Joan of Arc: A Life (Penguin Lives)
? A master of the story form? (The New York Times) offers a fresh, revealing portrait of the legendary saint
Celebrated novelist Mary Gordon brings Joan of Arc alive as a complex figure full of contradictions and desires, as well as spiritual devotion. A humble peasant girl, Joan transformed herself into the legendary Maid of Orléans, knight, martyr, and saint. Following the voice of God, she led an army to victory and crowned the king of France, only to be captured and burned at the stake as a heretic?all by the age of nineteen. Gordon does more than tell this gripping story?she explores Joan?s mystery and the many facets of her inspiring life.
identity by referring to her emotional response to the voices. In their summary of Joan’s answers to their questions, however, the judges only focused on the answers that were in the terms they wanted: specific mentions of Michael, Catherine, and Margaret. As the trial progressed—it is possible to say, as Joan got more worn down—she spoke increasingly of the archangel Michael and the saints, and by the eleventh day, she had abandoned her vague terms from the beginning of the trial entirely.
courage, and that false Burgundy will be quite thunderstruck.”6 Once again, Joan’s certainty and strength of tone prevailed, and the bishop allowed her to start a siege if she could guarantee that she would be successful in six days. She guaranteed it, and made such good strategic decisions about the placement of artillery that the military men were astonished. When she began her attack, the citizens of Troyes panicked, and within a day they were bargaining with the king, agreeing to terms that
reputation for being brilliant but immoderate, as the tone of his letter insisting that the dukes of Burgundy and Luxembourg give her up and his insistence on delivering the letter personally indicate. He would trust the final removal of Joan from Arras to Rouen to no one else—an unnecessary vigilance that hints at a zeal motivated by something other than a mere sense of duty. He asserted that it was his responsibility to try Joan, since she had been captured in his diocese, but canonically
virginity to her. We know, as well, that she didn’t care much about food. Those around her were impressed by her abstemiousness at table. Even after the most strenuous battles, she was known to eat only a few pieces of bread dipped in wine. Like her chastity, her lack of appetite for food was seen as an indication of her worthiness or fineness or superiority. It would have been unbearable that a woman of appetite either be given authority by men or be allowed to live among them. The lightness of
think of as “French” were composed of two separate and warring factions, the Armagnacs and the Burgundians. At the time of Joan’s birth, France was not only at war with England; it was also in a state of virtual civil war, the rich duchy of Burgundy having allied itself with the English against the French monarchy. The Burgundian marauders were the ones whose effect Joan and her family most closely felt. In 1425 the Burgundians, and some English, drove off the cattle of the inhabitants of