Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

Joan of Arc
Appendix I
JOAN OF ARC IN FRENCH AND ENGLISH HISTORY

Even in France no thoroughly satisfactory history exists of Joan of Arc, although a large number of histories have been written. Following is an enumeration of the most important.

As was natural while her countrymen were divided into two camps, those writers who belonged to the side of the English attacked the heroine, or rather her mission, with ill-placed zeal. Of them Enguerrand de Monstrelet was the most eminent.

Less well known chroniclers on the national side, such as Philip de Bergame, an Augustinian monk, on the other hand exaggerate the deeds of the Maid. None of these chroniclers' writings can be called histories of Joan of Arc. Nor in the following (the sixteenth) century, did such writers as Du Bellay and Haillon do more than allude to Joan of Arc; the first in his Instructions sur le fait de la guerre, and the second in his book on the Affaires de France.

Haillon had written disparagingly of the heroine. It had the effect of raising the ire of that learned scribe William Postel, who wrote that the actions and renown of Joan of Arc were as necessary to maintain as the Bible itself. With Postel the celebrated jurisconsult Stephen Pasquier was quite in accord, and in his work called Recherches sur la France, he writes that 'never had any one saved France so opportunely or so well as did this Maid.' In 1576 a book was published by the magistrates of Orleans relating to the siege of their town, in which all honour was given to the heroine for the part she had taken in its delivery. In the preface to that book the following sentiment is expressed:—'It is a lamentable fact that the Maid, respected by all other nations, the English alone excepted, finds amongst her countrymen writings to injure her memory by people who are greater enemies to the honour of France than those who are strangers to that country.'

It should be noted that as early as the year 1534 the famous early chronicler Polydore Virgile, Italian by origin, wrote a voluminous history of England in twenty-six books, and treated the Maid's mission as one inspired by divine influence, severely blaming her judges for their inhuman conduct towards her.

In 1610 a book was published discussing the origin of the family of the Maid of Orleans; a work of little value. In 1612 one of the descendants of a brother of Joan of Arc—Charles du Lys—published a slight work called Traité sommaire sur le nom, les armes, la naissance et la parenté de la Pucelle et de ses frères. In that same year the first history of Joan of Arc was published, also by a descendant of one of her brothers, John Hordal. This book was in Latin; it was entitled 'The History of Joan of Arc, that very noble heroine.' Soon after an elaborated work, based on this book, was produced by Edmond Richer, a doctor of theology in Paris.

The next account of the Maid of any length occurs in Mézarie's huge History of France, It was published between 1643 and 1652. In 1661 appeared a work called L'Histoire du roi Charles VII., contenant les choses mémorables de 1422 à 1466. It was in this work, which was compiled by Denis Godefroy, that the manuscripts of the Chronique de la Pucelle were first printed. This chronicle concerns the events which occurred between the years 1422 and 1429. Although not a complete history of the heroine, it is the earliest account. It was republished by Buchon, by Petitot, and by Quicherat; and it was consulted by Michelet when writing his account of Joan of Arc. M. Vallet de Viriville believes the Chronicle of the Maiden to have been written by G. Cousinot, Chancellor of the Duke of Orleans, who was present at the siege of Orleans. At the close of the seventeenth century was published a history of France by a Jesuit priest named David, in which there is some account of Joan of Arc; but David's history is more remarkable for being a colossal list of falsehoods than for any other merit.

We now arrive at the eighteenth century, and still find no tolerable history of Joan of Arc. In the year 1753 the Abbé Longlet Dufresnoy published a Life of Joan of Arc; it is totally devoid of any merit.

In 1790 Clément de l'Averdy published some notices relating to the trial and condemnation of Joan of Arc. These notices led up to, and were followed by the publications of Petitot, Buchon, Michaud, and Pougoulat. At length, under the protection of the Society of French History, the learned author Quicherat produced his all-important works. That distinguished historian and antiquarian began his career under Charlet. In 1847 he was appointed Professor of Archæology, and later, Director of the Institute of the Charters. Between 1841 and 1850 he edited the original documents relating to the trials of Joan of Arc—those of her condemnation and of her rehabilitation. Of these only a few extracts had previously been published by M. l'Averdy. The series edited by Quicherat consists of five bulky tomes. Although when Michelet was writing his history of France, Quicherat's work had not yet been published, the chronicler helped the historian by lending Michelet the MSS. he was then annotating.

