Joan of Arc
Joan of Arc was a military leader and
French heroine who led her country's
troops to victory in many key battles
against the occupying English forces,
paving the way for the coronation of
King Charles VII, and setting the stage
for later victory in the Hundred Years' War.
Biographical fast facts
Full or original name at birth: Jeanne d'Arc
Date and place of birth: January 6, 1412, Domremy, Lorraine, France
Date, place and cause of death: May 30, 1431,
shortly after 12 noon, Rouen, France (Burned at the stake)
Siblings: Pierre d'Arc (1404-1467), Jean d'Arc, and Jacquemin d'Arc (brothers)
Sister: Catherine d'Arc (b. 1413, Domremy, Lorraine, France)
Father: Jacques d'Arc (1380-1431)
Mother: Isabelle d'Arc (Romee) (d. December 8, 1458, Orleans, France)
Remains: Joan of Arc was cremated and her ashes
were cast into the river Seine.
Born in Domremy, France, during the Hundred Years' War,
Joan of Arc led one of the greatest campaigns for freedom
the world has ever known, while still a teenager. She was
a unifying figure who rescued France from defeat in one of
the darkest periods of their occupation by England.
In just over a year, she managed to take the demoralized
French troops who had known little else but defeat, and
led them through an astonishing series of victories
which not only inspired the French troops, but the nation
Joan reported that she began hearing voices at age 12 or
13, while in her family's garden. She later attributed the
voices to Saint Michael, Saint Catherine, and Saint Margaret.
At the time, England, in alliance with Burgundy, controlled
much of France. As English occupying forces began seizing
control of the remainder of the country against an increasingly
ineffective French army, her voices began telling her to
drive out the English and bring the Dauphin Charles to Reims
to be crowned King of France.
She took charge of French forces and after leading them to
implausible victories in battle after battle, even some of
her doubters began to question whether her "voices" might
actually be from God. Following her momentous victory at
Orleans, she became known as the "Maid of Orleans."
Just as her voices had instructed, she saw that Dauphin
Charles made it to Reims, and she stood beside him at his
coronation. As word of her achievements against the
English occupying forces spread, there was talk that
a "saint" was leading the French to victory with the
help of God.
In 1430, the Maid of Orleans was captured and sentenced
to death. Those involved with the "trial" later admitted
that the motive for the proceedings was revenge, not any
real belief that Joan was a heretic, as was charged.
May 30th, 1431, shortly after 12 noon, Joan of Arc was
burned at the stake in Rouen, France.
Her death only served to unify the French people as a nation,
and reinvigorated their desire to rid themselves of English
rule, once and for all. It would take a little more than two
decades following her death to reclaim the country, but in
1453, France was finally free of foreign rule.
Joan of Arc was later vindicated and officially canonized
as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church in 1920.
Over the years, Joan of Arc's struggle to free her people
from English rule has been told numerous times in films
with widely varying degrees of accuracy. Some of the very
earliest silent films ever produced were themed around
Joan of Arc, and the French campaign for freedom. The
subject has remained a popular one with filmmakers for
over a century. A few of the motion pictures include
Cecil B. DeMille's Joan the Woman (1916), Joan of Arc
directed by Victor Fleming and starring Ingrid Bergman
and Jose Ferrer (1948), Otto Preminger's Saint Joan, starred
Jean Seberg and Richard Widmark, and was scripted by
Graham Greene adapting George Bernard Shaw's play (1957).
More recently, Leelee Sobieski portrayed Joan in Joan
of Arc, a 1999 TV-movie.
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