Publication of the Robbins Library.
Joan of Arc's Brief Life and Long Afterlife
Kristi J. Castleberry
Joan of Arc WWI Poster from the United States by Haskell Coffin, c. 1914-1918.
Note: This is an online version of a pamphlet for a Rossell Hope Robbins Library exhibit
created by Kristi J. Castleberry. The exhibit ran from April to August of 2009.
Table of Contents
Case One — Living Joan: Joan's Activity in France
Case Two — Visualizing Joan: Early Images of Joan of Arc
Case Three — Re-Writing Joan: Literature on Joan of Arc
Case Four — Analyzing Joan: Scholarship on Joan of Arc
Case Five — Re-Imagining Joan: Appropriations of Joan of Arc
Case Six — Dramatizing Joan: Spectacles of Joan of Arc
Joan of Arc is simultaneously one of the most well documented figures in history and one of the most widely represented in literature and film. We know more about her than any other person before her, and yet she is still a mystery in many ways. How did she come to accomplish what she did? How do we explain her voices? How much of an influence did she have on the war? Is she a proto-feminist radical or a model for conservativism? Fictional representations (as well as historical ones) have attempted to explain her in various ways, and people with every sort of political and social agenda have appropriated her as a hero of their conflicting causes. What remains as a common factor among the varied representations of Joan "The Maid," as she would have preferred to have been called, is the abiding interest in her life. She inspires people, she confuses people, she intrigues people. Regardless of her motives or the ways in which she may or may not have promoted certain worldviews, one cannot help but be amazed at a peasant girl who approached the king of France, a teenager who led an army, a woman dressed as a man who called herself a maid, an illiterate nineteen year old who spoke for herself against learned theologians, and a condemned heretic who was declared a saint. Joan is, in short, a historical figure who has attained mythic proportions.
Born around 1412 into a France torn apart by the Hundred Years' War and a Christendom torn apart by the Great Schism, Joan was a person who, under normal circumstances, would never have entered the historical record. The records are silent, in fact, until about 1428, when teenaged Joan decided to approach Robert de Baudricourt, governor of Vancouleurs, with a request to be introduced to the Dauphin. From that point until 1431, when Joan was burned at the stake, we have an account of nearly every word she spoke and move she made (though often recorded with particular biases). We have records of her trials, we have letters she dictated, and we even have her signature. We know that she began hearing voices that urged her to save France at around age 13. Once she met the Dauphin and gained his confidence in 1429 (partly through submitting to an examination by theologians at Poitiers), she managed to gain wider confidence by leading soldiers to break the siege at Orléans and then personally leading the Dauphin to Reims, where he was crowned Charles VII. After this point, however, her fortune seems to have changed. As Charles VII was attempting diplomacy, Joan was continuing to fight. Joan was taken prisoner at Compiègne by the Duke of Burgundy in 1430 and sold to the English, who gave her over to theologians at the University of Paris. Tried for heresy at Rouen, Joan was turned over to secular authorities and burned at the stake on 30 May 1431. As she was burning, witnesses report that she spoke the name of Jesus. In 1455, a new trial, known as the Nullification or Rehabilitation trial, reopened Joan's case, and in 1456 the earlier verdict was annulled. Nearly 500 years after her death, in 1920, Joan was canonized by Pope Benedict XV.
Joan of Arc travelled a great deal in her short life. Her early years were probably spent mainly in or around her native town, but her final years spanned her entire country. The photographs below record some of the locations where the major events of Joan's life occurred, and can give a modern viewer a sense of how active she was. The map in the center may help locate each place according to the geography of fifteenth-century France. As Joan travelled, she dictated letters to important leaders and towns. She was thus in communication with a variety of people while on the move throughout her war torn country. Her letter to the city of Riom (to the bottom right) is a nice example of such communications, and includes an image of the signature Joan learned in the last few years of her life.
Map of France during Joan of Arc's life.
Joan's birth place and home. 
Main street Domremy. 
Looking across the river Meuse at Domremy. 
General view of the city of Orleans. 
Grand view of Rouen. The city can be seen on the right side of the horizon. This would have been Joan's first view of Rouen. 
Joan's prison cell at a Drugy farm. It is used today by the farmer as a storage room. 
Site of Joan's death — Rouen market. 
Rouen's modern memorial fountain to honor 'The Maid.' 
Letter by Joan of Arc to the people of the city of Riom (Auvergne in France) on November 9, 1429, with close-up of Joan's signature.
