When I was browsing TV Tropes today, I came across this interesting tidbit of information on Jeanne d'Arc's Useful Notes page:

"Also, Joan has been attributed with feminist and/or populist views, despite telling one woman what was, in her era, to Stay in the Kitchen."

Did Jeanne really say such a thing and is there any written evidence that supports this?

  • Considering she was an extremely Orthodox Catholic it wouldn't surprise me.
    – user31561
    Commented Aug 30, 2018 at 7:14
  • 1
    Jeanne d'Arc was actually a Roman Catholic.
    – user29390
    Commented Aug 30, 2018 at 7:16
  • 9
    Yes, I use the term orthodox in terms of following Catholic doctrine to the letter- I shouldn't have capatalised it.
    – user31561
    Commented Aug 30, 2018 at 7:18
  • It is not uncustomary, especially when receiving unsolicited advice, to respond by saying that they should take care of their own business or family, and leave you alone. Also, Jeanne d'Arc was the virgin of Orleans, whereas Catherine was apparently married.
    – Lucian
    Commented Aug 30, 2018 at 10:39

1 Answer 1



'Stay in the kitchen', yes (more or less), but this relates to a prophecy made by Catherine de La Rochelle, and had nothing to do with the battlefield.

Joan of Arc said very little about the role of women that we know of. According to accounts from her trial, she spoke mostly about herself, distancing herself not from the battlefield but from doing any killing.


What Joan of Arc / Jeanne d'Arc did was to dismiss the prophecy of Katherine de La Rochelle, a 'prophetess' with the Armagnacs during the Hundred Years War. Records from her trial state Joan recalled meeting Catherine, and that the latter told her that

a certain white lady came to her, arrayed in cloth of gold, telling her to go through the good towns with heralds and trumpets which the king would give her, to proclaim that whosoever possessed gold, silver, or hidden treasure should immediately bring it forth; and that she would immediately know those who having any hidden did not bring it forth, and would be easily able to find it; and it should go to the paying of Jeanne's men-at-arms.

Joan of Arc's response to Catherine was that

she should go back to her husband, and look after her household (in French "son mesnage") and care for her children.

Again according to the trial records, Joan

wrote telling her king what he should do, and when she came to him she said that this question of Catherine was folly and nothing more.

Although one could interpret Joan's actions as aimed at undermining a rival, it seems more likely that she saw Catherine as a charlatan whose prophesy, if followed, would serve no useful purpose. Kelly DeVries, in Joan of Arc: A Military Leader, argues that the evidence points to Joan being someone who

was a devoted believer in the Christian God...[and] had one cause: a unified, unoccupied France.

Despite wearing men's clothes and fighting alongside men, there is no evidence that Joan of Arc had 'feminist views'; she did what she felt had to be done to achieve her goals, and her actions (she said) were driven by the voices she said she heard. Telling Catherine to

go back home and do the housework, etc, is one of Joan of Arc's few recorded statements concerning (in any manner) the subject of "gender roles" - the other chief statement being her comment that "I would prefer to spin wool beside my poor mother [i.e., rather than going to the war], because this is not of my social station", explaining elsewhere that she had resisted for several years her saints' orders to go to the war.

Helen Castor, author of Joan of Arc: A History (in this article) says Joan

would beat camp followers with the flat of her sword and angrily drive them away...unless soldiers came forward to marry them.

This action speaks more of a leader who was devout and who wanted to maintain a disciplined fighting force rather than a feminist or a populist. Susan Crane, in Clothing and Gender Definition: Joan of·Arc sums up her role on the battlefield thus:

She sees herself as a fighter...not a mother or a bride; but the modifications she brings to war leadership by carrying her own standard, refraining from killing, and preferring her stick and her standard to her sword constitute her refusal to succumb uncritically to the conventional model of the masculine warrior.

  • 4
    So it's less a case of her being sent home for being a woman than being sent home for being a (questionable) 'holy woman', perhaps?
    – Steve Bird
    Commented Aug 30, 2018 at 9:48
  • 3
    @SteveBird: She sent her away because she did not find her convincing, and the quip about minding one's own business is a common retort to busybodies offering someone else unsolicited advice.
    – Lucian
    Commented Aug 30, 2018 at 10:52
  • 1
    In the "Retrial of Jean of Arc", by Pernoud, it is commented that these female "camp followers" that she expelled were prostitutes - which she would not allow near the soldiers.
    – Luiz
    Commented Aug 30, 2018 at 19:20
  • 3
    @Luiz Yes, that seems clear also from the context above. Commented Aug 30, 2018 at 22:57
  • 3
    Joan did not fight alongside men. She was a figurehead who wore armour to protect her and appears only to have carried her banner into battle. She had no training in arms.
    – Daniel
    Commented Sep 2, 2018 at 20:13

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.