Jeanne d’Arc: Morale, Spiritual Authority, and Gunpowder
Honour’s Thesis: (2010)
Few people in history have had more written about them than Jeanne d’Arc. This young woman has been claimed by French Nationalists, the Catholic church, and radical feminists alike; she has been portrayed variously as saint, heretic, schizophrenic, war heroine, virgin, and tart. To some she was the saviour of France, to others an inconsequential player in the larger picture of the Hundred Years War. Whatever the evidence for each of these interpretations, the first and most important question that needs to be asked is what was it that Jeanne d’Arc did to become such a controversial and important figure in medieval history? The answer is the one thing that most writers have chosen to ignore: she was a successful military commander.
Her success at relieving the siege of Orléans and the crushing defeat of the English army at Patay is mentioned in passing in most of the historical narratives. As well, a few words are spared to describe the march to Reims during which town after town was taken by Jeanne and her army. Oddly though, very few authors take the time to discuss how she achieved these victories and, in particular, they fail to recognize her use of gunpowder weaponry in the majority of her battles. Whether she was divinely inspired, a brilliant strategist, or simply extremely lucky, during her yearlong
campaign against the English she was actively, forcefully, and decisively involved in planning
and executing her battles.