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

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“Attention, ‘Game of Thrones’ fans: The most enjoyably sensational aspects of medieval politics—double-crosses, ambushes, bizarre personal obsessions, lunacy and naked self-interest—are in abundant evidence in Nancy Goldstone's The Maid and the Queen.” (Laura Miller, Salon.com) Politically astute, ambitious, and beautiful, Yolande of Aragon, queen of Sicily, was one of the “Attention, ‘Game of Thrones’ fans: The most enjoyably sensational aspects of medieval politics—double-crosses, ambushes, bizarre personal obsessions, lunacy and naked self-interest—are in abundant evidence in Nancy Goldstone's The Maid and the Queen.” (Laura Miller, Salon.com) Politically astute, ambitious, and beautiful, Yolande of Aragon, queen of Sicily, was one of the most powerful women of the Middle Ages. Caught in the complex dynastic battle of the Hundred Years War, Yolande championed the dauphin's cause against the forces of England and Burgundy, drawing on her savvy, her statecraft, and her intimate network of spies. But the enemy seemed invincible. Just as French hopes dimmed, an astonishingly courageous young woman named Joan of Arc arrived from the farthest recesses of the kingdom, claiming she carried a divine message-a message that would change the course of history and ultimately lead to the coronation of Charles VII and the triumph of France. Now, on the six hundredth anniversary of the birth of Joan of Arc, this fascinating book explores the relationship between these two remarkable women, and deepens our understanding of this dramatic period in history. How did an illiterate peasant girl gain access to the future king of France, earn his trust, and ultimately lead his forces into battle? Was it only the hand of God that moved Joan of Arc-or was it also Yolande of Aragon?


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“Attention, ‘Game of Thrones’ fans: The most enjoyably sensational aspects of medieval politics—double-crosses, ambushes, bizarre personal obsessions, lunacy and naked self-interest—are in abundant evidence in Nancy Goldstone's The Maid and the Queen.” (Laura Miller, Salon.com) Politically astute, ambitious, and beautiful, Yolande of Aragon, queen of Sicily, was one of the “Attention, ‘Game of Thrones’ fans: The most enjoyably sensational aspects of medieval politics—double-crosses, ambushes, bizarre personal obsessions, lunacy and naked self-interest—are in abundant evidence in Nancy Goldstone's The Maid and the Queen.” (Laura Miller, Salon.com) Politically astute, ambitious, and beautiful, Yolande of Aragon, queen of Sicily, was one of the most powerful women of the Middle Ages. Caught in the complex dynastic battle of the Hundred Years War, Yolande championed the dauphin's cause against the forces of England and Burgundy, drawing on her savvy, her statecraft, and her intimate network of spies. But the enemy seemed invincible. Just as French hopes dimmed, an astonishingly courageous young woman named Joan of Arc arrived from the farthest recesses of the kingdom, claiming she carried a divine message-a message that would change the course of history and ultimately lead to the coronation of Charles VII and the triumph of France. Now, on the six hundredth anniversary of the birth of Joan of Arc, this fascinating book explores the relationship between these two remarkable women, and deepens our understanding of this dramatic period in history. How did an illiterate peasant girl gain access to the future king of France, earn his trust, and ultimately lead his forces into battle? Was it only the hand of God that moved Joan of Arc-or was it also Yolande of Aragon?

30 review for The Maid and the Queen: The Secret History of Joan of Arc

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lyndz

    This book reads a bit like a history book, which is appropriate for the subject matter. Lucky for me, I quite enjoyed the prose. I found the majority of the book compelling and very interesting. I learned a lot more than I thought I would about the life of Joan of Arc. I thought I had a pretty firm grasp on the majority of her story but much to my delight, there was a lot that I did not know. There are a handful of artwork and early depictions of the subjects included in the book which I found This book reads a bit like a history book, which is appropriate for the subject matter. Lucky for me, I quite enjoyed the prose. I found the majority of the book compelling and very interesting. I learned a lot more than I thought I would about the life of Joan of Arc. I thought I had a pretty firm grasp on the majority of her story but much to my delight, there was a lot that I did not know. There are a handful of artwork and early depictions of the subjects included in the book which I found remarkable. It was nice to have an interpretation of who they were, and what they looked like, even if it was an antique artist’s impression. There are a lot of side notes which were also very informative and appreciated. Joan the Maid was truly a strong, inspirational female. There is no doubt about it. When asked the trick question during her trial of whether she is in God's grace, this uneducated peasant responds, “If I am not, may God bring me to it; if I am, may God keep me in it." Joan was able to verbally spar with these highly educated men who were twice her age, and not only keep up with them, but best them at their own game. Most people already know that Joan of Arc’s time was during the end part of the Hundred Years War between France and England (and their various allies). What most people don’t realize is that one of the most powerful and influential people of this time was a woman; Yolande of Aragon. I personally had never heard of Yolande of Aragon until I read this. The Maid and the Queen explores the little known relationship and correlation of the stories between these two strong women. Joan is introduced into the book partway through and is executed before the end. The story did focus on both women but it seemed to center more on Yolande of Aragon than it did Joan of Arc. This may be partly due to the fact that the author has chosen to keep her voice more clinically unbiased and political driven than the typical biography style you would probably expect from a book of this nature. I think the author said it best “…as it is often said, that without Joan of Arc there would be no France, it is also true that without Yolande of Aragon there would have been no Joan.” I personally found some of the sections of the book almost too removed and clinically portrayed. For example, when Joan is about to be bought by the English, she tosses herself out of a window in the tower and nearly succeeds in killing herself. I had to actually go back and read that part again because it was stated so matter-of-factly that it didn’t really sink in. The Maid and the Queen is not the type of book you want to rush into or out of. It is thought-provoking, and like a fine wine, wants to be sipped at, and pondered not guzzled. “What is important about Joan is not that she heard voices, or presented the king with a special trinket, but her ferocious courage and unwavering faith. It was her willingness to fight for what she believed against seemingly insurmountable odds that has secured her place in history as an iconic figure. At her core, Joan is testimony to the transcendence of the human spirit.” “She remains an inspiration, not only to the citizens of France, but to oppressed people everywhere.” All in all, I am glad I read this book. It was well written and very informative. If you are like me and have always been fascinated by the story of Joan of Arc, then you should look into reading Maid and the Queen.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Nicky

    I'm not sure why people are tagging this as historical fiction, because it's being marketed as non-fiction and was certainly in the library and bookshop as non-fiction. Nor is it written as though it were fiction, and it has a wealth of footnotes and a bibliography which suggests a great deal of research. Certainly I can understand being a little dubious about some of the claims made -- it's really hard to figure out what exactly people thought and said to each other back during the Hundred Year I'm not sure why people are tagging this as historical fiction, because it's being marketed as non-fiction and was certainly in the library and bookshop as non-fiction. Nor is it written as though it were fiction, and it has a wealth of footnotes and a bibliography which suggests a great deal of research. Certainly I can understand being a little dubious about some of the claims made -- it's really hard to figure out what exactly people thought and said to each other back during the Hundred Years War, which makes it impossible to confirm whether so-and-so was a spy for Queen Yolande, or whether Queen Yolande had anything to do with such-and-such a rumour. Still, it's a convincing narrative, well-written and clear. It is obviously set against the background of the Hundred Years War, which Joan of Arc fought in, and it makes sure that the context is clear -- so much so that if you're reading simply to learn about Joan of Arc, you will be disappointed, because it is really more about the way the war produced her, used her, and discarded her. Yolande of Aragon is a fascinating figure, and I half-wish she was an English queen so I could discuss her in my potential thesis about queenship... If even half of what Nancy Goldstone attributes to her is true, she was a very canny politician and an indefatigable woman. There's also a fair number of (black and white, at least in my edition) illustrations included, as well as maps and family trees to help you keep everything straight.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Geoff Sebesta

