Walter Rost’s book on Joan of Arc

“Die männliche Jungfrau.
Das Geheimnis der Johanna von Orleans”
Rowohlt Verlag GmbH, Reinbek bei Hamburg, 1983;
ISBN 3 498 05700 6

“The contemporaries knew: Jeanne d’Arc is a woman”….”But she behaved like a man”.

These are titles of two chapters of the first part of the book. The Author is a German Romanist, historian and educationist born in 1911 in Freiberg in Erzgebirge (in English: in the Ore Mountains), educated in Münster, Hamburg and Paris. After WW2 he used to work as a cloister-librarian, then he was an Oberstudienrat (Senior Master) and then a docent. From 1975, he conducted intensive research into Jeanne d’Arc and her times. The book is the result of that research. But the direct impulse for the book came in 1981 after the American endocrinologist Robert B. Greenblatt published in August of that year his article “Jeanne d’Arc – Syndrome of Feminizing Testes” in the “British Journal of Sexual Medicine”. The Author criticized Greenblatt’s work in some aspects but found it interesting nevertheless. Indeed Walter Rost must have been really impressed by the short article as he even decided to include its full text – in its English original and German translation – as an appendix to his own book.

Walter Rost stresses (on page 9) that he himself independently researched the subject too:

“As the history of science shows, it happens that a particular problem is to some extent in the air and that, at widely separated locations, its solution is attempted without one researcher knowing anything about the other one. And so I have been dealing, for around eight years – with longer breaks – with the same hypothesis as Robert B. Greenblatt. On the basis of a close study of medieval sources I have, as an historian, arrived at the same conclusion as Greenblatt as a natural scientist. I differ from him only by the fact that I was anxious to clarify in deliberately broad detail what my ‘predecessor’ has set out in the form of a bold sketch”.

He notes that Greenblatt’s article met with various reactions at the time and he quotes some of them. So for instance the AFP in France gave its information the title “Jeanne d’Arc would have been a man” (“Jeanne d’Arc aurait été un homme“); the BZ newspaper in Berlin commented: “Saint Joan was a man” (“Die Heilige Johanna war ein Mann”); the “Observer” asked: “Was Joan of Arc really a man?“, while the BILD-Zeitung asked simply: “Mr Jeanne d’Arc?“ (“Herr Jeanne d’Arc?”).

The loudest and most hostile comments came from people who Walter Rost calls the “Johannists“ (“Johannisten”). The head of the “Centre Jeanne d’Arcˮ in Orleans, Régine Pernoud, is quoted as having expressed her opinion in regard to Greenblatt’s assertion about Jeanne’s urge to wear man’s clothing as transvestitism. In 1982, she addressed the jeans-wearing women in the following way:

“…according to what we read from the old maniac, there is no doubt that you are afflicted with testicular feminization. Get yourselves examined and treated before it is too late for the perpetuation of the human race.” (“…à lire le vieux maniaque en question, c’est indubitablement que vous êtes atteintes de féminisation testiculaire, faites-vous examiner et soigner avant qu’il ne soit pas trop tard pour la perpétuation de l’espèce humaine”).

Walter Rost’s book is of course much more extensive than any article. It has altogether 316 pages including notes, a list of contents, an index and an index of illustrations. Rost’s text alone has 273 pages. Our text below contains a summary of it. In order for it to be more easily read, we have decided to keep the summary in black while our own remarks are in red.

So who was Jeanne d’Arc?

She was examined several times physically, so any mistake as to her gender would have been impossible – at least when it comes to her physical looks…

The author (that is Walter Rost) looks first at the “genetic aspect”: “Intersexuality is a ‘state of disorderly differentiation of the inner and outer genitals”
“Individuals with a skeletal discrepancy between cytogenetic masculine ‘internal’ result and a purely feminine stamp of the primary and secondary ‘external’ sexual organs are masculine hermaphrodites with a feminine phenotype. We are dealing here with a ‘woman’ who, according to the palette of chromosomes and sexual glands, is a man. As we know, the syndrome has the names ‘pseudohermaphroditism’ or ‘testicular feminization’ (‘pseudohermaphroditismus masculinus internus’). The person concerned is a ‘masculine pseudohermaphrodite with feminine looks’”.

