With these words we began a few years ago, the article “The Passion of Joan of Arc” . Now we are going to look at what happened after the execution, when Joan was gone. And this time the dates worthy of attention would be 4 and 20 May. Here we see a reconstruction of the face of Joan of Arc. Even this reconstruction was made possible because of what happened after her death. We are going to get there step by step.
The name of Joan of Arc was already so well known both in France and beyond its borders, that there were often women who passed themselves off as her, like Jeanne de Sermaise who was probably from the village Sermaise, which is a village which Joan of Arc visited more than once during her life, since some of her relatives lived there (for example the local priest, Messire Henri de Vouthon, was her maternal uncle). Jeanne de Sermaize appeared however quite late. It is known that in 1457 she spent three months imprisoned in Saumur for her fraud, but was pardoned through a special letter from Prince René d’Anjou . She was supposedly married to a certain Jean Douillet.
There were other such “Joans” and it is good to realize their existence before we come to the right double.
– “La Pucelle du Mans” , also known as “Jeanne de Férone” who had been convicted to pillory for offending a cleric,
– “La Pucelle de La Rochelle” – from the years 1436 to 1439 came a letter, which reached the king of Castile and in which a “maiden of France” fighting in La Rochelle asks him to send military aid to Rochelle in a form of a fleet for the king of France in his struggle against the English. “La Poncella de Francja” was indeed to succeed through that letter: the King of Spain, according to the chronicles, gave such assistance. That Maid is sometimes identified (perhaps wrongly) with the person we are going to look at today.
We mentioned her as “Madame des Armoises” at the end of the previous text. But then we only devoted that little reference to her. Now we will look at closer at her. She appeared in the vicinity of Metz on May 20, 1436 (1)
, which is 5 years (less 10 days) after the death of Jeanne d’Arc. She was presenting herself both as Claude and Jeanne La Pucelle. She allegedly miraculously avoided death at the stake. She was recognized as Jeanne by many inhabitants ofMetz. She was also identified as her by Joan’s two brothers, Jean and Pierre. We have already mentioned this before. Nicole Louve, an aristocrat who, along with Jeanne, witnessed the coronation of Charles VII inReims (17 July 1429) also identified her. He had recognized her by her appearance, her wounds and by various peculiarities. He immediately gave her a horse as a gift and two other nobles to accompany her. Soon after, the two brothers visited Orleans, the first town to have been liberated by Jeanne, bringing the news that she was found. The chronicle ofOrleans mentions that fact in its records for the year 1436.
Just one day after her visit to Metz, Claude was to go, along with the two brothers du Lys, to Vaucouleurs, and meet with Robert de Baudricourt, who remembered Jeanne from when she asked him for help and a recommendation when she was going to King Charles VII on her mission. It is surprising that in a similar way she met successively with various friends of Jeanne (not all, of course) and they identified her as La Pucelle whom they had known a few years earlier. This does not mean that there was no one – even from the very beginning of her appearance – who considered her a fraud. For example, in the south of France, in Arles, there is preserved a notarial document indicating that a bet was made by two residents of the city: one claimed that that “La Pucelle de France” was the real Joan, the other did not believe in her authenticity.
Claude embarks on her journey
Then “Jeanne” spent 3 weeks in Marieulles with a noble family ofMetz. Then – as befitted the “Pucelle de France” – she went on a pilgrimage to the shrine of the “Black Madonna” in Liesse. From there she went with the two brothers du Lys (the brothers of Joan of Arc) to Arlon, to the court of the Princess Elizabeth ofLuxembourg(1390-1451). The Duchess Elisabeth von Görlitz, as she was alternatively known, had been since 1409 the wife of Prince Anton ofBurgundy, who fell in the Battle of Agincourt in 1415.
During her stay in Arlon, Claude found herself in the center of the dispute over the investiture of the bishopric of Trier. There were two candidates for the episcopate: the favourite of Rome, Raban von Helmstatt, and an excommunicated nobleman, Ulrich von Manderscheid. The Duchess of Luxembourg (née von Görlitz) and Ruprecht comte de Virnebourg (ie: “Graf von Württemberg”) supported Manderscheid. “Comte de Virnebourg” (about whom we read that he had actually fallen in love with “Joan”), put Claude in charge of a mercenary military unit to be sent toCologne for the purpose of supporting Manderscheid.
From the Latin record in the chronicles of the city of Cologne, we know that she arrived there on August 2, 1436 as “puella de Francia” (“The Maid of France”) at the head of the military unit.
Johannes Nider, prior of the Dominican order in Basel and an inquisitor specializing in issues of witchcraft and witches, wrote, between the years 1435 – 1437 his famous and important work known as “Formicarius” relating to the issues of religious discipline and witchcraft. There we find some information on the stay of “Jeanne” in Cologne:
“There was a young woman, who from time to time took on the behavior of a male, and who was running around armed and with wildly flowing clothes, as soldiers in the pay of a nobleman do. She also let herself be seen dancing with men. And she used to drink and to carouse” (…).
There were two rivals who fought then, to the regret of the inhabitants, for the bishopric of Trier. The young woman boasted that she could enthrone one of them, like The Maid Joanna did with Charles, the king of the Franks, whom she helped to grow stronger in his kingdom. What’s more, did she at the same time not claim to have been that Joanna from that time, whom God allowed to rise again? “
But by chance the great inquisitor Heinrich Kalteisen was then in Cologne and he took an immediate interest in that mysterious woman. Especially since incredible stories started to be circulated about her:
“In the presence of the authorities she performed unusual things that were almost in the realm of magic. The Inquisitor has sent her a call together with a public demand to subject herself to a serious investigation.
