Passion for the PAST from historians of the FUTURE

Flashback of My Life by Emilie Kerr

I feel the heat of the flames and the smell of burning flesh. My flesh!  My name is Joan of Arc and I am 19 years old. I am currently chained to a stake and being burned for all the ‘bad’ things I’ve done. As I stand here being burned, I have decided to think of all the things that have happened in my life.

I am 12 years old. I am walking around the fields minding my own business when suddenly these three ghost like people start walking towards me. They tell me that their names are Saint Michael, Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret. These so called ‘saints’ are telling me to drive out the English away from France and bring the Dauphins to Rheims for his coronation. Apparently, they were taking over France gradually and gradually. After giving me those instructions they turned to leave. I distinctly remember crying after they left because I thought they were soo beautiful. Ever since those saints left I vowed to do what they instructed. I believed it was my destiny.

I am back as my present self and am so close to screaming because the pain is so excruciating. I am clutching a cross and I realise that I am here because God told me to do this. I have absolutely no regrets at all though. I go back to thinking about what happened after I spoke to the saints.

After talking to the saints, I ran back into the house and asked mum if I could go and talk to Cynthia. Cynthia is my best friend and I don’t know what I would do without her. I have known her since I was a baby. Once I got to Cynthia’s house I ran up to her room screaming, “Cynth, you’ll
never guess what happened just then!!” When I found her, I told her what happened. She just gave me a funny look and told me that it was ‘utter
rubbish’. I was hurt by her comment so I told her that I had to go. I spent the whole walk home sobbing because she was my best friend and was supposed to believe me.

After looking back at that memory, it still brings tears to my eyes because ever since that day, we were never the same again.

I am now 15 years old and a lot has happened since that day on the fields. I have come a long way since Saint Michael, Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret gave me those instructions. I ran away from home and I have just recently come back from a trip where I asked a kinsman, Durand Lassois to bring me to a place nearby Vaucouleurs. After arriving I petitioned the garrison commander, Count Robert de Baudricourt, for permission to visit the Royal French Court at Chinon. He sadly turned me away. I plan to return next January and hopefully gain some supporters.

I am once again back as my present self and instead of crying, I am smiling because from then on things went really well. Well, not 100% amazing, because here I am burning on a stake. The heat of the flames is getting to me and the smell of burning flesh is so gross that I would vomit if I could.

Yes!! I went back in January and gained support from two men: Jean de Metz and Bertrand de Poulengy. Under their auspices, I gained a second meeting where I made a remarkable prediction (if I don’t say so myself) about a military reversal near Orléans. After the turn of events I was granted approval to the royal court. After arriving at the Royal Court I impressed Charles VII during a private conference. After impressing Charles VII, I then asked permission to travel with the army and wear the equipment of a knight when driving out the English.

Sizzle! Sizzle! The burning of my skin brings me out of my memories. My life is drawing to an end. Fast!! I should really use my last moments to look back at the rest of my life.

After my arrival, I effectively turned the longstanding Anglo-French into a religious war. But this course of action was not without its risks. Charles’ advisors were worried that unless my orthodoxy could be established beyond doubt – that I was not a heretic or sorceress – Charles’
enemies could easily make the claim that his kingdom was a gift from the Devil.
I also remember that in April 1429, the commission of
inquiry made a statement along the lines of, “they declared me to be of irreproachable of life, a good Christian, possessed of the virtues of humility, honesty and simplicity.

Ahhhhh, The bliss of creating war. That has to be one of my favourite memories. I also remember that things just got better and better. Let’s waste no time and get back to the memories.

After a minor action at La-Charite-sur-Loire in November and December, Cynthia found me and told me not to go any further with my plan
because I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. Yeah right!! I knew what I was doing. I didn’t listen to Cynthia, and carried on with what I was doing. Bad mistake!! Silly Me!!  I travelled to Compiegne the following April to help defend the city against an English and Burgundian siege.

I force myself to come back to the present. Why you ask? I don’t particularly like the next few memories. Things from there on in went downhill. But I won’t keep you waiting in suspense. So here it goes.

A skirmish on 23 May 1430 led to my capture. This happened when my force attempted to attack the Burgundian’s camp at Margny. When I ordered a retreat into the nearby fortifications of Compeigne after the advance of an additional force of 6,000 Burgundians, I
assumed the place of honour as last to leave the field. Stupid mistake!! Burgundians then surrounded the rear guard, and I was unhorsed by an archer and I initially refused to surrender.

Now looking back at this memory, I realise my stupid mistakes and can’t help to realise that if I didn’t do all those things, then I wouldn’t be here today. Burning on a stake. The heat is scorching and I am starting to lose focus. I don’t think I have that long left.

I attempted several escapes after being captured. On one occasion I jumped from my 70 foot (21m) tower in Vermandois. I was lucky enough to land on the soft earth of a dry moat. I was then moved to the Burgundian town of Arras. My trial for heresy was politically motivated. Legal proceedings commenced on the 9th of January 1431 at Rouen, the seat of the English occupation government. The procedure was irregular on a number of points. The trial record demonstrates my remarkable intellect. I remember being asked if I knew I was in God’s grace. I answered with great confidence, “If I am not, may God put me there; and if I am, may God so keep me.” Also, if I had answered yes to that question, then I
would have convicted myself of heresy. If I had answered no, then I would have confessed my own guilt. Apparently.

I know what you are thinking, that memory was pretty boring. I just think that, that memory was very important. Why? Because it shows all the things that went wrong in my hearing and if things had gone like they should have, then I wouldn’t be here now. Hmpf!!

Several court functionaries later testified that significant portions of the transcript had been altered in my disfavour. (Another mistake, again! Gosh can’t anyone do anything right??) Under Inquisitorial guidelines, I should have been confined to an ecclesiastical prison under the supervision of female guards (i.e. nuns). Instead, the English kept me in a secular prison guarded by their own soldiers.

Heresy was a capital crime only for a repeat offense. I agreed to wear feminine clothing when I was burnt at the stake.

I tried to confuse the people guarding me by telling a tribunal member that “a great English lord had entered my prison and tried to take me by force.” Sadly that did not work.

All these memories are quite fresh. This is because they are just before I am tied to a stake. Thinking of being burnt on a stake brings me back to the present. It also reminds me of the heat of the flames and the smell of burning flesh. I am now currently at the stage where the skin is starting to fall off my body and I cannot contain myself any longer, so I have to scream out in pain. AHHHHHH!! After sooo long of
being burnt on the stake, I can feel my life slipping through my fingers. I have decided to use my last few breaths and show you just what happened before I started to be burnt.

I was tied to the stake and brought out to be shown in front of the crowd. I remember listening to the sermon read to me. I also remember seeing Cynthia there. She was mouthing, “I’m sorry for not believing you back then. I really am.” I decided to forgive her. After forgiving Cynthia, I felt calm. But as he was getting to the end of his speech, I remember crying and sobbing. I also remember telling my accusers that I forgave them and told them to pray for me. I also asked the two fathers, Father Martin Ladvenu and Father Isambart de la Pierre, to hold a crucifix before me. I also asked a peasant to construct a small cross which I then placed the cross in front of my dress. I was then placed well above the crowd so everyone could see me. They lit three torches and placed them around my body. I started to burn.

After looking back at all my memories, I realise that my life was pretty awesome. My goals were achieved and I did as Saint Catherine, Saint Michael and Saint Margaret had instructed me to do. I would like to thank all of the people who followed me and supported me. As I scream out my last scream, I realise that my last breath is slipping away from me. My head drops and my eyes close…… Joan of Arc is dead.

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