Joan of Arc - Jeanne d'Arc - Maid of Orléans - Jehanne d'Arc - la Pucelle - Saint Joan

Joan of Arc - saint and national heroine of France. She led the French army to defend French terf against the English invasion of France during the Hundred Year War. She also asserted that she heard voices from of St. Michael, St. Catherine and St. Margret, which she believed were messages from God. These voices told her to complete a mission of freeing France from the English and crowning the French heir. Whether these voices were genuine is unknown but they led her to victory on may occasions.



The Hundred Years’ War, which largely effects Joan’s life, started in 1337 and was a succession of dispute between France and England over the French Throne. The English wanted a dual monarchy over France and England, and by Joan’s lifetime, this was nearly accomplished.

When the English launched a new attack on France in 1415, it was divided up into the hostile Armagnac and Burgundian factions.The Armagnac Faction was originally led by the Duke of Orléans and Count Armagnac before becoming linked with the Dauphin (heir to the throne), Charles VII. The Bungundian faction was led by the Duke of Burgandy who allied himself with the English in 1420.

There were many attempts at peace between the Burgundian and Armagnac factions but none were successful.

"The kingdom of France was not even a shadow of it’s thirteenth century prototype”. Kate DeVrie

France at the start of Joan's career; divided into Burgundian and Armagnac factions.


Joan's Life: Biographical Profile

Joan of Arc’s was born around the January 6, 1412. Her parents Jaques d’Arc and Isabelle de Vouthon were peasants but lived comfortably in Domrémy, France. She was born into a big family and spent her childhood attending her father’s cattle and sheep, learning housekeeping skills and Catholicism.

Joan started hearing “voices” in 1424. She said that they were messages from God, specifically from St Michael the Archangel, Saint Margret and Saint Catherine. The Voices told her to recover her country from the English invasion at Orléans and to lead the Dauphin (heir to the throne), Charles VII to his coronation in Rheims.

In answer to her calling, Joan left home at sixteen and headed to Voucouleuers to see Lord Robert de Baudrcourt, who, after much persuasion, allowed Joan to travel to Chinon to see Charles VII. Charles, after listening to her case, was encouraged by her words, and after having her examined by the church, allowed her to accompany an army to Orléans.

On April 29, 1429 at age seventeen, Joan led her army, with the help of military commander La Hire, to lift the Siege of Orléans. They arrived in Orléans and took down the English fortresses surrounding the Church of Saint Loup on May 4, follow by the fortress of Augustains on May 6 and Les Tourelles on May 7. The next day the English cancelled their seige. At the end of this victory, Joan was often referred to as the Maid or Maid or Orléans.

In the aftermath of this victory, Joan and her army recovered the Jargeau, Meung-sur-Loire and Beugency, which would later help make the Dauphins journey to Rheims for his coronation. The next day witnessed a larger victory with the English loosing over half their land in Patay on June 18.

The campaign for Charles VII’s coronation in Rheims, the official site of French coronations and deep in Burgundian land. This journey was successful and also resulted in the surrender of Burgundian and English controlled towns like the city of Troyes. With Charles VII as King of France, Charles makes a 4 month truce between Armagnac and Burgundian factions.This truce is corrupted when Joan and her army attempt to bring Paris back under Armagnac control. This battle was unsuccessful.

After spending time on Royal estates for a couple of months, Joan accompanied a small army to Compiegne and tried to capture the bridge of Pont-l’Eveque c. May 16 in order to sever the Burgundy’s supplies. This attack failed and once the Burgundian army laid siege on Compeigne itself, Joan made a fateful decision to join the army in trying to revive it after having predicted her capture. She was forced into captivity during this fight by a surprise attack from the Burgundians and was spent the next four months as a prisoner in the chateau of Beaurevoir.

Joan’s trial was finally set up, but, every authority figure in her trial was most likely bribed or threatened to make Joan appear worse than she was. The trail consisted of a long series of allegations including witchcraft, putting an illegitimate heir on the throne of France, heresy and other bias concepts.

Eventually after scandal of her attire and her claims she had nearly been raped, in her trial in May 1431 she was condemned to death for heresy. Joan burned at the stake with a crucifix to be held before her on May 29, 1431.

The Hundred Year War raged on and in 1452, Charles VII requested there to be an investigation into Joan’s trail. Jean Brehal, Inquisitor General, investigated whether the trial condemnation and it’s verdict were handled according to the canon law. Testimonies on 115 witnesses were analyzed and eventually in July 7 1456, Joan was declared innocent by the appellate court.

Joan then became a saint in 1920 and today is largely regarded in the Roman Catholic Church.

The red lines show the direction of where Joan of Arc travelled in her lifetime and the highlighted city names are the towns of which the line passes through.



1412, January 6 The approximate date of Joan's birth.

1424, Summer Joan begins to hear voices.

1428, May Joan sets off to meet Robert de Baudrcourt (prompted by voices) and ask him to send her to the Dauphin (Charles VII - French heir to the throne).

1428, October 12 The English begin to siege Orléans

1429, February 23 Robert de Baudrcourt sends Joan off to Chinon, to see the Dauphin. Once arrived, she asks the Dauphin if she can help France fight the English and the Bungundians. Undecided, Charles VII orders an examination and interrogation by the Churchmen.

1429, April The Dauphin, decided to grant Joan her wishes, gives her control of a small army.

