Joan's Attire

At the end of April 2006 I received a communication from Mr. Allen Williamson, the Founder and Director of an excellent St. Joan web site called "Joan of Arc Online Archive" ( Mr. Williamson was working on an article about the clothing that Joan wore.

He explained to me that after going over the known documents from Joan's time, he could not find any explicit proof that Joan did in fact wear male clothing all the time, that is, from the time she left Vaucouleurs to the day of her execution.

What he did find in the documents were the following items:

1) Article XVII of Joan's Condemnation trial asserts that she wore male attire when she first met the Dauphin at Chinon. It should be noted that this article also makes fraudulent claims such as the accusation that she had told Charles VII that she would "kill his enemies using sorcery". This therefore casts doubt upon its reliability.

2) NO mention of her clothing was made by any of the witnesses at the Trial of Nullification.

3) In most of the chronicles that were written after Joan's death the authors' comments on the subject were so vague that the reader could interpret them either way. Only the Nider chronicle claims that she wore male clothing at all times, but this account is also unreliable on enough points as to call its trustworthiness into question.

Mr. Williamson did share with me what he found in the "De Quadam Puella" chronicle which "specifically says that she normally resumed female clothing shortly after dismounting her horse while traveling during her campaigns, rather than wearing male clothing at all times."

I (Virginia) still find what is said here very hard to believe because of the lengths that Joan would have to go through to take off her male attire. This did not just involve her taking off her pants as we do today but the tedious and time consuming effort of untying all of the 20 laces that connected her hose to her doublet.

This was not the first time that I heard about Joan's not wearing male attire all the time. I have learned recently that the Bishop of Reims also feels that Joan did not wear male attire all the time. That is why during the Festival that is held in this city Joan is ALWAYS shown wearing a dress! The Bishop also states that Joan wore a dress during the coronation of King Charles!

I was quite upset by Mr. Williamson findings, as well as the comments made by the Bishop of Reims, because it has been a long held belief on my part, that Joan DID wear male clothing all the time. As proof, please read the answer that I gave in 1999 to the following comment.

Between battles, Jehanne took obvious sensual pleasure in wearing expensive, extravagant, high fashion men's clothing -- and as a sexual cross-dresser, no less. (In fairness, all of her rich garb was given to her in the form of gifts cheerfully rendered by grateful friends.)

It is true Joan had always worn men's clothing starting at Vaucouleurs until her death at Rouen. While at court Joan did like to dress in fancy men's clothing and she never wore female clothing, fancy or otherwise.

This is NOT the argument. What IS being argued is the reason behind her behavior. Did Joan's action stem from a sexually twisted and perverted aberration of mind as is implied by the term "sexual cross-dresser?" Or was her behavior generated from a normal pure desire to preserve her physical and as well as her psychological virginity. How could Joan live with and night after night, sleep next to, rough, vulgar fighting men without constantly arousing their sexual lusts? How could she realistically ride a war-horse, lead a charge or climb a scaling ladder in battle wearing a long skirt? All these problems were solved by her clear headed and rational decision to wear male attire.

It is true Joan did insist on wearing men's clothing while she was not fighting and she willingly took the criticism she received from the members of Charles' Court for this decision. Obviously she must have had an extremely important reason for doing so. What could this reason have been?

Joan considered herself to be a soldier and a KNIGHT in the service of her KING - Jesus. She never knew when she would be called into battle; therefore she HAD to maintain her status as a fighting knight. Can you imagine how confusing it would have been for her captains as well as her soldiers to deal with her if one day she appeared 'lady-like' by wearing a dress and then the next day she was back in men's clothing wearing armor? They would NOT know how to act in her presence. The Captains as well as the soldiers' would lose their reverent 'awe' of her, their sense of Joan's 'other worldliness' that her presence conveyed. They would stop thinking of her as 'an angel from heaven' and would start to think of her as just another woman who followed after the army!

For Joan the most important reason for her to maintain her appearance as a knight was that her VOICES DID NOT GIVE HER PERMISSION to take off her male attire. This is the answer she gave at her trial!

To restate: Joan's wearing men's clothing did not make her a sexual deviant, as she was not trying to change or hide her gender. Nor was her intent perverse but instead it was very natural and healthy because by this means she was able to maintain her virginity and not to arouse the sexual desires of the men around her. Even today, the uniforms of our women in the military are very much like the men's uniforms. The women wear pants because it is more practical and comfortable.

My distress at the thought that Joan did not wear male attire all the time was not eased until I spoke with my friend Mr. Jerry Crouch of Alabama. I have to tell you a little about him before I relate what he said about this subject.

Mr. Crouch is a Southern Baptist. He first saw a vision of St. Joan back in 2004. He found my web site and contacted me about his experience. I suggested to him that he 'test the spirits' as St. Paul directs. Over the intervening years I have come to trust and believe in what he tells me about Joan because I have found him to be a very open and honest man. I have come to believe in what I call his "Spiritual Insights" so much that I have added them throughout my novel! One more VERY important point about Mr. Crouch is this, the ONLY book that he has ever read on the life of St. Joan was Mme. Regine Pernoud's JOAN OF ARC: BY HERSELF AND HER WITNESSES.