This is, according to the author, the reason why Jeanne was not menstruating (he quotes Jean d’Aulon’s testimony from the Trial of Nullification). A

Today, “testicular feminization” is usually known as “androgen insensivity syndrome” (AIS) which can be either “incomplete AIS” or “complete AIS”. The difference between them is that, in the case of incomplete AIS, people have a “different number of male traits” while with complete AIS the result is a complete feminine phenotype, which is the one the author wrote about. For a definition please see here: and for a case study here:

How did Jeanne look?

“One feels like recalling those sports girls who in international contests of the last decades stood out through results which a woman normally cannot achieve. Since the nineteen-thirties, the media has frequently reported regarding female light-athletes who, through their size and sporting abilities, often resembled their male colleagues”. Then some examples follow (p. 44-45)

“…the more muscular sportswomen are usually shorter and stockier, while among the representatives of the predominantly female domain taller and slimmer women are found.” (p.45)

The rather stockily-built sportswoman would be more successful at javelin, discus etc. On the other hand, taller, less massive “feminine” sportswomen would have longer extremities and a more ‘masculine’ pelvis. They would be better at sprinting and jumping. Joan of Arc, according to the written sources, was the sprinter-type of woman: “whenever there was alarm, she was the fastest and first” (Qu IV, 248: “elle estoit la plus diligente et premiere”).
During the fight for the Tourelles in Orleans, she “was the first to put up a ladder” (Ti I, 79, 231: “ipsa fuit prima quae posuit scalam in altum”).

In a different situation at Orleans: “So the English raised a great outcry over the (fleeing) French and made a sortie with a force. They wanted to chase the Maid, while they shouted at her and hurled abuses at her. But suddenly she turned towards them. However few men were with her, she showed her enemies her face and marched with long steps and with the unfurled banner towards the English”. (Qu IV, 226: “Alors Anglois levèrent grand hue sur les François, et issirent á puissance pour poursuivre la Pucelle, crians grans cris après elle, et luy disans paroles diffamables; et tout soudain elle tourna contre eux, et tant peu qu’elle eut de gens, elle leur fist visage, et marcha contre les Anglois à grans pas et à estendart desploye”).

The author comments (p.48) “It was not too difficult for the fight-seeking tall Maid to overtake worse runners”. He shows his conviction about Jeanne’s height and long legs stating that, while most horse riders needed either relatively high stones or special wooden steps to mount their horses, the Maid on the other hand, when she had to mount hers in Poitiers, led her horse to a small stone which was “at the corner of Rue St Etienne” (Qu IV, 537: “une petite Pierre… où elle print avantage pour monter sur son cheval…”).
This stone was taken from there in 1823 and its fragments can be seen in the museum in Poitiers. If Jeanne’s lower limbs were similar to those of most women, then she would have had to find a higher object for mounting her horse.

So, effectively, she was taller than most women were and she was of a rather slim build with a smaller pelvis and with long arms and legs.

In which case, if we look at the illustration above we would expect Jeanne to have represented the type on the far left.

Her affliction

Being a woman J.d’A. would have quickly felt the discomfort of regular horse-riding in FULL armour on a high saddle made of wood and with layers of fabric and leather. Stirrups were placed at the front of such saddles rather than in the middle, and they were also much longer. As a result, the rider had his legs stretched out in front, as in the illustrations below. The last illustration (at the lower right) depicts Jeanne d’Arc chasing prostitutes out of a military camp. The riding position depicted would hardly have provided any possibility of standing up in the stirrups.

As the rider’s legs were stretched forward completely, they also had to be stretched out to the sides. That is, the rider would have had to have kept them extended while sitting astride. One can look at these two monuments of Jeanne d’Arc, one in Reims, the other one in Melbourne, to see how far apart she must have kept her legs. This would have been a very uncomfortable riding position for a woman.

Apparently her genitals became swollen and aching and the affliction did not go away after she was captured. The author is even convinced that it became more serious due to the lack of qualified medical help and also by the fact of her being imprisoned in not quite hygienic conditions. Indeed, we will spare our readers seeing all the gory photos which can be found on medical websites on the net and which show how damaged these female organs can be due to intensive riding in such circumstances. It was only in February 1431 (1430) that Bishop Cauchon asked the Medical Faculty of the University of Paris to send a qualified physician to examine Jeanne. The physician’s name was Guillaume de la Chambre jr. (who was Jeanne’s peer as he was born in 1408). The reports by this doctor, both from 1431 and 1456, indicate that J.d’A. suffered seriously from it. He had Jeanne, among other women, examined “in renibus” (from “Rēnes” which today translate as “kidneys” but those days the term included also testicles, both male and female). He found them “greatly swollen”. According to de la Chambre, her illness was a typical “compression-illness” (“casus compressorum morborum”, German term “Kompressionskrankheit”).

