About Joan of Arc

283 views 9 pages ~ 2363 words
Get a Custom Essay Writer Just For You!

Experts in this subject field are ready to write an original essay following your instructions to the dot!

Hire a Writer

The legend I've chosen to investigate is that of Joan of Arc, a 15th-century figure who is credited with raising the morale of French forces during their 100-year war with Britain (Théry). Joan of Arc was instrumental in France's success in the Hundred-Year War and the coronation of King Charles as King of France after the emboldened French army managed to liberate Reims from British occupation (Madison, Lucy, & Schoonover 280). She is a legendary figure whose bravery and dedication to her cause meant that she remained in the minds and hearts of the French people. Joan of Arc can be considered as a French legend because her words and actions were responsible for some of the most important wins by the French Army and led to the crowning of King Charles and the reunion of France.

Early life

Joan of Arc was born in Domremy, a poor region in France, in 1412. This region had suffered a lot due to the ongoing war with the town eventually being occupied by the British (History). From an early age, she is described as being very religious and is also reported to having started seeing visions and hearing voices. These voices and visions according to her were divine since, in them, she would see various saints like St Michael and Catherine (Pettinger).

The visions and voices served to strengthen her commitment to the church, prioritizing it over everything. She did not reveal what she saw in her early visions, however, in 1428, she saw visions whose message was for her to gain an audience with the dauphin who at the time who was Charles of Valois (History). Charles was weak and ineffectual and could be said to be the reason the French troops were losing to the British. During this period the French were deeply divided and lacked national unity with some sections like the Burgundians supporting the British military campaigns. This turn of events had been occasioned by the devastating defeat of the French nobility at the battle of Agincourt by the English in 1415 (Pettinger).

After this battle, Henry V was crowned king of both France and England effectively dispossessing Charles of Valois the throne that was rightfully his, since he was the crown prince at the time (Pettinger). The English occupied much of Northern France which was also where Joan of Arc was born, and this may have contributed to her anti-English sentiment. Her visions showed her that her mission in life was to free France from British rule and reunite the nation through military conquest and that was the reason for seeking an audience with the Dauphin (Gower, 10).

Meeting with Charles of Valois.

This meeting between Joan of Arc and the Dauphin is an important event in the history of the nation of France since it would mark the beginning of a chain of events that would see Charles of Valois being crowned the king of France and the reunion of the nation (History). In her first attempt to personally speak with Charles, she was denied access by the commander of the barracks that protected their village. However, she was granted her wish a year later after Joan was evidenced to be influential among the citizenry (Théry). She was given an escort to Chinon where Charles was residing.

To test her, Charles had dressed like other members of his court with Joan being required to identify him which she did correctly (Madison, Lucy, &Schoonover 178). The two are then said to have conversed in private where Joan revealed to the Dauphin his private prayers to God that she had seen in her visions. Still doubtful of the intentions and character of this girl Charles asked theologians and clergymen to interrogate her and find out more about her (Pettinger). They are all said to have found nothing but piety, humility, and righteousness. Following this, Charles was willing to listen to what the young peasant girl was saying.

Once she was given an audience, she communicated her divine visions of assisting France to defeat the British and reunite under Charles of Valois who would be the king of a unified France (Madison, Lucy, & Schoonover 178). Joan then asked for an army that would fight to emancipate Orléans which the British had laid siege. Charles obliged and instructed the army to go to Orléans with Joan and liberate it from the British after she convinced him that it was directed by her divine visions and would, therefore, be successful (Théry). In the ensuing raid Joan would be injured, but eventually, she would inspire the French to overcome the British which they did in the end.

This battle gave the French courage and morale to challenge the British in other areas because they felt that the English were not as invincible as they previously thought following the battle of Agincourt (History). The wins in major towns by the French army inspired nationalism which further increased the morale of the French soldiers and belief in Joan. Eventually, the French forces managed to push the British out of the key towns and secured Reims which was where Kings in France were crowned (Gower 94).

