Best known for: Leading the French against the English in the Hundred Years War at a young age
Where did Joan of Arc grow up?
Joan of Arc grew up in a small town in France. Her father, Jacques, was a farmer who also worked as an official for the town. Joan worked on the farm and learned how to sew from her mother, Isabelle. Joan was also very religious.
Visions from God
When Joan was around twelve years old she had a vision. She saw Michael the Archangel. He told her that she was to lead the French in a battle against the English. After she drove the English out she was to take the king to be crowned at Rheims.
Joan continued to have visions and hear voices over the next several years. She said they were beautiful and wonderful visions from God. When Joan turned sixteen she decided it was time to listen to her visions and take action.
Joan of Arc by Unknown
Journey to King Charles VII
Joan was just a peasant farm girl. How was she going get an army to defeat the English? She decided she would ask King Charles of France for an army. She first went to the local town and asked the commander of the garrison, Count Baudricourt, to take her to see the king. He just laughed at her. However, Joan did not give up. She continued to ask for his help and gained the support of some local leaders. Soon he agreed to provide her with an escort to the royal court in the city of Chinon.
Joan met with the king. At first the king was suspicious. Should he put this young girl in charge of his army? Was she a messenger from God or was she just crazy? Eventually, the king figured he had nothing to lose. He let Joan accompany a convoy of soldiers and supplies to the city of Orleans that was under siege from the English Army.
While Joan waited on the king, she practiced for battle. She became a proficient fighter and an expert horse rider. She was ready when the king said she could fight.
Siege of Orleans
News of Joan's visions from God reached Orleans before she did. The French people began to hope that God was going to save them from the English. When Joan arrived the people greeted her with cheering and celebrations.
Joan had to wait for the rest of the French army to arrive. Once they were there, she launched an attack against the English. Joan led the attack and during one of the battles was wounded by an arrow. Joan didn't stop fighting. She stayed with the troops inspiring them to fight even harder. Eventually Joan and the French Army repelled the English troops and caused them to retreat from Orleans. She had won a great victory and saved the French from the English.
King Charles is Crowned
After winning the Battle of Orleans, Joan had only achieved part of what the visions had told her to do. She also needed to lead Charles to the city of Rheims to be crowned king. Joan and her army cleared the way to Rheims, gaining followers as she went. Soon they had made it to Rheims and Charles was crowned King of France.
Joan heard that the city of Compiegne was under attack by the Burgundians. She took a small force to help defend the city. With her force under attack outside the city, the drawbridge was raised and she was trapped. Joan was captured and later sold to the English.
Trial and Death
The English held Joan as prisoner and gave her a trial to prove that she was a religious heretic. They questioned her over the course of several days trying to find something that she had done that deserved death. They couldn't find anything wrong with her except that she had dressed as a man. They said that was enough to deserve death and announced her guilty.
Joan was burned alive at the stake. She asked for a cross before she died and an English soldier gave her a small wooden cross. Witnesses said she forgave her accusers and asked them to pray for her. She was only nineteen years old when she died.
Interesting Facts about Joan of Arc
When King Charles first met Joan he dressed as a courtier to try and fool Joan. Joan, however, immediately approached the king and bowed to him.
When Joan traveled she cut her hair and dressed to look like a man.
King Charles of France, who Joan had helped to reclaim his throne, did nothing to help her once she was captured by the English.
In 1920, Joan of Arc was proclaimed a Saint of the Catholic Church.
Her nickname was "The Maid of Orleans".
It is said that Joan knew she would be wounded in the Battle of Orleans. She also predicted that something bad would happen at the city of Compiegne where she was captured.