Joan of Arc
Joan of Arc, first known as Jeanne d’Arc, was born in the village of Domremy, in the Champagne district of northeastern France. She was born on January 6, 1412 and died May 30,1431 at the age of 19. Joan is a French national heroin and a saint of the Roman Catholic Church. She rescued France from defeat during the “Hundred Years War” against England. In honor of her victory she is often called the Maid of Orleans. This is a story of her life.


Joan was not a well-educated woman. She had never learned to read or write but was skilled in sewing and spinning. Her deeply religious mother and father, Isabelle and Jacques d’Arc raised her. Joan’s father was a small peasant farmer, poor but not needy. Joan was the youngest of a family of five. She grew up herding cattle and sheep and helping in the fields during the harvest. Joan often referred to herself as Jeanne la Pucelle (Joan the Maid.) Joan, like most other children, spent much time praying to the statues of saints that stood around the church in her
village.

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At the age of 13 in the summer of 1425, she began having religious visions and hearing what she believed were voices of saints. They started occuring once aweek and as she got older they happened daily. She said the voices told her to always behave, obey her parents, pray, etc. She claimed they were the voices of St. Michael, St. Catherine, and St. Margaret. She was said to be a Clair Voyant,
a person who has knowledge of events happening far away or in the futures without using any of the five senses. The visions and voices never left her.
Finally, four years later she was convinced that God had chosen her to help King Charles VII clear the English from French land. Joan set out to Vancoulers to ask the military commander Robert Baudricourt, for an escort to visit the king. The commander did not take her seriously at first and laughed. Eventually he gave her what she wanted. At the age of 17 in 1429 Joan left to fulfill her first mission or triumph.


King Charles VII had been king for 7 years prior. His main enemies were the English and the Burgundians, who supported the English. Both parties controlled Paris and the northern part of France. His enemies did not accept the King. Charles had never been crowned because where kings were crowned was in enemy territory. Meanwhile the military situation of King Charles and his supporters were growing more desperate. Orlans was invaded on October 12, 1428. He feared the English would capture the city of Orleans too. He was so desperate that he was willing to listen to a young girl that claimed to hear voices.


He tested Joan at first. Charles let one of his nobles pretend to be king and sit in his thrown but Joan identified Charles as her king anyway. Impressed yet sill doubtful Charles was not convinced she was worthy. That was until she told him exactly what he prayed to God for. He was astonished and realized now that Joan had unusual powers. Though at the time people thought of such powers as work of the devil, members of the clergy accepted her beliefs anyway. Joan was given a
suit of white armor, a banner, and the command of troops.


In April of 1429 Joan and her army set out to rescue Orleans from English control. At first the French commanders hesitated to obey her orders but eventually listened to her. Ten days after arrived in Orleans, April 28-May 8, Joan’s forces broke the Siege of Orleans and the English ran off. After her tremendous victory she wanted Charles to receive a proper ceremony to crown him as king, this is called coronation. Joan led Charles and his military through enemy territory as her troops defeated English in more than one battle along their journey. They proudly entered Reims with triumph as Joan stood at the side of Charles. He was crowned King of France on July 17, 1429.


Shortly afterwards Joan wanted to free Paris of English control. Charles doubted her success at first, but he gave her the chance anyway. In September of 1429 Joan was wounded in a minor battle near Paris. Fortunately it was not serious and she recovered quickly. Then in May of 1430 the Burgundians captured her at Champagne.


The English were determined not to give her up. Joan was given to the English for a large sum of 10,000 pounds. The English were eager to prove that Joan could have defeated them only by using witchcraft. Joan was taken to the city of Rouen, and shackled to a dungeon wall.


The English saw Joan as an agent of the devil and put her into jail. She was tried on charges of witchcraft and heresy. Heresy is disbelief in the accepted religion. They wanted her to deny that she had heard the voices of the saints and to remove the soldier’s or men’s clothes that she wore, since this was a violation of Church rules, but Joan refused to do what they wanted. Joan insisted that her
visions and voices came from God. Charles, whom Joan had helped crown, sent no one to rescue her.


Months later Joan was sentenced to death by a French Clergy. She was burned at the stake before a large crowd in a marketplace of Rouen, France on May 30, 1431. Her courageous death had caused many to believe they had witnessed the martyrdom of a Saint. Martyrdom is the extreme suffering of a person because of heretics, or strong opinions.


Joan did not receive a Christian Burial. Instead her ashes were thrown into the Seine River. In 1455 her family called for a new trial. In 1456, a mere 25 years later, Pope Calixtus III declared that Joan was innocent in the end. Almost 500 years later in 1909 Pope Pius X beatified her, or proclaimed her to exalt above all others. Which is a step towards canonization, or sainthood in the Roman Catholic Church. In 1920, almost 500 years after her death, the Catholic Church
canonized Joan, or declared her to be a saint. Her feast day is celebrated the day of her death, May 30.


Today many authors write about Joan of Arc. Patriots, people studying the super natural, supporters of women’s rights, and many more admire her.