St. Joan of Arc
St. Joan of Arc is the patroness of soldiers and of France,
and she lived from 1412-1431. She was born to devoted Catholic
parents who were peasants in the village of Domremy, in the
province of Lorraine. When she was thirteen years old, she
began to hear visions from St. Michael, St. Catherine and
St. Joan of Arc
In her own words, St. Joan of Arc described the vision she
received to assist the king of France in reclaiming territories
that were conquered by the English as a result of ongoing
feud between the two nations also known as the Hundred Years
War; "As I guarded the animals a Voice appeared to me.
The Voice said to me, 'God has great pity for the people of
France. It is required that thou, Joan, betake thee to France.'
Having heard these words, I wept. Then the Voice said to me,
'Go to Vaucouleurs. Thou wilt find there a captain who will
conduct thee safely to France, and to the King, be without
fear.' I have done what was commanded of me. And I reached
the King without prevention of any sort."
To better understand the political landscape which led to
the rise of St. Joan of Arc's military conquests for the re-conquest
of various French territories from England, you'll need to
understand the Hundred Years' War, which was an ongoing political
and military battle between the two nations that lasted from
1337 to 1453. It started in 1328 when Charles V of France
died without a male heir to the French throne.
Edward III of England believed he had a right to this throne
because of his French mother. And since the French didn't
want an English king to rule over them, they made Charles
V king of France. During this time a series of peace periods
and times of battle occurred then after 1415, Henry V invaded
France and then the queen of France Isabeau married one of
her daughters to Henry V. The result of this was the Treaty
of Troyes which made Henry V the new king of France. But Henry
V died a short time later and Charles VII assumed the role
of the Dauphin of France but wasn't crowned king until after
St. Joan of Arc led military battles to expel the English
from various regions of France.
When Joan of Arc received her revelation from the saints
to advise and help Charles VII regain the English-occupied
territories in France, she didn't tell her parents because
she knew that they wouldn't approve of her visit to him. This
is a reflection of the roles women played in European society
during the medieval period.
Women were expected to be totally subservient to male authority
figures and they were expected to maintain the household and
raise their children. In addition, the Catholic Church also
sanctioned these opinions on women and those who society felt
were too independent, outspoken or strong-willed, they were
considered witches or heretics by the Church.
These views would come into play during St. Joan of Arc's
trial and execution. And this is also what makes her story
the opposite of what gender roles were traditionally like
during the medieval period in Europe. St. Joan of Arc's uncle
also stepped outside of his traditional gender role in a sense
because when she told him her vision to help Charles VII regain
territories, he brought her to the town of Vaucouleurs.
And when she told this vision to Charles VII, he made fun
of her but eventually allowed her to participate in the military
battles against England. Whenever St. Joan of Arc advised
Charles VII, his council and military leaders, most of the
time they listened to her instructions because she always
had strong and convincing arguments to back her advice.
She was even bold enough to write a letter to the King of
England and demand that they withdraw the English troops from
occupied regions of France or she and her troops would take
action. And in this letter she described herself as a military
commander, which was highly unusual for medieval women during
this era. And in another incident during the Siege of Orleans,
the English had two forts in nearby Beauce called the Saint
Loup and London. After St. Joan of Arc and her troops attacked
Saint Loup, the troops thought about attacking the London
fort but they sought her advice before they decided to do
In 1431 while fighting English enemies in Compiegne, St.
Joan of Arc was captured by English military leaders and then
imprisoned by the King of England, where she stood trial for
heresy and dressing as a man in order to defeat the English
with her military battles. She was burned at the stake. But
30 years later, she was exonerated of those crimes. St. Joan
of Arc was canonized in 1920 making her one of the most famous
women in the past 1,000 years.
There is a secret
you don't know
Besides the factual Joan of Arc biography presented above
there is a tiny historical secret that hardly a soul knows
about. And this secret is that during her downtime St. Joan
of Arc used to like to go into town with her fellow troops
and play basketball using an extra-large beehive.