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Jeanne D'Arc, St. (St. Joan of Arc) (ca. 1412-1431)

Jeanne D'Arc, St. (St. Joan of Arc) (ca. 1412-1431)

Joan was born Jeanette, with the surname Arc or Romée, in the village of Domrémy, on the border of Champagne and Lorraine, on January 15, 1412. In documents of her time she is known as Jeanne.

She was taught to spin and sew but not to read or write, these accomplishments being unnecessary to people in her station of life. Her parents were devout, and she was brought up piously. Her nature was gentle, modest, and religious, but with no physical weakness or morbidity. On the contrary, she was exceptionally strong, as her later history shows.

At or about age 13 she began to experience what modern psychology calls "auditory hallucinations." In other words, she heard voices (usually accompanied by a bright light) when no visible person was present. This is a symptom that occasionally presages a mental disorder, but no insanity developed in Jeanne d'Arc. She was startled at first, but continuation of the experience led to familiarity and trust. The voices gave good counsel of a commonplace nature, for example, that she "must be a good girl and go often to church."

Soon, however, she began to have visions. She saw St. Michael, St. Catharine, and St. Margaret and was given instructions as to her mission. She eventually made her way to the dauphin, put herself at the head of 6,000 men, and advanced to the relief of Orleans, which was surrounded by the victorious English. After a fortnight of hard fighting the siege was raised and the enemy driven off. The tide of war turned, and in three months the dauphin was crowned king at Rheims as Charles VII.

At this point Jeanne felt that her mission was accomplished, but her wish to return to her family was overruled by the king and the archbishop. She took part in further fighting against the allied English and Burgundian forces, showing great bravery and tactical skill. In November 1430, however, in a desperate sally from Compiégne (which was besieged by the duke of Burgundy), she fell into the enemy's hands and was sold to the English and thrown into a dungeon at their headquarters in Rouen.

After a year's imprisonment she was brought to trial before the bishop of Beauvais in an ecclesiastical court. The charges were heresy and sorcery. Learned doctors of the church and subtle lawyers did their best to entangle the simple girl in their dialectical webs, but she showed remarkable power in keeping to her affirmations and avoiding heretical statements. "God has always been my Lord in all that I have done," she repeated.

But the trial was only a sham, for her fate was already decided. She was condemned to the stake. To the end she solemnly affirmed the reality of her "voices" and the truth of her depositions. Her last word, as the smoke and flame rolled round her, was "Jesus." Said an English soldier, awestruck by the manner of her passing, "We are lost; we have burned a saint." The idea was corroborated in popular opinion by events that followed, for speedy death (as if by Heaven's anger) overtook her judges and accusers. Inspired by her example and claims, and helped by dissension and weakening on the side of the enemy, the French took heart once more and the English were all but swept out of the country.

Jeanne's family was rewarded by ennoblement, under the name De Lys. Twenty-five years after her death, the pope acceded to a petition that the trial by which Jeanne was condemned should be reexamined. The judgment was reversed and her innocence was established and proclaimed.

The life of the Maid of Orleans presents a problem that orthodox science cannot solve. She was a simple peasant girl with no ambitions. She rebelled pathetically against her mission, saying, "I had far rather rest and spin by my mother's side, for this is no work of my choosing, but I must go and do it, for my Lord wills it." She cannot be dismissed on the "simple idiot" theory of Voltaire, for her genius in war and her aptitude in repartee undoubtedly prove exceptional mental powers, un-schooled though she was. She cannot be dismissed as a mere hysteric, for her health and strength were superb.

It is on record that a man of science said to an abbot, "Come to the Salpêtrière Hospital [the refuge for elderly, poor, and insane patients in Paris] and I will show you twenty Jeannes d'Arc." To which the abbot responded, "Has one of them given us back Alsace and Lorraine?"

Although Jeanne delivered France and her importance in history is great, it is arguable that her mission and her actions were the outcome of merely subjective hallucinations induced by the brooding of her religious and patriotic mind on the woes of her country. The army, being ignorant and superstitious, would have readily believed in the supernatural nature of her mission, resulting in great energy and valorsoldiers fight well when they feel that Providence is on their side. So goes the most common theory in explaining the facts surrounding the life of St. Joan. But it is not fully satisfactory.

