World-Changing Women: Joan of Arc
St. Joan of Arc, also known as La Pucelle d’Orléans, The French Sainte Jeanne d’ Arc, and The Maid of Orleans, was a hero to France during the Hundred Years War with Britain.
The Hundred Years War was a conflict between France and England that last 116 years, from 1337 to 1453. The two nations were fighting over the territory known as the duchy of Guyenne. It had been taken from the English by the French, and even though King Phillip VI of France promised to restore part of it to the English, he did not fulfill his promise. The second cause for the conflict was the kings of England claiming the crown of France, after the death of King Charles IV (King Phillip VI’s son), and the French denying English rule.
~This video will give a clearer more in-depth explanation of The Hundred Years War: https://youtu.be/FRMc9a4_nnE
Joan was born in Domremy, France, in about 1412, as the daughter of a tenant farmer. Her village was close to the border between France and the Anglo-Burgundians (Allied with the English). She and the other villagers were forced to leave their homes because of Burgundian threats.
Joan was known for her courage, her common sense, her piety, and her physical and mental strength. She also claimed that she could hear the voices of St. Michael, St. Catherine of Alexandria, and St. Margaret of Antioch, guiding her.
After leaving her village at 16 years old, Joan traveled to Vaucouleurs. Once she arrived she tried to enter a stronghold that was still loyal to Prince Charles, the dauphin (The oldest son of the king of France). There she asked the captain of the stronghold to allow her to join, telling him about her divine visions. He did not believe her and turned her away, so she returned home.
The next year Joan returned to the stronghold in Vaucouleurs. Joan’s strong will gained the respect of others and convinced the captain that she wasn’t just a silly girl, and could be trusted. Within a few weeks, Joan was on her way to meet Charles, dressed as a man.
The dauphin wasn’t sure if he should meet with Joan, but he ended up granting her an audience. He was very wary of her and had one of his relatives, Jean, Duc d’Alençon interrogate her. Joan claimed that she would prove herself at Orleans, and the dauphin was advised to make use of her.
Joan was joined by her two brothers, Pierre and Jean, as well as a military household of several men, given to her by the dauphin. When she was asked about her sword, she said that it would be in the church of Sainte-Catherine-de-Fierbois. She was right.
She then led her men to Orleans, to bring supplies and troops to the English-surrounded city. Her arrival on April 29 inspired the French troops and brought on a counterattack against the English. She led multiple battles and was even shot by an arrow, but returned immediately to fighting after addressing her wound. On May 8, the English surrendered. St. Joan of Arc, also known as La Pucelle d’Orléans, The French Sainte Jeanne d’ Arc, and The Maid of Orleans, was a hero to France during the Hundred Years War with Britain.
After her victory, Joan insisted that the prince be crowned at Reims Cathedral as soon as possible. Dauphin Charles and his counselors were hesitant, but Joan was able to convince them, and on June 29, they were marching for Reims. The royal army finally reached Reims on July 16 and the coronation took place on July 17, 1429. After the ceremony, Joan knelt before Charles as the new king of France.
After one of her victories, Joan was returning to Compiegne when she heard that a Burgundian General was leading a siege against the city. She succeeded twice in leading counter-attacks on the Burgundians, but they were soon overtaken once English reinforcements arrived. Joan was captured by the Burgundians, along with her brother Pierre and her squire, Jean d’ Aulon. The French claimed that Joan had acted on her own free and will King Charles VII was trying to make peace with the Burgundians so they made no attempts to save her.
Joan was distraught over the state of Compiegne and tried multiple times to escape but to no avail. She was later handed over to the bishop of Beauvais by the duke of Burgundy for 10,000 francs, as was requested by the theology faculty at the University of Paris, which had taken the English’s side during the war. The theologists at the University of Paris had Joan tried for heretics, dressing like a man, and her crimes against the English. Joan’s trial took place before a church court, because of the theologist’s claims that she was a witch.
During the trial, Joan was repeatedly questioned about the divine voices she claimed to hear and her reasons for dressing as a man. She responded to them saying that she believed it was proper for her to dress like a man when surrounded by men, rather than wearing women’s clothes. The accusations of heresy were not caused by the fact that Joan claimed to hear divine voices, but specifically because the divine voices she claimed to hear were telling her to fight the English.
On May 30, 1431, at age 19, Joan of Arc was burned at the stake. Accused by the English of transgressions against God and straying from her faith. She defended her claims that she was hearing divine voices until the very end. As she burned, she called out to the saints that she had claimed to hear, and right before she lost consciousness she yelled “Jesus!”.
Joan of Arc was sainted on May 16, 1920, by Pope Benedict XV. She was a devoted follower of Christ and believed that all she did was in the name of God. She was also a strong woman that was devoted and loyal to her causes and what she believed in. As well as a feminist that stood up for herself against men and made her voice heard. All of which makes her a world-changing woman.
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