But to return to the earlier years of the century. In 1817, Lebrun des Charnettes published a history of Joan of Arc in four volumes; this history of the Maid was up to that time the best that had been written. In the same year there was published another history of the heroine by M. Berriat Saint-Prix. The best thing that work contains is an itinerary of the different places at which Joan of Arc passed the last three years of her short existence. It is a useful list for any one who wishes to visit the scenes connected with her wonderful history.

The list commences with her flight to Neufchâteau in 1428, and the journey to Toul, and continues as follows:—

1428.
May.

  From Domremy to Burey-le-Petit, Vaucouleurs. Return to Domremy.

1429.
February.

  From Domremy to Vaucouleurs, Toul, Nancy, Saint Nicolas-du-Port.
13th Return to Vaucouleurs, Saint Urbain, Auxerre.

March.

  Gien, Sainte Catherine de Fierbois.
6th Chinon, Le Coudray en Touraine, Poitiers.

April.

  Chinon, Tours, Saint Florent-les-Saumur.
25th Blois.
28th Rully près de Checy.
29th Orleans.

May.

2nd Reconnaissance before Orleans.
4th Sortie on the road of Blois.
10th Return to Blois from Orleans.
  To Tours and Loches.

June.
4th Selles-en-Berri.
6th Selles to Romorantin and Orleans,
11th Jargeau.
15th Meun-sur-Loire.
16th Beaugency.
18th Patay and Jauville.
19th Orleans, Saint Benoit-sur-Loire.
22nd Châteauneuf.
24th Departure from Orleans for Gien.
27th Departure from Gien in the direction of Montargis.

July.

1st Before Auxerre.
2nd Saint Florentin.
4th Saint Fal.
5th Before Troyes.
10th Entry into Troyes.
14th Bussy.
15th Châlons-sur-Marne.
16th Sept Saulx.
16th Rheims.
21st Saint Marcoul de Corbeny.
22nd Vailly.
23rd Soissons.
29th Château Thierry.

August.

1st Montmirail-en-Brive.
2nd Provins. Sortie as far as Lamotte-de-Nangis, Bray-sur-Seine.
5th Return towards Paris by Provins.
7th Coulommiers, Château Thierry.
10th La Ferté Milon.
11th Crespy-en-Valois.
12th Lagny-le-Sec.
13th Dammartin and Thieux.
14th Baron, Montessilloy.
15th Crespy.
18th Compiègne, Senlis.
23rd Leave Compiègne.
26th Saint Denis.

September.

5th La Chapelle, near Paris.
8th Attack on the gate Saint Honoré.
9th Retreat from La Chapelle to Saint Denis.
14th Lagny-sur-Marne.
15th Provins, Bray-sur-Seine. Passage of the river Yonne at a ford near Sens Courtenay. Château Regnaut, Montargis.
21st Gien. Selles-en-Berri, Bourges.

October.

  Meun-sur-Yèvre, Bourges.

November.

  Saint Pierre-le-Moutier.
9th Moulins.
24th La Charité-sur-Loire, Meun-sur-Yèvre.

December.

  Jargeau.

1430.
January.

18th Bourges.
19th Orleans.

March.

3rd Sully.
28th Flight from Sully.

April.

15th Before Melun, Lagny, Sortie against Franquet d'Arras, Senlis, Compiègne, Pont l'Evêque, Soissons, Compiègne.

May.

  Lagny, Crecy, Compiègne.
28th Sortie from Compiègne against Margny and Clairvoix.

June, July.

  At Beaulieu-en-Vermandois.

August, September, October, and November.

  Beaurevoir, Arras, Drugy, near Saint Riquier, Le Crotoy.

December.

  Saint Valéry-sur-Somme, Eu, Dieppe, Rouen.

1431.
January, February, March, April, and May.

  Rouen.

Sismondi devotes a part of the thirteenth volume of his History of France, published between 1821 and 1844, to the Maid of Orleans. He sums up the action of the Church to her in these words: 'The Church was against the Maid. All persons not delegated by her who pretended to have supernatural powers were accused of using magical arts.'

Barante in his famous history of the Dukes of Burgundy, published in 1824, gives a somewhat meagre and uninteresting account of Joan of Arc. In 1821 appeared a Life of the heroine, by Jollois, under whose direction the little monument was placed at Domremy in honour of the Maid.

