Joan d’Arc lived during the Hundred Years War, a very turbulent time in Europe’s history. Throughout her life Joan faced many challenges, from rising from an insignificant peasant girl, to end up saving France from the English as she was instructed by three saints who came to her in a vision. When Joan came into control of Charles VII’s troops, Joan won many key battles for the French until she was captured by the English in 1430. Joan d’Arc had a major impact on the world, not only because of her extraordinary military abilities, which were some of the most innovative of her time, but also because of the challenges she faced to rise from a poor peasant girl to a military leader in the Hundred Years War. Joan d’ Arc had a relatively normal childhood for a peasant in France during the 15th century. Joan d’ Arc was born approximately January 6, 1412. There are no actual birth records for Joan, but this date is based off of her baptismal records (Williams, 10). Joan was the youngest of five children born to Jacques and Isabella d’ Arc. The d’Arc family owned a great deal of land in Domremy, a peasant town in Champagne. Joan’s father was an important man in the town, serving as a leader for the people, yet the d’Arc family lived as the average peasant lived (Thurston). Joan spent many days tending her father’s sheep in the pasture, yet as Jay Williams states, “She did not enjoy being a shepherdess, she reported later. She much preferred helping her mother with the spinning and the household chores.” (13). Like many girls in her time, Joan was illiterate; however, Joan’s mother taught her about God and the ways of the church. Joan was an extremely pious child Williams again comments, “She was more devout than the children she played with and with whom she shared many of her secrets. And she was so eager for confession—although she was hardly old enough to have sins to confess—that the village priest would sometimes pretend to scold her. “(16). Joan was also considered very different than many of the other children. Chroniclers of her life reported that birds would eat out of her hands, and other animals would easily approach her instead of fleeing like they would do when other people would approach them (Wilmot-Buxton, 29). Although Joan’s childhood was very normal, she lived during a very turbulent and unstable time in Europe’s history. Joan lived during The Hundred Years’ War. The Hundred Years’ War began in 1337 between France and England, caused by the death of Charles VI in 1328 without a male heir (Wilmot-Buxton, 12). Edward III, King of England, made a claim to the throne of France through his mother, Charles VI’s sister; however, this violated Sallic Law which stated that one could not inherit property through one’s mother (Williams, 17). The claimant from the French side was Philip VI through his grandfather, Philip III. For nearly one hundred years, the English were able to defeat the French at countless battles such as Crecy, Poitiers, and Agincourt due to their use of the longbow: “French soldiers learned to fear more than anything the terrible English longbow; it killed their horses as they galloped into battle and with deadly accuracy could punch a thirty-inch arrow into the eye slit of a helmet from a hundred yards away.” (Williams, 17). Joan’s village was located across the river from Maxey, a Burgundian village that had allied with England. Children in Domremy would stand at the river bank, throwing sticks and stones at the city across the river. As E. M. Wilmot-Buxton said in The Story of Jeanne d’Arc, “…no doubt the children of Domremy often reproduced strife that was raging in France, when they went forth armed with stones and sticks ‘for the cause of the King’ to strike a blow at the ‘traitors’ of Maxey, the boys and girls across the water.” (26). Joan’s village was often subject to raids and pillage from the Burgundians; however, Joan’s father was able to rent an unused castle on a small island in the...
Cited: Thurston, Herbert. "CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: St. Joan of Arc." NEW ADVENT: Home. Kevin Knight. Web. 12 Feb. 2012. <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08409c.htm>.
Williams, Jay. Joan of Arc. New York: American Heritage Pub., 1963. Print.
Wilmot-Buxton, E. M. Jeanne D 'Arc,. New York: Frederick A. Stokes, 1914. Print.
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