Saint Jeanne d'Arc, The Maid of Orleans: 1412 – 1431
Saint of the Roman Catholic Church and French national heroine.
One of the most romantic figures in European war history. A peasant girl who saved the kingdom of France from English domination. The only figure in history ever to be both condemned and canonized by the Catholic Church.
St. Jeanne d’Arc is the patroness of soldiers and of France. On January 6, 1412, Jeanne d’Arc was born to pious parents of the French peasant class, at the obscure village of Domremy, near the province of Lorraine. At a very early age, she heard voices: those of St. Michael, St. Catherine and St. Margaret. At first the messages were personal and general. Then at last came the crowning order.
In May, 1428, her voices told Jeanne to go to the King of France and help him reconquer his kingdom. For at that time the English king was after the throne of France, and the Duke of Burgundy, the chief rival of the French king, was siding with him and gobbling up evermore French territory. After overcoming opposition from churchmen and courtiers, the seventeen year old girl was given a small army with which she raised the siege of Orleans on May 8, 1429. She then enjoyed a series of spectacular military successes, during which the King was able to enter Rheims and be crowned with her at his side.
In May 1430, as she was attempting to relieve Compiegne, she was captured by the Burgundians and sold to the English when Charles and the French did nothing to save her. After months of imprisonment, she was tried at Rouen by a tribunal presided over by the infamous Peter Cauchon, Bishop of Beauvais, who hoped that the English would help him to become archbishop.
Through her unfamiliarity with the technicalities of theology, Jeanne was trapped into making a few damaging statements. When she refused to retract the assertion that it was the saints of God who had commanded her to do what she had done, she was condemned to death as a heretic, sorceress, and adulteress, and burned at the stake on May 30, 1431. She was nineteen years old.
Some thirty years later, she was exonerated of all guilt and she was ultimately canonized 16 May 1920 by Pope Benedict XV
Vigiles du roi Charles VII — 1490s manuscript with Martial d’Auvergne’s versified history of the Hundred Years, Paris, BnF, département des Manuscrits, Français 5054.
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.
Jeanne d’Arc entered history during the spring of 1429. In obedience to what she said was the command of God, Jeanne inspired the Dauphin’s armies in a series of stunning military victories which lifted the siege of Orleans and destroyed a large percentage of the remaining English forces at the battle of Patay, reversing the course of the Hundred Years’ War. The Dauphin – Charles VII – was crowned a few months later at Reims.
However, a series of military setbacks eventually led to her capture. First, there was a reversal before the gates of Paris in September of that same year. Then in the Spring of 1430, she was captured in a minor action near Compiègne by the Burgundians, a faction led by the Duke of Burgundy who was allied with the English.
The Burgundians delivered her to the English in exchange for 10,000 livres. In December of that same year, she was transferred to Rouen, the military headquarters and administrative capital in France of King Henry VI of England, and placed on trial for heresy before a Church court headed by Bishop Pierre Cauchon, a supporter of the English.
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 even back 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.
Joan of Arc, or Jeanne d'Arc?
Although we know her as Joan of Arc, or Jeanne d’Arc in French, she called herself Jehanne la Pucelle, or Joan the Maid. She is also known as the “Maid of Orléans.” Pucelle means “maid” and also signifies that she was a virgin, an important distinction given that her society held female virginity before marriage in high regard.
Jeanne was a virile bearing, spoke little, showed an admirable prudence in all of her words, had a pretty woman’s voice, and was persuasive.
She never learned to read and write, she was probably clairvoyant, the person who has knowledge of the future without using the five senses.
A young (name unknown) man from her home village Domremy proposed marriage to her, apparently in 1428 that she refused.
After her death, she was considered to be a French National Heroine. Jeanne became a saint of the Roman Catholic Church.
Beatified 1909 by Pope Saint Pius X.
Canonized 1920 by Pope Benedict XV.
Declared patroness of France 1922.
Five important dates which occurred during Jeanne's life.
1429, July 18
Jeanne returned home to see Charles VII crowned as the new king of France.
Jeanne conducted military operation against the English at Compiegne, but was captured by Burgundian Soldiers who sold her to the English, where they conducted a witch trial.
1431, May 30
Jeanne was burned at the stake in Rouen marketplace for the crime of witchcraft and fraud, nineteen years old.
List at least three major political or social events which occurred during Jeanne's life.
Jeanne and King Charles
Jeanne had defeated the city where traditionally the king of France is crowned so Charles VII could be crowned. He them invited her to his crowning.
The Battle of Orleans
Jeanne proved herself to the king after winning the battle of Orleans, and was promoted in her conquest to save France from England. Considered to be one of the most decisive battles in history.
Jeanne’s TrialJeanne was convicted of witchcraft and fraud, and condemned to the grounds of insisting to wear male clothing. She was burned at the stake at Rouen’s Old Market Square only 19 years old, but should have been spared if she would wear appropriate women’s clothing.
|6 January, c. 1412 Domrémy,in north-east France, Duchy of Bar.|
|30 May 1431 (aged approx. 19) Rouen, Normandy (then under English rule)|
Cause of death
|Execution by burning on 30 May 1431 At the market square in Rouen, France|
| Joan of Arc (English translation)
La Pucelle (nickname)
Maid of Orleans (due to the liberation of that city)
du Lys (noble title given to her family by Charles VII)
|Jesus Christ (according to the Roman Catholic Church)|
|Jean de Metz (Knight)
Bertrand de Poulengy (Squire)
Colet de Vienne (the Dauphin’s Messenger)
The Duke of Alencon
La Hire (Mercenary Captain)
Dunois, The Bastard of Orleans (Steward)
Gilles de Rais (lord, later Satanic serial killer who was also burned at the stake)
Raoul de Gaucourt (Chamberlain)
Yolande of Aragon (Queen of Sicily, Mother-in-Law of Charles VII)
King Charles VII
Saint Therese of Lisieux (co-Patroness of France)