On this day in 1429, a 17 year old Joan of Arc lead a French force to relieve the city of Orleans, which had been under attack by the English since October of 1428. Joan was a peasant girl who believed she was chosen by God to lead France to victory. Despite the fact that she had absolutely no military training at all, she managed to persuade crown prince Charles of Valois to let her lead the French army into the fight. With a French sortie (sudden attack) distracted the British troops on the western side, Joan of Arc entered the eastern gate unopposed. She brought troops and supplies into the city, but also in the process inspired the French, who began to fight back more passionately. The siege at Orleans was broken on May 8th. She lived long enough to see Charles crowned as King, before she was captured by Anglo-Burgundian forced and burned at the stake after being tried for witchcraft and heresy. She was only 19 at the time of her death, and was officially canonized as a saint in 1920. (Source)
Also on this day:
• The birth of Mary Brown Williams Ledbetter, better known as Brownie Ledbetter [what a great nickname!], in 1932. Brownie was a social justice crusader and political activist involved in the feminist, civil rights, environmental, and labor movements. She was focused especially in Arkansas, but supported the movements within the U.S. and worldwide.
• Na Hye-sok, a Korean poet, journalist, and artist, was born on this day in 1896. She wrote under the pseudonym of Jeongwol and was known as the first feminist writer in Korea, as well as the first female professional painter. ”
• In 1854, Ashmun Institute was founded in Pennsylvania as the first college for African-American students. Women, however, were not permitted to receive degrees until 1953.)