    If you read one book about Joan of Arc, it should not be this one. If you read three, though, this should be the third. First read Tuchman's "A Distant Mirror" to get the best possible picture of the Maid and her times. Then read "Joan of Arc: Her Story" by Pernoud to appreciate the depth of her achievement. Then you should read this book and find out what REALLY happened. This is the story of Yolande of Aragon, Joan's secret patron and maybe the one who set the whole thing up. This is political r If you read one book about Joan of Arc, it should not be this one. If you read three, though, this should be the third. First read Tuchman's "A Distant Mirror" to get the best possible picture of the Maid and her times. Then read "Joan of Arc: Her Story" by Pernoud to appreciate the depth of her achievement. Then you should read this book and find out what REALLY happened. This is the story of Yolande of Aragon, Joan's secret patron and maybe the one who set the whole thing up. This is political revisionism of the highest order, rewriting everything that happened and casting it in a new light. When asked why Yolande's influence has gone so long undetected, Goldstone writes "there is no better camouflage in history than to have been born a woman.*" The book has the best explanation of the assassination of John the Fearless I've read yet, and has a lot to say about Agincourt. It's a rare history that manages to be as interesting after Joan dies as it was when she is alive, but Goldstone pulls it off. She also leaves some tantalizing hints about Margaret, Henry VI of England's wife and a possible trigger for the War of the Roses. *slight misquoting because the first time I wrote this review Goodreads ate it, and between then and now I took the book downstairs, and I'm not going to go get it just to look it up twice. Sorry, Goodreads, you blew this one.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Carole P. Roman

    Loved reading about Yolanda of Aragon's impact on Joan of Arc's rise to fame. Nancy Goldstone writes readable history, and fills in the players very often overshadowed by Joan's greatness. She recreates the world of the French court, explaining how Joan and her alleged contact with Heaven justified Charles VII's claim to the French throne. Yolanda of Aragon, his politically astute mother-in-law read the political climate, latching onto Joan as the means to unite the fractured land of France and Loved reading about Yolanda of Aragon's impact on Joan of Arc's rise to fame. Nancy Goldstone writes readable history, and fills in the players very often overshadowed by Joan's greatness. She recreates the world of the French court, explaining how Joan and her alleged contact with Heaven justified Charles VII's claim to the French throne. Yolanda of Aragon, his politically astute mother-in-law read the political climate, latching onto Joan as the means to unite the fractured land of France and propel her daughter's weak husband to the throne. Goldstone refocuses the picture allowing readers to understand how a rural young girl could command an army to change the world.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Mercedes Rochelle

    Finally! For years I've been waiting for a book about Joan of Arc that tells the history without relapsing into religious ecstasy. Goldstone delivers this and so much more in this historical account of France's turning point during the 100 Years War. I bought this book not knowing who the Queen was, her important role in Charles VII's life, or her association with Joan. I was surprised to learn that the story of Yolande of Aragon puts this formidable woman on a par with Eleanor of Aquitaine, yet Finally! For years I've been waiting for a book about Joan of Arc that tells the history without relapsing into religious ecstasy. Goldstone delivers this and so much more in this historical account of France's turning point during the 100 Years War. I bought this book not knowing who the Queen was, her important role in Charles VII's life, or her association with Joan. I was surprised to learn that the story of Yolande of Aragon puts this formidable woman on a par with Eleanor of Aquitaine, yet I never heard of her. This is a book about how Joan of Arc, aided by sympathetic members of Charles' party—mainly Yolande—invigorated the French people and its King to push back against the English. Joan's role is firmly established, but there are so many other events crowding the end of the war that her tragic martyrdom is not the end of the story. "It would be gratifying to be able to confirm...that, if not quite the catalyst for a precipitous surrender, Joan's execution at least marked the moral turning point in the conflict, the moment at which the native French population, repulsed by the deed, turned against the occupation and began the slow process of throwing off the yoke of the invaders. And yet the sad truth is that Joan's death had absolutely no effect upon the war, or the politics of the period..." In fact, the war dragged on for another twenty years, and much of the effort to turn the tables on the English came from the historically unacknowledged Yolande. Charles, the future King, was the youngest son of mad king Charles VI and an unscrupulous Isabeau of Bavaria in war-torn France. He was a nervous, neglected child whose prospects were not particularly glittering and was sent away to be raised by his future mother-in-law in peaceful and beautiful Provence. Yolande's court was enlightened and brilliant, and the future king became totally attached to the Queen of Sicily. She was a formidable, efficient ruler and her support was instrumental in keeping Charles on the right path. It was eventually through Yolande's influence that Joan of Arc managed an interview with "the Dauphin" as she called him. Also, when Charles' natural timidity held him back from committing his military forces, Yolanda often returned to take control and push matters forward. In the end, she helped forge the diplomatic ties between France and Burgundy that finally dislodged the English from their French territories. One might ask why Charles and Yolande did not work harder to redeem Joan from her captors. Yes, by that time she had already outlived her usefulness and seemed to be in the way more often than not. There was no doubt that the common people still looked up to her, but "she was during this period kept at arm's length and regarded as a nuisance and a potential liability by those in power at court." All along her military astuteness was questionable, and even at the siege of Orleans the French commanders ignored her advice and won the day despite her objections. By the time she was captured, Joan had taken it upon herself to lead a practically suicidal mission at Compiegne, and no one in charge paid much attention to her. When she was taken, one train of thought was "Because Joan claimed to have appeared by the order of God, to interfere in her fate would have been akin to questioning a divine imperative." I can see that as a solid medieval sentiment. But more to the point, the King wouldn't have thought she was in danger. Joan had been ennobled a few months previously, and the terms of her captivity were "dictated by the time-honored rules of chivalry." She would be held for ransom, it was supposed, and given honorable imprisonment. They never thought that Joan would be ransomed by the enemy of France, the Duke of Burgundy! And Burgundy was determined to prove that Joan was a witch and anyone following her advice was dishonored. Including, of course, Charles VII. This period of history was incredibly complex, with murders and treason, political agendas and a long cast of characters. The author does an admirable job keeping everything straight. I had no trouble following events, and the writing was smooth and enjoyable; there were even times I felt a little excitement, as though in the midst of a novel. I suspect it was difficult presenting a mystical saint as a straightforward historical figure, but Goldstone smoothly sidestepped religious issues and gave us a credible explanation of events. She had a couple of theories of her own that tied things together: she is convinced that Yolande made a connection between Joan and the "Romance of Melusine", famous in its time, which is why she supported the Maid; the author attributed the vehemence of Joan's trial and later rehabilitation to a conflict between factions in the University of Paris faculty. I thought these theories a little bit of a stretch, but they didn't stop me from enjoying the book. I would highly recommend it to students of the Middle Ages.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Orsolya

