JOAN of Arc, or more properly Joanneta Darc, afterwards known in France as Jeanne d'Arc,1 the Maid of Orleans, was born about 1411, the daughter of Jacques Dare, peasant proprietor of Domremy, a small village partly in Champagne and partly in Lorraine, and of his wife Isabeau de Vouthon, who from having made a pilgrimage to Rome had received the usual surname of Romée. Joan never learned to read or write, and received her sole religious instruction from her mother, who taught her to recite the Pater Noster, Ave Maria, and Credo. In her childhood she was noted for her abounding physical energy; but her vivacity, so far from being tainted by any coarse or unfeminine trait, was the direct outcome of intense mental activity and an abnormally sensitive nervous temperament. Towards her parents her conduct was uniformly exemplary, and the charm of her unselfish kindness made her the special favourite of many in the village. In all household work she was specially proficient, her skill in the use of the needle not being excelled by that of any matron even of Rouen. As she grew to womanhood she became inclined to ilence, and spent much of her time in solitude and prayer. All advances made by the young men of her acquaintance with the view of winning her attention or favour she decisively repelled; and, while active in the performance of her usual round of duties, and apparently finding her mode of life quite pleasant and congenial, inwardly she was engrossed with thoughts reaching far beyond the circle of her daily concerns.
At the time, through the alliance and support of Phillip of Burgundy, the English had extended their conquest over the whole of France north of the Loire as well as Guienne and, while the infant Henry VI. of England had in 1422 been proclaimed king of France at his father's grave at St Denis, Charles the dauphin, devoted only to present ease and pleasure, was almost passively contemplating the slow dismemberment of his kingdom by internal confusion and misery, and by the progressive encroachments of the English rule. The fact that the hard straits to which the kingdom was reduced were greatly owing to the conduct of Isabella, the dauphin's mother, who disinherited her son in favour of Henry V. of England, the, husband of her daughter Catherine, supplied an opportunity for the fulfilment of the ancient prophecy of the enchanter Merlin, that the calamities which should fall, upon Prance through the depravity of a woman would be removed by the instrumentality of a chaste virgin. To the imagination of the time there was, moreover, nothing strange in such a mode of deliverance, for it was no uncommon occurrence for damsels to accompany their lovers to the wars, and, disguised as pages, to share to some extent in their dangers and adventures. In the country of Joan the tradition was current that this virgin should come out of the forest of Domremy, where Joan was accustomed in her childhood to tend her father s sheep. How it therefore became fixed in her mind that she was the destined deliverer of her country there is little difficulty in understanding. She possessed a nature strongly sympathetic, and it was kindled to ardent patriotism by the sad condition of her country; her imagination was so overpoweringly vivid that it frequently deceived her reason; and her consciousness of endowments which could find no proper scope for their activity within her narrow sphere must have confirmed if they did not originate her prognostications that she was appointed to some high destiny. Gradually her whole attention became so engrossed with her country s wrongs that all her waking hours were one continued and prolonged prayer for its deliverance. The result was that, owing to a peculiarity in her nervous constitution, her own thoughts and hopes seemed to take audible voice, and returned to her as assurances and commands spoken to her by the saints. At last, when in 1428 Orleans, the key to the south of France, was invested by the English under the earl of Salisbury, the voices became so peremptory and urgent as to overcome all pretexts for delay on account of previous discouragements and rebuffs. Notwithstanding the strong remonstrances of her parents, who viewed her resolve with poignant grief and dismay, she now renewed with increased determination her efforts to win from Robert de Baudricourt, governor of Vaucouleurs, an introduction to the dauphin Charles. In all her subsequent, acts she professed to be guided by the voices of the saints, who had set before her the twofold task of relieving Orleans and crowning the young dauphin at Rheims. By persistent importunity, the effect of which was increased by the simplicity of her demeanour and her calm assurance of success, she at last prevailed on the governor to grant her request; and in February 1429, accompanied by two knights, she set out on her perilous journey to the court of the dauphin at Chinon. At first Charles refused to see her, but the rising tide of popular feeling in her favour induced his advisers to persuade him after three-days to grant her an interview.. Of the divinity of her commission she is said to have persuaded him by discovering him though disguised in the crowd of his courtiers, and by assuring him regarding his secret doubts as to his legitimacy. Accordingly, after a commission of doctors had reported that they had found in her nothing of evil or contrary to the Catholic faith, and a council of matrons had reported on her chastity and virginity, she was permitted to set forth with an army of 4000 or 5000 men designed for the relief of Orleans. At the head of the army she rode clothed in a coat of mail, armed with an ancient sword which she