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Alternate History Friday: Joan of Arc Girds Herself

Joan of Arc imageShe looked around her cell again, and realized that she was not going to be rescued, nor ransomed by the King. So, the question was: how far was she willing to take it?

When the Voices began, Joan had been just a girl. They told her they were Saints — St. Michael, St. Catherine, and St. Margaret — and they had been quite specific about what they wanted her to do. They wanted her to drive the English out of France and bring the dauphin to Rheims, where the French coronated their kings. (She had always been somewhat suspicious that St. Margaret, a saint favored by the hated English, had asked her to do this.)

But she did what they asked. It wasn’t easy for a farm girl from Lorraine to lead an army in the 1400s — Hades, just getting to the army had been a major battle in itself. But back in those days, Joan had been a real believer. The Voices didn’t brook any disagreement. Even when she was shot with an arrow relieving the Siege of Orléans, she’d been unwavering.

She led the French to victory, liberating Rheims, and her Dauphin — that spotted weasel — became King Louis VII.

But really, the turning point for her had been the Battle of Jargeau; while climbing a ladder during an assault, a stone projectile had split on her helmet. It didn’t kill her, but it did drive out the Voices.

By then, she could hardly go back to the farm, and now she was in a pretty pass. The Burgundians captured her, and SOLD her to the English. Louis failed to ransom her before the English bought her. His betrayal was as bad as losing the Voices, and her famed bravery was all but gone.

The English were trying her to discredit his Kingship, by proving her a heretic. So far, she’d done well at the trial, even when they asked her if she was in God’s grace. She’d answered: “If I am not, may God put me there; and if I am, may God so keep me.” This nicely sidestepped the issue: if she had answered yes, then she would have convicted herself of heresy. If she had answered no, then she would have confessed her own guilt. The whole time she had been terrified that somehow Bishop Cauchon would see in her heart that she even doubted if God had ever spoken to her. The Voices may have been the Devil for all she knew, and she suspected that they may have even been a figment of her girlish imagination.

But Joan knew it was on the issue of clothes that her fate would hang, not God. She’d agreed to only wear women’s clothes, and then that poxy dog, Lord Bladderstone had tried to have his way with her, though he let her fight him off. She suspected that they thought she would go back to wearing men’s clothes to prevent such unwanted advances. That might have been true, but her supporters had smuggled in a chastity belt.

She looked at it, and the decision remained. Should she put men’s togs back on? Then she’d have abjured herself, and they’d have her for heresy. What was the point in that? Did she really want to burn at the stake, just for the sake of proving her Voices — her now nonexistent Voices — right?

She lifted her dress and girded herself with the chastity belt; it seemed a better defense than God. Besides, what value could her death by fire have to a Being that might not even exist; and if not Him, how would the people of France gain?

The belt locked with a satisfying click, and she knew that she would live.

Inspired by:
Birthday of Joan of Arc, January 6, 1412.

One Comment

  1. Carnival of the Godless #31

    Welcome to the 31st edition of the Carnival of the Godless. We have a great selection of godless writings on tap for you, from the analytical to the satirical to the poetic. The variety of entries is truly rich….

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