Sunday, October 10, 2010

Joan of Arc in Rouen

Poor Joan of Arc. Nineteen years old when she was burned at the stake by the English in Rouen (which was English, then).  She was captured by the Duke of Burgundy and sold to the English, who imprisoned her in Rouen, in the tower shown in the first picture. She was 'tried', found guilty of heresy  and burned at the stake in the site of the Vieux Marché (now full of touristy restaurants as well as a market).  After her death she was declared a martyr and a saint and she is now a French national heroine.  The second picture is the outside of a modern church built on the site of her martyrdom. The remains of an older church are visible outside. The wooden beams of the interior (3d picture) are supposed to represent the flames that burned her. The stained glass windows are from the earlier, 13th century, church and have been incorporated in the new one. 

Odd, but all the Joan of Arc stuff in Rouen made the city feel a little grim to me. It has always been a story that I disliked and I've avoided it as much as possible.  Thousands of Cathars died for their religion in Southern France -twenty thousand men, women and children in the city of Béziers alone - the entire population of the city.   Yet the death of this one person affected me more, somehow. For me, it cast a pall on the city of Rouen. Maybe it's because she had a name and an age and a known history that she was somehow more 'real.'  Years ago we saw the shop she bought her armour from in Tours. I kept thinking about that while in Rouen.  

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