Joan of Arc
Episode #1 of the course “Incredible female leaders through history”
Joan of Arc, or Jeanne d’Arc, is a French heroine and martyr who historically “led” the French army into victory during the 100 Years War against England in the 15th century. Captured as a prisoner of War, Joan was tried as a heretic and burned at the stake, although she was later exonerated and beatified by the Roman Catholic church. She is considered one of the minor patron saints of France.
Born in approximately 1412, Joan grew up an illiterate farm girl. She received her first holy “vision” of the Archangel Michael and two French saints at age 13. They commanded she lead the French army to victory in restoring the Dauphin, Charles VII, to the French throne. Although it took two years to receive an audience with Charles, Joan earned support in the French court with her devotion and upstanding character. Having exhausted military options, Charles granted the peasant girl a leadership position in his army at Orleans in 1429.
Joan became a shining symbol of divine intervention, restoring France’s military morale. In a short time, the army had reclaimed French land and was counting victories. Although it’s unlikely Joan led military strategy, the teenager is credited for knowing the outcome of battles before the reports came back, which is ascribed to “divine revelation” and contributed to the army’s success.
After a brief truce with England in 1430, France again enlisted Joan to lead against new tensions in Normandy. She was captured in battle and imprisoned. Although she attempted several daring escapes, she was eventually tried by the English officials of the church on a number of false charges and burned at the stake. Exonerated 25 years later, it wasn’t until 1920 that she was fully recognized as a martyr and miracle worker and pronounced a saint in the Catholic church.
“If ever I do escape, no one shall reproach me with having broken or violated my faith, not having given my word to any one, whosoever it may be.”
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