JOAN of ARC

1 Origins and Childhood

1412

Joan of Arc is born at Domremy, a village in a region of the Vosges belonging to the kingdom of France, and loyal to the King, Charles VII. When she was young, and until she left home, she would help with the ploughing and sometimes looked after the animals in the fields. She would do the work women do - spinning, things like that. Rehabilitation Proceedings - Jean Moreau, a farmer from Greux.

1425 onwards


Joan becomes aware of her mission. When I was thirteen years old, I heard a voice from God, sent to help me go in the right direction. (Later..) this voice would tell me two or three times a week that I, Joan, must leave Domremy and go to France... I would raise the siege of the city of Orléans. Joan’s Trial for heresy.

May 1428

Joan goes to Vaucouleurs for the first time. This is a fortress in Champagne which has not fallen into the hands of the English. She meets Robert de Baudricourt and asks him for men to escort her to the King. She is not believed, and returns to Domremy.

October l2th, 1428

The English lay siege to Orléans, the last fortified town on the way to Bourges, in which the King, Charles VII, has taken refuge.

October 24th, 1428

Orléans is encircled (the bridge linking the town to territory under the control of Charles VII is destroyed). The English intend to take the town by starving it of supplies, including food.

February 1429

Joan meets Baudricourt for the second time. He agrees to give her an escort to take her to the King.

2 - Joan’ s military Operations - her Mission

February l3th, 1429 JOAN LEAVES VAUCOULEURS.

Travelling mostly at night, she passes through territory controlled by the forces of the Duke of Burgundy.

A - Preparations

Before reaching Chinon where the King is in residence, Joan sends him a letter announcing her arrival. After some hesitation, Charles VII receives Joan in the castle at Chinon. Although impressed by Joan’s declaration, the King decides to send her to Poitiers for examination by the Church. Eventually, after a great deal of questioning and examination, it was concluded by the clergy that there was no evil in her, nor any ideas contrary to the catholic faith ; and that in view of the plight of the King and the Kingdom - since the King and those subjects faithful to him were by then in despair, and could expect no help of any kind unless it came f rom God - there was no reason why the Kinq should not avail himself of her assistance. Rehabilitation Proceedings Jean Barbin - advocate in the Parlement. Joan goes to Tours to be fitted out with a suit of armour, while the King musters a new army and puts together a supply-train for the people of Orléans.

B - Orléans

April 29th, 1429

The supply-train reaches Orléans via the Sologne. The same evening, Joan enters the town to general rejoicing. Out to greet her came the rest of the garrison as well as the inhabitants of Orléans, rnen and women, with a great rnany torches, and as delighted as if they had seen God Himself come down among them - and flot without good reason, for their efforts had been enormous, and they had faced many problems and great distress. They had been very much afraid that help would not come, and that they would lose everything - lives as well as property. But now they felt fortified and, as it were, relieved by the divine power possessed, so it was said, by this ordinary girl upon whom they looked with such affection - men, women and children alike. And there was a tremendous crowd trying to touch her or the horse she was riding.

May 7th, 1429

The Fort des Tourelles, denying access to the bridge into Orléans, is taken by Joan and her little arrny. The next day, during a Mass said between the two armies drawn up in line of battle, the English leave the town without a fight. The siege of Orléans bas been raised. At the very moment when the English are demoralised by the presence of Joan, and fear penetrates their ranks, the French troops are filled with courage and excitement.

C - The Road to Coronation

Joan finds the King at Loches and insists that he take ber advice to set off for Reirns. Noble Dauphin, put an end to ail this consultation. Go to Reims without delay to receive your rightful crown. The Loire campaign is undertaken with this end in view. One after the other, Jargeau (l2th June) , Meung (l5th June) and Beaugency (l7th June) fail into the hands of the French. June 18th, 1429. The Battle of Patay, a great French victory. The English army is in retreat, and high-ranking English commanders flee or are taken prisoner. This victory is considered as revenge for Azincourt (1415). And in the end the English were routed, with only light French casualties. Cf. Jean de Wavrin, a Burgundian chronicler who took part in the battle on the side of the English.

June 29th, 1429

The King leaves Gien. From there, he bas sent a letter to all towns in his kingdom and to his principal vassals, lay and ecclesiastical, inviting them to come to his coronation at Reims. It takes him less than a month to overcome the difficulties of this journey through Anglo-burgundian territory. Some towns, such as Auxerre and Troyes, do not allow the King to enter ; others, like Chalons and Reims, willingly submit.

