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The Maid and the Queen: The Secret History…

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

by Nancy Goldstone

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The Maid and the Queen does as its title promises: provides the framework for not only the appearance of Joan of Arc, but explains her very image in the context of her relationship with Yolande of Aragon, a woman who "so cleverly hid her tracks" that history continuously fails to hold her story to the light alongside Joan's.

I came to this book a hugely emotive fan of Joan of Arc (and this greater historical time period in general.) The prose in this book is very well done; something that has pushed me away from other historical accounts before. Goldstone sneaks in so much snark that I cannot imagine this book without dustings of her wickedly amusing sarcasm. (She also provides us with some - unintentionally? - equally amusing medieval art pieces. There's a particular gem of Mad King Charles turning on his men that is now possibly my new favorite piece of medieval art.)

One thing I noticed and loved and appreciated throughout this book is that Goldstone in no way tries to explain away Joan's voices. She treats them as they are, as Joan said they happened, diagnosis unnecessary. Joan's testimony, in fact, is paramount throughout.

Altogether a well-tied, well-written piece that I'm glad I picked up off the shelf. There was so much to learn in this book.

Five stars. ( )
  amaynard | Nov 2, 2017 |
4.5 stars ( )
  LiteraryChanteuse | Jan 27, 2016 |
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. ( )
  ELEkstrom | Jun 6, 2013 |
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. ( )
1 vote shanaqui | Apr 9, 2013 |
The only history of Joan of Arc I've read is Shakespeare's Henry VI part 1, which is possibly not 100% objective. This one's gotten a good review at Salon, and it's an interesting take. Maybe.
  AlCracka | Apr 2, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0670023337, Hardcover)

The untold story of the extraordinary queen who championed Joan of Arc.

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?

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:13 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

The untold story of the extraordinary queen Yolande of Aragon, queen of Sicily, who championed Joan of Arc.

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