I would like to remind the reader, that the English built Joan's pyre VERY HIGH in order to prolong, what they hoped would be, a painful death. The other reason for the great height was to make sure that every one in the square could see her die. But after reading Mr. Boutin's article I see that instead of causing Joan a painful death they inadvertently made her death easier.

In Joan's time the executioner had three methods of easing the death of those who were to be burned. The executioner could either slit the victim's throat or strangle the victim with a rope or place green wood around the feet of the victim to cause them to die of asphixiation from smoke inhalation. According to the Chief of the Fire Department, death by smoke inhalation occurs within 10 minutes or less.


JOAN OF ARC'S DEATH: From Heat Stroke

by Norman Boutin

She passed out from heat stroke before the fire reached her.

Started: 9-18-2002

Last update: 9-30-2002

Updated: EMAIL, reply to "Peter", "from the messages board", DISCUSSION Exasperated Paragraphs F.7.1 thru F.7.4

Version: 9

Author: Norman Boutin

Paragraph A.1 Welcome fans of Joan of Arc. This web attempts to explain the real cause of Joan's death by examining the historical records and interpreting them using scientific principles, and common sense.

Pare A.1.1 For four hundred years many people thought Joan was only a legend. It seemed impossible such a person could have really existed. Then in the 1830s a Frenchman found the original documents relating to her trial and the "Rehabilitation" investigation done years after her death. The impossible legend was true! If anybody else had set out to do what Joan did they would have failed miserably. But Joan of Arc was a genius in the highest rank. Mark Twain said Joan was "easily and by far the most remarkable person the human race has ever produced." (1906 essay) Winston Churchill said, "Joan was a being so uplifted from the ordinary run of mankind that she finds no equal in a thousand years." (The Birth of Britain) Yet can you believe it, ladies and gentlemen? I went into a Catholic bookstore and found only one book about Joan, which I already had. There were no pictures or statues of her at all. What a tragic waste of an example in whom anybody, male or female, young or old, meek or aggressive, ignorant or genius, can find something to relate to.


Para A.1.2 Why this sorry neglect of Joan's story? It's obvious. People can't stand to think of the end. They believe it was a nightmare. It wasn't.


Para A.1.3 In August of 2002, while examining three biographies about Joan written by historians who used many footnotes, it suddenly occurred to me that something was wrong with the description of Joan's last moments as given to us by the witnesses. It couldn't have happened that way! It couldn't if my old way of thinking about the burning at stake ritual was right. It may have been a few minutes later, or a half an hour, I can't remember. It hit me. Of course! Joan collapsed from heat stroke! I spent the next week re-examining the scene as described in the books to see if I could find something I missed. There was nothing. Joan definitely collapsed from heat stroke. Everything in the scene points to it.


Para A.1.4 Let's get one unpleasant business out of the way right now so that we can move on to more interesting topics. The Spanish Inquisition ( SI ) has nothing to do with our investigation. The SI was started by Spain's King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella about 1478, a few years before Columbus sailed.

The King and Queen sent a letter to the Pope asking for advice on how to set up an inquisition to investigate Moslems and Jews. The Pope, bogged down in trying to cope with five wars at once, foolishly sent three monks to Spain to give advice. Within two years word got back to Rome that the SI was using harsh methods. The Pope wrote a letter to complain. The King and Queen wrote back telling him to mind his own business. They also said that from then on the Spanish government would appoint the Catholic bishops, not Rome ( this situation continued until as recently as 1974! ). You don't have to be a rocket scientist to predict where this was headed. If the Bishops were appointed by the Spanish government, to whom would they owe their allegiance? Right. The SI degenerated into a political terrorist organization. If your neighbor's dog poopooed on your lawn you denounced your neighbor to the SI and he'd never know it was you. The SI's only public means of terrorizing the populace was the burning at the stake ritual. It was designed to be as bad as possible. But Joan died in 1431, forty-seven years before the SI was started. Let's forget about the SI.


Para A.1.5 Joan lived in the Middle Ages. The two main purposes of burning at the stake were: 1. To show the heretic what hell looked like so he had a chance to recant, and, 2. To cremate the body so there would be nothing to bury in consecrated ground, very important to Middle Ages people. Already we can see that the Middle Ages agenda was very different from the SI's. There are even claims that a few people survived burning at the stake. Well really! How could that happen? It will be explained later. And now we can move on.




Para A.2 Witnesses said Joan repeatedly spoke the name of Jesus in a loud and clear voice right up to and including the moment she bowed her head down to her chest and then remained quiet and still. But this would be impossible if, she were being burned by flames at that moment. Therefore, we must find another cause of her loss of consciousness. This irrevocable and final loss of consciousness can be referred to as her moment of death. The precise moment her heart stopped beating is of no importance. The cause must be a process that had to happen under the given circumstances, or else we would forever be in doubt about what happened to Joan.



Para A.3 If the MAJOR PREMISE can be proved then we must hold that Joan did not suffer physical pain, although she was frightened, of course.



Para A.4 Arguments will be based on the testimony of witnesses who were at the scene. Writings of other people at other times and places must be suspect; professional historians give them a lot of doubt and we will also.


Para A.5 We shall make reasonable deductions based on scientific principles and common sense. For example, if someone tells us he drove his car to the corner store we can reasonably deduce that his car had an engine providing power to the wheels. We don't need witnesses to tell us this; we already know.

