The Life Of Joan Of Arc And Her Impact On France

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The life of Joan of Arc is one of many conflicts, but throughout her life and seen in her actions she showed a tremendous amount of courage and bravery. Nationally recognized as a heroine of France and a Catholic Saint, Joan of Arc’s life has been a symbol of female empowerment in modern culture. Her storied life has become the figurehead for modern-day feminism and gender equality groups. The political and social impact of her life has carried on throughout the years and in today’s world, her significance is important to many people like the Catholics, the feminists, and even politicians.

Her story is rooted in her faith and belief in God. Just a peasant girl and the daughter of a tenant farmer, who believed that she was acting under divine guidance after being visited by St. Michael the Archangel. She heard three voices that guided her along her mission to save France from the English, the voices of St. Michael, St. Catherine of Alexandria, and St. Margaret of Antioch. The voices of these great Saints were her connection to God and her guides to navigate herself in the middle ages where men ruled and oversaw military operations. However, an amazing fact of Joan’s life was that she was merely a simple, ordinary peasant girl that was full of wisdom and foresight that surpassed that of the men that surrounded her. This is one of her defining characteristics that makes her so appealing in today’s culture, that she was filled with an unbelievable sense of confidence and bravery that enabled her to break away from the traditional female image of the Middle Ages.

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Joan of Arc’s effect on not just France, but the world as a whole is felt through the many pieces of art and literature that have been published about her. This led her to be canonized as a Saint by the Catholic church because of her devotion to God and her commitment was so strong that she retracted her denial of her faith even after being threatened with death by fire at the stake. Her execution at age 19 at the hands of the English after being put on trialed for the origin of her divine voices and being dressed like a man. She was charged with witchcraft, heresy, and dressing like a man and later she was found to be a victim of an internal struggle from within France. She was trialed at the mercy of judges and assessors that many were French in origin, but her trial for her use of witchcraft and wearing men’s clothes now seems unjust. The retrial of Joan sometime after her death cleared her of the charges placed upon her and cemented her memory as a heroine and role model for us to learn from, as stands for courage and bravery. Her belief in God throughout her life and while enduring her trials is an example of incredible faith and can be used as a reminder of the awesome power of spirituality.

In today’s society being a feminist is difficult and who is a better role model than Joan of Arc. For modern feminist in France, they are looking to eliminate not only inequality but a changing of how traditional roles are being forced upon women. Women of France have attacked Feminism differently than the Feminist of America. There is a concept that the French are using to start breaking down the obstacles of gender equality and that is acknowledging the biological differences between men and women and focusing on bringing change to the social structures that are in place. When the Feminism movement focuses on achieving gender equality rather than gender neutrality, it starts to make sense that the enemy is the established ideas of gender roles and not that all men are the problem. I believe that Joan is a perfect example of what France feminist want to do for their social movement. Joan’s story details how to break through and have your voice heard you need to be confident and know that what your doing is right. Joan of Arc was able to accomplish her feats at a time when it was unheard of. So, for women to break the mold and change society, the system must change and there should not be a mass accusal of men like there is in America. From the memory of Joan, we can learn that it is very important to come together and that is how to win. As the historical embodiment of courage and bravery, Joan of Arc was also the leader of men into battle. She fought alongside men older than her and they listened. For men and women to obtain gender equality must work in unity with each other and push the envelope of change the same way that Joan got herself to the position to lead the victory over the English. Change is possible with the unifying of both genders fighting together against the institutional patriarchy to see the traditional roles be forgotten. In the memory of the beloved Joan of Arc, there is no better message to send then the equality for men and women to live freely among the same roles and responsibilities.

In the realm of France politics, Joan of Arc has been a point of discussion and unfortunate disputes are made regarding the use of her image as a symbol. The right-wing political parties have made the claims to use her legacy to inspire the nation but with sharing an iconic national heroine comes slight controversy. The far-right, National party adopted her years back and believe that her legacy of driving out the British and bringing an awakening to France’s national concusses aligns with their parties’ ideologies and policies. One of the policies being anti-immigration and this is an angle that they use to claim Joan’s actions in military battle can be viewed as an early form of the anti-immigration policy. Where the debate over Joan’s use of a symbol comes in is when the conservative party now called ‘Les Républicains’, wanted to use Joan’s legacy and memory as a symbol of France unity and bring the nation together. They feel it’s shameful that the far-right party tries to divide the country over the use of her great legacy as a symbol. However, this is not the first time that her use as a symbol has been shared or promoted by different political parties. Socialist party politicians in the past have used her simple upbringing as a reason to take her on as a political symbol and that proposes the claim made by conservative politicians, that no one political party can stake claim to a symbol like Joan of Arc and that she as one of the most patriotic symbols that France has should be the unifying symbol for all to be inspired. The National Front expressed their unhappy remarks about the use of Joan by the opposing party claiming that they were stealing her image to gain support and voters before the election years. The National Fronts Leader Marine La Pen questions how you can use her as a symbol when your parties actions do the opposite of what she stands for. These claims are made in reference to the parties involved with financial and economic difficulties that France finds themselves in and their involvement in the European Union. All things that the National Front believes forces the citizens to suffer under an unjust economic system. To recap on the political battle for Joan of Arc, both parties are flawed, and the Saint is a symbol that will outlast their existence, which brings to the point that Joan is a unifying symbol of French nationalism and is honored by most and an inspiration to the world.

The Catholic Church is amid a disastrous sexual abuse scandal that has hurt many people throughout the world and in the efforts to give healing and encouragement to those people either directly or indirectly affected, I believe that Joan of Arc’s legacy can be a source of strength and she is the ideal role model. The inspiring story of an ordinary girl from a humble and simple background that accepted the divine call to be great and lead her country to victory and bring a national awaken within France can be a defining symbol to draw from. All with defining the great odds of being held back by her traditional female roles proves that the things of this material world do not have to define us. A message all should hear and get behind is that of standing up for what’s right and what you believe in, so when those that struggle with the tragic situations, they were placed in look for answers of what to do or what to believe look to the life of Joan. Not known as a patron saint of abuse victims, but she is the patron Saint for those who are ridiculed for their piety, which means those mocked for their faith. To someone who is struggling amongst all the pain of abuse, reads of Joan’s story and understands that even some six hundred years ago Joan herself was mistreated by those of the religious life and put to death in the process. I think that her role as a Saint is to inspire those hurt by those of the Churches flawed members and to remember that you are there to worship God and call upon her memory to strengthen your faith in what you believe and let no man or woman take that away from you. Her memory can reunite the Church, just as she did with France in the One-Hundred-Year war.

The effect that Joan of Arc has on so many people in today’s society can be felt within her home country and throughout the world. If those who need her inspiration call upon it with a whole heart and stay true to the ideas of courage and bravery they will fell unstoppable. To bring together groups of people such as those fighting for gender equality, the citizens of France, and the people of the Church will bring honor to Joan’s memory and be consistent to the lasting message of her legacy.

Works cited

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  6. Jardine, N. (2012). French Politicians Are In A Desperate Scramble To “Own” Joan Of Arc’s Political Legacy – Business Insider. Retrieved March 13, 2019, from https://www.businessinsider.com/joan-of-arc-le-pen-sarkozy-2012-1
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