They said that in the presence of all she tore a big cloth, which in the sight of all she restored to its original state. Then she grabbed a glass and threw her against the wall so that it crashed. But made it back to an undamaged condition and did other useless things” (Johannes Nider, “Formicarius”)
The Inquisition did not catch this “Jeanne”. She managed to slip away on August 25 and return to Arlon, the seat of the Duchess of Luxembourg. However, she did not manage to avoid excommunication by the inquisitor Heinrich Kalteisen. There were three reasons for excommunication: witchcraft, wearing men’s clothes (sounds familiar, does it not? Of course, from the process of condemnation of Joan of Arc …) and support given to an excommunicated person as a candidate for bishop.
Being in Arlon, “Jeanne” married, on November 6, 1436, a widowed aristocrat with two children, Robert des Armoises, reportedly her senior by 20 years. Robert was related, through his previous marriage, to the aforementioned friend of Jeanne, d’Arc, Robert de Baudricourt. The wedding of “Jeanne” and Robert des Armoises took place at the castle in Arlon. Soon after, they both went to Marville, to finalize the sale of one of Robert’s estates. On that occasion a notarial document appeared (1437) on which, for the first time, both titles “Jehanne du Lys – La Pucelle de France” can be seen side by side. “Jehanne du Lys” – it was, as we recall, the official title that the authentic Joan of Arc received in December 1429 from King Charles VII. Claude used both titles until the end. After her death in 1449 they were also placed on her epitaph.
Then the couple des Armoises dwelt for a time in Metz in a house opposite the church of Sainte-Segolène, and later in the castle of Robert de Armoises in Jaulny. From various places of her stay Claude wrote letters to Orleans, Voucouleurs, reportedly even to King Charles VII personally. At the same time – according to a myth – she put up a fight against the British in the vicinity of La Rochelle, from the time that the above-mentioned correspondence with the king of Castile was supposed to have occured, as a certain chronicle has it (2)
How did Claude (and Jeanne) look?
As already mentioned, Claude des Armoises married an aristocrat. You could say that, after all, she was lucky. And with her we are as well in a way. Because nobles quite often had their pictures painted. It was no different in the case of Robert and Claude des Armoises. In 1871, the local mayor of Jaulny confessed that his great-grandfather covered, at the request of the then Lord des Armoises, portraits of Jeanne and her husband, Robert des Armoises, with plaster. These portraits were painted in the form of “medallions” with facial profiles dating from the fifteenth century. Here is the profile of the face of Claude (Jeanne). Of course, this portrait, depicting a woman in her middle ages, does not show us how Joan of Arc looked in her life but as she probably would look like had she lived to the age of around 40. In fact she lived only about 20 years.
The only image dating from the fifteenth century, and believed to be modeled on the face of Joan of Arc, is the head of the statue of St. Maurice from the church of Orleans (now at the Musée historique et Archeologique). We presented this sculpture in the previous article. Now we show it from two other angles. We previously stated that Joan had brown eyes. Careful observation of the sculpture suggests a lighter color than brown. Also, the facial profile of Claude des Armoises, when enlarged and lightened, shows a blue eye. It was this sculpture and the profile of Jeanne des Armoises that served Prof. Dr. Ursula Wittwer-Backofen of the University of Freiburg to reconstruct the face of Joan of Arc. This reconstruction was carried out in 2007 at the Bundeskriminalamt in Wiesbaden. The result is the face presented at the beginning of this text. This reconstruction is shown in the documentary film “Jeanne d’Arc – Die Jungfrau von Orleans” . The sequence for the appearance of Jeanne begins at the10th minute, while the reconstruction is shown from 23.55 minutes. For our own reconstruction, see here: “Reconstructing the looks of Joan of Arc”.
The face sculpture of St. Maurice (supposedly: of Jeanne d’Arc) and the facial profile of Claude match each other by proportions. This is not the only trace of similarity between these two women. In fact, they had to be very similar. And definitely not only in terms of appearance. Inanimate objects such as sculptures, paintings and jewelry can be similar to each other only in terms of their physical appearance. With people it is different. They can talk – and therefore have certain voice, they are able to move, so similarity will also include the way of moving, walking, gesturing, etc. In order to confuse an outsider as to the identity of two different people, their physical looks or voice may suffice. But to fool those who know one of those two persons well or to make them seriously contemplate the use of a “usurper” for their own purposes, the usurper would have to match the intellectual and personality characteristics of the “original”. Let us not forget that Claude was the only usurper accepted by Joan’s old comrades of arms, nobles, aristocrats, and above all, the two brothers du Lys. They could have had a very indecent motives. Historians generally believe this. We do not believe, however, that the brothers du Lys would dare to play such a dangerous game, if Claude was less similar to Jeanne. They would not have hurried straight to Orleans, to announce there that Joan lived (which is recorded in the chronicle of Orleans). Joan was very well known there. Claude arrived there three years later and, without any problem, had been accepted as Joan not only by the population, but also by the city authorities and by those whom Jeanne stayed with in May 1429. Of all the famous usurpers it was only Claude who dared such a visit, which lasted a total of 2 weeks (and which was to take longer, but suddenly was interrupted).
Had she ever been exposed?
