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THE MESSENGER: THE STORY OF JOAN OF ARC

The Story
Joan of Arc was born the youngest daughter of a peasant farmer in Domremy, France around 1412, a time when France was being overrun by the English during the bloody Hundred Years' War. In addition, an internal war was being waged within France, with the region of Burgundy siding with the English. A deciding factor in the war was who would control the city of Orleans, which sits strategically on the bank of the Loire river. Only one thing could save France from its darkest period in history... a miracle.

When King Henry V of England and King Charles VI of France both die in 1422, the English declare Henry VI, a mere child, king of both England and France. Charles VII of France has no intention of abandoning his kingdom and declares himself heir to the throne, but he cannot be made king until he is crowned at Rheims— which is under English occupation.

Meanwhile, in Domremy, 13-year old Joan spends most of her childhood kneeling in prayer. She not only loves to confess many times daily, but often hears voices from the sky and has strange, startling visions.

In her own words:

The voice told me that I must depart and go into France. And the voice said that I would raise the siege before Orleans. And it told me to go to Vaucouleurs, to Robert de Baudri court, captain of the town, who would give me men to go with me. And I answered the voice that I was a poor girl who knew nothing of riding and warfare.

From the very beginning, she was told what her mission was: she was chosen by God to restore France and to give aid to the Dauphin Charles, who was to be king of France. In order to do this, she must wear men's clothing, bear arms and lead an army.

One day, after playing in the fields, Joan runs home to find the English have invaded her town. As she hides in a cupboard, she witnesses English soldiers murder and rape her 18-year-old sister. After this tragedy, Joan is sent to live with her aunt and uncle in a neighboring village. It seems highly unlikely that this innocent girl who never went to school and cannot read or write will eventually lead the French army in defeating the powerful English army and liberating her country. But by May 1428, Joan no longer doubts that she has been bidden by God to come to the aid of the king, and she takes action.

Leaving the only home she has ever known behind, Joan rides to Chinon to see Charles, the Dauphin. At first the King and his subjects don't know what to think when word arrives from young Joan. Aware of her professed visions and suspicious of her intentions, Charles orders Jean D'Aulon, his finest archer, to pose as king. Joan arrives at the castle, impresses Charles by calling him on his bluff, and secures a private meeting with him.

In her own words to Charles:

I bring you news from God, that our Lord will give you back your kingdom, bringing you to be crowned at Rheims and driving out your enemies. In this I am God's messenger. Do set me bravely to work, and I will raise the siege of Orleans.

Persuaded to take her claims at face value, Charles agrees to Joan's request, providing her with an army to achieve victory against the English and secure the city of Rheims for his coronation. Though many feel that Joan is at best a harmless hysteric and at worst a threat not only to the king's throne but to his life, they also detect in her a magical quality and a persuasive attitude that cannot be discouraged or resisted.

Joan arrives at the battlefield dressed in white armor and carrying her personalized banner. This makes an impression on both armies, who are not used to seeing a woman in combat. In the trenches with her countrymen, Joan wins a victory for the French, who are rejuvenated by their inspirational new leader. But the battle is not over yet—Joan insists on pressing further and rallying the troops once more to dissolve the Engli

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