had, divined to be hidden near the altar of St Catherine de Fierbois, and carrying a white standard of her own design embroidered with lilies and having on the one side the image of God seated on the clouds and holding the world in his hand, and on the other a representation of the annunciation. Joan was of medium height, stoutly built, but finely proportioned; and her frame was capable of enduring great fatigue. Notwithstanding subsequent traditions, she does not appear to have been strikingly handsome. Conventional beauty of the highest type could not be expected in one accustomed to her mode of life, but the most authentic testimonies represent her as less comely than many in her own station. Her features were, moreover, expressive rather of rustic honesty and innocence than of mental power, although she is said to have possessed grand melancholy eyes which, probable on account of the high and noble purpose which animate them, exercised an indescribable charm.2 Her voice was powerful, but at the same time of great sweetness, and her manner possessed a fine natural dignity and grace, which, while it repelled familiarity, softened and subdued even the rudest of the soldiers. Nominally she had been entrusted with the command of the army, but in reality it was under the direction of experienced generals; and it cannot be pretended that the victories accomplished in consequence of her co-operation were the result of brilliant military genius. Indeed, the blind obstinacy with which in the face of overwhelming odds she refused to acknowledge defeat place it beyond doubt that she was unable to estimate the elements of success in battle, and was actuated throughout by a fatalistic persuasion that victory was inevitable if she persevered unflinchingly in her efforts to obtain it. At the same time she possessed a shrewd and penetrating judgment both as to men and things, and the manner in which she conducted herself amid the varied difficulties of her career indicated extraordinary force of character and high and noble prudence. What, however, she chiefly supplied to the French cause was concentrated energy and resolution. Above all, she inspired the soldiery with a fanatic enthusiasm armed with the sanctions and ennobled by the influences of religion; and she overawed the enemy by the superstitious fear that she was in league with supernatural powers.
By a remarkable stroke of good luck Joan succeeded in entering Orleans on the 29th April 1429, and through the vigorous and unremitting attacks of the French the English gradually became so discouraged that on the 8th of May they raised the siege. By the capture of Jargeau and Beaugency, followed by the great victory of Patay, where Talbot was taken prisoner, the English were driven beyond the Loire. With some difficulty the king was then persuaded to set out towards Rheims, which he entered with an army of 12,000 men on July 16th, Troyes having on the way been taken by assault at the sole instigation of the Maid. On the following day, holding the, sacred banner, she stood next to Charles at his coronation in the cathedral. After an endeavour to detach Burgundy from the English cause, the king at last agreed to attempt the capture of Paris, but on account of the disastrous result of an attack made on the 8th September, in which Joan was wounded, he resolved, notwithstanding her passionate remonstrance, to withdraw from the city, and disbanded his troops. Joan went into Normandy to assist the duke of Alençon, but in December returned to the court, and on the 29th she and her family were ennobled with the surname of du Lis. Unconsoled by such honours, she rode away from the court in March, to assist in the defence of Compiègne against the duke of Burgundy; and on the 24th May she led an unsuccessful sortie against the besiegers, when on account of her determination to fight to the last she was surrounded and taken prisoner. Charles; partly perhaps on account of his natural indolence, partly on account of the intrigues at the court, made no effort to effect her ransom, and never showed any sign of. interest, in her fate. Probably he had found her so difficult to manage and control that he as well as his generals regarded her presence with the army as more embarrassing than helpful; and doubtless her capture dissipated the halo of supernatural power that had surrounded her. By means of negotiations instigated and prosecuted with great perseverance by the university of Paris and the Inquisition, and through the persistent scheming of Pierre Cauchon, the ejected bishop of Beauvais, she was sold in November by Luxembourg and Burgundy to the English, who on January 3, 1431, at the instance of the university of Paris, delivered her over to the Inquisition for trial. After a public examination, begun on the 9th January and lasting six days, and another conducted iu the prison, she was, on the 20th March, publicly accused as a heretic and sorcerer, and, being in the end found guilty, she made her submission at the scaffold on the 24th May, and received pardon. She was still, however, the prisoner of the English, and, having been induced by those who had her in charge to resume her male clothes, she was on this account judged to have relapsed, was sentenced to death, and burned at the stake on the streets of Rouen, May 30, 1431. The sentence was revoked by the pope on the 7th July 1456, and since then it has been the custom of Catholic writers to uphold the reality of her divine inspiration. In 1436 an impostor appeared, professing to be Joan of Arc escaped from the flames, who succeeding in inducing many people to believe in her statement, but afterwards confessed her imposture.
