Thursday, May 10, 2012

Joan of Arc's 600th Anniversary

    Six hundred years ago, Joan of Arc was born in Domrémy, France.  At age 13, Joan heard “a voice from God” directing her to help the dauphin Charles (the eldest son of the previous ruler) unite France.  Joan, assisted by two other French commanders, broke the English siege of Orléans paving the way for Charles VII to assume the throne.  Sadly, only a year later, Joan was captured by a rival French faction and turned over to the English.  She was tried for heresy, witchcraft, and fraud and burned at the stake in the marketplace of Rouen on May 30, 1431 at age 19.  In 1456, an ecclesiastic court declared the trial null and void.  She was canonized in 1920.

Joan of Arc has become a symbol for French nationalism.  For coverage of the celebration taking place in Orléans visit The Washington Post.

Newly-released biography, The Maid and the Queen: The Secret History of Joan of Arc by noted medieval historian, Nancy Goldstone, explores the connection between illiterate Joan and Yolande of Aragon, Queen of Sicily and one of the premier power brokers of the era.  Fictional accounts of the enigmatic Joan include The Maid by Kimberly Cutter, An Army of Angels by Pamela Marcantel, and Personal Reflections of Joan of Arc by the Sieur Louis de Conte (Her Page and Secretary) by Mark Twain. Yes, Mark Twain!  Twain spent twelve years researching his subject and considered Personal Reflections of Joan of Arc "his best book."  (You'll find it in the Library's teen collection.)

The painting at the top (in the Centre Historique des Archives Nationales in Paris) is a medieval artist’s representation of Joan of Arc.  No verified image of Joan of Arc survives.

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