How was it possible that this simple, untutored peasant girl could persuade not only the soldiers, but also the dauphin of France and the court of her divine appointment? How did she come to be given the command of an army? It seems improbable that a post of such responsibility and power would be given to an ignorant girl of 18 on the mere strength of her own claim to inspiration.

Although the materialistic school of historians conveniently ignores or belittles it, there is strong evidence to support the idea that Jeanne gave the dauphin some proof of her possession of supernormal faculties. In fact, the evidence is so strong that Andrew Lang, not known for unsupported statements, called it "unimpeachable." Among other curious things, Jeanne seems to have repeated to Charles the words of a prayer that he had said mentally, and she also made some kind of clairvoyant discovery of a sword hidden behind the altar of the Fierbois church. Johann Schiller's magnificent dramatic poem "Die Jungfrau von Orleans" (1801), although not historically correct in some details, is positive on these points concerning clairvoyance and mindreading.

There is also evidence that Jeanne was connected with fairies, which were also part of witchcraft beliefs. Not far from Domrémy was a tree called "the Fairies' Tree" beside a spring said to cure fevers. The wife of the local mayor stated that it had been said that "Jeanne received her mission at the tree of the fairy-ladies" and that St. Katharine and St. Margaret came and spoke to her at the spring beside the fairies' tree. During Jeanne's trial the fourth article of accusation was that Jeanne was not instructed in her youth in the primitive faith, but was imbued by certain old women in the use of witchcraft, divination, and other superstitious works or magic arts. Jeanne herself, according the accusation, had said she heard from her godmother and other people about visions and apparitions of fairies.

Moreover, Pierronne, a follower of Jeanne d'Arc, was burned at the stake as a witch. She stated on oath that God appeared to her in human form and spoke to her as a friend, and that he was clothed in a scarlet cap and a long white robe.

It has been suggested that the voices heard by Jeanne may have been those of human beings rather than Christian saints, and Jeanne herself stated, "Those of my party know well that the Voice had been sent to me from God, they have seen and known this Voice. My king and many others have also heard and seen the Voices which came to me. I saw him [St. Michael] with my bodily eyes as well as I see you." Jeanne's references to "the King of Heaven" in the original Latin and French were translated with a Christian bias as "Our Lord," and "my Lord" was translated as "Our Saviour." The scholar Margaret A. Murray in her book The Witch-Cult in Western Europe (1921) also suggests that if Jeanne was a member of a Dianic [witch] cult, the wearing of male clothing may have been for Jeanne an outward sign of that faith, hence the importance attached to it.

In another book, The God of the Witches (1931), Murray examines the tradition that Jeanne was not actually burned at the stake but survived for a number of years afterward. The Chronique de Metz states, "Then she was sent to the city of Rouen in Normandy, and there was placed on a scaffold and burned in a fire, so it was said, but since then was found to be the contrary." Some of the evidence for this view had been cited earlier by Andrew Lang in his essay "The False Jeanne d'Arc" in his book The Valet's Tragedy and Other Studies (1903).

The period between the trial at Rouen and the Trial of Rehabilitation (1452-56) is crucial. In 1436, five years after the Rouen trial, the herald-at-arms and Jeanne's brother Jean du Lys announced officially in Orleans that Jeanne was still alive. The city accounts record that on Sunday, August 6, Jean du Lys, brother of "Jehane la Pucelle" [Jeanne the Maid] was in Orleans with letters from his sister to the king. In July 1439 Jeanne's brothers were in Orleans with their sister, now married to the sieur des Armoises (or Harmoises), and the city council presented Jeanne des Armoises with 210 pounds "for the good that she did to the said town during the siege of 1429." Accounts are also recorded of the wine merchant and draper who supplied Jeanne with wine and clothing. Her own mother was in Orleans at the time. Moreover, the masses that had been celebrated in Orleans for the repose of Jeanne's soul were discontinued after her mother's visit.

It is not conclusive that this Jeanne was an impostor (as Andrew Lang believed), and it seems unlikely that many people in Orleans, including Jeanne's own brothers, could have been deceived. The riddle of conflicting evidence of burning at the stake or substantiated appearances years later has never been satisfactorily resolved. Many such questions remain unresolved, in spite of various books, mainly by French writers, dealing with the issue.

