The French martyr of the Hundred Years’ War was not the fierce warrior most imagine today.
Although she often accompanied the French army while dressed in full body armor, Joan of Arc’s presence was primarily symbolic. Rising from obscurity after claiming she heard the voice of God, the daughter of a peasant farmer became a source of inspiration for her countrymen on the battlefield. In the war against the invading English, she stood on the sidelines during military engagements, boosting morale for the French soldiers defending their homeland.
While she never swung a sword or killed an enemy, her close proximity to the front lines still required a high level of courage. On two occasions, she was critically wounded by English arrows, and like a modern general, she also marshaled French forces and crafted overarching strategies for future campaigns.
After her capture by the English, Joan of Arc was charged with a litany of crimes, including sorcery and wearing men’s clothing, and on May 30, 1431, she was burned at the stake. It would be another 22 years until the Hundred Years’ War came to an end, with France finally emerging victorious. Joan of Arc’s contributions would be remembered for centuries, and in 1920 the Roman Catholic Church formally canonized her as a saint.