Though Joan of Arc probably did sit for a portrait, such an image does not survive. The only extant image created during her life is the 1429 sketch by Clément de Fauquembergue, who had never seen Joan himself (to the bottom left). Such contemporary images tend to portray a Joan with long hair and a dress, which was likely meant to signal to the viewer that she was, in fact, the Maid. Although Joan's life was filled with visual spectacle, she presented artists with a unique challenge. There was no precedent for representing a woman who dressed as a man but called herself the Maid, no visual model for a peasant girl who rode next to the king to his coronation. Medieval and Early Modern artists used a variety of visual cues to signal Joan's identity and avoid the troubling fact that Joan's image defied categorical representation. The standard Joan carried, represented in the images along the bottom of this case, was a particularly powerful clue as to her identity, and it gives us a sense of the way in which that identity was tied to her religious zeal and patriotic fervor. The standard, which Joan claimed to love more than her sword, features an image of the King of Heaven, the kneeling figures of Michael and Gabriel, the words "Jhesus-Maria," and a background decorated with golden fleurs-de-lys. Although, like the image to the top left of Joan tied up for execution, there was some representation of Joan's death, much more frequently depicted was Joan in glorious and powerful life. The striking image to the right, for example, forges a popular comparison between Joan of Arc and the biblical Judith. Instead of using the standard to represent Joan's identity, this 1451 image by Martin le Franc addresses her identity as a strong and warrior-like female. Joan's champions, including contemporary poet Christine de Pizan (see Case Three), justified Joan's breaking of gender roles by comparing her to biblical heroines such as Judith.
Images from Martial d'Auvergne's Les Vigiles de Charles VII, 1484. Ms Fr 5054. (Listed Clockwise)
Joan being tied up (with close-up).
The assault on Paris.
The citizens of Troyes hand over city keys to the Dauphin and Joan.
[Martial d'Auvergne's long poem chronicles Charles VII's reign in honor of the late king (d. 1461). The poem, which recounts the events of the Hundred Years' War, idealizes French victories, and thus idealizes Joan of Arc. Despite the poem's sympathy toward the Maid (or, perhaps, because of it), she appears in a dress and with long hair throughout. Even on the battle field among her men and amid flying arrows, the Joan depicted here is decidedly feminine. This could be to differentiate between her and her men, though the context of the surrounding poem is such that her role should be clear.]
Judith and Holofernes and Joan of Arc. From Martin le Franc's Le Champion des Dames, 1451. Ms Fr 12476.
[This illumination, from Martin le Franc's long poem concerning the deeds of heroic women throughout history, is a nice visual for the common verbal connection between Joan and biblical women such as Judith (see, for example, Christine de Pizan, Case Three). Not only are Joan and Judith parallel images on the page, but their weapons are leaning toward one another and nearly touching at the top center of the image. Joan has, like Judith, a dress and long hair. Since each figure is labeled by name, Joan's feminine appearance is likely to make the connection to Judith more probable and to avoid the problematic issue of Joan's cross-dressing.]
Joan of Arc. Sketch by Clément de Fauquembergue from the protocol of the Parliament of Paris, 1429. Ms Fr 12476.
[The only extant contemporary image of Joan (done nonetheless without seeing Joan first-hand), Clément de Fauquembergue sketched this image into the margins of the register on the day that news arrived in Paris of the French victory at Orléans. Joan's flowing hair and long skirt may be a function of the artist's imagination, especially as he attempted to imagine how a warrior-like woman might appear, but were not meant to cue viewers to Joan's identity, since this sketch was not meant to be a public artifact. The fact that this image of Joan depicts her with a sturdy sword in one hand and her banner in the other indicates that these material symbols had already become common knowledge.]
Joan of Arc depicted on horseback. From Antoine Dufour's Vie des femmes célèbres, c. 1505.
[Antoine Dufour composed this work, featuring ninety-one lives of illustrious women, for Anne of Brittany. Born in Orleans himself, Dufour presents us with a Joan who is nearly divine. He recounts her miracles, and focuses more on her piety than her battles. Yet his image is one of the few nearly contemporary ones that depicts her in full armor. She carries no sword, but does carry a banner, which appears to say "In the Name of God." Though this is not an accurate depiction of Joan's standard, it does fit nicely within the context of Joan's piety and God-given mission.]
Joan of Arc Arriving at Chinon Castle. Late fifteenth-century German tapestry.
[In this beautifully detailed German tapestry, Joan is recognizable by her standard, and is neither labeled by name or represented in women's clothing – she is simply a figure riding toward the front of the procession. Clearly meant to be a positive portrayal, a scroll along the top of the tapestry reads, in German, "Here comes the Virgin sent by God to the Dauphin in his land."]
Joan of Arc. Miniature. Last half of the fifteenth century.