This affliction apparently appeared during the 600 km long trip from Vaucouleurs to Chinon (p. 121 – how to treat similar “lesions”, from “Regimina sanitatis” by Adam de Cremona).

If J.d’A. was a “verschlossene Frau” (“closed woman”), any possible attempt to rape her in prison must have failed miserably. But it would also mean that – as the author puts it – any eventual pregnancy would have been possible only “when the ‘Holy Spirit’ made it possible through a ‘miracle’” (p.123: “…wenn der ‘Heilige Geist’ es durch ein ‘Wunder’ bewirkte”). She was then, according to the Author: “raped and not raped; virgin and yet not a virgin” (p. 126).

In our view, if she REALLY suffered so greatly and her sexual organs were “greatly swollen” as G. de la Chambre informs us, then they must have looked ill even at first sight, most likely also reddened. In which case, even if the English managed to undress her by force, they would have immediately given up any idea of a rape from which they would have been totally discouraged by her looks, being terrified by a possibility of being ‘infected’ or ‘contaminated’ by “the witch”…

Page 127: “An intersex with primary amenorrhaea, rudimental vagina and male gonads belongs however, for instance, also to the category of testicular feminization when the examined patient does not reach the average height of 173 cm” (“Ein Intersex mit primärer Amenorrhöe, rudimentärer Scheide und männlichen Gonaden gehört aber zum Beispiel auch dann noch zur Kategorie der testikulären Feminisierung, wenn die zu untersuchende Patientin etwa die Durchschnittgröβe von 173 cm nicht erreicht“).

The author then continues with his views on Jeanne as a tall woman. He gives us the example of a statue of a tall J.d’A. in the church of St Riquier. The church was built in 1511. This is the description of the statue:
“She holds a broken lance in her right hand. The left arm is broken. She is tall and well-shaped, she has a beautiful face, her eyes seem to be downcast and express a certain sorrow”.

Apparently local people used to say: “If you want to make an image of Joan The Maid, go to the church of St Riquier and look at the tall Maid with the lance!”

The author also supports his view about Jeanne’s height by reference to the relation that should exist between the height of the rider and the size of his horse. He writes among other things: “French cavalry men now in their advanced age remember that in the cavalry regiments, still in the first half of… [the 20th century] …‘for reasons of aesthetics and similarity of their image’, care was taken to maintain fair proportions between the size of a horse and of a man. For heavy French cavalry, body height was required to be at least 1.76 m (…) and it was normal, that the rider harmonized with his horse”.

The author decided therefore to follow the rule that the horse should be “…the starting point for considerations which, according to a number of sources, support the conviction that Jeanne’s bodily height was clearly greater than the normal height of women”.

So, he quotes e.g. Mathieu Thomassin, a confidant of Charles VII. Thomassin noted, that after Jeanne was verbally insulted by the English in Orleans, she, “well armed and prepared, mounted a big horse”.
Apparently she must have “harmonized” with her horses. Guy and André de Laval wrote on 8 June 1429 to their mother and grandmother. In this letter we find: “…and I saw her mounting a horse, in full, glossy armour, only her head not covered, with a small battle-axe in her hand. She mounted a big black battle horse”.

As for Jeanne’s height, Adrien Harmand in his book (“Jeanne d’Arc, ses costumes, son armure”, Paris 1929) took, as the basis for his conclusion, the length of a tunic which he calculated could be made of the fabric purchased by Charles d’Orleans for Jeanne’c clothing. As the tunic would be 85 cm long (from the shoulder to the knee), he concluded that a “well and proportionately built” woman would have to be 1.57 to 1.59 m tall. If such a tunic had to be made for me, it would be 104 cm long. I am 1.87 m tall. People have diverse types of bodies, some are tall and slender, others short and stocky. But we can find individuals built proportionately in each of such groups. I have personally taken measurements of several women as a comparison for this purpose. The conclusion from these measurements was that, in order for a woman to wear an 80cm long tunic reaching the knees, she would have to be between 1.54 m and slightly over 1.60 m tall. And if her tunic had a border made of fur or was fringed – and the fringe could have been 5cm to 10 wide – then Jeanne’s height could have been somewhere between 1.59 m and 1.70 m.

