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Joan Of Arc Turns 600
January 5, 2012
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Tomorrow is the 600th anniversary of the birth of St. Joan of Arc. She was born a peasant in 1412 in Domrémy, France, and while still a teenager, claimed to hear the voices of angels telling her to lead forces loyal to Charles VII, heir to the French throne, against English invaders who sought to put France under the rule of Henry VI.

While there is some debate over whether January 6 is the actual date on which the future patron saint of France was born, tomorrow marks official celebrations of the life of the illiterate peasant girl who commanded Charles' army through a series of stunning military victories, installed her sovereign to the French throne, and decimated large parts of the English army before being captured, tried and burned at the stake at the age of 19.

That Joan could have achieved so much in less than two decades of life is certainly impressive, and becomes even more so when you consider that a woman who never made it out of her teens is far more famous than the king she sought to defend, and arguably the most well-known Frenchwoman in history.


It took until the 20th century for the divinely inspired defender of France to become canonized. Since that time, there has been no shortage of cultural treatments of her story. The latest is a movie by Canadian filmmaker Dany Chiasson, whose Ma Jeanne d'Arc had its world premiere at last year's Cinefranco film festival in Toronto.

The film is a documentary in which Chiasson follows Frenchman Jean-Michel Millecamps' journey on horseback retracing the saint's route from her hometown of Domrémy to Chinon, where she met the uncrowned Charles VII and convinced him that she should lead his troops in a religious war against the English.

"I saw it as my personal way to connect with Joan in the way I wanted to, in a certain solitude, almost in a meditative kind of way," Chiasson told the Globe and Mail last year.

"Tons of things have been written about her over the years, but there is very little known about the actual young woman, what may have motivated her."

Tonight on the show, George takes a look at other women who have made a difference at a very young age. Tune in at 11:05 p.m. to check out our list of early achievers.

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