Early French books on the subject include La Survivance et le Mariage de Jeanne D'Arc, by Grillot de Givry and La Legende Detruite: Indications pour essayer de suivre l'histoire de Jeanne d'Arc, by Paraf-Javal (1929). More recently another French writer, Pierre de Sermoise, published Jeanne d'Arc et la Mandragore (1983), which has revived the claim that the veiled woman burned at the stake in the marketplace was a prisoner condemned to death as a witch, substituting for France's national heroine.

More speculative is the conclusion of American biologist Robert Greenblatt (reported in 1983) that Jeanne was really a man. It was also claimed that two midwives who had examined Jeanne to establish her virginity were astonished to find that she had not reached puberty. In 1994, Jeanne d'Arc's suit of armor was thought to have been discovered by a Parisian antiques dealer. Not only did the suit fit his 14-year-old daughter's body, but where it was damaged seemed to match where it was believed to be the saint was wounded. Even in the twenty-first century Jeanne d'Arc remains a popular subject for articles, books and a popular character for television programs and movies.

Sources:

Barstow, Anne Llewellyn. Joan of Arc: Heretic, Mystic, Shaman. Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen Press, 1986.

Marglis, Nadia. Joan of Arc in History, Literature, and Film: A Select Bibliography. New York: Garland Publishing, 1990.

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Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc

The French national heroine Joan of Arc (c. 1412-1431) led a troop of French soldiers and served as a temporary focus of French resistance to English occupation in the last phase of the Hundred Years War.

The life of Joan of Arc must be considered against the background of the later stages of the Hundred Years War (1339-1453). The war, which had begun in 1339 and continued intermittently till the 1380s, had caused severe hardship in France. In 1392 the insanity of the French king, Charles VI, had provided the opportunity for two aristocratic factions to struggle for control of the King and kingdom. The leader of one of these, John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy, finally assumed control, and both factions appealed for help to England. Henry V of England invaded France on the Burgundian side in 1415 and inflicted a shattering defeat upon the French at Agincourt in the same year. The English and Burgundians entered Paris in 1418, and the murder of John the Fearless in 1419 strengthened Burgundian hatred for the Armagnac faction.

In 1420 Charles VI, Henry V, and Philip the Good of Burgundy agreed to the Treaty of Troyes, according to which Henry was to act as regent for the mad Charles VI, marry Charles's daughter, and inherit the throne of France on Charles's death. The treaty thus disinherited Charles VI's son, the Dauphin Charles (later Charles VII). Charles VI also implied that the Dauphin was illegitimate. In 1422 both Henry V and Charles VI died, leaving Henry VI, the infant son of Henry, as king of both kingdoms. Henry VI, through his regent, the Duke of Bedford, ruled uncontested in Normandy and the Île-deFrance. The Duke of Burgundy followed an independent policy in the territories he was assembling to the north and east of France. The Dauphin was reduced to holding the south of France, threatened with Anglo-Burgundian invasion, and taunted with the title "King of Bourges," from which city he ineffectively ruled what was left of his kingdom. He was in perpetual fear that the key city of Orléans, the gateway to his lands, might be captured by the English. In the autumn of 1428 the English laid siege to Orléans. Charles, dominated by the infamous favorite Georges de la Tremoille, naturally apathetic, and lacking in men and money, could do nothing. By the spring of 1429 the city appeared about to fall and with it the hopes of Charles VII.

Early Life

Joan was born to a peasant family in Domrémy, a small town near Vaucouleurs, the last town in the east still loyal to Charles VII. "As long as I lived at home," she said at her trial in 1431, "I worked at common tasks about the house, going but seldom afield with our sheep and other cattle. I learned to sew and spin: I fear no woman in Rouen at sewing and spinning."

Some time in 1425 Joan began to have visions— "When I was thirteen, I had a voice from God to help me govern myself." The voice was that of St. Michael, who, with St. Catherine and St. Margaret, "told me of the pitiful state of France, and told me that I must go to succor the King of France." Joan twice went to Robert de Baudricourt, the captain of Vaucouleurs, asking for an escort to Charles VII at Chinon. The third time she was granted an escort, and she set out in February 1429, arriving 11 days later at Chinon. She was immediately examined for orthodoxy and 2 days later was allowed to see the King.

