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Joan of Arc: the Paramount of Leadership

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The birth of Joan of Arc occurred at one of the most crucial periods in French history. France was desperate for a leader to emerge from thin air. France’s cause was pathetic, until Joan of Arc arrived at the perfect time. Joan was born in January of 1412, it was a time full of despair and chaos. Joan was not quite a genius nor a great fighter, but every one of Joan’s action involved confidence and energy. The English army should have been scared the very moment they knew of Joan’s existence. As time passed, the French people gathered around her and supported every decision she made. Although, Joan was eventually captured and murdered; her life will always be vital to France’s victory. Joan of Arc is a national hero, a patron saint, and symbol of hope to every wandering soul of France. Joan’s motivation and dedication to God has inspired thousands of people over the last six centuries. Her persistence is sometimes seen as ignorance or stupidy but it is what made her the great leader that she was. Joan of Arc’s unmatched leadership, courageous mission, and tragic martyrdom propelled her to be one of the greatest military and religious heroines in Medieval France.
Joan of Arc’s steadfast dedication to complete her mission from God acted as a guide and savior to the staggering nation of France. The task was given to Joan at a young age and Joan would forever carry the burdens and responsibilities of her mission. The mission was to crown Charles the dauphin King of France, relieve the sieged town of Orleans, and then rescue France from the treacherous hands of England. (Gordon, 16) Joan’s hatred of the English fueled the fire and kept her striving towards her mission given from God. Nothing stood in her way, and her success later turned her into one of the greatest heroes in Medieval France. From a young age, Joan despised the devastation England has caused all throughout the Hundred Years’ War. Joan always had held a grudge against the English because they burned and plundered the churches in her birthplace of Doremy. (31) The corruption and bureaucratic power of England was a driving force behind Joan’s determination to fulfill her mission. The completion of her mission also meant defeating the notorious English Empire, this fact excited and motivated Joan. England’s long rule in France would eventually fall and France would gain freedom all in spite of Joan’s guidance. Her constant dedication was a future model for the nation of France. The faith Joan had in God allowed her to continue on because she knew the purpose of her mission was of utmost importance. Joan’s mission began at the age of seventeen years old. She envisioned angels who came to her, and informed her of this honorable mission that she would instantaneously embrace and go forth in completing. (Shaw, 3) Immediately, Joan began making progress to complete the task put before her. Through her perseverance, Joan was able to meet with the top French leaders and convinced them to let her lead the army to save Orleans. At Orleans, Joan and the French army rescued the city from the invading English army. (Lacy, 24) The people rejoiced and after this triumph, the nation of France experienced a new found sense of optimism and hope. From this point forward, France was united and truly believed they could defeat England in this long and exhausting war. Joan’s determination acted as guide to France because the people had something to believe in. France now understood what they were fighting for and what they were fighting for was in God’s favor. (Women Writers, 36) The integrity of Joan proved to everyone that she was genuine and her story inspired France to continue fighting with England. Her model pushed France over the top, and eventually led them to victory. The courageous military leadership of Joan was the best source of inspiration to the wandering French people. Joan was a leader because of her practicality, courage, and confidence. Also, Joan expected her men to carry a high sense of discipline and honor; Joan set the example for her men to follow and learn from. As commander, Joan required her men to confess daily to relieve themselves of their sins. ( Keller, 253) Secondly, “loose women” or prostitutes were immediately excluded from the men’s camp because Joan was fully devoted to the work of God. The men followed Joan of Arc without any complaints or grievances because of the high example she set for them. Joan remained a virgin, and this gave her a sense of purity and honor. The high respect Joan showed to God carried over to her men, and they followed her with great eagerness. Joan’s example strengthened the army and strengthened the faith the men had in her leadership. The unity of the French army was key to Joan’s success as a military commander because courage and heart allowed the French to overcome the superiority of English army. (Smith, 91) A brilliant role model for any human being, Joan also managed to display a level of confidence and courage that was of a higher standard and paid the biggest dividends in battle. Joan’s confidence inspired and energized her army before each battle, which allowed them to constantly over achieve. (Women Writers, 36) Overmatched by the size and strength of the English army, Joan’s energy granted the men hope and allowed them to defeat overwhelming odds. Joan led the French army to victories at the battles of Patay and Orleans and she liberated the towns of Leon, Compige, and Senlis from English rule. (Gordon, 50) Her fearless and positive attitude influenced the army to never give up, even in the times of faintest