Joan of Arc, St.
JOAN OF ARC, ST.
Jeanne la Pucelle, national patroness of France; b. Domremy, Lorraine (Department, Meuse), France, Jan. 6, 1412; d. Rouen, France, May 30, 1431.
Except for her piety, nothing in "Jeannette's" early years distinguished her from other children of the countryside. When she was about 13, her "voices," which she kept secret for almost five years, revealed her mission, the deliverance of the French Kingdom from English control. The treaty of Troyes (May 20, 1420), had made the English king, Henry V, king of France, setting aside the legitimate heir, the future Charles VII. The madness of Charles VI, French military reverses, and the alliance between England and Burgundy had prepared for this shattering event. After the successive deaths of Henry V and Charles VI, the duke of Bedford, regent of France for his nephew, henry vi, undertook to complete the conquest of the kingdom by tracking down the Dauphin (Charles
VII), who had taken refuge beyond the Loire, and by putting Orléans under siege.
Joan secretly left her home in January of 1429, succeeded in obtaining an escort from the captain of Vaucouleurs, who had remained faithful to the king of France, and was presented to Charles VII at Chinon (Feb. 25, 1429). Having had Joan examined by theologians at Poitiers, Charles consented to follow her advice and reassembled his army. With Joan in command they marched on Orléans and in eight days (May 8, 1429) ended the siege that had lasted eight months. After the brilliant victory of Patay (June 18), she opened the road to Reims, where Charles was crowned in the cathedral on July 17.
The coronation rallied the people of France, who until then had been hesitant in their support of Charles; it marked the end of English victories. But unfortunately the apathetic and ill-advised king opposed Joan's further plans. When at length she again went into action, hoping to relieve Compiègne, besieged by the Burgundians, Joan was taken prisoner (May 23, 1430). She was sold to the English, who, in placing her on trial for heresy, sought at once to remove a formidable adversary and to discredit the king who owed her his crown. The trial was held in Rouen, presided over by the bishop of Beauvais, Pierre Cauchon, the former rector of the University of Paris and a staunch champion of the English. After months of interrogation (Feb. 21 to May 24, 1431) and artifice, in which Cauchon tricked Joan into an admission of guilt, the judge sentenced her to death as a relapsed heretic. On May 30 she was excommunicated, turned over to the secular arm, and burned at the stake. Engulfed by the flames, Joan protested her innocence and the holiness of her mission.
Even during her lifetime, Joan was hailed as a saint because of both the preternatural character of her deeds and the purity of her life. She was solemnly rehabilitated by the Church after a seven-year trial (1449–56), during which 115 witnesses were heard; she was beatified April 19, 1909, and canonized May 9, 1920.
Feast: May 30.
Bibliography: Sources. p. tisset and y. lanhers, Procès de Jeanne d'Arc (Paris 1960). j. e. j. quicherat, Procès de condamnation et de réhabilitation de Jeanne d'Arc, 5 v. (Paris 1841–49). p. doncoeur and y. lanhers, eds., Documents et recherches relatifs à Jeanne la Pucelle, 5 v. (Paris 1952–61). p. doncoeur, La Minute française des interrogatoires de Jeanne d'Arc (Paris 1952). c. quintal and d. rankin, Letters of Joan of Arc (Pittsburgh 1969). Literature. w. p. barrett, ed. and tr., The Trial of Joan of Arc (New York 1932). r. brasillach, Le procès de Jeanne d'Arc (Paris 1941). g. bordonove, Jeanne d'Arc et la Guerre de Cent ans (Paris 1994). o. bouzy, Jeanne d'Arc, mythes et réalités (Paris 1999). r. caratini, Jeanne d'Arc: De Domrémy à Orléans et du bûcher à la légende (Paris 1999). m. david-darnac, Histoire véridique et merveilleuse de la Pucelle d'Orléans (Paris 1965) tr. as The True Story of the Maid of Orleans, tr. p. de polnay (London 1969); Le Dossier de Jehanne (Paris 1968). a. lang, The Maid of France (London 1913). n. margolis, Joan of Arc in History, Literature, and Film (New York 1990). r. m. j. pernoud, The Retrial of Joan of Arc, tr. j. m. cohen (New York 1955); Jeanne d'Arc par ellemême et par ses témoins (Paris 1975) tr. as Joan of Arc by Herself and Her Witnesses, tr. e. hyams (New York 1982); La Libération d'Orléans (Paris 1969); with g. baÏlac and g. gaucher, Jeanne et Thérèse (Paris 1984); with m.-v. clin, Jeanne d'Arc (Paris 1986) tr. as Joan of Arc: Her Story, tr. j. duquesnay adams, ed. b. wheeler (New York 1999); Jeanne d'Arc et la guerre de Cent Ans (Paris 1990); La spiritualité de Jeanne d'Arc (Paris 1992); Réhabilitation de Jeanne d'Arc (Monaco 1995); with j. tulard and j. pernoud, Jeanne d'Arc, Napoléon: le paradoxe du biographe (Monaco 1997); Réhabilitation de Jeanne d'Arc (Monaco 1995). v. m. sackville-west, Saint Joan of Arc (New York 1991). p. de sermoise, Jeanne d'Arc et la mandragore (Monaco 1983); Les missions secrètes de Jehanne la Pucelle (Paris 1970) tr. as Joan of Arc and Her Secret Missions, tr. j. taylor (London 1973). Memorial du V e centenaire de la réhabilitation de Jeanne d'Arc, 1456–1956 (Paris 1958). k. sullivan, The Interrogation of Joan of Arc (Minneapolis 1999). b. wheeler and c. t. wood, eds., Fresh Verdicts on Joan of Arc (New York 1996).