(March is Women’s History Month. Acton will be highlighting a number of women who have contributed significantly to the issue of liberty during this month.)
Joan of Arc
The Maid of Orleans
Young Joan, by any account, had a plain beginning to an extraordinary life. Until the age of 12 or so, she was the daughter of a farmer, who learned farming and household skills from her parents.
Her native France was involved in what is typically referred to as the Hundred Years War with England, but the French had broken into factions that complicated the resistance against the English invasion. It was during this tumultuous period that Joan began to hear voices and see visions of various saints and angels, urging her to support Charles VII as the true leader of France. This meant, for Joan, that she cut her hair, dressed as a soldier and led Charles’ rag-tag troops into battle.
Further, Joan sought to reform the men’s life in camp: kicking out prostitutes, urging the men to pray, attend Mass, and refrain from looting. While Joan was recognized as a leader in battle, she was not armed, preferring to carry a banner with Jesus and the fleur-de-lis on it.
While Joan was able help Charles VII regain control, she became the focus of a Burgundian conspiracy and was eventually betrayed, arrested and burned at the stake. Various sources claim that she was found guilty of witchcraft, heresy, and even immodest dress (for wearing men’s clothing), but the Burgundian forces which opposed the rule of Charles VII brought her unifying spiritual leadership to an end. However, Joan had achieved the goal she believe God had enjoined her with: bringing Charles back to the throne as the rightful ruler of France.
History remembers Joan of Arc as a young woman of deep spiritual devotion, bravery, and an undeniable passion for serving God and country.
For detailed information about Joan of Arc, visit the Joan of Arc Archive.