La Paysanne et L’héroïne: The Life and Mission of Joan of Arc in the Social Context of the Middle Ages

Student Author(s)

Alexandra Barbu

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Brigitte Hamon- Porter

Document Type


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Joan of Arc (Jeanne d’Arc) is undoubtedly one of the most notable figures in French history. That a young peasant girl could rise to a position of military power and aid in bringing about the end of the Hundred Years’ War is nothing short of remarkable, and so Joan’s story has fascinated writers and historians for centuries. However, too often Joan of Arc has been viewed from modern perspectives thus leading to a misinterpretation of who she was and what she did. This research attempts to view the life and mission of Joan through the lens of the cultural context in which she lived. It opens with an examination of the nature of social, religious, and gender structures in France during the 1400s. This is followed by an analysis of how Joan of Arc completed her self-proclaimed mission to save France from British occupation both by working with and defying the social structures of the Middle Ages. After briefly addressing the reputation that Joan has gained as a visionary, it concludes that she won that status not only for her daring and revolutionary actions but also because of the ways that she was willing to accept the nature of the society she was born into and work with its constructs.

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