Examples of unreasonable deductions would be claiming that Joan was struck by a bolt of lightning or that someone threw a rock at her head and knocked her out. While these events were possible such speculations are not a legitimate way to travel the road from PREMISE to CONCLUSION.

Para A.6 Alleged miracles, fulfillment of Bible prophecies and other types of faith-generated claims will not be used to construct arguments.

Para A.7 It would be nice if we could discuss ideas one at a time in isolation. That won't be possible. The scene is complex. Many things go on at once. Some paragraphs in the DISCUSSION section will touch on several ideas, and there will be duplication of ideas between paragraphs.

Para A.8 It would be easy to 'editorialize' forever about this highly emotional issue. We will keep these remarks at a minimum in the DISCUSSION section. However, no subject is off limits in the EMAIL section found at the end of this web site. There, anything goes!

Para A.9 Mutually exclusive possible events need not cause confusion. For example, if either of two events could have happened but not both, it's not a problem as long as both events support the CONCLUSION.

Para A.10 While it is possible Joan passed out from carbon monoxide poisoning, this did not have to happen. We can't use this to build our arguments.

Para A.11 We will mention some possible events in order to increase understanding of how the scene may have developed. But if these possible events did not happen, it in no way affects the necessity of the process described in the CONCLUSION to begin or finish.

Para A.12 When we know that a process not mentioned by and unknowable to witnesses had to begin, given Joan's circumstances, and indeed could not possibly have not begun, then if there is no evidence to indicate the process was not finished and all the evidence available indicates that it was finished, we have proved that the process was completed.


Joan of Arc collapsed from a form of heat stoke induced by her environment. The components were:

1. Inspiration of hot air into the lungs. Time: instantaneous.

2. Warming of blood in the lungs. Time: instantaneous.

3. Warming of the entire body from blood warmed in the lungs. Time: one minute.

4. Warming of heat receptors in the brain from warmed blood. Time: ten seconds.

5. Reflex dilation of body surface arteries and arterioles from warming of heat receptors. Time: instantaneous.

6. Perspiration from dilation of body surface vasculature. Time: five seconds.


7. Dilation of arterioles leading to the capillaries of the skin. Time: instantaneous.

8. Increased blood pressure in the capillaries of the skin. Time: instantaneous.

9. Effusion of serous fluid from the blood through the dilated interstitial spaces between the cells lining the capillaries of the skin to the dermal interstitial space.

10. Effusion of fluid form the dermal interstitial space through eccrine sweat glands.

11. Massive fluid loss. Amount: six to eight pounds. Time: from two minutes after fire started until loss of consciousness, less than ten minutes.

12. Hypoxia (inadequate oxygen from circulatory failure).

13. Hyperventilation (flushing out of oxygen in the lungs by the body's carbon dioxide, from too rapid breathing )

14. Hyperthermia (increased body temperature)

15. Collapsing blood pressure from decreased blood volume.

16. Orthostatic hypotension, pooling of blood in lower extremities form the heart's inability to keep blood pressure up.

17. Extreme compensatory tachycardia, heart rate greater than 170 beats per minute.

18. Circulatory failure.

19. Anxiety.

20. Starvation.

21. A sleepless night.

22. Loss of consciousness from decreased blood and oxygen to the brain.

23. Exposure to air temperatures climbing to over 300 degrees Fahrenheit at the time of loss of




How much chance do you think the CONCLUSION has of being true? (Specify any number.)


90 to 100 % chance 0

60 to 89 % chance 0

40 to 59 % chance 0

11 to 39 % chance 0

0 to 10 % chance 0

Emails must demonstrate some thought on the issue, not just a summary judgement.


IMPORTANT NOTE TO READERS; It would be easy to be confused and lose one's way while reading the many topics in this discussion.. Always keep one critical point in mind. The fire could not get to Joan while she was conscious unless it got to her in eight minutes. The faster it got near her, the faster she would be sent into unconsciousness. Only if the fire got to her in eight minutes could it win the race.

Also note that we are permitted to include some comments here that serve no purpose but to satisfy our curiosity about what's going on (such as the possible motivations of the people there). One final note. It is not possible to discuss a subject this complicated in a straightforward; A leads to B leads to C manner.

There will be a lot of jumping around back and forth up and down. Putting in countless forward and backward cross-references would only add to the confusion. If you think this is a mess, consider that I was given nothing at all.

Para B.1 Many historical events are told to us by a single witness, and we believe them. For several hundred examples of this see the Bible. We have many witnesses to Joan's death.

Para B.2 According to witnesses, Joan repeatedly called out the name of Jesus in a loud, clear voice until her last breath when she bowed her head to her chest and remained still and quiet. We'll refer to this as the STORY.

Para B.3 Imagine that Adolf Hitler was captured alive and publicly executed in your hometown. Within an hour everybody in town would know what happened. There is no story told about Joan different from the STORY, except in the poorly written books and bad movies of our own time.

Para B.4 It's amazing how much heat you can stand if the air is dry and still. You can stay in a dry heat sauna room set at 200 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes before massive fluid loss and elevated heart rate force you out. I once went into a 270 degree sauna for 5 minutes. Volunteers in a government experiment withstood 500 degree temperatures for 90 seconds. They could have gone even higher than that, but the times were getting too short.

Para B.5 Rapid massive fluid loss such as Joan experienced is something you have to see to believe. When I went into that 270 degree sauna I was dripping perspiration in 30 seconds. I lost 8 pounds in 5 minutes. Perspiration poured from my nose and chin in steady streams. Towards the end of this brief visit I must have been losing at the rate of two and a half pounds per minute. I’m not living in Fantasyland.

