The Maid and the Queen: The Secret History of Joan of Arc

Nancy Goldstone. Viking, $26.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-670-02333-2
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Joan of Arc’s visionary leadership and legendary courage exemplify the medieval belief in the power of divine revelations and miraculous events that alter human history. At the height of the English siege of Orléans in 1428, a young woman mysteriously appeared in the court of Charles VII, urging him to march against the English troops and reclaim the crown of France. Yet, as Goldstone so forcefully reminds us in this tale of madness, mysticism, intrigue, and courage, we might never have heard of Joan of Arc if Yolande of Aragon, Charles’s mother-in-law and powerful queen of Sicily, hadn’t needed to convince him of his legitimate claim to the throne and bolster his courage in battle. Influenced by her reading of the popular Romance of Melusine—which featured a half-human, half-fairy heroine who helped a king achieve political success—Yolande chose Joan and her visions from God to help Charles triumph. With compelling storytelling, Goldstone (Four Queens: The Provençal Sisters Who Ruled Europe) colorfully weaves together the tales of these two women—one rich, one poor; one educated, one illiterate; one worldly, one simple—whose powerful personalities and deep allegiance to France helped shape the country’s future. Illus., maps. Agent: Michael Carlisle, Inkwell Management. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 01/02/2012
Release date: 03/29/2012
Genre: Nonfiction
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