A Forth-Grade Essay by Evie Rose Little
Heroine and Savior of France was Joan of Arc’s God-given mission, and she would stop at nothing to fulfill it. Martyrdom was to be her destiny. Her path to this destiny can be traced through her commitment to her calling and mission that ultimately led to her death for which she is remembered to this day.
Joan entered into the world during a time of stress and turmoil in her country of France. The 100 Years War had been going for about 80 years before Joan was born as well as divisions within her own country over the rightful heir to the French throne. Should the heir be an Englishman or Charles VII? The people of France could not agree. Additionally the deadly Black Plague had killed one third of the European population. War and death were very real to Joan and her countrymen. They needed a savior.
At age thirteen, Joan saw a brilliant light while working in the family garden but she kept this experience to herself. The next day the light visited her again except this time it was in the form of the archangel Michael. She also received visits from Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret.
At first her angels just conversed with her, but, later on, they began telling her distressing news. They told her God had a mission for her – to save France and christen Charles VII as King of France. Joan, who was very pious, took her mission wholeheartedly and boldly asked the governor of France for his blessing. She was convinced, if God had called her to do it, he would make her able to do it.
At the time, there was a prophesy that France would be lost by a woman and saved by a maiden. Everyone knew who the woman was, Queen Isabeau, who had convinced Charles VI to sign a peace treaty with the English, thus giving the English control over France. Joan’s claim of God calling her to save France, now caused people to wonder if Joan was the maiden of the prophecy.
The governor reluctantly allowed Joan to go forth with her mission, mainly out of desperation, because Joan’s prophesy that Orléans would be captured by the English had come true. For her journey to Chinon to see Charles VII, she was disguised as a man. She cut her hair and was given men’s clothing, along with a horse, and soldiers to protect her. The people heartily loved Joan, and she called herself “la Pucelle,” the Maid, which the people readily accepted.
Although Joan was called to save France from Orléans and have Charles VII crowned King of France, her mission was not without hardship and struggle.
Upon arriving at Charles VII’s castle, she was tested. Somewhere in a crowd of royal colors, Charles was hidden, and a coy was dressed as Charles. Charles was putting Joan to the test to see if she really was a prophet. Joan had claimed she would know Charles immediately upon seeing him. Joan passed the test recognizing the real Charles at once. Joan gave him a sign to show she came from God, and his face became radiant.
Regardless of this proof, Charles had Joan tested by a council of priests and theologians for weeks to determine whether she was sent by God or the devil. Yearning to carry out her calling, Joan grew restless with the questioning. She famously cried, “I have not come to Poitiers to make signs! Take me to Orléans and I will show you the sign for which I have been sent.”
Joan passed her tests and was given armor, and the ‘miraculous sword of Fierbois,’ a sword she alone knew was buried in the Chapel of Saint Catherine. Most importantly to Joan was the standard she carried, it not only helped the soldiers locate her, it served as a reminder that her mission was not to kill anyone in battle. Joan quickly became the heart and soul of the army, which she confidently lead to victory.
With the success of Orléans behind her, Joan now led the troops on her next mission – the crowning of Charles VII at the castle in Reims. Now as king, Charles VII was overjoyed and showed his gratitude by rewarding Joan with many blessings to her family and village.
Trial and Death
Charles’ gratitude for Joan was short lived however, and he proved to be more of a coward than a courageous king. The English were strong. Charles was painfully slothful, and he failed to act when the time was right for defeating the English and defending Joan.
Joan recognized his failure and quickly led a small band of soldiers to the powerful enemy. In this ferocious battle she was plucked off her horse and taken as a prisoner of war. She was taken to court with charges of dressing in men’s clothing, as being “disrespectful to God,” and for claiming that she had voices and visions from God. If she was convicted, Charles VII’s kingship would be null and void since his kingship depended upon her reputation as a true prophet.
Joan was greatly distressed, and in her anguish she threw herself from the tower in which she was being held prisoner. The fall, a sheer sixty or seventy feet, which should have killed her, instead resulted in no apparent injuries.
Joan was taken to a completely unfair trial. Anyone siding with Joan was sent away. Joan faced two judges and sixty scholars alone. Their vile tricks were meant to confuse her, but Joan held strong. Their theology was twisted, but Joan answered the same way each time.
Despite her efforts, Joan was charged guilty. Her verdict – a heretic. Her punishment – burning at the stake. Joan panicked and signed papers that sentenced her to a removal from the Church and a lifetime of prison in an English cell.
While in jail, angels visited her one final time and told her that she was being a complete coward. Joan resolved to endure the horrific conditions of the English jail which included harsh treatments from the guards, being chained to the walls even while sleeping, and receiving visitors only from those who disliked her. In order to protect herself, she was forced to change back into men’s clothing. Wearing men’s clothes gave the English another reason to convict her. The church and the English would now be able to do what they had been wanting all along, have Joan burned at the stake. In 1431, Joan died a martyr.
One might argue that someone can do something risky, dangerous or hard knowing that they will be richly rewarded or praised in this world. Joan, however, carried out her God-given mission of saving France. Instead of praise and honor she received insult, ridicule, suffering and ultimately death. Despite her treatment, she held onto the joy of obedience to God and her heavenly reward. Her obedience was to God alone no matter what the cost. Near the end, she foresaw her fate and trusted God to see it all through. Joan’s courage, bravery and doing the right thing cost her dearly, it cost her life.
Joan of Arc’s life is incredibly inspiring to me. I will pray that, whatever the circumstance, I will trust GOD to help me through all the storms.
- Bauer, Susan Wise. “France and England at War.” The Story of the World Vol. 2 The Middle Ages From the Fall of Rome to the Rise of the Renaissance, 2004.
- English, Edward D. “Joan of Arc.” Encyclopedia of the Medieval World Vol. 1. 2005
- Stanley, Diane. Joan of Arc, 1998.
- Thery, Julien. “How Joan of Arc Turned the Tide in the Hundred Years’ War.” nationalgeographic.com National Geographic, March 2017,https://www.nationalgeographic.com/history/magazine/2017/03-04/joan-of-arc-warrior-heretic-saint-martyr/#.