Where Was Joan of Arc Burned to Death?
Joan of Arc, the peasant girl who led the French to victory at Orleans and Charles VII to his coronation at Rheims, was burned to death as a heretic by the English on May 31, 1431, in the Place du vieux Marche in Rouen. Her great heroism and leadership, which she claimed to be inspired by the voices of three saints, played a decisive part in the revival of France at the crisis of the Hundred Years War against the English invaders.
Joan was born in 1412 at Domremy, a village between champagne and Lorraine on the banks of the Meuse. She led cattle to pasture and sang and danced with the other village girls until, at the age of 13, she began to hear voices and see visions. Joan said she received visions of the Archangel Michael, Saint Margaret, and Saint Catherine of Alexandria instructing her to support Charles VII and recover France from English domination late in the Hundred Years’ War.
Later these voices urged her to go to Orleans and raise the siege of the city. With the approval of the Church she entered Orleans and defeated the besieging English. After a famous battle at Patay in June, 1429, in which Joan led the French to a great victory, she persuaded Charles the Dauphin to go to Rheims where he was crowned king.
Joan, the Maid of Orleans, stood near the altar during the ceremony, holding her banner aloft. The Maid was captured by the Burgundians in a skirmish on May 30, 1430, and handed over to the Bishop of Beauvais. After an inquisition by the Church she was delivered to the English and put on trial by the pro-English Bishop of Beauvais Pierre Cauchon on a variety of charges. After Cauchon declared her guilty she was burned at the stake on 30 May 1431, dying at about nineteen years of age.
To the very last moment of her ordeal she claimed that her voices were sent to her by God. The executioner later said that her heart would not burn and that he had found it intact in the ashes. This story became part of her legend.
In 1456, an inquisitorial court authorized by Pope Callixtus III examined the trial, debunked the charges against her, pronounced her innocent, and declared her a martyr. In the 16th century she became a symbol of the Catholic League, and in 1803 she was declared a national symbol of France by the decision of Napoleon Bonaparte.
She was beatified in 1909 and canonized in 1920. Joan of Arc is one of the nine secondary patron saints of France, along with St. Denis, St. Martin of Tours, St. Louis, St. Michael, St. Rémi, St. Petronilla, St. Radegund and Ste. Thérèse of Lisieux.
Joan of Arc has remained a popular figure in literature, painting, sculpture, and other cultural works since the time of her death, and many famous writers, filmmakers and composers have created works about her. Cultural depictions of her have continued in films, theater, television, video games, music, and performances to this day.