WOMENS-symbol Throughout history women have made their mark in a wide variety of ways.  Each Saturday I plan to highlight one of these remarkable women.  There will be no limit to the areas of history that I may include; however as a guide I will look to the month of their birth, the month of their death or the month associated with their mark in history when I select them.  Is there an outstanding women in history you would like me to include?  I welcome your suggestions.  Would you like to guest blog one of the world’s outstanding women?  Let me hear from you.  To read previous posts in this segment, there is a menu at the top of my site.

Today an outstanding woman who was a heroine of France and a Roman Catholic saint.  Meet Saint Joan of Arc.

Painting, c. 1485. An artist's interpretation, since the only known direct portrait has not survived. (Centre Historique des Archives Nationales, Paris, AE II 2490)

Painting, c. 1485. An artist’s interpretation, since the only known direct portrait has not survived. (Centre Historique des Archives Nationales, Paris, AE II 2490)

One life is all we have and we live it as we believe in living it. But to sacrifice what you are and to live without belief, that is a fate more terrible than dying.

Joan of Arc

Born in 1412 in Domremy, a village in the French part of the duchy of Bar, Joan of Arc was the daughter of Jacques d’Arc and Isabelle Romee.  Her parents owned 50 acres of land and her father also had a minor position as a village official collecting taxes and running the local watch.

Joan's birthplace in Domrémy is now a museum. The village church where she attended Mass is on the right behind the trees.

Joan’s birthplace in Domrémy is now a museum. The village church where she attended Mass is on the right behind the trees.

Joan said she received visions of the Archangel Michael, Saint Margaret, and Saint Catherine instructing her to support Charles VII and recover France from English domination late in the Hundred Years’ War. The uncrowned King Charles VII sent Joan to the siege of Orléans as part of a relief mission. She gained prominence after the siege was lifted in only nine days. Several additional swift victories led to Charles VII’s coronation at Reims. This long-awaited event boosted French morale and paved the way for the final French victory.

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On 23 May 1430, she was captured at Compiègne by the Burgundian faction which was allied with the English. She was later handed over to the English, and then put on trial by the pro-English Bishop of Beauvais Pierre Cauchon on a variety of charges. After Cauchon declared her guilty she was burned at the stake on 30 May 1431, dying at about nineteen years of age.

Joan of Arc being burned at the stake

Joan of Arc being burned at the stake

Twenty-five years after her execution, an inquisitorial court authorized by Pope Callixtus III examined the trial, debunked the charges against her, pronounced her innocent, and declared her a martyr. Joan of Arc was beatified in 1909 and canonized in 1920. She is one of the nine secondary patron saints of France, along with St. Denis, St. Martin of Tours, St. Louis, St. Michael, St. Remi, St. Petronilla, St. Radegund and St. Thérèse of Lisieux.

Joan of Arc has been a popular figure in literature, painting, sculpture, and other cultural works since the time of her death, and many famous writers, filmmakers and composers have created works about her. Cultural depictions of Joan of Arc have continued in films, theatre, television, video games, music, and performances to this day.

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10 responses

  1. How about Boudic(c)a/Boadicea?

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  2. Jo Wake says:

    We learn about Joan of Arc in school, in the UK, or we did, but I didn’t remember the details. Putting anyone to death by fire is horrific, a young girl is even worse. Boadicea is a good choice. There is a statue of her in London, alongside the Thames. I nominate Eleanor of Aquitaine, wife of Henry II of England. Of course then there is Nurse Edith Cavell or even Florence Nightingale. There was also a woman who worked as a spy in France during World War II. She was captured by the Germans. Can’t remember her name, how awful. There were quite a few women who worked in espionage for the British Government.

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    • Thanks. Eleanor of Aquitaine is on my list. If you click the menu at the top oh my blog, you will find a link to Florence Nightengale and a few posts about women in WW2 in case the one you are trying to remember was in it. Thanks for reading.

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  3. Considering the age in which she lived, she was extremely bold for a female of any age. I’ve often wondered how much of her courage and conviction was a by product of her youth and how much was God inspired.

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  4. Sue Archer says:

    I am amazed by how much influence she had over the powerful men of the day. Why would they listen to her? She must have had tremendous presence for such a young person.

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  5. Birgit says:

    This young lady showed no fear and believed vehemently in what she was striving for. To be able to lead being a woman, very young and back in the day when women were not much above dogs is saying something about her power. So many died being burned at the stake and it is a horrible way to die

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