Table of Contents
Introduction and Context
In the late 1420s France was in a state of despair. The Hundred Years War had been fought for almost a century and the French people had lost hope and initiative. The Dauphin, Charles, had retreated to Chinon. After so many losses defeat seemed imminent without a miracle from God. That miracle came in the form of a young maiden from the village of Domremy who turned the momentum of the war and lifted the spirits of the nation.
Jeanne, later known as Jeanne d’Arc, claimed to have been sent by ‘the King of Heaven’ to raise the siege at Orleans and have Charles crowned as King. She claimed to hear the voices of Saints directing her and was determined she should obey these messages from God. She never wavered in this assertion and those who knew her likewise believed she was guided by God.
In the fifteenth century acceptance of such an event is not surprising. Anything that could not be understood was attributed to an act of God, the church being central to life. In more recent times doubts have been cast on Jeanne’s claims and her voices have been explained as being the result of a mental or physical disorder.
Was Jeanne’s voices supernatural in origin or is there some other explanation for her experiences?