The Virgin Warrior

The Virgin Warrior

The Life and Death of Joan of Arc

Book - 2009
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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.

In The Virgin 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.

Publisher: New Haven : Yale University Press, c2009.
ISBN: 9780300114584
0300114583
Branch Call Number: 944.026 JOAN
Characteristics: xxv, 251 pages, [16] pages of plates : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm.

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AQUILEA777
Apr 05, 2019

In 1429, the English had almost conquered France. An illiterate 17-year-old peasant girl journeyed through enemy territory from a distant province to tell King Charles that God had ordered her to save France and she must lead his forces. Under the spell of her personality, the desperate King agreed.
--- The Hundred Years War had begun generations earlier when English King Edward III, grandson of a French king, claimed the French throne. France was a larger, richer country than England; Edward put the French symbol first in his coat of arms. He successfully invaded France. The French held all the advantages but threw them away through overconfidence. Finally a sensible French commander drove the English out. Many years later, Henry V launched another successful invasion on the same bogus claim. Forgetting how they prevailed before, the French again beat themselves through overconfidence. A civil war ensued; many French sided with the victorious English. After so many defeats, the French King's party became demoralized and feared to exploit the advantages they still held. That was when Joan appeared. Her victories reversed the course of the war.
--- Joan cut her hair short and insisted on wearing men's clothes. She preferred the company of soldiers. Her voluptuous figure sometimes aroused lust, but she passed two chastity exams. She rejected womanly domesticity, but was no feminist. She acted only for God and France. But she may have found the excitement of battle addicting.
--- Joan always chose the boldest line of attack. She wore armor, wielded swords, and rode to the thick of the fight. She showed special skill in utilizing cannon. Twice when wounded by arrows, she urged her men to maintain the assault, was bandaged, and went on fighting. English ridicule soon turned to dread at her approach. Word of Joan's feats quickly spread across Europe, causing amazement.
--- Joan was undoubtedly a genius. She won the respect of seasoned commanders by being right time after time with specific predictions, eg "I will take the town in three days," when that seemed impossible.
--- Joan almost had to drag the timid Charles to his long-delayed coronation at Reims which she had made possible. Clad in armor, she conducted him to the cathedral, stood near him during the ceremony, then knelt and grasped his legs in homage. What could observers have thought of this peasant girl who had suddenly appeared and secured the throne?
--- At length Joan was captured, through either her own recklessness or betrayal. She was harshly imprisoned, fighting off rape by agents of her moral accusers, once jumping from a high tower window to escape, and finally kept in chains. She was subjected to an elaborate, corrupt trial with exhausting interrogation for nearly five months where she argued brilliantly. Finally, at age 19, she was burned at the stake as a heretic, witch, and crossdresser in a horrific public spectacle. Her noble behavior on the stake jarred onlookers. Some of the executioners came away fearing damnation for having burned a holy woman. English leaders claimed they had rid the world of a murderous witch, but privately some felt doomed. Twenty-five years later, the judgment against Joan was nullified and condemned in an even more elaborate proceeding.
--- Joan's activities were documented in official logs, transcripts, diaries, and letters. She often rode slowly through the streets while common people pushed forward to touch her horse, or knelt, crossing themselves. Over a hundred witnesses testified in the two proceedings. We probably know more details about Joan than any other Medieval person.
--- Taylor's account is good over all, sometimes movingly written, despite her over-speculation re motives of the many players in this drama. In an odd lapse on p 29, she confuses Nazareth with Bethlehem. Of the countless books about Joan, another good one is by Kelly DeVries.

Dimmu16 Feb 23, 2012

This book was a lifesaver for me, It gave me everything I needed for my Joan of Arc report at school! If you ever have a huge project on Joan of Arc, I recomend this book!

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Dimmu16 Feb 23, 2012

Dimmu16 thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

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Dimmu16 Feb 23, 2012

There is enough description on her life that you think the author was there!

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