    Joan of Arc will most likely be the reigning superhero of women to come for many generations. Displaying courage equal or even surpassing that of her male counterparts; Joan is a role model, inspiration, and compelling historical figure. Nancy Goldstone attempts to look at her hidden motives and connection to Yolande of Aragon in “The Maid and the Queen”. The first notable characteristic displayed by Nancy Goldstone is “The Maid and the Queen” is an eloquent language/writing style. Goldstone seam Joan of Arc will most likely be the reigning superhero of women to come for many generations. Displaying courage equal or even surpassing that of her male counterparts; Joan is a role model, inspiration, and compelling historical figure. Nancy Goldstone attempts to look at her hidden motives and connection to Yolande of Aragon in “The Maid and the Queen”. The first notable characteristic displayed by Nancy Goldstone is “The Maid and the Queen” is an eloquent language/writing style. Goldstone seamlessly binds flowerly terms with an easy-to-read pace which allows the average reader to “keep up” and remain interested and entertained at the same time. This tactic is necessary as the material can become quite overwhelming if one is new to the topic at hand (mostly French politics during the Hundred Years War). Goldstone passionately explains the figures and events involved which eventually leads to the emergence of Joan and her involvement (the book is split into three sections: before Joan, Joan, and after Joan). Hence, the possibility of becoming overwhelmed by the abundance of information is high. Plus, at times, Goldstone seems to stray on zealous tangents which can become tedious and slow-moving. Don’t expect the “typical” biography of Joan of Arc or Yolande of Aragon’s influence on the maid. Versus a psyche study of Yolande and/or Joan, “The Maid and the Queen” is more of a background political discussion. However, Goldstone occasionally intertwines personal opinions on the psychological effects of early incidents for both females and they affected future events. These insights are quite compelling and result in several “ah-ha” moments. Even better is that Goldstone doesn’t allow these opinions to overflow too much into the historical tone which thus results in minimal speculation (thankfully). Goldstone’s tone is affirmative, passionate, and yet inquisitive. The pace beginning with part 2 and the introduction of Joan is much quicker and more compelling containing a satisfying number of direct quotes and annotated sources which opens a window into Joan. These passages take more time to dissect her actions, motives, and court trial resulting in an interesting motive study and scientific breakdown. However, these sections are fleeting and I did not find Goldstone’s conclusions to be exclusive and I had many unanswered questions. Goldstone’s hypothesis/explanation circles around politically describing the mystique of Joan versus that of religion (comparable to the evolution vs. creation debate) which could deter some readers who associate Joan with saintly traits. However, Goldstone isn’t overly forceful with these observations and merely grazes them. Although chapter 11 (“The Trial of Joan of Arc”) is climatic and emotionally moving in its facts regarding the terrible way Joan was treated during her trial; “The Maid and the Queen” is less than enthralling. I expected “secretive” events while it was more of a re-telling. Goldstone’s hypothesis is lost as she only mentions the possible connections between Joan and Yolande a few times. Basically, the book is not what the title suggests and I found myself becoming bored at times. A small annoyance was that the lack of a genealogical chart in the front of the book. It is placed in the back and is easily looked over as I couldn’t initially find it at all. It would make more referential sense in the beginning. Although I was not completely captured by Goldstone’s work nor did I find it to cover the topic (the relation between Joan and Yolande) sufficiently; I do heartily recommend it for those interested in the politics of the Hundred Years War (plus, I now have a sparked interest in Rene of Anjou). Furthermore, I would read more works from Nancy Goldstone so the book was suitably enjoyable.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    WOW! I thought I had a half way decent understanding about the French monarchy, but I was wrong! When it comes to Joan of Arc, most of the history books focus on her, but this book really puts her into the larger picture. As much as Joan's story is tragic, her accomplishments and her downfall, were partly politically allowed to happen, as it suited those with power in their hands. She was a catalyst for change in France. And I really like the way the author finished off the stories of some of th WOW! I thought I had a half way decent understanding about the French monarchy, but I was wrong! When it comes to Joan of Arc, most of the history books focus on her, but this book really puts her into the larger picture. As much as Joan's story is tragic, her accomplishments and her downfall, were partly politically allowed to happen, as it suited those with power in their hands. She was a catalyst for change in France. And I really like the way the author finished off the stories of some of the major players in the Hundred Years War, and how the whole balancing of truces and treaties, alliances and marriages, ends with the marriage of Henry Vi of England with Margaret of Anjou (granddaughter of Yolande of Aragon), and dovetails nicely with the War of the Roses. I found this book very informative, well written and easy to read. Even though this is a non-fiction book, I can fully imagine this story being written into a mini-series or movie. And if there is anyone out there contemplating this, please consider casting Madeline Stowe (yes, I have become addicted to Revenge) as she would make an awesome medieval queen or duchess. Thank you very much to Netgalley for the chance to read and review this on my Kindle.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Margaret Sankey

    Having enjoyed Goldstone's previous work on the Provencal family and Joanna of Sicily, I was wary about this new "secret history" aspect. While we will never be able to ascertain the extent to which Joan of Arc might have been groomed and sponsored by insiders at court, Goldstone presents the case for Yolande of Aragon taking advantage of Charles VII's insecurities, the existence of prophecies and some slick PR moves to leverage things in favor of the Armagnacs and the king. Although the middle Having enjoyed Goldstone's previous work on the Provencal family and Joanna of Sicily, I was wary about this new "secret history" aspect. While we will never be able to ascertain the extent to which Joan of Arc might have been groomed and sponsored by insiders at court, Goldstone presents the case for Yolande of Aragon taking advantage of Charles VII's insecurities, the existence of prophecies and some slick PR moves to leverage things in favor of the Armagnacs and the king. Although the middle portion is standard-issue Joan of Arc narrative, the other 2/3 are a correct reminder of the role of the great aristocratic women--Marie of Blois, Yolande of Aragon, Isabella of Lorraine, Anne of Burgundy in the larger conflict of the 15th century as so many of the men were dead, hostages or children. That all their maneuvering is undervalued and under-recorded is the real point.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship

    3.5 stars This is an interesting book, a dual biography of two disparate women important in the later decades of the Hundred Years’ War: Joan of Arc, and Yolande, titled Queen of Sicily, who never actually ruled Sicily at all, but was a powerful duchess in France and the mother-in-law (and only real parental figure) of King Charles VII. Though little-known today, Yolande was a skilled politician and power-broker at the time, and when the English threatened her lands she became very interested in 3.5 stars This is an interesting book, a dual biography of two disparate women important in the later decades of the Hundred Years’ War: Joan of Arc, and Yolande, titled Queen of Sicily, who never actually ruled Sicily at all, but was a powerful duchess in France and the mother-in-law (and only real parental figure) of King Charles VII. Though little-known today, Yolande was a skilled politician and power-broker at the time, and when the English threatened her lands she became very interested in pushing Charles VII to actually use the army she’d raised for him. Goldstone posits that Yolande was secretly Joan’s patron, but I wasn’t entirely convinced by the notion of any substantial connection between the two. Certainly, Yolande was a leader in the faction that wanted the king to fight, for which Joan’s arrival presented an opportunity, and people connected with Yolande facilitated Joan’s arrival at court. And sure, it’s possible Yolande might have arranged to pass Joan information about how to get the king to trust her, but there’s no real evidence of that; and okay, Yolande might have been behind spreading the original rumor/prophecy about a virgin from Lorraine saving France, but that seems like a weird and risky move. However, the juxtaposition of the two stories does make for more complete and dramatic narrative than if Goldstone had only included one. At any rate, this is interesting and readable despite the proliferation of names, and taught me something about a period and some historical figures I didn’t know much about. For me it didn’t sparkle like Goldstone’s Daughters of the Winter Queen, but I suspect a lot of that is because medieval biography is really hard. You don’t have much sense of what these people were like at their core, their personalities or thoughts or feelings. For the period, we know a fair amount about Joan because she gave a lot of testimony and so did many people who knew her, but that was in a formal and (in her case) highly adversarial context, which can only tell you so much. The most humanizing thing I learned about her was that she got frustrated with the king’s council’s endless meetings and instead ran off with a too-small army to attack someplace, which led to her downfall. (She also jumped out a window while in captivity in an attempt to kill herself, but narrowly survived.) I don’t think I learned anything similarly humanizing about Yolande, though in her time she was clearly a force to be reckoned with. To be honest, I wish Goldstone had been willing to speculate a bit more. In the acknowledgments, she mentions talking to a doctor about teens hearing voices, but that with a gap of 600 years she wasn’t able to say anything definitive so left the psychiatric angle on Joan out of the book entirely. I thought it would have been interesting to discuss even without knowing anything for certain, and this is pretty clearly a secular biography even though Goldstone is impressed with Joan’s piety. It’s also a little odd to read a modern feminist biography of somebody whose stubborn cross-dressing inspired an international theological debate, without considering the queer angle at all. Not that we should run amok giving historical figures labels that would have been utterly foreign to them, but it seems like Goldstone just repeats what Joan’s supporters said, which was, “she did this for modesty, now shut up.” Since men’s clothes tend to be more form-fitting than dresses layered over shifts and petticoats, I thought this called for more explanation (perhaps men's clothes were considered modest because since medieval people didn’t wear underwear, it would be harder for a woman to have sex in them? Or maybe the clothes were simple practicality?). But anyway, this was an interesting book, and fairly short, so I’m glad I read it. Also, Goldstone includes various pieces of contemporary art, which are hilarious in their failure to depict anything that looks like movement. The battles and massacres look incredibly sedate. Take a look at a sample from the book here. (I don't know how anybody gets images into reviews, this isn't working at all for me and the attempt has taken longer than writing the review!) I do look forward to reading more Goldstone, and I’m glad that she seems to be moving a century forward in time with each biography she writes!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ellen Ekstrom

