Joan of Arc and the End of the Hundred Years' War

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  • 0:05 Who Was Joan of Arc?
  • 0:48 The Hundred Years' War
  • 3:17 Joan's Trial
  • 5:13 The War Ends
  • 5:36 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jessica Elam Miller

Jessica has taught college History and has a Master of Arts in History

Joan of Arc was a French peasant who led French troops against England in the Hundred Years' War. This lesson provides a brief description of her life and actions in the war against England.

Who Was Joan of Arc?

Joan of Arc was a Frenchwoman born around January of 1412. She was born a peasant but became a hero to the French. Joan's father was a farmer. She couldn't read or write. She experienced a fairly normal childhood. However, as she grew older her life changed.

Around 1425, Joan claimed she began to hear voices or see visions. She would later claim that her visions were of angels and saints that would offer her counsel. Included in her visions were St. Catherine, St. Margaret, and the archangels Michael and Gabriel. These visions would eventually lead her to come to the aid of the king who was at war with England.

The Hundred Years' War

Joan was born amidst a war between England and France. This war was called the Hundred Years' War. The Hundred Years' War began in 1337 and ended in 1453. The war began when English King Edward, son of the late King of France's sister, claimed he should inherit the French throne but was unable to do so because his cousin Philip ended up becoming the French king. Philip's France began attacking Edward's English territories within its borders, so Edward started the war to keep control of England's lands in France.

During the early part of the war, England dominated France. It wasn't until Joan joined the battle that France began to experience major victories. In 1429, after an examination by high-ranking Catholic clergy, Joan convinced the king to allow her to accompany an army to Orleans. She arrived dressed in men's battle attire. She immediately began to reform the troops by requiring them to go to church and to confession. She disallowed swearing and looting and harassment of the civilians in the area.

She and her troops took one English fortress after another. The victories at Orleans were due to an aggressive attacking behavior not typical of French commanders. As French troops attacked the English at a church named Saint Loup, she rallied them by carrying a French banner. Although she placed herself in danger, it is thought she generally took this role rather than fighting with a weapon.

After the church was under French control, they went on to take other English strongholds. Joan led the troops to overcome a monastery named Bastille des Augustins that controlled a south approach to two English strongholds, Les Tourelles and part of the Orleans bridge. The English were overrun and abandoned these posts. After this victory, France went on to reclaim other areas under English command.

With Joan's help, the French fought another victorious battle called the Battle at Patay. French troops attacked an English relief force before their longbowmen were prepared. Joan attempted to take control of Paris but was wounded. After this, a truce was signed with the Duke of Burgundy to keep a temporary peace between France and England.

At the conclusion of the truce, Joan had another vision that she would be taken prisoner. This prediction came true when she was captured on May 24, 1430, defending a town against an English attack. She was severely outnumbered. She was captured and ransomed to the English.

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