This really happens.


Para B.4.1 The massive fluid loss happens mainly at the expense of the blood, as I indicated in the conclusion. The body’s total blood volume decreases which leads to falling blood pressure (stroke) and all the other effects mentioned.


Para B.5 Lounging in a hot tub doesn’t warm up your body for a long time because the water only acts on your skin, which is a poor conductor. You’re breathing room temperature air. But Joan inhaled hot air within moments of the fire’s start. By bringing heat inside her body she began overheating immediately. This alone would have raised her body temperature to fatally high levels even without what was going on outside.

Para B.6 Pain from heat depends on the rate of heat energy transfer, not the temperature. Temperature is only incidental. For liquids and solids the pain threshold is about 140 degrees, but that's because of the rate of heat transfer, not the temperature. (Steam has a suspension of fine water droplets.) The pain threshold for dry air is believed to be about 1,000 degrees.

Para B.7 An open wood fire has a temperature of 800 to 900 degrees. Then how can the pain threshold for air be 1,000? It's all about the rate of heat transfer. There is a heat gradient film over the skin. The molecules of air close to the skin will have a lower average heat content (temperature) than air just millimeter away. Things happen very fast at the molecular level. The gradient film is maintained as long as the air is fairly calm. But if the air is moving quickly the film is flushed away. That's exactly what fire does.

An analogy can be given by noting that scantily clad skydivers have a diminished need to breathe because the wind provides fresh oxygen for their skin to absorb directly. (Insects have no lungs.) The point is that Joan could experience very hot air temperatures, far above 300 degrees, without pain.

Para B.8 You can't walk up close to a bonfire because the infrared heat radiation will hurt your skin. But you will have no problem if you drench yourself with water first, just as Joan was drenched with perspiration.

Para B.9 Someone in good condition will pass out after losing about eight percent of their body fluids. But Joan was in terrible shape after months on starvation rations to break down her resistance. Once, she nearly died from an illness. It would have been a public relations disaster if she died in prison. Doctors were rushed in to save her. If she had stayed in prison instead of going to the stake, she might have died in a few weeks anyway.

Para B.10 Christian burial was very important to Middle Ages people. One purpose of burning at the stake was to utterly destroy the heretic’s body by burning it to ashes so that there would be nothing left to bury in consecrated ground. The day before she died Joan herself complained, "Must this body, so far undefiled, now be burnt to ashes in a woeful death?"

Para C.1 It takes 2 to 3 hours to cremate a body at the funeral home in a closed oven. To cremate a body in the open air you need a large fire that engulfs the body for hours. Only a large pile of wood will work.

Para C.2 Before the fire was started a monk stood on the platform holding a crucifix up to Joan. She asked him to get down from the platform or he would burn too. Joan in effect tells us that it was a large, broad woodpile, and from the beginning, not later.

Para C.3 A pile of sticks will burn itself out quickly and won’t deliver enough heat to the corpse in that time. A pile of larger pieces of wood and small logs will burn forever, but will be slow to start up as was described by witnesses.

Para C.4 Fire will move quickly through a woodpile vertically, but not horizontally. For fire to move horizontally a piece of wood has to burn from one end to the other, and so on. This takes a long time. A two inch long wooden match held horizontally takes about half a minute to burn from one end to the other. That’s three minutes to travel one foot. A pile of wooden matches only eight feed wide lit on the edge would take 12 minutes to reach the center. Take sticks only three of four times thicker and the rate of burn travel is considerably slowed down because it takes longer to heat the wood to the flash point. The same pile of wood will take 24 minutes or 36 minutes as the sticks get thicker. But they would have to use large pieces of wood for the reasons already explained above.

Para C.4.1 The speed at which wood reaches the flash point in a wood stove is not a fair comparison. In a wood stove, infrared radiation becomes very important. It bounces off the walls back onto the wood. Also, light or near-light radiation like infrared has a certain penetration ability. Thus, some sunlight penetrates six inches into the ground, and even photographic film doesn’t last unexposed forever when wrapped in aluminum foil. The infrared will heat up some of the wood’s interior directly. In the open air, as in Joan’s situation, 90 percent of the radiation escapes into space. It becomes of negligible importance. The heating of wood to the flash point therefore is dependent almost entirely on direct contact with flame which is very slow. Every millimeter of wood feels nothing until the millimeter next to it has been heated to the flash point. Much the same can be said about the loss of hot air in the open air as opposed to its retention in a wood stove.

Para C.5 If the fire took only 20 minutes to reach Joan she would have already perspired off 15 percent of her bodyweight. Clearly she was long gone before that happened.

Para C.6 Regardless of how much time it took the fire to get to her, the air temperature around her reached 300 degrees in less than half that time. She had already withstood high temperatures long before that. When it reached 300 she couldn’t stay conscious more than two minutes. Think of it as a foot race between two runners: Sure-winner and No-hope. Sure-winner is the proverbial 97 pound weakling and No-hope is an 800 pound gorilla. The Judge doesn’t think this is fair so he institutes a special rule.

No-hope may only take steps half as long as Sure-winner. It’s no contest. Sure-winner has to win. Similarly, the fire had to build and push a space of hot air ahead of itself. There’s no way to argue around this simple fact.