    This was not so much a biography or history of Joan of Arc, as a chronicle of the role Yolande of Aragon played during this part of the Hundred Years War between England and France, and her determination to have her son-in-law, Charles, crowned King of France. The research was excellent but alas, I didn't learn anything new, anything I already didn't know. Joan's mockery of a trial and her execution didn't change the war or its outcome; they had no effect save that the English and Burgundians go This was not so much a biography or history of Joan of Arc, as a chronicle of the role Yolande of Aragon played during this part of the Hundred Years War between England and France, and her determination to have her son-in-law, Charles, crowned King of France. The research was excellent but alas, I didn't learn anything new, anything I already didn't know. Joan's mockery of a trial and her execution didn't change the war or its outcome; they had no effect save that the English and Burgundians got rid of a political threat - a teenaged girl with astounding piety and charisma who rallied an army and a country to fight and be delivered from the English. I didn't think the book gave us any secret history, just brought to the fore the extraordinary effort and power of Yolande, a woman usually glossed over in the history books. Had this been more about Yolande, I would have like it even more. Still, a recommended book for readers who like late medieval history.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Suanne Laqueur

    For those who love this sort of thing, this is the sort of thing they will love. I love this sort of thing, yet I have a terrible habit of reading biographies of tragic historical figures and thinking I'll get an alternate ending this time. Spoiler alert: this time, after being exploited, abused, interrogated and subjected to a sham trial in which the record was falsified to get the already-decided-upon verdict the English wanted, and without the ungrateful French King lifting a finger to interc For those who love this sort of thing, this is the sort of thing they will love. I love this sort of thing, yet I have a terrible habit of reading biographies of tragic historical figures and thinking I'll get an alternate ending this time. Spoiler alert: this time, after being exploited, abused, interrogated and subjected to a sham trial in which the record was falsified to get the already-decided-upon verdict the English wanted, and without the ungrateful French King lifting a finger to intercede, Joan is burned at the stake and her remains dumped into the Loire. Wow, who saw that coming?! Anyway, Yolande of Aragon is one badass bitch. Gladstone is a badass historian and one of the top draft picks for my Fantasy All-Star Teachers League. (Of course, there isn't any such thing, but there should be.)

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jeanette

    Excellent non-fiction historical detailing of all the interplay surrounding the French monarchy during the years bridging the French Civil War & the 100 Years War. It is the detailed history of Yolande's (Queen of Sicily)support and pivotal role in the eventual outcomes. Not just in battle support but in the safe haven for Charles, the Dauphin. Joan of Arc's mission was to crown this very Dauphin and reunite the French under his monarchy. The voices told her this. The research is amazing in its m Excellent non-fiction historical detailing of all the interplay surrounding the French monarchy during the years bridging the French Civil War & the 100 Years War. It is the detailed history of Yolande's (Queen of Sicily)support and pivotal role in the eventual outcomes. Not just in battle support but in the safe haven for Charles, the Dauphin. Joan of Arc's mission was to crown this very Dauphin and reunite the French under his monarchy. The voices told her this. The research is amazing in its minutia of accuracies. Goldstone states if her information is questionable or prejudicial- as in the rumor that Isabeau, Queen of France to the mad king, had more than just a political alliance with Louis, Duke of Orleans, his brother. Many other health and location facts too, not obscured for the sake of the "story". Joan was the catalyst for a vast change. And not just in centered power and authority. After reading Haasse, this was the perfect finale.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

    Great, well-researched theory on how Joan of Arc came to play her role in history. Heavy on well researched details, this read as a history book (not my favorite form of learning!) but compelled me to the end. What an era of bought and paid for soldiers, nobles positioning for their status and possessions, skewed (at least by today's standards) intersections between church and law. No wonder the peasants revolted! Joan of Arc must have been a remarkable woman, unfairly treated by the laws of man Great, well-researched theory on how Joan of Arc came to play her role in history. Heavy on well researched details, this read as a history book (not my favorite form of learning!) but compelled me to the end. What an era of bought and paid for soldiers, nobles positioning for their status and possessions, skewed (at least by today's standards) intersections between church and law. No wonder the peasants revolted! Joan of Arc must have been a remarkable woman, unfairly treated by the laws of man. She would be one on my list of ultimate dinner guests.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Susan Abernethy

    Link to my review of this book: https://flhwnotesandreviews.com/2017/... Link to my review of this book: https://flhwnotesandreviews.com/2017/...

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ashley Catt

    Obviously, when one is writing a biography of a historical figure, one of the main things to keep aware of is the crucial need to remain balanced and as impartial as is possible; don't get too attached to who you're writing about, and certainly don't get swept up in some kind of reverent hysteria comparable to which Joan of Arc inspired in those who followed her into battle. One thing I can say, is that if Nancy Goldstone (the author) was in the midst of the Hundred Years War in France, is that s Obviously, when one is writing a biography of a historical figure, one of the main things to keep aware of is the crucial need to remain balanced and as impartial as is possible; don't get too attached to who you're writing about, and certainly don't get swept up in some kind of reverent hysteria comparable to which Joan of Arc inspired in those who followed her into battle. One thing I can say, is that if Nancy Goldstone (the author) was in the midst of the Hundred Years War in France, is that she would certainly be a loyal and impassioned follower of Joan of Arc. Does that make her well placed to write a biography about her (and also, importantly, Yolande of Aragon, the formidable and politically significant Queen of Sicily)? Not so much, in my opinion. It has always, to me, seemed like one should not write a biography about someone that they feel too strongly about. Obviously, this advice doesn't have to be taken, but the results of not doing so are usually evident. To get the positives out of the way, the book has a seemly structure. Rather than simply telling the stories of Yolande of Aragon and Joan of Arc, the author makes sure to demonstrate the context of the Hundred Year's War between France and England in order for the backdrop in which the two characters operate within is well illustrated. This, she does sufficiently, as you feel like you've been briefed on the necessary details as a reader. The narrative is not severed after the deaths of both Joan and Yolande either; an epilogue which studies the re-habilitation of Joan of Arc's legacy is featured at the end of the book. Now, as I touched on in the start of this review, the book suffers from major problems when it comes to the two chosen protagonists; there appears to be a great lack of balance and impartiality when it comes down to Joan of Arc and Yolande of Aragon. The author can safely be said to have taken a view that is 100% positive about the two women. This problem is much more evident when it comes to Joan of Arc, of whom the author often gushes with praise. As such, there is no critical debate about the voices that Joan claimed to hear; one must assume that the author believes that Joan was a true prophetess? There is no discussion of it, which I personally think is evasion. It is very possible that Joan may have suffered from some kind of neurological disorder (the knowledge of which would have been completely unknown in the Middle Ages, however it would be beyond incorrect to claim that they did not exist) which would account for her visions. There has been much academic debate into the subject, yet this is ignored by the author who, rather insultingly, would probably have claimed that any kind of speculation as to the mental state of her subject would have been the gravest of insults. As such, it doesn't feel like the reader is being presented the full story. One of crucial claims of this book, which the author uses to hold up it's revisionist status is that (in a quote taken from the blurb of the book) Yolande of Aragon was 'a forgotten mentor' to Joan. This is the only place in this work where a reader might find reference to such a claim. The author absolutely fails to demonstrate this within the book, and it's claims to veracity are very thin indeed. What the author does write in the book was that Joan of Arc fit very well into Yolande of Aragon's plans to finance an expedition to Orléans, and therefore she was probably used for the purposes of propaganda by the Queen of Sicily, who was aware of the importance of these kind of movements. Joan was almost certainly not mentored by Yolande, nor granted any extended contact with her. Another crutch that this book, rather half-heartedly, falls upon is The Romance of Melusine. The author demonstrates, somewhat convincingly, that many of the significant figures in the book had probably read the romantic tale. The harm this does to the narrative, is that every so often she tries to claim that they were influenced completely by the book, which seems highly far fetched (The Romance of Melusine seems to be a very stylish book for royal historians of late-Medieval England and France to draw comparisons with) and hems her narrative around this. Beyond just the characters, the author writes in a highly biased way around the English and the French, allowing her own opinions skew her historical narrative. She writes, regarding the aftermath of the death of Joan of Arc, that 'it would be gratifying to b able to conform the widespread belief that this one act, the terrible martyrdom of Joan of Arc- so unjust, so cruel, so iniquitous- resulted ... in the immediate vanquishing of the English'. As a historian, one should not be 'taking sides' but it appears that the author cannot help herself from doing so. She should also take care to not load her narrative with such emotive vocabulary. Her vaunting of the French at the expense of the English extends also to her opinions of English historians, claiming that one's opinion of a certain battle amounted to them having 'harrumphed'. Well, there are many things that I can say about my experience reading the works of American historians but I realise that extending too much on that fact is extra-ordinarily petty (especially when you are using a work of so-called professional history to do so). On the subject of the style of the author's prose, the manner of writing can often be far too informal, with some extremely misfired and misplaced attempts at humour (which, upon execution, are largely humourless and inappropriate). She also doesn't seem to see the issue at exploiting historical clichés in order to humour her prose. On the subject of French princesses not being married to English monarchs for two hundred years following the queenship of Margaret of Anjou (the granddaughter and something of a protégé of Yolande of Aragon) she writes that this was 'an astute policy that had the added undeniable benefit of saving the head of at least one French princess during the reign of Henry VIII', a comment which is neither funny, relevant, nor historically appropriate. I would be lying to say that I didn't enjoy reading this book, but there are far too many eyebrow raising moments to call this 'good history'. The author, as far as I imagine, has come in and fit her research around her pre-conceived notions of who Joan of Arc and Yolande of Aragon are without any sort of consideration of the alternatives. The helm of revisionism that she has taken, she seems to think has protected her from accusations of inaccuracy. The problem is that a revisionist viewpoint is also an agenda, and this is often not recognised by the historians who write with them.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Louise

