30 May 1431 – Joan of Arc

Joan of ArcFrench national treasure, Joan of Arc was burned at the stake as a heretic despite a prolific career on the battlefield.

Fact was she’d been a visionary leader, quite literally – her actions were governed and dictated by visions from God plus other martyrs. Indeed word got around that a saint was heading up the French army and the people liked the sound of those odds and joined in their droves.

Or maybe it was the thought of 17-year-old eye candy that reeled them in.

But old Joanie was no pushover and if they thought life would be relaxed under her womanly leadership, boy were they wrong. She kicked serious soldier arse, ridding the camps of prostitutes and swearing, barring them from looting and pillaging civilian camps, instead encouraging them to go to church.

Fight back

By all accounts they were in a bit if a state so she came along and drilled them into shape just in time. It was 1428 and they were on the brink of a crucial set-to with England amid the 100 Years’ War, which would have made or broken access to the Loire – their stronghold. And they needed all the help they could get against what had been a pretty successful opposition in the shape of Henry V. But he’d died in 1421 and his son was not as effective, so it was time to fight back.

Cue Joanie, whose appointment really paid off. Her leadership skills were blinding and she managed to give the Valois army the much-needed upper-hand against an increasingly embattled Burgundy. For France was leaderless and there was a power struggle for the throne. Burgundy was batting for the opposition, having teamed up with the Plantagenet Henries from England who were descended from Anjou blood. And in the blue corner was the House of Valois, which claimed pure-bred accession. Joan was for the latter, headed up by Charles of Ponthieu, who was to become Charles VII of France.

Joan proved a real powerhouse on the battlefield and she managed to secure Orleans back from the English. Sadly those round the mediating table were not empowered with the same gumption – they pretty much sold themselves down the river to Burgundy, despite Joan having them on the run.

The end

Well, that was the beginning of the end really. Also they declared a 15-day truce so Charles VII could be crowned. But this just bought Burgundy and the English time to regroup. During September 1429, the demise of Joan’s army was more or less in the bag. They had advanced even as far as Paris when she was injured during battle. The king and his advisors ordered a defensive position and even destroyed a bridge. The army then retreated back to the Loire and they even went as far as to disband.

But Joan didn’t have a bar of it – she wasn’t about to give up so easily, despite the fact that, at Easter, she foresaw her own capture in 1430. And she was right – she and her small band of rallied troops were penned in just outside Compeigne where they were forced to surrender.

Charles offered to pay a ransom and all sorts to try and secure her safe return, but the Duke of Burgundy knew that would be a huge mistake. So she was left to stew for four months before they handed her over to the English, who wasted no time in sending her to trial in Rouen, during February and March of 1431.

Dressed to kill

There they threw all sorts of muck at her including witchcraft, but nothing stuck, so desperate times called for nothing short of ridiculous measures. She was sentenced to death for…cross dressing. Yep, you read right – she was had up on charges of dressing like a man. Indeed they even stripped her of her dress, forcing her to wear men’s clothes to cover her modesty. But that was her undoing, because it is said to have cemented her heretical tendencies.

Strapped to a stake, she was left to slow roast, and despite her saintly demeanour she certainly wasn’t above feeling the acutely excruciating pain and is said to have ‘screamed’ for Jesus. Not that it did her any good – she was burned alive on this day in 1431.

Teenager

And all this took place in the space of two years and Joan was just 19 when she died.

The 100 Years’ War lasted another 20-odd years, and was finally crushed mainly because a very young and very green Henry VI had taken over where Henry V left off. He didn’t have the experience to see it through and the French won the day. And that was quick compared to Joan’s sainthood, which took virtually five centuries to secure. The Maid of Orleans was finally beatified in 1909.