Para C.6.1 The point made in Para C.6 is legitimate for the following hypothetical situation. The wood is piled in a straight line instead of a circle. Joan stands on one end of the line and the fire is started at the other. You can see that the halfway point of the line of wood would have a temperature about half the difference in temperatures between Joan’s end and the fire’s end, or about 300 to 400 degrees. In the actual situation Joan stood in the middle of the woodpile, which would make the air around her heat up much more quickly. It is reasonable to say her air reached 300 degrees in a third of the time the fire took to get to her.

Para C.6.2 The highest air temperature she would experience at the moment of loss of consciousness depended on how quickly the fire advanced. For example, if the fire advanced at the rate we’ll call A-plus-zero-minutes then Joan’s air would reach 300 degrees in B-plus-zero-minutes. She would then pass out two minutes later when the temperature reached, we’ll say, 340 degrees. Now, let’s change the numbers. The fire advances at a rate of A-minus-three-minutes. Joan’s air reaches 300 degrees in B-minus-one-minutes. BUT (!!) her air is also heating faster. Two minutes later it reaches 380 degrees.

But Joan couldn’t hold out another two minutes. She passed out 40 seconds ago when her air reached 365 degrees. This shows that the faster the fire advances the faster will Joan pass out. Joan, and her airspace, are Sure-winners.

Para C.6.2.1 There are only two ways that the fire could arrive too quickly-- (we’ll say the time would be 8 minutes)-- for Joan’s body to cast off enough body fluid to send her into heat stroke and unconsciousness in time. One way is if the woodpile was only three feet wide. But this is ridiculous. Such a small fire would take forever to cremate the body if it could do so at all. And it would require continuous feeding of new wood to keep it going which is also ridiculous. Much more sense to start with a large woodpile and get the cremation done sooner. Furthermore, we have evidence that it was a large, broad woodpile. Joan asked the monk to get down from the platform. She had considerable experience with fire back in her childhood village, tending fires in the fireplace or out in the field watching the cattle on cold days. She was very astute. She certainly knew the monk could stand two feet from a small fire with no problem.

Para C.6.2.2 This paragraph contains truly insane material. You should skip it and go on to the next paragraph. The only purpose of this one is to show how wrong we were to believe the shameless book writers and movie producers who try to convince us what could not happen did. Joan should not have to wait another six hundred years for somebody to tell the truth. OK. You’ve been warned. The other way to get the fire to win the race is to light it under the victim. There are four methods to do this. One is to light the woodpile at its bottom though a hole in the platform. I warned you! The second method is to light the bottom of the pile through a tunnel left in the wood. Had enough? The third method is to build a very high woodpile with steep almost vertical sides. The fire would then flash up to the victim. This is your last chance to get out. The fourth method is really sick. It’s to bury hot coals or "faggots" inside the woodpile under the victim. I can’t believe that any of these methods were ever used by people in the Middle Age. The Spanish Inquisition, yes, but not the Middle Ages people. They weren’t carefully selected from among thousands of sick candidates. They were just ordinary people like us who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Before Joan went up to the platform she knelt down on the ground and prayed out loud for half an hour. Half an hour! She implored the Saints to pray for her. She blamed herself for everything that happened. She wasn’t speaking for the crowd. She’d disconnected herself from them. She was speaking only to God and the crowd knew it. Witnesses tell us there wasn’t a dry eye in the house to use a modern phrase. And a few minutes later these people sent her up to a nightmare? I don’t think so! Furthermore, (again) we have evidence (again) that it didn’t happen that way (again). Witnesses said that when Joan bowed her head they could see her ‘above the flames’. If one of these insane methods were used she would be entirely engulfed in flames. Witnesses said that at that same moment she was ‘surrounded by the flames’. The woodpile had been lit on the outside edge, not in the middle or underneath. That should take care of the lying writers and producers. I promise that the rest of this discussion gets more pleasant.

Para C.7 Some of you must have stepped on (Get it?) the web site of the Joan of Arc Museum in Rouen, France. It shows a life sized (?) model of the scene just before the fire was lit, using realistic looking dummies.

(NOTE FROM VIRGINIA FROHLICK: No the height of the state in this depiction of Joan's death was NOT life size. Joan's pier was in fact built much higher than is shown by the museum's depiction. The museum was forced to keep the height down because of the constraints of the room's ceiling.)

I get a good laugh every time I look at it. The woodpile is obviously not large enough to cremate the body before my next birthday. It is clear the monk could not have stood on the platform earlier as we've already noted. He'd be standing on the wood. He's a black man. I lived in Germany three years. You rarely see blacks in the smaller towns even today. The monk is holding up a cross to Joan as she had requested. The cross is mounted on a six-foot pole. When he was standing on the platform Joan must have broken her neck to look up at it. Maybe he held the cross sideways? The platform is only five feet wide ( Joan was about five feet ). This is also ridiculous. Sometimes they burned several heretics at once. A five-foot wide platform would be pretty crowded. The Europeans built structures on a colossal scale. The old medieval part of Nuremburg, Germany is surrounded by a wall containing 14,000,000 cubic feet of neatly cut and mortared stone blocks, enough to pave a two lane highway 80 miles long. Half of five feet is two and a half feet. The stake uses up a few inches in the center. Joan takes up another foot leaving about 18 inches for the monk to stand on. The Middle Ages people rarely took a bath. No wonder Joan told him to get off.

Para C.8 Where is it written they wanted to cause Joan pain? Nobody said that. It's possible they knew she would pass out before the fire arrived, although they couldn't understand why it worked.