    Queen Yolanda illustrates how women in the middle ages wielded power. Coming from a childhood of privilege, she married into an even more wealthy and powerful family. In her husband's absence she managed estates, collected rents and resolved disputes among other nobles all the while raising children to assume thrones and leadership roles. When her husband died she took a larger diplomatic role, advising the would be king (even when he ignored the advice) negotiated marriages and worked to free a Queen Yolanda illustrates how women in the middle ages wielded power. Coming from a childhood of privilege, she married into an even more wealthy and powerful family. In her husband's absence she managed estates, collected rents and resolved disputes among other nobles all the while raising children to assume thrones and leadership roles. When her husband died she took a larger diplomatic role, advising the would be king (even when he ignored the advice) negotiated marriages and worked to free a son taken as a hostage. By contrast, Joan's life was simple and uncomplicated until her voices compel her to action. Despite their regional proximity and their shared aims, the two women do not meet. This book is a marked improvement in readability over Goldstone's The Lady Queen: The Notorious Reign of Joanna I, Queen of Naples, Jerusalem, and Sicily. The text is much smoother and for those not steeped in French history, and its descriptions make the story easier to envision. For instance, the total disaster of the reign of Charles VI, is told through a description of his madness. The reader sees how he was incapacitated and how this made him easy to manipulate. Goldstone shows how the Bavarian roots and reputation of his Queen, Isabeau, spawned rumors as to the legitimacy of their third son who eventually inherited the throne. All of this gives the context you need to understand the role Yolanda had in raising that third son, and why Joan is so pivotal in motivating him and his supporters to take his rightful role. There is interesting material on how it was that Joan eventually got an audience with Charles, and how she lived while waiting for his response, what she did between battles and Charles's responses to her at the various points. After the persecution of Joan and the natural death of Yolanda there is a chapter on Joan's rehabilitation an epilogue on the significance of the two women. I am not certain which parts of this are the "secret" history. Perhaps the subtitle refers to the previously neglected role of Yolanda. I'd have liked a bit more on Yolanda and the Naples and Sicily situations. For instance, how did Yolanda govern Sicily from afar, and more specifically what were the issues in Naples? Also the title Queen of Jerusalem is curious. What was her governance role there? While this is a book on France, a few pages on these lands might help the reader understand Yolanda's situation a bit more. While you can see the weaving of these lives and how both worked towards the same goal, the p. 249 conclusion "Without Yolanda there would have been no Joan." is not fully drawn. Given Yolanda's influence on Charles as a boy, the support she gave him as a mother-in-law (even when he did not heed her advice) she was a major source of influence and support. A more accurate statement is "Without Yolanda there would have been no Charles." I highly recommend this volume for the general reader. For those more knowledgeable about this period, I believe they will find the sections of Yolanda worthwhile.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Anirudh Parthasarathy

    Joan was an illiterate maid from eastern France in the 15th century. Legend has it that she saved France from English takeover during the Hundred Years War and is one of the figures with most statues around France. But the question remains – how did an illiterate teenager put up such a courageous fight and led the demoralised French forces against all odds (in decisive battles at Orléans, Beaugency, Reims, etc.)? Nancy Goldstone in this book tries to demystify Joan and rationalise the events sur Joan was an illiterate maid from eastern France in the 15th century. Legend has it that she saved France from English takeover during the Hundred Years War and is one of the figures with most statues around France. But the question remains – how did an illiterate teenager put up such a courageous fight and led the demoralised French forces against all odds (in decisive battles at Orléans, Beaugency, Reims, etc.)? Nancy Goldstone in this book tries to demystify Joan and rationalise the events surrounding her rise. The first I knew of Joan was when I was a child; while playing Age of Empires II; wherein Joan’s story is one of the campaigns and since then – this history surrounding England and France has always fascinated me. This book does not start with Joan’s origins at Domrémy in eastern France, which was her birthplace, but instead in Aragon (present day Spain). It introduces us to another prominent woman from those times – Yolande of Aragon. The writer builds her case as to how Joan’s whole story was prop used by Yolande for her power grab (coincidentally or otherwise, Joan was from the Duchy of Bar – which was Yolande’s matrilineal place of origin). To provide a context – the latter phase of the Hundred Years War was effectively a civil war between two factions, the Burgundian faction which had King Charles VI on their side who backed the English king – Henry V’s, claim to the French throne; the other faction known as the Armagnacs – wanted the succession to remain with the Valois family – the King’s son. And what was Yolande’s interest in this? Charles VII, the son of the King was Yolande’s son-in-law. I would say the book highlights three aspects – the first is to provide us a brief account of the Hundred Years War during the latter phase and in particular – the role of Yolande and her diplomatic skills in bringing various factions together as France was a highly divided country during the time. The second was to demystify the myths surrounding Joan of Arc – while the book certainly portrayed her as heroic – it also emphasised as to how not all on the Armagnac side were in favour / in awe of Joan. The third was also to demonstrate how divided France was and while we might know Henry V’s exploits in the Battle of Agincourt through Shakespeare’s play, he also had the advantage of attacking a country so divided that his victory was not as surprising as dramatisations have portrayed. I got a good sense of who was Joan of Arc, her motivations, and the legal systems in place in the 15th century, considering how her trial is one of the most documented events of the era. I also got to know of some interesting anecdotes which I would surely like to read (like the folklore The Romance of Melusine). My only suspicion is the extent to which the author’s bias has influenced the work. The book has two principal characters – the Maid – Joan of Arc and the Queen – Yolande of Aragon, Queen of Sicily. The book certainly glorifies Yolande a lot, and sometimes I suspected it was far more than her importance in history. Yolande held her court in her castle at Saumur (in the western French region of Pays de la Loire) and after having read the book, I visited Saumur and the castle. The museum in the castle had more mention of René I of Naples than Yolande herself. This was strange as the book was dismissive of René and described him as the incompetent son of Yolande who often needed his mother’s diplomatic skills to bail himself out. Yolande’s name was mentioned in the castle only once and if that is the extent to which her history is savoured in Saumur, I wonder to what extent it remains elsewhere. However, I would also consider that modern French historians are downplaying or ignoring her role during the Hundred Years War. To conclude, this is one of the most interesting historical accounts that I have read so far, and I would look forward to reading more about the insights I picked up from this book. On that note, I would award the book a rating of four.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    I'm not quite sure that the link Goldstone was trying to make between Yolande of Aragon and Joan of Arc was strong enough for my liking... It more or less felt like a biography of two women who may have occupied the same time and place and shared similar ambitions, but still had nothing else in common. Obviously Goldstone was looking to play on the thread of subtle networks and patronage, but maybe the thread was just a little too subtle for me. Nevertheless, her writing continues to be highly r I'm not quite sure that the link Goldstone was trying to make between Yolande of Aragon and Joan of Arc was strong enough for my liking... It more or less felt like a biography of two women who may have occupied the same time and place and shared similar ambitions, but still had nothing else in common. Obviously Goldstone was looking to play on the thread of subtle networks and patronage, but maybe the thread was just a little too subtle for me. Nevertheless, her writing continues to be highly readable and accessible, and I always enjoy reading her non-fiction texts.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Matthew J.