Being tall, she must have also been slender. She is not remembered as having eaten a lot. Most certainly she was not suffering from “anorexia” as this illness exhausts the organism. But she was apparently well-looking and of slender shape as such shape was considered in the Middle Ages to be “elegant”.

The impression she made was the following: “pour ung fier prince contée, non pas pour simple bergière” ( “like a proud prince, not like a simple shepherdess” – Qu V, 48) (p. 145).

“like a proud prince, not like a simple shepherdess”

The author concludes:

“As we can see, it takes very little effort to complete the list of symptoms which comprise the syndrome of testicular feminization. The Maid fits the conditions in important points. She is taller than women usually are, she has a faultless shape. She is slender; she has a pretty face even if not of attractive charm.” (p. 150).

Jeanne had a strong inclination to repetitions in speech, namely what the Germans call “Doppelnennung”, that is “double-repetitions”. For instance:

“Batard, Batard, by God I order you…”
“Glasdale, Glasdale, surrender, surrender to the King of Heaven!”
“Friends, friends, forwards, forwards!” “Move, move!”
“Ha! Mon etandart, mon etandart!”
“Rouen, Rouen, will I die here?”

The Author believes that this fact of continuous repetitions could have resulted from her typically feminine voice not being “durchdringend” (“shrill”). In his opinion she might have recognized that the strength of her voice was not too great. Therefore, she might have felt compelled to repeat herself, whether subconsciously or consciously…

“The motivation to use double calls and orders lies probably in Joan’s unease in having too soft, too feminine a voice. Particularly in situations in battle she places instinctively a second shout after the first in order to secure obedience” (p. 160).

According to the Author, Jeanne had homophile inclinations:

“She would have had homophile inclinations when she, in correction of her genetic program, had sought the fulfilment through men. While she united with both of the holy women (St. Catherine and St Margaret), she indicated that she experienced their inner gender accordingly ‘naturally’ – not to say: healthily. The rigorous temperance ‘in thought and in deed’ had led to a subconscious, but extraordinarily strong libidinous partnership” (p. 176-177)

He concludes on page 178:

“I think that the term “psychogenic orgasm” aptly describes the state of the inner masculine Virgo. Jeanne d’Arc ‘had done and said nothing in a feminine way” – it says in the “Chronica Petri”. Her extreme, ecstasy-like high disposition would therefore have sprung from the experience of a male orgasm”

The author, as we will see below, considers Jeanne a very intelligent person. This notion he shows several times in his book. And yet, it seems that on the other hand he holds her for a “dumb” person as well: he clearly indicates that an intelligent person was apparently unable to distinguish between religious exaltation and sexual passion…

One has to decide: either Jeanne’s mission was propaganda only, aimed at the population and army in order to unite people for a clearly outlined political goal; or it was not propaganda at all, which means Jeanne REALLY experienced her religious ecstasy. There is also a third hypothetical possibility, namely that Jeanne was CLEARLY under the influence of a religious experience and was therefore used for political expediency by others. If she had the religious experience – and the Author does not seem to question it – then she MUST have been able to distinguish it from carnal desires.

It is therefore a pity that Walter Rost did not consult even ONE book or article dealing with the phenomena of religious experiences, albeit he could have found a lot of such literature in local diocesan libraries…

If we assume that the religious exaltation indeed took place, then it makes sense to consider the main differences between these two passions:

1. Source of inspiration (equal to object of reference) – and it is already here, at the very beginning, that the person affected knows where the inspiration came from and what caused it

2. Duration – shorter in sexual passion and much longer in religious exaltation, where it can take even whole months without a break – the only breaks being the time of sleep – and sometimes not even then, as the human mind operates even while we sleep

3. Scope and strength of impact on the individual concerned and his/her life and future decisions. After all we are talking here about an impact which changed Jeanne’s life to the effect that she started regular military exercises, lasting whole years, in order to prepare herself for her military mission, and once she started her service in war, she excelled constantly when it comes to energy, speed, perseverance and iron will.

