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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Joan of Arc in a new light

Franki Rudnesky, ’18, reads the new translation of the testament of Joan of Arc (Photo by Joey Toczylowski, ’19).

New translation of famed testimony hits bookshelves

Anyone who has ever taken a history course has most likely either learned about or heard references to Joan of Arc, a teenage girl who became one of the most prominent figures in medieval history.

In addition to hearing “voices” from God and important saints, Joan of Arc led thousands of men into decisive battles during the Hundred Years War.

Unfortunately, she met an untimely end when she was put to trial in 1431 for blasphemy, and was eventually convicted and burnt at the stake on May 30, 1431 when she was only 19 years old.

Nowadays, readers can have access to modern English translations of the transcripts from the four-month-long trial, along with an epilogue addressing controversial issues surrounding Joan of Arc, in Emilia P. Sanguinetti’s book “Joan of Arc: Her Trial Transcripts.”

The transcripts were originally written in Medieval/Middle French during the trial by a notary, and were first translated into English in 1932 by W.P. Barrett; but Sanguinetti’s publication offers a shorter, more concise version that promotes easy readability in modern English.

Readers can easily navigate the story, from the pre-trial phase in January 1431 where experts gathered and discussed evidence against Joan of Arc, all the way up to the recounting of the chilling statements made just before the heroine’s death.

The months in between relay countless testimonies for, against and by Joan herself. The claims deal with everything from the “voices,” or interior locutions that guided her, to the Catholic Church at the time and including assorted statements about Joan’s gender identity and sexual orientation.

While Joan of Arc is often depicted as a Christ-like figure, the trial transcripts  presented by Sanguinetti hold information that portray Joan of Arc as a representation of the Virgin Mary. She even refers to herself on a few occasions as “the miraculous virgin” who was meant to save France.

This book even includes “bonus material” in the form of all-encompassing accounts of Joan of Arc’s mystical experiences.

Following the transcripts from the trial is an epilogue written by the author, detailing the fallout of the trials, including details of the “Rehabilitation Trial” that took place in 1456 and an investigation of the trial itself.

This investigation ended up undoing the conviction of Joan of Arc, finding the trial to have been “tainted with fraud, slander, injustice, contradictions and many obvious errors involving facts and laws,” according to Sanguinetti’s book.

Sanguinetti, currently a theology student at the University of Notre Dame with five years of formal language training in French, also included essays in which she discussed Joan’s sexual orientation and gender identity, the origin of Joan’s “voices,” Joan as an icon of the suppression of women in the church, and Joan as a symbol of the Virgin Mary.

“Joan of Arc: Her Trial Transcripts” is an engaging read for anybody who is interested in history, issues of sexuality, gender identity or religion.

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