The 6th January 2012 marked the 600th anniversary of the birth of Joan of Arc and the start of a year of celebrations.
Born in the village of Domrémy in Eastern France Joan led a simple life and claimed to have had her first religious vision at the age of 12 when she was instructed to drive the English out of France. At the age of 16 she was granted permission by the Dauphin Charles to head his army and be equipped for war. Her leadership is considered to have led the French to several important victories in the Hundred Years’ War which paved the way for the coronation of Charles VII. Captured by the Burgundians who transferred her to the English for money, she was put on trial for heresy and was famously burned at the stake in Rouen when she was just 19 years old.
Twenty five years after her death Pope Callixtus III reexamined the trial, found Joan innocent and declared her a martyr. In 1920 Joan was canonised becoming Saint Joan of Arc and has become one of the Catholic Church’s most popular saints.
There are few historical medieval characters that have been quite as studied and written about as Joan of Arc. She has inspired numerous works of literature by amongst others Shakespeare, Voltaire and George Bernard Shaw and music by Tchaikovsky and Verdi. To this day there are cultural references to her on TV, in films, on the stage, in music and in art.
On the last weekend of May the town of Rouen holds a medieval festival in honour of Joan of Arc.
If you’d like to take part in the Orléans festivities in May stay in a 3 bed chalet at the five star campsite Les Alicourts Resort in the beautiful Loire Valley from 5th May from £494 per family. (2012 prices)