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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Joan of Arc

b. circa 1412, Domrémy, France; d. 1431, Rouen, France

The peasant girl who became a national heroine, Joan of Arc led the French army to a decisive victory against England during the Siege of Orléans in 1429. She embarked on her military mission at the age of seventeen, guided by voices that directed her to defend France against the English. After Orléans, her courage and skill were demonstrated many times on the battlefield, until she fell captive to enemy troops. The English tried and convicted her for heresy, a politically motivated charge which claimed that her many actions, including wearing men’s clothing, violated religious doctrine. She was threatened with torture, sexually assaulted, and eventually forced to sign a confession that she did not understand as she was illiterate. Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in Rouen, France, on May 30, 1431, at the age of nineteen. Twenty-four years later, her case was reopened and the ruling overturned. In 1920, she was canonized by Pope Benedict XV.