Have you ever wondered exactly who this Joan of Arc was and what she did so that she became so famous? You hear people mention her name but have you really ever read her story? Some people say that Joan of arc was killed unfairly and claim that she was a martyr. It is said that she heard voices of Saint Margaret and Saint Catherine when she was twelve years old.
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The essay that follows intends to show that indeed Joan of arc was a faithful Christian who was executed unfairly. Joan of arc was truly a humble and honest girl who received a message from God to lead her country victoriously in the hundred year war but through treachery, she was killed. The essay will go on to give a detailed account of Joan of arcs life, the hardships she went through in trial and finally her accomplishments.1
Joan of arc was born roughly in the month of January in the year 1412 in a small village called Domremy in France. Joan was the last born in a family of five children and most witnesses said that she was a child whose character was that of a person much older than her age.
She was loving and tender towards the poor and she could be found in church in a kneeling position earnestly praying to god. She was born during a period of conflicts which are nowadays referred to as the hundred year wars.
When she was three years old, the English men launched an attack on France during a period when France was divided in two hostile divisions that is the Armagnac and burgundian which would be the main influence to the cases that she would be presented with later on in her life.2
The burgunders were the supporters of the duke of Burgundy who had formed an alliance with the English oppressors in the year 1920. The same burgundian group would later on be the one responsible for capturing Joan and selling her to the English men who would accuse her falsely and kill her.
The duke of Orleans and the Count of margnac were the initial leaders of the Armagnac but they later on joined forces with the royal but not yet crowned official owner to the throne who would later on be known as the Charles vii after being anointed through the help provided by Joan.3
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During the summer of 1425 when she was about thirteen and a half years, she became aware of the presence of a manifestation with supernatural powers which initially begun like a voice of someone speaking close to her but with time the voices became clearer and were accompanied by a bright light and she could even see visual images of the source of the voices after some time.
She said that Saint Michael with a troop of angels were among the supernatural beings who talked to her and others being St. Margaret and St. Catherine.
When asked about the description of the angels during the trial and about how she came to know the identity of the angels, she was reluctant in describing them. However, when confronted about the angels by the judges, she told them that she saw the angels just the same way that she was able to see the judges seated before her.4
Joan really never specified the date as to when the mission appointed to her by God was told to her but it is certain that it was gradually revealed to her. In May 1428, the voices were insistent and kept on pushing her to go to the aid of the not yet crowned king by appearing before Robert Baudricourt who acted as the commandant to the king in the Vaucouleurs.
She conducted this journey the following month and by this time she had no doubt that that was a message sent to her by God. Even though Joan made the attempt to go and see Robert and explain to him what the Lord had sent her to do, he treated her rudely and sent her away and in the process told the cousin who had accompanied Joan to take her home and to make her father beat her for appearing before him.5
Either way, the voices did not cease to encourage her and they became more adamant and even threatening. Meanwhile the uncrowned king was having problems and his military problems were deteriorating and there were high chances that he would get defeated any time if he did not receive help hastily.
With the voices relentlessly urging her to go back and address the king, she finally gave in and made another trip to see Robert in January of 1429.
At first Robert was skeptical about admitting her to see the king but when she continued staying in the town her persistence and the fulfillment of an announcement she had made a few days before finally made an impression on him and he finally agreed to present her before the king. After this she was finally given admission to see the king in Chinon.6
On her way to see the king she was escorted by three men at arms and dressed in male clothing at her own request which she slept with during the night and also to protect her modesty.
Those who were her close companions said that there was an aura about her which made it impossible to have improper thoughts about her in that regard. She reached Chinon on 6th, March. The king wanting to test her, dressed like an attendant but Joan being led by the spirit of God was able to identify him and salute him out of the group of attendants.7
After her admission to the king, things took on a rapid course and before long the girl joined the army after the king had accorded her the right services to cater to her needs. At the tender age of seventeen the young girl had a personality that was sure to cause resistance and hatred but no one could ignore her. With only a few days Joan was able to inspire the captains and soldiers and instill in them a feeling of victory.
With this, she had clearly become their leader though the royal council of politicians, the archbishop Regnault, La Tremoill among others were not pleased with the new role that had been accorded to her. Despite this, from then onwards she was viewed by the people of Orleans and her country as a savior.8
In just a period of five days, Joan was able to raise a siege that had been going on for a period of around seven months. The sword she used was a special one which she herself had revealed its existence through the voices that claimed that the sword was beneath an alter and indeed she ordered men to excavate it and it was found exactly where she had said it would be.
Using her gallantry and boldness, Joan together with the French army was able to drive out the superstitious Europeans who feared the sword she used and therefore, she was able to enter into Orleans after breaking through the English troops.
After the defeat of the English men in Patay, Joan ordered for the coronation of the king due to the fact that the way to Rheums had been cleared. At first the French leaders did not agree with this idea but they later on agreed and the dauphin was finally crowned as king with Joan standing behind him holding her banner on the 17th day of July 1429.9
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After the coronation the king was less participative in the wars and a battle was lost due to lack of his presence and support.
Joan urged for a rapid march to Paris but the king wanting it to take long, he delayed his arrival such that it was too late for them to face the Englishmen in war.
