Joan of Arc - Life in Medieval DaysMost people know the story of Joan of Arc (1412-1431). She only lived to age 19, so it is amazing that her life has resonated so much throughout the world.
During the Hundred Years War, England was vying for control over French Land. Joan was a young girl of a village called "Arc" and was traumatized by the atrocities she saw happening around her. She was visited by visions of God when she was 12, and felt she had a calling to take up a sword to defend the weak.
As you might imagine, this young, teenaged girl had some trouble convincing seasoned soldiers that she could help them out. However, times were desperate. The French were losing, no other strategy had worked, and if nothing else, the French probably figured that this would confuse the English and encourage the soldiers to fight even more strongly to protect her. She was given armor, a sword, and a warhorse.
To their surprise, Joan proved her skills time and time again. King Charles VII of France finally decided to send her off to Orleans to help with a siege there. Despite all odds, she was actually able to break the siege in nine days. This won her great acclaim. She was very aggressive in her tactics and had a keen eye for strategy. She was both physically and emotionally strong. She fought on even with an arrow wound - and she would argue against generals and soldiers when they felt her strategies would fail.
After a few years Joan had become a national hero. She won a number of other victories and was loved by both royalty and commoners alike. However, only a few years later she was captured by the English during a battle. She was a feisty prisoner - even jumping over 70' trying to escape from a tower.
Seeking to break the morale of the French troops, the English claimed she was a witch and burnt her at the stake. You can even read the trial records to see for yourself her intelligence and spirit.
The French lobbied to the Pope to clear Joan of Arc's name. It took twenty four years, but she was eventually cleared of the witch charges. She was created a saint on May 16, 1920 and her feast day is May 30th.
There are many letters and documents from this period which talk about Joan - her trial attracted great interest. So this is one of the woman warriors who we know a great deal about. Interestingly, Joan did not encourage female fighters in her own ranks. She actively discouraged women from joining her troops. Many women were inspired by her and wanted to fight with her - but she turned them away.
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