Heretic or Heroine?
Crossdesser, saviour or Heretic, what ever your opinion is, she has earned the respect of a nation, and more, sealing her place at the top of Frances national icons. Joan Of Arc as is her English name, or otherwise known as Jehanne D'Arc in French has definatley made her mark in history.

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a painting depicting Joan of Arc


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Biography


Early life

Saint Joan D'arc was Born in Domremy, nowdays located in the region of Lorraine, Eastern France. Historians estimate Joan was born around 6th of January 1412 to Jacques and Isabelle (Romee) D'Arc, she was also the youngest of her three brothers and sister. Joan was born into a family of peasants, but lived comfortabley,and Jacques, Joan's father held a minor office in the town. Joan was born during a truce in the Hundred Years War (1337-1453) being waged between France and England. France was a torn country with scattered territories and divided alleigance to either France or England, at this time two factions of the French Royal family had fallen into civil war, England saw their oppertunity to strike while France was already weakened by its own internal probelms. In August 1415, under the rule of King Henry V, England invaded France under the kings claim to the French throne. The first step was the battle of Agincourt on the 25th of October 1415, the English won the first battle against the French, within two years the English had gained control of most of northern France, as well as support from the Burgundian duke Phillip III (one of the factions of the feuding French Royal Family).

Influences

Around the age of twelve to thirteen (1424) was when Joan stated that she had begun to hear voices and have visions of various saints and angels, but the three main saints that encouraged Joan were; Saint Michael, Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret. At first trhe voices told her to be good, and go to church more often. Joan later quoted, during her trial "I came to France at God's command, and I have never acted except at God's command".

The king to be, Charles VII was slowly loosing support from his people, with only a few locations in Northern France remaining loyal. The situation became more precarious in 1428 as English army's main target was the Loire River Valley, just on the northern boundary of King Charles's teritory.

And, so was the begining of Joan's involvment, for some time Joan claimed that the voices of the saints had been uring her to go to the royal domain and drive out the English, and see to it that the true king of France was crowned, first by going to the local commander at Vaucouleurs to get an escort that would take her to the royal court.

"Very illustrious Lord Dauphin, I am come, being sent on the part of God, to give succour to the kingdom and to you." Joan of Arc's first words to Charles VII

Tested

In May- 1428, Joan went to Robert De Baudicourt, the captain at Vacuouleurs (north west of Domremy) three times before before he let her have her way. It took Joan Eleven days to reach Chinon on the River Loire, where the king lived. when Joan was presented to the king, Joan told Charles VII that she was sent in the name of god to help him and the kingdom, still the king was wary and wanted Joan to be tested before he let her take charge of the French army.

Joan was sent to the city of Poitiers south of Chinon. The tests lasted three weeks, and were conducted by a group of theologians who had escaped from Paris University when the city was taken by the English.The theologians gave their approval.

Preparing for Battle

Joan's most famous achievement

After having made a suit of armour specially made for her, and the French army at her disposal, new hope was given for the French, more men beganto enlist when it was heard that a saint was leading the army.

The army arrived at the city Orleans, between the 29th of April and the 4th of May. Bitter arguments arose between Joan and Jean de Dunois, the man in charge of Orleans defense, over military tactics, Joan wanted to make a bold move, to take the English head on while Jean de Dunois wanted to go for the more shy attack, a decision was made at a war council without Joan present to wait for reinforcements, while with the support of the soldies planning to go to battle the next day. Joan was personally amongst the troops encouraging them, though not fighting herself. Within three days of fightingthe French were victorious. First they retook the city, and soon the English controlled forts toppled, until only the strongest of forts remained. When Joan was injured by an arrow and had to be taken from the battlefield, her men instantly began to loose esteem, Joan returned late in the day and their efforts and spirits climbed. By the next day the English were forced from Orleans altogether. From this battle she earned the name "The Maid Of Orleans".

Joan had the the army into several other battles, time after time the French were victorious, and were fast driving the English up into Northern France.

On the 17th of July 1429 Joan attended the king's coronation. The voices Joan heard had left her and she had decided that she wanted to go home. But the king urged Joan to stay as France was not completely rid of the English invaders. Joan consented, if at anything reluctantly, taking part in an attack on the Duke of Burgundy's army, but was taken prisoner by the duke, and after two attempted escapes Joan was handed over to the English for a sum of money. Joan was kept in prison at Rouen for an entire year, after which she was charged with being a witch and brought to a rigged trial.

Death

English government documents recorded in detail payments made to obtain Joan and paying judges and assessors who took part in her trial, as well as clergy that served in her trial were all supporters of Burgundy. The charge of witch craft was dropped and Joan was convicted of a more reliable crime of cross-dressing instead. Joan staed that she could not wear a dress and maintain her virginity, (Joan was denied the right to be sent to a nun run church prison) after sparking a disagreement with the guards, and wearing the male clothes she was not aloud to wear, the bailiff condemned her as a relapsed heretic and sentenced her to death, with King Charles never bothering to take any sort of intervention.

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This painting depicts the battle of Olreans, the central figure being Joan

Joan of Arc was burnt at the stake in Rouen on the 30th of May 1431. Joan was tied to a pillar in front of a crowd where one sympathetic soldier gave her a small wooden cross to hold and read a sermon, and when it came to her own address, by the end most of the judges, soldiers, assessors and officials were crying by the end of it.

It was not until November 1449, when the war was near an end, that appealing Joan's case started. It was eventually ruled that Joan was illegally convicted by a corrupt court. Joan was Beatified on the 18th of April 1909 and was finally canonised as a saint on the 16th of May 1920 by Pope Benedict XV.