Published on the Daily Femme – Thursday, July 28, 2011
Contributed by Annamarya
If you aren’t aware by now, I am a huge (and by huge, I mean gigantic)Deadliest Warrior fan. The SPIKE TV show–which pits two of history’s greatest (and sometimes also malicious) warriors and their armaments against each other to determine who would come out superior in a simulated computer battle using data collected from weapon & armor tests–satiates my adulation of both modern and classical history, battlefield strategy, cutthroat combat, and pioneering weaponry. And while I’m disgusted by wanton violence, abhor indefensible war, and crestfallen by unnecessary causalities, I still have high regard for commendable military commanders who can respectfully and circumspectly lead their troops against all odds.
Which brings me to this week’s historical episode: Joan of Arc vs. William the Conqueror. Why historical? It’s the first time Deadliest Warrior featured a female warrior (although there’s a bevy to choose from). For a refresher: Joan of Arc was a young French peasant girl-turned-inspiring warrior and immortalized saint who, believing she was “sent from God” and heard voices of divine intervention, led the French military in several key victories during the Hundred Years’ War between the House of Valois (France) and the House of Plantagenet (England), including the decisive battle at Orleans in 1429, which turned the tides of war in France’s favor. William the Conqueror, in contrast, was an older, battle-tested serviceman who invaded England in 1066 after learning that the throne promised to him–the illegitimate son of Robert I–by Edward the Confessor was given to Harold Godwinson, the Earl of Wessex. So, in efforts to lay claim to the English throne, he shed blood, gaining victory over King Godwinson’s forces at the definitive Battle of Hastings, thus becoming the first Norman King of England and reforming the culture of England in the Middle Ages.
So who won in this stimulated war of the sexes? JOAN OF ARC.
There are many reasons why the French saint came out on top: her weapons were superior, her intuition was extraordinary, her innovative battle approach was exceedingly remarkable, and she was able to rally and inspire her maletroops despite her gender (because, let’s face it, being a woman in those times was worse than contracting Black Death). She fulfilled an alleged prophecy and delivered victory and freedom. And while there seemed to be a large focus on her age and size (she was only 17-years-old, around 125 lbs and 5′4″ at the Battle of Orleans) as compared to Williams (38-years-old, around 200 lbs and much taller) during the show, this stimulated victory goes to show that, while those physical factors, along with her gender, are relevant, they’re not decisive. It was her wit and her ability to analyze and strategize differently than her peers and leaders of the past that drove her to victory. In the end, I hope more female warriors like Joan of Arc are featured on the show because women have made a strong impact in all aspects of history, and all those aspects should be honored.