Speaking of Angels and Saints: The Story of Joan of Arc (2023)

Joan of Arc was a young peasant woman who lived during the last phase of the Hundred Years’ War . This war was a series of military conflicts between France and England which began in 1337 due to an inheritance dispute over the French throne. It ended in 1453. The 116 years of the war saw the rise and fall of several kings and nobles, many of whom are noteworthy in their own right. Joan of Arc, however, may be one of the most extraordinary figures from this period.

Joan of Arc, The Pious Child that Heard Voices

Joan of Arc was born around 1412 in Domrémy, a village located in the north-east of France. This village was within the territory of the Duke of Burgundy . Although the Burgundians were allies of the English, the people of Domrémy remained loyal to France.

Joan’s father was a farmer by the name of Jacques D’Arc, and her mother was a woman named Isabelle Romée or Isabelle de Vouthon. According to popular belief, Joan spent her childhood in the pastures with sheep and cattle, though this perception is unfounded. She is said to have been a pious child, who often knelt in church absorbed in prayer.

It was at the age of 13 that Joan of Arc said she began hearing mystical voices , which she called her ‘counsels’. Later on she identified these voices with the saints and angels, including Saint Michael the Archangel, Saint Margaret, and Saint Catherine.

(Video) Joan of Arc Explained in 15 Minutes

According to Joan, the voices told her that God had given her an extremely important mission which involved the fate of France. She was told to help expel its enemies, i.e. the English, who were occupying French territory, and install Charles VII as the rightful king of France.

Speaking of Angels and Saints: The Story of Joan of Arc (1)

The Appearance of Saints Catherine and Michael to Joan of Arc. (1843) By Hermann Anton Stilke. (Public Domain )

Joan Meets the King

In 1428, Joan of Arc was instructed by her visions to meet Robert de Baudricourt, a supporter of Charles, and the garrison commander of the neighboring town of Vancouleurs. Initially, de Baudricourt was skeptical, and dismissed Joan’s request. Joan decided to leave, but retuned in January of the following year.

This time, Joan stayed in Vancouleurs, and her persistence eventually caused de Baudricourt to relent. The garrison commander provided Joan an escort of three men-at-arms and a horse for her journey to Chinon, where Charles had his court. Joan cropped her hair and dressed in male clothing, as a protection to her modesty during the journey.

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When Charles heard of Joan and her divine mission, he was not sure what to make of it. Two days after Joan arrived at Chinon, she was admitted into the presence of the king. To test her, Charles disguised himself among his courtiers, though Joan recognized him and saluted the king without hesitation.

Joan promised Charles that she would see him crowned at Reims, the traditional site of French royal investiture. As this site was under English control, Charles was not ‘officially’ the king of France, though he held that title since 1422.

Speaking of Angels and Saints: The Story of Joan of Arc (2)

(Video) Story of Saint Joan of Arc | Stories of Saints | EP86

Joan of Arc meeting Charles VII, the king of France. ( Public Domain )

Inspiration and Strategy in Battle

Against the advice of most of his counsellors and generals, Charles decided to give Joan of Arc a chance. He provided her with a suit of armor and a horse, and gave her an army to lead to Orléans, which was under siege by the English.

Speaking of Angels and Saints: The Story of Joan of Arc (3)

Joan of Arc on horseback. (1505) ( Public Domain )

While the English seemed to have had the upper hand at Orléans for half a year, the siege collapsed just nine days after Joan’s arrival. Though Joan is often perceived as a fearless warrior, she did not participate in active combat. Instead of a weapon, Joan held a banner and served as an inspiration to her troops while on the battlefield. Joan was also responsible for formulating military strategies, directing her troops, and engaging in diplomacy with the English.

After the victory at Orléans, Joan of Arc led the French to victory at Patay and Troyes, as well as liberating numerous French towns from the English. Then the way to Reims was open, and on the 17th of July 1429, Charles was crowned as the king of France at Reims.

