Joan of Arc

I remember reading a book that was to have a huge impact on my life when I was around 6-8 years old.  The book was about a courageous teenage girl, who heard voices in her head and who went to war to champion Charles VII of France and lead the French army to important victories during the Hundred Years’ War.

Joan of Arc was portrayed to me as a religious, driven and committed individual who stood by her beliefs until the end, resulting in her being burned at the stake in 1431.

I have often reflected on what it was about Joan that inspired me and caused me to hold her as a hero for myself and a role model for the future.

After all mostly what I know about her is vague and over time been challenged by historians.  Below are seven widely accepted facts about Joan that surprised me:

  • Joan’s real name was Jehanne d’Arc, Jehanne Tarc, Jehanne Romée or possibly Jehanne de Vouthon—but she didn’t go by any of these.
  • In modern times, some doctors and scholars have “diagnosed” Joan of Arc with disorders ranging from epilepsy to schizophrenia.
  • While commander of the French army, Joan of Arc didn’t participate in active combat.
  • Joan of Arc had a famously volatile temper.
  • Contrary to popular belief, Joan of Arc wasn’t burned at the stake for witchcraft—at least not technically.
  • From 1434 to 1440, Joan’s brothers passed an imposter off as their sister, claiming she’d escaped execution.
  • Joan of Arc inspired the ever-popular bob haircut, which originated in Paris in 1909.

Refer to for the full article.

What is it that causes one person to admire and follow an individual and another to turn away and ridicule their beliefs and intentions?  What is it that causes us to pick a role model or person of influence to aspire to be?

The reality for me at the time, was I was 6 years old, and everything around me seemed possible and like an adventure.  However I was told to:

  • Behave like a lady
  • Be careful that I didn’t get hurt
  • Have good manners and sit still at the dinner table
  • Do what I was told
  • Don’t answer back
  • Look after your sister

Looking back through an adults eyes what I saw in Joan was a young girl who had strong beliefs, had a vision and who gave herself permission to have the freedom to chase her dreams with no rules or boundaries.  How liberated she must have felt.

So how did this role model change me.  After all, I never did:

  • Develop a strong understanding of myself and vision as a teenager
  • Lead an army of men
  • Fight for a cause/belief to the death

However, I did follow my dreams, jumped into the unknown on more than one occasion and believed in myself enough to give it a go no matter how scared I was.

Joan of Arc for me developed a role model I could refer to when I had doubts about me and what I could achieve, or even what I believed.  She taught me it is not about being wrong, being a lady, having good manners or not answering back.

It is about having belief in yourself, conviction to follow through and respect for yourself and others.  Joan also helped me to understand that no matter what there is always good in people and everything they do is for a positive intent.  Positive intent for themselves, if not for others.

What I like about Joan is that she has taught me tolerance, I don’t have to agree with ever thing said or every thing that happens, but I am not judge and executor for those around me.  I can only control my thoughts, beliefs and dreams and quite frankly that keeps me busy enough.  As long as I don’t hurt anyone intentionally along the way I believe that ensures I live a good life and who knows one day I just might lead that army of men into battle.

Who was your role model or super hero when you were young?  What impact do you think they had on your life and future?  I would love to know your thoughts.

Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts and I hope in some way they resonated with you, or at least got you thinking back to a time when imagination, curiosity and dreaming were everything.