It is believed that the falsity of Claude as “Jeanne” is proved by the fact that as many as three times she had been exposed as a cheater: the first time in Orleans in 1439 and therefore she quickly ran away, for the second time in Paris, where she was interrogated and a third time by King Charles VII personally in 1440 or 1441. Some authors believe that the meeting of Claude and the King had already taken place in 1439. While we do not undermine the argument that Joan and Claude were two different persons, we need to emphasize, for the sake of accuracy, that the thesis of triple exposure of Claude is simply completely false. If Claude was exposed by anyone at all, it was only by Charles VII. We know this from a document by few decades later, written in the year 1516 (3). However, if this is true, the king acted inconsistently: there is no sign anywhere that he punished her for fraud and such an act could even end tragically for the deceiver indeed, the more so that Claude had been “at odds” with the Inquisition in Cologne since 1436… Instead, she was free to return to the Jaulny castle where she lived and could continue to use titles that clung to Joan of Arc. In Paris, the interrogation did not lead to any exposure and Claude was released. She had never admitted there that she was not Jeanne, and to the question of whether it was the Maid, she replied very cleverly (4). The whole of her testimony there even strongly suggests that she definitely affirmed herself as Jeanne d’Arc.
In Orleans no-one even attempted to expose her, but instead they gave her a warm welcome, and a feast to celebrate her arrival was arranged, 3 years after the anniversary funeral service was discontinued, having been established in 1431. As if that was still not enough, on arrival at Orleans, she was awarded (between July 18 and August 1 1439) quite a special gift of gold for her part in the struggle to break the English siege of the city, which lasted from 1428 till May 1429. We still do not know why in 1439 Claude unexpectedly cut short her stay in the city. This unexpected change of plans is a breeding ground for conclusions which do not find support from any shred of evidence in any source. These are such situations where it is reasonable to ask why the authors who believe that they know the truth would use unnecessary untruths to support this truth. In this way, they would just undermine it.
“The Second Face”, i.e. more similarities than differences
Anyway, if one already criticizes Claude, why not those princes and counts, who even initiated an attempt to make an excommunicated man a bishop? Who has funded that chutzpah? It was not Claude, it was them.
Claude in some way had become a tool utilized by those aristocrats who had a lot, and wanted even more. Just as before, Jeanne became a victim. Except that, at least the counts and the princess took care of Claude by having arranged her marriage and ensured a future for her, even if she did not achieve much for them. On the other hand, Charles VII did not even lift his little finger for Joan in 1431 in order to save her, even though he owed her a lot, namely his crown…
When the question arises (based on her own testimony inParisin 1440) of Claude’s propensity to violence, let us keep in mind that Jeanne also did not lack this inclination. We do not have any proof (except the aforementioned evidence fromParis) that Claude was particularly violent. Nothing really, for the whole 13 years from 1436 to 1449! And if Jeanne’s irritability is explained passionately, by Allen Williamson – by the hardships and dangers of soldiering, and the inconvenience of wearing armor, why not extend this argument also to Claude, who in the end had been exposed to similar inconveniences and dangers?
One of the biographers of Joan of Arc, Edward Lucie-Smith, writes in the preface to his book:
“My Joan is perhaps less admirable than Joan is to be found in most of the contemporary literature. She is intensely arrogant, violent (but afraid of her own violence) and not always truthful. She is a prisoner of an obsession, or of a group of obsessions. At the same time she has moments, and more than moments, of ordinary human fear, self-doubt and depression. We may pity, admire and even love her. At the same time we may feel a sneaking sympathy for those – even those who were supposedly champions of the same cause, such as Regnault de Chartres, Archbishop of Rheims – who grew to detest her”. (“Joan of Arc”, Penguin Books, 2000, p. xiii).
We do not tend to sympathize with Jeanne’s enemies. But we are able to see a bit more in her “double” than just a usurper.
“Today it is clear that the execution, with which the English authorities had intended to write finis to a troublesome career, was instead the true start of one of the most considerable legends in European history. Like most legends it appears in the variety of guises. The Joan of Voltaire, the Joan of Schiller, the Joan of Michelet, the Joan of Anatole France and the Joan of George Bernard Shaw are all different from one another. In modern historical literature she has been presented as everything from a great Christian mystic and visionary to the leader of a secret and unorthodox religion. The notion that she escaped burning, persists; and some writers have been attracted by the idea that she was not a mere peasant girl at all, but a royal bastard with Valois blood in her veins. Theories of this kind seem to me unprovable.” (E. Lucie-Smith, “Joan of Arc”, Penguin Books, 2000, page 3).
Indeed, the belief that Joan of Arc and Claude des Armoises (and even Jeanne de Sermaise) are all one and the same person, still persists here and there to this day, and namely almost continuously since the fifteenth century (5) . A manuscript, once found in England, contains an information that “Finally, they burned her publicly, or another woman like her: concerning which many people were and still are of different opinions.” The stories of other “Joans”, chiefly Claude, are a continuation of the same legend. There are authors who have rejected, and still reject, the thesis of the death of Joan in 1431, because no record of her execution has been found in the chronicle of the town of Rouen. They seem to say: “Okay, she was sentenced to death, but where is the evidence that, indeed, it was her who was killed and not someone else?”
