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French Martyr: Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc (Jeanne d’Arc) was born on the 6th January 1412, during the “100 Years War” between England and France, in Doremy in north-eastern France, to parents Jacques and Isabelle.

Joan had no formal education; she could not read or write, yet her upbringing instilled a love of the Catholic Church and its teachings.

Aged just thirteen, she claimed she heard voices from God; her mission in life was to save France by expelling their enemies … the English.

The events taking place in France; an internal was had broken out between two factions of the French Royal Family.  The Armagnac’s led by Count Bernard VII of Armagnac and Duke Charles of Orleans against Duke John-the-Fearless of Burgundy.  With them at war, the door was open for England to invade.

King Henry V of England claimed his right to the French throne and following their rejection, invaded France in August 1415 and went on to defeat Armagnac’s army at the “Battle of Agincourt” on the 25th October 1415.

Henry V conquered much of northern France in 1417, gaining support from Duke Philip III of Burgundy, for he agreed Henry V had a legal claim to the French throne.

In 1428 Joan of Arc met with Duke Charles after many rejections at his palace in Chinon.  She promised him, if he gave her an army she would turn round the war in his favour, and she would see him take his rightful place and crowned King of France at Reims.  There was much opposition to such an idea from loyal supporters of Charles, but he gave her a chance … one wonders what he saw in her.

In March of 1429, Joan of Arc led her army against the English as they were attacking Orlean’s.  She was dressed in white armour upon a white horse carrying a banner with the picture of “Our Saviour” holding the world with two angels at the sides on a white background covered with gold fleurs-de-lis.

Joan was to lead several assaults against the Anglo-Burgundian forces expelling them from their fortress, and forcing their retreat across the Loire River.  As her victories mounted, so did her fame, spread across France.

Joan kept her promise as Duke Charles was crowned King Charles VII of France in July 1429 at Reims.

In the spring of 1430, Joan led her forces against the Burgundian’s at Compiegne, where she was thrown from her horse, and captured.  She was brought before the English commander at the Castle of Bouvreuil at Rouen.  She was put on trial for witchcraft, heresy and dressing as a man.

joan-of-arc

Joan of Arc

On the 30th May aged 19, she was taken to Rouen’s market place, and burned at the stake.  At her execution according to witness statements, it is said she listened calmly to the words being read to her.  She wept as she forgave her accusers, asking that they pray for her.

With the English driven from Rouen in November of 1449 so the process of initiating an appeal case against Joan started as ordered by Charles VII to clear her name.  It was so ruled by Jean Brehal she had been illegally convicted by a corrupt court and finally described as a Martyr … She was a saint in her own right.

In 1920, Joan of Arc (Jeanne d’Arc)  having attained mythical stature was canonised by Pope Benedict XV.

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