[This beautiful miniature of Joan of Arc appears almost icon-like with its gilded background, though Joan here has no halo. She is armed, with her sword in one hand and her standard on the other. The most recognizable feature of this image is Joan's standard, which surrounds her face where a halo would appear in later representations. ]
The last few years of Joan's life were filled with dramatic as well as visually stunning moments. Her letters give us a sense of her passionate mission, and her trial records read like a gripping script (George Bernard Shaw used them as such in his play, Saint Joan, to the bottom right). The letters, trial records, and chronicles of the time give us a wealth of information about Joan, and a variety of authors have attempted to pull the information together into a coherent narrative. Despite the abundance of historical sources, such narratives often more closely reflect upon the author and the time in which they were written than upon Joan herself. Christine de Pizan's Ditié de Jehanne d'Arc (to the top left), probably written while Joan was alive and militarily active, is filled with hope for the future of France. Christine's poem explicitly states that God has chosen to save France through a divine miracle, and it represents Christine's own reaction as a French woman to the events. Joan is not only a miracle for France, but she is a credit to womanhood – she outdoes Esther, Judith, and Deborah. Diametrically opposed to this glowing portrait is the Joan we meet in William Shakespeare's Henry VI, Part 1 (to the top right). Shakespeare's Joan is a witch and a whore, a fitting leader for the effeminate Frenchman who cannot equal the English leaders in this very English version of history. Possibly the first thoroughly researched version of Joan is American: Mark Twain's Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc (to the bottom left). Twain's Joan is both historically grounded and unabashedly idealized. His Joan is a saint before her canonization, and represents purity and goodness destroyed by a wicked world (or, more precisely, by a wicked France). Written after her canonization, George Bernard Shaw's above-mentioned play, though called Saint Joan, depicts a fairly unsaintly woman. Shaw's Joan is spunky and modern, and is meant to challenge people's expectations of the popular figure.
Christine de Pizan's "The Tale of Joan of Arc." The Selected Writings of Christine de Pizan. New York and London: W. W. Norton & Company, 1997.
[Probably written before Joan of Arc's capture, Christine de Pizan's poem, known in French as the Ditié de Jehanne d'Arc, is filled with hope. She presents Joan as a miracle, something beyond nature. Comparing Joan to biblical figures like Judith and Esther, she both gives precedent for the warrior-like female and also states clearly that there had never been a woman like Joan before. God must be responsible, she indicates, if a tender virgin could win such victories for France. Her method as a female author is to separate Joan from other women but also to glorify womankind through Joan's success.]
William Shakespeare's Henry VI, Part I. London: F. C. and J. Rivington, 1821.
[Unlike the other literary representations of Joan in this case, in which Joan is the clear protagonist, Shakespeare's Joan is the antagonist. He gives us a Joan who is a witch and a whore, and her negative representation reflects on all the French. From the play's anglocentric perspective, Joan epitomizes the wanton and effeminate French, as opposed to the upright and manly English. It is a nice example of the way in which early representations of Joan were still tied to national boundaries, perhaps because the Hundred Years' War was still fresh or because these plays were meant to depict English History. (Contrast Shakespeare's representation with Bert Thomas's World War I poster, Case Five, in which Joan's image is decontextualized in order to allow her to be a patriotic model for English soldiers.)]
George Bernard Shaw's Saint Joan. London: Constable, 1930.
[Written after Joan had been sainted by the Catholic Church, George Bernard Shaw's version of Joan is both distinctly modern and distinctly unsaintly. Shaw's Joan is a Protestant before the Reformation. Shaw wanted to challenge popular expectations of Joan and to make her accessible as a spunky modern woman. Shaw nonetheless complicates this rational portrait by including a variety of miraculous events in his version of the story. Despite Shaw's novel take on the saint, his research on Joan was immense. In the text of the play, the introductory information is significantly longer than the play itself, making this a historical text as well as dramatic.]
Mark Twain's Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc. New York and London: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1924.
[Mark Twain researched his material for years before writing this novel, and it was a project he took extremely seriously. He claimed that it was his favorite work, and Joan is likely based on his own favorite daughter. Fans of Twain, and especially of Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, will be surprised by the tone of this text, which is neither satirical nor ironic. Instead, he presents a romanticized Joan, saint-like before she was canonized. The narrator even states that Joan's was "the most noble life that was ever born into this world save only One." Although Twain presents Joan in an unironic fashion, the text remains cynical to some extent. The Joan it depicts is pure, and the world, the French, and the Middle Ages destroy her.]