Joan’s life has been replayed on the big screen on several occasions but our favourites are Milla Jovovich in Joan Of Arc: The Messenger and Jane Wiedlin (you know, her off The Go-Go’s) in Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

Also on this day

30 May 1922 – Hyram Thompson

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11 Responses to “30 May 1431 – Joan of Arc”

  1. Hi. BO-RING! i’ve seen better. score: 3 (I really don’t like history, so I gave it a 3!)

  2. Well, it was very interesting. I’m saying you can use a little ore deatails. I was doing a report. It’s tough trying to do one with little deatail!

  3. Look, Chris, The owner of this site is the gretest! She (or he) is the best! PS: Dont yu mean more? Not more?
    PSS dont kritsise my speling! thanc yu!

  4. Hello. Don’t worry, I won’t judge your spelling. Nor your grammar. I love the colour black. Thank you for you friends. Alison Minor

  5. Sorry, Britsh spelling!

  6. Look people. Yall way off subject. Go to someone elses site for the love of Petradina!

  7. Emily Says:

    A truly inspiring person! There is a lot more about her at http://www.maidofheaven.com

  8. Joan was no 17 25 yeal old maiden. She had been married twice and had delivered 8 children by two husbands. Her death was quite different that legends paint. Read history.

  9. Although I love the words of the two-act play written by Maxwell Anderson, JOAN OF LORRAINE, which made its Broadway premiered at the Alvin Theatre on November 18, 1946,
    “Every man gives his life for what he believes. Every woman gives her life for what she believes. Sometimes people believe in little or nothing, nevertheless, they give up their lives to that little or nothing. One life is all we have, and we live it as we believe in living it, and then it’s gone. But to surrender what you are, and live without belief—that’s more terrible than dying—more terrible than dying young.”

    Joan, as almost all people of that time were given one name. Acre came from the fact that her parents lived in Palestine, while her father fought in one of the crusades. The city of Acre, is known to be the oldest known city of that reagion. The Egyptians knew and used it as a sea port AKK. Vowels were not used in most of the languages of that reagion. The early Hebrews also used it and also the Arabs, calling it Akka. Little known that the Romans built wals around the inland port to calm the waves from the Mediterrian, as the weather is often turbuant on sea-level waters, and especially the Sea of Galalee, below sea-level and surrounded by mountains.

    First, Lady Joad married Herbert de Clare and had 4 children. She also reportedly had a secret marriage to Ralph de Monthermer. When her father, King Edward I heard of it, he was angry and ordered immediate imprisonment of Ralph Monthermer who was only a lowly Squire in the King’s court. At any rate, Ralph was placed in prison. Over the years, Ralph gained Joan’s father trust, although all her lands had been taken from her. The Queen, being the mother that she was had the four children that Joan and Ralph taken to the Grandmother’s to be raised. In time Ralph was made Earl.
    Now, according to Joan of Acre’s death, it really it not known. However, having eight children, would make any woman weak, even today, the guess, by historians is that she died in childbirth.

    I know that this is far from the the maiden who came from humble beginnings, had visions from God, won the affections of the King and lead the French army into battle, and later died for her faith.

    Names were given by where a person was born, lived or the title that they had. As in Eleanor Lady of Acqutain. She came from the Acqutain family, where once someone of fame, was a Lord over the city of Acqutain.

    Alfred, the Great of England, is my 42 gggggggg-grandfather, King Arttur is also a grandfather, as well as Gwilliam the Bastard, better known as the Conquorer, who was knot liked in England, so finally buried in France.

    I’ve lived in the Middle East and been to Acco, or Acre. It is full of Artists trying to sell their paingings; but a great town. Lebanon and Jericho and Jordan are also great places for visiting.

    But in all places, over one thousand to two thousand years, it is difficult to seperate fact and fire-side fable. Personally, I enjoy the fable. It makes them characters which are worthy of motion pictures.
    Sorry to ruin it for you.
    Walt

    • Where on earth do you get your information? She was never married and had no children. She was known to be a virgin in all the texts I’ve read on her…

  10. Forgive the grammar.

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