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Joan of Arc

Heroine of France (1412-1431 AD)

QUICK FACTS

NAME: Joan of Arc ("Maid of Orleans")

OCCUPATION: Millitary leader

BIRTH: c. 1412 AD, Domrémy-la-Pucelle, France

DEATH: 30 May 1431, Rouen, Normandy

KNOWN FOR: Leading the French army to victory over England in the Hundred Years' War

Military leader, Martyr, and Saint Joan of Arc, who claimed to have received divine guidance of Saint Margaret, Archangel Michael, and Saint Catherine of Alexandria instructing her to support the uncrowned King Charles VII and regain France from English domination during the Hundred Years' War.

Historical Background

The Hundred Years' War between France and English had begun in 1337 due to inheritance disagreement over the French throne. English army's use of destructive scorched earth raids had ruined the economy. And nearly all the fighting took place in France.

The French army had not achieved any significant victories for a generation because of the Black Death in the mid-14th century where the French population reduced significantly. In the early 15th century, northern France was a lawless frontier of marauding armies. According to DeVries, "France was not even a shadow of its thirteenth-century prototype."

In 1418 Paris was captured by the Burgundians, which led to the killing of the Count of Armagnac and approximately 2,500 of his followers. The heir to the throne Charles VII assumed the title of Dauphin at the age of fourteen after all four of his senior brothers had died in succession. His first significant official act was to sign a peace treaty with the Duke of Burgundy in 1419.

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Early Life

Joan of Arc was born in 1412 in Domremy, France. The daughter of a peasant farmer Jacques d’ Arc and his wife, Isabelle, also known as Romée, Joan learned domestic skills from her mother. Joan's parents owned about 20 hectares of land, and her father supplemented his farming work with a position as a village official, heading the local watch and collecting taxes.

Joan of Arc was illiterate, and history has it that she signed her letters with the help of others. Always venturing within the home, Joan took care of the animals and became quite skilled as a seamstress.

The Journal du Siége d'Orléans portrays Joan as a figure, Joan came to know of the battle through "divine revelation", while tending her flocks in Lorraine and used this claimed divine revelation to coax Baudricort to take her to the Dauphin.

Capture

In 1430, King Charles VII ordered Joan of Arc to confront the Burgundian assault. In the heated battle, she was thrown off her horse and left outside the town’s gates. The Burgundians captured her and jailed her for months, negotiating with the English, who saw her as a valuable propaganda asset. Finally, the Burgundians traded Joan for 10,000 francs.

Death

On May 29, 1431, the tribunal found Joan of Arc guilty of heresy. On May 30, she was "burned at the stakeDeath at the StakeJoan of Arc's Death at the Stake by Hermann Stilke (1843)" in Rouen before an estimated crowd of 10,000 people. One historian narrates how the nineteen years old heart survived the blazing fire unaffected. Her ashes were brought together and scattered in the Seine.

Legacy

After the death of Joan of Arc, the war continued for another 22 years. King Charles VII ordered an investigation that in 1456 declared Joan of Arc not guilty of all charges labeled on her and designated her a martyr. Joan was canonized as a saint on May 16, 1920, and is the patron saint of France.