On my second day in Rouen I wandered around its historical buildings. After scouting out where the Alliance Française building was located I walked across the road to where the Tour Jeanne-d-‘Arc pointed its cone shaped roof above more traditional buildings. Inside the tower is a small museum dedicated to this famous french saint. This tower was the donjon and is all that remains of Rouen Castle built by Philip 11 of France in 1204.
The pointed cone shaped roof was added during the 1870s. Entry is, I think either €1.50 or €2 (blame my jet lagged memory)
and for this you get a brochure, plus the chance to walk 35 metres up a steep circular staircase to the roof, which is an amazing timber construction. You cannot see much of Rouen from it, but there are displays about Jeanne on the first and second floors.
Rouen has a tragic connection with Jeanne d’Arc as this is where she was tried for heresy and subsequently burnt at the stake in Place du Vieux Marché in 1431. I had thought it would be for treason but after touring the small museum in the Tour I learnt it was for heresy. In just two years this very young woman had inspired the Dauphin, (later Charles V11) and his army to win a number of battles against the British ultimately ending the One Hundred Years war. After she was captured and handed over to the English by the Duke of Burgundy she was tried by a church court, which feared her influence with the French King and the community. Her character and virtue was challenged and she even had to undergo investigations to confirm that she was a virgin.
She was convinced she had heard a voice from God and went to the stake never wavering in that conviction. She also refused to give up wearing the soldier’s uniform that she said provided better protection against being molested than a woman’s open skirt. She also claimed that the prison guards took away the female attire and provided her with masculine clothing. As she had refused theoretically to comply with the church’s canon on this attire she was thus charged with heresy.
What a strong minded 19 year-old woman Jeanne d’Arc was to persuade a future king of France to attack the English, to challenge social and religious mores by wearing men’s clothing and to stick to her conviction even though it meant she was burnt alive. I wonder how many of us would do that.
There was a tiny garden to one side of the Tour where the loveliest green hydrangeas were growing. I am wondering how they would grow in a pot in Brisbane? This could be a challenge.