The Life of Joan of Arc

Introduction

Joan of Arc was a peasant girl who lived in the village of Domrémy, in north-eastern France. She famously led the French to important victories during the Hundred Year’s War.

As a result of her actions, Charles VII was consecrated in Rheims and formally assumed the French crown. Joan was subsequently elevated as a Roman Catholic saint.

Early Life

Joan of Arc was born in Domremy, a small village in France. At a time when France was divided up between those supportive of the English and those loyal to the French crown, Joan’s family supported the French monarchy. From an early age, Joan received a religious education.

Divine Visions

Joan of Arc claimed that she started having divine visions from the age of 13. She saw various important religious figures in her visions including Saint Margaret. She also claimed to have had visions of the archangel Michael.

In these visions, she was told to help the French crown in defeating the English armies. She was also told in these visions to take Charles VII to the Rheims where he could be anointed as king. Following these visions, she decided to meet the king.

Going to the King

When she was 16, Joan of Arc decided to heed her visions. She traveled to Vaucouleurs, a nearby town where the nearest French garrison was stationed. Here she met with the commander of the garrison and demanded for an escort to take her to the king.

She was initially met with mockery and her request was refused. However, she later made an accurate prediction of a defeat days before it could have been known. This persuaded the commander of his spiritual abilities. She was then granted an escort to take her to Chinon where the King was at the time.

Journey to Chinon

From Vaucouleurs to Chinon, Joan of Arc had to travel through hostile territories controlled by the pro-English Burgundians. To avoid being detected and captured, Joan of Arc dressed up like a man.

This would later be used by the English to accuse her of cross-dressing. She made an 11-day journey and finally reached Chinon where she was granted an audience with the king.

Meeting with King Charles

Joan of Arc first met with King Charles of France in 1429. When she initially reached Chinon, she was refused an audience with the king. However, she was able to arrange a meeting with the king later.

In the meeting, Joan of Arc greatly impressed Charles. She convinced Charles that she had received divine visions of French victories and his coronation.

She also asked to be provided soldiers and provisions to participate in the relief of Orleans which was being besieged by the English and Burgundian forces at the time. Although initially reluctant, Charles decided to go against the advice of his commanders and granted the requests of Joan.

Joan of Arc at Orleans

At the time, France had suffered one defeat after another. The French troops were demoralized and on the brink of losing hope. Charles also had suspicious regarding the divine powers of Joan of Arc. So to test her abilities, he allowed her request to attempt a relief of Orleans.

When Joan of Arc arrived at Orleans in April, 1429, the pattern of the siege began to shift in the favor of the French. In a few months, the French had decisively defeated the English and forced them to lift the siege.

The English were forced to retreat and the French were victorious. This was the first notable French victory in many years and Joan of Arc had played a key role in it.

Overnight, she became known all across France and among the English troops as well. King Charles and other became convinced that she had divine powers.

Loire Campaign

After the success at Orleans, most of the leading commanders and the King himself now admitted of the extraordinary abilities of Joan of Arc. So when she proposed to follow the victory at Orleans with further campaigns along the Loire, the King readily agreed.

Joan of Arc then led the French troops in a number of clashes. The most notable of these was the Battle of Patay. It was at this battle that the English suffered heavy casualties and the French secured a decisive victory.

Following the victories of the Loire campaign, the French troops marched on Rheims. Along the way, they were able to secure a number of other towns.

Coronation of Charles

Fulfilling her divine vision, Joan of Arc was able to secure the city of Rheims in July, 1429. Charles VII was finally consecrated and anointed as the King of France. The string of victories before the coronation and the coronation itself decisively turned the tide of the war in the favor of the French. The English and Burgundians were forced to sign peace treaties with the French.

Capture and Execution

In 1430, the truce between the English and the French ended. The English forces laid siege to the city of Compiegne. To relieve the city, Joan of Arc attacked the English troops with a small force.

She was ambushed and captured by the Burgundians and later sold to the English. The English troops convened a trial where Joan of Arc was unfairly accused of sorcery, heresy and cross-dressing. Following these charges, she was sentenced to death. The sentence was carried out by burning her at stake.

Summary

  • Joan of Arc was born in a French village, Domremy, in 1412. She was born during the Hundred Years’ War between the French and the English.
  • At the age of 13, Joan of Arc began to receive divine visions. These visions promised her that she would lead the French to victory and enable the coronation of King Charles.
  • At the age of 16, she traveled to Chinon to meet the king. She convinced the king of her divine powers and was granted a force to participate in the Siege of Orleans.
  • She led the French to victory in the Relief of Orleans in 1429.
  • In July 1429, Joan of Arc aided in the capture of Rheims where Charles was finally consecrated.
  • In 1430, Joan of Arc was captured and executed by the English. She was recognized as a Roman Catholic Saint later.

 

 

 

 

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