There are few more fascinating stories from history than that of Joan of Arc, the Maid of Orleans, who led the French against the English in the Loire Valley in 1429. Apparently, she was an illiterate farm hand who heard the voice of God inside her head, telling her to defeat the English. The Battle of Jargeau, was her first offensive engagement, and took place along the districts at this point on the Loire River. This was one battle in what is known as the Hundred Year’s War, fought between the House of Plantagenet ruling England and the House of Valois defending its rulership of France.
Joan of Arc was involved in five military actions in 1429: lifting the Siege of Orleans; the Battle of Jargeau; the Battle of Meung-sur-Loire; the Battle of Beaugency; and the Battle of Patay. Her leadership of the French forces was seen to be decisive in turning the war in France’s favour. This period is seen by historians as the first real development of opposing French and English nationalistic feelings amongst the peoples of these lands. Prior to this the English kings were vassals to the French ruling house in France, since the Norman Conquest in 1066.
Joan of Arc and the Brutality of British Law
In 1430 Joan of Arc was captured at Compiegne by the Burgundians, who were allied with the English. They handed her over to the English and Joan was tried by the Bishop of Beauvais on charges of witchcraft, amongst others, and found guilty. Whilst still only nineteen years of age; Joan was burnt at the stake by the English in 1431 in Rouen, Normandy. The brutality of British law would see them burn her remains three times. This was because she died of smoke inhalation the first time, and her organs were not completely incinerated the second time, so a third burning was required under law.
One wonders what wills and estates the Maid of Orleans may have left for her surviving family. Unmarried, a virgin, it would have to be her parents or siblings that would inherit, if she had left any property behind. Joan of Arc became a saint, and a national icon of French, when she was beatified and canonised by the Catholic Pope, and celebrated by Napoleon Bonaparte. Church and state united behind this illiterate young woman who fought fiercely for French identity against the English.