    I really enjoyed this look at Yolande, the powerful queen who helped shape Medieval France, and set the stage for Joan of Arc. The beginning of the book is a bit scattered, but it starts getting focused after 50 or so pages. The whole thing gave me a much different image of France in that era, and helped connect some dots. I knew Henry V and Joan of Arc, but I didn't realize how connected they were, for example. Good stuff. I really enjoyed this look at Yolande, the powerful queen who helped shape Medieval France, and set the stage for Joan of Arc. The beginning of the book is a bit scattered, but it starts getting focused after 50 or so pages. The whole thing gave me a much different image of France in that era, and helped connect some dots. I knew Henry V and Joan of Arc, but I didn't realize how connected they were, for example. Good stuff.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Zosi

    A fascinating read. I only knew about Joan of Arc from Catholic school and after reading this book I realize I really didn’t know that much about her. Of course, I didn’t know anything about Yolande at all. Although the book was a bit dry in places, I loved all the historical detail and the almost novelistic writing style. I can’t wait to read more by Nancy Goldstone.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Stacy

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I can't believe how much I enjoyed this book. If all historic accounts were written by Goldstone, I would happily pick up each one to read. I'll definitely be looking at other books she wrote. History is full of so many interesting and crazy stories, but in school it seems to only be about names and dates. Goldstone captured the events of this time in such a clear, interesting, and easy-to-follow way that I eagerly turned the page looking forward to learning more. History is not my strong point, I can't believe how much I enjoyed this book. If all historic accounts were written by Goldstone, I would happily pick up each one to read. I'll definitely be looking at other books she wrote. History is full of so many interesting and crazy stories, but in school it seems to only be about names and dates. Goldstone captured the events of this time in such a clear, interesting, and easy-to-follow way that I eagerly turned the page looking forward to learning more. History is not my strong point, mainly because I seem to have an inability to remember dates. They all just blend together for me. (The same will hold true with this book, but I at least have a much better grasp of all the players). First, let me say that the chart showing the Royal House of France in the 14th and 15th centuries was invaluable. I referred to this constantly throughout the book. This chart gets the MVP award from me. There is no way that I will be able to summarize this book. I mean, the book IS already a summary of events. I'll just mention the things that stood out to me. The first: Yolande of Aragon, Queen of Sicily, was a badass. This woman was so intelligent, and so politically astute; I can very much believe, after reading this, that she was the puppet-master behind the throne(s). She spent a lot of money and effort to fight for lands and titles for her children. The second: King Charles VI was truly nuts. His nickname of 'The Mad King' was completely appropriate (today he'd most likely be diagnosed as schizophrenic). For a few months a year, he'd lose it; he would think he was someone called George, wouldn't bathe, would constantly think he was being attacked (would consequently attack his own people), and would generally behave like a lunatic. But they he'd 'come out of it' and the first person to be with him when this happened would be in his favor (until his next bout). So people would strategize to be with him at the end of one of his mad cycles so they could essentially control him for the next few months. Seriously. This happened for YEARS. Is it any wonder that France found itself in deep trouble, mainly with the English, during this time? The Third: Yolande arranged for her daughter Marie to be betrothed to Charles VI's son, Charles VII. Charles VII was a neglected child that was constantly in fear of attack or being captured. He was frequently moved from city to city, depending on the threats coming from the English. His mother was pretty hands off and didn't have interest in her children. So when Charles VII became engaged, he went to live with Yolande (I think he was about 10 years old when this happened). For the first time he experience family, love, and caring. Yolande essentially became his mother. (Charles VII did not appear to have much affection for his wife, Marie). Yolande had a huge influence over the next King of France. The Fourth: Charles VII's sister, Catherine, was married to Henry V, King of England. So when The Mad King died, Henry the V claimed the title King of France, as did Charles VII. DRAMA. (I mean, there was already a TON of drama, but this was pretty big for what was to come). So to recap, there are now two King's of France. Not good. The Fifth: Two prophecies went out (thought to be from a seer named Marie of Avignon) that "France ruined by a woman would be restored by a virgin from the marches of Lorraine" and the second "A Maid would come would would carry arms and would free the kingdom of France from its enemies". This is when Joan started hearing voices. She was the daughter of a farmer and was considered poor. But from a young age was incredibly devout, told her father she was to stay a maid. when she began hearing the voices (Saint Michael the Archangel, Saint Catherine of Alexandria, and Saint Margaret of Antioch). Joan needed to get to Charles VII and began working to make this happen. She cut her hair, dressed in men's clothes, and found her way (most likely with Yolande's help) to an audience with Charles VII. The Sixth: Charles VII was an idiot. He was incompetent (true, he was young), indecisive, flighty, and constantly worried about his own self, more than his country. He had John the "Fearless" Duke of Burgundy killed, which was a huge mistake, especially in the long run. And then wouldn't act to fight for his cities and lands. Orleans was under siege and was in danger of being starved out if Charles VII didn't get an army there soon to help. Realizing that Charles VII needed a 'push' Yolande seems to have worked to put Joan in Charles VII's path. Knowing that Charles VII had doubts regarding his legitimacy (both in parentage and the crown) he was desperate for validation. Joan gave this to him by saying "I say to you, on behalf of the Lord, that you are the true heir of France, and a king's son, and He has sent me to you to lead you to Rheims, so that you can receive your coronation and consecration if you wish it". Joan had two reasons for which she had a mandate from the King of Heaven; "One, to raise the siege of Orleans, the other to lead the King to Rheims for his sacring (coronation). Part of the legend of Joan of Arc was that she immediately knew him (he was 'blending' in with his court as he was concerned about meeting her) and told him a secret which proved to him she was legit. (most likely it was the above statement proving his legitimacy). The Seventh: Joan went to Orleans and saved the city. Then Joan led the king to Rheims where he was crowned (she stood next to him as he was crowned). But then it's like Joan went a bit nuts. She had fulfilled her duties, but didn't seem to have any more direction, so she focused on getting rid of the English. She went looking for battles, and against the advice of others, found herself captured by the English. This was strange to me, that to have so clear of a purpose, to then flounder. The Eighth: The English were total jerks and didn't abide by the laws of chivalry and even proper proceedings. Joan may not have been raped, but she was most definitely abused and degraded. She was kept in irons at all times (even while she slept) and she had three rough English prison guards IN her room, and two outside. I found that incredibly sketchy not to mention horrible. (There was also this weird thing when they forced her to wear men's clothes or go nude. She went with men's clothes and they used this to prove she went back to her heretic ways. But if she was always in the presence of these prison guards, I can't imagine she had kept her modesty in all this time. Anyway). Joan was incredibly gifted with her speech and ability turn words and phrases to her benefit. She was interrogated for some time. The English pretty much tricked her to confess, then tricked her again to reverse it (the clothes) and was then taken to a stake and burned alive. It apparently lasted for over half and hour and was quite horrific. The Ninth: Charles the VII is still a jerk. It doesn't appear that he gives a rat's ass about Joan or her fate. Years later, when the English are finally pushed out of France, that some of the clergy want to clear Joan's name (as it would clear those clergy members who had verified her in the first place). They convinced Charles VII, not by showing it would help Joan's name, but by helping his own. He agreed and eventually they got the Pope to agree. An investigation was launched and Joan was cleared of her charges. The good news, is that by now Charles VII could at least rule in a competent fashion. Seriously, this book was awesome. A great read, a great help in understanding the Hundred Year War and one piece of that struggle. And also to learn more about Joan and to learn about Yolande at all. Very fascinating. Highly recommend.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    Fascinating read! I don't feel I can write a review to do it justice, though, because I had too many interruptions (life, darn it!) while reading through. It covers a lot of complicated history (so many battles and characters to keep straight!) so you have to have your A game focus while reading this one. The tongue-in-cheek humor (reminiscent of Monty Python's "The Holy Grail") Ms. Goldstone employs, while laying out the facts, makes for an enjoyable read: "...finally she arrived at the king's a Fascinating read! I don't feel I can write a review to do it justice, though, because I had too many interruptions (life, darn it!) while reading through. It covers a lot of complicated history (so many battles and characters to keep straight!) so you have to have your A game focus while reading this one. The tongue-in-cheek humor (reminiscent of Monty Python's "The Holy Grail") Ms. Goldstone employs, while laying out the facts, makes for an enjoyable read: "...finally she arrived at the king's apartments dressed and accessorized as splendid as art and money could achieve. Charles, who had spent a long, fraught, teenaged male night thinking about her portrait, was in that state of anticipation that lent itself mightily to the success of the enterprise." (33) "As dictated by chivalry, John the Fearless went down on one knee before Charles and swept off his large black velvet chapeau in the required gesture of homage, at which point Charles, also following protocol, politely took him by the hand, raised him to his feet, and indicated that he could return his hat to his head. The niceties having been satisfied, Tanneguy du Chastel then shoved the duke of Burgandy from behind, so that another of Charles's entourage could slash at his face more easily with his sword, and then Tanneguy du Chastel finished him off with his axe." (72) "She found Charles's campaign to be a disaster on nearly every front. If he had been trying to lose the monarchy he could not have done a more efficient job of it." (90) "Charles positively excelled at doing nothing." (150) Most people, I'm sure, know something of Joan of Arc, yet Yolande of Aragon mas a major player in freeing France from English rule and in guiding/grooming King Charles and many other leading public figures of the time. Surrounded by so many inept men, what else is a Queen to do? Yolande of Aragon had a heavy hand in utilizing Joan of Arc and in assisting Joan to accomplish her ultimate destiny. "...there is no more effective camouflage in history than to have been born a woman." (xviii)

