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Joan of Arc

Inspiration and Leadership

At a young age she began to hear "voices"—those of St. Michael, St. Catherine, and St. Margaret. When she was about 16, the voices exhorted her to bear aid to the dauphin, later King Charles VII, then kept from the throne by the English in the Hundred Years War. Joan won the aid of Robert de Baudricourt, captain of the dauphin's forces in Vaucouleurs, in obtaining an interview with the dauphin. She made the journey in male attire, with six companions. Meeting the dauphin at Chinon castle, she conquered his skepticism as to her divine mission. She was examined by theologians at Poitiers, and afterward she was furnished with troops by Charles.

Her leadership provided spirit and morale more than military prowess. In May, 1429, she succeeded in raising the siege of Orléans, and in June she took other English posts on the Loire and defeated the English at Patay. After considerable persuasion the dauphin agreed to be crowned at Reims; Joan stood near him at his coronation. This was the pinnacle of her fortunes.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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