Where it all began

We are somewhat obsessed with Joan of Arc, and the layers of political maneuvering around her mission. So it was with great interest that we visited her birthplace today in Domrémy-la-Pucelle.

Here, we thought, is a place where she will receive her rightful acclaim as a heroine of France. But we found that to be only partly true.

Her home is quite intact, being stone, and disproving the poor-peasant-girl myth. Her father was a relatively well-to-do laborer, and functioned as the leader in the town. Right next to their home is the church where Joan was baptized, made her first communion, prayed to Saint Margaret and heard her voices. Rather astonishing to see.

However, in the adjacent visitors’ center, they have an amazing tableau that comes with light and sound show to position the complexities of the French, English and Burgundian power struggles that Joan cut through. Every single person involved was portrayed – except for Joan herself, who was mentioned in passing as “a brief meteor streaming across the sky.”

We still don’t get it. What is this love/hate thing with the poor Maid of Orleans? What more could she have done?

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