After having married Robert de Armoises Claude lived with him in his castle in Jaulny. Jaulny is not very far from Domremy, where Joan of Arc was born and raised. The proximity of this village did not seem to bother Claude in the slightest. This supports the version of her great similarity to Jeanne. After her own death, she was buried in the chapel in the nave of the church in Pulligny, which is also close to Domremy. For at least two and half centuries there was a plaque with the inscription that read as follows:
Here lies the honourable lady
Dame Jeanne du Lys, La Pucelle de France
Dame de Tichemont
Who was the wife of our Venerable Knight
and the Lord of this place
and who passed away on the 4 th day of May 1449
Her soul rests in God
Somehow that epitaph did not disturb the local population over the centuries. It was removed by order of the episcopate of France in 1909, i.e. 460 years after the death of Claude, in connection with the process of the beatification of Jeanne. (7)
The Dutch author Dick Berents in his article “The Resurrection of Joan of Arc” (in a collection of articles “Joan of Arc: Reality and Myth” ), compares Jeanne with Claude on the basis of a positive and negative stereotype, writing:
“She must have looked a bit like Joan: perhaps not enough to fool people, but enough to allow outsiders to believe that she could be the real Joan. The king did not trust his memory of her appearance. She must also have known something of the real Joan, but she certainly did not understand her.
For she was not at all like the real Joan of Arc. She spoke in vague comparisons, the real Joan always spoke clearly and understandably. She was frivolous when it came to dancing, feasting and drinking, while the real Joan was not. She killed people, but the real Joan never killed a single person. She married and had children, while the real Joan had vowed chastity before God. Apparently she had trouble putting her heart into her new identity.” (pp. 93-94)
We believe that Berents’ first argument fails for the reasons mentioned before when touching the subject of the appearance of Jeanne and Claude. We agree with Berents that Jeanne and Claude were two different persons. However, the arguments that he used, are not evidence and are not even sufficiently justified to prove the fact. As for the second argument of “speaking in vague comparisons”, we actually have only one source, quoted here in footnote No. 1, where it is mentioned that she “spoke in parables” (it is unfortunate however that it does not give any specific examples of those “parables”). And Jeanne herself was not always saying everything directly, as is shown by some of her statements from her condemnation trial – like when she told the judges about the “angel and crown” (quoted at length are those statements in the previous article.) As for the remaining points of frivolity, eating, drinking, killing and having children, let us get real:
Joan of Arc remained in the army only for one year. As for Claude, it looks like – with some breaks – she spent at least several years in this way. Even the best nature can deteriorate over time under such conditions. Especially if you think of some types Joan and Claude had to work with there. Let us mention just one such individual: Gilles de Rais. He knew Joan of Arc from her campaigns of 1429 and 10 years later Claude served with him in the army in the rank of Captain (if historians have rightly linked Claude des Armoises to this episode). He succeeded in reaching the rank of the Marshall of France and got rich in the Hundred Years War. He was an apt politician and soldier, but blinded by careerism and greed. His greed was so great that legends circulated that he engaged astrologers to produce gold…. He was also a sexual pervert, paedophile and murderer who allegedly boasted that in his life he killed 800 people. He ended up at the stake of the Inquisition in Nantes for heresy and murder in 1440. Even if Saint Joan “learned” to drink and dance in his “company”, no-one could say that she “learned” too much evil…. It is interesting to note that the “Formicarius” by Johannes Nider, quoted here before showing Claude in the bad light because of these dances and feasting, does not mention a word about any promiscuity of the woman or any other evil deeds, even a minor theft …
Speaking of killing people – this is another of Berents’ objections to Claude. There is only one single testimony by Claude that she killed someone in combat, when she had to serve in the army of the Pope (it would have been in the years 1431 to 1433). Exactly: that she killed someone in combat, not that she was “killing people”. This is a bit different from being involved in murders. Had Jeanne killed anyone in her life? Generally there is a perception that she did not. Or so she claimed, when she was being tried in Rouen, between February and May 1431. And so it was claimed more than 20 years later by witnesses in the rehabilitation trial. One does not have to be a genius to guess that if someone is prosecuted and threatened with death, then there will be no inclination on his/her part to admit to killing people. And a trial of rehabilitation of such a person on the other hand also does not serve to level any murder charge against such a person… When Joan broke her famous “Sword of Saint Catherine”, she immediately received a new one. Weighing it in her hand, and having made a few sweeps with her arm, she declared with satisfaction that “it is good for cuts and thrusts.” It does not prove, of course, that she had killed anyone with any “cut and thrust,” but it also certainly does not mean that she would not be capable of this. Just look at her very bellicose “Letter to the English” to find that out (8). And do not forget about one more thing: Jeanne had never had any military rank. Claude was reportedly a Captain … From her, combat was required, and from Jeanne it was not. This does not mean that Jeanne was only a “mascot” for the army, undoubtedly she had a talent for leadership and great power of persuasion (like Claude …). Therefore, given the lack of requirement to take part in direct combat, it seems much more likely that Jeanne, rather than Claude, had lesser opportunity to have killed anyone. Personally, we believe that the boundary between the sacred and the profane is often thinner than it sometimes seems.
Well, and that Jeanne was not married and had no children? She began her campaign in 1429. She was born somewhere between 1407 and 1412 year, which would make her from 17 to 21 years old at that time. If Claude was about her age, in the year 1436 – when she first appeared “on stage” – she would have been between 24 and 29 years old. One can imagine that a person 17-21 years can easily imagine a life in virginity than a woman approaching the age of 30… Not only that: if we already speak of virginity vows by Jeanne, it is worth remembering how she described it: to remain a virgin for as long as God will require it from her (9);. And who of us knows how long Joan believed that God required it?
In our opinion an entirely different “scenario” of the story of Jeanne and Claude is more credible: that both of them were very similar to each other, both in appearance and character; energetic, enterprising and intelligent far above average. And it is not anything unheard of, that people very similar to each other physically have a number of similar mental and psychical characteristics. Therefore both Jeanne and Claude were like the two “halves” of one human nature, representing their different uses like the original and its imperfect reflection in the mirror, like the averse and reverse sides of a coin, like a work of art and its imitation. But the work of art and a copy look like twin sisters. One of these women had an ideal. However, the second one did not. And this is the important difference between Jeanne and Claude: idealism.
