I hope I have done her justice...
Oil on board, 60x40cm (24''x16'')
Joan, la Pucelle, French national heroine, born 600 years ago- probably to the month, although her exact date of birth is unknown. A valiant maiden, hearer of voices, inspirer and leader of victorious armies. She turned the tide against the English in the 100 years war, and transformed the dynastic struggle that marred her land into a war of national liberation. She raised the siege of Orleans, captured various fortresses and bridges, and facilitated the recovery of Rheims, enabling the coronation of her prince, the Dauphin Charles, in its cathedral.
After her capture in 1430 by Burgundians, then allies of the English, she was sold-out and subjected to a travesty of a heresy trial (which, however, serves as a record of her boldness and astute mind as well as apparently sincere belief in her voices and their divine origin). Ultimately Convicted of nothing more heretical than wearing male clothing, she was burnt at the stake aged only 19. (I hinted at her fate here by the reflection of flame in her armour.) She was subsequently exonerated, and regarded as a saint and martyr. Except, that is, by the likes of Shakespeare (Henry VI Part 1) and Dennis Wheatley (The Devil and All His Works), who perpetuated the enormity that she was a practitioner of the dark arts.
Other Britons had more respect...
"Joan was a being so uplifted from the ordinary run of mankind that she finds no equal in a thousand years."
Winston Churchill [link]
A good outline of Joan's history on the Catholic Encyclopedia: [link]
The trial proceedings:[link]
From the third public interrogation:
"The Voice from whom you ask counsel, has it a face and eyes?"
"You shall not know yet. There is a saying among children, that 'Sometimes one is hanged for speaking the truth.'"
"Do you know if you are in the grace of God?"
"If I am not, may God place me there; if I am, may God so keep me. I should be the saddest in all the world if I knew that I were not in the grace of God. But if I were in a state of sin, do you think the Voice would come to me? I would that every one could hear the Voice as I hear it. I think I was about thirteen when it came to me for the first time."