The brief, exultant and ultimately tragic life of Jeanne d’Arc—Joan of Arc in English—is perhaps the most fascinating story in all history. In 1429, France and England were locked in a bitter conflict known as The Hundred Years War. The seemingly invincible English army had conquered half of France including the capital city of Paris. The French were dangerously close to surrender or defeat when suddenly a mesmerizingly charismatic seventeen-year-old peasant girl, acting on the voices of angels, appeared from out of the farthest reaches of the kingdom and demanded an audience with the dauphin, the true heir to the realm. Convinced that she was a messenger from God sent to return him to his rightful throne, the dauphin dressed her in armor and sent her at the head of an army to defend the critical city of Orléans, then under cruel siege by the English. Within a week she had saved the region; less than three months later she guided the dauphin safely to the great cathedral in Reims, and then stood witness at his side as he was crowned king of France.
How could this be? Who was Joan of Arc and where did she come from? What could she possibly have said to convince the dauphin that she could do what she promised? How did she, an ignorant peasant girl who had never been far from home before, succeed where so many of the noble French commanders—hardened veterans of war who had fought the English for years—had failed?
The answers to these questions and many more may be found in this excellent collection. Here brave Joan and the thrilling cast of characters who surrounded her come to life: the anxious dauphin, uncertain whether to fight for his birthright or flee to the safety of Scotland; his beautiful, powerful mother-in-law, Yolande of Aragon, queen of Sicily, determined to resist the English and save France for her daughter and new grandson; and Henry V, ferocious warrior king of England, who initiated the conflict and succeeded beyond his ambitions at Agincourt, only to have all his conquests eventually reversed by a plucky young woman still in her teens.
So enter here, select a book, and get ready to lose yourself in an enthralling world of mystery, suspense, triumph and heartbreak, as you delve into the inspiring story of impossible odds and steadfast courage that is Joan of Arc.
By Nancy Goldstone
Author of The Maid and The Queen