Joan of Arc was a French heroine who played a significant military role during the Anglo-French Hundred Years’ War. She actively participated in a number of battles and military conflicts between English and French forces from 1429 to 1431.
This was a time when French had suffered repeated defeats at the hands of the English forces. Joan of Arc’s arrival turned the tide in the favour of the French which brought a desperately-needed relief to the French army, economy and the crown.
Joan of Arc at French Court
Joan of Arc stated that she had a vision at the age of 13 in 1425. In the vision, she was told to be by the French King’s side where she was to play an important role. Consequently, Joan predicted the French defeat at the Battle of Rouvray days ahead of the messengers.
This prompted the garrison commander in Vaucouleurs to take her to royal court where she met Charles VII. At the time, Orleans was under siege. Although lacking any military capabilities, Joan was able to get permission from Charles to travel to Orleans and help in the siege.
Joan of Arc in the Battlefield
Joan of Arc reached Orleans in April. By this time, the city had been under English siege for five months. Joan’s arrival coincided with a change in the fortunes of the French defenders. The defenders were able to capture one English fortification after another over the month of May.
Joan led the troops in the frontlines, though not directly a part of the combat. She suffered an arrow wound near her neck but survived. Within days, the English were forced to retreat from Orleans.
Following the Orleans victory of French, Joan came to be considered as being the instrument of divine providence. She was consequently involved in major war councils where further offensive against the English was discussed. On her advice, the French aimed for Reims which lay deep in English-controlled territory.
The French army reached Reims in July. On the way, the army took back the control of a number of towns and cities. The army also defeated a major English force under Sir John Fastolf in June. As a result of French control over Reims, Charles VII finally received his coronation and officially assumed the title of the King.
Capture and Death
In May 1430, Joan was captured by Burgundian troops following a skirmish between the French and the Burgundians. She was initially imprisoned by the Burgundian army but was later handed over to the English army against a sizable payment. A list of religious charges was then drawn up against her by Bishop Pierre in Burgundy, a prominent supporter of the English.
Joan was consequently charged of heresy. During her captivity, the French launched a number of campaigns towards Rouen where she was captured. But the campaigns were successfully withstood by the English. She was burnt at stake on May 30, 1431. Despite her death at the young age of 19, Joan of Arc became a national legend of France and was later canonised by the Church.