Reading List: Joan of Arc
In the 19th Century Mark Twain compiled the story of Joan of Arc from primary and secondary sources. He considered this to be his best work, though it is not the one for which he is best known. Now, this same work has undergone further analysis, delving into the issues of gender, identity, and sexuality. The new variant promises to be an interesting read.
(The following is the marketing blurb reprinted with permission from the publisher, Little Flower Publishing.)
This exclusive publication of Mark Twain’s book contains more than 350 pages of bonus material, including extensive excerpts from the transcripts of Joan of Arc’s trial that focus on her mystical experiences. The abridged transcripts are translated and edited for readability in modern English by Emilia Philomena Sanguinetti. An epilogue by Sanguinetti addresses claims regarding Joan of Arc’s gender identity, sexual orientation, and the origin of her mystical Voices in the context of Catholic theology.
In literature and film, Joan of Arc is often depicted as a Christ-figure due to parallels involving her life, suffering, and execution, however, imagery from her trial transcripts clearly presents “Joan the Maid” (Joan the Virgin) as an icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Sanguinetti’s epilogue also explores questions regarding the hesitancy of the Catholic Church to define the Blessed Virgin Mary as Co-Redeemer with Christ.
Joan of Arc first heard a Voice from God when she was 13, and at the age of 15, she began to have frequent encounters with St. Michael the Archangel, St. Catherine of Alexandria and St. Margaret of Antioch.
Her Voices, as she called them, were not only interior locutions, but were almost always accompanied by a visible light. She saw a “great light” coming from the side where the Voices originated, and the light “comes in the name of the Voice.” All quotes here are from the official transcripts of her trial, where she was ultimately found guilty and condemned to death because “the judges found this woman superstitious, a witch, idolatrous, a conjurer of demons, blasphemous towards God and His saints, a schismatic and greatly erring in the faith of Jesus Christ.”
On May 30, 1431, when she was 19 years old, Joan of Arc was chained to a tall pillar surrounded by wooden planks and burned to death. On November 7, 1455, an official “rehabilitation trial” opened at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Over 100 witnesses gave testimony and the final verdict was delivered on July 7, 1456. Joan was found to be an innocent victim of clerics who were hungry for secular power and motivated by political factors that arose during the Hundred Years War between France and England.
Incredibly, as a 17 year old teenage girl, Joan of Arc led thousands of men in military battles that were decisive in ending the Hundred Years War. She was officially appointed as commander-in-chief of the French army by King Charles VII, but he later abandoned her when he could have intervened to save her from execution.
Of all the crimes that Joan was charged with during her trial, she was executed solely on the basis of only one of those crimes: wearing men’s clothes.