On today's date (May 30) 1431, Joan of Arc was burned at the stake. Or was she? In a Da Vinci Code kind of way, there is an argument that she actually escaped the burning because she was a secret illegitimate daughter of a queen.
According to the alternate theory, Joan of Arc was smuggled out of the city and later secretly married a French nobleman Robert des Armoises. Another condemned witch took her place at the stake. She was much older than Joan of Arc's 23 years.
This theory is in a book published in the 1970s called Joan of Arc and Her Secret Missions. The author, Pierre de Sermoise states that Isabelle of Bavaria (wife of the half-mad King Charles VI of France) had an affair with the king's brother, Louis d'Orleans. Joan was born of this relationship on Nov 10, 1407. Louis was assasinated two weeks later and baby Joan was sent into hiding with the d'Arch (later changed to d'Arc) family in Domremy.
It was due to her royal birth that she was so well educated. The marriage certificate to Des Armoises identifies her as "Joan of France." She died in 1449. The author claims her tombstone is there with her symbol (celtic cross in a circle).
Of course there have been many historians arguing against this theory. Joan was made a saint in 1920. The theory also is disputed by the Roman Catholic church.
From further research, I've found that in 2006, Joan of Arc’s rib and some other relics were reported that they had survived her burning at the stake. Tests were conducted in Paris to find out if the remains were indeed hers, since it seemed unlikely anything could have survived such a fire and there long had been a legend that the ashes were tossed in the Seine. There was no way they could be proved to be Joan’s relics definitively since there was no authentic family DNA to compare them against. In April 2007, the results were the rib belonged to an Egyptian mummy from between the 7th and 3rd centuries BC!
The most favored explanation for all this was that holy relics were required in the 19th century before Joan could be beatified and canonized. What is more interesting perhaps is that the relics were in the possession of the Catholic Church all these centuries. Until recently they were housed at Chinon in a museum owned by the Archdiocese of Tours.
Like the Da Vinci Code story, perhaps this was part of a cover up by the church?
It's definitely an interesting theory. I have the book on order from amazon.uk (cheaper than the ones listed here, even with shipping).
There's a further reason that I am interested in this. If she really did survive, I am a descendant of hers through my maternal grandmother (surname Haderer). Several generations have been researching the link. I recently received an article from 1973 about the de Sermoise book with some papers from my aunt's cousin.