However, even if Charles seemed to have accepted Joan and her mission to deliver France from the British, he appeared not to trust her fully. After the victory in Patay, contrary to the advice of Joan, Charles chose to proceed slowly to Reims where he would crown himself king as opposed to him moving fast as had been suggested by Joan (Gower, 92). Eventually, on 18th July 1429, Charles managed to gain access to Reims where he was subsequently crowned King Charles VII, with Joan being very visible during the ceremony (History). However, this would serve as her last highlight and would be mainly because King Charles VII did not believe her divinity.

Imprisonment and Trial

Following the historic coronation of Charles and the capture of key towns Joan was insisting that the French king march towards Paris and retake it from the British and their allies, however, King Charles was hesitant to act (History). This hesitation came in part due to the fear that he could be defeated but also due to his disbelief in the divinity of the visions that Joan had experienced (Pettinger). The king was also cautious of the power the successful military campaigns were giving Joan of Arc who had now become the main protagonist in the fight against England.

Instead of attacking Paris himself, King Charles VII chose to sign a treaty with the Burgundians in which he declared that he had no interest in attacking Paris. He then chose to ennoble Joan of Arc which meant that she could declare war on the English alone without needing the permission of the king (Pettinger). She eventually did but failed since the Burgundians had sufficiently fortified Paris; had King Charles VII not wavered, Joan and the French army would have had a better chance of capturing the city (Madison, Foster, & Schoonover 293). The treaty was a way of the Burgundians to buy more time to fortify Paris after which they could then attack the French which they did later that spring and Joan would be sent by the king to defend Compiégne. However, she would be captured by the Burgundians after being locked out of the town because she fell off her horse and could not keep up.

Trial and Execution

After her capture, Joan of Arc remained in the hands of the Burgundians for some months in which they were negotiating with the British and finally released her to them for a lot of money. During this period, King Charles VII did not attempt to negotiate her release despite having sent her to fight (History). He could have acted that way due to various reasons key among them being that he did not believe her divinity and it could be that he feared the following Joan had amongst the people. She would later be accused of committing numerous offences with the main ones being heresy and indecency, by the church though she had not committed any crimes against it (Pettinger).

In a public trial, Joan outwitted the accusers and finding no fault they chose to turn the trial private fearing that they could be forced to free her (Théry). The numerous interrogations by a tribunal bore no fruits, and the officials resulted in intimidation tactics. She was held in a military prison as opposed to a church facility due to the nature of her said crimes. There she would constantly be threatened with sexual violence and death, but this did not work either, and they chose to charge her with indecency for she wore the clothes men`s clothing. She was found guilty and sentenced to death; she would later be burned alive at Rouen (Gower 250).

This act would only increase her fame amongst the French, as they spoke of her sacrifices for the nation and her divinity; effectively making her a legend (History). This would result in her name being cleared by the King after a retrial was conducted. She attained legendary status in France after her death and would become the inspiration behind many artworks such as paintings and statues. Then in 1920 she was canonized and made the patron saint of France (Pettinger).

Joan of Arc remains a legendary French heroine credited with raising the Spirits of the French in overcoming the British and unifying the once divided nation by stirring nationalistic sentiments with her successful military campaigns. However, some neurologists argue that the voices and visions that Joan had could have been occasioned by a type of epilepsy (Giuseppe & Tinuper 157). Numerous authors and doctors such as Guiseppe d'Orsi and Paola Tinuper have published journals that explain the voices that Joan of Arc was hearing as having being occasioned by a condition known as idiopathic partial epilepsy with auditory features (IPEAF) (Michelucci & Roberto 1296). They explained that this condition affects the region in the brain that is tasked with controlling what we hear and see with hallucinations such as those that Joan saw being a major symptom. Joan admitted having seen and heard the saints talking to her on a daily basis which some neurologists have classified as hallucinations.