There is no doubt that Joan herself believed in her supernatural guidance, and her judges, notwithstanding all their efforts, were unable to bring to light the smallest semblance of a sign of conscious dishonesty on her part. At the same time the nobility of her purpose was unstained by the faintest symptom of selfish regard to her own fame and glorification. Indeed the greatness of her career did not consist in her military achievements, but in her pure, true, and ardent character, which made her a pathetic victim to the mean and grovelling aims of those in whose cause she fought with such simple sincerity of faith, and to the cruelties of a superstitious age.
Literature.--All previous works on Joan of Arc were deprived of a great part of their critical value by the publication, in 5 vols., 1841-49, of the Procés de condamnation et de réhabilitation de Jeanne d Arc, edited by J. Quicherat. The record of the Procés de çondamnation consisted originally of the official notes of the trial, afterward, edited in Latin by P. Cauchon, and bears internal marks of general truthfulness. The original French minute does not exist except in a fragment which has been reproduced by M. Vallet de Viriville in his French translation of the Latin version, published in 1867. A French translation of the Procés de condamnation and Procés de réhabilitation by E. O'Reilly appeared In 1868. The 4th vol. of Quicherat is occupied with old chronicles and histories, the principal of which are those of Percival de Cagny, a retainer of the duke of Alençon, never before published; Jacques le Bouvier (Berri) that from 1402 1411 first published in 1653 as part of a history of Charles VI., and the remainder, 1411 1444, in the collection of Denis Godefroy, 1661; Jean Chartier, only contemporaneous from 1437, before which it borrows chiefly from the Chronique de la Pucelle and La Bonvier, what it does not borrow being utterly untrustworthy, published 1476 77 1493,1514, 1517 18, by Denis Godefroy, 1681, and Vallet de Viriville, with notes, 1858; Journal du Siége d'Orléans, founded on the chronicles of Berri and Jean Chartier, with a few other documents, published 1576, 1606, 1611, 1819, 1621, and reprinted with notes by Jacob in 1855; la Geste des nobles François, or Chronique de Cousinot which closes with 1429, but some years afterwards was completed by a nephew of Cousinot to the siege of Paris so as to form the Chronique de La Pucelle, published by Denis Godefroy, 1661, by M. Petitot, 1825, in vol. viii. of Mémoires relatifs a l'historie de France, and with notes by Vallet de Viriville, 1859; Chronique dÉnguerran de Monstrelet, first published about 1500 and very frequently afterwards, English translation by Thomas Johnes, 1840, the last and best French edition, that of L. Douét d'Arcq, 6 vols., 1857 62. The principal other contemporary authorities are Basin's Histoire des Régnes de Charles VII et de Louis XI., first published In a complete form by Quicherat, with notes and life, 4 vols., 1855 1859; the Chroníque Normande of Pierre Cochon, the part referring to Joan published along with Chronique de la Pucelle by Vallet de Viriville, 1859, the whole by De Robillard do Beaurepaire, 1870; Chronique de Robert Blondel, first published by Vallet de Viriville, 1859; Chronique de Jean Raoult, or Chronique anonyme de Charles VII., first published by Vallet do Viriville, 1858; Abregé d'Histoire chronologique, by Denis Godefroy, 1661; Le mystère du Siége d'Orléans, in verse, published from a manuscript in the Vatican in Collection de Documents inédits sur l'Histoire de France, 1862; a Latin poem by Valesan Vasanius, 1501 an anonymous Latin poem, manuscript 5970 of the Imperial Library of Paris; a poem by Christine de Pisan, 1429, printed in 1865; Martial Auvergne, Les Vigilles du roy Charle, in verse, 1505 one hundred copies of the portion relating to Joan of Arc printed at Orleans, 1866, of which one copy is in the British Museum.
