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Joan of Arc (c.1412-31) is a French national heroine, nicknamed the 'Maid of Orléans', who inspired her fellow countrymen's victory over England in the Hundred Years' War.

She was the daughter of a farmer. When she was about 16, she claimed that Saints Michael, Catherine and Margaret had told her in a vision to lead the French against the English. She persuaded the heir to the French throne, the Dauphin Charles, to let her command a force. She relieved the besieged city of Orléans in 1429, enabling the French dauphin to be crowned as Charles VII. That year she defeated another English force at Patay. In 1430 she tried to regain Paris, but was captured by a Burgundian army and sold to the English regent, the Duke of Bedford who put her on trial for heresy and sorcery. She was found guilty and burned at the stake.

Joan of Arc was made a saint of the Roman Catholic Church in 1920. Her story has inspired many books, films and plays, most notably George Bernard Shaw's Saint Joan.

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