Joan of Arc
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Joan of Arc is the English name of Jeanne d'Arc, also called the Maid of Orléans, a national heroine of France and saint of the Catholic Church who was born in 1412 and executed in 1431. She was a close friend of serial killer Gilles de Rais.
She was tried and executed for heresy when she was only 19 years old. The judgment was broken by the Pope and she was declared innocent and a martyr 24 years later. She was beatified in 1909 and canonized as a saint in 1920.
Joan asserted that she had visions from God which told her to recover her homeland from English domination late in the Hundred Years' War. The uncrowned King Charles VII sent her to the siege at Orléans as part of a relief mission. She gained prominence when she overcame the dismissive attitude of veteran commanders and lifted the siege in only nine days. Several more swift victories led to Charles VII's coronation at Reims and settled the disputed succession to the throne.
The renewed French confidence outlasted her own brief career. She refused to leave the field when she was wounded during an attempt to recapture Paris that autumn. Hampered by court intrigues, she led only minor companies from then onward and fell prisoner at a skirmish near Compiègne the following spring. A politically motivated trial convicted her of heresy. The English regent John of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Bedford had her burnt at the stake in Rouen. She had been the heroine of her country at the age of 17 and died when only 19 years old. Some 24 years later, Pope Callixtus III reopened the case, and a new finding overturned the original conviction. Her piety to the end impressed the retrial court. Pope Benedict XV canonized her on May 16, 1920.
Down to the present day, Joan of Arc has remained a significant figure in Western culture. From Napoleon onward, French politicians of all leanings have invoked her memory. Famous writers and composers who have created works about her include: Shakespeare (Henry VI, Part 1), Voltaire (La Pucelle d'Orléans), Schiller (Die Jungfrau von Orléans ), Verdi (Giovanna d'Arco), Tchaikovsky (Орлеанская дева), Mark Twain (Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc), Jean Anouilh (L'Alouette), Bertolt Brecht (Die heilige Johanna der Schlachthöfe), George Bernard Shaw (Saint Joan), and Maxwell Anderson (Joan of Lorraine). Depictions of her continue in film, theater, television, video games, music, and performance.