Thursday, February 9, 2012

Peasant, Hero, Heretic, Saint: Part I

             I decided to brake this post up into two because it would be really long otherwise. I hope you enjoy the first half of Peasant, Hero, Heretic, Saint, my post over Joan of Arc.
Joan of Arc ca. 1485
               "If anything could have discouraged her, the state of France in 1429 should have." That's what historian Kelly DeVries says about St. Joan of Arc. Joan was born in the Provence of Lorraine around 1412. Many battles had occurred during her childhood and on one occasion her village was even burned. The Hundred's Year War had begun in 1337 over a dispute over the claim to the French throne. Later, at her trial Joan testified that she was about 19 years old and that is where the assumption of the year of her birth comes from. She later testified that she experienced her first vision around 1424 at the age of 12 years, when she was out alone in a field and saw visions of figures she identified as Saint Michael,Saint Catherine, and Saint Margaret, who told her to drive out the English and bring the Dauphin to Rheims for his coronation. She said she cried when they left, as they were so beautiful. At the age of 16, she asked a family-member, to bring her to nearby Vaucouleurs where she petitioned the garrison commander for permission to visit the royal French court at Chinon.She said she needed to see the dauphin, to tell him her voices said she needed to unite France. She made a remarkable prediction about a military reversal near Orleans that proved her predictions true and set off for Chinon and the dauphin.
                She made the journey through hostile Burgundian territory in male disguise. Upon arriving at the Royal Court she impressed Charles VII during a private conference. During this time Charles's mother-in-lawYolande of Aragon was financing a relief expedition to Orleans. Joan asked for permission to travel with the army and wear the equipment of a knight. She depended on donated items for her armor, horse, sword, banner, and other items utilized by her entourage.Upon her arrival, Joan effectively turned the longstanding Anglo-French conflict into a religious war.But this course of action was not without its risks. Charles' advisers were worried that unless Joan's orthodoxy could be established beyond doubt – that she was not a heretic or a sorceress – Charles' enemies could easily make the claim that his kingdom was a gift from the Devil. To circumvent this possibility, the Dauphin ordered background inquiries and a theological examination at Poitiers to verify her morality. In April 1429, the commission of inquiry "declared her to be of irreproachable life, a good Christian, possessed of the virtues of humility, honesty and simplicity.The theologians at Poitiers did not pass judgment on her divine inspiration; rather, they informed the Dauphin that there was a 'favorable presumption' to be made on the divine nature of her mission. This was enough for Charles, but they put the ball back in his court by stating that he had an obligation to put Joan to the test. 'To doubt or abandon her without suspicion of evil would be to repudiate the Holy Spirit and to become unworthy of God's aid', they declared.The test for the truth of her claims would be the raising of the siege of Orleans.

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