Jeanne d’Arc (1412-1431), known as Joan of Arc in English, was a French peasant, Christian mystic, and teenage warrior during the Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453) between France and England.
Well, she wasn’t a “warrior” exactly, as she never actually fought in battle. She was more of an “inspirational mascot, brandishing her banner in place of a weapon.”
In any case, she ended up being captured by the enemy, convicted of heresy and witchcraft (among other things), excommunicated from the church, and burned at the stake — all before the age of 20.
But a few decades later the verdict was overturned, the excommunication was invalidated, and she was declared a martyr.
And during the centuries that followed, her reputation grew — especially among the French.
Despite all this, the well-known St. Joan didn’t officially become a Roman Catholic saint until the early 20th century. She was canonized in May of 1920 by Pope Benedict XV.
The same year, the full French form of her name, Jeannedarc, debuted on the U.S. baby name charts and reappeared several more times during the same decade:
- 1927: unlisted
- 1926: 5 baby girls named Jeannedarc
- 1925: unlisted
- 1924: 6 baby girls named Jeannedarc
- 1923: 6 baby girls named Jeannedarc
- 1922: unlisted
- 1921: 6 baby girls named Jeannedarc
- 1920: 5 baby girls named Jeannedarc [debut]
- 1919: unlisted
- Jeanne D’Arc Florabel Menard, daughter of David and Georgiana Menard, born in Vermont in 1924.
- Joan of Arc Mary Agnes Chabot, daughter of Thomas and Zelia Chabot, born in Vermont in 1923.
A disproportionate number of these 1920s babies named Jeanne d’Arc and Joan of Arc were born in the Northeastern U.S. to families of French (Canadian) extraction.
Interestingly, St. Joan herself only used the medieval spelling of her name, “Jehanne,” and never included the surname “d’Arc,” which was a form of her father’s surname. In fact, if she’d been forced to use a surname, she likely would have chosen her mother’s, Romée, as per hometown tradition. The surname Romée denoted someone who had made a pilgrimage (though not necessarily to Rome).