Elements of Medieval Philosophy as Exemplified in the Life of Joan of Arc

Medieval Europe was characterized as a time of religious dominance. The power and influence of the Church is felt in almost all aspect of life. The Pope as the representative of the Church had the power to influence even the kings and their advisors. The Church is the center of mans life and whatever the Church said is considered to be an irrefutable command. The Church served as the source of knowledge, power, and security. Obedience to the command of God (Church) is the only rule because defiance to it may mean your death. In as much as kings also held power, obedience to rulers is always limited by obedience to the commands of God (Kilcullen, 2006).

Philosophy did not escape the influence of the Church. During this era, knowledge is taken to be visionary. It is achieved through meditation and contemplation just what St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Anselm experienced. It is through divine providence that man came to know things about life. Divine foreknowledge is taken to reign supreme amongst all other forms of knowledge.

Joan of Arc is one the few medieval female personalities who gained prominence in the Middle Ages.  She is an epitome of religious piety, simplicity and honesty. She constantly engaged herself in prayers and was fortunate to become a vessel of Gods message to the French people. At a very young age, she embarked on a journey no female would dare to embark upon because of the danger it would pose to her life. She was to save France from destruction.

She is considered to be a visionary, an individual with divine foreknowledge of eventualities in the world. She received her very first vision from God at the age of twelve which was further followed by several more visions. She claimed that this visions or knowledge directly descended from the heavens and God chose her to bring forth the victory of France.

Women during these times are not taken that seriously. They are considered a minority in a society and should be confined at home. Women are followers and helpers of men and should never reign supreme over them. They are considered to be subordinates and should always be obedient to their husband. Joan of Arc, because of her firm faith and conviction on divine foreknowledge challenged and defied the ordinary customs and traditions even if it meant death on the stake for her in the future. She led the kings army and clothed herself with knights apparel, an act which is inconceivable during that time. She valiantly fought the enemies and gained strength because of her devotion to the Almighty. She entrusted her life to Him and never doubted the integrity of her visions until the end.

Her visions also played a major role in the coronation of Charles VII. The success of her military quests proved the validity of her visions and reiterated the validity of Charles VII right to succession. At these times, it is important that benediction comes from heaven because such evidence will make ones claim to the throne stronger. The monarchy is in turmoil and everyone wishes to become the heir to the throne. Almost every royal blood wishes to claim validity to the throne and to have the heavens stand by your side will be enough to silence the other parties.

The death of Joan of Arc on the stake is proof that Medieval Europe is not yet ready to accept the fact that women can rule over men. It is a patriarchal society and women should remain submissive to men. One of the reasons why she was condemned to the death is the fact that she wore men clothing, a knight clothing. It is a direct defiance to the rule of modesty and chastity which is severely followed during that time. Nevertheless, her visions and the role it played in the success of France became her greatest tool in gaining supremacy and soon beatification as a saint.


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