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Sainte Jeanne d'Arc
Saint Joan of Arc

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Jeanne d'Arc (Joan of Arc) is known as la mère de la nation française - the mother of the French nation. 

She was a born in Domrémy, northern France, around the year 1412.  

Joan was the youngest of five children.  She had three brothers and a sister.   

D'Arc was the family surname.  

This is a photo of the house where she was born and lived.

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The town of Domrémy is in the région of France known as Grand Est.  The full name of the town is Domrémy-la-Pucelle.
 

During Joan's lifetime, the English and their allies - the Burgundians - were invading and occupying areas of northern France.  It was the latter stage of la Guerre de Cent Ans - the Hundred Years' War (1337 - 1453).

It must have been very frightening for everyone living in this area of France.

When Joan was about twelve years old, she began to experience visions and to hear the voices of Saint Margaret, Saint Catherine of Alexandria and the Archangel Michael.   They told her to visit the heir to the French throne (le dauphin Charles) and to lead him to the cathedral of Reims so that he could be crowned King of France.   The voices also told her "to throw the English out of France" - bouter les Anglais hors de France.

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During a period of around four years, the voices continued to speak to Joan.  It was always the same messages that she heard.


This is a painting by Eugène Thirion, depicting the Archangel Michael speaking to Joan.


Below, you can see another famous painting by French artist Jules Bastien-Lepage.   It depicts Joan in her garden whilst hearing the special messages.   This painting is visible at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

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Reims Cathedral

The cathedral of Reims - la cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims - was the official venue for the coronation of the Kings of France, but the ceremony (known as le sacre du roi) could not take place because that area of France was in enemy hands: it was occupied by the English in alliance with the Burgundians.   

Eventually, it was decided that Joan should visit the dauphin Charles, in order to give him the messages.  She travelled to his castle in Chinon, accompanied by guards.  It took eleven days to arrive there.  Joan was sixteen years old.

She must have felt very nervous going to a royal palace!  She had only ever experienced a simple life in the countryside.

She introduced herself as Jeanne la Pucelle (Joan the Maiden) and informed le dauphin Charles that God commanded him to travel to Reims for his coronation. 

Charles and Joan also had a private meeting where Joan told him a secret message that has never been revealed.   

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This portrait of Charles was painted by artist Jean Fouquet

It is visible at the Louvre Museum in Paris. 

Charles decided to take Joan seriously.   He agreed to let her lead his army against the English soldiers who had seized the city of Orléans. 

A suit of armour and a war banner were made for Joan.  The banner was decorated with the words "Jesus, Maria" in large, golden letters.  Joan also carried a sword but declared that she would never use it, preferring to hold her banner on the battle field.  She said:

"I loved my banner forty times more than my sword."

 

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This is a sketch of Jeanne d'Arc.  It is the earliest known image of her.  It is believed to have been drawn during her lifetime in 1429 by Clément de Fauquembergue. She carries her army's banner in one hand and her sword in the other hand.