Joan was injured that day and this gradually led to her being captured by the English since king Charles vii no longer saw the need of having Joan lead the troops.10
Joan was warned by the voices in late April 1430 that she would be captured and taken prisoner before the feast of St John the Baptist. After this warning she left all decision making to the captains and prepared to accept whatever will come.
True to the voices, she was captured on May 23rd when she was well over the age of eighteen years. Her captivity was not all that bad when she was in the hands of Jean de Luxembourg but she was later on sold to the English. The duke of Bedford who was governor to the English possessions present in France ordered for a trial instead of burning her immediately.11
Trial lasted for about 4 to5 months together with preliminaries during which period she was chained up in a cell and under the guard of ruthless English soldiers.
Pressure was put upon Cauchon to speed up the trial process but he wanted the killing to be justified on legal basis with the intention of protecting himself using the church. Cauchon had a lot of difficulty in justifying legally that Joan should be killed and he started concocting schemes that would trap her. This clearly showed that there was no clear legal reason as to why Joan was killed.
A nullification of the case by the church after a period of twenty years found that Cauchon was the one guilty of heresy and St Joan was declared a martyr (Warner 1997, 63).
Joan of arc was burned at stake to death on 30th May 1431 in Rouen which is a French town. She was killed because the English leaders thought that getting rid of her will ensure hat they resume winning their war against the French. Bedford made a deal with the church that was loyal to England to put Joan to trial so that it would appear in the end as if the church was responsible for the execution instead of the English.12
Joan was able to accomplish so much at a tender age 17. One of the accomplishments is that she was only seventeen years when she was put in to be in command of the French army and thus recorded as the youngest commandant to a nation’s army.13
Another accomplishment made by Joan was that she was able to bring an end to a series of war that had been taking place for a period of almost a hundred years that the French were just in the brink of loosing. The amazing part about this is that she was able to do this for a few months while the French had taken almost a century.14
The victories at Patay and Orleans are among the greatest victories ever made in history.
The defeat in Orleans was remarkable because it brought an end to a war that had been running for a period of almost a century which the French were almost loosing at the time when Joan came in to the picture.
Orleans was the final important city that the French still possessed and it had been under siege by the English for a period of 7 months and was at the verge of being lost. Joan was able to reclaim the city after only three fighting days. The victory in Patay was great because it annihilated the English army while the French only lost a few of their troops.15
The ability to have a personal relationship with God that resulted to accurate prophesies is another accomplishment that she made. The personal devotion she had with God and her commitment to remain chaste was remarkable.16
In conclusion, Joan of arc is a great historic and religious figure. She was daughter to a peasant but the voices that spoke to her were directed from God and sent her on a mission to save the French from being overpowered by the English.
Unfortunately for her she was hated by the English for overturning their plans and therefore they plotted to kill her. They developed a series of lies which finally led to her being burnt at the stake. Even though she died like a martyr, she accomplished the goal which God had set ahead of her.
1Kennedy, Ben, Maids of Heaven: The Story of Saint Joan of Arc. (Louisville: united States of America, 2007), 3.
2Warner, Marina. Joan of Arc: The Image of Female Heroism. (London: University Of California Press, 1999), 7.
3Michelet, Jules. Joan of Arc. (Michigan: Universityof Michigan, 1957), 32.
4,5Hobbins, Daniel. 2005. The Trial of Joan of Arc. (Harvard: Harvard University Press, 2005), 43.
6Sullivan, Karen. 1999. The Interrogation of Joan of Arc. (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999), 27.
7Nicolson, Sackville-west. 1936. Saint Joan of Arc: born January 6th, 1412, burned as a heretic, May 30th, 1431, canonized as saint, May 16th 1920. (New York: Doubleday, Doran & Company, Inc, 1936), 45.
8Kennedy, Ben, Maids of Heaven: The Story of Saint Joan of Arc. (Louisville: united States of America, 2007), 7.
9Sullivan, Karen. 1999. The Interrogation of Joan of Arc. (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999), 29.
10Michelet, Jules. 1957. Joan of Arc. (Michigan: University of Michigan, 1957), 56.
11Warner, Marina. Joan of Arc: The Image of Female Heroism. (London: University Of California Press, 1999), 7.
12,13Michelet, Jules. 1957. Joan of Arc. (Michigan: University of Michigan, 1957), 56.
14Warner, Marina. Joan of Arc: The Image of Female Heroism. (London: University Of California Press, 1999), 7.
15, 16Sullivan, Karen. 1999. The Interrogation of Joan of Arc. (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999), 29.
Hobbins, Daniel. The Trial of Joan of Arc. Cambridge and London: Harvard University Press, 2005
Kennedy, Ben. Maids of Heaven: The Story of Saint Joan of Arc. Louisville: united States of America, 2007.
Michelet, Jules. Joan of Arc. Michigan: University of Michigan, 1957.
Nicolson, Sackville-West. Saint Joan of Arc: born January 6th, 1412, burned as a heretic, May 30th, 1431, canonized as saint, 1920. New York: Doubleday, Doran & Company, Inc, 1936.
Sullivan, Karen. The Interrogation of Joan of Arc. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999.
Warner, Marina. Joan of Arc: The Image of Female Heroism. London: University Of California Press, 1999.