1429, April 29 Joan and La Hire, a commander of the French military, and the army arrive before Orléans in pursuit of relieving the French forces at the Siege of Orléans. They are told to wait for reinforces.

1429, May 4 After sudden inspiration, mostly from her voices, Joan leads an attack on the English.

1429, May 9 Wounded, Joan leads the battle to Le Tourelles. In Tourelles, Joan asks the Dauphin to go immediately to Rheims for a coronation ceremony.

1429, June 18 Battle of Patay.

1429, July 17 After arriving in Rheims, the Dauphin is crowned King of France.

1429, August 28 The Duke of Burgundy and France sign a four month truce.

1429, September 8 Joan and her army begin assult on Paris, which is on Burgundian land.

1429, December Joan and her family are raised to nobility status by Charles VII.

1430, May 14 Joan and her army reach Compeigne to guard it from a Bungundian seige. Joan is captured by the Burgundian’s and English.

1431, January 13 Joan trial begins.

1431, May 29 Joan was burned at the stake

1920, May 16 Pope Benedict XV announces Joan of Arc a saint


Primary Sources

Primary Source 1
This sketch by Clément de Fauquembergue appeared in the protocol of the Parliament of Paris in 1429.

This drawing to be featured in such a document as the French Protocol of 1429, tells us that Joan was an important figure of the time. Joan is depicted here with here with here sword and banner, which she would have had with here at the Seige of Orléans. But a peculiar thing about this image is that she is dressed as a woman even though other sources have claimed she dressed as a man.

Primary Source 2

This primary source is a letter from Joan of Arc (referred to as the "Maid" in this letter) to the King of England at the time, Henry VI, regarding his invasion of France:

King of England, render account to the King of Heaven of your royal blood. Return the keys of all the good cities which you have seized, to the Maid. She is sent by God to reclaim the royal blood, and is fully prepared to make peace, if you will give her satisfaction; that is, you must render justice, and pay back all that you have taken.
King of England, if you do not do these things, I am the commander of the military; and in whatever place I shall find your men in France, I will make them flee the country, whether they wish to or not; and if they will not obey, the Maid will have them all killed. She comes sent by the King of Heaven, body for body, to take you out of France, and the Maid promises and certifies to you that if you do not leave France she and her troops will raise a mighty outcry as has not been heard in France in a thousand years. And believe that the King of Heaven has sent her so much power that you will not be able to harm her or her brave army.
To you, archers, noble companions in arms, and all people who are before Orleans, I say to you in God's name, go home to your own country; if you do not do so, beware of the Maid, and of the damages you will suffer. Do not attempt to remain, for you have no rights in France from God, the King of Heaven, and the Son of the Virgin Mary. It is Charles, the rightful heir, to whom God has given France, who will shortly enter Paris in a grand company. If you do not believe the news written of God and the Maid, then in whatever place we may find you, we will soon see who has the better right, God or you.
William de la Pole, Count of Suffolk, Sir John Talbot, and Thomas, Lord Scales, lieutenants of the Duke of Bedford, who calls himself regent of the King of France for the King of England, make a response, if you wish to make peace over the city of Orleans! If you do not do so, you will always recall the damages which will attend you.
Duke of Bedford, who call yourself regent of France for the King of England, the Maid asks you not to make her destroy you. If you do not render her satisfaction, she and the French will perform the greatest feat ever done in the name of Christianity.

Done on the Tuesday of Holy Week (March 22, 1429). HEAR THE WORDS OF GOD AND THE MAID.


Primary Source 3

This source is a letter from Charles VII to Joan regarding her coat of arms. Translation follows:

Of the Maid, Joan,
The second day of June, 1429, the said Lord King having learned of the feats of valor of Joan the Maid and of the victories obtained by the gift of God and the intervention of her Council, gave, being in the city of Chinon, armorial bearings to the said Maid, to decorate her standard and herself, of the pattern which follows: (See drawing in document above) Giving charge to the Duke of Alencon and the said Maid of the siege of Jargeau.

This source shows how much Joan was favoured among the people of France in her time. This letter and her new nobility status would have been largely regarded among the public and authority figures.

Picture Gallery

Early Portrait of Joan of Arc with Banner, from the 15th Century. Now found in the Paris Archives.
Jeanne d'Arc and the archangel Michael by Eugene Thirion, 1876. In this glowing work, Eugene Thirion has depicted the archangel Michael appearing to Joan, who is clearly awestruck.
Joan at the Coronation of Charles VII by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, 1854. Joan is depicted in armor holding her banner as she attends the coronation of Charles VII. In real life, Joan never wore armor, but it is a common artistic license among later artists.
Joan of Arc is interrogated by the Cardinal by Paul Delaroche, 1824. The Cardinal of Winchester interrogates Joan in her prison cell, while a half-hidden scribe observes in the background.
The signature of Joan of Arc.
Joan of Arc is depicted on horseback in this illustration from a manuscript dating back to 1505.





  1. Joan was born in the year _.
  2. Joan started hearing voices at age _.
  3. Who did Joan seek first on her journey to the Dauphin?
  4. What faction did Paris lie in?
  5. What year did England begin the Seige of Orléans?
  6. Name one of the Saints that spoke to Joan.
  7. When did Joan become a Saint?


Further Reading

If you wish to do any further reading or research on Joan of Arc, there are many fiction and non-fiction books, documentaries, T.V series, movies and websites that you can access. I would recommend:
Or you can find your own!

By Natasha Atkins 10HIX