A peasant girl who saved the kingdom of France from English domination.
One of the most romantic figures in European war history.
During the hundred years war, England had taken away most of France, and Jeanne had given many victories back to France to shift the power back to France for them to eventually win the war. Later she was recognized as an influential woman evenback in the 1400's. Jeanne d'Arc was a girl of only 13 when she first heard the voices that would call her to save France from disintegration. For four years she quietly listened to these voices--until they became most insistent that she act immediately.
By the beginning of 1429 not only was France widely overrun by the English, but Charles, the Dauphin of France (heir to the French throne), was rapidly losing authority within even the portion of France that remained his. Her reception by French authorities was about what she expected--total rejection. But she knew the voices were serious, so she persisted. With the help of some "signs" from the same voices, she was finally able to convince Charles of the legitimacy of her call.
Finally in April of 1429, given command of a French army she quickly rounted the English army besieging Orléans, chased the English out of the Loire valley and by July had delivered Reims from the English so that Charles could be crowned king (Charles VII
) in this traditional coronation site. But now events began to move against her. She continued to try to rout the English from France--even though Charles himself seemed to have little appetite for such doings. When in September she moved against the English in Paris she was wounded and the effort failed. Meanwhile Charles made a truce with his enemies (and England's ally) the Burgundians.
But the next spring (1430) she took up arms again--only to be captured by the Burgundians in an effort to rally the French at Compiègne against an English-Burgundian assault on that town. She was sold by her captor to the English. She was then turned over to a French ecclesiastical court (with strong pro-English sentiments) in Rouen to be tried as a witch. After a lengthy trial she was found guilty of sorcery and heresy and sentenced to death.
On May 30, 1431 she was burned at the stake as a witch, only 19 years old.
Almost immediately it was recognized that rather than being a witch she had been in fact a true agent of God.
Over the centuries her popularity grew until in 1920 she was canonized as a saint by Pope Benedict XV.