Speaking of Angels and Saints: The Story of Joan of Arc (4)

Joan of Arc at the Coronation of Charles VII. (1854) By Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres. ( Public Domain )

(Video) Joan of Arc: The Savior of France | Full Documentary | Biography

What was Joan of Arc Accused of? Why was She Burned at the Stake?

Joan’s next target was the liberation of Paris, which also began in July, though it ended in failure in September of the same year. In May of 1430, Joan was captured by the Burgundians at Compiegne, and then sold to the English.

Speaking of Angels and Saints: The Story of Joan of Arc (5)

The Capture of Joan of Arc. (1880) ( Public Domain )

Joan of Arc was tried in the English stronghold of Rouen by an ecclesiastical court. Initially, there were 70 charges against her, which ranged from sorcery to horse theft. Eventually, these charges were reduced to just 12, including the wearing of men’s clothes and the claim that God had spoken to her directly. In exchange for an admission of guilt, Joan was offered life imprisonment.

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She signed a document admitting her sins, though it has been speculated that since Joan was illiterate, she was not aware of what she was signing. Nevertheless, a few days later, Joan of Arc put on her male attire once again, possibly due to threats of rape or violence from her guards.

Speaking of Angels and Saints: The Story of Joan of Arc (6)

Joan of Arc is interrogated by The Cardinal of Winchester in her prison. (1824) By Paul Delaroche. ( Public Domain )

Additionally, she told the judges who visited her cell that the voices had reappeared. Thus, she was sentenced to burn at the stake as a ‘relapsed heretic’. During her burning, a Dominican friar consoled her by holding up a crucifix for her to gaze upon as she died. Even as she was burned, the young Joan did not recant.

(Video) Joan of Arc for Kids | Bedtime History

Over time, the perception of Joan of Arc changed. In 1450, Charles VII went to Rouen and demanded an investigation into Joan's execution. Later, Pope Calixtus III annulled Cauchon's 1431 verdict declaring Joan a heretic , and on May 16, 1920, Pope Benedict XV made Joan of Arc a saint. In June of that year, the French Parliament also declared a national holiday in Joan's honor. Over the years, numerous works of art have been inspired by the now-legendary Joan of Arc.

Speaking of Angels and Saints: The Story of Joan of Arc (7)

Jeanne d'Arc . (1901) By François Chifflart. ( Public Domain )

Top Image: Detail of ‘The Maid of Orléans’ (1886) by Jan Matejko. Source: Public Domain

By Ḏḥwty

Updated on July 10, 2020.


Cohen, J., 2013. 7 Surprising Facts About Joan of Arc. [Online]
Available at: http://www.history.com/news/history-lists/7-surprising-facts-about-joan-of-arc

Linder, J., 2015. How Joan of Arc saved France and became a legend. [Online]
Available at: http://nypost.com/2015/07/26/how-joan-of-arc-saved-france-and-became-a-legend/

Thurston, H., 1910. St. Joan of Arc. [Online]
Available at: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08409c.htm

www.1000questions.net, 2015. The Real Joan of Arc, Who was She?. [Online]
Available at: http://www.1000questions.net/en/jeanne/index.html

(Video) True Miracles of Saint Joan Of Arc

www.biography.com, 2015. Joan of Arc. [Online]
Available at: http://www.biography.com/people/joan-of-arc-9354756#synopsis

www.biographyonline.net, 2015. Joan of Arc Biography. [Online]
Available at: http://www.biographyonline.net/women/joan-of-arc.html

www.history.com, 2015. Joan of Arc. [Online]
Available at: http://www.history.com/topics/saint-joan-of-arc


What did the Angels tell Joan of Arc? ›

Most importantly for Joan's life, however, was what the voices commanded her to do. She claimed that they told her to help the Dauphin by going to Orleans and breaking England's siege of the city.

What was the full story of Joan of Arc? ›

Joan of Arc is a national heroine of France. She was a peasant girl who, believing that she was acting under divine guidance, led the French army in a momentous victory at Orléans in 1429 that repulsed an English attempt to conquer France during the Hundred Years' War.

