The Maid of Orléans
January 3, 1431: Joan of Arc is handed over to Pierre Cauchon. The Maid of Orléans was known as Jeanne d’Arc in her homeland. She was born to peasant parents in the French area of the Meuse River. The region was later incorporated into Lorraine. The family owned about 50 acres of farmland and Joan’s father supplemented their income with a position as a village official who collected taxes. Joan began receiving visions when she was about age twelve in 1424. She was visited by a trio of saints who commanded the maiden to drive the English out and bring the Dauphin to Reims for his coronation.
By the age of 16, she approached the Royal Court with offers of help but as one might expect, she was rebuffed. She tried again in January of the following year and made a prediction about a military reversal near Orléans. News from the front confirmed her prediction and she was granted an audience with Charles VII. She impressed him. Joan asked to travel with the army wearing the equipment of a knight. Her apparel was donated. The Court is thought to have been sympathetic to the young woman because she seemed to be the only ray of hope to a regime near collapse.
Joan turned a political war into a religious one. She discarded the cautious strategy of her predecessors and became a bold force against the siege of Orléans. This did not endear her to the powers in charge before her arrival. Although they attempted to exclude her, she was ever-present and when Orléans prevailed against the English, she was hailed as the heroine of the region. She encouraged Charles VII to give her co-command with Duke John II of Alencon. Her ability to both inspire and strategize brought her ever more fame. A truce was declared and Joan was left with little to do.
The truce was short lived and she was captured in a skirmish on May 23, 1430. It was customary at the time for family to ransom prisoners of war but the family’s financial position did not allow for this. Charles VII did not intervene even though Joan made several attempts at escape. On this day, she was handed over to Bishop Cauchon, an English partisan. She was brought to trial for heresy and burned at the stake. She was 19 years old at the time of her death. Twenty-five years later, Pope Calixtus III pronounced the trial in error and Joan as innocent. She was beatified by the Catholic Church in 1909 and canonized in 1920.
One life is all we have and we live it as we believe in living it. But to sacrifice what you are and to live without belief, that is a fate more terrible than dying.
Of the love or hatred God has for the English, I know nothing, but I do know that they will all be thrown out of France, except those who die there.
I would rather die than do something which I know to be a sin, or to be against God’s will.
I am not afraid… I was born to do this. – all from Joan of Arc
Also on this day: Tokugawa Shogunate – In 1863, the Tokugawa shogunate ended.
British Empire – In 1833, the Falkland Islands came under British rule.
Slurrrppp! – In 1888, the straw was patented.
Eiffel Tower – In 1956, a fire damaged the top floors of the Eiffel Tower.