Alexandre Dumas has left among his numberless works a Life of Johanne la Pucelle, which is neither true history nor romance, but a jumble of both, and is a work hardly worthy the author, but there are some fine expressions in the book. Dumas christened Joan of Arc 'The Christ of France.' Michelet in the fifth volume of his Histoire de France published in 1841, has written what will probably always be considered the best account of the Maid. Although only one hundred and thirty pages are given to her life, these pages form a book in themselves, and as a separate volume Michelet's Life of Joan of Arc has gone through a large number of editions, the latest a handsome illustrated one, published by Hachette in 1888.

One cannot help regretting that so great a writer should allow his Anglophobism to appear to such an extent in some of the pages of his work. Michelet attacks the entire English nation as if they had been individually and collectively guilty of Joan of Arc's death. He even goes out of his way to abuse English literature in this amazing passage: 'De Shakespeare à Milton, de Milton à Byron leur belle et simple littérature est sceptique, judaïque, satanique.' It is pitiable that so distinguished a writer as was Michelet should pen such rubbish, but when a Frenchman writes on the subject of Joan of Arc much should be forgiven him. More serious than the abuse of the English in Michelet's work are the inaccuracies in his account of Joan of Arc. For instance, he writes of the heroine watching the English coast from her prison in the castle of Crotoy. Her eyesight must have been telescopic had she been able to do so, for eighty miles of sea stretch between the site of Crotoy and the English coast.

We next come to Henry Martin's history of France. In this work a third part of the sixth volume is consecrated to Joan of Arc, whom he calls the 'Messiah of France.'

M. Wallon, however, is the writer who has given France the most complete biography of her heroine. This work, published by Hachette, had in 1879 attained its fifth edition. A most sumptuously illustrated edition appeared in 1876, one of those splendidly illustrated books in which the French press has no rival. That book is the finest monument which has appeared to honour the memory of the Maid of Orleans. Its illustrations contain views of all places and memorials connected with the heroine from the fifteenth to the middle of the nineteenth century. The text of Wallon's Life is, however, wanting in charm, and it is, as M. Veuillot writes of it, 'un livre sérieuse et solide.' Sainte-Beuve has been still more severe in his judgment on Wallon's book, which he calls 'la faiblesse même.'

Some slighter histories may be alluded to: one by Lamartine, unworthy of the author and the subject; another by M. Abel Desjardins; a third by Villaume; a fourth by M. Lafontaine. There is an interesting study by Simon Luce on Joan of Arc's early years; and last, but certainly not least, the three works by M. Joseph Fabre, relating to Joan of Arc's life, her trial, her condemnation, and her rehabilitation. In the two last works the whole of the long examination appears for the first time, translated into French from the Latin—documents invaluable to any one studying the heroine's life.

In England little has been written in prose relating to Joan of Arc that will be likely to live. The early chroniclers were monstrously unjust to her. It is enough to allude to the lying and scurrilous abuse which such writers as Robert Fabyan, in his chronicles on the history of England and of France, published in 1516, heaped upon Joan of Arc. Hall's and Holinshed's chronicles, from which the author of the First Part of King Henry VI. borrowed so largely, sinned as deeply. Hall's authorities among French writers were Monstrelet, Bouchet, Mayer, Argentan, Gile Corozet, and the annals of France and Aquitaine—and of English writers, Fabyan, Caxton, John Harding, Sir Thomas More, Basset, Balantyne, and the Chronicle of London.

The annalist Stow, Hume's 'honest historian,' is less unjust and bitter in his account of Joan of Arc than are Hall and Holinshed. Thomas Fuller appears not to have settled to his satisfaction whether Joan of Arc was a witch or a heroine.

In the seventeenth century we have only a handful of poor writers who have treated more or less badly of the Maid, such as Daniel, Martyn, and Sir Richard Baker. It is not until well into the eighteenth century that a man of letters appears capable of giving an unprejudiced and true history of the life of Joan of Arc: this historian is Guthrie, who published, between the years 1744 and 1751, a long history of England. M. Darmesteter has named this author 'a village Bossuet.'

Coming to our own days we have quite a crowd of writers who have written with enthusiasm on the Maid of Domremy. It is sufficient to name the most prominent of these—Landor, Sir James Mackintosh, John Sterling, Lord Mahon, De Quincey, and J.R. Green.

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