Biographies

At the Fringe

The ability to review well-known facts and discern patterns others have not seen is fundamental to scholarship, but the urge to pioneer an interpretation sometimes overwhelms the weight of the evidence. The historical records surrounding Joan of Arc provide ample data to be shaped and re-shaped by enthusiasts and partisans, and there are plenty of questions which are essentially unanswerable except by faith: What were Joan's voices? How can you explain her military skill? Why did she succeed where experienced warriors had failed? It is no surprise, then, to find books and articles proposing explanations of Joan and her mission Le Secret de Jeanne d'Arcthat most scholars find untenable.

La Vérité sur Jeanne d'ArcThe oldest argument which is in direct contradiction to the evidence suggests that Joan was the bastard of Isabeau of Bavaria and Louis, Duc d'Orleans - the half-sister of Charles VII. Charles favored her because of their kinship, and her ability to command armies was innate because of her heritage. First published by Pierre Caze (left) at the beginning of the 19th century, the theory was promoted again in 1932 by Jacoby in Le Secret de Jeanne d'Arc. This explanation claims that Isabeau's child Joan, born in 1407, did not die immediately as reported, but was spirited away to be raised by Jacques Darc and Isabelle Romée. The idea has re-appeared as recently as 1961, in the publication of Operation Shepherdess: The Mystery of Joan of Arc (by André Guérin and Jack Palmer White).

Denis' The Mystery of Joan of ArcProponents of spiritualism have long suggested that Joan spirit photowas a medium, able to hear messages from higher spheres. Léon Denis (translated here by Arthur Conan Doyle) felt that he himself was sensitive to such communications, and that Joan had spoken directly to him several times during his investigation of her life. Joan was known to appear at séances in the nineteenth century - her appointment to meet a "French gentleman" was recorded in photo #35 (at right), taken by Frederick A. Hudson, England's most prominent spirit photographer. Joan's psychic ability is also discussed in the article in Fate magazine; Fate magazinethe 10 proofs of the article's title are predictions Joan made which came true.

Joan was accused at her trial of witchcraft. Margaret Alice Murray agreed with this judgment and, mixing in conspiracy theory, argued that Joan was an active participant in a secret, lower class, "old" religion. In this worldview, both Joan and her followers consider her God incarnate, but the figures generally identified as St. Michael and St. Catherine are human co-religionists. Rouen was a suitable town for her execution, as it had a"living tradition of human sacrifice". Murray, a pioneering female archeologist, was a Margaret Alice Murray's workspecialist inEgyptian hieroglyphics and Egyptology.

 

 

Early Historians
Later Biographies
The Heroic Epic
At the Fringe
Contemporary Accounts Biographies      On the Stage Selling It The Company She Keeps The Call to Arms Joan in Politics St. Joan


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