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This Week in History:
January 2 - 8, 1412
Birth of Saint Jeanne D'Arc

January 2011

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Jeanne D'Arc.

We travel this week to the year 1412, when, on Jan. 6, the French heroine, later Saint, Jeanne d'Arc was born. Lyndon LaRouche has recently been stressing the sublime character of Jeanne d'Arc's leadership, in which she gave her life in order to secure the nation of France, and thereby achieved immortality as the founder and inspiration of her nation.

Why celebrate this maid, who, at the age of 17, determined to take charge of the French Army, in order to drive the English out of France, and crown the French Dauphin king? Because Jeanne d'Arc is, in the sense of universal history, a leading figure in establishing the basis for the creation of our own republic, and the nation-state institution as a sovereign body devoted to the general welfare of the population. As a leader, she deserves to be honored by all mankind, of whatever nationality.

While born a peasant girl, Jeanne d'Arc received an education from religious orders who were devoted to providing instruction for children from all classes.*  Thus, it is not from nowhere that she sprang, when she stepped forward in 1429, to rouse the French people into battle against the English occupiers.

With a large portion of Northern France, including Paris, under the occupation of the English, with their French collaborators, the French population was in dire straits. France was not a nation, but a collection of principalities, which had been at war among one another since 1337, and whose power dwarfed that of the nominal king. The power of the English princes and their allies was growing, and was, in 1429, bent upon opening up the entire south of the country, by winning the siege of the city of Orleans.

Realizing that the English had to be stopped at Orleans, Jeanne conceived a three-part strategy. First, was to pull together an army which was still loyal to the Dauphin, the son of the former King of France, with permission of the only military chief in the North still loyal. Second, was to travel to the residence of the Dauphin, Charles VII, through enemy territory, and convince him, and his entourage, to put her in charge of the army, in order to lift the siege of Orleans. The third, was to get to Reims, the traditional location for kings in France to be crowned, and have Charles VII officially crowned King of France—despite the fact that Reims was in the middle of enemy territory.

To accomplish this, Jeanne would have to exercise an iron, and inspired, will, against a battery of generals and princes who had shown themselves to be cowards, simply looking out for deals for themselves. Even the Dauphin had given up the idea of embodying the nation of France. There is good reason to believe that, when he agreed to give Jeanne the authority to lead his forces to liberate Orleans, he fully expected that she would fail. Indeed, many of his princes wanted her to do so.

Upon arriving at Orleans, Jeanne sent a letter to the English, demanding they surrender all the cities they had captured, or be prepared for unrelenting warfare until victory. When the English refused, Jeanne then had to confront her generals, who advised caution and delay. She didn't hesitate, but rather got on her horse, gathered the army, and led it personally to break the siege. After a three-day confrontation, during which she was wounded, Jeanne deployed the French army in such a way that the English conceded and withdrew.

This victory turned the psychological tide, giving Jeanne great authority with the army and the people, and creating the conditions under which she could convince the King, against his advisers that she should open up a path to Reims, where Charles VII could be crowned.

Despite this success, Charles turned around to betray the savior of France. First, he made a deal with his enemies, who had occupied Paris, and then literally disbanded the army which Jeanne had been determined to lead to victory. When Jeanne re-entered the battle later, leading a mercenary army of Italians to try to liberate the center of control of France's enemy, the Duke of Burgundy, she was again abandoned by the King, and ultimately captured. The French generals soon sold her to the English; first she was tortured and tried for sorcery in the courts of the Inquisition, and then turned over to the English secular court, which burned her at the stake as a witch in May 1431.

Yet, Jeanne had, in fact, won the war. She had so inspired, so personified, the French people, with the idea of their nationhood and purpose, that Charles VII's son, Louis XI, would go on to establish France as the first sovereign nation-state. For this reason, we celebrate the Maid of Orleans, Jeanne d'Arc.

*The bulk of the material for this short review can be found in a review by Irene Beaudry, entitled "The Military Genius of Jeanne d'Arc, and the Concept of Victory."


The original article was published in the EIR Online’s Electronic Intelligence Weekly, as part of an ongoing series on history, with a special emphasis on American history. We are reprinting and updating these articles now to assist our readers in understanding of the American System of Economy.


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