave instructions on what she should do and remained with her for the rest of her life.
Modern experts point out that these “voices” were a sign of a physical or mental health problem. Some say that Joan may have had a form of epilepsy, while others say that she may have suffered from schizophrenia (which causes patients to experience auditory hallucinations). Still others say that she have had brain lesions, bipolar disorder, or even bovine tuberculosis.
3. No One Knows Why Charles VII Allowed Joan To Lead An Army.
After her meeting with Charles, Joan was given permission to lead a handful of men to Orleans. Many experts have done their research, but no one still understands why a young man in his 20s who came from a royal line listened to and trusted a teenager who was hearing voices. Joan herself only said that the voices in her head told her to go boldly to Charles VII, who will receive a sign that will make him believe in her.
4. Contrary To Popular Belief, She Didn’t Actively Participate In Battle.
When you think of Joan of Arc, you most likely imagine her sitting astride a horse with a sword in hand and shouting a battle cry as she charges towards her enemies. But this wasn’t really the case; yes, Joan was present during many battles, but she held a banner instead of a sword and acted as an inspiration to her men.
This doesn’t mean, though, that Joan basked in glory without doing anything. She interacted closely with her soldiers, developed military strategies, and gave directions to the troops. She was also wounded two times with an arrow, once in her shoulder and another in her thigh.
5. She Had a Short Temper.
Joan was considered to be The Maid of Orleans, but she was by no means a dainty and quiet lady. She was known to berate knights who swore, skipped mass, and did other things she didn’t like. She was also against prostitutes and mistresses who traveled with her troops, and she threatened them with a sword as she drove them away.
6. She Gave The French a Huge Morale Boost.
Joan became popular among the French not just because of her bravery or her achievements but also because of the boost she gave to their morale. She arrived at the time when the French were so disheartened that their troops lost fights even when they outnumbered the enemy. Joan showed the people that there was hope and that they shouldn’t stop fighting for their country and themselves.
7. She Fell Off a Horse And Was Captured.
During an attack in Compiègne, Joan and a small army of men were defeated as they tried to defend the town and free it from the Anglo-Burgundian force. Her soldiers were able to escape and go back to the town but Joan, who was thrown off her steed, didn’t make it back. The town’s gates closed on her, leaving her to be captured by the Anglo-Burgundian army.
8. She Once Attempted Suicide.
When she was captured and learned that she was to be handed over to the English, Joan jumped off a tower. However, her suicide attempt was not successful, and she still lived to face trial.
9. She Was Accused Of Around 70 Charges.
Joan was tried and charged of 70 crimes, which included witchcraft, heresy, and even horse theft. However, these charges were reduced to just 12, and these mainly focused on the fact that she dressed like a man and claimed to be in contact with God.
10. Her Canonization Attracted a Large Crowd.
Joan may have burned at the stake, but her name and legacy lives on. An inquiry ordered by Charles VII was conducted a few years after her death, and this cleared her name and made her become even more popular among the French and even around the world. Almost 500 years after she died, Joan was declared a Catholic saint by Pope Benedict XV, with around 70,000 people attending her canonization ceremony.
Over the years, Joan of Arc has been the subject of many paintings, sculptures and books. Centuries after her death, she continues to inspire people because of her bravery and strength and her willingness to give up her life for her country.