Une Femme Firsts: Joan of Arc

Today’s Une Femme First goes back in time. Way back in time, specifically, to 1400’s France. Joan of Arc, who is nicknamed “the Maid of Orleans,” is certainly most famous for being burned alive. Her actions, which led her to her death and also inspired the Catholic Church to eventually canonize her a saint, are worth reflecting on apart from her sensational death.

“I am not afraid...I was born to do this,” Joan of Arc is said to have uttered during the most difficult time of her trials. Born a peasant, she believed that she had a direct line to God. Her divinations during the Hundred Years War eventually led the French army to an astounding victory over England during a siege in which they tried to conquer France. 

While that is sensational enough on its own, Joan of Arc was technically in violation of the religious and social order of the day and was not supposed to be dressing as a man, as she did to disguise herself, and certainly wasn’t supposed to be fighting in any wars. The Catholic Church determined her to be a heretic and subsequently burned her at the stake for her so-called crimes. Both history and the Church have been kinder to her in death than any institution was to her in life, and she has since achieved sainthood along with a permanent place as a hero in France’s national history. For being one of the first and most well-known women to fight the establishment, especially and even in the face of earth, we salute Joan of Arc for being one of the most badass women in history.