The New Student's Reference Work/Joan of Arc

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Joan of Arc (jōn or jō-an of ärk) or in the French form Jeanne d’Arc (zhän d’ärk), the Maid of Orleans, the daughter of humble parents, was born at Domremy, France, Jan. 6, 1412.  She was taught, like other young women of her station, to sew and spin, but not to read and write.  She was more modest and pious than her companions, and, when about 13, she believed that she saw a flash of light and heard a heavenly voice bidding her be diligent in her religious and holy duties.  When 15, she imagined that the heavenly voice bade her go and fight for the dauphin of France.  She went and persuaded him of the truth of her heavenly mission.  She put on male dress and warlike equipments, and, with sword and banner, put herself at the head of the French troops, whom her example and the knowledge of her heavenly mission inspired with new confidence.  From April 29 to May 8, 1429, the army under her leadership gained many victories over the English at Orleans.  The national courage was kindled by these successes, and Joan became the heroine of France and the dread of the English forces who had been routed by her.  She conducted the young prince to Rheims, where he was crowned on July 17, 1429, and Joan, whose bravery made this possible, saluted her king with tears of joy.  She wished now to return home, thinking her mission ended, but Charles persuaded her to remain with the army, and she at last consented.  In a battle with the Burgundian torces in Compiegne the French troops were defeated, and Joan was taken prisoner and sold to the English for a sum equivalent to $3,200.  At Rouen, the headquarters of the English, she was tried before the bishop of Beauvais as a sorceress and witch, and after a long, shameful and unjust trial she was condemned to be burned at the stake.  She suffered this terrible fate on May 30, 1431.  “We are lost,” said an English soldier; “we have burned a saint!”  In 1456 her trial was declared unjust, and Joan, a heroine and martyr, has since had an honored and unique place in history.  See Lives by Michelet, Parr, Tuckey and S. L. Clemens.