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I find Saint Joan of Arc (1412?-1431) a highly fascinating and inspiring personality among historical figures. A girl of just about 17 from a completely rural environment, with no exposure to running the affairs of a country, or training in art and skills of war, she led a French Army in1429 to break the siege of Orleans by English and dive them away. Then she led King Charles VII of France through enemy territory to cathedral at Reims for his coronation, beating the English in several battles during the course of this journey.
Next target for Saint Joan was to liberate Paris from English, and directed her efforts towards that goal She was wounded in a battle near Paris in September 1429, and was captured in May 1430 by Burgundians , who were French people supporting the English. The Burgundians handed her over to the English in return for a large sum of money.
English accused Saint Joan of witchcraft and heresy and on the basis of verdict of an unfair trial by French Clergy, burnt her at the stakes on may 30, 1931.
Later in 1456 the verdict against Saint Joan was reversed by Pope. Then in 1909 she was beatified and declared a saint in 1920.
Saint Joan was a highly religious person following the Catholic religion. From the age of 13 she started having visions and hearing voices that she believed to be of saints. Influenced by these visions and voices she was persuaded to believe that it was her sacred duty to try and drive the English away from French soil.
It is difficult to comment on to what extent Saint Joan's decisions and action were actually guided by saints and other heavenly powers, but if we were to accept her actions to reflect her worldly qualities, we infer that she was a very determined person able to convince people to support by her personalty and sincerity. Also she had a very keen observation ind power of discrimination. For example, when King Charles tried to test her, made some other noble sit on the throne, while he remained among other nobles. Joan could easily spot who the real king was.
Her power as inspiring leader are very obvious. She was brave and fearless on the battle ground. Her strategy in war was to take bold and direct action, rather than depend on complex manipulative moves. In addition, she had the moral courage to embrace death by burning at the stakes rather than repudiate what she believed to be truth.
Saint Jeanne d'Arc, Joan of Arc in English, was born of simple parents; her father was a peasant farmer. Having never learned to read or write, Jeanne did become accomplished at sewing. As a child she was serious and very pious, kneeling in church for long periods of time, absorbed in prayer. Her tender heart reached out to the poor.
At the age of thirteen, Jeanne became away of the manifestations which she called her "voices," or her "counsel." These manifestations were also accompanied by light; later on she recognized certain saints such as St. Michael the Archangel, St. Catherine, and St. Margaret and others. These voices are what caused Jeanne's patriotic exaltation. By May 1428, she was convinced that she was bidden to go to the help of the king. She presented herself to Robert Baudricourt who commanded for King Charles II of France. Rudely, Baudricourt sent her home. However, Jeanne persisted and returned. Because of her persistence, Baudricourt finally gave her some attention. On February 17, 1429 she predicted a great defeat in the Battle of Herrings. As this proved true, Jeanne was later given admission to the presence of the king.
Although the king was disguised, Jeanne immediately saluted him. She had a "secret sign" disclosed to her by her saints, and King Charles gave credibility to her mission. She was then tested by clergy and physicians, and made a favorable impression. The theologians found nothing heretical in her claims to supernatural guidance. After her questioning, Jeanne was allowed to make preparations to enter into battle; for a sword, she asked that the ancient sword buried in the chapel of Sainte-Catherine-de-Fierbois. It was found exactly where Jeanne had indicated.
Before the Battle of Orleans, Jeanne d'Arc predicted that she would save Orleans, compeling the English to withdraw, she would be wounded by a shaft, but would not die; the King would be crowned at Reims. These all came true.
But, Jeanne had her enemies, the apathy of the king and his court. Finally, in a mistaken manuever of pulling down a drawbridge when she and others were on the other side, Jeanne d'Arc was taken as the prisoner of John of Luxembourg. Again the apathy of the court of Charles II kept the King from responding to this injustice. And, because the British were determined to find something to use against Jeanne, they ruled that Jeanne d'Arc was charged with heresy and chained by the neck, hands, and feet. Jeanne d'Arc refused to answer anything about her visions, demonstrating great faith and courage. She was burned as a witch on May 30,1431, in Rouen, France, calling upon the name of Jesus and insisting that her voices came from God and had not deceived her. Ste. Jeanne d'Arc was a young woman of great faith and courage, simple and pure of nature.
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