Mystery Regarding Joan of Arc’s Execution


Joan of Arc was a simple peasant who had nothing to do with politics or war. But she got dragged into the English-French politics. She was born in a simple peasant family at Domremy, a small town located in North-east France. She saw visions of Angel Michael, Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret. In these visions she was instructed to help the uncrowned Prince Charles VII to become the Supreme King. She followed the command of God and became a prominent figure in the Hundred Years’ War between France and Britain. In the early stages her fanaticism and leadership qualities won many swift victories for the French and she was proclaimed the Heroine of France. King Charles VII proclaimed himself the King of France. But a faction within the close circles of King Charles VII wanted to clip her wings. They accused her of deception and witchcraft. It learned that before her capture in Compiegne, she had lost the favor of Charles VII as the French forces were being routed everywhere.

Portrait of Warrior Joan of Arc

Portrait of Warrior Joan of Arc Praying before a Battle

 

However, she was captured at Compiegne on the battlefield by the allied English-Burgundian forces. She was soon handed over to the English. Joan of Arc was put on trial for as many as 70 charges. She was tried by the pro-English Bishop Pierre Cauchon. Cuachon found her guilt and she was burnt at the stake on May 30, 1431 at the tender age of nineteen years. This is what we know from the historical records.

Joan of Arc the Warrior

Joan of Arc was the Herione of France during Anglo-Norman War

 

But there is a long forgotten tale that may claim otherwise. There are facts that make us believe that someone else might have died in place of Joan of Arc at the stake that day. There is a considerable doubt over the execution of this French heroine. A tale that went round in those was very tactfully covered up and never raised again. A common story from the times states that a woman appeared in a village near Metz, France in 1436 claiming herself to be Joan of Arc. The people who heard her were skeptical and even made pranks. But the story somehow spread through France. Soon two of Joan’s brothers visited Metz and clearly declared that the woman in question was no one but their sister or Joan.

Capture of Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc was captured by British Forces at Compiegne

 

But brothers could have their own agenda in bringing back their dead sister. They could be bribed. But what happened next was astonishing. In her time with the French military had made many enemies but some good friends. Two of her close companions heard of the tale and visited Metz to take a look at this woman. Both these individuals had fought in close quarters with Joan. After meeting the woman they proclaimed that the woman was truly Joan of Arc. The woman was even called to the royal court and interviewed by King Charles VII himself. Charles VII even disclosed to his courtiers that the woman knew many secrets that he had disclosed only to Joan.

Burning at Stake Joan

Joan of Arc was Burned at Stake after the Ruling by Bishop Pierre Cauchon in 1431

 

As time went on the woman was awarded the title Joan des Armoises. She was even financially rewarded for her service to the nation during the war. Some of the church services that were taking place in the memory of Joan were stopped on order by the king himself. But after a couple of years it is recorded that the woman allegedly confessed that she was an imposter who just looked similar to Joan. But the public opinion was with the woman.

Joan as a Commoner

Joan of Arc might have led her later life as a Commoner

 

After this incident, the woman was shunned from history for once and all. The instance came up again in 1907 when a noted scholar compared the signature of Joan of Arc against the marriage license of the imposter. He found that both these signatures were a perfect match. Now, the mystery remains why would Joan of Arc suddenly rear up her head and disclose her identity and then two years on feign to be an imposter? Another notable question is that: in those days the imposters were handed severe punishment (often death penalty), why was this woman pardoned without any action?

Statue of Joan of Arc in Paris

Statue of Joan of Arc at Place des Pyramides in Modern Day Paris

 

A group of historians believe that this was again a part of the French politics. Reason for Joan of Arc’s later military failures was her violent temper which enraged everyone including the King. Even Charles VII wanted the fall of Joan of Arc, but the public opinion was on her favor. The King did not want to displease his populace. Thus he may have taken the backdoor by sending Joan of Arc in a battle she could not win. But the King was God fearing as well, he did not want to displease God so he may have secretly arranged for the execution of some other woman at the stake in place of Joan. There must have been a deal fetched whereby Joan decided to stay in hiding for the rest of her life. But as was the character of Joan she could keep her identity secret only for 5 years. Once the news spread King Charles VII too had to embrace the woman he wanted to obliterate. May be he secretly blackmailed Joan or used some other means to make her confess as an imposter. It might have been that Joan was in love those days and wanted to live like a common person, so she stayed away from the politics. She married soon after the incident and lived on peacefully in some other land with all her rewards.

 

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