Mr. Jerry Crouch explains how he receives his 'spiritual insights' this way.

"The way that man has received his spiritual information for thousands of years is the way I receive my own information and that is to listen spiritually and listen in total faith. We all have that ability, if we have faith. It is how the Saints listened and how they wrote what they heard. They heard voices that they knew were different from the voices in their own mind. They believed their voices were of God, because what was said was far above their own human ability to understand the full meaning of the words that they heard. I just clear my mind and believe that spiritual truth will direct me. The errors I have in not understanding what I hear are my own personal failure in faith. But the spoken word of truth can come only through God himself. The spiritual insights of God speak to us all. It is simply TO LISTEN IN FAITH and this was the manner in which St. Joan explained herself to others. To believe in Christ is to believe that He speaks to us through our faith in Him."

Now let us listen to what Mr. Crouch has to say about Joan's attire.

"I myself have no idea whether St. Joan wore only male clothes, but my question, in spirit to her, resulted in the answer of No.

"So I take it that she did not wear male attire only. Joan never preferred to sleep in male attire and she would wear women's clothing whenever she was a guest in someone's home and could sleep in a bed next to the woman of the house.

"During her time with her troops she did wear male attire. I take it that Joan had days off and often she covered her head as a woman normally did during the day or while at Mass. If a priest asked her to wear women's clothing, she would do so out of obedience, but not in front of her soldiers. NEVER would she wish to be seen by her soldiers in women's garments. Joan would actually sneak around her troops, if she was wearing a woman's dress. Joan did not think that her short hair looked correct in women's garments and she would wear some type of cloth over her head, such as a headscarf. For Joan, male attire was her WORK CLOTHES and nothing more.

"It is an odd answer and personally I thought that she always wore men's clothing from the beginning to the end of her mission, but in spirit, her answer was that she did not, so that answer is not what I would not have expected. But then again, why would she wear men's garments when in bed or at the coronation of the King? The Priests knew that it was not proper for a woman to dress as a man at all times and she was a very holy person who showed respect. (Virginia's comment: When in the field with her army Fr. Pasquerel did not require her to change into a woman's dress to attend Mass.)

"One thing is for sure and that is that she did not like to dress as a man while in bed and she actually found it personally offensive. While in bed, there was no need at all to wear her Work Clothes. But if she was among her troops, she felt safer to dress as a man while taking her rest. St. Joan was very feminine while in private.

"She slept less than average, always getting up early. The only time she would sleep longer than normal was when she was not feeling well. She did not like her troops to think that she required a lot of rest and she would tell others that she needed privacy for prayer. She would pray, but often she would take a quick nap. The night was the time when Joan allowed herself to acknowledge her apprehension and to free herself from them she would always go deep into prayer. Joan worried far more than one would know and she always called on the strength of Jesus to calm her fears. She worried a great deal about the pain of the coming battle. St. Joan's sensitivity was a thing of great privacy. She was as tough as nails and yet as gentle as an angel was.

"It was my (Mr. Crouch) gut feeling that Joan only wore male clothing as well, but I take it that Mr. Williamson was correct. The spiritual insight that I received from St. Joan always seems to be accurate. I often think one thing, but the answer is often very different. Joan never really wanted to wear men's clothing, but her mission required it.

"The main personal reason for Joan to wear men's clothing was for her own protection. She wore it to protect her virginity against the many men that were under her command and those that were not, and it always was for that main reason that she dressed as a man, though she would not say that to anyone. It was a very personal thing for her to do. The man's clothing she wore should be looked at as her "Work Clothes".

"St. Joan was always far more like an angel than Xena (Warrior) like and Joan was very sensitive in so many areas. Although one would think that Joan would have very strong male characteristics, it never was the case. Joan was what a woman was meant to be, by the will of Our Heavenly Father and that was to be strong in both mind and body as well as spiritually. That strength overcomes this world and it gave Joan the intelligence of logical reasoning for everything she did. Everything she did was for a reason and she was not a person to waste her time on this earth. She hated to sit around and do nothing, because there were just so many things that needed to be done.

"Many times Joan was annoyed when people questioned her selection of clothes. She thought it was odd that people placed so much interest in the manner of her dress. Joan simply dressed for the occasion. She dressed herself as she did by the inspiration and great Wisdom of Christ. She knew that her body was a temple for God and so she dressed in whatever manner necessary to protect it from the evil of mankind. To Joan, her manner of dress was such a simple thing that any person of faith would understand.

A good article on the subject of whether Joan was a lesbian on Wikipedia.
Wikipedia: Joan of Arc : cross-dressing, lesbian, sexuality and transgender issues