5 Surprising Things You Didn't Know About Joan of Arc

On April 29, 1429, Joan of Arc entered the besieged city of Orleans and led the French to a victory over the invading English. Joan was eventually captured, imprisoned, and burned at the stake. Here are 5 interesting facts you didn't know about Joan of Arc...

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Joan of Arc Had Many Names She didn’t hail from a place called Arc, nor was her name Joan. Though illiterate, she could sign her name. When she did, she signed it "Johanne" or "Jehanne" which was translated to "Joan" by her English captors.  She didn't come from any place named Arc — she was born and raised in Domrémy in northeastern France. The surname "d'Arc" was a misunderstanding of her father's name which was pronounced "Dark" but written nine different ways in the original records. Her real name may have been one of several names, including Jehanne d'Arc, Jehanne Romée, Jehanne Tarc, or Jehanne de Vouthon. She even referred to herself as "Jehanne la Pucelle" throughout her trial in 1431 and even went so far as to claim that she didn't know what her actual last name was. It was not until the mid-19th century that her name was standardized as Joan of Arc.

Joan Never Fought in Battle One of the things that Joan of Arc was most famous for was being a brave warrior during the Hundred Years' War between England and France. However, she was never actually an active part of the battle, nor did she kill any enemy. Instead, she served mainly as a symbolic figure that offered inspiration to those fighting. Despite this, she was wounded twice during the battles she attended, first by an arrow in her shoulder and later by when a crossbow bolt struck her in the thigh. 

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She Was Burned At The Stake For Heresy Joan was famously burned at the stake, but not necessarily for witchcraft, as legend has it.  She was charged with dozens of crimes, including sorcery, when she was captured by enemies in 1430. But by 1431, her charges were reduced to just 12, most of which had to do with her wearing men's clothing and claiming that God was speaking directly to her. She was offered life in prison in exchange for her admission of guilt, after which she signed a document confessing her wrongdoings. It is said that one evening the judges visited her in captivity and she was wearing men's clothing again and still hearing voices. They dubbed her a “relapsed heretic” and for this she was burnt at the stake.

Many Women Posed As Joan After Her Death One of several women who posed as Joan in the years following her death was Claude des Armoises, who resembled the well-known heretic.  She together with Joan's two brothers Jean and Pierre, came up with a plan to pretend that Joan had escaped her captors to fool the people of Orleans. The three enjoyed being showered with gifts and travelling to receptions until Claude eventually confessed their scheme to Charles VII, who Joan had helped ascend in 1429.

She Inspired a Popular Haircut The cute bob haircut was modeled after Joan of Arc's hair.  Joan claimed that the voices she heard had commanded her to wear men's clothing. But they also told her to cut her hair, too. A Paris hairdresser started a fashion for a short bob cut in 1909, claiming that Joan of Arc was the inspiration for the haircut. The look really caught on in the 1920s, popularized by silent film stars and embraced by the flapper set.