A French view of Jehanne

Catherine Delors has posted the following article on the Maid and how she is viewed in France.

I sent my daughter Geneviève to France to study at the the Catholic University of the West in Angers (UCO). She was pursuing a French language degree and one in history history, (she is my kid after all). She related a story to me, upon her return about a class session, where she alone participated in a talk about the Maid. No one in the class had ever heard of la Pucelle.

Like every other French child, I learned about Jeanne d'Arc in elementary school. Of all the characters I encountered in the course of my history lessons, she was the one who left the strongest impression on my young mind.

Years later, at the beginning of my career as an attorney, I read the transcripts of her trials. Time has passed, but my admiration for Jeanne (or Jehanne, as her name was spelled then) has remained the same. To me, she is one of the most extraordinary and beautiful figures in history.

Who would ever believe this story if it were not true? An illiterate peasant girl of 16 is entrusted with an army, proceeds to win decisive victories, turns the tide of a war that had been raging for a hundred years, is captured in battle, is tried as a heretic and is burned at the stake at the age of 19?

Jehanne was born in 1412 into a peasant family from Lorraine, in eastern France. The country, at the time of the Hundred Years' War, was divided between the victorious King of England, who also claimed the crown of France, and the legitimate heir, who did not even go by the name of King, and was content with the title of Dauphin.

At the age of 13, Jehanne has a series of visions where Saint Catherine, Saint Margaret and the Archangel Michael appear to her. The three Saints prompt her throw the English invaders out of the country and crown the Dauphin. A tall order for a teenager of the lowest social status.

Thanks and a tip of the beret to Catherine Delors.

de Brantigny

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