However, the frequency of the hallucinations disqualifies here from having IPEAF which occasions less frequent seizures (Michelucci & Roberto, 1296). Another unproven theory suggests that she had bovine tuberculosis from drinking unpasteurized milk. However, this also does not fit the description of Joan of Arc`s visions (Giuseppe & Tinuper 155). There is, therefore, a lack of consensus if the visions that Joan of Arc had been hallucinations caused by a brain disorder or was in fact divine in nature.

Joan the Arc is also speculated to have been used as a political pawn by the king and his administration to advance their interests with minimal risk on their part. The king may have seen the value of Joan`s conviction although he may not have believed that the visions she saw were divine (Théry). King Charles VII could have identified an opportunity to motivate his troops with a divine message that they were destined to win against the British since he did not have it within him to lead the soldiers to war (Madison, Lucy, & Schoonover 293). This proved successful when the French gained ground and Charles crowned as king.

After being crowned king Charles, can be seen trying to consolidate his gains when he chooses to sign a treaty with the Burgundians over attacking them as Joan of Arc was suggesting (Madison, Lucy, & Schoonover 292). Ennobling Joan de Arc is considered as one of the signs that the king had lost faith in the cause of Joan and that she was free to act on her own without his protection or support. This can also be evidenced when the king did not offer any assistance either military or diplomatic when Joan was eventually captured and held for months this could be because Charles had already been made the king and did not need her anymore (History). Whether Joan of arc knew she was being used as a political pawn is hard to tell, but she seemed ready to die for what she believed in, and that was a unified and independent French republic.


Joan of Arc came at a time when France was deeply divided and demoralized following the defeat of the French forces at Agincourt after which the English King Henry V took the French throne. She gave the French army courage and hoped when she proclaimed that God had sent her divine messages that they would win the war and reclaim their country from the British. In the end, all she had prophesied came true with Charles being crowned king and the people of France uniting because of her spirit and unwavering faith that God would hand them victory. Despite many questioning the divine origins of her visions, Joan of Arc remains to be a legendary figure in French history who inspired freedom and unity.

Works Cited

History.com Staff. “Joan of Arc.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 2009, www.history.com/topics/saint-joan-of-arc..

Pettinger, Tejvan. “Joan of Arc Biography |  .” Biography Online, www.biographyonline.net/women/joan-of-arc.html.

Michelucci, Roberto, et al. "Low penetrance of autosomal dominant lateral temporal epilepsy in Italian families without LGI1 mutations." Epilepsia 54.7 (2013): Pp 1288-1297.

Gower, Ronald Sutherland. “Joan of Arc”. London, JC Nimmo, 1893. Pp 10-250

Théry julien. “How Joan of Arc Turned the Tide in the Hundred Years' War.” National Geographic, 13 Apr. 2017, www.nationalgeographic.com/archaeology-and-history/magazine/2017/03-04/joan-of-arc-warrior-heretic-saint-martyr/.

Madison, Lucy Foster and Schoonover, Et al. (Frank Earle), 1877-1972, (illus.) “Joan of Arc: the warrior maid.” The Penn Publishing Company, Philadelphia, 1918. Pp 178-293.

d’Orsi, Giuseppe, and Paolo Tinuper. "“I heard voices…”: from semiology, a historical review, and a new hypothesis on the presumed epilepsy of Joan of Arc." Epilepsy & Behavior 9.1 (2006): Pp 152-157.

December 21, 2022

History Literature

Number of pages


Number of words




Writer #



Expertise Legend
Verified writer

GeraldKing is an amazing writer who will help you with History tasks. He is the friendliest person who will provide you with explanations because he really wants you to learn. Recommended for your history or anthropology assignments!

Hire Writer

This sample could have been used by your fellow student... Get your own unique essay on any topic and submit it by the deadline.

Eliminate the stress of Research and Writing!

Hire one of our experts to create a completely original paper even in 3 hours!

Hire a Pro