On page 177, in order to stress his conviction of Jeanne’s “sexual experience”, he recalls that her religious experiences had “bodily” character: she “kissed”, “embraced” the celestial beings (Catherine and Margaret), she saw them with her eyes, she “breathed their celestial fragrance”, and she “heard” them and felt their “bodily warmth”.

My question would be: who, among mystics, does not use their receptors and to whom among them does the experience not bring physical comfort? If the person, like Padre Pio for instances, happened to be a stigmatist, is it because his open wounds are a “psychogenic orgasm”?

In my personal opinion, the author led himself into a trap of mistakes. Let us look at the following section of his argument:

“She experiences the high pleasures “often”, “not a single day goes by that she could not hear the Voice”, they appear “more often than she can say”, “in the morning, at noon and in the night”. The masculine girl “needs” these experiences”.

First and foremost, she did not experience everything simultaneously. Sometimes she “saw” the appearances, sometimes she only “heard” them. Besides, when she “heard”, we do not know what the “hearing” was like: whether she always “heard” physically or internally (“locutions”).

The author’s second mistake is that he quotes the frequency of such manifestations as an “evidence” of Jeanne’s “sexual experience”. Please note what we have already stated above: sexual ecstasies last for a very short while. If Jeanne experienced her phenomena on a daily basis, “more often than she can say”, it would tell us that what she experienced was a prolonged religious experience, as such can go on for months or even years. Keep in mind, that while she was being tried and judged in Rouen, she must have felt a terrible threat of being herself imprisoned – perhaps for life – or of being executed. While we greatly doubt that in such a situation sex could be the very thing obsessing her, we can most certainly imagine on the other hand that a religious experience – and indeed a great “need” of it – could have been constantly present with the prisoner…

The author’s third mistake – and indeed a telling one – is his interpetation of the term “great bliss” used by Jeanne to describe her phenomena (“magnum gaudium”, as it is recorded in the Latin text, which the author translated into German as “große Wonne”). He quotes the fact that the Romans used to understand “gaudium” also as “arousal during sex pleasure” (“Erregung beim Liebesgenuß”). It is of course true, as the Latin “gaudium“, just like the English “bliss“ or “joy“, the German “Wonne“ or Polish “rozkosz“ has many meanings, related to both psychical and carnal matters. We suppose that this mistake, the simplest of the three the author made, might have been the crucial one. As to both the sexual and religious experiences the term “bliss” might be used in its descriptive meaning (just like “exaltation” or “ecstasy”). Many authors will confuse two completely different experiences simply because one and the same term might be used to describe them.

Our lengthy explanations here will of course not determine whether Jeanne was or was not homosexual. And it is not even our intention to do so. We are simply explaining that the author made a simple error (and a very frequent one in literature generally) in his effort to describe everything in a “Freudian” way and while doing so, he reached for evidence that does not prove – and cannot prove – anything in this matter at all.

But let us move on.

“To the list of symptoms of testicular feminization, according to Hauser (G.A. Hauser: C. Overzier. “Intersexualität”, 1961, p. 261-282), belong not only these which manifest themselves physically. The syndrome pervades much more the psycho-physical entirety of the individual concerned; it forms the human as a bodily-psychically-spiritual person (“es prägt den Menschen als leiblich-seelisch-geistige Person”), so that certain typical characteristics are formed in the area of conscience and will. The gonadal male intersexes show generally positive traits of intelligence, consistency in pursuing a goal and resilience” (p. 179).

And then the Author gives examples in the next chapter “Jeanne d’Arc war ein intelligentes Bauernmädchen“ (“Jeanne d’Arc was an intelligent peasant girl”). As intelligence he defines “a complex of abilities which enables the solution of concrete and abstract problems in order to manage new requirements and situations” (“Komplex von Fähigkeiten, der die Lösung konkreter und abstrakter Probleme und damit die Bewältigung neuer Anforderungen und Situationen ermöglicht“)

The Author believes (p. 180) that J.d’A. was of peasant origin:

“Jeanne d’Arc was a maid from the country and, in spite of all assertions from the d’Arc descendants, of low birth” (“Jeanne d’Arc war ein Mädchen vom Lande und trotz aller Behauptungen der d’Arcschen Deszendenz von niederer Herkunft“)