Like the literature on Joan of Arc, the scholarship is vast and often contradictory. People with a variety of aims have attempted to tackle Joan's mysterious, and yet tantalizingly available, life. Nadia Margolis's Joan of Arc in History, Literature, and Film: A Select, Annotated Bibliography (bottom left) gives a sense of the vast critical work (as well as literature and film) based on Joan's life. Margolis's bibliography lists a staggering number of biographies of Joan. Régine Pernoud and Marie-Véronique Clin's Joan of Arc: Her Story, translated by Jeremy duQuesnay Adams (to the top left), is an interesting biography in that it does not attempt to reconstruct her life in chronological form. It begins with the historical record rather than with Joan's birth, which allows for the fact that information about Joan's childhood comes into the record primarily after her death. Craig Taylor's Joan of Arc: La Pucelle: Selected Sources (center) is an extremely useful edition of the historical sources (including contemporary literature like Christine de Pizan's poem), which also begins with Joan's entrance into the records and continues through her trials. A somewhat different work is Marina Warner's Joan of Arc: The Image of Female Heroism (top right), which views Joan through a feminist lens and pays particular interest to the ways in which she was viewed as a woman. Warner's work is a popular representative of ideologically based scholarship on Joan. Fresh Verdicts on Joan of Arc, edited by Bonnie Wheeler and Charles T. Wood (bottom right), is a compilation of more recent arguments by prominent scholars, and is a good example of the ways in which Joan's story is still available for scholarly discussion despite the centuries of critical work behind us.
Fresh Verdicts on Joan of Arc. Ed. Bonnie Wheeler and Charles T. Wood. New York: Garland, 1996.
[This text, filled with chapters by notable scholars, is, as the name implies, meant to provide new interpretations of Joan of Arc. Although not completely current, it is still a wonderful example of some of the more recent ways in which scholars are approaching Joan's story.]
Joan of Arc: La Pucelle: Selected Sources. Trans. Craig Taylor. Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 2006.
[One of the most useful sources on Joan of Arc for the English reader, this text includes both a fairly comprehensive introduction and a carefully edited English translation of Joan of Arc's trial records, letters, and contemporary mentions of her in chronicles, pamphlets, poetry, etc. It both gives the reader a wealth of information and a good sense of Joan's place in the historical record.]
Nadia Margolis's Joan of Arc in History, Literature, and Film: A Select, Annotated Bibliography. New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1990.
[Margolis's bibliography gives readers a good idea of the breadth of information available on Joan. It is also useful to those trying to trace fictional or film representations of Joan, which can be difficult to track down otherwise.]
Régine Pernoud and Marie-Véronique Clin's Joan of Arc : Her Story. Trans. and rev. Jeremy duQuesnay Adams. Ed. Bonnie Wheeler. New York : St. Martin's Press, 1999.
[This biography of Joan of Arc is especially clear, and it includes a vast "cast of characters" to help the confused reader and to give an idea of the number of people involved in Joan's story. What makes this biography unique is its format; it begins with Joan's entry into the historical record rather than with her childhood, so that information is presented in the order that we have it rather than in an artificially reconstructed order.]
Marina Warner's Joan of Arc: The Image of Female Heroism. New York: Knopf, 1981.
[One of the most popular works on Joan, Warner's text is accessible to a range of readers and strives to give a feminist reading of the figure. Yet it has been widely criticized by scholars for its failures as a scholarly historical work. In order to appeal to a popular audience, this text refers more to later popular figures than to other figures of Joan's own time.]
Since her death, Joan's image has been romanticized, politicized, propagandized, and advertized. It appears in high art, such as the paintings by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres and Dante Gabriel Rossetti (bottom left), and on everyday objects like baked beans and doorknockers (bottom right and center, respectively). Often, Joan has been used for political purposes. As Christine de Pizan used Joan to bolster the spirit of the French (see Case Three), Joan is frequently a symbol of patriotism. She was hugely popular during World War I, as evidenced by the song "Joan of Arc, They're Calling You" (sheet music to the top left) and the posters from both the United States and Great Britain (top center). In fact, it is likely that Joan of Arc's canonization in 1920 was precipitated by her popularity during the First World War (accounts indicate that the Catholic Church intended to canonize her in 1931, at the 500 year anniversary of her death). The First Communion medallion (center) from St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church in Hershey, Pennsylvania is a reminder that Joan is ultimately a religious figure, venerated by countless people throughout the world. Her canonization made her a figure of significance to Catholics worldwide, and was thus an important step in Joan's increasing portability. This portability is also clear in her accessibility to different political agendas both in France and in other countries. As the World War I posters indicate, she could be used as patriotic inspiration to women at home. But "The Suffragette" poster (top right) represents a very different, and equally political, take on Joan as a model for women. Though this poster does not explicitly state Joan's name, it is clearly meant to evoke her image. With full armor and the word "Justice" emblazoned across her breast, this Joan is meant to rally women to break out of stereotypical, passive roles and seek their rights as citizens.
