Home         Presentations Notebook History Contact Us
Select another Biography here

Joan of Arc

known in her time as Jehanne (or Jehane) d'Arc

c1412-1431

Notes

1. Robert de Baudricourt.

2. In 1420, the Treaty of Troyes, the French acknowledged Henry V's claim on the French crown. It disinherited the Dauphin (the son of Charles VI who was to become Charles VII) and recognized Henry's son (by his wife Katherine, the daughter of Charles VI) as the true king of both England and France.

3. Her rules for her men included no looting, no swearing, and no camp followers She also required all soldiers to go to confession.

About the year 1412 a baby was born to a peasant family in Domrémy in the Duchy of Lorraine. She was named Joan and brought up like any other peasant girl, learning household skills and helping with the crops and sheep. But Joan was not quite like the other children in her village. For one thing, she was extremely pious. Then, at the age of thirteen, she began to hear voices. She would hear those voices for the rest of her life and they directed her actions. She said it was angels and saints who spoke to her, who told her to go the castle of Vaucouleurs and have the master there1 send her to the Dauphin, the disinherited son of the former king of France2. The voices told her that she would defeat the English and see the Dauphin crowned in Rheims as king of France.

Upon her first visit to the castle in 1428, her claims were dismissed. In the fall of 1428 the English laid siege to Orleans, and early the next year Joan returned to Vaucouleurs. Joan spoke openly and passionately about her mission, rallying the ordinary folk behind her. Word spread. The Duke of Lorraine sent word that he wanted to see her. After having her questioned by a priest to make sure that she was not under the influence of the devil, de Baudricourt gave her a sword and an escort and sent her to the Dauphin.

The Dauphin received her and promptly sent her off to be examined by his clerks and advisors, who found that though she was uneducated, she was not a heretic nor inspired by the devil. The desperate Dauphin gave her arms and a military force.

Though not an ordinary military leader3, she inspired awe and devotion in her followers. She was energetic, eager, and very confident, convinced that nothing could stand before the justice of her cause.

On April 29, 1429, Joan entered the besieged city of Orleans, inspiring the defenders. She warned the English, calling upon them to go home. Unsurprisingly they did not heed her. Joan was wounded in an assault on the bastions. Finally, on May 8, the English raised the siege.

Joan's fame spread. She convinced the Dauphin to march on Rheims and there, on July 17, she saw him crowned as Charles VII of France. Fighting went on.

Charles, however, grew tired of it and sought terms with Burgundy, at that time the French allies of the English. He withdrew his support from Joan, disbanded the army fighting on the outskirts of Paris, and recalled Joan to chafing idleness at his court.

The following year in May, Henry VI arrived in France for his coronation as king of France. In support of their English allies. the Burgundians laid siege to Compiègne. Joan rode to aid the garrison and was captured during a sortie. The English and Burgundians rejoiced at her capture, but Charles and his court showed little interest.

The Burgundians sold their prisoner to the English. At Rouen a trial was staged. Joan was "proved" to be a witch and a heretic. On May 30, 1431, she was burnt at the stake and her ashes were scattered on the Seine River. Thus ended the career of Joan of Arc, the Maid of Orleans.

The Hundred Years War went on.

In 1456 her condemnation was reversed by a French court. In 1920 she was canonized as St. Joan of Arc.