Such an image of this story still shows which person is better and which is worse, but it also shows that there is no artificial, primitive, Old-Testament division between the “black” and “white” characters such as “Cain and Abel”. But each of these women was able to reach out and get “to the other side” of the combined image. It also shows us Claude as a mother who raised children. Not such a “black” end to the life of the woman after all. On her portrait at the Jaulny castle she looks pretty good for a person who also went through severe trials in her life (she was also reportedly wounded in battle, like Jeanne…). Who knows if it was ultimately not those wounds that contributed to her relatively early death (if she died in 1449, she could have been between 37 and 42 years old if she was of the same age as Jeanne).
Idealism was then the quality which made for the main difference between the two women who otherwise were very similar. It was idealism of one of them that led to her being called a “saint” and “heroine” while the other one is referred to as an “adventuress”. The fact that both in their lifetime were considered by many to have been frauds and usurpers, is simply a matter of proven historical fact. Just as it is the fact that today, generally only one of them is so termed. Claude is therefore a “second face” of Jeanne, both in terms of physiognomy and personality.
The identity of Claude
As for the passage quoted from the statement by Edward Lucie-Smith on unprovable theses, let us add that at least there is the opportunity to verify whether the subjects of such theses are likely to have happened or not. Who Claude des Armoises was can be verified at any time. Her remains rest where she was buried more than 560 years ago – unless they were moved elsewhere (10). They can be subjected to DNA testing – and an opportunity can be also taken to perform facial reconstruction based on her authentic skull – thus verifying the reconstruction shown here, which was done years ago in Germany. And in future – if Claude and Joan are really not one and the same person – Jeanne’s remains will be found as well. As to this we do not have the slightest doubt. It’s only a matter of time and improved techniques of criminological research.
And it would be possible to obtain DNA. Not so long ago it proved possible to reproduce the Neanderthal DNA. How much easier would it appear to extract DNA of a person living about 600 years ago? Here, a small digression: it is now relatively difficult to extract DNA of a burnt person given a large degradation of DNA. However recently scientists measure their strength against this problem as well.
Various theories of the history of Joan of Arc have been circulating for over 600 years. And there has never been any “witch hunt” in search of a variety of “revisionists”, “deniers of execution” or various kinds of propagators of a “Rouen lie” (from “Rouen”, a place of execution).
We also hope that a final and victorious end will be put to hunt for ‘witches’, or the other “deniers” and proponents of other so-called “lies”.
A Hypothesis (maybe crazy, but …)
If Claude wanted to pretend to be Joan of Arc, why then had she initially used her other name “Claude”? Dick Berents, whom we have already quoted, claimed that ” Apparently she had trouble putting her heart into her new identity.” (“Joan of Arc: Reality and Myth”, p 93). Maybe so. Although we have just some doubt as to whether a person intentionally wanting to deceive anyone, would have committed such a folly. Could a person known to be able to speak “in parables”, that is an intelligent person, not be able to hide her previous publicly known name if she wanted to be known as someone else? Not only that: if, according to Berents, Claude could not break away from her previous identity, then, the previous identity was composed not only of her first name, but also of her surname and place of origin (at least the region, if not the village or city). Why, then, did she “insist” only on her first name?
In this paper we often name her “Claude”. But in reality she seemed to have used it only at the beginning of the affair described here, in the year 1436. Afterwards she used (as it is confirmed in documents from that era), the name “Jeanne”, including the title, “du Lys” and as “Pucelle de France” and, after her marriage, her new surname “des Armoises”. The aforementioned gift, which she received in gold inOrleansin 1439, was recorded as offered “To Jeanne des Armoises” (“A Jehanne des Armoises”). Her epitaph, also has no name “Claude”, which means that she did not use it. Why then had that name been appearing at the beginning only to disappear later altogether? Perhaps indeed, as Berents wants, because at the beginning Claude had problems with adopting a “new identity”, and then gradually it became easier for her to do so. Except that, unlike Berents, we believe that a different version of the “problem of adaptation” would be much more logical.
Berents’ thesis is only a presumption and a hypothesis. In our opinion, a not very logical one. We will consider yet another possibility, yes, perhaps also unlikely, but still possible and quite logical.
To begin with, we have no information about at least half (the first half) of Claude’s life. We do not know where she came from, whose child she was and which last name she bore before the year 1436. We know that later she was giving herself out for Jeanne. We assume here also that she was not Jeanne. It seems to be sufficient to most authors to call her “a fraud”. Because she was a “usurper”, we assume. Not necessarily, however. She must have been a fraud in order to be a usurper. How can one be sure that it is just a scam? It is the only assumption at this stage – maybe true, but still only an assumption – and a hypothesis, nothing more.
Fraud in this case would undoubtedly occur if the person fully consciously presented a false identity with the aim of misleading her environment. Well, is there at least a shred of evidence that Claude did so knowingly?
We are not trying to promote fiction or products of our imagination as an “established truth.” At most, we propose simply to look among a number of different possibilities but also at this one: she did so unwittingly. How could it have possibly happened?
