Who is Joan of Arc?
A prominent figure in French history, a symbol of feminism for some, a popular saint for others, Joan is a universal character who arouses international interest.
It was in a tower of the Castle of Philippe Auguste in Rouen, long called Tour de la Pucelle, that the young girl was imprisoned. The remains of this tower are still visible at 102 rue Jeanne d’Arc. The prisoner went only once in the only tower of the castle still surviving today, the Dungeon of Rouen, transformed into an escape game. The trial for heresy led by the Bishop of Beauvais, Abbot Cauchon began on February 9, 1431 within the castle. The sentence is it proclaimed in the room of the Officiality of the archbishopric, current Historial Joan of Arc. Judged relapsed, Joan was condemned and led to the stake on the Place du Vieux-Marché.
On May 30, 1431, Joan of Arc was burned alive and her ashes thrown into the Seine from the Mathilde Bridge. A commemorative plaque recalls this moment on the right bank at the entrance to the current Boieldieu Bridge. At the request of her mother Isabelle Romée and with the agreement of the Pope, the rehabilitation trial of Joan will be held again at the Archbishopric of Rouen, near the Notre Dame Cathedral, twenty-five years after her death in 1431 with the hearing of one hundred fourteen witnesses.
Thus, the installation of a cross on the very site of the torture of the Maidens place du Vieux-Marché near the current Church of St. Joan of Arc is imposed.
For many years, Jeanne d’Arc has been celebrated in Rouen every last weekend of May, on the dates closest to May 30, the anniversary of her death. A sentence taking up the beginning of André Malraux’s speech on the occasion of the Joan of Arc Festivals of 1964 is still legible on the Place du Vieux Marché: “O Joan without a sepulchre and without a portrait, you who knew that the tomb of the heroes is the heart of the living…“. On May 16, 1920, Pope Benedict XV canonized Joan of Arc and the law of July 10, 1920 instituted a National Day of Joan of Arc and patriotism by the Chamber of Deputies.
Exhibitions, shows and guided tours will revolve around the icon, assuming the traditional and historical profile of Joan of Arc but also questioning its myth and the echo it resonates in our societies today. Thus, one will be able to immerse oneself in the judicial trials that made history or contemplate the manuscripts, statues and stained glass windows from the time of La Pucelle to today without forgetting the numerous performances or concerts proposed in a complete calendar elaborated by the City of Rouen, the Metropole Rouen Normandie, the Amistorial and numerous partners.
The aim is to make these celebrations a large-scale event, beyond the official ceremonies, associating the Rouen heritage linked to La Pucelle with modern and expanded events with a festive and historical procession through the streets of its city.
Medieval market, strolling through the streets with timber-framed houses of Rouen, residents and visitors are invited to share these costumed moments. Families are welcomed by the many fools and troubadours juggling and singing around the streets.