Today on April 29, 1429, Joan of Arc, a young seventeen-year-old peasant girl with no military experience manages to relieve the Siege of Orleans.
The Siege of Orleans was one of the most critical battles in the Hundred Years’ War between England and France. The epic conflict between these two great European rivals began back in 1337. King Edward III suddenly launched an invasion of Normandy after laying claim to the French throne. The English subsequently won countless victories against the French army, most notably at the Battles of Crecy, Poitiers, and Agincourt. France, quite literally on the brink of destruction, was in need of a hero to save them. The crucial city of Orleans was one of the last to fall into enemy hands. On October 14, 1428, the English army under the command of the Earl of Salisbury marched directly on Orleans.
However, the city was well-prepared for a siege, as they had long been anticipating an attack. The assault lasted for nearly seven months, and the defenders were now running out of supplies and soldiers. Meanwhile, a teenager peasant girl named Joan of Arc just convinced Charles, the Dauphin of France, to give her command of the army. Joan, now known as the Maid of Orleans, believed it was her divine mission to help Charles expel the English and install him as King of France. A few weeks later, she quickly reached the city after marching through the dangerous countryside at the head of the army.
With the English forces briefly distracted, Joan seized the opportunity and entered through the city’s eastern gates unopposed. On April 29, the citizens of Orleans celebrated as she entered with new troops and fresh supplies. Joan passionately inspired the people to continue fighting and reassured them of victory. Over the next week, she bravely led the soldiers into a number of skirmishes against the English. In fact, she was struck by an arrow during one of the battles but quickly returned to action. Ten days later, the English formally called off the siege and retreated from the region. The French victory at Orleans was undoubtedly a watershed moment of the Hundred Years’ War.