Can anyone help me summarize the biography of Joan of Arc completely?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I am giving you a general biographical summary of Joan D'Arc since you did not specify any particular biography (such as Winston Churchill's).

Known as the "Maid of Orleans," Saint Joan of Arc or Jeanne d'Arc] (1412?-1431) was born a French peasant. She claimed to have had divine visions that told her to take up arms to help free her native land from the hands of English rule. After predicting a French victory near Orleans, she eventually was able to convince French authorities to allow her to join the army. Apparently, this decision came in part from the absolute English dominance in fighting during the Hundred Years War; the French hoped that Joan would give the army a morale boost, never believing that her rise would lead the French to a series of victories.

Finally receiving a personal meeting with the uncrowned Charles VII, she was given permission to join the army on its march to Orleans. Although she was primarily a standard bearer, she eventually became a skilled leader.

... the army's commanders esteemed her as a skilled tactician and a successful strategist... 

In any case, the army began a string of victories after she joined the cause. She opposed the overall commander, Jean d'Orleans, and suggested that the army continue to assault Orleans in the hope of lifting the long siege. After capturing several outlying positions, Joan led the main attack which led to the victory; she was wounded in the neck by an arrow but refused to leave the field.

She was given official co-command of the army, and it was her plan that led to the capture of strategic bridges on the way to Reims. Instead of attacking Paris, Joan convinced Charles to instead move toward Reims. By this time, Joan--only 17 or 18 years of age--had earned the full support of both Charles and the army commander, John of Alencon.

The Duke of Alençon agreed to all of Joan's decisions. Other commanders including Jean d'Orléans had been impressed with her performance at Orléans and became her supporters. Alençon credited her with saving his life at Jargeau, where she warned him of an imminent artillery attack.

After being wounded by a cannonball, Joan led the army to a rout of the English at the Battle of Patay. Reims eventually surrendered in July 1429. Joan demanded that the victorious French immediately march on Paris, but she was overruled by the royal court, who preferred a negotiated peace. Nevertheless, the army marched onward, capturing strategic towns on the way to Paris. Joan was wounded again during an attack on the city, which ended in a standoff.

Joan was captured after being the last to leave the field at the Battle of Compeigne, where

... Burgundians surrounded the rear guard, and she was unhorsed by an archer and initially refused to surrender.

After her capture, she was sold to the English and eventually burned at the stake as a heretic. She was beatified in 1909 and canonized in 1920. One of France's greatest heroines, she is one of the five patron saints of France.

shreyanshdugar2087 | Student

Sometime around 1412, Joan of Arc was born in Domremy, France. It was a small village, and Joan grew up in a peasant family. Although she was known for her skill and her hard work, she seemed fairly ordinary except for her extreme piousness. In 1425, around age 13, Joan started hearing "voices" which she claimed were the voices of Saint Catherine, Saint Margaret, and Saint Michael. She said these voices commanded her to aid the Dauphin, Charles, in his fight against England and Burgundy, and to see him crowned as the King of France at Reims. Reims was the traditional location where French kings were crowned. But because Reims was in English hands, Charles had not been able to hold a coronation ceremony yet, though his father had been dead for years.

When Joan went to Vaucouleurs to offer her aid, she was initially laughed away. In February of 1429, however, she was granted an audience with the Dauphin. He was superstitious and in dire straits in his battle against the English and Burgundians, so he sent her with a contingent of troops to aid in the Siege of Orleans, a long stalemate in which the English had surrounded the city of Orleans with fortresses. Joan followed sudden commands from her voices and stumbled upon a battle between English and French forces. Rallying the French troops, she drove the English out of fort after fort, decisively ending the siege and earning herself popularity throughout France as the miraculous "Maid of Orleans."

After subsequently defeating the English again at the Battle of Patay, Joan brought Charles to Reims, where he was officially crowned King Charles VII on July 17. On the way from Reims, Joan and the Duke of Alencon suggested that the French attempt to take English-controlled Paris. But after a promising first day of fighting, Charles called off the assault on Paris; he was running low on funds. He recalled the army south and disbanded much of it. Charles then named Joan and her family to French nobility, in thanks for Joan's services to France.

Joan continued to fight for Charles's interests, but her luck had run out. In May of 1430, while holding off Burgundian troops at the Battle of Compiegne so the French townspeople could flee, Joan was captured by John of Luxembourg. Joan was so popular and such a valuable symbol to the pro-Charles side (the Armagnacs) that the English and Burgundians knew killing her immediately would cause an outrage and create a martyr. Instead, they enlisted the church to discredit her first.

After two escape attempts, including a leap from sixty-foot tower, Joan came to trial under Bishop Pierre Cauchon for suspected heresy and witchcraft. Cauchon, who continually tried to make her admit that she had invented the voices, found her guilty of heresy. Before being handed over to secular authorities, Joan signed an abjuration admitting that her previous statements had been lies. But after a few days, she said she hadn't meant the abjuration, and she was sentenced to burn at the stake. Only nineteen, Joan was burned on May 30, 1431.

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