What were the last words that Joan of Arc said? ›

As the fire was lit, and spread, she uttered her last words, “Jesus! Jesus! Jesus,” she said, repeating Christ's name several times before her death.

Which saints voices did Joan of Arc hear? ›

It wasn't until the third time she heard the voices that Joan realized they were the voices of Saints Margaret, Catherine, and Michael (1). When asked, “Does not Saint Margaret speak English?” Joan's reply was, “Why should she speak English, when she is not on the English side?” (1, p.

What lesson can we learn from Joan of Arc? ›

Joan was an incredible source of inspiration for her people – she led them to sell out to the vision to regain their freedom from the British and do whatever it takes to achieve it – including trusting a 16-year-old girl with the leadership of the army!

What are 3 facts about Joan of Arc? ›

  • She was born in the village of Domrémy. ...
  • Her real name is a mystery. ...
  • Her nickname became “the Maid of Orleans”. ...
  • She began having visions at the age of 13. ...
  • Her arrival would mark a turning point in the 100 year war. ...
  • She was only 17-years-old when she caught the attention of the King.

What is Joan of Arc famous for saying? ›

I would rather die than do something which I know to be a sin, or to be against God's will. If I am not, may God put me there; and if I am, may God so keep me.

Why is Joan of Arc important today? ›

Perhaps the key to Joan of Arc's wide-ranging legacy is that she has morphed over the centuries to become all things to all people – a saint martyred by her Catholic church, a feminist who lacked female solidarity, and a monarchist poster child for democracy.

Why do you think Joan of Arc is so well remembered today? ›

She was an inspirational figure for her country's armies and led then into battle against the English during the Hundred Years War.

Did the King betray Joan of Arc? ›

When Joan was captured by Jean de Luxembourg, the king refused to pay her ransom, and she was sold to the English. Joan was then put on trial and convicted of heresy, plus a long list of other "sins." On May 30, 1431 she was burned at the stake.

Did the Catholic Church burn Joan of Arc? ›

She was sold to the English, who had her put on trial by a pro-English church court at Rouen, Normandy in 1431. The court found her guilty of heresy and she was burned at the stake.

Did Joan of Arc hear from God? ›

At the age of 13, Joan began to hear voices, which she determined had been sent by God to give her a mission of overwhelming importance: to save France by expelling its enemies, and to install Charles as its rightful king. As part of this divine mission, Joan took a vow of chastity.

Why did they burn Joan of Ark? ›

Joan of Arc is burned at the stake for heresy. On May 30, 1431, at Rouen in English-controlled Normandy, Joan of Arc, the peasant girl who became the savior of France, is burned at the stake for heresy. Joan was born in 1412, the daughter of a tenant farmer at Domremy, on the borders of the duchies of Bar and Lorraine.

Did Joan of Arc perform any miracles? ›

Although technically Joan was exempt from the first three miracles because of her martyrdom, she performed them anyway; three nuns were miraculously healed from cancers after praying to Joan. On the path to canonization, Joan also reportedly healed a woman of tuberculosis and another woman of a hole in her foot.

What special virtues did Joan of Arc have? ›

Joan of Arc was commissioned by God to lead France to victory in the war with England. The author, Peter Darcy, explores seven leadership qualities that Joan possessed that helped her in her God-given task. These leadership virtues are spirit, identity, power, mobility, realism, attraction, and inspiration.

How did Joan of Arc influence the world? ›

Joan of Arc had a very significant influence on society in the middle ages. It was not only for being a heroine and saint she was recognised for but she was also recognised as a leader and founder of the feminists. Joan became a role model to many women as she symbolised individual and independent thinking.

Are there lessons to be learned from Joan of Arc leadership? ›

Be strong and lead from the front

France's peasant heroine led her troops without fear and, despite suffering injuries in battle, she sought strength in her faith and continued in her mission. Her faith and fearlessness inspired the nation and empowered her people.