A contemporary described her: "This Maid … has a virile bearing, speaks little, shows an admirable prudence in all her words. She has a pretty, woman's voice, eats little, drinks very little wine; she enjoys riding a horse and takes pleasure in fine arms, greatly likes the company of noble fighting men, detests numerous assemblies and meetings, readily sheds copious tears, has a cheerful face…" Joan appears to have been robust, with darkbrown hair, and, as one historian succinctly remarked, "in the excitement which raised her up from earth to heaven, she retained her solid common sense and a clear sense of reality." She was also persuasive. In April 1429 Charles VII sent her to Orléans as captain of a troop of men—not as leader of all his forces. With the Duke d'Alençon and Jean, the Bastard of Orléans (later Count of Dunois), Joan relieved the city, thus removing the greatest immediate threat to Charles and for the first time in his reign allowing him a military triumph.

Her Mission

Although Charles VII appears to have accepted Joan's mission—after having had her examined several times at Chinon and at the University of Poitiers—his attitude toward her, on the whole, is ambiguous. He followed her pressing advice to use the respite provided by the relief of Orléans to proceed to his coronation at Reims, thereby becoming king in the eyes of all men. After a series of victorious battles and sieges on the way, Charles VII was crowned at Reims on July 18, 1429. Joan was at his side and occupied a prominent place in the ceremonies following the coronation. From the spring of 1429 to the spring of 1430, Charles and his advisers wavered on the course of the war. The choices were those of negotiation, particularly with the Duke of Burgundy, or taking the military offensive against English positions, particularly Paris. Joan favored the second course, but an attack upon Paris in September 1429 failed, and Charles VII entered into a treaty with Burgundy that committed him to virtual inaction. From September 1429 to the early months of 1430, Joan appears to have been kept inactive by the royal court, finally moving to the defense of the town of Compiègne in May 1430. During a skirmish outside the town's walls against the Burgundians, Joan was cut off and captured. She was a rich prize. The Burgundians turned Joan over to the English, who prepared to try her for heresy. Charles VII could do nothing.

The Trial

Joan's trial was held in three parts. Technically it was an ecclesiastical trial for heresy, and Joan's judges were Pierre Cauchon, the bishop of Beauvais, and Jean Lemaitre, vicar of the inquisitor of France; both were aided by a large number of theologians and lawyers who sat as a kind of consulting and advising jury. From January to the end of March, the court investigated Joan's "case" and interrogated witnesses. The trial itself lasted from April to nearly the end of May and ended with Joan's abjuration. The trial was both an ecclesiastical one and a political one (because Joan was kept in an English prison rather than in that of the archbishop of Rouen and because the English continually intervened in the trial). Joan was charged with witchcraft and fraud, tested by being asked complicated theological questions, and finally condemned on the grounds of persisting in wearing male clothing, a technical offense against the authority of the Church. Joan's answers throughout the trial reveal her presence of mind, humility, wit, and good sense. Apparently Joan and her accusers differed about the nature of her abjuration, and 2 days after she signed it, she recanted. The third phase of her trial began on May 28. This time she was tried as a relapsed heretic, conviction of which meant "release" to the "secular arm" that is, she would be turned over to the English to be burned. Joan was convicted of being a relapsed heretic, and she was burned at the stake in the marketplace of Rouen on May 30, 1431.

Rehabilitation and Later Legend

From 1450 to 1456, first under the impetus of Charles VII, then under that of Joan's mother, and finally under that of the Inquisition, a reinvestigation of Joan's trial and condemnation was undertaken by ecclesiastical lawyers. On July 7, 1456, the commission declared Joan's trial null and void, thereby freeing Joan from the taint of heresy. The Joan of Arc legend, however, did not gather momentum, and then only intermittently, until the 17th century. The 19th and 20th centuries were really, as a historian has called them, "the centuries of the Maid." In spite of her legend, Joan was not canonized until May 16, 1920.

