On this day (April 29) in 1429, Joan La Pucelle (or “Joan of Arc” as we know her) arrived at the siege of Orléans in France, leading a French army against the English during the bitter Hundred Years War. Nine days later, she had ended the siege by defeating the English in several battles and freed the city. It would be the first of several astounding victories she led and directed in the name of God and France.
This teenager (she was 17 at the time), was extraordinary. She successfully managed to convince a court in her home town at age 16 that she should not accept an arranged marriage her father was brokering for her, then set off on her own to accomplish her mission of putting the French Dauphin, Charles VII, on the throne of France, and in the process, claim France back from the English (who at this stage were occupying more than half the country).
She managed to get Charles his crown, and directly contributed to the war effort by instructing the French army generals in some brilliant military and diplomatic strategy, as well as riding at the head of the army wearing white armour and on a white horse in battle, inspiring the French troops onto several monumental victories. She was captured by the enemy before she could fully claim her country back from the invaders and soon after was burned at the stake for heresy.
According to history, the heresy charge was not just about her hearing the voices of God and his angels (whom she claimed directed her actions – in particular St Catherine and St Margaret and occasionally St Michael), it was also about the fact she had the temerity to dress in men’s clothing, apparently on the particular urging of St Catherine. This choice of attire was actually entirely sensible, regardless of whether a heavenly Saint told her to wear trousers or not, considering she was spending most of her time on a battlefield, or in the company of men at arms planning the next battle, or travelling by road to the next battle. The matter of her wearing men’s clothes (which she still did the entire time she was in prison) came up over 100 times in her trial, whereas the accusation of being a witch is only mentioned 27 times. Clearly the boys running her trial had a real issue with a girl not behaving as they expected a woman should and wearing the trousers. Dare we say that times haven’t really changed since the 1400’s – on a few fronts?
Shakespeare included this amazing woman in his play “Henry VI, Pt. 1” as a major character under the name “Joan La Pucelle”. Why this name when she is referred to as “Joan of Arc” in the text by other characters? Because this was the name the real Joan (or Jeanne as she was known in France) gave at her heresy trial – the transcripts for which were widely available at the time (and can now be found on the internet, for those interested) and it was the name she was best known as in England at the time the play was written.
So, to mark this auspicious date and celebrate this amazing woman, we present our “Joan Of Arc Henry VI Shakespeare Quote” T-shirt, featuring the quote from Joan La Pucelle from Shakespeare’s play: “And while I live, I’ll ne’er fly from a man.”, said to the Dauphin just before she beat him in a sword fight she herself proposed take place to prove to him that she was a worthy ally in his quest to win back his crown. In keeping with Joan’s proclivity for wearing men’s clothing, our main image (at the top of this post) features our men’s V-neck tee, which is available in 7 different colours, is ethically sourced and made of 100% cotton. And of course, we have over 30 different t-shirt styles to choose from, including Unisex, Women’s, Men’s and Kids.
Celebrate one of the kickass world-changing feminists from nearly 600 years ago who literally went into battle for what she believed, by getting your very own Joan of Arc quote tee here: http://shrsl.com/1kvn2.
And huzzah to Shakespeare for including such a badass strong female character (alongside Queen Margaret – more on her another time), whom he gave some pertinent things to say about bigotry and sexism, but also just showed how kickass women can be!