The earliest life by other than contemporaries is that in Latin by Jean Hordal, 1612. Edmond Richer, who had procured the original documents of the Procés, finished a life of Joan in 1628 which was never published, but of which Lenglet-Dufresnoy made use to correct his own work, published In 1754 in two volumes. Charles du Lys, a descendant of her kin, published D'l'extraction et parente de la Pucelle d'Orléans, 1611, enlarged edition 1612, 3d in 1628, all of which were republished by Vallet de Viriville in Trésor des pièces rares et anciennes, 1856. In 1790 L Averdy published an analysis of the manuscript of the Procés in the 3d vol. of Mémoires of the Academy or Inscriptions. The principal other works previous to the publication of the Procés are those of Lebrun des Charmettes, 1817, 4 vols.: Saint-Prix, 1817; Lemaire, 1818; Joillois, 1821; Dumas, 1843 De Beauregard, 1847; and the accounts by De Barante, Michelet, and Sismondi in their several histories. Since the publication of the Procés the works of original critical value are Aperçus Nouveaux by J. Quicherat, 1850; the lives by B. Henri Martin, last ed., 1875; Wallon, 1860; and Villiaumé, 1863. Other lives have been written by Lamartine, 1852; Lafontaine, 1854; Desjardins, 1854; Michand 1861; Sepet, 1869. See also Vallet de Viriville, Recherches sur la famille de Jeanne d'Arc, 1854; Histoire de Charles VII., by the same, 8 vols., 1862-65; De Robillard de Beaurepaire, Recherches sur le procés de condamnation de Jeanne d'Arc, 1869; Boucher de Molandon, Première Expédition de Jeanne d'Arc, 1874; E. de Bouteiller, Jeanne d'Arc dans les chroniques Missines de P. Vigneulles, 1878; and E. de Bouteiller and G. de Braux, La famille de Jeanne d'Arc, 1878, Nouvelles Recherches sur la famille de Jean d Arc, 1879, and Notes Iconographiques, 1879. The principal German works are those of Görres, 2d ed., 1835 French transl., 1843); Hase, 1861; Eysell, 1861; and Hirzell, 1877. In English, in addition to the essays of De Quincey and Lord Mahon, there are lives by Harriet Parr, 1866; Mrs Bray, 1874; and Janet Tuckey, 1880. Of the numerous dramas and poems of which Joan of Arc has been the subject, mention can only be made of Die Jungfrau von Orleans of Schiller, the Joan of Arc of Southey, and the scandalous burlesque-epic of Voltaire. A drama in verse by Jules Barbier has been set to music by C. Gounod, 1873.
1In the Act of ennoblement the name is spelt Day; due probably to the peculiar current pronunciation. It has been disputed whether the name was written originally d'Arc or Darc. It is beyond doubt that the father of Joan was not of noble origin, but Bouteiller suggests that at that period the apostrophe did not indicate nobility.
2 On, the personal appearance of the Maid, see especially B. de Bonteiller, Notes Iconographiques sur Jeanne d'Arc, 1879, containing engravings of the most authentic statues.