Joan of Arc was born on January 6, 1412, in the village of Domremy in north-eastern France. Her father Jacques was a peasant farmer and a minor village official. Her mother Isabelle, raised her daughter in the teachings of the Christian faith. Joan was more religious than most of the girls in her village. At the age of thirteen or fourteen Joan began to hear voices and to have visions. She claimed the voices and visions were of Saint Michael, Saint Margaret, and Saint Catherine. These voices told Joan to free the city of Orleans from the English who were overtaking it. The voices also told her to take the dauphin to Reims where he would be crowned king of France.
Complete with a mountain escort by Robert de Baudncourt, captain of the nearby town, Joan proceeded across France in February 1429 to the castle of Chinon in the Loore Valley where the dauphin then resided. With doubts in his mind, Charles had her examined at Poitiers by a group of distinguished clergy and theologians who assured him of the orthodoxy of her religious beliefs. Charles then assigned a squire, a page, heralds, and a confessor and sent her on her off with a small force to Orleans, where she joined the army resisting the English siege. There, in the first week of May 1429, Joan led a series of successful battles against the English and so defeated them that they raised the siege and departed on May 8. The news of the victory spread quickly across France and gave a new spirit of hope to the people.
The next step in Joan’s plan called for the coronation of the dauphin at Reims. She believed that this would invest Charles with his rightful authority and restore to the French people a sense of national togetherness. The dauphin was to only surviving son of the late King Charles VI, and had been disinherited in the Anglo-French Treaty of Troyes in 1420. The road to Reims was obstructed by several English occupied towns. The French armies recovered in no time. When the way to Reims was cleared, the dauphin was crowned in the cathedral Charles VII on July 17, 1429, with Joan in attendance. After the crowing a large number of French towns returned in the king’s support
At this point, Charles succumbed to the advice of in councilors, who believed that diplomatic negotiations with the Duke of Burgundy, England’s ally, would be more effective than continued fighting. Joan and the military leaders wanted to press their advantage and move on to take Paris. Reluctantly, Charles accompanied them and in September the French army was encamped on the north side of Paris, which had been occupied by the English for ten years. But Joan’s attempt to storm the walls of the city failed. Charles then disbanded them.
This was a recurrent feature of Charles’ behavior. He displayed it notably after Joan’s capture when he made no attempt to communicate with her capture or negotiate for her ransom. In April 1430. After six months of inactivity, Joan slipped away from the king and with a small band of soldiers proceeded around Paris to Compiegne, which was under siege by the Burgundais. She was captured there on May 23 and imprisoned.
The English wanted possession of Joan for she had become an impediment to their conquest of France. Pierre Cauchon, bishop of Beauvais and a strong supported of the English, negotiated with the Burundians for her purchase. Cauchon had been driven from Burgundy to deliver Joan to the Inquisiter of France so that she might be tried for her so-called “crimes”, including heresy. In November 1430 the Burbundians delivered Joan to the English for sixteen thousand francs, and she was tasked to Bouer where her trial lasted from January to May 1431.
Although witchcraft was one of the original charges against Joan, her trial was for heresy, and was conducted under procedures on the Inquistior, but with several irregularities. The Inquisitors representative was rarely present, and Cauchon, who failed to provide Joan with a layer, was left as presiding judge.
As the trial went on, the main issue changed to Joan’s refusal to submit to the authority of the church in the interpretation of her voices and in her habit