On this day in 1429, French heroine Joan of Arc (1412-1431), also known as Joan the Maiden or the Maid of Orléans, relieved the city of Orleans, which was occupied by the English. Joan played a major role during the Lancastrian phase of the Hundred Years’ War by leading the French forces in several military campaigns.
Before the siege
When Joan was only thirteen years old she started having visions of Saint Michel, Saint Margaret and Saint Catherine. These visions continued throughout her whole life. In 1428, when she was sixteen, Joan claimed that she had a vision in which Saint Michael ordered her to leave her village and aid dauphin Charles to expel the English and take the throne. By that time, the latter had besieged Orleans, a city whose strategic location made it of crucial importance to the kingdom.
After several attempts to have an audience with Charles, Joan finally met him at the Royal Palace of Chinon in February 1429. Joan made a strong impression on the dauphin, who had her examined to verify her virginity and orthodoxy. After that, she was given an armour and received the name of Joan the Maiden.
The siege of Orleans
Joan arrived on the battlefield on April 29 1429. Her presence had an immediate effect on the French troops, as she brought with her the hope of divine assistance. She was able to get inside the city and quickly became a symbol to raise morale. Eventually, Joan started to give advice to some of the commanders. Throughout the following week, she led the troops during several battles. On May 7, while the French were trying to take control of the main stronghold of the English, Les Tourelles, Joan was wounded by an arrow. Nevertheless, she quickly returned to the battlefield to end the final assault on the building. The following day, the English retreated from Orleans.
A few weeks later, after several successful military campaigns, Charles VII was crowned king of France, with Joan kneeling at his feet. However, in May 1430 she was captured by Bourguignon soldiers and sold to the English. She was later then tried for heresy and burned at the stake in May 1431.
Joan of Arc is known for being one of the greatest heroines of French medieval history and has served as an inspiration for several works of art, including books and plays. In 1920, after the bishop of Orleans petitioned Rome to beatify her, she was recognized as a Christian saint by the Catholic Church.
- joan of arc
- hundred years war
- charles vii
- joan the maiden
- french history