Jeanne Arc au sacre du roi Charles VII, dans la cathedrale de Reims. Painting by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, 1854.
[This romanticized painting of Joan features a feminized figure, armed and holding her standard proudly, but with long hair and cloth draping her legs like a skirt. Painted more than half a century before Joan's canonization, this image is nonetheless a saintly one; her helmet is lying on the floor and a halo encircles her face.]
Joan of Arc Kissing the Sword of Deliverance. Painting by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1863.
[Rossetti's Joan, as a pre-Raphaelite maiden, has flowing hair and Romanesque features. Her jaw and hands, however, are masculine, and she appears to have an adam's apple. She is reverent, located beneath a crucifix (visible from ankles down), and enshrined in silk, but the main feature of this Joan is androgyny.]
"Joan of Arc They Are Calling You." Words by Alfred Bryan and Willie Weston, music by Jack Wells. New York: Berlin & Snyder Co., 1917.
[This patriotic song from World War I is a nice example of Joan's popularity at that time (in fact, it is likely that her popularity during the War sped up her canonization, which was originally meant to be in 1931). The song asks Joan to return to France in order to save it, and the cover features a silhouette of the maid, sword held high, leading troops across the page. Although the lyrics recognize Joan as a French heroine, the song nonetheless imagines her as a figure of aid for all soldiers fighting alongside France.]
Joan of Arc Saved France: Women of America Save your Country. Poster by Haskell Coffin, c. 1914-1918. (see above)
[A wonderful example of Joan as a popular patriotic figure during the First World War, this poster encourages women to aid their country while simultaneously keeping them within an assigned gender role. It does not ask women to fight, but rather to purchase stamps from home. This Joan is pretty and feminine. Though in armor and holding a sword in classic pose, her hair and make-up are both modern and feminine, and an ethereal glow rises from her hair.]
Joan of Arc saved France: Women of Britain Save your Country. Poster by Bert Thomas, c. 1914-1918.
[Like the above poster from the United States, this British poster exemplifies Joan's popularity during World War I. Unlike the American poster, however, this image features a more stylized and less feminine Joan. She is, in this version, more characterized by the union jack colors than by her features. She also appears more active; her sword cuts across the poster, as she is in three quarter view. Furthermore, both posters indicate the way in which Joan was a figure for patriotism unfettered by her French associations (see also "Joan of Arc They Are Calling You," above). The British poster especially indicates her status as a portable figure, since earlier British representations of Joan were anglocentric and negative (see, for example, Shakespeare's Henry VI, Case Three). The fact that Britain and France were now allies against a larger foe may have influenced the way in which Joan's image travelled beyond the channel during the war.]
Poster for "The Suffragette" newspaper. Poster by Hilda Dallas, 1912.
[This poster, featuring the suffragette colors of purple, green, and white, uses Joan's image in a strong way. Though, like the American war poster (see above), this fully armed Joan also appears feminine and modern, those traits serve a very different function in this poster. The modern woman can, like Joan, step outside of traditional roles. The word "Justice" across her breast indicates her new, politicized mission, and her banner reads "W.S.P.U." (standing for "Women's Social and Political Union," another term for the suffragettes). Instead of holding her sword upwards, as in the American war poster, or across the page, as in the British version, this armed lady holds her sword outward toward the viewer. Nowhere does the poster say Joan's name, but the implications are clear, and the fact that the poster need not name the Maid is indicative of her widespread image by this period.]
Ringling Brothers poster for "Joan of Arc." c. 1912.
[This poster, contemporaneous with the World War I images discussed above, capitalizes on the patriotic fervor surrounding Joan at this time (indeed, it is labeled with the words "patriotic zeal"). Here a blonde Joan rides a white horse at the front of a coronation pageant, banner flying to identify her location within the "tremendous 1200 character spectacle." It is, quite literally, a medievalist circus, colorful, spectacular, and utterly fictional.]
"Joan of Arc." The School World Literature Series. Vol. XXII. No. 31. Farmington, Maine: D.H. Knowlton & Co., 1903.
[The fact that this school primer focuses entirely on Joan of Arc indicates that she was already a popular enough figure in the United States to be seen as a suitable role model for children. The text focuses on her piety, her Christian education, and her heroism. As a children's version, the primer is able to mitigate Joan's horrific death by focusing on the powerful memory of her life (compare with the children's books in Case Six).]
First Communion Medallion featuring Joan of Arc. Hershey, Pennsylvania. 1990's.
[This medallion, from St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church in Hershey, Pennsylvania, is an example of Joan's modern role as a Catholic Saint. On one side, the medallion features Joan with standard in hand and a halo above her head. On the other side, it features the church (both edifice and name). It is important to note that she is both a figure for veneration here and the namesake for the church itself. Medallions featuring Joan are abundant, and there are countless churches in the United States alone named for the Maid.]
