Monday, March 14, 2011

Joan of Arc - Another Theory

I have shamelessly poached this topic from a history forum, which posed the question back in 2006 - was Joan of Arc really a man.  Now, the thinking behind this was related to a medical condition known as "testicular feminization syndrome" or "complete androgen insensitivity syndrome".

From the website: "The complete androgen insensitivity syndrome is usually detected at puberty when a girl should but does not begin to menstruate. Many of the girls with the syndrome have no pubic or axillary (armpit) hair. They have luxuriant scalp hair without temporal (male-pattern) balding. They are sterile and cannot bear children."

What do we know of Joan that might fall into the above catergory.
1. There was no obvious signs of menstration.
2. She bore no children - child bearing would have been common for a girl of her age - and engaged in no known sexual activity.
3. Despite the saintly modern day depictions, Joan was, by nature of her ancestry, considered to have been short, dark complexioned and swarthy - almost masculine in appearance.
4. Yes she did undergo an "inspection" to ascertain that she was still "virgo intacta" - but would those women who examined her have been at all familiar with a medical condition in which a male took upon, to all intents and purposes, female form.  And quite frankly, no man would have undertaken such an intimate examination of a woman.
5. The Duke of Alencon, in his later reflections on Joan, was said to have remarked "... it was if she had known how to be a man-at-armss following the wars since her youth.."  And the Burgundian Chronicler Georges Chastellain also commented on her manly skills.

So, just as there is the mystery of Pope Joan - could we have the mystery of John of Arc??

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

...I don't think so...frankly, I think you're connecting random facts and piecing them together in awkward ways, with all respect...
1) Of COURSE there wouldn't seem to be obvious signs of menstruation- I'm sure that there were cloths back then for it, just like the pads now, and you can't really tell just by looking at someone, so none of the accounts would have said, "she's menstruating," and no, I don't think that Joan herself would have said "I'm on my period." either
2) She's a holy maiden, entirely religious. That meant no sex before marriage, and she was too busy in war for marriage. To have a baby you have to have sex. And she died when she was 19, captured while she was still busy for war efforts.
3) Just because you're short and dark doesn't mean you're a man. Swarthy might mean bad skin condition, and she was a peasant girl, obviously she wouldn't keep her skin smooth or whatnot.
4) Now you're going into the "what if, do they really..." that kind of stuff. This point, although true, doesn't really make a case of, "she is actually a man, with the condition testicular feminization syndrome."
5) Okay, manly skills...seriously? Just because a girls is called manly doesn't mean she has a syndrome of something. In any case, "man at arms" means soldier, not an actual man. So what the Duke is actually remarking on is that she seems to be a natural born soldier. Don't feed me stuff like, "being a soldier means a man." "Manly skills" in this case is sword skill or excellence in commanding an army, then since she was leader. I seriously doubt that they were saying that she looked like a man.