Most buttons of Joan show her in full armor like the one with a wood background
This silver button incorporates the fleur d’lis of the French kingdom in the design
This drum button with pierced sides shows Joan with the mannish hair cut unlike the button above
This square celluloid wafer shows Joan with the details of her armor
The details in an 1870 French enamel highlight the elements associated with Joan of Arc
Saint or schizophrenic? The description of a young medieval maiden depends on who tells the story of Joan of Arc. Just go back about 600 years to imagine a young peasant girl who had never left her village until she was 16--never rode a horse, never held a weapon, yet became a general of an army and led over 600 men. She was a healer and a negotiator with kings and the hierarchy of the church, yet she could only write her name. How, then, did she in just a few short years became one of the most extraordinary women in history? Mark Twain spent over ten years researching and writing about Saint Joan of Arc. He considered his biography of her his best work. The facts about Jehanne, which was the only name she used throughout her short life, are documented below. Joan of Arc was only used after her death.
Joan was born to French parents Jaques d’Arc, and Isabellette in an isolated farming village of Domremy, which is in the Champagne region of France, in 1412, but the exact date of Joan of Arc’s birth is not known. Joan was one of five children. She was raised in a very strict Catholic home. The only education she received was from her mother who taught all the children to say their prayers and the teaching of the church. Like Joan’s parents, she could not read or write.
She was only 13 years old when she began hearing voices and seeing visions in the fields of her farmland. Joan identified them as Saint Catherine, Saint Margaret, and Saint Michael. She knew her purpose in life was given to her by her voices telling her, “Deliver the French land from the English and go to the relief of Charles VII.” Her parents, friends, and priest tried to discourage her from following the divine mission she believed she must follow.
Joan traveled to the Dauphin Charles VII and pleaded with him that God had directed her to free Orleans and help him be crowned King. He gave her a small army, and she began her crusade.
It is said that Joan marched into Orleans dressed in full white armor and carried an antique sword. This sword was found at the tomb of Saint Catherine. This was considered one of the miracles she experienced. She always went into battle with this sword, and in her other hand she carried a flag with fleur-de-lis, angels, and God pictured holding the world. This is when Joan started to be called the “Maid of Orleans”
Charles was crowned king, and Joan was there to stand beside him. Joan told King Charles that her mission was now over.
The King was a very unstable character and had many treacherous counsels surrounding him. They urged her to stay a little longer, as they knew she had a handsome bounty on her head. She told them that she no longer heard her voices and that she was afraid, but she did not want to disappoint her king. She stayed. This was the beginning of her doom.
Joan was persuaded to go into another battle, and she was captured at the age of 18. She would be tried by the Inquisition under the Biblical Law because she dressed in men’s clothing and cut her hair as a man and because she believed in the visions and voices from God.
Joan was to spend the rest of her life behind bars and was tried in the northern city of Rouen. Neither the spineless king nor the country she saved would come forward and save her. Charles would not pay the ransom or exchange her for English prisoners as requested. Her trial lasted for three months; it would be long and exhausting for her.
At the end she was tricked to sign a confession. It was decided that Joan would be burned at the stake for cross-dressing, witchery, and heresy. She would be banished from the Catholic Church forever. In the market square of Rouen, as the fires rose around her, she begged for a cross, and it was not a Frenchman, but an enemy solider who gave her a rough cross made of twigs. Joan died on May 30, 1431. She was only 19 years old.
Twenty-five years after her death, her mother petitioned that the trial be reopened and examined. It was found that the conviction of heresy, sorcery, and other charges were considered null, invalid, and void. “The trial and sentence was tainted with fraud and lies” was the findings of the commission.
After nearly 500 years, the Catholic Church canonized Joan on May 16, 1920. The number of Division I buttons is numerous, owing to Joan’s bravery, dedication, and honor.
Ginny Flis, a native of New Jersey, has lived in Florida for many years where she is very involved in the Central Florida Button Club and the Florida State Button Society, now serving as the mentor to many junior members and co-chair of the FSBS Junior Committee with her granddaughter. Ginny has collected since the early 1990s, with a special interest in children’s buttons, especially Kate Greenaway.