Para C.9 There is a doubtful story that was told about this time. It goes like this. Supposedly they tied a bag of gunpowder between Joan's legs to kill her off quickly but it failed to go off. This is doubtful because they should have learned by now that simple unrefined gunpowder doesn't explode unless it's in a strong tight container to build up pressure. Nevertheless the story tells us something about the Middles Ages people's mentality. They were ignorant but not monsters. Joan herself wasn't such a bad girl.

Para C.10 Historians tell us there was yet another technique used in the Middle Ages. The victim was often strangled or hanged before being burned. Maybe he was shown the fire first and then quickly put to death. These people were not monsters.

Para C.10.1 Joan's executioner was Geoffrey Therage (or Thirage, or Thierage). When he saw how Joan died with the name of Jesus on her lips he cried and went around telling everybody he would be damned for burning a Saint. He wasn't a monster.

Para D.1 There is a ridiculous story told by a single witness, and it seems incredible that nobody else mentions it. The story was repeated in a report written for the University of Paris, which was hostile to Joan and had supplied a lot of the 62 judges (!) at her trial.. This guy, who wasn't even there, added his own juicy details to the witness's version. Apparently these two guys had their Playboy magazines taken away from them and needed some spice in their lives. The story goes like this. When Joan was dead and her gown had burned away the executioner was ordered to pull back the fire to let the crowd see her body. That's impossible! How could this man pull back two tons of burning wood quickly enough so that the body would still be recognizable? It's ridiculous. Even if the story were true, it would only confirm my thesis. Joan would have been dead a long time.

Para D.2 On the other hand, the ridiculous story in Para D.1 could be true if Joan wasn't standing on the wood. She may have been standing on the platform with the wood piled up in a circle around her. We can call this the "doughnut technique". There are old, crude drawings dating back to the Middle Ages in which it appears the victims are standing on the ground. If this is what was done then it would have been easy for the executioner to pull back the wood in a few seconds.

Para D.3 Historians have long known that the doughnut technique was often used in the Middle Ages. Some think the technique was used with Joan. Oh, really? Then why didn’t they write this mess?

Para D.4 Historians say that the doughnut technique was used so that the high flames would hide the victim’s sufferings from the crowd. Oh, really? Everybody in the crowd was deaf? This was the only possible reason for the doughnut technique? Couldn’t they intend that the victim passed out before the fire arrived? Furthermore, (again) we have evidence (again) that it didn’t happen that way (again). When Joan bowed her head the witnesses could see her ‘above the flames;’ There’s more about this point later.

Para D.5 The doughnut technique explains how it would be possible for a few people to survive the stake as has been claimed. The victim passes out and the doughnut shaped fire starts to die out. As the executioner gets ready to throw on more wood and push it up to the body’s feet, he notices the victim is still alive. The people think it’s a miracle from God. They revive the victim and either sent him back to jail or set him free. Weirder things happen in America every day.

Para D.6 It did not matter whether or not the doughnut technique was used. A sufficiently broad woodpile would achieve the same desirable outcome. The wood, if any, under the victim’s feet would catch fire after he was gone. Both possibilities support my thesis.

Para D.7 It did not matter whether or not the organizers of Joan’s execution intended this desirable outcome for her as long as she got it. Both possibilities support my thesis.

Para D.8 I believe that the organizers intended this desirable outcome for Joan, although I have nothing to back it up. Somebody might object that this wasn’t possible because there were only about 100 burnings at the stake a year in all of Europe and the Rouen people couldn’t possibly have the skills required. Nonsense. People living long ago were just as smart as we are. Joan’s genius astonished Mark Twain and Winston Churchill. The famous 6,000 year old Ice Man found in the Alps was carrying tools made of forty types of wood, each type chosen for a specific task. He also carried a copper head axe. The smelting of copper ore into an un-oxidized form of copper hard enough to make an axe is an extremely difficult procedure. Probably not more than fifty people living today could do it on the first attempt. The Middle Ages people had two centuries of experience in burning at the stake. They knew exactly what they were doing (although they couldn’t understand how the desirable outcome happened (any more than the historians.)

Para D.9 Somebody might object that the organizers could not intend this desirable outcome for Joan because it was un-achievable. Given the many un-measurable factors, the size of the wood, the wetness or dryness of it, the type of wood, hard or soft, wind conditions, humidity, how much heat the platform would steal from the fire, and most important of all Joan’s state of health, it would be impossible to guarantee the desirable outcome. Nonsense. It was the simplest thing in the world. If Joan was taking to long to pass out and the fire was getting close, all they had to do was rake back some of the burning wood to slow the fire down.

Para D.10 The witnesses were Joan’s enemies who lost thousands of friends in her battles. Nobody said Joan screamed, or squirmed, or anything of that nature. They described what they saw.

Para E.1 You can stand close to a campfire all day because most of your body surface faces cool air. But Joan was in the center of the woodpile. There was no cool air for her.

Para E.2 A pile of wood is fifty percent air space. Hot air spread through the pile to Joan’s feet. She felt the heat within two minutes although the fire was still only inches high and far away. There was also direct infrared radiation from the first few seconds.

Para E.3 The cloud of hot air in the pile and around Joan couldn’t rise up into the atmosphere because there was no source of heavy cold air to displace it. Joan was drenched in perspiration within four minutes.

Para E.4 Nobody would think of wearing clothing in a sauna room. Joan’s perspiration soaked gown denied her the cooling effect of the process.

