Publication Date: 29th March 2012
Book Source: Viking & NetGalley
Synopsis: 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?
An informative, well researched account and a surprisingly easy read for a work of non-fiction. I have to be honest though and say I was disappointed; the title had me assuming this was Joan of Arc's story but that's slightly exaggerated and whilst the synopsis gives a clearer indication of what the book is about even it seems overstated.
The Maid and The Queen expanded on my familiarity with Joan the Maid's journey from pious peasant girl to leader of the French army and martyr but this book was largely a comprehensive account of the political machinations during the latter part of the Hundred Years' War. Whilst the politics, geneology, alliances, treaties, truces and treachery were informative, the story became bogged down in detail when events such as Joan throwing herself from a tower window after capture and almost killing herself, were given but a glancing mention.
Highlights for me:
- the madness of Charles VI & ineffectiveness of Charles VII as opposed to the role of influential women in this 15 century conflict; Marie of Blois, Yolande of Aragon, Isabeau of Bavaria, Joan of Arc. Yolande of Aragon, Queen of Sicily made for fascinating reading; what an extraordinary woman, astute politician & diplomat.
- Joan of Arc's courage and faith, her pivotal role in the Siege of Orleans victory. The chapter on "The Trial of Joan of Arc" and the subsequent retrial to clear her name.
If you're after an interesting historical non-fiction that's not overly taxing and not specifically a Joan of Arc read then you might enjoy The Maid and The Queen.
Visit Nancy Goldstone's website to find out more about this author and her work.