If she was engaged in warfare, there is little doubt that she was exposed to the risk of injury and of a loss of consciousness. More than once people were losing memory, for a short or long time, as a result of head injuries. This is especially common among veterans of wars. There are now entire websites devoted to such cases (not to mention the extensive literature), so one can check it out. This memory loss may be part of or even a whole of the so-called PTSD (“post-traumatic stress disorder”), often caused by TBI (“traumatic brain injury”). Nowadays such cases are mainly due to injuries resulting from explosions or shootings. In the fifteenth century however they were not less dangerous as a result of a direct clash in combat. Just a perusal of weaponry used at that time can convince one that the danger was very real.
Nowadays, TBI and PTSD are subject to endless research, injured soldiers undergo psychotherapy, lasting sometimes whole years, examinations, brain scans and other forms of treatment. Such possibilities, however, did not exist in the fifteenth century, which means that practically, if the symptoms did not subside automatically, convalescence (completely unaware of such conditions), could take a long time.
Having woken up and having gradually recovered from such an experience, Claude could have continued her engagement in war (for example in Rome, as she stated later in Paris), while not knowing completely who she was. Maybe it was from that “post-traumatic” period in her life that her name “Claude” came, not connected, however, to any particular surname … Just: “Claude”…
In such case, it was enough that she arrived near Metzyears later, in that region of Lorrainein which Jeanne was born, and that someone (it does not matter who!) “recognized” Jeanne in her. Claude could therefore gradually come to believe that she indeed was Jeanne. This new identity would have been able to fill existing gaps in her memory and, in addition, that particular identity was extremely attractive, meaning one could accept its genuineness extremely happily, as is measured by the fact that Claude was not the only usurper. And it would have been a particularly attractive identity to a person actively engaged in warfare.
Taking a new identity was a gradual process, hence the initial “split personality” as to the identity and to the use of two names together. The fact that they were used simultaneously disproves any possible dishonesty on Claude’s part. On the contrary, it proves that Claude was in this respect completely honest and did not try to hide anything.
In the “Chronicle of the Dean of St-Thibaut de Metz” we read that she “arrived” in the vicinity of Metz(where from?) on 20th May and that she was Jeanne and that she called herself “Claude” at the same time. The “Chronicle” does not tell us what happened before. It could have been that “transitional period” in which she could have adopted her new identity under the influence of other people, who were aroused by the fact of having found Jeanne. It said also (see footnote 1) that “on the same day her two brothers came to see her …”. What does it mean “on the same day they came”? How did they know so quickly? (there were no phones those days). Someone had to tell them before. Who? It is possible that the same people who had “found Jeanne,” and hastened to inform the two brothers du Lys…
The rest you have already read above …
Our attention was drawn to the fact of Claude’s insistence to cling to her identity as Jeanne du Lys, until her death, even after getting married and after the acquisition of an aristocratic name. Certainly the goal here could not have been to acquire a title to nobility. She was already ennobled through the name “des Armoises”, therefore she would not need to call herself “du Lys” for the next 13 years. And it aroused our wonder that she continued the acquired identity of the heroine even after having been reportedly – according to the chronicle by Pierre Sala – “exposed” by Charles VII and fell to her “knees” to confess “ the whole betrayal” to him. This in itself should have put a final end to all her claims to the personality, which was not hers. Even the attractiveness of the scheme could not have been tempting enough under such conditions, because it would be too dangerous. Nevertheless she clung to that identity as strongly as before and without having attracted any recorded penalty for the fraud … a fraud for which she could have paid dearly, especially since she had problems with the Inquisition inCologne.
We are not trying to diminish the importance of the chronicle by Pierre Sala nor his source of information in the person of Guillaume Gouffier, though Gouffier was born nearly half a century after the alleged meeting between Claude and the King, so by no means could he have been an eyewitness, and many an historian expressly states that Claude never met the King. Anyway, Gouffier (and Sala after him) limited himself to the vague comment that Claude “confessed” but did not quote the exact words with which she was to do so. It was enough after all that after having heard the King’s question about the “secret” she fell on her knees begging for forgiveness, because she did not remember any secret. And already this fact itself could have been mistaken for the admission of deceit and guilt, while there might have been no guilt at all…
Why could Claude, especially after her final “exposure” as a fraud, continue, and namely with impunity, her undue use of Jeanne’s titles in the region in which Jeanne was well known? (11) Why, after her death, could her epitaph with those two titles hang in the church for centuries, as if “officially” confirming her false identity?
We are not committing dishonesty by proposing to consider this version of events, especially if at the same time we recognize that the version seems unlikely – though still much more likely than the version according to which Claude would like to pass as someone else while dragging her previous name everywhere she went. We would commit dishonesty if we proclaimed our version as “an established truth” without warning anyone that it is merely a hypothesis.
