Mark Twain’s obsession with Joan of Arc has to rank among the most baffling and least talked about enigmas in American literature. Even for those entrenched within the competitive world of Twain scholarship, stories like the one above are usually treated as interesting, but ultimately trifling, anecdotes, illustrative of the eccentricities of a predictably unconventional man.
The same might also be said of his book about the French heroine. Published in 1896, when its author was 61,Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc has long been viewed as something of an aberration, a curio—the type of genre-bending work that a bored, established writer often undertakes in order to buck audience expectations. Narrated by a fictionalized version of Joan’s servant and scribe, Sieur Louis de Conte, the book spans the majority of Joan’s life, beginning with her childhood in eastern France and ending with her questionable trial and execution. While other Twain novels such as A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court and The Prince and the Pauper are also set in medieval Europe, far from the author’s more familiar milieu of mid-19th century Missouri, Recollections is unique in its somber tone.
This film “Ma Jeanne d’Arc” tells the story of a young woman who follows Joan of Arc’s footsteps across France, on horseback.
The trailer is beautiful, and I look forward to seeing it! Showing in “Art Theaters” now, and will be available on DVD soon.
“It’s the preface, which is probably 40 pages long, where he breaks down everything about Joan of Arc, comparing her to Socrates, to Napoleon. The particular kind of genius and vision she had, and the ability to make effective that vision, which is the definition of genius.”
He opens a folder full of script pages and extracts a copy.
“Oh he’s wonderful, Shaw. God, he’s hysterical.” (Donald Sutherland)
When considering women in history, there is evidence that women have demonstrated particular masculine traits to assume leadership. A few examples include Joan of Arc, Empress Theodora, Anne Hutchinson, Catherine the Great, and Carrie Nation. However, these women have left a mark in history because they and many others have typically assumed male roles. When Margaret Thatcher became Britain’s first female prime minister, she quickly became the ultimate feminist icon who had smashed through the highest glass ceiling.
Charles, a weak-willed, mistrustful, uncertain personality, had been discouraged from granting Joan an audience by his advisors. Perhaps due to their influence, he attempted to test her perceptive powers by choosing an imposter to sit on his throne. Entering the torch-lit “great hall” crowded with knights, noblemen, members of the clergy and ladies of the court, Joan, a country girl of seventeen was expected to lose her composure.
To the amazement of all who witnessed this event, she calmly searched for Charles who stood amidst the onlookers. Moving toward him, she knelt at his feet before addressing him. At first he denied being the dauphin, and pointed toward the man seated on the throne. Joan said to him,
By God gentle prince, it is you and none other. God give you life, gentle king. I bring you news from God, that our Lord will give you back your kingdom, bringing you to be crowned at Reims, and driving out your enemies. In this I am God’s messenger. Do you set me bravely to work, and I will raise the siege of Orleans. (Jeanne d’Arc)
Prior to her arrival, Robert de Boudricourt had sent a letter to Charles from Vaucouleurs that served as an endorsement of Joan. Her ability to recognize him as the dauphin provided Charles with yet another reason to grant her the benefit a private audience. As the crowd watched, they withdrew together, into a private chamber.
What took place during their time alone on this night of their first meeting would never become clearly known, but has been the source of great speculation and conjecture by historians who continue to develop and present their own theories. What is certain, according to witnesses, is that Charles appeared to be radiant when he emerged from that room. His demeanor had dramatically changed from doubt, to glowing certainty.
[i] Ibid. p.21
“It was a sense of Divine Light in all things that kept the Jewish convert Edith Stein strong in the face of death at the hands of the Nazis; and Joan of Arc unyielding to the churchmen who condemned her for following her conscience rather than being obedient to them; and Galileo faithful even in the midst of rejection by a church intent on smothering modern science in the name of faith; and Dorothy Day implacable in her pursuit of peace in a country that called her “communist” for doing it.
Spiritual leaders like these remember what so many of us far too often forget:
Christians are not people of the cross. Christians are people of the empty tomb, the ones who know that every step on the way to the Light is Light.”___Sister Joan Chittister
Throughout 2012, there will be tributes, reinactments, expositions and modern shows following one from one another, to pay respect to this internationally renowned historical figure. The traditional ceremonies will come to its climax around the 12th and 13th of May.
FOR A COMPLETE LIST OF DATES FOR THESE EVENTS, PLEASE CLICK ONTO THE ABOVE LINK
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Herrings Part of the Hundred Years’ War (And the Siege of Orléans)
Joan knew about the French army’s loss of the “Battle of the Herrings” before the news reached officials in Vaucouleurs, where Joan waited impatiently to be given permission to begin her mission (to ride to Chinon with armed escorts, meet with Charles the dauphin, and be granted the right to lead French troops, where she guaranteed the successful raising of the siege of Orleans.) No one could comprehend how Jehanne, La Pucelle gained access to this information. It had come to her through “revelation” (she had been told of it by her angelic counselors.)
“Morale within the city and among its leaders was at a low point, so much so that consideration was given to surrendering the city.
The Battle of the Herrings was the most significant military action during the siege of Orléans from its inception in October of 1428 until the appearance on the scene, in May of the following year, of Joan of Arc. Even so, it was, to all appearances, a rather minor engagement and, were it not for the context in which it occurred, would most likely have been relegated to the merest of footnotes in military history or even forgotten altogether.
But not only was it part of one of the most famous siege actions in history, the story also gained currency that it played a pivotal role in convincing Robert de Baudricourt in Vaucouleurs, to accede to Joan’s demand for support and safe conduct to Chinon. For it was on the very day (February 12, 1429) of the battle that Joan met with de Baudricourt for the final time. According to the story, recounted in several places (for example, in Sackville-West), Joan gave out the information that “the Dauphin’s arms had that day suffered a great reverse near Orléans”. When, several days later, news of the military setback near Rouvrey did in fact reach Vaucouleurs, de Baudricourt, according to the story, relented and agreed to sponsor her journey to the Dauphin in Chinon. Joan finally left Vaucouleurs for Chinon on the 23rd of February, 1429.”
Celebrating Black Women: WWII Army battallion honors Joan of Arc in the place where she was burned at the stake
Members of the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion take part in a parade ceremony May 27, 1945, in honor of Joan d’Arc at the marketplace where she was burned at the stake.
“This year it is six hundred years since a young peasant girl, the last or second last child in a family of 5, was born in the little village of Domremy, in the Champagne area and duchy of Lorraine. From this tiny, anodyne and banal event, unnoticed by many history sources, was born one of the biggest and more fascinating sagas of the French Middle Ages, if not the history of all of France.”
“Starting as a nobody, she broke nearly every 15th-century gender barrier. In 2012 she’s a Christian heroine in a secular state: For the right, a holy warrior of the sacred soil; on the left, a brave iconoclast fighting corrupt elites.” And….check the article to see what you know about the geography of France.
On January 6, the 600th anniversary of Joan of Arc’s birth, Medievalists assembled as Joan received her sword.
“Ottowa Citizen” Article; (the best so far) on Joan’s image in the center of French political turmoil
The best article thus far, on Joan’s image in center of today’s political turmoil. There is but one false note that needs correction (for the historic record.) Joan’s father, Jacques, was not a landowner but held a modest position of authority in the peasant community of Domremy.