Joan was born in 1412 in the tiny village of Domremy, France. She led an ordinary life until she was 13 when she says the Archangel Michael appeared to her and told her to save France.
From this day forward, her life would change forever.
It was during the Hundred Years’ War where France had been at war with England over a dispute for the French crown. The French people were divided as to who should rule: the English or the French. The Burgundians, a province of France, was one group of French people who were helping the English.
For 3 years the voices (Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret appeared to her as well) haunted her and finally told her urgently to go to see the dauphin Charles (the rightful king of France but he hadn’t been crowned yet) immediately.
Following her voices, she met Charles and picked him out of a crowd when Charles was trying to trick her. Her commission by God was to free the city of Orleans (under siege by the English) and to crown Charles King.
She led an army against the English and drove them off.
After Charles was crowned in 1429, Joan wanted to go home. But the king refused to allow her to go. Against her voices, she obeyed the king. Her voices had told her she only had a year to help. It was over a year now. Hence, the voices fled. She had been protected by God up until this point. But when she obeyed the king and not her voices, everything changed.
Her battles were unsuccessful as Charles delayed action. She was captured by the Burgundians and ransomed. Charles refused to pay her ransom so she was sold to the English.
She stood trial on trumped-up charges of heresy and was found guilty and sentenced to death. However, if she confessed, she could save her life. She signed the confession but then recanted. Immediately, acknowledging she had done all for God, her voices returned.
She was cruelly burned at the stake. She cried, “Jesus” three times at her death. Her ashes were scattered in the Reine River so they could not be made into relics.
Twenty-six years later, Charles gave Joan a new trial and was declared innocent. She was canonized in 1920 and is beloved in France today.
Undoubtedly Joan turned the tide of the Hundred Years’ War. The French were languishing under a young and indecisive dauphin (who would become King Charles VII) until this girl comes out of nowhere to revive the French cause.
The most profound part of this was the fact her voices left her when she obeyed man instead of God.
We know more about Joan of Arc than any other woman in the Middle Ages because of the transcripts of her trial. Every word was recorded at her trial as well as at her Trial of Rehabilitation where people who knew her were interviewed. Very cool for a girl of only 19 years old.
Joan of Arc is the epitome of someone who came from nothing (she was a girl and a peasant in a tiny village in the Middle Ages) and changed the course of the world, proving God uses everybody for His purposes. She is a great role model for young girls as well as those struggling to find themselves in today’s world.
There are many good picture books of Joan of Arc. The one pictured is by Diane Stanley but we have also read Joan of Arc by Demi and Ann Tompert and enjoyed them as well. All are highly recommended.