Ancient history

Joana D'arc

Joan of Arc she was a French peasant woman who was etched in her country's history for leading troops against the English during the Hundred Years War (1337-1453). The Frenchwoman claimed to have visions and hear voices that told her to join the fight against the English. After winning important victories for France, she was captured by British allies, put on trial, and burned to death at the stake for witchcraft. . She was canonized in the early 20th century.

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Joan of Arc was born in Domrémy (now Dorémy-la-Pucelle, France) in 1412 . The correct date of her birth is still controversial, given the difficulty of historical proof, but some believe that she was born on January 6 . Anyway, she belonged to afamily of peasants. Her parents were called Jacques d'Arc and Isabelle Romée.

The peasant couple had five children in total. Joana's four brothers were named Jacquemin, Jean, Pierre and Catherine. Her upbringing was very catholic , as was traditional in 15th century France. As a peasant, she started early to work in the cultivation of her parents' lands.

Historical context

Joan of Arc was born in the period when France was waging war against the English for the control of lands and the French throne. This was the Hundred Years War , started in 1337 and finished in 1453. During this period, several armistices were agreed between the two crowns.

The fact that started the conflict was a dispute dynastic for the French throne . In 1328, the French king Charles IV died leaving no direct heirs to occupy the throne of France. This opened up the possibility for other relatives to assume the throne, and one of them was Edward III, King of England.

The King of England was related to Charles IV by maternal connection, but his interest in the French throne was not supported by the French nobility, mainly because this would represent the end of French autonomy. Thus, the nobles of France rejected Edward III's claim through the Law Salica , a law that prevented women and their descendants from assuming the French throne.

Thus another monarch was crowned King of France:Philip VI . This situation further damaged relations between England and France, and the wear and tear that accumulated in the following years gave rise to the Hundred Years' War. What was at stake were landholdings in Continental Europe and the French throne.

This war affected the lives of many French people , like Joan of Arc, since she brought destruction , diseases and hunger . The village where Joan of Arc's family resided was surrounded by the domains of the duchy of Burgundy, an ally of the English in the conflict. For this reason, enemy attacks were common, and the village of Joan of Arc was set on fire on one occasion.

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Joan of Arc and the War

It was in this context that Joan of Arc recorded her name in history. From the age of 13, she claimed to hear voices and having visions , which said that she should join the fight against the English and help in the coronation of the French king, Charles VII. According to the peasant, the visions and voices would be from Saint Michael, Saint Catherine of Alexandria and Saint Margaret of Antioquia.

These visions and voices would have remained as Joan of Arc grew older and she became convinced thatshould join the war effort in defense of France and Charles VII. Many historians today seek to unravel the mystery of the visions and voices that Joan of Arc claimed to see and hear, and two circulating theories point to schizophrenia and idiopathic partial epilepsy .

In any case, there is no proof that Joan of Arc actually suffered from any of these diseases. What really matters is that, in the 1420s, France's situation in the war was desperate , since the country was accumulating defeats for the British and the morale of the troops was extremely low.

The situation for Charles VII was even worse because Reims, the place where historically French kings were crowned, was in the hands of the English. Thus, Charles VII became King of France in 1422, but he had not yet been crowned in Reims. It was Joan of Arc who helped him achieve that goal.

At age 16, Joan of Arc sought out Robert de Baudricourt, a crown official who worked at Vaucouleurs. There she remained until she managed to convince Robert to take her to Chinon, where Charles VII was sheltering. In Chinon, she would like to meet the king to present his mission to save the Kingdom of France .

After much insistence, Baudricourt organized preparations for Joan of Arc to be sent to Chinon. The journey from Vaucouleurs to Chinon took about 11 days and, before going, Joana decided to cut her hair and wearing men's clothing . At the time, she was just a 17-year-old teenager and had absolutely no military knowledge.

Joan of Arc's meeting with the king took place in 1429, in a private meeting. The great surprise of this meeting is that Joan of Arc got everything she needed to go to war against the English. Arms, clothing and authorization from the king were given to her to command a troop of about 7,000 men.

Historians theorize what may have happened for Charles VII to have accepted to believe in Joan. Some say that she passed a test given by the French king in which he disguised himself among his nobles and asked Joan of Arc to identify him, which she successfully did. Other historians, however, point out that Charles VII's act of believing in a young, illiterate peasant woman who did not master combat techniques was pure desperation.

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  • Battle of Orleans

Joan of Arc's first participation in the War of One Hundred Years took place in Orleans . This French city was besieged by English troops since October 1428. The purpose of the siege was to cause famine to decimate the population of Orleans and make it easier for the English to conquer. This decision was also made because the British did not have enough men to sustain a frontal attack.

On May 8, 1429 , the troop led by Joan of Arc attacked the English forces surrounding Orleans. Before that, she sent a letter to the English king ordering him to withdraw from French lands, but obviously he did not comply. The attack on Orleans was the answer, and after eight months of siege, the French city was released, with thousands of dead British soldiers.

Many historians say that Joan of Arc did not actually participate in battles and therefore never killed anyone. Despite this, during the battle at Orleans, she was wounded in the foot and chest. Joan of Arc would have acted more in preparing battle strategy and motivating men . She succeeded in her mission to bolster the morale of French soldiers, who, after years of defeat, achieved a major military victory.

Joan of Arc's command proved remarkable and the boost in the morale of the French troops brought another significant victory. The troops led by her managed to conquer Reims , a very important city for the French monarchy, as we have already seen. With that, Charles VII could be officially crowned in this town. The coronation ceremony in Reims took place on July 17, 1429.

Capture and kill

The role of Joan of Arc, in leading and raising the morale of the French troops to win two significant victories, caught the attention of the British. Thus, French allies of the English and the English themselves organized themselves to capture the young woman . This happened during the Battle of Compiègne.

By this time, Joan of Arc's winning streak had passed and she had suffered some defeats in the previous months. With the capture of Joan of Arc, the English began a process that listed dozens of accusations against the Frenchwoman, of which heresy stand out. and witchcraft . Joan of Arc spent eight months in prison, and the French king did not move to save her .

In 1431, the judgment of Joan of Arc sentenced her to to death at the stake . Execution of her took place in a square of Rouen, on the day May 30, 1431 . It is known that, at the time, she was 19 years old, as she stated that she was her age during the trial. Joan of Arc was tied to a wooden stake and burnt live . It is said that during her execution she cried out for Jesus.

Years later, Jeanne d'Arc's trial was overturned by Pope Callistus III, as he found the Frenchwoman not guilty of heresy and witchcraft. At the beginning of the 20th century, the Catholic Church began the process of beatification of Joan of Arc and in 1920 she was canonized during the pontificate of Benedict XV.

Currently, Joan of Arc is considered patron of France and she is one of the great heroines of the country's history. The importance of Joan of Arc in French culture is such that there is a day dedicated to her in the country:May 30th, Saint Joan of Arc Day.

Image credits

[1] Cynthia Liang and Shutterstock

[2] Joaquin Ossorio Castillo and Shutterstock

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