Para E.5 You can say the name of Jesus 150 times in a minute. Witnesses said she "ceased not to proclaim the name of Jesus until the end", but she said the name only seven times. Clearly there were long pauses between repetitions. She was trying to catch her breath. And why not a sentence or phrase along with name instead of the name alone? Because that’s all she could get out in her last moments.

Para E.6 When Joan bowed her head witnesses said they could see her above the flames. If the flames had been at her feet, the much older flames on the outside of the pile would already be higher than her head.

Para E.7 The witnesses were standing six to eight feet lower than Joan and had to look up which would make the flames look higher then they were..

Para E.8 The wood under and near Joan’s feet didn’t collapse as it would if on fire, otherwise the witnesses couldn’t have seen her at all.

Para E.9 This point alone should shake up the most stubborn skeptic. When someone is standing in fire he cannot make any sound at all after taking a few breaths. The hot gases rushing a hundred miles an hour between the vocal cords burn and immobilize them making them useless. But his heart and brain are still unaffected. He has a long way to go before losing consciousness. Clearly this is not what happened to Joan.

Para E.10 You can’t speak in a loud and clear voice if your lungs are filled with smoke.

Para F.1 You can’t speak right up to the last moment of consciousness if you’re in great pain.

Para F.2 You can’t lower your head to your chest and remain quiet and motionless if you’re in great pain.

Para F.3 The witnesses couldn’t invent a story corresponding perfectly to our modern medical and scientific knowledge. They could have invented some other story but we would catch them in their lie by a thorough analysis like the one above.

Para F.4 The witnesses couldn’t get all the thousands of people there to agree to a story with nobody telling anything different. Think it over. Exactly how would you go about it? It can’t be done.

Para F.5 People remember the gruesome details of an event for life while quickly forgetting the less important details. But the witnesses did the exact opposite when they testified under oath as much as 25 years later. No gruesome details. Just mild stuff a tabloid newspaper wouldn’t use.

Para F.6 Other witnesses said they changed their mind about Joan, like I mentioned of the executioner, when they saw her die like a Saint, that is, saying Jesus with her last conscious breath. They would not have felt this way if the end had been a gruesome chaos. Their attitude would have been ‘good riddance’.

Para F.7 A full investigation into Joan’s life was conducted by the Church many years after her death. The purpose was to determine whether she was a heretic or a good Christian. The investigation was extremely long and comprehensive even by our modern standards. It dragged on year after year. No flaw could be found in her character. Joan’s enemies, who had murdered her on the pretense of executing a witch and heretic, could have easily said she didn’t die like a Saint calling on Jesus with her last breath, but rather had died some other way. They did not.

My exasperated note to readers ---- And if anyone is still missing something--------

Exasperated Para F.7.1 There is no evidence of any kind that Joan was burned to death.

Exasperated Para F.7.2 There is no evidence of any kind that Joan was touched by fire while still conscious.

Exasperated Para F.7.3 All available evidence suggests that Joan was not touched by fire, or burned.


This is from my reply to Peter’s email. I hadn’t put this into the discussion previously because I thought it was insultingly too obvious to include. Apparently it isn’t. "You wonder how Joan could still maintain enough control of herself to say the name of Jesus in a loud and clear voice when the fire has already burned off her skin, her fingernails, her toenails, the tip of her nose, and her eyelids. That's pretty courageous for anybody, let alone a 19 year old girl." Amen! (If you object to this paragraph, I guess you don't want children to be told Jesus was nailed to a cross for three hours. I'd rather be burned alive. It only takes three minutes.)

Para F.8 I will not go into the details of the Joan’s physiologic responses to her environment. They are outlined in the CONCLUSION. The important points to remember about her responses are:

  1. their necessity under the circumstances,
  2. their immediate activation for the many reasons given above,
  3. and their necessary completion from the time factors explained earlier.

Para F.9 I believe this should be enough to remove any doubt about what happened to Joan of Arc. Nobody with a heart, brain, and conscience can now say she was killed by the fire. We can think about Joan without being saddened. If she had it to do all over again she’d do it. It’s not wrong to tell children Joan only went to sleep. That is exactly what she did.


SEPT 25, 2002

Copyright 2002 Norman Boutin


Hi Norman!

This is not forwarded by the list. I checked out your web pages and what bothers me is that you make a lot of assertions but offer no science I could find to back it up. It seems like a guesstimate, but you present it as fact.

I don't understand how in all intellectual honesty you can do that. But maybe I missed something.




My reply to Peter:

Well, Peter, I guess you disapprove of magazines such as 'Scientific American', 'Nature', 'Discover', and 'National Geographic' and many others of that type. They're full of nothing but assertions. There's no science. If you want the science you have to go to a college or university library and look up things like 'Journal of the American Medical Association', 'Journal of the American Chemical Society', 'Journal of Physiology', etc etc etc. There are hundreds of scientific journals. Many of them are in foreign languages, unfortunately, which makes it awful hard to check things out. In these types of journals you'll find fifty page articles wherein a team of five or ten scientists argue to make a single point.

It might be something like, "The effect of Compound-T64 on the heart rate of rabbits". That's all the fifty-page article will talk about. But you still haven't gotten to the science yet because that fifty-page article is really only a summary of their findings. If you want the real science of the effect of Compound-T64 on rabbit hearts you're going to have to go that university or wherever the research was done and ask the scientists to show you their laboratory notebooks. Those notebooks when they're all gathered together will probably run to eight or nine hundred pages. And don't forget the statistical analysis of the research data. That will be another two or three hundred pages. You'll find them in the mathematics department because only mathematicians know how to do statistical analysis. After you've digested all that you'll know for yourself whether or not Compound-T64 has an effect on rabbit heart rates without having to take someone's word for it..

