Joan of Arc: A Heroine of France
1. Joan of Arc’s Early Life
Joan of Arc was born in the village of Domremy in northeastern France in 1412. Her parents were Jacques d’Arc and his wife, Isabelle Romée, who were peasants. Joan had three brothers, including Jean, who would later serve as her page and standard-bearer. As a child, Joan reportedly heard the voices of Saint Michael the Archangel, Saint Catherine of Alexandria, and Saint Margaret the Virgin, who told her to drive the English from France and crown Charles VII as king. In May 1428, Joan left her home to seek out Charles VII and offer her services to him.
2. Joan of Arc’s Role in the Hundred Years’ War
The Hundred Years’ War was a series of conflicts fought between England and France over the course of more than a century (1337-1453). At the time, England controlled much of northwestern France, including the city of Paris. In 1428, Joan arrived in the town of Vaucouleurs and requested an audience with Robert de Baudricourt, the commander there. De Baudricourt initially refused to help Joan but was eventually won over by her persistence
and conviction. He agreed to provide her with an escort to take her to Chinon, where Charles VII was currently residing.
Upon arrival in Chinon, Joan successfully disguised herself among Charles’s courtiers and correctly identified him when he met with her secretly. Impressed by her discernment, Charles VII agreed to allow Joan to lead his troops into battle against the English. In April 1429, she set out for Orleans, which was under siege by the English. After arriving there, she helped lift the siege by leading a series of successful military engagements against the English forces. For her efforts, Joan became known as “the Maid of Orleans.”
In May 1429, Charles VII was crowned king of France at the cathedral in Reims. Joan played a key role in this victory by leading French troops to Reims and fighting alongside them during the Battle of Patay; this battle resulted in a crushing defeat for the English army. Following Charles’s coronation, Joan continued to fight for French control of Normandy and other territories occupied by the English.
3. Joan of Arc’s Death and Legacy
Sadly, Joan’s military career came to an abrupt end in May 1430 when she was captured by Burgundian troops during a skirmish at Compiègne. The Burgundians then sold her to their allies, the English, who put her on trial for heresy and witchcraft. Found guilty, she was burned at the stake in Rouen on May 30th, 1431. She was just nineteen years old. Today, Joan is considered a heroine of France and a Catholic saint. In 1920, she was canonized by Pope Benedict XV.