Unexplained Mysteries

Did Joan of Arc Survive Her Execution?

History clearly records the execution of Joan of Arc by burning in May of 1431.

But did someone else die in her place?

The tale is almost forgotten now, but history proves that there once was considerable doubt about the death of this French heroine and saint.

joan of arc

Artist depiction of Joan of Arc c.1485

The story goes that in 1436 a woman appeared in a village near Metz, France, claiming to be Joan. The people were initially skeptical, to say the least.

But two of Joan’s brothers went to see the woman and firmly declared that the young lady was, indeed, their sister.

Had it stopped there, the question may have remained unanswered, but then a close companion of Joan’s during her military campaigns also stated that the woman was truly Joan of Arc. Even the king believed so. A courtier stated that King Charles VII talked with “Joan” and found that the woman knew things that only the king and Joan of Arc could possibly know.

Time went on. The woman, now known as Joan des Armoises, was awarded financial rewards for her service during the wars. Church services that had been regularly taking place in memory of Joan of Arc were stopped in 1436.

After some time, the young woman allegedly confessed to being an imposter. But the people didn’t care and continued to insist that she truly was Joan of Arc.

History then fell silent about the issue until 1907 when noted scholar Albert Bayet compared a known signature of Joan of Arc to that of the marriage license of the “imposter” and declared them from the same person.

The mystery is, of course, if Joan of Arc did not die at the stake on that day in 1431, who did?

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Doug MacGowan

Doug MacGowan lives on the San Francisco peninsula with his wife, a dog, and far too many cats. He has published five books on the topic of historic true crime. In his free time he enjoys reading.

Historic Mysteries