That's pure science, Peter, and as you can see it's a very tedious business. You've spent two months of your life to learn a single fact with certainty.

Now, while you were visiting those scientists to get their lab notes, something interesting happened. They took you on a tour of their laboratory and you discovered that rabbit fur makes you sneeze. Of course you want to know why but the scientists don't have a clue because that's not their specialty. But they can point you in the right direction. They tell you to look up articles about anatomy, because you'll need to know the muscles and nerves involved in sneezing, and articles on immunology as applied to nose. Now you've really got a big project to work on!


You go back to the college library and soon find out that the scientific journal articles related to the anatomy and immunology of sneezing runs into the thousands. It would take you a thousand years to check out all the laboratory notes and statistical analyses of all those articles. So you decide you have to make a compromise. The heck with the pure science. You'll just read the journal articles and take the author's word for it about the science of sneezing. But your troubles are not over. You collect all the journal articles and find out they fill twelve bookcases. It would take the rest of your life just to read them. As far as absorbing and understanding them, forget it. You'll never figure out why rabbit fur makes you sneeze.

So you make another compromise. The heck with the scientific journal articles. All you have to do is take college courses in anatomy and immunology and take the professor's word for it when they come around to talking about sneezing. But when you try to register for anatomy and immunology courses you find out there are pre-requisite courses you have to take. You need two semester of physics, six semesters of biology and four semesters of chemistry. Then you can take anatomy and immunology to find out why rabbits make you sneeze, and know it with certainty.

So you quit your job to start two years of college and find out about your sneezing. One day, as you're studying in the library, you notice a copy of Mark Twain's biography of Joan of Arc in the book return cart. You check out Twain's book and read it. Pretty interesting chick, that Joan. You get on the internet and order three more books about Joan written by historians who use lots of footnotes, unlike Twain. You become interested in Joan's death scene. You wonder how Joan could still maintain enough control of herself to say the name of Jesus in a loud and clear voice when the fire has already burned off her skin, her fingernails, her toenails, the tip of her nose, and her eyelids. That's pretty courageous for anybody, let alone a 19 year old girl.


Now you have a stupendously huge project on your hands. You want to know what happened to Joan. But consider what you have to consider: the human body with its dozens of interconnected systems, with the possibility of breaking down in thousands of ways. How do you know what to focus on and what to ignore? You ask a few professors for advice but they don't have a clue. The college has no burning at the stake department. But they can point you in the right direction.

They tell you to do what I did. Get two college degrees and one graduate school degree. Take several hundred, college credit hours in chemistry, physics, biology, calculus, biochemistry, pathology, human anatomy lecture and lab, medicine, immunology, histology, pharmacology, physiology and few other 'ologys'. Then watch about a hundred people die and officially pronounce death on them yourself for the records. Meanwhile, gather oddball pieces of information from here, there, everywhere, all the while knowing that only one piece of oddball information in ten thousand will be applicable to Joan’s case After all that, you might figure out what happened to Joan.

But even if you do figure out what happened to Joan your work isn't over. After taking a quarter of your life getting the background to discover how Joan died, you don't want to keep the discovery to yourself. You want to share it. But how do you that, Peter? I'm afraid that this time you have taken on a project that's simply too big to handle. You may find that only physicians and people like that who study the human body can understand what you're talking about, but even among them less than a tenth of one percent will have stumbled on the oddball pieces of information they need to raise the red flags that suggest there's something wrong in the picture of the story about Joan they've been led to believe all their lives. And even among that less than a tenth of one percent who do notice the red flags, 99 percent of them will be too set in their ways to change their minds now.

Exactly how do you make people understand what you know for certain? I don't have a clue.




Thank you so much for putting that web site on Joan of Arc's death! I did get into it and copied it all off, now I have some more information on Joan to add to my notebook!



My reply to Tashasheena:

I was very happy to hear from you. You sound like a young person, or a young at heart person, who still has the spark of life to get interested in something. It is you and your generation who will know the truth about Joan. I’m afraid anyone over 25 will be too rigid to change their minds.

I’d like to know more about that Joan notebook of yours, and your age. Of course I will put no information about you on this web site, not even your real name. How do you like the one I gave you?




I am finding out what every teacher has learned from experience. "How do you make them understand?" The problem I'm up against is a psychological one. When people have long believed in an idea, they will not change their mind about it unless they are shown proof. In the case of my thesis that Joan collapsed from heat stroke, the "proof" would have to consist of an understanding of human physiology similar to my own. I don't claim that I have a great deal of knowledge, only enough to recognize what happened to Joan. It took me only a few minutes to figure it out once I realized she couldn't have said the name of Jesus while she was burning.

Sadly, most people don't have this kind of "proof" based on understanding of the sciences, anymore than I can understand what a mechanic is saying about what's wrong with my car engine. I have to trust my mechanic. But viewers of this web site can't trust me because I'm telling them they've been wrong all these years, and nobody likes to hear that!

And that's the problem. The goal of this web site may be un-achievable.

Norm, Sept 30, 2002



Norm: In Henry VI, Part 1, Act 5, Scene 3, Shakespeare has Joan conjure up fiends from hell. I don't think he knew what he was talking about.

