The Great Joan of Arc Imposter

Grace Higgins | December 10th, 2019

Joan of Arc whose real name was Jehanne d’Arc or could have been Jehanne Tarc, or actually, it may have been Jehanne de Vouthon – well you get the picture nobody really knew her real name as she never used it. She grew up in Domremy a village in northeastern France, she was the daughter of a farmer and a devout Catholic wife. Joan herself only referred to herself as Joan La Pucelle, which would translate to Joan the Maid.

history.com

You see in medieval France, surnames were not really used and they were not even fixed. For example, anyone with the surname Romee simply meant that they had made a pilgrimage to Rome or another religiously significant event. Some doctors believe that she must have been suffering from schizophrenia and that is why she claimed to hear voices. During her trial, she testified that angels and saints had instructed her to defend France from the invading English.

She often spoke of a bright light accompanying her visions and though she is remembered as a fearless warrior, Joan never entered combat. She accompanied her men and stood with her banner, like a mascot, but also directing military strategy. Despite not entering combat she was still injured twice while fighting. And contrary to popular belief she was not really burnt at the stake for sorcery. She was initially imprisoned for life for an admission of guilt, though historians believe she was illiterate and had no idea what she was signing.

After signing the document she then claimed to still hear the voices, to which the judge decided she had relapsed as a heretic and sent her to the stake. But the really crazy story is that then she still lived in the form of an imposter, created by her brothers no less.

From 1434 to 1440, Joan’s brothers passed off an imposter as a sister, stating that she had miraculously survived and escaped execution as a hero. They used Claude des Armoises who resembled Joan and had participated in military campaigns with her. Jean and Pierre, her brothers, planned this scheme to get rich gifts from the French king. And it worked for several years they lived in wealth by just going from one festive reception to another. Until they finally admitted their depiction to Charles VII.

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