July 16th, 1429.

The King enters Reims to the cheers of the inhabitants. The next day, Archbishop Regnault de Chartres consecrates him King of France. At that moment, Joan would have liked to make the most of the moral advantaqe of that event to win other towns to his side and once more take up arms against the English. The King re-establishes diplomatic links with the Duke of Burgundy. A truce is signed which prevents f ighting except in the Paris area.

September 7th-8th, 1429.

After military operations around Senlis and Saint-Denis, Joan mounts an assault on Paris notwithstanding the King’s reluctance. The French, however, are forced to retreat.

September 21st, 1429.

Charles VII returns to the banks of the Loire at Gien and orders the Coronation army to be disbanded.

D - Final military operations

Joan engages in more fighting at :
- St-Pierre-le-Moutiers, besieged on november 2nd, 1429 ;
- at La Charité-sur-Loire, in november and december of the same year, where she is unsuccessful in her efforts to capture the town. In the depth of winter, Sire de la Tremoille sent Joan with his brother, Sire d’Albret, and Marshal de Boussac, with far too few men, to the town of La Charité. They were there for about a month, and shamefully withdrew without giving any assistance to those within. Their losses included guns. Berry, the Herald - contemporary French chronicler. While consigning Joan to inactivity, the King nevertheless rewards her for her exploits by ennobling her family and exempting the inhabitants of her village from all taxes. Negotiations continue between Charles VII and the Duke of Burgundy. The latter marches on the towns of the Oise which refuse to return to his authority. Among them is Compiègne. Joan then decides to resume hostilities. While the King was in the town of Sully-sur-Loire, the Maid, who had seen and heard all the actions and the means employed by the King and his Council to recover his kingdom, became very unhappy about it all. She contrived to part company with them, and, unknown to the King, without taking ber leave of him, she pretended to go somewhere but failed to return. She went to the town of Lagny-sur-Marne, because its inhabitants were fighting resolutely against the English based in Paris and elsewhere. Perceval de Cagny - contemporary French chronicler.


May 16th, 1430.

The Duke of Burgundy lays siege to Compiègne.

May 22nd, 1430.

Joan gets through to Compiegne unknown to the enemy. She is escorted by Italian mercenaries.

May 23rd, 1430.


She is captured by the Burgundians while making a sortie. The French came into Compiegne depressed and angry at their losses, and were furious at the capture of the Maid. On the other hand, the supporters of Burgundy and the English were jubilant - more than they were with 500 other prisoners - for they feared and dreaded no general or other war leader as much as they had the Maid until that day. E. de Monstrelet - Burgundian chronicler, present at the meeting of Joan and the Duke of Burgundy near Compiègne. On the 23 of May, Lady Joan, the Armagnacs’ Maid, was captured at Compiègne by Messire Jean de Luxembourg, with troops and English from Paris. At least four hundred of the Maid’s men were killed or drowned. Diary of a citizen of Paris.

3 Joan in Captivity

A - The Prisons

For seven months in 1430, from 23rd may till 23rd december, Joan is imprisoned first in the castle of Beaulieu in Vermandois, and then in the castle of Beaurevoir, not far from Saint-Quentin. On 21st november, at Arras, she is handed over to the King of England. The Duke of Burgundy is his vassal. A ransom of ten thousand ecus is paid - the maximum paid by a king to buy a prisoner from one of his vassals. The purchase is negotiated by Pierre Cauchon, Bishop of Beauvais and former Rector of the University of Paris. He is put in charge of hem prosecution on a charge of heresy. If it so happen that this Joan be not found guilty or convicted of the charge (of heresy) or anything else connected with our faith, it is our intention to take her back and bring her before us. Letter written to Cauchon in the name of the King of England, Henry VI. On december 23rd, Joan is imprisoned in the castle Bouvreuil at Rouen. She is guarded by the English in a secular prison even though the charge against her is religious.

