On the 30th May 1431, Joan of Arc was executed by being burned at the stake. The Maid of Orleans had been found guilty of heresy for a second time, which made it a capital offence.
Although Joan was accused of being a witch and a heretic due to the voices she heard and visions she witnessed, the crime that condemned her to death was that of wearing men’s clothing. Joan had worn male military clothing and armour during campaigns against the English army in the Hundred Years War, and this was deemed heretical.
At trial, Joan faced 70 charges relating to heresy and witchcraft. These gradually dwindled to 12 but, having been found guilty of these crimes and afraid of immediate execution if she continued to plead innocence, Joan admitted her guilt and also promised to stop wearing men’s clothing.
However, a few days later Joan said the voices told her she had made a mistake. Additionally, although she began to wear female clothing again in prison, she said that someone had attempted to rape her in her cell and so began to again wear men’s clothing to deter further attacks. Combined with the voices this was interpreted as a relapse into heresy, and she was condemned to death.
Joan died of smoke inhalation before the flames fully consumed her, but her remains were burned a further two times to reduce them to ashes. They were scattered in the River Seine. On the 7th July 1456, after a retrial, Joan was declared to have been innocent.