Further Reading

There is an immense literature about Joan of Arc, most of it fanciful and inaccurate. Some of it, however, is great literature in its own right: for example, George Bernard Shaw's play, Saint Joan, or Jules Michelet's Joan of Arc, translated by Albert Guerard (1957). There is no standard English or French biography which is entirely reliable. Therefore, the best source concerning Joan's career is the text of her trial and rehabilitation proceedings. Full texts were published by J. Quicherat in French. The choice English works have been built around extracts from these texts; the best of these is Regine Pernoud, Joan of Arc (1959; trans. 1964). A shorter work, consisting only of extracts from the trial materials, is Willard R. Trask, Joan of Arc: Self Portrait (1936). Joan's place in 15th-century France is described by Edouard Perroy, The Hundred Years War (1945; trans. 1951), and Alice Buchan, Joan of Arc and the Recovery of France (1948). A careful analysis of the sources concerning Joan and a brief description of her later reputation are in Charles W. Lightbody, The Judgements of Joan (1960). □

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Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc

Born: c. 1412
Domrémy, France
Died: May 30, 1431
Rouen, England

French heroine

The French national heroine Joan of Arc led a troop of French soldiers and served as a temporary focus of French resistance to English occupation in the last phase of the Hundred Years War (13391453), a war with England which caused severe hardship in France. Joan of Arc's place in history was finally solidified in the twentieth century when she was declared a saint.

A restless France

In 1392 the insanity of the French king, Charles VI (13681422), had begun the struggle between two factions (rival groups) to control the kingdom, the Burgundians and the Armagnacs. The leader of the Armagnacs, John the Fearless (13711419), Duke of Burgundy, finally assumed control, as both sides appealed for help to England. Henry V (13871422) of England invaded France in 1415 and delivered a shattering defeat upon the French. The English and Burgundians entered Paris in 1418, and the murder of John the Fearless in 1419 strengthened Burgundian hatred for the Armagnac faction.

In 1420 Charles VI, Henry V, and Philip the Good (13961467) of Burgundy agreed to the Treaty of Troyes. The treaty said that Henry was to act as regent, or acting ruler, for the mad Charles VI, marry Charles's daughter, then inherit the throne of France upon Charles's death. The treaty thus disinherited Charles VI's son, Charles VII (14031461). In 1422 both Henry V and Charles VI died, leaving Henry VI, the infant son of Henry, as king of both kingdoms. Henry VI, through his regent, the Duke of Bedford, ruled unchallenged in Normandy and the Île-de France. In the autumn of 1428 the English attacked Orléans, the key city to Charles's land. Charles, lacking in men and money, could do nothing. By the spring of 1429 the city appeared about to fall and with it the hopes of Charles VII.

Early life

Joan was born to a peasant family in Domrémy, France, a small town near Vaucouleurs, the last town in the east still loyal to Charles VII. "As long as I lived at home," she said at her trial in 1431, "I worked at common tasks about the house, going but seldom afield with our sheep and other cattle. I learned to sew and spin: I fear no woman in Rouen at sewing and spinning."

Some time in 1425 Joan began to have visions"When I was thirteen, I had a voice from God to help me govern myself." The voice was that of St. Michael, who, with St. Catherine and St. Margaret, "told me of the pitiful state of France, and told me that I must go to succor [assist] the King of France." Joan twice went to Robert de Baudricourt, the captain of Vaucouleurs, asking for armor, a horse, and an escort to Charles VII at Chinon, but her request was denied both times. However, Joan was both persistent and persuasive, and when she went to de Baudricourt a third time he granted her request. She set out in February 1429, arriving eleven days later at Chinon.

Joan of Arc was once described: "This Maid has a virile [man-like] bearing, speaks little, shows an admirable prudence [carefulness] in all her words. She has a pretty, woman's voice, eats little, drinks very little wine; she enjoys riding a horse and takes pleasure in fine arms, greatly likes the company of noble fighting men, detests [dislikes] numerous assemblies and meetings, readily sheds copious [many] tears, has a cheerful face." Joan appears to have been robust, with dark brown hair, and, as one historian remarked, "in the excitement which raised her up from earth to heaven, she retained her solid common sense and a clear sense of reality."

In April 1429 Charles VII sent her to Orléans as captain of a troop of mennot as leader of all his forces. With the Duke d'Alençon and Jean, the Bastard of Orléans (later Count of Dunois), Joan relieved the city, thus removing the greatest immediate threat to Charles and for the first time in his reign allowing him a military triumph.

Her mission

Although Charles VII appears to have accepted Joan's mission, his attitude toward her, on the whole, is unclear. He followed her pressing advice to use the relief provided by the success of Orléans to proceed to his coronation (crowning ceremony) at Reims, thereby becoming king in the eyes of all men. Charles VII was crowned at Reims on July 18, 1429. Joan was at his side and occupied a visible place in the ceremonies following the coronation.

