Who was Joan of Arc?- The French Female Warrior, Master of Disguise, Divine Prophetess & Ferocious Soldier Who Was Burned Alive 

Who is Joan of Arc? Why is she so famous? 

Joan of Arc is a National Hero – or Heroine; I should say, of France. Joan of Arc was a peasant girl who led the French army to a big win at Orléans in 1429. Joan is the direct force that stopped the English from taking over France during the Hundred Years’ War. Joan of Arc defeated the English and did this because she thought she was being guided by God as an influential divine and spiritual energy. 

Warrior, Master of Disguise, Divine Prophetess

During her campaigns, Joan of Arc, a farm girl from Lorraine in eastern France who had no formal education, disguised herself as a man.

During the battle that Joan of Arc fought against the English and the soldiers of the Duke of Burgundy, it was said that she received messages from three saints instructing her to liberate France from her adversaries.

She was eventually arrested and sold to the English, and then she was sent to Rouen to face charges of witchcraft there.

Joan of Arc by Harold Piffard

Joan of Arc is said to have had extraordinary visions that played a significant role in the astounding victories that the French Army achieved.

Joan of Arc is said to have had extraordinary visions that played a significant role in the astounding victories that the French Army achieved at Orléans and Patay. During the pivotal siege of Orléans, which occurred during the Hundred Years’ War, Joan served as the leader of the army. Despite the fact that she was the only female soldier during her time period, she was revered as a ferocious fighter. 

How did Joan of Arc get her name? 

Jehanne d’Arc, Jehanne Tarc, Jehanne Romée, or perhaps Jehanne de Vouthon was Joan’s real name, despite the fact that she was not known by any of these names during her lifetime.

The traditional Anglicization of Joan of Arc’s father’s French surname, d’Arc, which can alternatively be spelled as Darc or Tarc, may give the impression that Joan was originally from a location known as Arc. In short; Joan of Arc is the English version of the original French name.

Equestrian statue of Joan of Arc, located on the Place des Pyramides
Première statue,1880 – Equestrian statue of Joan of Arc, located on the Place des Pyramides

How did Joan of Arc become a symbol for France in WW2?

In 1920, Joan of Arc was canonized and given the title of saint. During the Second World War, both Vichy France and the French resistance embraced Joan of Arc as a symbol of French nationalism to support their respective causes.

Did Joan of Arc really hear voices in her head?

Joan first heard voices when she was just 13 years old, which she later attributed to God. Joan of Arc claimed the “voice of God” gave instructions for the mission to liberate France from the English and crown Charles VII as the legitimate king. In a vision she also claimed to have seen, the saints St. Michael, St. Margaret, and St. Catherine all appeared and spoke to her.

Because she firmly believed she was the Virgin who would save France, Joan took a vow of chastity. In exchange for this “holy duty,” Joan lived a life of hardships and poverty. When she was 16, her father attempted to set up a marriage for her, but she was successful in persuading a local court to deny the marriage.

Why did Joan of Arc get accused of witchcraft? Was Joan of Arc a witch?

Joan of Arc was prosecuted as a sinner, according to history, not because of the fact that she was a woman but rather because she heard voices telling her to fight the English. However, the fact that she was a woman did play a crucial role in the proceedings.

Equestrian statue of Joan of Arc, located on the Place des Pyramides

Joan of Arc was certain that God was on her side and that he backed the French over the English. Needless to say, the English were highly insulted, plus Joan of Arc literally kicked their ass so eventually, they’d have their revenge.

Joan of Arc was certain that God was on her side and that he backed the French over the English. Needless to say, the English were highly insulted, plus Joan of Arc literally kicked their ass so eventually, they’d have their revenge.

Was Joan of Arc burned alive?

On the morning of May 30th, 1431, Joan was taken to the frigid marketplace in Rouen and set on fire there by the English and their French adversaries.

Joan of Arc was judged not guilty of any of the charges brought against her during a new trial that was ordered by King Charles a full twenty years later. In 1909, at Notre Dame Cathedral, Pope Pius X declared Joan of Arc a saint and canonized her. In the year 1920 (489 years after she was burned alive), Pope Benedict XV declared her to be a saint. 

489 years after she was burned alive, Pope Benedict XV declared her to be a saint.  Her feast day is every year on the 30th of May.

Joan of Arc many years after her death attained mythic stature and became a Saint patron of France. Joan will always be remembered as a powerful and rebellious heroine who stepped out of the shadows, refused the status quo, and became one of the most powerful women in the world.

Burned Three Times…

Hermann Stilke's Joan of Arc's Death at the Stake.
English, 1843.
The Hermitage.
Hermann Stilke’s Joan of Arc’s Death at the Stake.
English, 1843.
The Hermitage.

