Today on May 30, 1431, Joan of Arc meets her dreadful fate as she is burned at the stake of heresy and witchcraft.
Joan of Arc, nicknamed as the Maid of Orleans, was born in the village of Domremy in northern France. At the time of her birth, France was in the midst of a bitter conflict with England known as the Hundred Years’ War. Her country was on the brink of collapse, and she was forced to flee under the threat of invasion. Her hostile and frightening upbringing played a significant role in developing her deep resentment for England. From early on, she began hearing voices from God. She insisted it was her a divine mission to save France from its enemies and help install Charles as the rightful King of France.
After an unlikely meeting with the Dauphin of France, she boldly requested that he give her full control of the French army. Against all advice, Charles granted the request. Without any military experience at all, she immediately marched north to relieve the besieged city of Orleans. Joan dressed in shining white armor and rode upon a white horse. After sneaky around the English army, she miraculously entered the town with fresh troops and supplies. The young warrior led several decisive victories against the far superior English soldiers. However, only a few months later she was captured by Burgundian soldiers during the Siege of Paris.
Shortly after, she was handed over to the English and tried for heresy. Her trial was so unfair that the official transcripts were used as evidence for her eventual canonization in 1920. At nineteen years old, she was sentenced to die and ordered to burn at the stake. Tied to a tall pillar in a public square in Rouen, two of the local clergymen held a crucifix before her as the flames ignited. The executioner exposed her charred body to the crowd to dispel any rumors of her escape. The body was burned twice to prevent it from ever being used as a relic. The English cast her remaining ashes into the Seine River. Joan received a posthumous retrial nearly twenty-five years after her execution and continues to serve as an enduring symbol of French nationalism.