Friday, February 19, 2016

Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc – Maid of Orleans

Joan of Arc known as `The Maid of Orleans’, was a peasant girl and lived in medieval France. She is considered to be a heroine of France for her role during the Lancastrian phase of the Hundred Years’ War. Joan of Arc was born to Jacques d’Arc and Isabelle, a peasant family at Domremy in north-east France.

 It is said that she had received visions of the Archangel Michael, Saint Margaret and Saint Catherine instructing her to support Charles VII in order to recover France the English domination late in the Hundred Years’ War. She was of the belief that God has chosen her to lead France to victory in its long running war with England.

Having no military training, Joan had convinced the crown prince Charles of Valois to permit her to lead a French army to the besieged city of Orleans. King Charles VII, the uncrowned king has send Joan to the siege of Orleans as part of a relief mission where she gained reputation after the siege had been lifted nine days thereafter. She achieved momentous victory over the English and their French allies, the Burgundians.

One of the Greatest Saints of History

There were many more swift victories which led to the coronation of Charles VII at Reims and this long anticipated event enhanced the morale of France paving the way for the final French victory. After her father had tried to arrange a marriage for her, Joan at the age of 16had successfully convinced a local court that she should not be compelled to accept the match.

The Maid of Orleans had been considered as one of the greatest saints in history as well as a lasting symbol of French unity and nationalism. Coming from a peasant family, she was not taught to read or write but had been instilled with deep love for the Catholic Church and its teachings by her pious mother.

At the age of 13, Joan began to hear voices which she was sure had been sent by God to give her a mission of great importance, that to save France by banishing its enemies and to place Charles as its rightful king. She took a vow of chastity as part of this divine mission.

Set Off for Orleans – Dressed in White Armour/Riding a White Horse

Joan had promised Charles that she would see him crowned king at Reims, which was the traditional site of French royal investiture and had requested for an army to lead to Orleans, which was under siege from the English.

Against the advice of several of his counsellors as well as generals, Charles had granted her request and Joan had set off for Orleans in March 1429, dressed in white armour and riding a white horse. After sending a rebellious letter to the enemy, Joan led most of the French assaults against them driving the Anglo-Burgundian from their bastion and forcing their retreat across the Loire River.

After a miraculous victory, the reputation of Joan spread far and wide among French force and she with her followers escorted Charles across the enemy territory to Reims. They took towns which resisted, by force thus enabling the coronations of King Charles VII in July 1429. Joan claimed that the French should press their gain in an attempt to retake Paris. However Charles hesitatedeven though his favourite at court, Georges de La Tremoille, warned him that Joan was getting too powerful.

Joan Captured/Tried & Burned at the Stake

The king had ordered Joan to oppose a Burgundian assault on Compiegne in the spring of 1430 and in an attempt to defend the town together with its inhabitants; Joan was thrown from her horse and left outside the gates of the town as they closed. Joan was captured by Anglo-Burgundian forces and tried for witchcraft and profanation and for dressing like a man.

The Anglo-Burgundians were attempting to get rid of the young leader and also discredit Charles who had owned his coronation to Joan.In an effort of isolating himself from an accused heretic and witch, the king made no attempts in negotiating her release.After a year of captivity, in May 1431 and under threat of death, Joan conceded and signed a confession denying that she had received any divine guidance and many days later, she defied orders by donning men’s clothes again and the authorities pronounced her a death sentence.

At the age of 19, on the morning of May 30, Joan had been taken to the old market place of Rouen and was burned at the stake. Her fame seemed to increase further after her death and 20 years thereafter, a new trial ordered by Charles VII cleared her name. Prior to Pope Benedict XVcanonizingher as a Roman Catholic saint in 1920, Joan of Arc had gained mythic stature inspiring various works of art as well as literature all over the centuries and became the patron saint of France.

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