Joan of Arc
Joan of Arc was born in 1412 in the small village of Domremy, France.
She was a peasant who became the first female captain of the French Army at age seventeen, achieving important military victories for King Charles VII, after being instrumental in securing him the crown fighting the invading English forces.
Joan of Arc claimed to hear from God in the form of Saint Michael; a claim for which she was executed by the Inquisition two years later, in 1431.
The myth and the legend of Joan of Arc have evoked feelings of nationalism, religion, faith, and feminism throughout the world and across generations - and have eluded historians to this day. She was made an official Saint of the Catholic church in the 20th Century.
Louis Sieur de Conte is our guide into Joan of Arc’s magical and dangerous world. He looks like a benevolent wizard possessing a deep, wise, soothing voice.
He is a character created by Mark Twain in his last completed novel Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc, by the Sieur Louis de Conte, published in 1896. Twain stated this to be his ‘’favorite’’ novel and the ‘’best’’ of his work. Louis is a fictionalized version of Louis de Contes, Joan of Arc’s page.
‘’Old Man Louis,’’ as he is affectionately nicknamed, was a childhood friend of Joan who, inspired by her faith and leadership and after being saved by the Maiden of France from an attack on their village, followed her into battle against great odds and persevered.
Louis narrates the story and is present in key moments of Joan’s rise and untimely fall. Louis recounts this story while sitting on the stump of the old Oak Tree in the village of Domremy. As a child, Louis would play with Joan around this giant tree. Filmmaker Steven Ritz-Barr visited the actual tree stump in the village of Domremy whilst researching the project in 2013.
Saint Michael - Michel in French - is Joan of Arc’s guide and protector and speaks to her through the apparition of a beautiful and ethereal statue.
He is is an archangel in Judaism (מִיכָאֵל: Micha'el or Mîkhā'ēl), Christianity (Michael or Michahel), and Islam (ميخائيل: Mīkhā'īl). Historical documents in the Vatican concerning Joan of Arc’s trial show Joan did not hide her visions of Saint Michael: she readily told her accusers that it was through Saint Michael that God spoke to her.
In Catholic tradition Saint Michael is seen as a defender, assisting souls at the hour of death, and being the main enemy of Satan, which is why he is often depicted slaying the devil with a long spear.
Joan of Arc grew up in the small village of Domremy, where a statue of Saint Michael once stood, along with those of Saint Catherine and Saint Margarite. Artist and sculptor Kindred Gottlieb labored for four years to create the perfect sculpture for the film, based on the demon-slaying heroic pose.
Saint Michael’s presence is felt and seen throughout the film, as the invisible hand of God and Joan of Arc’s conscience.
King Charles VII
Ruler of France from 1422 to his death in 1461. Joan was told in visions to champion Charles, then the Dauphin (king-in-waiting), and protect him in order to save France from the English; without the Maiden of France he would not have been crowned king.
A frail but determined King who is not afraid to make unsavory treaties in order to keep his crown. Elitist, but soft voice, full of privilege and pomp but none of the grit.
Jean, the Duke D’Alencon
Jean Poton de Xaintrailles, Jean the Duke, was a nobleman and mustachioed general with husky voice, semi-portent build, and a joking persona - think of a bon vivant warrior, a Middle Ages playboy.
At first he is dismissive of Joan, thinking her to be way over her head and discrediting her because of her gender. However, Joan’s actions and demeanor, along with her powerful rhetoric, convinced this otherwise sexist army career man to review his ideas and become Joan of Arc’s chief lieutenant. He was appointed Marshal of France in 1454.
Bishop Cauchon is the head inquisitor in charge of Joan of Arc’s trial and as such represents the ‘’wisdom’’ and opinion of the Holy Church.
He is based on Pierre Cauchon, the real-life Bishop of Beauvais and a defender of English political interests in France during the last gasps of the Hundred Years War.
Cauchon presents himself publicly as a reasonable man who is empathetic to Joan’s suffering, but whose pleasantries are merely smokescreens designed to hide his ulterior motives and to further his nefarious plans.
Thomas de Courcelles was a French cardinal, accuser and notary during Joan of Arc’s long trial.
He does not hide his disdain for Joan or his desire to see her finished, urging the other inquisitors to speed up the kangaroo trial in order to quash any public outcry for Joan’s release.
Courcelles was instrumental in compiling a list with 64 charges against Joan, many of which were dismissed, much to Courcelles’ anger.
Ladvenu is based on Father Martin Ladvenu, Priest of the Order of Saint Dominic.
He is Joan’s only sympathetic ear during her trial.
Ladvenu wants to maintain the Church’s status quo and follow its orders, but he sees no need in executing Joan of Arc and is determined to convince Joan to confess and repent to escape a death sentence.
Trémoille is based on the historical figure Georges de la Trémoille, who was the Count de Guînes and Grand Chamberlain of France to King Charles VII of France.
He was a war financier and a very selfish man, who historians state placed personal advancement before the public interest.
From her rise to her fall he never trusted Joan, even after her conquests solidified her commitment to France and Charles VII.
It is generally believed he was aware of the plot to capture Joan in Compiegne, by tipping off the guards that she was coming, although there is no definitive proof.
Horses are very important supporting characters in ''The Legend of Joan of Arc.'' They are the loyal companions to our heroes, following them in battle and across English-occupied France.
Joan of Arc was especially fond of horses, and we first meet her whilst she is gathering kindling, with her trusted equine friend by her side.