Looking back sixty years before Joan was born, were nothing less than times of uncertainty. Besides the war, the plague of 1348-50 and its resurgence every couple of years had depleted the social and economic structures of Europe. Up to the 1380s, thousands of laborers, peasants and serfs had begun to revolt against the oppressive rule of lords, which ultimately ended serfdom in the west. The Church too, which had heavy influence for the past thousand years, providing hope for the population for just as long, was also in desperate times.This started when Pope Boniface VIII was facing the wrath of both his French and Italian allies after trying to revive the papal rule as early as 1303. Around 1425, the border regions experienced a series of attacks by mercenaries. There were several agreements made within smaller communities of France to agree to not cause damage within their allied communities. IIt was around this time that Domrémy was under attack and Joan began encountering the voices. She received her mission from God, gained the approval of the captain, and prepared to leave. As she prepared to leave for Vaucouleurs, Baudricourt gave Joan her first sword saying “go, go, and come what may”. She was accompanied by six men and spent eleven days passing through domestic territory, mostly at night, to avoid contact with the enemy. Joan would continue to motivate them through tribulation and also encourage them to attend mass as they traveled.
This seemingly small journey introduced her to a much larger world than she had ever imagined from her small village.Dressed in entirely mens armor, they arrived to Chinon, where she would have her first meeting with King Charles VII. This meeting took place in secret, which would concern the court, because this typically only occurred with his most trusted counselors, and though Charles was skeptical, he allowed the meeting to happen. This is where Joan would share with Charles her two orders from God: “to lift the English siege of Orléans,” which had begun six months earlier, and to “lead the king to Reins for his coronation and anointing”. This meeting could take place due to Baudricourt testifying to her miraculous crossing of enemy territories to get to the king. At this point several church-related programs would question her to try and unveil any impure motives. To the countless interrogations, her answers were non-changing and carried theological weight. Still the court and the king wanted a sign, so she boldly agreed that “if the king gave her even a small number of troops” that she guaranteed results in Orléans. After receiving prophecy of the sword hidden in St. Catherine, and the ‘miraculous’ discovery of the sword, Joan would be fully suited in cuirass armor and carried a standard, or flag, similar to the one we find in the illustration. This is said to be about 16 feet long and be made with white satin, painted with a fleur-de-lys, the symbol of the French kings, to display power.Orléans was a city with approximately twenty thousand inhabitants located on the Loire. This appeared as the gateway to the rest of France.The French abandoned Les Tourelles and destroyed the bridge as they retreated to prevent English crossing.
As Salisbury, the highly regarded English general, looked out of the window across the river to produce a plan, a canon hit his location and ultimately resulted in his death. This would lead to a six-month standoff between the English and French. At this point, Joan would enter Orléans, when the Orléanais would feel defeated and afraid of the growing English power. While waiting to attack, she instilled in the locals and her troops the faith that she had carried throughout this entire journey. It is said that the bourgeoisie treated her like an angel and in response, she exhorted them to pray to God. Joan’s decisiveness and perseverance paved the way for victory at Les Tourelles. This victory occurred from the troops misunderstanding of of Joan seeing her standard in the hands of someone other than the squire, and began shouting. The troops rallied, and in a short amount of time, took the Les Tourelles.After the victory, Joan and the half-brother of the Duke arrived to the king’s chamber and begged for Charles to “help maintain the momentum by providing more soldiers” to retake Jargeau, Meung, and Beaugency. Within only a few months, English had been forced from these territories and had withdrawn. Due to these successes, Joan led an expedition that penetrated deep into Anglo-Burgundian territory and which culminated with Charles VII’scoronation at Reims on July, 17 1429. This was the peak of her career because shortly after an assault on Paris failed, Joan was wounded and very distanced from the royal court. She followed this with lesser campaigns before leading a small troop to advance along the River Oïse. In this campaign, the duke of Burgundy captured Joan at Compiègne on May 14, 1430. She was ransomed first to the English and then passed along to the Church to be tried. After a protracted trial, she was executed for heresy and was burned at the stake.
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