1. From “Chronicles of the Dean of St. Thibaud de Metz “(” Chronique du Doyen de Saint-Thibaut deMetz “):
“… On the 20th day of May of the above-mentioned year came Jeanne, who was in France, to La Grange aux Ormes, near St.Prive and was taken there in order to confer with each of the Lords of Metz, and she called herself Claude. And on that day her two brothers day came to see her, one of whom was a knight called Messire Pierre, and another, ‘petit Jehan’, was a squire. And they believed that she was burned, but as soon as they saw her, they recognized her and she them. And on Monday, the 21st day of that month, they took their sister with them to Boquelon, and Monsieur Nicole, who was a knight, gave her a powerful steed worth thirty francs, and two saddle pads. Monsieur Aubert Boulle gave her a riding hood, Monsieur Nicole Grouget a sword, and the said maid neatly mounted her horse and said a few things to Monsieur Nicole, by which he understood very well that it was she who was in France, and she was recognized by multiple marks as a virgin Jeanne of France, who escorted King Charles to Reims, and a few declared that she was burned in Normandy. And she spoke mostly in parables. “
2. “When the Virgin of France was in front of La Rochelle, an event of major importance took place. She wrote to the king of Castille and sent her messengers in addition to those sent to the king of France. She begged that he send her a pair of Armada ships, and His Majesty was obliged to do so in accordance with the alliance and brotherhood between His Majesty and the King of France. And they came to Valladolid, where the King stayed in the year, fourteen hundred and thirty-sixth (…) And when they came to the king with a letter from the Maid, The Great Constable showed the court the great signature, as if it was a very respectable relic. Because, as he himself was a very brave and courageous man, he loved those who were also like him and he had high esteem for the acts of the Maid (…) … and many asked the king, that he decided to send a fleet to the Maid, because it may well help the King of France (… ). And immediately The Great Constable sent orders to the sea coast in the province of Vizcaya, in Lepusca and other places, and sent twenty-five armed ships and fifteen caravels, the largest they could find, filled with weapons and the best people (…) With this assistance, the Maid took the said city, and there were other battles and victories, when the fleet of Castille has gained great prestige … “.
(“Chronicle of the Great Constable Alvaro de Luna”)
This material, according to historians is largely fictitious, or even completely fictitious. Some even believe that this is simply a “copy” from another Spanish work of the time, “Corónica de la Poncella”. Both these works show, however, the popularity Joan of Arc enjoyed in Spain…
3. “The lord told me that ten years later, a false Maid was ushered to the king, and some wanted to have their way, spreading rumors that the first Maid was resurrected. When the king heard this news, he ordered her to him and she appeared before him. He was amazed and could not say anything else than to greet her gently. And he said: ‘Welcome back, Maid, my dear friend, who in the name of God knows the secret between her and me.’
And in a surprising way this supposed Maid, after she heard these words, fell to her knees before the king and immediately confessed her whole betrayal. “ – the chronicler Pierre Sala in “Hardiesses rois et des grands empereurs” (“The boldness of the great kings and emperors”) , 1516.
The secret between the King and Joan is not known to this day. According to tradition, Joan of Arc during her first meeting with Charles VII was to tell him a secret. According to the text quoted above, Charles asked Claude about the content of that mystery, a mystery which Claude could not know.
To be more precise, “the lord” who was to tell this story, was Guillaume Gouffier who himself was born almost 50 years after the meeting of Charles with Claude.
4. “The armed men brought a woman who previously was very honorably received in Orleans. But when she was already close to Paris, the same mistake was made that she was believed to be The Maid. And for this reason the university and the parliament decided to bring her to Paris, either voluntarily or against her will. There, in the huge courtyard of the palace, she was shown to the people on the great marble pedestal. There they dealt with her life and questioned her about it in every way. And she said that she was no longer a virgin and that she was married to a knight, with whom she had two sons. “
(“Journal d’un Bourgeois de Paris” or “Diary of a burgher ofParis”, written in the years 1405 to 1449)
5. A manuscript found in England (manuscript 11 542 in the British Museum) contains information that “Finally, they burned her publicly, or another woman like her: concerning which many people were and still are of different opinions.”
William Caxton in “The Chronicles of England,” claimed in 1480 that after the verdict Jeanne waited more than 9 months for her execution. In addition, other sources give the date of her death, not only as 30 May 1431, but also variously as 14 June 1431 and 6 July 1431.
“La Nef des dames vertueuses” (“Nave of virtuous women”), dated 1503, by Symphorien Champier reports that Jeanne “was captured through treachery and given to the English, who, in defiance of the French, burned her in Rouen, and still say, that the French deny it”
(“fut en trahison prise et baillée aux Anglais qui, en dépit des Français, la brûlèrent à Rouen, ce disent-ils néanmoins et que les Français nient“).
In 1570 Gabriel Naude wrote in „Livres de l’estat et succès des affaires de France”, that “The Maid was never burned in any way other than as an effigy” („Pucelle n’avait jamais été brûlée qu’en effigie”),
Nicolas Lelong wrote in 1783 in his “Ecclesiastic History of the Diocese of Laon” („Histoire Ecclésiastique du Diocèse de Laon”):
“We still doubt whether the Maid of Lorraine, who was led to the stake with her face veiled, was really burnt”
Ci gît haulte et Honorée Dame
Jehanne du Lis la Pucelle de France
Dame de Tichémont
qui fut fème du Noble Home messire Robert des Armoises, Chevalier, Seigneur du dit lieu
