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Joan of Arc
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Joan of Arc [Format Kindle]

Helen Castor

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Descriptions du produit

Présentation de l'éditeur

Acclaimed historian Helen Castor brings us afresh a gripping life of Joan of Arc. Instead of the icon, she gives us a living, breathing young woman; a roaring girl fighting the English, and taking sides in a bloody civil war that was tearing fifteenth century France apart.

Here is a portrait of a 19-year-old peasant who hears voices from God; a teenager transformed into a warrior leading an army to victory, in an age that believed women should not fight. And it is also the story behind the myth we all know, a myth which began to take hold at her trial: that of the Maid of Orleans, the saviour of France, a young woman burned at the stake as a heretic, a woman who five hundred years later would be declared a saint.

Joan and her world are brought vividly to life in this refreshing new take on the medieval world. Helen Castor brings us to the heart of the action, to a woman and a country in turmoil, a world where no-one - not Joan herself, nor the people around her, princes, bishops, soldiers or peasants - knew what would happen next.

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 1906 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 359 pages
  • Pagination - ISBN de l'édition imprimée de référence : 0571284620
  • Editeur : Faber & Faber Non Fiction; Édition : Signed ed (30 septembre 2014)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
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  • Word Wise: Non activé
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°121.310 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 4.0 étoiles sur 5  2 commentaires
5 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Joan of Arc 2 octobre 2014
Par S Riaz - Publié sur
Format:Format Kindle
Writing the biography of a medieval figure is always a difficult undertaking. However, the life of Joan the Maid is better documented than most, largely due to the transcripts of her trial for heresy and the subsequent investigation which cleared her name twenty five years after her death. Author Helen Castor attempts not only to tell her story, but to put her life - and death - in context, within the history of a turbulent time for France, by interpreting the trial transcripts and of making clear the religious beliefs of the time.

The book begins with the battle of Agincourt, of feuds and factions, and France a fractured kingdom. It is important to point out that Joan herself does not put in an appearance during the first part of this book. However, for many readers (myself included), who know little about the events of this time, understanding the politics and factions that abounded at the time help set the scene. We first read of Joan's appearance at about a quarter of the way into this read, when she arrives at Chinon, having tried, unsuccessfully, to reach the king the previous year. It is now 1429 and Joan, a village girl, still in her teens, in men's clothes, says she has been sent by God not just to instruct the king but to help him recover his kingdom from the English. If only the king would give her an army, she would drive the English out of France and lead him to his coronation. This message, obviously puts Charles in a quandary - if he followed a false prophet, this would lead to disaster. In the same way, rejecting a true prophet would be equally catastrophic.

Time and again, Joan had to prove herself. Initially, she had to prove her integrity, her maidenhood, her faith and habits to Charles. She was questioned by theologians and had to try to prove her authenticity before undertaking her mission. Joan travelled to Orleans and the scarred and hungry town reacted with hope to the news of this miraculous maid coming to save them. Indeed, the siege was lifted within four days and it seemed a miracle. This book follows her onwards - always trying to convince those around her to fight against English rule - and on to her capture. As a prisoner, accused of heresy, she again faced of interrogation. Only this time, she was not arguing to help her king, but effectively to save her life. If she was found guilty she would burn, if not she might be spared.

This is a fascinating read, which really puts the life of Joan of Arc is historical perspective. It gives great background, looks at Joan as an icon, a saint, a heroine and a woman who fought in a man's world. It examines what she achieved, gives insight into her trial and how remarkably self possessed she was despite her age and shows, with real poignancy, how vulnerable she was. Although I do feel I know much more about Joan and her place in history, and understand why the author approached her story in the way she did, I did feel at the end that I might have liked to have read more about her life before she entered the historical arena by approaching the king. I understand why the author used the trial transcripts to look at her personal history, and that we are lucky so much remains to help reconstruct her life; but I felt that, although I understood her more, I still did not really know this elusive young woman. Overall, though, this is an enjoyable, and readable, biography, which is especially good for those who know little about the historical period in which Joan of Arc lived. Lastly, I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, for review.
4 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 More history than biography... 29 octobre 2014
Par FictionFan - Publié sur
Format:Format Kindle
Helen Castor begins this retelling of the life of Joan the Maid by explaining that, although her story is better documented than most from this period, it isn't always possible to take the sources at face value. Since her legend was being created while she was still alive, and since so much hung on the idea of which side in the war had the support of God, then an inevitable bias has to be expected in the various accounts of her actions and words. So Castor has set out to put Joan's story into the context of the times, and to do that she starts fourteen years before Joan appears, taking us back to Agincourt, and then working forward.

This is a fairly short book, actually more history than biography. It's well-written and therefore easy to read, and Castor explains the various alliances and enmities clearly - having very little previous knowledge of the period, I was able to follow the various shifting loyalties without too much difficulty, and undoubtedly feel better informed about the events and personalities of the time. She describes the background to the feud between the Burgundians and the Armagnacs which split the French resistance to the English claim to the throne. And she shows how the English policy towards any final peace was circumscribed by the infancy of the King (after Henry V's death), with his regent in France, the Duke of Bedford, feeling unable to reach decisions to which young Henry VI might object when he came to power.

By taking this approach, by the time of Joan's arrival on the scene, Castor had built up enough of a picture of the near desperation of the Armagnac faction that it made it slightly less inexplicable why they would have been willing to give credence to this young girl, claiming to have been sent by God to lead an army and ensure the coronation of Charles VII. But only slightly. Though Castor does make clear the importance of religious symbolism and signs at the period, I felt that the crucial point of how exactly Joan got access to the French King remained a little vague. Castor tells us the events - when it happened, who accompanied her, etc., - but left me with no real feeling of why initially any of the important men around the King took her seriously. However, once having rather shimmied past that bit, Castor's descriptions of Joan's involvement in the war and subsequent capture and trial are very well told, with the various political pressures on all sides being clearly explained.

So as history the book works well, especially for someone like myself coming new to the period, though I did wonder if it was in depth enough to add much for people with a reasonable existing understanding of the people and events. I didn't feel it worked quite so well as biography however. Perhaps there isn't enough information available to make it possible, but I didn't come away from it feeling that I really understood Joan as a person. There is little about her background prior to her arriving at Charles' court, and after that, although the events are well described, somehow her personality didn't seem to come through.

There only seem to be two possibilities about Joan - either she actually was God's emissary on earth or she was mentally ill. Castor rather oddly doesn't seem to take a view on that. On the one hand, I felt strongly that she was implicitly ruling out the possibility of Joan being visited by angels telling her that God was on France's side, or more specifically on the side of the Armagnacs. But, on the other hand, she really gave no other interpretation. Not that I'm a great fan of retrospective diagnosis of mental illnesses, but I felt the possibility at least needed to be discussed. The result was that she remained a rather nebulous figure, to me at least.

Happily Castor doesn't end the story with Joan's death. She continues with the history of the war up to the point where the English were finally driven out of France - she doesn't delve into it in depth but covers it well enough so that it provides a satisfactory overview. And she also continues Joan's story after death, with the various reviews of her trial that eventually led to her being declared innocent of heresy. The epilogue tells the final chapter in her story - her canonisation as a saint in 1920.

Overall, I found this an interesting and informative read which, while it perhaps didn't wholly satisfy me as a biography, worked very well as an introduction to the history of the period.

NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, Faber and Faber Ltd.
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