Massive parades spill throughout the streets of Orléans, France to celebrate the woman who saved the city from a tremendous English seize.
The crowd splits to make way, as a statue enters the venue. The parade sweeps through the historical city like a large and electrified procession. Although the acts of this day may seem much too jovial for a funeral, that is in fact what the populace is celebrating. This day commemorates the acts of a solitary woman, who managed to entirely reverse the outcomes of the Hundred Years War.May 30, the day when Joan of Arc was burnt at the stake for witchcraft and heresy among other things. She was once thought of as a witch but now stands as a symbol of French unity and nationalism.
Joan of Arc’s Feast Day is celebrated all throughout France, but it is primarily memorialized in the area of France known as Orléans. The center of the celebrations consists of a large statue of Joan mounted atop of a horse, prepared for battle. The parade continues until it comes across a medieval marketplace, where a majority of the festival takes place.
Towards the evening, people watch famous battle reenactments involving Joan. Soon after, a large feast takes place. During this feast, everyone can enjoy special food such as Pain Perdu, a French toast with a quince marmalade, while the children can indulge in crown cookies. After the feast, the celebrations come to an end and several prayers are said to honor Saint Joan.Joan’s story has deep roots, beginning in the medieval struggle to gain control of France. The 100 Years War began in 1337 and ended in 1453, however the true commencement was in 1066 when William the Conqueror defeated the English troops at the Battle of Hastings. William was the Duke of Normandy, and after this battle, William was crowned as the king of England. Since this invasion, the succeeding kings of England believed that they still maintained a claim to certain French lands.
In 1328, King Charles IV died with no children, sparking the beginnings of the 100 Years War. King Edward III of England believed that he should inherit the throne, having a legitimate claim through his mother’s side of the family, and being the closest relative of Charles. Not wanting to fall under the rule of England, the French Assembly decided that the claim was invalid, and that the throne would go to Philip of Valois or Philip VI regardless of what the English presumed. Dissatisfied with the decision made, Edward III declared war against Philip VI over several territories across France, marking the beginning of the war.Although England’s claim to the French throne was a large factor, there were several others in this century long war. One of the main causes was England’s previous control of several French colonies.
The English had control over many regions in France, particularly, areas in the fertile south. These areas had been under the control of France, until the mid twelfth century. Eleanor of Aquitaine was the heiress to this area of land. When Eleanor married Henry II of England, control of the region was turned over to the English. The French monarchs were infuriated, and terrified of possible English invasions from the south. This led to constant disputes arising along the English – French frontier, creating tension between the two countries.
Another cause was the battle over control of the English Channel and trade. England heavily depended on trade with foreign nations, including France. England relied on the importation of wine from France, not being able to produce grapes themselves. England also relied on the Flemish region for the importation of several other goods. This created a trade triangle between the three countries.
Eventually, France tried to gain control of the Flemish area to control its wealth. A civil war broke out in the region. The English support was given to the manufacturing middle class, while the French supported the land – owning nobles. The English won, and now had a ally directly above France. Not wanting to be conquered by England, it was decided that it was in the best interest of France to ally with Scotland, to place England in a similar situation. This meant that both countries were now vying for dominance of the English Channel.The Hundred Years War began seventy five years prior to Joan of Arc, and there were several important battles before her, however, a majority of them were won by England. Joan of Arc is also known as Jeanne d’Arc, Jehanne la Pucelle, Maid of Orléans, or Joan the Maid.
She referred to herself a maid because it symbolized the fact that she was still a virgin, which was very important in her society. She was born in 1412 in Domrémy, a city in northeastern France. Joan’s birthplace was a location with conflicting loyalties. Some people were loyal to Charles VIII, while others were loyal English supporters. While on her trial, Joan recalled that often children would come home wounded from getting into fights regarding loyalties. Joan was born to Jacques d’Arc and Romée d’Arc, as a peasant girl. Her family was not rich at all, and Joan was a shy girl who never ventured far from her house.
She took care of the farm and the animals, and eventually became a skilled seamstress. Joan was never taught how to read or write, but she had a very religious mother. This greatly influenced Joan, who also began to have a deep love for Catholicism as well. Around the age of 13, while sitting in her family’s garden, Joan began experiencing voices and visions of saints, specifically Saint Michael, Saint Margaret and Saint Catherine. She also experiences large groups of angels.
Joan described to experience both verbal communications, along with visible figures in her visions. She perceived that the voice of God was commanding her to serve the French nation by expelling the English troops. Joan claimed that her visions were very realistic, and that she felt as if she were talking to the person itself. She claimed that the people were accompanied by a bright light, and that the voices came from the general direction of the Church. While hearing the voices, Joan determined that she had been chosen by God to save France by expelling their British enemies.
She claimed to be told to go to the King of France, and request to assist him during the battle. Soon after receiving these visions, her village was attacked by Anglo-Burgundian forces, and she and her family fled, returning after the raids were over. This was the last time Joan went to her house, as she left to visit the king the following day. She went to meet with Robert de Baudricourt, the captain of the Vaucouleurs, requesting for for armor, a horse, and an escort to see King Charles VII at Chinon. (Since Paris was deep inside the territory of the English, King Charles VII was forced to build a makeshift palace). After being denied twice by Robert de Baudricourt, she was very persuasive and persistive, and had the support of a great majority of the town. After her third attempt, she was finally allowed to visit the kingJoan of Arc left for Chinon in February of 1429, and arriving 11 days later.
The journey was 300 miles long, and she was taken through territory of enemies and bandits. While on her trial, Joan also mentions that they travelled by night, and avoided any and all towns. When she finally reached the city, she was dressed in the clothing of a man, as they thought that she would be raped if her identity as a woman was revealed.