By Kelly DeVries
War and Society, Vol.14:1 (1996)
Introduction: This article explores the possibility of a link between Joan of Arc and evolution of gunpowder weaponry during the Hundred Years War, a thesis for which there is some evidence. Both the Bastard of Orleans and the duc d’Alencon testified at her retrial that she was especially adept at positioning the relatively new gunpowder weaponry that the French used in their sieges. As the duc stated:
everyone marvelled at this, that she acted so wisely and clearly in waging war, as if she was a captain who had the experience of twenty or thirty years; and especially in the setting up of artillery, for in that she held herself magnificently.
But this evidence is rather slight, based on memory, and sufficient to carry a thesis of this magnitude.
Still, Joan lived in an age of gunpowder weaponry use, and it would be folly to think that she was unaffected by it in her military career. Indeed, as we will discover, there were gunpowder weapons in almost every conflict in which she fought. Moreover, her ability to win in these conflicts was sometimes dependant upon these weapons, using them in her army’s offensive tactics or in defending against their use by her opponents, the English and the Burgundians. To show this I wish first to present a brief history of gunpowder weapons up to Joan’s time, second to present a brief synopsis of Joan’s military career, and third to attempt to marry the two with a more in-depth analysis of gunpowder weapons used both by and against her during her short-lived but extremely important command in the French army.
See also Kelly DeVries speaking on ‘Joan of Arc’s penultimate Enemy’