Joan of Arc

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oan of Arc

Joan of Arc is a French National Heroine who became a Saint of the Roman Catholic Church because of her great achievements. Joan was a simple peasant girl who rescued France from defeat in one of the darkest periods of the "Hundred years' war" with England. She led the French army to victory against the English and paved the way for the coronation of King Charles VII. Joan has become one of the most admired characters in European history.

As France was struggling during the Hundred years' war, a young peasant girl was born in the small town of Domrémy. Joan was born on January 6, 1412, which was a very unstable time for France. The English and Burgundians ruled much of the country and France was suffering. The Royal Family was weak, the King was insane and Charles the Dauphin, future King, was a coward. Total defeat was not far away. Joan was born a peasant, however, she was to bring the French new inspiration and succeed in driving out the English.

Joan was like any other peasant girl in the 15th century. She could not read or write, but she worked hard on her father's farm and acquired her faith and prayers from her mother. In the village she was remembered as a good and simple girl. She had three brothers and a sister who died young. As a peasant, she always remained close to home and didn't even consider leaving the village until she was thirteen and had begun hearing voices. She identified the voice as that of God, telling her that she would have to perform a great task. By age sixteen, she had visions and heard the voices of Saint Margaret, Saint Michael and Saint Catherine sending her on a sacred mission. She must go to the aid of the Dauphin and liberate France from English domination.

In 1429 Joan left her home and traveled to the court of the Dauphin. He feared her voices might be from the devil, therefore, he sent a priest to test her. He found no harm and she at last made her way to Chinon were she would find the King. However, when she arrived, the king was hidden among courtiers and although she had never seen him before she recognized him immediately and made straight for him. The King was anxious to believe her voices and therefore he reassembled his troops and placed them under Joan's command. Being led by her voices, she set off to raise the siege of Orleans.

Joan inspired the French. She brought on a new hope by encouraging them that God was with them. Joan spoke little and did not like big meetings and crowds, which she avoided as much as possible. Her soldiers admired her honesty and simplicity and she enjoyed speaking with them. Although she was not trained in warfare, she gave orders as calmly as a veteran commander. It was these characteristics that brought success in the battles to come.

Guided by her voices, she led the French army in a momentous victory at Orleans, which had been under siege for eight months. The fighting was furious and inspired by Joan, as the French Army pushed the English out of Orleans. The battle Joan became known as the "Maid of Orleans". She continued to lead the army in a victorious battle in Patay, and succeeded in at last opening the road to Rheims where the coronation for King Charles the VII was held. The relief of Orleans and the crowning of the dauphin revived French hopes.

While the French marveled at Joan, the English began to hate the sound of her name. The English were convinced she was a witch and used sorcery to defeat them. Nonetheless, Joan continued to repulse the English attempt to conquer France. Her confidence in God and reckless courage are what made her a great leader for the French army. Inspired by her, France was saved from defeat.

Paris was the key to victory, but while Joan wanted to attack, the King had chosen to go against Joan's advice. He thought he could make peace with the Duke of Burgundy, but discovered that he was wrong. When the English army cut off his retreat, Joan at last had an excuse to...
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