Joan of Arc
Joan of Arc, a farmer’s daughter from the village of Domrémy. Joan’s imagination is so vivid that her inspirations seem to come to her as visions in which the voices of the saints direct her to raise the siege of Orleans and crown the Dauphin at Rheims. By sheer force of personality and a genius for leadership, the seventeen-year-old Joan does these things. Ignorant of the complexities of politics, Joan is unwilling to defer to the experience and advice of ordinary men. She oversteps herself and is tried by the Inquisition for heresy. Her trial is an eminently fair one by the standards of the age, but Joan condemns herself by insisting that the instructions of her “voices” take precedence over the instructions of the Church. Sentenced to be burned and fearing pain, she recants. When she finds that her recantation simply commutes her sentence to perpetual imprisonment, she reaffirms her innocence and is burned. In an epilogue, Joan’s ghost appears and learns that she has been canonized. Her allies and enemies alike bow down and worship her, but when Joan offers to bring herself to life again, they all demur and drift away. Joan wonders when Earth will be ready for God’s saints.
The Dauphin (doh-FA[N]), later Charles VII. Although physically weak and bullied by everyone, he is intelligent and more refined than most nobles of his time. Once he is crowned, Charles tells Joan to be content with what she already has won. He warns her that he cannot protect her if she continues her fight. After Joan is executed, Charles himself becomes a successful warrior.
The Inquisitor, Brother John Lemaître (leh MEHTR), a Dominican monk. A mild, elderly, and highly intelligent man, he believes that Joan’s heresy is the most heinous one of all: the Protestant heresy...
(The entire section is 791 words.)