Johanna is the maidservant for Dame Margery. Dame Margery is considered a holy woman. She speaks to God which causes her to weep constantly. Dame Margery decides to go on pilgrimage to Rome and takes Johanna with her. Johanna has no choice in the matter and is expected to not only take care of Dame Margery, but of the whole group. She has to cook (even though she doesn’t know how), clean their clothes, sew and fetch water and wood. She is not treated well by most of the company, especially grumpy Petrus Tappester who likes to slap her around. Dame Margery even leaves Johanna in the middle of no where on the way to Rome; forcing Johanna to find her way there by herself.
Johanna is spunky and brave and a creature of her times. She doesn’t have modern ideas, but that doesn’t mean she is lacking; it means she is authentic. I enjoyed her wit and commentary on the holiness of those around her, especially Dame Margery. She was not treated well yet she persevered. According to the author’s note, Dame Margery and Johanna actually existed. Dame Margery wrote a book about her pilgrimage which became the first biography. She describes her servant as disobedient. Barnhouse, like the reader, found Johanna fascinating and developed her tale.