From the spring of 1429 to the spring of 1430, Charles and his advisers were undecided on the course of the war. Joan favored taking the military offensive against English positions, particularly Paris. An attack upon Paris in September 1429 failed, and Charles VII entered into a treaty with Burgundy that committed him to virtual inaction.

From September 1429 to the early months of 1430, Joan appears to have been kept inactive by the royal court, finally moving to the defense of the town of Compiègne in May 1430. During a small battle outside the town's walls against the Burgundians, Joan was cut off and captured. She was a valuable prize. The Burgundians turned Joan over to the English, who prepared to try her for heresy, or having opinions that conflict with the beliefs of the church. Charles VII could do nothing.

The trial

Joan's trial was held in three parts. Technically it was an ecclesiastical (involving the church) trial for heresy (having religious beliefs that are against those held by the church), and Joan's judges were Pierre Cauchon (13711442), the bishop of Beauvais, and Jean Lemaitre, vicar of the inquisitor of France, or the religious assistant to the top judge in France. Both were aided by a large number of theologians (those that study religion) and lawyers who sat as a kind of consulting and advising jury.

From January to the end of March, the court investigated Joan's "case" and questioned witnesses. The trial itself lasted from April to nearly the end of May and ended with Joan's abjuration, or renouncing her faith. The trial was both an ecclesiastical one and a political one. Joan was charged with witchcraft and fraud, or a willful cheating. She was tested by being asked complicated theological (involving religious teachings) questions, and finally condemned (found guilty) on the grounds of persisting in wearing male clothing, a technical offense against the authority of the Church.

Joan's answers throughout the trial reveal her presence of mind, humility, wit, and good sense. Apparently Joan and her accusers differed about the nature of her abjuration, and two days after she signed it, she recanted, or withdrew her previous belief.

The third phase of her trial began on May 28. This time she was tried as a relapsed heretic, conviction of which meant "release" to the "secular arm," that is, she would be turned over to the English to be burned. Joan was convicted and she was burned at the stake in the marketplace of Rouen on May 30, 1431.

Rehabilitation and later legend

From 1450 to 1456 a reinvestigation of Joan's trial and condemnation was undertaken by ecclesiastical lawyers. On July 7, 1456, the commission declared Joan's trial null and void, thereby freeing Joan from the taint of heresy. The Joan of Arc legend, however, did not gather momentum until the seventeenth century. In spite of her legend, Joan was not canonized (declared a saint) until May 16, 1920.

For More Information

Brooks, Polly Schoyer. Beyond the Myth: The Story of Joan of Arc. New York: Lippincott, 1990.

Nash-Marshall, Siobhan. Joan of Arc: A Spiritual Biography. New York: Crossroad Pub., 1999.

Pernoud, Régine. Joan of Arc: Her Story. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1999.

Sackville-West, Victoria Mary. Saint Joan of Arc. Garden City, NY: Doubleday Doran & Co., 1936. Reprint, New York: Grove Press, 2001.

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Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc, Fr. Jeanne D'Arc (zhän därk), 1412?–31, French saint and national heroine, called the Maid of Orléans; daughter of a farmer of Domrémy on the border of Champagne and Lorraine.

Inspiration and Leadership

At a young age she began to hear "voices" —those of St. Michael, St. Catherine, and St. Margaret. When she was about 16, the voices exhorted her to bear aid to the dauphin, later King Charles VII, then kept from the throne by the English in the Hundred Years War. Joan won the aid of Robert de Baudricourt, captain of the dauphin's forces in Vaucouleurs, in obtaining an interview with the dauphin. She made the journey in male attire, with six companions. Meeting the dauphin at Chinon castle, she conquered his skepticism as to her divine mission. She was examined by theologians at Poitiers, and afterward she was furnished with troops by Charles.

Her leadership provided spirit and morale more than military prowess. In May, 1429, she succeeded in raising the siege of Orléans, and in June she took other English posts on the Loire and defeated the English at Patay. After considerable persuasion the dauphin agreed to be crowned at Reims; Joan stood near him at his coronation. This was the pinnacle of her fortunes.

Capture and Martyrdom

In Sept., 1429, Joan unsuccessfully besieged Paris. The following spring she went to relieve Compiègne, but she was captured by the Burgundians and sold to the English, who were eager to destroy her influence by putting her to death. Charles VII made no attempt to secure her freedom. In order to escape responsibility, the English turned her over to the ecclesiastical court at Rouen. She was tried for heresy and witchcraft before Pierre Cauchon and other French clerics who supported the English.

