Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc




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Joan of Arc


Jacques d'Arc was a small peasant farmer from the Lorraine village of Domremy in the country of France who supplemented his income by working as the local tax collector. Jacques and his wife Isabelle Romee gave birth to a child named Joan in 1412. Joan would not attend school to learn to read or write. Instead she spent her days working with the family livestock, harvesting fields, and spinning and weaving. Then, at the age of 13 she began hearing voices as well as visions of Saint Margaret, Saint Michael, and Saint Catherine. The saints told her to drive the British out of France. They also told Joan to take Charles the VII the heir apparent to the French throne to the city of Reims so that he could finally be crowned. At the time, according to French tradition, the coronation had to be in holy city of Reims. However, that was impossible because the holy city of Reims was in the hands of the British.

In May of 1428, when Joan was just 16 years of age, she approached the captain of the nearby fortress of Vancouleurs and told him her story. At first he did not believe her, but when she returned the following February she impressed him so much that he had six of his soldiers escort her to meet the future king, Charles VII. Charles had been forewarned, and he knew that she was coming and did not believe her story. In order to catch Joan in her lie he put a stranger on the throne and hid in the crowd. Then a short time later, Joan entered the room and walked straight to the heir apparent and began addressing him even though she had never met him. After passing the first test, Charles was still not convinced. Realizing that he still did not believe her Joan told him what he had just prayed for in his private chapel. Now Charles believed that the only way she could know what she knew was by communicating with the dead. As a result, Charles sent her to be examined by a clerical commission in Poitiers. The commission was very impressed by Joan. They found her to be genuine, honest, and a good human being. Now, the future king was won over.

Joan told the king that she alone must lead the royal army to save the French citizens who were trapped by the British siege of the city of Orleans. The British had constructed a series of strategically located small forts around the city. No one could get in or out. At the time, they were attempting to starve the French into submission. However, Joan came to their rescue. She charged directly through the British lines with a convoy of badly needed supplies. The result was an immediate boost in French morale. She then turned her sights on defeating the British one fort at a time until she had won. After defeating the French in Orleans she set her sights on liberating the holy city of Reims so that Charles VII could finally be crowned. On the way, Joan fought numerous battles before driving the British out of Reims on July 17, 1429. At this time Charles was finally crowned King of France. Joan now wanted to return to her home in Domremy, but the king wanted her to attack Paris. Joan protested to the king saying that the voices of the saints no longer talked to her. Soon afterward a battle took place in Paris and Joan was wounded by a crossbow in the thigh. Badly wounded, she instructed her forces to retreat to the city of Compiegne where the mayor raised the drawbridge to let Joan enter the city. Unfortunately, she walked straight into a trap and was taken captive by the Burgundians, who were allies of the British. They in turn sold her to the British who tried her as a heretic who listened to voices. Her trial lasted a year. During the trial she was condemned as a witch and her victories were credited to the devil. She was not allowed a defense. She was subsequently sentenced to be burned at the stake.