Tapestry with Joan's Image
of Joan of Arc
France During Hundred Years' War
The setting for Joan’s birth, and her 19 years of life, was in northern France during the
Hundred Years’ War. This series of wars was brought about, in part, by the opposing claims to the French throne that were pursued by king Henry VI of England and Charles, the son of the late Valois king of France,
Charles VI. Henry, aided by the
Duke of Burgundy, who’s father [John the Fearless] had been assassinated in 1419 by the minions of Charles, led an English army bent on the conquest of France.
By 1427, five years after his Father’s death,
Charles had still not been crowned king. This fact caused a large number of Frenchmen to be cynical about his cause.
Reims, the ancient place for crowning French kings, was in the hands of the English and Charles’ treasury was in dire straights. Charles’ cause seemed hopeless.
Joan of Arc's Religion
Jeanne d’Arc, the daughter of a wealthy tenant farmer, was born at Domrémy France, in the Meuse River valley, in what is now the département of
Vosges, in the region of
Lorraine, to the east of
Nancy [also called Jeanne la Pucelle d’Orléans (Joan the Maid of Orléans)]. The area were she was born was often the scene of fighting during the Hundred Years’ War between the French and English. At the time, the English and their ally, the Duke of Burgundy, controlled almost all of northern France, including the
Champagne city of Reims [which had been the venue for over a thousand years for the coronation of the French kings]. The Valois Dauphin,
Charles VII, had not yet been crowned. His succession to the throne was in dispute and a large portion of the French population did not follow him.
Joan acquired a deep religious belief from her mother and spent much of her time praying in church. By the age of 13 she was having religious visions and was hearing what she believed to be the voices of saints. Initially, she kept these experiences to herself. But, when St. Catherine and St. Margaret told her that God had chosen her to help Charles VII to drive the English out of France, she told her parents about the visions. Her father refused to let her go to Charles.
Joan's First Try to go to Charles VII
In 1428, Joan’s visions continued, and her friends [who believed she was really divinely inspired] obtained a horse and boy’s clothing for her and accompanied her to the military commander at Vaucouleurs [which is located just west of
Nancy in present the present day départment of Meuse, region of Lorraine], Robert de Baudricourt. Baudricourt did not take her seriously and she returned home.
Joan Goes to Charles VII
In January, 1429, Joan again went to Vaucoulers where this time she was able to gain the confidence of Capitan Baudricourt. He provided her with an escort of six men at arms to take her to the king at Chinon [which is in the present day département of
Indre-et-Loire, the region of
Centre] in the
Loire Valley. She left Vaucoulers, for Chinon on about February 13, dressed as a man. She, and her escort, traveled 11 days, across enemy held land, before reaching the Dauphin.