Joan of Arc, a folk heroine of France, also known as the Maid of Orleans, was born in 1412 to peasant class and religious parents in Domremy, France. She would grow to become one of the greatest female warriors of the medieval age, leading the French Army into battle and advising the King. She would also become a celebrated historical figure who would years after her death, be canonized into sainthood.
Joan was born in the village of Domrémy in France. Joan’s parents were farmers and owned about 50 acres (20 hectares) of land. Besides the farming work her father also held the position of a village official, collecting taxes and heading the local watch. Several local raids took place during Joan’s childhood and on one occasion her village was burned.
When she was 13 years old, Joan began to hear voices which she claimed to be St. Michael, St. Catherine and St. Margaret. She lived her life in accordance with her beliefs from this young age, showing piety, and a devoutness in her faith in God. She also claimed to have regular communications with the Saints and drew upon these experiences to base her beliefs over that of the established church. She shared these traits with other visionaries of her time who claimed similar experiences, such as Madame Jeanne Guyonne.
France was in a difficult situation because the country was torn because of a messy conflict with England known as the Hundred Years’ War. The crown prince of France, Charles of Valois was disinherited because of rumors that he was illigitimate, and King Henry V became ruler of England and France. England occupied much of France and the village that Joan lived in lived under the threat of English invasion.
Joan believed that the voices she heard were sent by God, who had a mission for her to fulfill. She believed that this was to save her beloved country of France by making the English leave. Joan made a vow of chastity to God and pledged her life to him for this purpose. When her father tried to arrange a marriage for her, she went to the court and convinced them that she was not a good candidate for marriage. This in itself shows that at a young age, Joan had the power of persuasion on her side.
Joan as a military leader
Joan managed to convince the dauphin(crown prince of France) that she was truly sent from God to save France. He provided her with military support. Joan led the French and attacked and captured the fortress of St. Loup on May 4th. The next day they marches to St. Jean le Blanc. Joan and her troupe also captured the English stronghold at Les Tourelles on May 7th. During this battle, Joan received a wound as she was shot through the neck with an arrow, but she quickly resumed fighting.
Capture and Trial
After many miraculous victories, Joan became very famous and revered. King Charles was warned that Joan was becoming too powerful. In the spring of 1430, the king had ordered Joan to go out against the Burgundians near Compiegne. Joan was thrown from her horse and taken captive by the English. She was brought to Rouen where she was placed on trial for witchcraft and heresy, and around 70 other charges. The French King did not try to help Joan.
After much duress, and a year’s imprisonment, Joan signed a confession that denied her guidance by God. A death sentence was pronounced upon her, and at the age of 19, on May 30, 1431, Joan was taken to an old market place and burned at the stake. Her fame skyrocketed after her death, however, it took Charles VII 20 years to clear her name of the charges. She was later canonized in 1920 as the patron saint of France.