Association des études Jeanne d'ArcHistorical Association for Joan of Arc Studies
(Historical Academy for Joan of Arc Studies)


Primary Sources and Context Concerning Joan of Arc's Male Clothing

Extended Abstract

Series: Joan of Arc: Primary Sources Series (ISSN: 1557-0355 - electronic format)

Item #: PSS021806 (PDF format): ISBN: 1-60053-047-8; ISBN-13: 978-1-60053-047-0

Contributors: Robert Wirth (editor), Virginia Frohlick (peer-review), Margaret Walsh (peer-review), Allen Williamson (authorial contribution and translation)

Purpose: The historical circumstances and theological issues concerning Joan of Arc's male clothing are frequently misunderstood, due in large measure to the relative obscurity of substantive information on the relevant subjects. This has remained the case despite the efforts of a number of previous historians to publish more complete information.

Context and Methodology: The eyewitness accounts which contain quotations from Joan of Arc herself on the matter, as well as the descriptions of the trial process given by many of the clergy who had served on the tribunal in 1431, have remained less readily obtainable in comparison to the version given in the Condemnation Trial transcript. This has led to an unwarranted acceptance of the latter's version. Similarly, this transcript's characterization of the relevant theological principles is often accepted at face value, although medieval doctrinal sources prove this to be a distorted version of 15th century theology.
Moreover, the relatively small number of clerical sources which express opposition to Joan of Arc and condemn her usage of male clothing have been more readily obtainable in modern English-language publications than the many supportive 15th century clerical sources which point out that her specific usage of male clothing does not violate the Catholic doctrinal precepts of the era.
This article will present a selection of translated excerpts from the 15th century sources. These include: 1) Eyewitness accounts from persons who had associated with Joan of Arc, including the testimony of a number of the tribunal members who were questioned during the posthumous investigations (1450 and 1452) and postwar appeal (1455-1456) of Joan of Arc's conviction. 2) Excerpts from medieval doctrinal sources concerning the issue of cross-dressing. 3) Excerpts from 15th century clerical opinions concerning Joan of Arc's usage of male clothing, including those written both during her campaigns as well as during the appeal of her case after the war.

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