Joan of Arc or as she was called “Jeanne d’Arc was a teenage girl who drove out the English from France and helped crown Charles VII as the king of France. She claimed to hear voices of angels and Saints or God who told her to lead the battle against the English who had invaded France in the 1420s. Before we get to her story, let us understand what was the situation of France at that time.
In the 1390s King Charles VI or as he was popularly known “The Mad King” was mentally ill and had ascended in madness, becoming harmful to himself and everyone around him. His duties were left to a council which was headed by his queen. In the council, two groups emerged, the Armagnac and the Burgundians. The Armagnac were conservatives while the Burgundians influenced by the English wanted France to develop cities along English ideology. Also, they supported different Popes (there were 3 popes at the time). Tensions kept on increasing to the point that a bloody civil war broke out. Taking advantage of the series, in 1415, King Henry the V invaded France but couldn’t take total control as their troops were exhausted from the long journey. Everyone in France split into 2 sides, including the royal family. The queen defected to the Burgundian side after her former allies imprisoned her while her son Charles the VII went to the Armagnac’s side after he was married to a woman from their side. The English took advantage of the civil war and invaded France in 1415. So now France was fighting among themselves as well as the English, this could not continue, so in 1419 they tried to have a truce on a neutral bridge. Right after Charles VII shook hands with the Burgundian leader John “the fearless”, his men butchered the latter the same was John had done to his predecessor. The Royal family was devastated, their only heir was a murderer. So, they made a deal with Henry the V and married their daughter to him, making the throne go to the English after the Mad king died. Coincidently, Henry V died 2 months before the Mad King, the mad king his son Henry VI (a 9-month kid) the rightful heir.
In the late 1420s, France was split in 2, the South of the Loire was ruled by Charles the VII while the north was ruled by Henry the VI or technically the English. This was the start of the legend of the girl who united France. Joan lived in in the village of Domrémy with her family, she heard voices ever since she was young who she claimed were of angels and saints. In July 1428, right after an Anglo-Burgundian force attacked her village, she went to Vaucouleurs and persuaded the local official there “Robert de Baudricourt” to take her to see Charles VII at Chinon as she had a message from “God”. She was taken to see Charles VII who did take her seriously at first as she wasn’t the first one, he had seen who claims to have a message from god. He decided to humor her and gives her an armor, sword, horses, reinforcements, and send her to take back the city of New Orleans. The city had been English hands for quite some time and there had been a 6-month long stalemate, everyone thought winning was impossible. But she did it, she boosted the morale with her speeches and her acts as she always stayed in the front holding a flag shouting slogan. This win is what gave her the title as “The made of Orleans” (maid refers to virgin). The city was just the first of her wins, she kept on doing miracles upon miracles, once the English tried to ambush her army but somehow mistakenly spooked a deer causing their ambush to fail. She freed the whole Loire region and crowned Charles VII king after she conquered the city of Reims (where French Kings were crowned).
She has crowned Charles King as her voices had told her, but what now? She believed she still had to help take back French cities from the English and tried to pursue the new King to allow her to attack Paris which he was hesitant about. Now Joan never really had any strategies in battles, her philosophy was just 2 words “GET THEM”. That’s what she has followed since the start and did not stop despite the protests of military commanders. Later, the King entered a truce with the Burgundians, something she did not approve of and she had lost the support of the King.
In May 1430, the Anglo Burgundians took over the town of Compiegne, Joan with just over a hundred men went there to help but was captured. This was the start of her captivity and her trial. Pierre Cauchon, a bishop who supported the English and pushed for her arrest, personally supervised the trial and questioning. They believed that if they could discredit Joan’s visions by proving she was a witch or the voices she heard were of demons, they could break French morale and win the war. But Joan did not give in, they questioned her virginity, link to demons, a lot of trap questions but answered them perfectly. The French king made no attempt to get her bad. On May 30, 1431, she was burned on a stake for being a heretic, her last words were “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus”. After the French slowly regained their territories, an inquiry in the 1450s rehabilitated her name and in 1920, the church declared her a saint.
Her story was a story of loyalty, faith, bravery, and courage. Now yes, a lot of this might be questionable since there was a lot of manipulation of data at that time but, there truly was a girl named Joan and she truly did make a major contribution in driving out the English.