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Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc

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Published by: zabolotnyi61 on Mar 14, 2013
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08/15/2013

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Joan of Arc
(1412
 –
1431)
 
By Eugenia TSAPENKO
In the long wars between the French and English not eventhe Black Prince or King Henry V gained such fame as did ayoung French peasant girl, Joan of Arc. She was born in thelittle village of Domrémy. Her father had often told her of thesad condition of France, how the country was largely in thepossession of England, and how the French king did not dareto be crowned. And so the thought came to be ever in hermind, "How I pity my country!" She brooded over the matter so much that she began to havevisions of angels and heard strange voices, which said to her, "Joan, you can deliver the landfrom the English. Go to the relief of King Charles." At last these strange visions and voices madethe young girl believe that she had a mission from God,and she determined to try to save France. When she toldher father and mother of her purpose, they tried topersuade her that the visions of angels and the voicestelling her of the divine mission were but dreams. Thevillage priest, her young companions, even the governor of the town, all tried to stop her, but it was in vain.Little by little people began to believe in her mission. Atlast all stopped trying to discourage her and some whowere wealthy helped her to make the journey to the townof Chinon , where the French king, Charles the Seventh,was living. When Joan arrived at Chinon, a force of Frenchsoldiers was preparing to go to the south of France torelieve the city of Orleans which the English werebesieging. King Charles received Joan kindly and listened towhat she had to say with deep attention. The girl spoke modestly, but with a calm belief thatshe was right."Gracious King," she said, "my name is Joan. God has sent me to deliver France from herenemies. You shall shortly be crowned in the cathedral of Rheims. I am to lead the soldiers youare about to send for the relief of Orleans. So God has directed and under my guidance victorywill be theirs." The king and hisnobles talked the matter over andfinally it was decided to allow Joan tolead an army of about five thousandmen against the English at Orleans.
 
When she left Chinon at the headof her soldiers, in April, 1429, shewas in her eighteenth year. Mountedon a fine war-horse and clad in whitearmor from head to foot, she rodealong past the cheering multitude. Inone hand she carried an ancientsword that she had found near thetomb of a saint, and in the other a
 
white banner embroidered with lilies. The roughsoldiers who were near her left off their oaths andcoarse manners, and carefully guarded her. Sheinspired the whole army with courage and faith as shetalked about her visions. When she arrived at thebesieged city of Orleans she fearlessly rode round itswalls, while the English soldiers looked on inastonishment.
 
She was able to enter Orleans, despite the efforts of the besiegers to prevent her. She aroused the city byher cheerful, confident words and then led her soldiersforth to give battle to the English. Their success wasamazing. One after another the English forts weretaken. When only the strongest remained and Joan wasleading the attacking force, she received a slight woundand was carried out of the battle to be attended by asurgeon. Her soldiers began to retreat. "Wait," shecommanded, "eat and drink and rest; for as soon as Irecover I will touch the walls with my banner and youshall enter the fort." In a few minutes she mounted herhorse again and riding rapidly up to the fort, touched it with her banner. Her soldier almostinstantly carried it. The very next day the enemy's troops were forced to withdraw from beforethe city and the siege was at end. The French soldiers were jubilant at the victory and calledJoan the "Maid of Orleans." By this name she is known in history.Her fame spread everywhere, and the English aswell as the French thought she had more thanhuman power. She led the French in several otherbattles, and again and again her troops werevictorious. At last the English were driven far to thenorth of France. Then Charles, urged by Joan, wentto Rheims with twelve thousand soldiers, and there,with splendid ceremonies, was crowned king. Joanholding her white banner, stood near Charles duringthe coronation. When the ceremony was finished,she knelt at his feet and said, "O King, the will of God is done and my mission is over! Let me now gohome to my parents." But the king urged her to staya while longer, as France was not entirely freedfrom the English. Joan consented, but she said, "Ihear the heavenly voices no more and I am afraid."However she took part in an attack upon thearmy of the Duke of Burgundy, but was taken prisoner by him. For a large sum of money theduke delivered her into the hands of the English, who put her in prison in Rouen.She lay in prison for a year, and finally was charged with sorcery and brought to trial. It wassaid that she was under the influence of the Evil One. She declared to her judges her innocenceof the charge and said, "God has always been my guide in all that I have done. The devil hasnever had power over me." Her trial was long and tiresome. At its close she was doomed to beburned at the stake.
 

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