Assumed to be born in 1412, Joan of Arc is one of history’s most enigmatic personalities. Pious warrior and visionary, Jehanne d’Arc or Jehanne Tarc, Jehanne Romée or possibly Jehanne de Vouthon, maintains a special place in history for France and Christians world wide for her courage, wisdom and dedication to the church and the Dauphin, the eldest son of the king.
In a time of much controversy and war (specifically, the 100 years war), Joan was a peasant girl who claimed to be visited by angels she claimed inspired her to rise up to defeat the enemies of the Dauphin and make him king of France. Never questioning her visions or mission, at the age of 16, Joan traveled to the strongholds of the uncrowned heir to the thrown, Charles VII, to pronounce her loyalty and desire to fight for the dauphin and was rejected. This was only her first set back, and when she returned a year later, she was brought to the Dauphin’s court after an 11 day journey, some trickery and three weeks of questioning before she was given audience with the Dauphin himself.
He gave her a small unit of about seven men and she traveled to Orleans, where she was ordered not to fight until more reinforcements arrived. After a week of waiting, Joan was “awoken by inspiration”, dressed in her battle gear and led the French forces to victory, earning her the title of “The Maid of Orleans”.
Joan d’Arc continued to provide military council and strategic advice to the Dauphin, winning many battles and advancing his cause by her military genius. After a successful campaign at Chalons, and an official consecration of Charles VII, Joan followed the Dauphin until he started losing faith in his own strategy. Growing weary of his vascillations (she was known to have a temper), Joan went on to sneak into a fight at Compiegne. She fought bravely and stayed behind as the troops retreated, finding herself unmounted and vulnerable to capture. Joan d’Arc gave herself up to the English to face 70 charges and accusations of heresy.
Joan of Arc is inspirational to all young women. Having been born in one of histories most challenging times for women, Joan navigated the milieu of unquestionable piety and feminine subordination to fight for something she believed was right with all of her possession. She is only one example of the grace and courage all young women possess. It is up to us to encourage it in one another.
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