Judgements of Joan

Her trial and execution were only the beginning. In the centuries since, the Maid has continued to provoke anger and adoration, skpticism and awe…

“You have heard the last of her,” says her Executioner to the Earl of Warwick in George Bernard Shaw’s play Saint Joan; to which pious reassurance Warwick responds, with wise caution: “The last of her? Hm! I wonder!” In a later scene, the Executioner himself admits his failure: “I could not kill the Maid. She is up and alive everywhere.”

—Painting, ca. 1485. An artist’s interpretation, since the only known direct portrait has not survived. (Centre Historique des Archives Nationales, Paris, AE II 2490)—Source: WIKI

After a lapse of more than five centuries every detail of her life, her visions, and her achievement remains significant to countless numbers of our contemporaries. This peasant girl who never got out of her teens, who had an active career of a little more than two years, whose life ended in heroic martyrdom at an age today when girls are still in school- this peasant girl left such an impress upon the history of her time that many members of each succeeding generation of Western civilized individuals have thought it worthwhile to record, often at full length, their varied comment upon her in countless histories and biographies, dramas, poems, pictures, and works of music. Her trial has been described as “a trial that has become second in importance only to the trial of Christ.”

Joan of Arc had, in fact, a whole series of trials; again and again, from the assembly of the doctors at Poitiers in the spring of 1429, through the long trial at Rouen and the Rehabilitation proceedings twenty years later, to a canoization process that dragged through half a century; solemn gatherings of ecclesiastics have met to pass judgement upon her; and she is still on trial. She still divides opinion, especially French opinion, as she did in her lifetime; she still is called devil and saint, and she remains, in our twenty-first century, a factor in contemporary politics and war.

G.K. Chesterton: (see link at end)…”Joan of Arc was not stuck at the cross-roads, either by rejecting all the paths like Tolstoy, or by accepting them all like Nietzsche. She chose a path, and went down it like a thunderbolt. Yet Joan, when I came to think of her, had in her all that was true either in Tolstoy or Nietzsche, all that was even tolerable in either of them. I thought of all that is noble in Tolstoy, the pleasure in plain things, especially in plain pity, the actualities of the earth, the reverence for the poor, the dignity of the bowed back. Joan of Arc had all that and with this great addition, that she endured poverty as well as admiring it; whereas Tolstoy is only a typical aristocrat trying to find out its secret. And then I thought of all that was brave and proud and pathetic in poor Nietzsche, and his mutiny against the emptiness and timidity of our time. I thought of his cry for the ecstatic equilibrium of danger, his hunger for the rush of great horses, his cry to arms. Well, Joan of Arc had all that, and again with this difference, that she did not praise fighting, but fought. We know that she was not afraid of an army, while Nietzsche, for all we know, was afraid of a cow. Tolstoy only praised the peasant; she was the peasant. Nietzsche only praised the warrior; she was the warrior. She beat them both at their own antagonistic ideals; she was more gentle than the one, more violent than the other. Yet she was a perfectly practical person who did something, while they are wild speculators who do nothing. It was impossible that the thought should not cross my mind that she and her faith had perhaps some secret of moral unity and utility that has been lost. And with that thought came a larger one, and the colossal figure of her Master had also crossed the theatre of my thoughts.” Read More:http://www.maidofheaven.com/joanofarc_chesterton_quote.asp

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