Joan of Arc was still a teenager when she appealed to her local lord to meet with Charles and fight to put him on the French throne. The lord didn’t decide to help Joan right away. Eventually, however, he gave in and sent Joan to see the Dauphin Charles. When she finally met Charles, she told him, “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…Do you set me bravely to work, and I will raise the siege of Orleans.” Charles had her tested by churchmen to decide if her voices were real and if she could really help him take the throne. She convinced the priests that her instructions came from God, and Charles agreed to prepare Joan for battle. Once again, Joan found herself in a position that few medieval women ever had—leader of an army.
As Joan got ready for battle, she wore men’s clothes and was fitted for a suit of armor. She didn’t care if people gossiped about the way she dressed because even as a child she did what she thought was right. Now she believed the right thing was to help the French city of Orleans, which was surrounded by English troops.
She marched to Orleans with a force of 4,000 men. Though others thought her strange, her troops respected her because she traveled for miles with them and never complained. She arrived with her troops in April 1429. She met with Count Jean de Dunois, the defender of Orleans. Together, they won small skirmishes with the English outside the city before attacking English forces that surrounded Orleans. Though wounded by an arrow, Joan continued to urge her troops on. She shouted to them “Courage! Do not fall back: in a little the place will be yours.” Once again she was correct and English forces marched away from the city.
After a few more French victories, Joan accompanied Charles to Rheims, the city where French kings were crowned. On July 17, 1429, with Joan at his side, Charles VII became king of France. It was a triumphant moment for Joan, whose voices proved to be correct; however, she desired to drive the English out of France completely. She disagreed with Charles that English allies, the Burgundians, could be trusted to make peace. She led her men to an area around Paris, which was held by the English. Although she managed to convince some of the townspeople to pledge their loyalty to Charles, the voices that had always promised good things now warned her that she would be captured.
While trying to attack another city near Paris, Joan was taken prisoner by the Burgundians. After spending months in prison, the Burgundians sent Joan to the English for her trial. The churchmen conducting the trial were sympathetic to the English and did not want Joan to go free so she could inspire her countrymen to fight again. They accused her of being a heretic, which meant that her religious beliefs went against the wishes of the church. Joan was convicted and sentenced to be burned in the marketplace in the town of Rouen. When Joan of Arc died, a bystander correctly observed, “we are lost; we have burned a saint.”