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Joan of Arc

A 19th-century statue of Joan of Arc in Paris, France A 19th-century statue of Joan of Arc in Paris, France Saint Joan of Arc (1412–1431), also known as the Maid of Orleans, is a national heroine in France. Her feast day, 30th May, is a French national holiday. Joan of Arc was a peasant girl who inspired the French army to win a great victory against the English at Orleans, in 1429, during the Hundred Years' War (1337–1453). She was later captured by the English, and eventually burned to death at the stake for heresy (breaking religious law). She was not yet 20 years old. In 1920, centuries after her death, Joan was made a saint by the Roman Catholic Church. She has inspired writers, artists and composers down the centuries, and remains one of the most popular of all the Catholic saints today.

Battle during the Hundred Years' WarBattle during the Hundred Years' War

Wars and disputes

Joan (Jeanne in French) was born in 1412 in a small village called Domrémy, on the border of eastern France. At that time there was a long-running series of disputes between the French and the English over the French crown. The fighting had been going on from time to time since around 1337, and is now known as the Hundred Years' War. As young Joan was growing up, the situation was complicated by internal disputes within France. The French king Charles VI was often unable to rule because of his bouts of insanity.

The king’s brother, the Duke of Orléans, and cousin, the Duke of Burgundy, quarrelled over who should govern in place of the king’s young son, Charles, the dauphin (the French name for the heir to the throne).

In 1920, Pope Benedict XV canonized Joan of Arc (made her a saint). She is patron saint of soldiers, and of France.

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