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Joan of Arc - Essay Example

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Joan of Arc

(Lowell 28) From this time onward she received regular visitations from the archangel, and from Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret, who told her that her purpose was simply to help France. For several years she did not speak of the visions. It was only when they became more specific about what they wanted her to do that she was required to speak in order to establish her mission. From this is it obvious that her visions were not simply a method of attention-seeking, as she was in no hurry to reveal their existence until it was absolutely necessary. She lived with the voices for several years without acting upon what they told her, and was reluctant to speak of them at all. (Lowell 30) Perhaps this modesty was one way in which her authority became believable.
One of the reasons Joan of Arc has become a legendary figure is that, as a French peasant girl she was able to gain the backing of the French king, and command the respect and obedience of an entire army. In 1428 the voices began to give her more specific instructions, and as a result she eventually gained an audience with Charles VII of France. (Hodges 2000) At this time, the influence of Charles VII had been steadily weakening, and this perhaps was a major factor in his decision to trust in her. Even if this is true, it is still impressive that she was able to command such influence over the French army. It is said that the Commanders of the army "supported her mostly because she was willing to aggressively fight the English, unlike the lethargic and distracted Royal Court". (Williamson 2003) Perhaps she was, initially, so firmly supported partially by default rather than due to any particular faith in her. Joan's main focus was the spiritual life of the army, and she may have been more a source of inspiration than of military tactics. (Williamson 2003)
There are a number of cited instances where Joan herself appeared to have knowledge of events that had not yet occurred, or simply knowledge that she should have had no way of knowing. There are so many such stories that they have become part of an enduring legend that strengthens the image of Joan of Arc as divinely inspired. The fact that she was canonized after death only serves to enhance this image. The first such stories are about the incidents which enabled her to gain an audience with the Charles VII. She first went to Lord Robert de Baudricot, a garrison commander stationed near her village of Domremy, to request an escort to the king. Having previously sent her away twice, he fulfilled her third request after she accurately predicted a French defeat at Rouvray near Orleans. Next, she gained an audience with Charles VII, and he began to take her seriously after she related to him the details of a private prayer he had made several months earlier, in which he had asked God to aid his cause. (Williamson 2003) There are many such incidents in history - Joan of Arc is said to have predicted numerous battles in which she took part, including that outside of Paris where she herself was wounded. (Williamson 2003)
In matters of faith it is impossible to determine truth. One either believes, or does not. Because of this, one can say that truth is not the important factor in faith - what is relevant is the belief. In ...Show more

Summary

Until she was 13, it is likely that Joan of Arc was a more or less ordinary French girl. In 1425, at the age of 13, however, she began hearing voices. The voices were accompanied by a bright light, and eventually told her that she had a divine purpose. Of course the true origin of the voices is unknown, but it seems clear that she believed wholeheartedly that they were real…
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