Laquelle Trépassa an l’an Mil CCCC XXXX et VIIII le 4 jour de May
Dieu ait son âme
7. For the date of the removal of the epitaph there are often other years given: 1890, 1900 and 1920.
8. “+ Jesus Maria +
King of England, and you, Duke of Bedford, who call yourself Regent of the kingdom of France; you William de la Pole, Count of Suffolk; John, Lord Talbot; and you Thomas, Lord Scales, who call yourselves lieutenants of the said Duke of Bedford, do justly by the King of Heaven; render to the Maid who is sent here of God, the King of Heaven, the keys of all the good cities that you have taken and violated in France. She has come here from God to restore the royal blood. She is all ready to make peace, if you will deal rightly by her, acknowledge the wrong done France, and pay for what you have taken. And all of you, archers, companions of war, nobles and others who are before you; and if this is not done, expect news of the Maid, who will go to see you shortly, to your very great damage. King of England, if you do not do this, I am Chef de Guerre, and in whatever place I shall find your people in France, I will make them go whether they will or not; and if they will not obey I will have them all killed. I am sent here by God, the King of Heaven, each and all, to put you out of all France. And if they will obey I will be merciful. And stand not by your opinion, for you will never hold the kingdom of France through God, King of Heaven, son of Saint Mary; it will be thus ruled by King Charles VII, true heritor; for God , the King of Heaven, wishes it, and this to him is revealed by the Maid, and he will enter Paris in good company. If you will not believe the news from God and the Maid, in whatever place we shall find you, we shall strike in your midst, and will make so great a hurrah [hahay] that for a thousand years there has not been one in France so great, if you do not deal justly. And you may well believe that the King of Heaven will send more strength to the Maid than you will be able to lead in all your assaults against her and her good soldiers. And when the blows fall we shall see who will have the better right from God of Heaven. You, Duke of Bedford, the Maid begs you and requires of you that you work not your own destruction. If you listen to her you will yet be able to come in her company to where the French will do the finest deed that ever was done for Christianity. And reply to this, if you wish to make peace at the city of Orleans; and if thus you do not do, you will shortly remember it to your great sorrow. Written this Tuesday, Holy Week.” [March 22, 1429.]
Of course this letter does not constitute proof that the English were being killed. It is known that many of them were taken prisoner, but prisoners were not killed. During the trial atRouen, except for the case of the Burgundian named Franquet d’Arras (who was an incredible rogue), one could not prove anything.
However, after reading this letter, I can not be entirely sure whether she would not be able to kill anyone…
9. More than that: during the process ofRouen asked Jeanne was asked (afternoon March 17, 1431):
– “Joan was it never revealed to you that if you lost your virginity, you would lose your happiness, and that your Voices would come to you no more?”
(J.d ‘A): “It has never been revealed to me”
– “And if you were married, do you think your Voices would come?”
(J.d ‘A): “I do not know, I wait on Our Lord.”
10. Serguei A. Gorbenko , a Ukrainian anthropologist and expert in facial reconstruction from skulls, was authorized in 2001 by the French government to test the burial crypt at the Basilica of St-André Cléry. Among the buried there is King Louis XI, son and successor of Charles VII, the same Charles who owed his crown to Jeanne. Gorbenko found the sarcophagi desecrated and bones of the dead mixed with other bones, which probably happened during the French Revolution. Therefore he searched the adjacent crypt in which the remains of Count Jean de Dunois , comrade in arms of Joan of Arc, rest. There he discovered, to his surprise, yet another coffin in which there were bones of a woman who died at the age of over 40 years. The type of skeletal deformations convinced Gorbenko that the woman wore a suit of armor, and that she was riding a horse from an early age. She also had disproportionately large hands. Gorbenko even came to the conclusion that he found the skeleton of Joan of Arc.
He is personally convinced that Joan and Claude are not only one and the same person, but that behind them there is still someone else, namely the Princess Marguerite de Valois. About the execution of Joan in Rouen he writes: “… instead of a princess they burned another girl, perhaps also named Jeanne, perhaps a peasant, perhaps even of Domremy.” (“…вместо принцессы сожгли другую девушку , возможно также по имени Жанна , возможно крестьянку и возможно из Домреми .’).
“In 2001, facing a mess of bones in the crypt of the basilica of Notre Dame de Clery, I was forced to acquaint myself with them and the history of the burials in more detail, which showed me these amazing facts.”
(„В 2001 году, столкнувшись с путаницей в размещении костей в склепах базилики Нотр-Дам де Клери, я был вынужден изучать их и историю погребений более тщательно, что открыло мне эти удивительные обстоятельства”).
There is yet another twist to the story of Jeanne des Armoises. When Jeanne’s epitaph was removed from the chapel in the church (and possibly her body from the crypt…), Father Celestin Piant who was the parish priest in Pulligny was seen in his last years of life, spending time in meditation in front of this ossuary (see photo above) in front of the church, on the cemetery ground. He also wished to be buried in front of the ossuary. His wish was granted to him and he was buried there after his death in 1938. Was he convinced that the remains of Jeanne d’Arc (des Armoises) were moved there from the crypt?
More on the church, cemetyry, the crypt and the ossuary on this website
Either way, the history of the phenomenon known as “Joan of Arc” is indeed a fascinating one and perhaps we shall return to it.
11. In 1476 in a court case concerning the Vouthon family of Sermaize, especially the brother of the mother of Joan of Arc, Isabel Romeé, several witnesses testified that “Jeanne” was regularly seen in Sermaise in the 1440’s and 1450’s, when she was visiting the Vouthons with her brother (or “brother”), Jean (this was the “petit Jehan,” mentioned here at the beginning), to feast with them. (In the 1450’s this must have been the other impostor, “Jeanne de Sermaise”). She was known there as “Jehanne La Pucelle.” One of those witnesses, 70-year-old Jehan la Montigueue, testified that in 1449 (it had to be before May 1449, we presume) “Jehanne,” arrived there again. She was dressed in male attire. After the meal, the family played tennis. (Tennis had been known in France since the twelfth century. At that time racquets were not used in the game, and the ball was struck with the palm of the hand. Racquets appeared only in the sixteenth century). One of the local clergyman joined in the game. Afterwards “Jeanne” (ie our “Claude”) told the cleric that now he could say that he had played with the “Pucelle de France”. The news gave the Reverend great joy …
She had audacity and a sense of humor, one has to admit, a bit like her predecessor, the real Jeanne, who – as mentioned in the first article – once assured the famous monk, Brother Richard, that she was not a witch: “Approach boldly. I will not fly away “…