Yesterday, May 7, marked the anniversary of the recapture of Les Tourelles, a small bastion which lay astride of the main route into Orleans. Orleans was a large City on the Loire River which supprited the King of France, but which lay inside of the territory held by the English. The Duke of Orleans, had been held by the English since his capture by the English at the battle of Azincourt in 1415. It was considered contrary to the laws of chivalry to besiege a city, and held it's Lord a prisoner at the same time.
What did Jehanne look like? I have often wondered this. I am pretty sure she didn't look like Mila Jojovich, Ingrid Bergman, or Lee Lee Sobieski. No existant portraiture exists. Although I have published an article about Bermont, I cannot say with out a doubt that it was her (I believe it is, but that is my opinion). Contemporaries remark that she looked like anyone else, no one special. In the Trial of Rehabilitation the referance of her commoness are repeated so often as to make it annoying.
She is said have been about 5 feet, 2 inches in height. Her eyes were set far apart, and protruded somewhat, she was reaonably good looking, yet not pretty. She had a stocky build (as a healthy 15th century farm woman should have). Behind her left ear she had a red birth mark. Her complexion was dark. Her hair was black.
How do we know her hair was black? A letter writen to the people of the city of Riom which was found in their archives during 1844 was found to contain a 1st class relic of the Saint. A single black hair had been pressed into the wax of the seal by a finger. ...The custom whereby the writer of a letter plucked a hair from his head and pressed it into his seal was frequent at the time; it was an additional guarantee of the authenticity of the document; so it may be taken as reasonably certain that the hair came from Jeanne's head, which gives additional confirmation to the tradition that she was ´black and swart`...(1) Unfortunately the strand of hair has since disappeared which is a pity. It would be the most cherished of all relics of a French Saint. (The finger print, if it were hers, is a relic in it's own right.)
Contrary to the myth Jheanne did not dress in mens clothes constantly, only when she was in the presence of her soldiers did she adopt male dress. Opinion here... I believe that she adopted male dress to allow the men to focus more on the mission and less on the miss. She repeated asked her accusers at her trial to send her some womens clothes. Their refusal to do so, says more about their desire to accuse her than to find the truth.
This must have been some woman, who Kings and hardened soldiers followed, and for whom the English held such animosity. sometimes we are known the best by our enemies.
We could use another Jheanne now.
(1)Scott, W. S: Jeanne d'Arc-Her Life, Her Death, and the Myth