Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Last of Her

Poor Joan. The trial was rigged, rigged, rigged. The priest who ran it was bitter and a liar. In theory, it was a religious trial, but he refused to hold her in a church prison, guarded by women, where she wouldn't be assaulted. To keep herself safe, she wore her men's clothing, which then became the primary charge they held against her. They tricked her into signing a confession that she couldn't read, so that when she denied confessing, they could call her relapsed and execute her. Among many, many other heinous abuses.

Of course, all this came out about 20 years later, when the king (who refused to ransom her, which would have saved her life) and the new pope conducted an investigation and overturned the verdict against her. Pretty much every single person involved in the trial either quit or was threatened to make it come off. It was a shame.

I feel like the book gave me a lot more information about her personality through the trial, even though a large part of the text involved direct quotes from the transcript. She was very intelligent, grasping the hooks in a lot of the trick questions, maintaining her composure even after months of living chained to a wall in a prison cell, poorly fed and guarded by lascivious jailers. She maintained the truth of her visions to the end.

It's a terrible story, though, and her death is just tragic. You hear so many stories of heroes that end with beautiful, idealized success; so rarely do you learn about someone who is abandoned by her allies, conspired against, and destroyed, body and soul, through lies and cruelty. I must have been touched by this story, because it hurts my soul.

Anyway, go Joan!

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