Probably her most serious crime was the claim of direct inspiration from God; in the eyes of the court this refusal to accept the church hierarchy constituted heresy. Throughout the lengthy trial and imprisonment she bravely fought her inquisitors. Only at the end of the trial, when Joan was sentenced to be turned over to a secular court, did she recant. She was condemned to life imprisonment. Shortly afterward, however, she retracted her abjuration, was turned over to the secular court as a relapsed heretic, and was burned at the stake (May 30, 1431) in Rouen. Charles VII made tardy recognition of her services by a rehabilitation trial in 1456 that annulled the proceedings of the original trial.

Joan was beatified in 1909 and canonized in 1920 (feast: May 30). Her career lent itself to numerous legends, and she has been represented in many paintings and statues. In literature and music she appears notably, though not always accurately, in works by many eminent writers and composers.

Bibliography

Among her biographies, the best known is that of J. Michelet (tr. 1957). See also biographies by A. Lang (1908) and V. Sackville-West (1936); translations of the trial records by W. P. Barrett (1932 ed.) and W. S. Scott (1950); R. Pernoud, The Retrial of Joan of Arc (tr. 1955) and Joan of Arc by Herself and Her Witnesses (tr. 1966); C. W. Lightbody, The Judgements of Joan (1961); H. Guillemin, Joan, Maid of Orleans (1973); M. Gordon, Joan of Arc (2000).

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Joan of Arc (1412–1431)

Joan of Arc (14121431)

A patron saint of the French nation, Joan of Arc was born in the village of Domremy, in the Vosges region of eastern France. Her father owned a small estate and served as a village official. At the time of her birth and childhood, much of France lay in ruins from the conflict with England that had begun more than seventy years earlier. The war had started over English claims to the French throne, claims supported by the powerful dukes of Burgundy. While the English controlled Paris, the capital, the Burgundians held Reims, the traditional site of French coronations. For this reason, the heir to the French throne, the son of King Charles VI, remained an uncrowned dauphin (eldest son of a king) while the English fought for the claim of Henry VI, an infant who ruled through the regent John of Lancaster.

Inspired by visions of the saints to defend France from its powerful enemies, the sixteen-year-old Joan rode to the French camp at Vaucouleurs to demand an audience with the dauphin. At first mocked and refused, she persisted and eventually won over the garrison commander. Arriving in the dauphin's presence at the chateau of Chinon, she asked Charles permission to lead an army to the relief of Orléans, a French city then holding out against an English siege. In a desperate situation, and with little realistic hope of success, the dauphin agreed. In just nine days, however, Joan led the French to victory at Orléans. She was rewarded with co-command of an army, with which she defeated the English at the Battle of Patay. She then marched to Reims, where she witnessed the coronation of the dauphin as Charles VII of France on July 17, 1429.

After the coronation, Joan continued to lead the French against the scattered enemy troops in northern France. At the town of Compiègne, she was captured by a company of Burgundians and then sold to the English. The English governor in France, Duke Henry of Bedford, put her on trial for religious heresy. Her impassioned defense proved futile, as the English and Bishop Cauchon of Beauvais, an ally of England who presided at the trial, were determined to see her dead. She was convicted and burned at the stake in Rouen on May 30, 1431.

Joan's inspired leadership of the demoralized French army proved a turning point in the Hundred Years' War. By the Treaty of Arras in 1435, the Burgundians ended their alliance with the English, who lost Rouen in 1449 and their last stronghold at Calais in 1558. Under the successors of Charles VII, a unified French kingdom emerged that would develop by the end of the Renaissance into the largest and wealthiest realm in Europe.

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Joan of Arc, Saint

Joan of Arc, Saint (1412–31) ( Jeanne d'Arc, Joan of Lorraine or the Maid of Orléans) National heroine of France. A peasant girl, she claimed to hear heavenly voices urging her to save France during the Hundred Years' War. In early 1429, she led French troops in breaking the English siege of Orléans. She drove the English from the Loire towns and persuaded the indecisive dauphin to have himself crowned at Reims as Charles VIII. In 1430 she was captured and handed over to the English. Condemned as a heretic, she was burned at the stake.

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