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The Virgin Warrior

The Virgin Warrior: The Life and Death of Joan of Arc

Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    The Virgin Warrior
    Book Description:

    France's great heroine and England's great scourge: whether a lunatic, a witch, a religious icon, or a skilled soldier and leader, Joan of Arc's contemporaries found her as extraordinary and fascinating as the legends that abound about her today. But her life has been so endlessly cast and recast that we have lost sight of the remarkable girl at the heart of it-a teenaged peasant girl who, after claiming to hear voices, convinced the French king to let her lead a disheartened army into battle. In the process she changed the course of European history.

    InTheVirgin Warrior, Larissa Juliet Taylor paints a vivid portrait of Joan as a self-confident, charismatic and supremely determined figure, whose sheer force of will electrified those around her and struck terror into the hearts of the English soldiers and leaders. The drama of Joan's life is set against a world where visions and witchcraft were real, where saints could appear to peasants, battles and sieges decided the fate of kingdoms and rigged trials could result in burning at the stake. Yet in her short life, Joan emboldened the French soldiers and villagers with her strength and resolve. A difficult, inflexible leader, she defied her accusers and enemies to the end. From her early years to the myths and fantasies that have swelled since her death, Taylor teases out a nuanced and engaging story of the truly irresistible "ordinary" girl who rescued France.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-16129-8
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. viii-ix)
  4. List of Maps
    (pp. x-x)
  5. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  6. Chronology
    (pp. xv-xvii)
  7. Preface
    (pp. xviii-xx)
  8. PROLOGUE: The Hundred Years War
    (pp. xxi-xxvi)

    The fight for france served as the bitter backdrop for Joan of Arc’s short but eventful life. Growing up in a border region in which raids and pillaging were commonplace, she knew firsthand the horrors of war. Children in her village fought with those of nearby villages whose allegiance was to the other side. It was in this atmosphere that an adolescent girl emerged who would change the course of history. What made Joan of Arc as a historical figure possible?

    Although fighting between the two countries had gone on for centuries, in 1337, Edward III of England declared himself...

  9. CHAPTER 1 Jehannette
    (pp. 1-17)

    In June of 1429, Perceval de Boulainvilliers, a counselor of the French king, Charles VII, wrote a letter to the duke of Milan that included a bit of gossip about a young girl who had appeared at the king’s court two months earlier:

    She was born in a small village called Domremy … on the edges of the realm of France, along the river Meuse near Lorraine…. On the night of the Epiphany, when Christians joyfully commemorate the life of Christ, she first saw the light of this mortal world. It was a marvelous thing to behold the poor villagers...

  10. CHAPTER 2 The Mission
    (pp. 18-37)

    The sixty years before Joan was born were times of uncertainty and fear. Besides the war between England and France, the plague of 1348–50 and its recurrence every few years had undermined the social and economic structures of Europe. In the 1370s and 1380s, tens of thousands of laborers, peasants, and serfs rose up against the oppressive rule of lords, killing many, burning castles and palaces, and eventually forcing an end to serfdom in the west. The Church, too, which for over a thousand years had organized the rituals of life and death and tried to give meaning in...

  11. CHAPTER 3 The Making of the Maid
    (pp. 38-50)

    As she prepared to leave Vaucouleurs, Baudricourt gave Joan her first sword, saying: “Go, go, and come what may.”¹ Joan says little in her trial testimony about the journey, because the judges did not focus on it. Accompanied by Jean de Metz, Bertrand de Poulengy, and four others, Joan left Vaucouleurs on February 12 or 13 1429.² Passing through Burgundian territory, they rode for eleven days, mostly at night to avoid enemy soldiers. Poulengy said that they experienced many anxieties along the way but Joan always told them not to be afraid.³ De Metz asked Joan if she would do...

  12. CHAPTER 4 The Siege of Orléans
    (pp. 51-73)

    Before leaving for Orléans, Joan had to be equipped as a soldier. On April 5 1429, she left for Tours in the company of her squire Jean d’Aulon and page Louis de Coutes. While there she lodged with Éléonore de Paul, a member of Yolande of Aragon’s inner circle of advisors and a former lady-in-waiting to Queen Marie. As a result, Joan had access to inside information about the court and politics. Although the king wanted to present her with a sword, she asked instead for a sword that she said would be found behind the altar in the church...

