She was born to Jacques d'Arc and Isabelle Romée, a peasant family, at Domrémy in northeast France. Joan claimed to have received visions of the saints instructing her to support Charles VII and recover France from English domination late in the Hundred Years' War.
The unanointed King Charles VII sent Joan to the Siege of Orléans as part of a relief army.
On 23 May 1430, she was captured at Compiègne by the Burgundian faction, a group of French nobles allied with the English. She was later handed over to the English.
Joan was imprisoned by the Burgundians at Beaurevoir Castle. She made several escape attempts, on one occasion jumping from her 70-foot (21 m) tower, landing on the soft earth of a dry moat, after which she was moved to the Burgundian town of Arras.
Joan had previously been wearing soldiers' clothing in prison. She was evidently afraid to give up this clothing even temporarily because it was likely to be confiscated by the judge and she would thereby be left without protection. A woman's dress offered no such protection. A few days after her abjuration, when she was forced to wear a dress, she told a tribunal member that "a great English lord had entered her prison and tried to take her by force." She resumed male attire either as a defense against molestation or, in the testimony of Jean Massieu, because her dress had been taken by the guards and she was left with nothing else to wear
On 30 May 1431 joan was tied to a tall pillar at the Vieux-Marché in Rouen, she asked two of the clergy to hold a crucifix before her. An English soldier also constructed a small cross that she put in the front of her dress. After she died, the English raked back the coals to expose her charred body so that no one could claim she had escaped alive. They then burned the body twice more, to reduce it to ashes and prevent any collection of relics, and cast her remains into the Seine River. The executioner, Geoffroy Thérage, later stated that he "greatly feared to be damned for he had burned a holy woman.