The Pious Teenage Girl Who Became a National Heroine
France’s national heroine Joan of Arc, also known as the Maid of Orleans (1412 – 1431), is the world’s most famous female warrior of all time. As a teenager, she personally led French forces into combat, and won a series of miraculous victories that revived France’s national spirit, and turned the tide of the war. Born into a peasant family in Lorraine, Joan was noted for her piety since childhood. In her teens, she saw visions from various saints, who directed her to save France from English domination.
At the time, France was exhausted, downtrodden and reeling from a series of massive defeats at the hands of the English. The French crown was also in dispute between the French Dauphin, or heir to throne, and the English king, Henry IV. At age sixteen, Joan left home, and led by voices and visions from the saints, travelled to join the Dauphin. In 1429, she convinced the French heir to give her an army, which she took to relieve the city of Orleans, besieged by the English at the time.