He believes, however, that she might have not been illiterate, “that she could read and write, but not fluently“ (“daß sie lesen und schreiben konnte, aber nicht fließend“ – p. 181)

The Author accepts mostly the official story. However, he also believes that J.d’A. was preparing for her future military mission from the time of her 13th year:

“The Maid was completely convinced of her Mission from the beginning, i.e. since her thirteenth year, and she was preparing herself throughout four long years and more and more consistently in order to grow bodily for her future challenges. Jeanne exercised in military trade, first of all in horse-riding“ (p. 193)

On the same page (193) he quotes G.A. Hauser, according to whom “Zielstrebigkeit“ (“consistency in pursuing a goal“) is one of the manifest psychical symptoms of testicular feminization.

As for “Belastbarkeit“ (“resilience“), the other manifest characteristic of the syndrome, he quotes research which shows that metabolism of a human who rides a horse (when the horse behaves calmly) rises by 50% if the person is a good rider, but if not so well trained, it can rise to 172%. In a trot it would be 339%, while in a gallop even 672%.

So, the author’s conclusion (p. 203) is that a weak young maid would never have been able to do anything like this, even for a limited time. Besides – and this seems really important – the above numbers are those for a MODERN rider, not one in a FULL armour!

“Joan was, during her self-chosen war-service, so enduring also because she prepared herself well for the burdens which lay ahead as a fighting knight. So she also exercised with the lance before leaving for the King“ (p. 207). This means that she must have started her preparations early in her life.

When and where did Jeanne d’Arc have her first “vision“?

According to the “Journal du siège“ she had it on a pasture where she spent her time “running and jumping“ (“courant et saillant“ – Qu IV, 118) but according to a different document she had it while “sewing and spinning“ (Qu IV, 118 – “cousant et filant“). It looks like the author “voted“ for the FIRST of the two options… (p. 223)

On pages 219-225 the author questions Hauser’s conviction that women with testicular feminization generally behave in a womanly fashion: “Gesamtverhalten meist weiblichˮ (“general behaviour mostly feminine“). The author however (i.e. Walter Rost) would have this conclusion, in the case of Jeanne, replaced with “Gesamtverhalten meist männlichˮ (“general behaviour mostly masculine”) – which would make Jeanne an exception.

When the judges asked Jeanne “if she would like to be a man”, she said she had already answered this question before. Walter Rost’s comment to this was: “Whoever has eyes to see and ears to hear, can easily give himself the answer” (p. 224).

On page 233 we find this elaboration of Jeanne’s will power: one of the reasons for which Jeanne d’Arc became very soon isolated among the men (nobles and military) was that they “were confronted by a will of achievement which went far beyond the usual level. In their midst a person appeared whose potential of energy threatened to blow up the framework of the existing relations because it acted in accordance with principles that literally were not of this world. Joan’s approach contradicted all practices. It also brought everyone who was not anxious to do the same into disrepute. Her inborn drive to do her utmost must have shamed even efficient men. One had the impression that the Pucelle wanted to sideline everyone else.”

Here one has to consider the practice of decision-making at that time. Almost all decisions, including those at the royal court, were taken by collectives, not simply by individuals. The same was the case in the Church where the popes had to rely on councils. And of course this was also the case with the inquisitorial trials of which the one in Rouen between 9 January and 30 May 1431 is an obvious example.

Set against such a background, the Pucelle was acting almost always in a different way.

“The life-view of the Pucelle differs in almost all aspects from the corporation-bound view of reality of her era” (p. 242)

Even her God is different from what one could expect (p. 243):

“There is no unio mystica, no marriage of her soul with God. He is also not her ‘Neighbour’, as some time later the neo-Romanticists understood him. Just the opposite. The Maid experiences God as the elevated, distant, powerful Lord of the world to whom the human cannot feel to be close to. (…) Joan’s God does not offer any warm support full of comfort. God is not the “loving” God, not full of mercy, Helper and Beatifier, but a God-King who wields strong power. He is the Unattainable; from him there are no contacts. He does not speak to the Pucelle personally. He gives his revelations through the mouths of the Archangel and Saints who are in his Paradise. He uses their “voices” to address the one listening constantly. As often as Joan receives God’s commands, she never hears the Lord himself…”