B - The Trial at Rouen

The trial which begins on januamy 9th, 1431, ends on may 30th with Joan’s death at the stake in the Place du Vieux-Marché in Rouen. On her own throughout these f ive months, she faces two judges - the Bishop of Beauvais and the Inquisitor - and from thirty to sixty assessors. The main charges against hem were as follows : - Witchcraft : the power of evil was ascribed to the standard which she held so dear, and to the rings she wore on her f ingers (touched by a number of people). - Impurity and suspicious dealings with beings which she clained had appeared to her. - Wartime actions containing an element of hatred or cruelty - Wearing men’s clothes which was scandalous for a woman and interdicted by the Deutomonorny. - Failure to submit to the Church. The following quotations give some idea of the aptness of Joan’s replies, and of hem common sense.

Thus, when several people put questions at the same time : - Gentlemen, one at a time, please...
Q - Does God hate the English ?
A - I don’t know anything about the love or the hatred of God for the English ; but I do know that they will be thrown out of France - except for those who die here - and that God will send victory to the French over the English.


Q - Why was your standard carried higher than those of the other commanders at the church in Reims at the coronation of the King ?
A - That standard had been through a lot. It was quite right that it should be given a place of honour.


Q - Did you thank this voice, and did you kneel down
A - I thanked it by sitting up on rny bed, and I put my hands together and after that I asked it for help. The voice told me to reply boldly. You say that you are my judge. Think carefully about what you are doing, for the truth is that I have been sent by God, and you are putting yourself in great danger.


Q - Do you know whether you are in a state of grace ?
A - If I am not, may God bring me to it ; and if I am, may God keep me in it. I would be the most unhappy woman in the world if I knew I was not in a state of grace, and if I had fallen from grace, I don’t think the voice would come to me. I wish everyone could hear it as well as me.


Q - Did God command you to put on men’s clothes ?
A - Clothes are not important. They are the least important thing of all. I did notot put on rnen’s clothes on the advice of mortal men, and I didn’t put on such clothes or do anything else except by the command of God and the angels.


Q - Do you think you were right to put on men’ s clothes ?
A - Everything I have done bas been at the command of God, and I think I have done well. That’s why I expect Him to stand up for me, and help me.


Q - Which do you like best : your standard or your sword ?
A - I much preferred - forty times as much - my standard to my sword. I took the standard when I was attacking the enemy to avoid killing anyone, and I have neyer killed anyone.

Before seven years have gone by, the English will lose more than they had before Orléans, and they will lose everything they have in France. The English will suffer a greater loss than ever before in France, and God will send the French a great victory.

May 23rd, 1431.

Before a large assembly in the cemetery of Saint-Ouen, Maître Guillaume Erard, an university man and a friend of Cauchon’s, preaches a sermon urging Joan to subrnit to the Church. This she does by signing a Schedule of Abjuration - a docunent certifying her submission - in which the main accusation refers to her wearing men’s clothes. But her gaolers threatened hem when she wore women’s clothes or gave her only men’s clothes to wear and thus forced her to put them on again. It is well known that the Maid was taken prisoner during the war, sold to the English for ten thousand gold crowns, and taken to Rouen. There she was carefully examined to see whether she made use of magic spells or an evil spirit or if she had fallen into religious error. Nothinq worthy of censure was found, apart from the clothes she wore. And that was flot thought worthy of the ultimate penalty. She was taken back to prison, where she was threatened with death if she put on rnen’s clothes again. Aeneas Sylvius Piccoiornini, the future Pius II : Memoirs written in 1463.

May 3Oth, 1431.

Joan is burned alive at Rouen, in the Place du Vieux-Marché. She had lived only four or f ive months longer than her nineteen humble years when the ashes of ber body were scattered to the winds. Charles Péguy : Les tapisseries - Eve.

4 - Rehabilitation

Only after his victorious entry into Rouen on 10th november, 1449, can Charles VII become aware of the way in which Joan of Arc was tried. He asks that light be shed on the affair : all the relevant documents are kept in the city. A preliminary investigation is carried out at the King’s command on march 5th, 1450.

The main actors and witnesses give evidence. At that point the Church, which had been in charge of the trial which condemned her - a trial for heresy - ordered an official enquiry, carried out at the instance of the Inquisitor of France (Jean Bréhal), and the Papal Legate (Guillaume d’Estouteville), from 2nd to 22nd rnay, 1452. A resume of the affair, drawn up by the Inquisitor of France, was then subnitted to examination by theologians and canon lawyers from France and from abroad.

June 11th, 1455

Pope Calixtus III authorises a review of the trial. It opens after the examination of Joan’s mother, Isabelle Romée, in the cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris on 7th July 1455.