Joan of Arc

In 1431, Joan of Arc was found guilty of which crime?

And the answer: heresy.

During the Hundred Years' War, 18 year old Joan of Arc believed she was acting under divine guidance, when she led the French army to victory over England. She was ultimately captured by the English, found guilty of heresy, and burned at the stake. In 1920, she was canonized as a Roman Catholic saint.

Joan of Arc began her life as a French peasant. Caught between English occupation and the French crown, young Joan began to claim that voices of patron-saints were encouraging her on a mission to reclaim the kingdom. At 16, Joan made her way to Vaucouleurs, a nearby stronghold of those loyal to King Charles. Rejected on the grounds of her youth and womanhood, clever Joan didn’t take no for an answer. After chopping her hair and disguising herself as a man, Joan convinced Charles that the Siege of Orleans would be a success. The King granted her request (much to the chagrin of his confidants), and the young warrior led French forces to victory.

Interestingly, Joan never actually participated in the warfare that led her country to freedom. As an inspiration and mascot for the front, her sage advice and ideas were the source of her success, and later canonization. However, she wasn’t always revered -- in fact, she was commonly despised. In the 1400s, no woman had known such military success and power over royal opinion, much less a peasant of 18. Such mystery infuriated her opponents, and her bravery was ultimately compensated with an unjust and fiery end.

To learn more about this Saint, check out the video below.


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