Jehanne d'Arc was born in Domremy
around 1412, the daughter of Jacques and Isabelle. At the age of thirteen, she began to hear voices from God, first from Saint Michael
and later from Saint Margaret
and Saint Catherine
. They charged her with the task of aiding the Dauphin Charles, would-be King of France.
She travelled to Vancouleurs where she met Robert de Baudricourt and Jean De Metz, who accompanied her to Chinon to meet with the Dauphin. It was at this point she first began to wear men's clothing. In Chinon and Poitiers she was examined by theological scholars who were unable to debunk her claims, so Charles set her with troops to Orléans to lift the English seige.
After sending letters to the English beseeching them to lift their seige and return to England, the only remaining course of action was war. The French first took the fortress of Saint-Loup, then the Augustines. On May 7, 1429, Joan was wounded in the throat by a crossbow bolt, but her troops still fought bravely and the English siege was lifted the next day.
After a campaign in Loire, she accompanied the Dauphin to Reims where he was coronated as Charles VII, King of France. After an unsuccessful attempt to take Paris, in which Joan was again wounded, and a retreat to Saint Denis, Joan was captured by the Burgundians in May of 1430 at Compiègne and taken to Rouen to stand trial before the Bishop Cauchon.
The scope of the trial is too great to go into detail here, but earlier confusion in the nodes about Joan's refusal to wear women's clothing should be addressed. When asked if God commanded her to wear men's clothing, she replied:
"My clothing is a small matter, one of the least. But I did not put on men's clothing by the counsel of any man on earth. I did not put on this clothing, nor do anything else, except at the bidding of God and the angels.
Joan was kept from attending mass or hearing confession, but she would not recant her testimony... until the Bishop read her sentence in the Cemetery of Saint Ouen on Thursday, May 24th, 1431. When it was announced that she was to be burned, she produced a signed statement of abjuration. She was to put on women's dress and be placed in the eventually placed custody of the church. Whether or not she was raped is a subject of debate. It would appear naïve to think that she wasn't, although her words on the day of her death speak to the contrary: "that my clean body, never yet defiled, must this day be burnt and turn to ashes."
Four days after her abjuration, she recanted her statement, proclaiming "What I said, I said for fear of the fire." On Wednesday, May 30th, 1431, she was brought forth to the public and burned at the stake. Her last words:
"I pray you, go to the nearest church and bring me the cross, and hold it up level with my eyes until I am dead. I would have the cross on which God hung be ever before my eyes while life lasts in me.