On the Pucelle

An Englishman speaks his mind:

I will add but one remark on the truest heroine that the world has ever seen. If any person can be found in the present age who would join in the scoffs of Voltaire against the Maid of Orleans and the Heavenly Voices by which she believed herself inspired, let him read the life of the wisest and best man that the heathen nations ever produced. Let him read of the Heavenly Voice, by which Socrates believed himself to be constantly attended; which cautioned him on his way from the field of battle at Delium, and which from his boyhood to the time of his death visited him with unearthly warnings. Let the modern reader reflect on this; and then, unless he is prepared to term Socrates either fool or imposter, let him not dare to deride or vilify Joan of Arc.

Jeanne d’Arc is certainly worthy of admiration. She was more than a mere figurehead, and although she never struck an enemy down, her physical bravery matched her unshakeable faith. Even her capture never caused her to doubt, and as Creasy points out, her decision to obey the wishes of the French lords and generals in continuing with the campaign after the anointing of Charles VII as the King of France demonstrates her courage, since she believed her mission had been accomplished and she no longer enjoyed divine protection.

That being said, if one considers the long-term fruits of both Socrates and Joan of Arc, one tends to find a certain sympathy for the point of view of those appalling Englishmen who tortured and killed her. Not that their actions were justified, but considering what a France free of the English common law heritage has given the world – the French revolution, Napoleon, the treaty of Versailles and now the European Union – one has some doubts about whether those voices were of heavenly or hellish inspiration.