Joan of Arc Medallion. Basilique de Jeanne D'Arc, Domremy. 1909
[This vintage medallion, from the Joan of Arc Basilica in Domremy, features a profile of Joan's face, with hair cropped short. Joan here has no halo, as she had not yet been canonized in 1909. On the reverse, the basilica itself is featured, giving it the same basic format (Joan on one side, building on the other) as the communion medallion listed above. The two medallions, spanning half the globe and nearly a century, also bridge the time before and after Joan was canonized. One from Joan's home and one from the United States, these medallions together show the wide ranging impact Joan has had.]
Doorknocker featuring Joan of Arc's image and name. England. Date Unknown.
[This doorknocker features a woman in armor and a skirt. Her entire body serves as a knocker against the flat backdrop. She is specifically labeled as "Joan of Arc" below her feet, and is surrounded by a border of flowers. The letters for "England" are carved into the back of the object, but no date is given. This artifact has clearly been used, since white paint (most likely door paint) has crept unevenly up the sides. The doorknocker is a wonderful example of both the way in which Joan's image has become everyday and the way in which Joan is a portable symbol. She is here depicted on an everyday object in England with no specific political or religious context and no national identification.]
Bumper sticker featuring a black and white image of Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres's painting and the words "Joan of Arc: Medieval Feminist." United States. c. 2008.
[This bumper sticker represents Joan's sustained popularity, but also depicts nicely the way in which different versions of Joan have now been collapsed into one figure. The image here, the Ingres painting (see above), represents nineteenth-century romanticism and national sentiment, while the caption, "Medieval Feminist," represents twentieth-century attempts to anachronistically apply twenty-first-century feminism to a fifteenth-century woman. ]
Post card featuring Joan of Arc and the words "Remember kids, Joan of Arc says: 'Please don't smoke!'" Place and date unknown.
[This humorous postcard depicts a cartoon-like image of Joan in the style of a medieval illumination. This Joan has armor, long hair, and a halo, and is contained within a scene of medieval-style architecture. Very different from the canonized, romanticized, or politicized Joan, this version of the saint represents her portability as a figure. It also indicates that her image and story have become widespread enough to make jokes like this possible with little or no context.]
Button featuring Joan of Arc miniature from the latter fifteenth century and the words "St. Joan of Arc: Patron of Women in the Military." United States. c. 2008.
[This button, featuring a medieval miniature of Joan (see Case Two), depicts, like the bumper sticker above, modern attempts to place the medieval woman in terms of modern women's concerns.]
Magnet featuring Haskell Coffin's American World War I poster. United States. c. 2009.
[A complete, though miniaturized, reproduction of the poster discussed above, this magnet represents Joan's use in everyday objects. It also may indicate ways in which Joan has become part of the American cultural consciousness.]
Button featuring a woman in medieval armor and the words "Real Women Wear Armor." United States. c 2008.
[This button, with a sketched image of a woman in armor, with helmet in hand to reveal flowing hair, attempts, like the above bumper sticker and button, to apply Joan's story to modern women. Though it does not contain Joan's name, it clearly evokes her image, and, like the suffragette poster above, indicates the larger use of Joan's image outside of her own context.]
Earrings featuring Antoine Dufour's 1505 Joan of Arc depicted on horseback. United States. 2009.
[These earrings, featuring Dufour's painting of Joan (see Case Two), are part of a handmade collection. They are painted over vintage dominoes, and a matching necklace is available. Like the doorknocker and magnet above and mug below, these pieces of jewelry depict the ways in which Joan's image is now available for everyday objects.]
Mug featuring a close-up of Joan from Haskell Coffin's American World War I poster and the words "I am not afraid . . . I was born to do this." United States. c 2009.
[This mug is another example of Joan's image on an everyday object. This object is especially notable, however, since it features Joan's face (according to WWI America – see above) and words, but not her name. Unlike other objects which feature nameless images that evoke Joan (see the suffragette poster and "Real Women" button above), this mug has an image specifically meant to represent Joan, removed from its context and yet meant to retain its cultural resonance.]
Image of packaging for Joan of Arc brie cheese. United States. 2008.
[Joan of Arc cheese, established in 1918, released this new packaging in 2008. The colorful image is of Joan of Arc in full armor on a white horse with standard flying, an appropriately glorious image for a successful company. The new packing included a chance to win a trip to Paris, though the contest appears unaware of the irony of sending lucky winners to the location where Joan was captured.]
Advertisement for Joan of Arc beans. United States. 1964.
