Throughout history, there have been many people that have stood up and put their lives in danger for their beliefs. Joan of Arc is one of them. At only 17 years old she became the national heroine of France and a religious martyr. She was known for her courage and remarkable leadership, but most important for defending her beliefs and telling the truth despite the danger she was on.
Joan of Arc was born on January 6, 1412 in the village of Domremy, France. She was the daughter of Jacques d’Arc and Isabelle Romée. Joan was the youngest of 5 children. As a child she was very religious and pious. Back then, she was already known for her kindness, obedience, and unselfishness towards everybody. At the age of 13 she said that she began having visions where God talked to her. She said these visions commanded her to drive out the English from France and help the Dauphin, later known as King Charles VII, gain the crown of France. At 16 years old she went and asked for permission to lead the French army into battle against the English. When she told the royal court about her visions, they didn’t believed her at first, but later agreed letting her direct the troops, while still having some doubts about her claims. With Joan commanding the army, the French defeated the English several times in battle. Seeing this, the English wanted to get rid of her, they tried to capture her several times and during one battle she was finally captured and sent to trial. At the trial, she was judged by a French court, where they accused her of heresy and witchcraft especially because of her claims that “God had talked to her”. One of the other reasons is that Joan used to dress in men’s clothing and Church officials believed that she violated Biblical clothing laws. While at the trial, the French King didn’t come to her aid, considering all the things she had done for the country. She was betrayed by her own country. During the trial, Church officials tried to do everything they could, even torturing her, in order to get her to confess that the visions were not from God. They tried to make her blaspheme by asking her if she “knew she was in the grace of God”? She answered: "If I am not, may God place me there; if I am, may God so keep me. I should be the saddest in all the world if I knew that I were not in the grace of God. But if I were in a state of sin, do you think the Voice would come to me.” These were some wise words that caught the interrogators off guard and surprised the court. She deeply believed that God had talked to her, and she would never deny it. But when they threatened her by telling her if she didn’t give up she would be burned at the stake, she became afraid and abjured. However less that a week later she took back what she said, even if it meant she would be executed. She believed that death was more acceptable that renouncing to one’s beliefs. She wanted to face death with dignity.