  13. CHAPTER 5 “She Would Only Last a Year”
    (pp. 74-91)

    The night les Tourelles was taken, the people of Orléans celebrated joyously, devoutly chantingTe Deum laudamus(We Praise You, God), ringing all the bells in the city, and humbly thanking their Lord and the saints for the glorious victory.² The next day several of the French commanders wanted to continue the fight. But Joan’s leadership was now tacitly acknowledged. The Bastard recalled that early the next morning, the English left their tents and ranged themselves in battle order, prepared for combat. But when Joan got out of bed, she dressed in chain mail and gazed out at the field....

  14. CHAPTER 6 The King and the Maid
    (pp. 92-113)

    After the surrender of Troyes, Charles sent heralds throughout the region to announce plans for his coronation. By July 14 the army, led by Joan in full armor, had reached Châlons-sur-Marne, which opened its gates immediately.¹ Waiting to see her were five people from Domremy, including her godfather Jean Morel, whom she presented with a red vest that she had worn during her travels² and Gérardin d’Épinal. Gérardin recalled Joan telling him that the only thing she feared was treason.³ She sensed that some of the king’s counselors, never friendly to her cause, had grown increasingly uneasy about her ascendancy...

  15. CHAPTER 7 Captivity
    (pp. 114-129)

    In April of 1430, Henry Beaufort, cardinal of Winchester, and the young King Henry VI landed at Calais with a large English force. Ironically, Beaufort had returned to England after a failed campaign against the Hussites. At odds with other members of the English royal council, he took the troops he had planned to use for a crusade to help relieve the faltering English efforts in France. At the same time, after the expiration of his truce with Charles VII on April 16, Philip the Good and his ally Jean of Luxembourg, count of Ligny and St.-Pol, began preparations for...

  16. CHAPTER 8 Judging the Maid
    (pp. 130-152)

    Although Joan’s trial generated almost as much interest as her battles, much less information reached the public until after the publication of the trial record in the summer of 1431. The occasional merchant in Rouen or the experts who were called there but refused to participate in the trial may have told others what they had learned, but for the most part what went on during the proceedings was kept secret. This led to rumors, especially in Rouen, where with few exceptions the people only saw Joan twice, at her abjuration and execution. Joan, too, was kept in the dark....

  17. CHAPTER 9 From Fear of the Fire
    (pp. 153-171)

    Near the end of the Public Admonition on May 2, Joan was warned that if the Church abandoned her she would be in great peril – her soul would be in danger of eternal fire and her body of temporal fire. She answered threat with threat: “You will not do as you say against me without evil overtaking you, in body and soul.”¹ What was Joan thinking? Did she still hope for rescue or escape? Was she so convinced of the righteousness of her cause that she could not see what lay ahead?

    A week later, on May 9, Joan’s...

  18. CHAPTER 10 Vindication
    (pp. 172-182)

    Why did charles vii not have Joan rescued? Only two inconclusive bits of evidence suggest he made any effort on her behalf. The first is a receipt dated March 14, 1431 signed by the Bastard of Orléans acknowledging that he had received 3,000livres tournoisfrom the king for an expedition into Normandy.¹ One of Joan’s most loyal comrades, La Hire, was also entrusted with various commissions in Normandy. On April 2, Charles enlisted his help for two secret undertakings against “our enemies for our good and that of our realm.” Three and a half weeks later, the king sent...

  19. EPILOGUE “That Astonishing and Marvelous Maid”
    (pp. 183-190)

    As Joan’s legend grew in the centuries following her death, the girl she had been was forgotten, replaced by Shakespeare’s clever witch, Voltaire’s Maid whose chief accomplishment was resisting sexual temptation for a year, Schiller’s romantic heroine, and Twain’s wonderful, bonny child.¹ In the early nineteenth century, Joan’s popularity was revived due in large part to Napoleon’s interest in her and in the historical research of Jules Michelet and his student Jules Quicherat, who, from 1841–9, published five volumes of original sources relating to Joan.

    In 1849, Félix Dupanloup, bishop of Orléans, began to collect documents to advance the...

  20. APPENDIX A The Immediate Family of Joan of Arc
    (pp. 191-191)
  21. APPENDIX B The Sources
    (pp. 192-200)
  22. APPENDIX C Witnesses Interviewed
    (pp. 201-202)
  23. APPENDIX D Principal Characters
    (pp. 203-213)
  24. Abbreviations
    (pp. 214-214)
  25. Notes
    (pp. 215-239)
  26. Further Reading
    (pp. 240-242)
  27. Index
    (pp. 243-252)