[Joan of Arc beans, popular in the Midwestern United States since 1879, uses a logo similar to that of Joan of Arc cheese (see above), though less colorful. Again a glorious version of Joan, this logo is a silhouette of Joan on a horse with standard flying. Though no less a commercialization, the image seems somehow more incongruous on butter beans than it does on brie cheese, perhaps because beans lack a strong association with France. This advertisement features the slogan "Locked in Flavor . . . Golden Good!!!" A current advertisement features the slogan "Joan of Arc is a real leader!"]
The drama of Joan's life is, indeed, spectacular. As discussed in Cases One and Two, Joan's image is fraught and difficult to categorize, but her life and death are nonetheless filled with intense and visually stimulating moments. Joan is a young maiden riding into battle, armor gleaming in the sun, standard blowing in the wind as she yells a battle cry. She is a pious girl tied to a stake, flames engulfing her, smoke choking off her breath as she cries the name of Jesus. These two moments, each violent in its own way, maintain consistent popularity in art, drama, literature, film, and popular culture. While the glorious battle-Joan is the one most commonly represented in early images (see Case Two) and in romantic and political pieces (see Case Five), it is her death that has always captured the attention of film makers. Joan of Arc is featured in more films than any other historical woman, and the culminating scenes of Joan's suffering are voyeuristically portrayed time after time. The widely celebrated 1928 silent film The Passion of Joan of Arc (top left), directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer and featuring Maria Falconetti, focuses exclusively on Joan's trial and death. The poster for Joan of Arc (left center), directed by Victor Fleming and featuring Ingrid Bergman, most especially demonstrates the obsession with the spectacle of Joan's death. The image of Joan screaming as she burns is captioned "Greatest of All Spectacles," leaving little space for misunderstanding. Equally spectacular and yet vastly different in focus are the numerous children's books on Joan's life. Much like the patriotic images of Joan, these children's books are meant to inspire the young, and they do so by focusing on her amazing life and downplaying her death. M. Boutet de Monvel's 1896 Jeanne d'Arc (top center) set a precedent for picture books on the Maid by connecting words and images in beautiful detail, emphasizing Joan's heroism. Her death is painted at enough distance to mitigate the horror of her execution, a remarkable contrast to the films' focus on Joan's tortured facial expressions.
Passion of Joan of Arc. Dir. Carl Theodor Dreyer. Criterion, 1928.
[This silent film, with Maria Falconetti as Joan, is often considered one of the early points at which film and art intersected and is deservedly a classic of the genre. It is less concerned with telling Joan's entire story and more concerned with portraying the trial and burning. It provides emotional impact with close-ups of facial expressions, most especially Joan's own tear-stained face. The movie is structured much like a passion play (hence the title), and it consistently highlights Joan's martyrdom. Though Joan had become a portable heroine by this time, and the film was produced after her canonization, English officials objected to the film's negative portrayal of the English as Joan's tormentors. French nationalists also objected to Dreyer, a Danish non-catholic, as a director. In fact, the film itself suffered a kind of critical martyrdom before its modern popularity with film enthusiasts.]
Movie poster for Dreyer's Passion of Joan of Arc. France. 1928.
[This poster, like the film, has an ominous and almost claustrophobic feel. The forefront of the image features stylized torture devices which literally divide the space of the image and dissect the people behind. Other versions of the poster feature a muted close-up of Maria Falconetti's face and a stylized depiction of a black and white Joan tied to a stake. The American version of the poster for the film features Joan surrounded by orange flames and grey judges (compare to Fleming poster, below).]
Joan of Arc. Dir. Victor Fleming. Image Entertainment, 1948.
[This classic film, featuring Ingrid Bergman as Joan, is marked by a great deal of sincerity. In fact, it is so sincere that it was criticized by contemporary audiences, who derisively called it a "pageant." As part of its positive portrayal of Joan, the film has a distinctly negative view of both Charles VII and the judges at Joan's trial. Interestingly, the film begins with Joan's canonization, but avoids depicting Joan's voices until the end – it represents Joan's attempts to communicate with the saints in terms of lack of response, but does allow for a
shining cloud at the film's close to indicate a divine response to her death.]
Movie poster for Fleming's Joan of Arc. United States. 1948.
[The image of Joan on this poster is Ingrid Bergman screaming in pain as her body is engulfed in smoke and Technicolor orange flames. The caption, "Greatest of all spectacles!," throws the obsession with the spectacle of Joan's execution into sharp relief. Joan's final, tortured moments will be the visually stimulating climax of the film.]
Joan of Arc. Dir. Christian Duguay. Lions Gate, 1999.
[This version of Joan's story, starring Leelee Sobieski, gives a clear and chronological version of the story. Yet it does make a number of strong interpretive choices. The antagonistic characterization of Joan's father, for example, is added for dramatic effect rather than for historical accuracy, and the film promotes the idea that Charles VII purposely betrayed Joan, which is arguable (though popular in film versions — see Fleming film, above).]
Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc. Dir. Luc Besson. Sony Pictures, 1999.
[This film, with Milla Jovovich in the title role, is the flashiest and most violent of the mainstream movies about Joan. It contains graphic violence, rape, and profanity from its opening moments onward. It also takes extreme creative liberties with historical facts in order to produce a desired effect. Most specifically, it portrays Joan as possessed (or even insane), and her visions are frightening and antagonistic. Certain aspects of the film do seem to get the spirit, if not always the facts, right, but it is interesting more for its striking portrayal than for any attempts at representing Joan herself.]
Josephine Poole's Joan of Arc. Ill. Angela Barrett. New York: Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2005.
[Poole's book is primarily a picture book. It has less historical context than other children's books on Joan, and is likely aimed at a younger audience. Its focus on Joan's glory is so strong that her execution is depicted from far away, followed by a page depicting a star, with the message that Joan became a star after her death.]
Diane Stanley's Joan of Arc. Ill. Diane Stanley. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1998.
[Stanley's book gives a fairly detailed account of Joan's life, complete with context about the Hundred Years' War, maps, and even a pronunciation guide. Its richly detailed illustrations promote a glorious image of Joan, while her execution is depicted from afar in order to mitigate the horrific details. Yet, ultimately, the book gives a real historical bent to the story, even allowing for the ambiguity of aspects of Joan's story. Stanley raises difficult questions about Joan and her voices, and argues that the historian cannot give concrete answers.]
M. Boutet de Monvel's Jeanne d'Arc. Paris: E. Plon, Nourrit & cie, 1896.
[This beautifully illustrated French children's book is likely the first children's book on Joan of Arc, and predates her canonization by nearly three decades (this Joan has a halo, and perhaps in France she could already be seen as a saint). Monvel, who both wrote and illustrated this text, was famous for his painting, and this is arguably his most celebrated work. It has certainly influenced children's books on Joan up to the present day. Monvel was born in Orléans, so it was natural for him to see Joan as a heroine from an early age, and his text set a precedent for looking to Joan, herself very young when she began her career, as a model for young people (see the school primer in Case Five for an American example of Joan as a model for the young). As in other children's books, Joan's glory takes precedent. Here her execution is pictured at a distance; she is looking up piously, and the flames billow behind her instead of engulfing her. The text reads that all present, even the executioners, cry out that they have burned a saint, an ending which privileges her piety, glory, and sainthood even at her most piteous moment. The text and images are full of not only Joan's glory, but also 1890s French nationalism. The cover image, for example, features Joan leading riflemen, who are carrying a banner listing both Joan's and Napoleon's victories. For this reason, Monvel's book is of note for both the history of Joan in children's literature and in modern France. Though a particularly French version of the tale, Monvel's text was translated into English as early as 1897 by A.I. du Pont Coleman, indicating that it had a wider range of influence nearly immediately.]
Michael Morpurgo's Joan of Arc of Domrémy. Ill. by Michael Foreman. London : Pavilion, 1998.
[Morpurgo's book, though it contains glorious battle-images of Joan similar to the other children's books in this case, uses a modern framework that sets it apart from the more straightforward historical representations of authors like Diane Stanley (see above). In this version, a modern girl named Eloise wants to play the role of Joan in Orléans's annual pageant. A sparrow tells her the story of Joan of Arc, and relates that Joan had a sparrow for a companion up until her execution. Unlike Stanley's book, which raises difficult questions, this book never questions Joan or her voices, and the sparrow narrator lends a mystical quality to the entire tale.]
Jeanne d'Arc. PlayStation 3. United States. 2007.
[This video game, though it is based in some part on historical events, contains a great deal of fantasy. Joan's mystical connections to her voices are expanded to lend the game a number of magical elements. Joan and her followers, for example, wear amulets which give them special powers, and King Henry VI is possessed by demons. The English soldiers in general have the appearance of demons. The conflict of the Hundred Years' War is thus recast in terms of a battle between good and evil, with Joan clearly on the side of good.]
Joan of Arc figurine. United States. 1990s.
[This toy, like the children's books in this case, exemplifies the iconic children's image of Joan. Like the cover illustrations of each children's book, this figurine features Joan on horseback, standard flying above her.]
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This project could not have been completed without the help, knowledge, and encouragement of Alan C. Lupack, Rosemary Paprocki, Daniel P. Franke, Kara McShane, Megan Morris, Leila K. Norako, Valerie B. Johnson, John Chandler, N.M. Heckel, Ryan T. Harper, Andrea Lankin, and Karen Patton.