Citing the voice of God as incentive to lead the French to victory over the English during the Hundred Years War, a 19-years-young Joan of Arc was burned at the stake for heresy on this day in 1431.
Rife with all sorts of contradictions, the English-commandeered trial and the ultimate act of burning the woman alive would only serve to fuel her martyrdom, both to the French and to the Roman Catholic church. And of course the fact that she was a teenage woman who kicked some 15th century male-dominant ass. Her legacy thus continues to this day.
The great Leonard Cohen wrote a six-minute arching span of a ballad about her once on 1971’s Songs of Love and Hate, narrating a lyrical dialogue between Joan and the fire that was consuming her. Strewn along with a classical guitar and horn dance, and a female call-and-response choir, it’s a perfect marrying of the bitter and the sweet, especially the second verse:
Well, I’m glad to hear you talk this way
You know I’ve watched you riding every day
And something in me yearns to win
Such a cold and lonesome heroine
And who are you? She sternly spoke
To the one beneath the smoke
Why, I’m fire, he replied
And I love your solitude, I love your pride