Legend says that after Joan was burned alive her heart remained intact. Unfortunately, in the life of the warrior, little is truly known. Myth and reality have frequently been mingled with facts when it comes to this particular heroine. However, it is generally accepted that Joan’s body was burned three times by the English and that in 1867, ashes from the foot of the pyre were allegedly found in an apothecary’s loft in Paris.

…Joan’s body was burned three times by the English and in 1867, ashes from the foot of the pyre were allegedly found in an apothecary’s loft in Paris.

History records that Joan of Arc was 19 years old when she was burnt at the stake by the English on May 30, 1431, at Rouen. She died after breathing in smoke.

According to reports and church records examined by historians, the Cardinal of Winchester gave the order for her to be burned a second time. Her organs continued to endure this fire, and it took a third to kill the body altogether.

She instructed her prosecutors to release her ashes into the Seine River. But in 1867, ashes thought to be Joan of Arc’s remains were found in a loft above an apothecary in Paris. These were delivered to a museum in Chinon, where they are now kept.

Important Facts & Dates You Should Know When It Comes to Joan of Arc

The Hundred Year’s War

1337 – 1453

During Joan of Arc’s lifetime, the English had taken control of Northern France, and there were a number of battles that pitted French and English troops against one another.

Religious Beliefs – Catholicism

Joan was brought up in a strict Catholic household by her parents. She never skipped a day of praying or going to confession. Even as she was being burned, she mentioned the names of her favored saints and Jesus.

Joan of Arc Becomes a Soldier and Defeats the English at Orleans

1428-1429

Joan sought the agreement of Robert de Baudricourt, who was the military chief of the area. She dreamed of becoming a member of the military. Joan served as the impetus for her men to launch their assault on the city. They overthrew its defenders and retook control of the territory from the English.

Shortly after defeating the enemy, Charles VII was able to be crowned the King.

The Burgundians Capture Joan of Arc

1430

Joan was taken prisoner by Burgundian soldiers as she was protecting a town in France.
She was subsequently sold to the English. She would be on trial until her death in 1431.

Death of the Warrior Woman Joan of Arc

Joan was put on trial for a number of offenses, some of which included heresy, practicing witchcraft, and disguising herself as a man.

Joan suffered a horrific end at the hands of her executioners after being falsely accused of being a heretic.

Paris, France
Photo by Frank Zienert

Ten Facts About Joan of Arc

  • Joan of Arc did not know how to read or write and had no training in military combat.
  • Her real name was Jehanne Tarc, Jehanne Romée, or Jehanne la Pucelle.
  • Joan of Arc had a notoriously explosive temper.
  • She was known to ‘chew out’ knights for their immoral behavior.
  • Joan of Arc never married and refused the marriage set up by her father.
  • There is a small statue of Joan of Arc in Rouen where she died.
  • After her death, there were several Jeanne d’Arcs’ pretending to be her.
  • She was recognized as a symbol of France by Napoleon Bonaparte.
  • The Bob Haircut was inspired by Joan in 1909, Paris.
  • She was declared a saint and canonized by the Catholic church.

References:

Encyclopædia Britannica, inc. (n.d.). St. joan of arc. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved June 27, 2022, from https://www.britannica.com/biography/Saint-Joan-of-Arc

Chinon: Joan of arc. Joan of Arc – (1412 – 1431). (2020, October 11). Retrieved June 27, 2022, from https://www.jeanne-darc.info/location/chinon/

Guardian News and Media. (2006, December 17). Solved at last: The burning mystery of joan of arc. The Guardian. Retrieved June 27, 2022, from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2006/dec/17/france.alexduvalsmith

Anido, J. (2020, July 28). L’histoire secrète de la statue de jeanne d’arc: Un jour de plus à Paris. Un jour de plus à Paris | L’incontournable des visites culturelles et touristiques à Paris. Balades, visites guidées, découvertes insolites… Visitez Paris autrement ! Retrieved June 27, 2022, from https://www.unjourdeplusaparis.com/en/paris-insolite/statue-jeanne-darc-place-pyramides

History.com Editors. (2009, November 9). Joan of arc. History.com. Retrieved June 27, 2022, from https://www.history.com/topics/middle-ages/saint-joan-of-arc

Joan of arc timeline. Preceden. (n.d.). Retrieved June 27, 2022, from https://www.preceden.com/timelines/33611-joan-of-arc

Telegraph Media Group. (2009, January 9). The Telegraph. Retrieved June 27, 2022, from http://fashion.telegraph.co.uk/news-features/TMG4206376/Bob-haircut-celebrates-100th-birthday.html

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