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Joan of Arc - (6 January c. 1412 – 30 May 1431)

Joan was born in Domrémy in northeastern France. Her father was Jacques d'Arc (a farmer) and her mother was Isabelle Romée. In French, her name is Jeanne d'Arc, and she is also known as "The Maid of Orléans." Joan was born in 1412, when France was embroiled in a long war against the English - the Hundred Years' War (1337-1453). It is incredible what impact this farmer's daughter was going to have...

Visions that changed history

Joan claimed she had visions of Saint Michael, Saint Catherine, and Saint Margaret, and she had to speak to the Dauphin of France (the heir of the French crown). Eventually she managed to convince a captain of a royal garrison (Robert de Baudricourt) to help her speak to the Dauphin, Charles - after predicting the correct result of the Battle of Rouvray (an English victory). At that time, France was already in dire straits...

A teenage girl becomes the last hope for France

Charles spoke with Joan at length and was convinced by her sincerity and loyalty. France was in turmoil, with the English besieging the city of Orléans. She insisted she needed to go to Orléans as it was her divine duty to be present there. In 1429, the 17-year-old arrived at the city that she later became eternally linked with...

Dan the Info-man
Burgundy was allied to England, and important places such as Paris and Reims were under English control at the time of Joan of Arc.

Inspiring French soldiers to victory

It seems the defenders in Orléans were inspired by Joan's presence. For months they had got nowhere, but within days of her arrival they had left the castle and attacked the English in the field, with Joan waving her banner and spurring them on. Joan was wounded by an arrow during the battle, but she continued to be present during the fighting. The French won, the siege was over, and it was a turning point in the long, bloody war...

Further victories

Many were convinced by Joan's divine intervention; the French forces were driven when she was with them. The army managed to march all the way to Reims and retake it for France, allowing the Dauphin to finally be crowned as Charles VII of France (French coronations traditionally took place at Reims). The French enjoyed an impressive victory at the Battle of Patay, but they failed to win the Siege of Paris (1429), where Joan was wounded again (crossbow bolt in her thigh). In 1430, Joan was captured by the Burgundians, who then gave her to the English for a hefty sum. In 1431, the English put the Maid of Orléans on trial...

Dan the Info-man
This is a statue of Joan of Arc at Notre-Dame de Reims (Reims Cathedral).

Hopeless trial and horrific execution

Joan's trial was held at Rouen in 1431. Her captors and inquisitors were determined to find a way of condemning her of heresy, regardless of her actions and defense. She was also charged with cross-dressing (she frequently wore male clothing to avoid capture). A guilty verdict was inevitable and she was burned at the stake on May 30, 1431 - when she was just 19. Her ashes were thrown into the Seine river. But this cruel act would not save English claims in France...

Golden legacy...

Possibly inspired by her life (and death) French forces under Charles VII of France were finally victorious in the Hundred Years' War, which ended in 1453. Her bravery and her religious devotion have become themes in works of art and media portrayals. She was beatified in 1909 and canonized in 1920, when she became Saint Joan of Arc.

Dan the Info-man
This statue of Joan is in Paris.
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