“The image of the world which can be recognized from her pronouncements is in the literal sense theocratic (…) In Joan’s banner he (God) is shown visually: God the Father in his Glory, who holds the terrestrial globe in his hands as the sign that humanity and all creatures depend on his will. Two kneeling, praying Angels show themselves as models as we are all on Earth ‘to love God, to serve him and through this to come to Heaven’”(p. 243-244)

Except for God, there seems to be no authority for Jeanne d’Arc. On the day on which Charles VII was anointed and crowned in Rheims, Jeanne had sent a letter to the Duke of Burgundy, Philip the Good. In it Jeanne stated, among other things:

“Jeanne the Maid requests of you, in the name of the King of Heaven, my rightful and sovereign Lord, that the King of France and yourself should make a good, firm and lasting peace…”

The author reminds us of what Pope Pius II wrote about Jeanne and her attitude:

“I have come to you, royal blood, at God’s command, not through my own counsel. He commanded that you follow me. If you obey, I will give you your territory back. I am not making empty promises. If you believe in God, then believe in me too.”

Also Jacques Gelu, the Archbishop of Embrun, in his “Treaty” of May 1429, supports Jeanne’s claim and says that God’s messenger “must not be opposed in any way but Charles must obey her unconditionally”.

And one poem puts it in a very simple fashion:
“Always be ready to obey your orders” (“Esto suis jussis semper parere paratus”) (p. 246)

We are also reminded of the story from “Breviarium historiale” about the “gift” for which Jeanne was supposed to ask Charles VII, and which we have elaborated on here:

Jeanne saw herself not only as a medium between the King and God but also between the clergy and God. The author gives examples of this on pages 256 – 270.

“The presumption that, in Jeanne d’Arc as a case of testicular feminization, a strongly pronounced protagonist’s urge is recognizable has been confirmed. It is clear, from the described position that she was unable to fit into the social fabric of the collective leadership. She was at all times at a distance to authority: to the authority of her father in the family, to the authority of the holders of power of command in the army, to the authority of the king, and finally to the authority of the administrators of ecclesiastical jurisdiction. To the Pucelle it was nonsensical to attend council meetings where a solution which she could not approve was discussed and adopted.” (p. 275)

In order to sum up Walter Rost’s book, we will say the following:

The author was unable to provide a proof to support his hypothesis on Jeanne’s “pseudohermaphroditismus masculinus internus”. Perhaps we will never know if she had the syndrome at all. And generally it exists in 1 woman in 20 thousand, which means that in France of the time of Joan of Arc there could have been no more than two hundred and several dozens such women. However, after we have ourselves looked at the available historical evidence and compared Rost’s book with what is nowadays known about the syndrome, we must admit that Walter Rost’s reasoning is indeed compelling. We can no longer dismiss his hypothesis lightly.

Much weaker, on the other hand, is his argument in favour of Jeanne’s homophilia. We noted of course that he did not put much stress on it at all and generally it was only mentioned as a kind of a “side-note” to his main point of interest. Whatever he wrote about it, we feel capable of dismissing his claim in this matter easily. Especially since within the group of women affected by the AIS syndrome there is statistically little chance for homophilia. It means that altogether up to 25% of women with the syndrome have a problem with identification with their gender. But this is true mostly among those affected with the incomplete, partial syndrome (PAIS) while those with its complete form (CAIS), as with Jeanne (according to the author), hardly ever find problem with such identification.

We found the author’s remarks on Jeanne’s body-build interesting and his conclusions convincing – and we have already emphasized this in this article.

Not very convincing is the author’s easiness – if not even naivety – with which he accepts the official story of Jeanne’s origin and age. Especially in regard to her age his stance might even raise eyebrows, since he studied the official minutes of the “Procès de Condamnation” of 1431, in which Jeanne expressed herself on her age not just once but four times (on 21st, 22nd, 24th and 27th February), the conclusion being that in 1431 she was not 19 but at least 23…
But this is only a minor mistake on the author’s part, given that the main topic of his book was completely different.

No book ever written on any subject is the “ultimate” or “definite” one.

Whoever is seriously interested in studying the story of life of Jeanne d’Arc should carefully study this book too. It has not lost any value over the 32 years since it was first published in Germany.

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