hope. Although, Joan’s military career was short and sweet; the effects of her leadership were looked to for motivation and played an important role in defeating the English. Throughout French history, Joan has been a symbol of hope to anyone with major doubts that needs guidance. (Tiefenbrun, 470) The devout faith of Joan encouraged others to act like a true Christian, and her actions demonstrated to the French people that should fight for what they believe is right. Joan of Arc’s religious influence on the French people is remarkably strong. (Shaw, 43) The loyalty Joan shared with God was tightly knitted, and her objection to English religious authority proved to the French people of the strength that she was given from faith. Joan understood France needed her to remain true to herself because she was France’s great hope to defeat the English. If Joan had lost faith, then France may have lost its chance to snatch victory from the English.
After the English’s capture of Joan, her faith was vigorously tested by their authorities. The trial leading up to her death lasted for over a year and Joan outsmarted the so called “religious authorities” of England. (Keller, 255) Joan refused to give in to their wishes because denial meant betrayal to herself and God. Hence, everything she had achieved would have been tarnished and blackened. Joan’s stubbornness is shown in her actions and words towards the English throughout the trial. As the court questioned Joan, Scott said she made it clear that “God must be served first”. (16) This was the only matter of importance to her, and ultimately, this belief led her to the charges of heresy. (Her death too) In 1431, Pierre sentenced Joan to death by burning at the stake. English townsmen and religious leaders witnessed the burning of Joan at the stake. (Lacy, 71) As Joan died, she was said to have prayed to God peacefully because her mission had been accomplished. It is also said that Joan prayed for the forgiveness of those who sentenced her to death. Joan readily accepted death because her pride in her religion was too strong. The French people examined her, and understood the amount of pain she endured to stand up for her beliefs. Nothing could conquer Joan’s faith, and the French people truly admired this quality of hers. Joan’s strength in faith propelled France to defeat the English. Eventually Joan of Arc’s death was rectified by the Church. The Church made it public, that her death was the death of an innocent woman who did not commit any type of crime. On May 9, 1920 Pope Benedict XV canonized St.Joan of Arc for her piety, purity, bravery, and terrible martyrdom. (Women Writers, 36)The English court was unjust because no matter what Joan did or said, the English would find a way to kill her. (Legal then) Pope Benedict found the trial to be invalid and proved that St.Joan was no heretic of the Church. After her canonization, St.Joan of Arc has been seen as a national hero. The effects of her life will forever be felt because her leadership and faith to God is the perfect model to follow. Joan’s canonization or sainthood proved to the world she was special. Joan experienced more than anyone could ever imagine. She suffered through humiliation, battle, and then her tragic martyrdom to prove her faith in God. (Gordon, 75) These characteristics of courage, strength, and loyalty demonstrated why she was canonized. Joan’s sainthood added to her already great legacy, and demonstrated the importance of her life. The moment Joan became a saint is the moment her religious life proved to be worthy of consideration among the top heroines in French history. The life of Joan of Arc single handily pushed the French people towards victory. Her life not only had an effect on the present time, but it has motivated and driven people over the last six hundred years. The world has made movies of her to inspire the human mind. The world wants to see people so deeply devoted to a sole cause because they feel as if they have the potential to achieve something as great as Joan did. Charles de Gaulle believed Joan served as a symbol of national unity and sacrifice to fascist collaborators, resistance groups, and French revolutionaries. (Keller, 254) Joan of Arc is the true underdog, and the world loves to see the underdog win. Joan of Arc did that, and changed the lives of every person in France. The leadership and courage she displayed will forever allow her to be remembered as a symbol of motivation and inspiration. W.S. Scott concludes that “ there is a place for everyone to be in, and we must be in that place at all costs.” Joan represents this quote to the fullest because she gave everything to achieve her mission, and no one can match that.Many may be compared to her, although many will not prove to be better because Joan’s achievements add up to make her one of the greatest heroines France has ever seen.

Works Cited
Gordon, Mary. Joan of Arc. New York, New York: Viking Penguin, 2000.
Keller, Jane Eblen. “ Three Orders, Three Women.” Peace Review. Vol. 11 251-257 (1999), 2006 < http://web.ebscohost.com.proxy.oplin.org/ehost/detail?>.
Lacey, Robert. Great Tales From English History. New York, New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2004.
Lucie- Smith, Edward A. Joan of Arc. New York: W.W. Norton Company, 1977.
Scott, W.S. Jeanne D’ Arc. London, England: Harper & Row Publishers, 1974.
Shaw, George. Saint Joan. Baltimore, Maryland: Penguin Books, 1952.
Tiefenbrun, Susan. “ The Trial of Joan of Arc.” Journal of Law & Religion Vol. 21 (2005-2006): 469-473.
Women ,Writers. “Heroines” An Illustrated Anthology of Essays by Women Writers. Ed. Crescent Books. New York: Avenel, 1995. 33-37.…...

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