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jenni Wiltz

    I enjoyed this book, but found the title and premise misleading. The book focuses way more on Yolande of Aragon than Joan, which is fine - I knew nothing about Yolande, who turned out to be an amazing woman I'm glad I learned about. But... There is so little evidence to support the author's "secret history" theory that I'm surprised the publishers let her go through with it. It's tenuous at best, and one of the pieces of supporting evidence left me scratching my head. During Joan's trial, her exa I enjoyed this book, but found the title and premise misleading. The book focuses way more on Yolande of Aragon than Joan, which is fine - I knew nothing about Yolande, who turned out to be an amazing woman I'm glad I learned about. But... There is so little evidence to support the author's "secret history" theory that I'm surprised the publishers let her go through with it. It's tenuous at best, and one of the pieces of supporting evidence left me scratching my head. During Joan's trial, her examiners asked her about a tree in her home town of Domremy, where fairies were supposedly seen. They were trying to get Joan to say she'd seen or communicated with those fairies, presumably as evidence to support their charges of heresy. But Goldstone wants us to believe the examiners asked this specific question entirely because they wanted to link Joan to the story of Melusine, a propaganda-based fairy tale Goldstone believes Yolande was heavily influenced by. This makes no sense at all. Goldstone doesn't explain whether the examiners even knew about the tale of Melusine, knew of Yolande's interest in it, or referred to it anywhere else in the trial. She paraphrases one question and asks the reader to believe it clearly supports her theory. Nope. Can't get there. In fact, most of Joan's trial was glossed over. Again, that's not a huge problem because this isn't a solo history of Joan. Still, I only bought this book for the "secret history" angle, and that's not what Goldstone delivers. What she does deliver is an entertaining, readable account of French politics - and Yolande's role in them - during the years leading up to and following Joan's participation in the Hundred Years' War.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    I am familiar with the story of Joan of Arc but not the back story of how she received a strong push from a woman named Yolande of Aragon. Yolande is a mystery to me. She was strong, smart, convincing, and a great chessmaster. I call her a chessmaster because in order to play the game of chess you have to be strategic, patient, have a good game plan and anticpate your opponent's moves. Also as the saying goes "Behind every great man is a great woman". However as much as I liked learning about Yo I am familiar with the story of Joan of Arc but not the back story of how she received a strong push from a woman named Yolande of Aragon. Yolande is a mystery to me. She was strong, smart, convincing, and a great chessmaster. I call her a chessmaster because in order to play the game of chess you have to be strategic, patient, have a good game plan and anticpate your opponent's moves. Also as the saying goes "Behind every great man is a great woman". However as much as I liked learning about Yolande, I must admit that in the beginning I found her childhood and story a bit dry. Then came JOan's story and I kind of skimmed over it as I already knew how it would end. The last third of the book was what I liked. It talked about Joan and Yolande and how they came to be. Yolande becamse more of a prominent fiigure in thie book then to me. She had a reason for everything that she did. Again still in awe of what Joan did. One of the best parts of this whole book is the foot notes. They were like extra bonuses to this book. They gave a quick fact about a person or event. I almost would have rather read the foot notes then the book. People wanting to learn more about Joan may be a little disappointed as this book is more focused on Yolande and the back story then just Joan. However if you do enjoy history then you will enjoy this book. The Maid and the Queen is some good reading.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Joel

