Joan of Arc
George Bernard Shaw said there were two opinions about Joan of Arc, "one that she was miraculous; the other that she was unbearable." Both opinions were justified. Her leadership of the army of the Dauphin, Prince Charles of France, to victory when it was threatened with overwhelming defeat was miraculous in the sense that an act of genius is a miracle. She was unbearable because, convinced that she was divinely inspired, she refused to yield to the authority of those who considered themselves her superiors.
At the time Joan appeared, Orleans, the last stronghold of the Dauphin's forces, was besieged by the armies of the French Duke of Burgundy and the English Duke of Bedford. Burgundy and Bedford sought to establish the right of the infant King Henry VI of England to the throne of France. The Dauphin, son of the mad Charles VI of France, claimed he was the rightful heir to the throne. Joan of Arc, believing herself instructed by the Archangel Michael and the Saints Catherine and Margaret to lift the siege of Orleans and to lead the Dauphin to Rheims, the ancient coronation city of France, presented herself to the Dauphin and asked to be placed in command of his troops. As it was believed that only a miracle could save the French--and no other miracle was in the offing--the Dauphin was persuaded. Every school boy knows what followed. Joan, though she was only 18 or 19 at the time, and without any knowledge of warfare, was an exceptional military commander and inspirited all who followed her. The siege of Orleans was