What was Jeanne really like?
We can only answer that we know very little indeed. We know that she was about five foot two in height, thickly made, muscular, and very strong.
Her eyes were far apart, and somewhat prominent. Her hair was black. She was reasonably good-looking, but by no means pretty. Her complexion was distinctly dark. She had a red birthmark her left ear, and was gifted with a low, sweet and compelling voice. That is absolutely all we know of her physical characteristics.
A further description of the Maid is contained in a letter from Milan, written on 21st June 1429. De Boulainvilliers was Chamberlain to CharlesVII, and Seneschal of Berry. His description is as follows:
"This girl is reasonably good-looking, and with something virile in her bearing; she speaks but little, and is remarkably prudent, in what she does say. She eats little, and drinks wine still less; manages both her horse and her arms superbly well; greatly likes the company of knights and soldiers; scorns the company of the rabble; sheds many tears; has a happy expression; so great is her strength in the endurance of fatigue that she could remain completely armed during six whole days and nights.
Jeanne was a virile bearing, spoke little, showed an admirable prudence in all of her words, had a pretty woman's voice, and was persuasive.
The testimony of well over 600 people who knew her would be recorded in court. Not even in the trial, which was rigged illegally by her prosecutors, would any witness speak a word against her.
The letter addressed to the citizens of Riom came to light among the archives of that town as recently as 1844. The interesting point about it (and the reason why I mention it among the relics of the Maid), is that a single black hair had been pressed into the wax of the seal by a finger. The custom whereby the writer of a letter plucked a hair from his head and pressed it into his seal was frequent at the time; it was an additional guarantee of the authenticity of the document; so it may be taken as reasonably certain that the hair came from Jeanne's head, witch gives additional confirmation to the tradition that she was ´black and swart`. [Scott, W. S: Jeanne d'Arc-Her Life, Her Death, and the Myth. Appendix B, page 147-48]
Jeanne's mother testified that from her youth Jeanne often fasted with great piety and devotion for the suffering of the people. During her trial Jeanne was questioned at least twice regarding her eating habits.
*Louis de Contes:
"I saw her eat nothing during a whole day but a morsel of bread. I was astonished that she ate so little. When she was in her lodging she ate only twice a day."
*Colette, wife of Pierre Milet:
"Jeanne was very frugal in eating and drinking. There was nothing but modesty in her conduct, in her actions, and in all her manner of life."
*Jean, Bastard of Orleans, Count de Dunois.
"Jeanne was taken to her house, to receive the care which her wound required. When the surgeon had dressed it, she began to eat, contenting herself with four or five slices of bread dipped in wine and water, without, on that day, having eaten or drunk anything else."
(*From The Trial of Nullification
Her virginity was noted by mature women, at Poitiers/Tours in March 1429 and at Rouen, on 13 January 1431. It is known that Yolande was one of the ladies of the court who, at Tours, examined Jeanne for virginity. (This was to intended to withdraw any suspicion of sorcery)