    We read books like “The Maid and the Queen” because we are interested in what happened in the past. But why? Why are we interested? Is it of any consequence at all the story of a peasant girl who became a prophetess, a prophetess who commanded armies, a commander who saved a king, a savior who became a prisoner, a prisoner who was dubbed a heretic – and a heretic who became a saint? What does any of this have to do with the world we live in today, so far removed from the feudal battles of mediev We read books like “The Maid and the Queen” because we are interested in what happened in the past. But why? Why are we interested? Is it of any consequence at all the story of a peasant girl who became a prophetess, a prophetess who commanded armies, a commander who saved a king, a savior who became a prisoner, a prisoner who was dubbed a heretic – and a heretic who became a saint? What does any of this have to do with the world we live in today, so far removed from the feudal battles of medieval France? The answer is of course that we learn from those who came before us. We are not a ‘tabula rasa’, a history-less culture-less entity only seeking that flawless prejudice-less tutor for the creation of the “new man”; as the progressives would have us believe. “Just deny everything that came before, atone for it by paying it no tarriance – except perhaps to seek exculpation – and we shall all be free,” they say. What a dark world that would be indeed, where there are no great books, no great thinkers, and no great ideas. When there is no objective truth, only various perceptions and degrees of discrimination in a world where victimization has become the new Marxism and the new alleged oppressors are guilty not by action or even association but simply by their existence. I digress. “The Maid and the Queen,”; this is an excellently written book about Joan of Arc and the end of the 100 Years War between France and England. Of how a peasant girl from a French village served pivotal in the resolution of this war, and by extension the future of European history since what was at play was England’s claim on the throne of France and had France not won the war the entire country might by now be speaking English and eating bangers and mash. The book is full of rich anecdotes and powerful prose which gracefully escort the reader through tumultuous Medieval society; one where Lords and Ladies wiled and schemed away their lives in a quest for power and survival, while peasants died. My takeaways from “The Maid and the Queen” are perhaps twofold. Pre-Westphalian Europe was a bit of a mess; ruled as it was by two oft-competing and oft-colluding forces, neither of which is conducive to “life more abundant” for the common peasant class. Of course I’m talking about the Church and the Nobility. The Church was concerned about retaining its power and position over the nobles and through them the peasants in order to preserve their power and their wealth. They had ecclesiastical judges, called inquisitors, and they raised armies and held temporal power. Their calling card to control? Excommunication, the regulation of peasant beliefs – weaponized. And then there was the nobility; constantly scheming to increase their power and position over each other through marriages, alliances, invasions and assassinations. No concern for the peasants because nobilities were born into their position and hence their only competition lay in the ‘economy of intrigue’. “…past wealth was always obtained by the subjugation of others or the theft of their goods. All the elites in the empires of old built their fortunes by taking land, enslaving peasants, and sacking the bounty of wealthy neighbors. Inequality was said to be ordained by God and preserved by blue blood and one’s condition at birth,” if I am allowed to quote myself. The aspect of these medieval tales of war that always hits home to me is the description of the battles. “Then 3000 foot soldiers were slaughtered,” it says in passage after passage, “and Lord X or Duke Y was taken to be held in the tower of this or that castle to be ransomed.” You see, my family is of English descent and we moved to America more than 150 years ago to escape just this. We were the peasants cowering in fear of the church, handing over our money to the nobles and serving at their command in their armies to be slaughtered unnamed upon fields of battle at the behest of their personal aspirations for power. My family, and the rest of us came to America so long ago because we had had ENOUGH of this type of behavior – and we committed to building a place where never again would we fear the arbitrary pretensions of church and nobility vying for control over our powerless lives. But the fight for freedom is every-present; and always the same. Today those who seek power are constantly telling us the ‘Dictatorship of Capital’ is the greatest modern threat to our freedom. But this is not true, is in fact a bait and switch. Because capital and its nobilities are extremely vulnerable to the next good idea; to the shifting moods of a vast and unknowable market. It is in fact the ‘Dictatorship of the State’ (and more specifically those who control it) – new nobilities who are not bent to the consent of the governed – as has been proven a thousand times over to be the real threat to liberty. States that these days do not come in the form of nobles of old – only insomuch as they have lost all sense of ‘noblesse oblige’ – and who instead think it is their right to rule because they are part of a new nobility that knows no blood but nevertheless expects power. The Davos crowd; the media; the arts and yes the church – facilitated by the ‘Managerial Elites’ as James Burnham has called them. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren who have learned that in the 21st century, socialism is the best “Road (back to) to Serfdom”. “Our freedom of choice in a competitive society rests on the fact that, if one person refuses to satisfy our wishes, we can turn to another. But if we face a monopolist we are at his absolute mercy. And an authority directing the whole economic system of the country would be the most powerful monopolist conceivable…it would have complete power to decide what we are to be given and on what terms. It would not only decide what commodities and services were to be available and in what quantities; it would be able to direct their distributions between persons to any degree it liked.” ― Friedrich A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom But we will not be serfs again. So we should give thanks to the American people for giving us Donald Trump; and before him Barack Obama; and before him George W. Bush – because in the changing hands of power the people are protected from the establishment of new predator nobilities

  26. 4 out of 5

    Edwinnaarden

    What I liked was: I learned more about Joan, Yolande and the 100 years war and the book was fairly easy reading, but on the whole I disliked the book a bit more than I liked it. Why? Well, history is written by the winners and although I am sure Joan was a good person and poorly treated I thought her portrayal was a bit too good to be true, it was too positive and didn't put Joan into a historical perspective enough. She was a martyr but there were many other martyrs and heretics in the period a What I liked was: I learned more about Joan, Yolande and the 100 years war and the book was fairly easy reading, but on the whole I disliked the book a bit more than I liked it. Why? Well, history is written by the winners and although I am sure Joan was a good person and poorly treated I thought her portrayal was a bit too good to be true, it was too positive and didn't put Joan into a historical perspective enough. She was a martyr but there were many other martyrs and heretics in the period and they didn't get the press or have books written about them or stayed unknown. In addition, I thought there were too many medieval texts quoted as if the author didn't have much to say herself and just quoted what was said at the time. For example, Joan's mother would hardly have anything bad to say about her nor the people who were interviewed 20 years after the fact when it was obvious she was on the right side of history and was turning into an icon. Medieval writers tended to overly praise and were not necessarily unbiased (or at least more obviously biased than modern writers) so it would've been nice to have a bit more interpretation and less propaganda. A bit too black and white for my taste.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Claire

    It was interesting to learn of the role of Yolande of Aragon, her mother in law Marie of Blois and how women were used as pawns in the negotiation of peace between those detined to inherit these lands of Europe, so women were the peacemakers in more ways than one and Joan of Arc's way quite different from that of the nobility. However, in between the things that interested me and stood out in terms of learning was some drudgery in trying to get through it. Actually, I ended up wishing that the st It was interesting to learn of the role of Yolande of Aragon, her mother in law Marie of Blois and how women were used as pawns in the negotiation of peace between those detined to inherit these lands of Europe, so women were the peacemakers in more ways than one and Joan of Arc's way quite different from that of the nobility. However, in between the things that interested me and stood out in terms of learning was some drudgery in trying to get through it. Actually, I ended up wishing that the story had been fictionalised so that at least we could enter the emotional lives of the women, which does so help in getting us through battles and conflicts. I thought this story had so much potential, but it was really slowed down by the distance it kept from the charcters it represented, but then it was non-fiction, I just wish it had been a little more creative non-fiction. Read my full review at'Word By Word'

  28. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    I actually finished this a week ago, but I have just not been in the mental place to write a review. I'm still not, tbh, but I don't like leaving this just sitting here, so. This was an incredibly interesting book that delved into a story most of us know-- Joan of Arc-- but from an angle I had never seen before. Rather than truly being about Joan or Arc, this story is about Yolande of Aragon, and how she made a place for Joan in the world and helped set up the events that lead to Joan of Arc's m I actually finished this a week ago, but I have just not been in the mental place to write a review. I'm still not, tbh, but I don't like leaving this just sitting here, so. This was an incredibly interesting book that delved into a story most of us know-- Joan of Arc-- but from an angle I had never seen before. Rather than truly being about Joan or Arc, this story is about Yolande of Aragon, and how she made a place for Joan in the world and helped set up the events that lead to Joan of Arc's moment in history. It's an incredibly well written book, just the right balance of historical facts but also brilliant, almost fiction-like writing that keeps you invested. And my favorite quote: "For those who wonder after reading these pages how it is possible that evidence of Yolande's involvement in the story of Joan of Arc has never before been adequately explored, I can only respond that there is no more effective camouflage in history than to have been born a woman."

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sandra

    A well-researched and rather interesting account of the life of Joan of Arc, and how a peasant's daughter, uneducated and unwise in the ways of her world, became the leader of the French Army that drove the English away. It's also a book that delves farther into the mystery of how such an uneducated young woman was allowed access to the Dauphin - with the backing of one of the most influential and politically astute women of that time, Yolande of Aragon, Queen of Sicily. It's a highly detailed a A well-researched and rather interesting account of the life of Joan of Arc, and how a peasant's daughter, uneducated and unwise in the ways of her world, became the leader of the French Army that drove the English away. It's also a book that delves farther into the mystery of how such an uneducated young woman was allowed access to the Dauphin - with the backing of one of the most influential and politically astute women of that time, Yolande of Aragon, Queen of Sicily. It's a highly detailed and apparently accurate account of the events surrounding Joan of Arc. It was fascinating to read about two very famous women of that time from two very different backgrounds. This book is definitely for mature readers due to its detailed account of the historic events and the political and spiritual information contained within. I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Clare Cannon

    A highly detailed and seemingly objective account of the historical and political events surrounding the life and death of Joan of Arc. Some content requires a mature reader – not for graphic detail but for the complex moral questions on politics and the spiritual nature of Joan’s mission – and overall it is probably too detailed to hold younger readers’ interest anyway. It is not written as an inspirational biography and does not consider the saintliness of Joan, but what is written of her spir A highly detailed and seemingly objective account of the historical and political events surrounding the life and death of Joan of Arc. Some content requires a mature reader – not for graphic detail but for the complex moral questions on politics and the spiritual nature of Joan’s mission – and overall it is probably too detailed to hold younger readers’ interest anyway. It is not written as an inspirational biography and does not consider the saintliness of Joan, but what is written of her spiritual life is handled with respect and objectivity, as an historical account. www.GoodReadingGuide.com

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