What is the weakness of Joan of Arc? ›

Yet, with all her martial ability, she had her weaknesses. She was too dependent on artillery and she never fought defensively, and as a result, she lost four battles, the fourth of which was her last.

Why did Joan say I will swear no more? ›

Joan believed the old saying that "he who tells too much truth is sure to be hanged". The prosecutors had asked her the same questions over nine times, she swore to answer the whole truth related to the trial but she was weary after the same questions and said she would swear no more.

What did Mark Twain say about Joan of Arc? ›

Although it is obscure today, he thought it far better than Tom Sawyer or Huckleberry Finn, recalling: “I like Joan of Arc best of all my books… It furnished me seven times the pleasure afforded me by any of the others; twelve years of preparation, and two years of writing.

What was the conclusion of Saint Joan? ›

Saint Joan ends with an epilogue, in which a good number of the characters materialize in a dream and discuss Joan's legacy on earth. In it we learn how King Charles had Joan's name cleared twenty-five years after he let her be executed.

What is the main theme of Saint Joan? ›

Major Theme

The main theme of Saint Joan is the difference between true religious faith and the hypocrisy of organized religion. Joan is a true believer, one who strives to do God's will in everything she does.

What is the most famous line? ›

Famous Movie Quotes
  • “ May the Force be with you.” - Star Wars, 1977.
  • “ There's no place like home.” - The Wizard of Oz, 1939.
  • “ I'm the king of the world!” - ...
  • “ Carpe diem. ...
  • “ Elementary, my dear Watson.” - ...
  • “ It's alive! ...
  • “ My mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. ...
  • “ I'll be back.” -
Sep 21, 2018

What did Winston Churchill say about Joan of Arc? ›

Winston Churchill said that Joan was a being so uplifted from the ordinary run of mankind that she finds no equal in a thousand years. He felt that she embodied the natural goodness and valor of the human race in unexampled perfection.

What happened to the bishop who condemned Joan of Arc? ›

Cauchon died abruptly of heart failure at the age of 71 on 15 December 1442 in Rouen.

What did the Pope think of Joan of Arc? ›

On 20 August 1902, the papal consistory rejected adding Joan to the Calendar of saints, citing: she launched the assault on Paris on the birthday of Mary, mother of Jesus; her capture ("proof" her claim that she was sent by God was false); her attempts to escape from prison; her abjure after being threatened with death ...

Why didn't King Charles save Joan of Arc? ›

Not wanting to threaten his newly returned crown, the king didn't come to Joan's aid, and in 1431, when she was just 19, she was burned at the stake. But beloved by France, she was officially cleared of her crimes 20 years later and became a Catholic saint in 1920.

How many times was Joan of Arc burned at the stake? ›

But what is generally agreed is that Joan's body was burnt three times by the English and ashes from the foot of the pyre were supposedly discovered in 1867, lurking in the Paris loft of an apothecary .

What visions did Joan of Arc see when she was 12 years old? ›

When Joan was around twelve years old she had a vision. She saw Michael the Archangel. He told her that she was to lead the French in a battle against the English. After she drove the English out she was to take the king to be crowned at Rheims.

Why was Joan of Arc found innocent? ›

The court declared her innocent on 7 July 1456 by annulling her sentence. They declared that Joan had been tried as a result of "false articles of accusation". Those articles and Cauchon's sentence were to be torn out of a copy of the proceedings and burnt by the public executioner at Rouen.

What was Joan of Arc put to death for? ›

Joan of Arc is burned at the stake for heresy. On May 30, 1431, at Rouen in English-controlled Normandy, Joan of Arc, the peasant girl who became the savior of France, is burned at the stake for heresy. Joan was born in 1412, the daughter of a tenant farmer at Domremy, on the borders of the duchies of Bar and Lorraine.

What is inspiring about Joan of Arc? ›

Joan of Arc inspired the transformation of heart and the pursuit of courage and holiness among the most hardened of military leaders, soldiers, and observers. Despite her youth, lack of military training, and the fact that she was a female, she commanded respect and impressed others with her purity and goodness.


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