Friday, May 30, 2008

On May 30

1431, Joan of Arc (Jeanne d'Arc in French) was burned at the stake at the age of nineteen. The legend of Joan of Arc is similar to the story of Grace O'Malley and Zoya Kosmodemianskaya (see on this blog under Labels).

France was at war against England from 1330 to about 1430, which came to be known as the Hundred Years War. By 1429 the English had basically conquered much of France and occupied Paris. The French did not have the leadership to fight back, while Henry V of England was in fact claiming the French throne. Joan was able to get through all the hoops, was given troops to command and the rank of captain. Her troops under her leadership had an unexpected victory over the English at the Battle of Orleans. Then she assisted with the coronation of Charles VII.

In 1430 the allies of England, Burgundians, captured Joan while she was defending Compiegne and she was then surrendered to the English. The English of course took the opportunity to turn her over to the ecclesiastical court at Rouen to be tried for withcraft and heresy, and for wearing male clothing (how offensive!). She was executed shortly after...

1778, Voltaire, one of the greatest philosophers/writers of all times (and my favorite) died. He said, "I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it."

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