Email writer: No, of course not: I was merely mentioning his (Shakespeare) claim about the alleged purpose of placing her so far above the fire (the Rehabilitation witnesses confirm that she was, in fact, placed high above the wood piled up underneath; so this portion of the play was not fictional). The fact that Shakespeare's version is mostly fraudulent and defamatory does not mean that one should be forbidden from mentioning any portion of it for any purpose: I was simply throwing out his claim in order to get your opinion of whether placing her in that position would cause her to die from smoke inhalation, as some scholars believe.

Norm: As I said in my paper, "You can't speak in a loud and clear voice if your lungs are filled with smoke."

A campfire gives off enough smoke to kill thousands of people, but I never heard of anybody being killed roasting marshmellows. People die of smoke inhalation in house fires because the smoke can't rise up into the atmosphere as it would in the open air. It accumulates in the room. Only if Joan were directly over the fire would smoke get into her lungs, but then smoke would be the least of her problems!

Whether or not it was possible for Joan to inhale smoke depends on you viewpoint in time. Before the event you have to say, "yes it is possible Joan will inhale smoke", but after the event you have to say, "it was not possible because it did not happen". Any event that did not happen was impossible to happen!

I'm not finished yet. I got more!

Observe a candle flame. Notice that the tip comes to a sharp point? Why is that? Shouldn't hot gases expand outward?

What's happening is a demonstration of Bernoulli's principle. When gas is moving in one direction it will exert less pressure in a direction perpendicular to this motion then it would if it were still. This is the principle of the airplane wing. The air moves faster on the top of the wing than underneath. This means that the air on top of the wing presses down on the wing less than the slower air under the wing pushes up, because of Bernoulli's principle. Another example is that "trick' you sometimes see of balancing a ping pong ball on a stream of air going straight up. As the ball tries to move out of the upward air stream its outer side encounters still air which exerts greater pressure than the side facing the air stream. Bernoulli's principle forces the ball back into the air stream.

When you stand next to a campfire you get neither smoke nor the fire's heat. What you feel is the fire's infrared radiation, which of course moves in all directions. But the hot gases (the fire's heat) and the smoke move straight up, and because of this up-wards motion, Bernoulli's principle makes the surrounding air push into the smoke and hot gases and keep them in a fairly stable column for some distance above the fire. Thus, Joan would not be touched by the smoke or hot gases even when the fire was getting very close. (The ring of fire was not a steady, even ring, of course. Tongues of flame darted up and down allowing cooler air to dash through sometimes and maintain pressure inside the ring. Also, air molecules move around at several hundred yards a second, many times faster than fire moves up, so that some air got inside the ring somehow to maintain atmospheric pressure. In other words, Bernoulli's principle was maintained even though it was a ring of fire and not a "campfire".)

The height of the wood pile doesn't matter because she was surrounded by a ring of fire and the air inside the ring was trapped there, as I said in the paper. The upward moving "column" of fire heat and smoke, which in Joan’s case was ring-shaped, would not break up until it was maybe fifteen or twenty feet above the fire, so that Joan was inside a warm column. Surely you don’t suggest the woodpile was more that twenty feet high?

The air around Joan didn't have to heat up much to start her perspiration. A woman's lung capacity is about four liters. Let's say Joan was taking a breath every second as she certainly was doing when the air temperature around her was still only 200 degrees. That's 240 liters of 200 degree air going into Joan's lungs every minute! That's a lot of heat to take in when you're not getting rid of heat (for the various reasons discussed in my paper). Exactly how much heat? 240 liters of air equals 300 grams of air. The heat capacity of air is about a quarter of a calorie per gram per Centigrade degree. The difference between body temperature and 200 degrees Fahrenheit is 57 degrees Centigrade. Joan was breathing in 4,250 excess calories per minute. (Food energy "calories" are actually kilocalories.) This is four times the body’s total basal metabolic rate of energy production! While these 4,250 calories per minute would not significantly warm up every last water molecule in her body for a long time, it is important to note that all this heat energy was being absorbed by the blood perfusing the lungs. The blood would be very significantly warmed and that's what triggers perspiration. That's what finished her off quickly. The fire and smoke were still far away and were going straight up, out of Joan's way.

At a 300 degree air temperature, Joan would take in roughly 9,000 calories a minute, or nine times her body’s basal metabolic rate of heat production.

I think that should take care of the "smoke theory". Did any of those "scholars" propose a precise mechanism by which the smoke would get into Joan's lungs? (Oh, please, everybody! No witness said anything about wind. They said a lot about Joan saying the name of Jesus etc etc, for the millionth time.) You can't just claim something happened. You have to explain exactly how it could happen, and exactly why it had to happen. That's what I do in my paper.





One minute since the fire was lit. The temperature around Joan was 100 degrees.

Two minutes since the fire was lit. The temperature around Joan was 130 degrees.

Three minutes since the fire was lit. The temperature around Joan was 160 degrees.

Four minutes since the fire was lit. The temperature around Joan was 190 degrees.

Five minutes since the fire was lit. The temperature around Joan was 220 degrees.

Six minutes since the fire was lit. The temperature around Joan was 250 degrees.

Seven minutes since the fire was lit. The temperature around Joan was 280 degrees.

Eight minutes since the fire was lit. The temperature around Joan was 310 degrees.

Nine minutes since the fire was lit. The temperature around Joan was 340 degrees.

Ten minutes since the fire was lit. The temperature around Joan was 370 degrees.


Norman Boutin