Patricia Nell Warren

Solving a Mystery: What Did Joan of Arc Look Like?

Filed By Patricia Nell Warren | October 18, 2008 4:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Gay Icons and History, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: Joan of Arc, Joan the Maid, Nicholas Froment, portrait of Joan of Arc, Rene of Anjou

GLBT historians love to claim Joan as lesbian, bisexual or transgendered. I'm one of those who think she was a case of androgen insensitivity syndrome -- burned at the stake in 1431 for her "crime" of flouting Catholic rules on gender and women's clothing. The Maid is still such a towering figure in world history that we would all love to know what she looked like. But most historians assure us that no likeness of Joan has survived, whether done from memory or real life.

The absence of a portrait seems fitting for a heroine whose very remains vanished in that raging fire at the stake. The Maid died during one of Europe's grimmest times -- the Hundred Years' War, when England and France struggled for control of France. Joan has no grave. No personal mementos of hers have survived either, except a few letters with her signature. Nobody knows for sure where her armor and weapons went. Nothing is left but the idea of her. Or... is there something that many historians have missed?

We do have a few descriptions, recorded in documents of her time by people who knew her. She was said to be short, stocky, sunbrowned, with dark eyes, a red birthmark behind her left ear, and a light feminine voice. Her black hair was bobbed short. There are two little drawings surviving from her time. On a 1431 document written during her interrogation, a clerk did a doodle in the margin -- a girl in a skirt with a sword. He would have seen Joan in the courtroom in Rouen, where she was condemned to death. Meanwhile, in the village where Joan grew up, a local artist dabbed an impromptu fresco on a wall of the Notre Dame de Bermont chapel, showing a girl in armor kneeling in prayer. It is generally accepted as representing Joan the Maid.

But both drawings are crude, amateurish, a shade above the grade-school stick figure. At that time, the stiff formalism of medieval art was softening into Renaissance realism, giving us portraits with an almost photographic allure. A photograph of Joan is what we'd like but don't have. Or do we?

I have a theory about where Joan's face can be seen. Recently I started studying the life of Rene Duke of Anjou, one of the most important figures in Joan's story. The House of Anjou was perhaps the most powerful family of medieval times. Rene was brother-in-law to Charles VII, the heir to the French throne that Joan aimed to get crowned. Rene's mother, Yolande of Anjou, lobbied Charles to put Joan at the head of his army. Rene himself fought at Joan's side in some of the battles against the English. So, for Rene, Joan was the spiritual figurehead that would put his family back in royal power in France.

Not long ago, I had the spooky experience of looking at the online jpg of a famous altarpiece that Duke Rene commissioned in 1474 and feeling my hair stand on end as I realized that one of its painted figures might be Joan the Maid. Rene knew Joan so well that he was rumored by Joan's enemies to be her lover. He would have known exactly what she looked like.

If my theory is right, this is a portrait of Joan -- the only one we have -- painted from living memory, not too long after her death.

Haunted by Memories

A poignant story lurks behind the creation of this painting.

After the English were driven from France in 1455, the Catholic Church was so embarrassed by the injustice of Joan's execution that they had to void her conviction in 1457. After that, things calmed down. Exhausted from long years of fighting, Rene and his second wife Jeanne de Laval left their northern domains and went down to southern France to find some peace and quiet in Rene's county of Provence. It was as far as they could get from the war-torn landscapes of the north, still reeking with all the atrocities and executions that happened there.

There in sunny Provence, in his mid-60s, perhaps to keep his mind off the old memories, Rene busied himself with cultural pleasures. The war had left him less wealthy, but it had also moved him towards greater liberalism and questioning in his thinking. During his final years, he patronized avant-garde scientists and explorers, and created a body of art that celebrated a heterodox spirituality. He collected rare and beautiful Grail cups. He finished building the basilica that housed the remains of Mary Magdalene, who had spent the last years of her life in Provence and was now its patron saint. Corresponding with his friends the Medicis in Italy, Rene collaborated with them on collecting ancient pagan and early Christian writings that were now viewed as "heresy," and placing them in the West's first public library so anybody could read them.

But Rene must have been haunted by memories. While he hadn't witnessed Joan's horrible execution, he surely imagined it. Even his new wife was a reminder -- she had evidently been named after Joan, as the daughter of Guy, Count of Laval. Guy was one of Rene's old comrades in the king's army and another ardent admirer of Joan.

389px-Nicolas_Froment_004.jpgIn 1474, perhaps sensing that he had only a few more years to live, Rene decided to commission a magnificent altarpiece that was to be a monument to his family's long history and greatness. He gave the job to his court painter, Nicholas Froment. But Rene, too, was a talented painter, so it's possible that both their brushes flowed the rich hand-ground oil pigments onto the wood panels.

At first glance, the painting revealed a cliché scene of noble patrons adoring the Mother Mary and Child. In the two side panels, Rene and his wife Jeanne kneeled at prayer, flanked by half-a-dozen haloed saints.

By their trademark symbols, the six saints can be identified as prominent figures in Angevin tradition. Behind Rene stands Mary Magdalene herself, the House of Anjou's patroness, holding her jar of balm and touching Rene's back protectively with her free hand. To her right are St. Anthony of Egypt and St. Maurice, both patrons of the Knights Templar, with whom the Angevins were allied before the order's downfall in 1307. On one side of Jeanne de Laval stands St. John the Evangelist, patron of Gnostic tradition, with the two-headed dragon springing from his chalice. To Jeanne's left, there's St. Patrick, Bishop of Ireland, who started his church career in Provence, in association with the Magdalene tradition.

But medieval art loved to layer itself with multi-meanings. I think that, on another level, this prayer scene is a memorial to deceased relatives and allies who fought for Angevin greatness, and for whom Rene still grieved. The whole mood is somber, with a black background broken only by royal-red hangings behind the figures. St. Maurice, the young knight, is wearing the three white plumes of an English Prince of Wales, so he surely represents Rene's cherished grandson, Edward -- son of his daughter Margaret, who married Henry VI of England as part of the treaty that ended the Hundred Years' War. Edward was a Prince of Wales -- and he was killed at age 17, just three years before, in 1471. Rene was devastated by Edward's death -- as he was by the 1453 death of his adored first wife, Isabelle of Lorraine (probably represented by the Magdalene figure) and the 1430 death of his greatuncle Cardinal Louis of Bar, a powerful churchman who supported the French side during the Avignon papacy, and the anti-popes during the Great Schism (represented by the bishop figure).

The figure that intrigues me most is the young female saint who stands directly behind Jeanne de Laval. Wearing a martyr's crown, she holds the martyr's palm frond in her right hand. Most art historians identify this figure as St. Catherine of Alexandria, another big favorite of the Templars. But the torture wheel that would conclusively identify her as St. Catherine is absent.

So whom did this mystery girl memorialize, for Rene?

Solving the Mystery?

390.jpgThere are clues. With her left hand she holds a giant broadsword in a scabbard wrapped with red velvet. The weapon brings to mind Joan's description of the celebrated Sword of St. Catherine that she often carried into battle. During her trial in 1430-31, Joan was questioned persistently about this weapon, since it was church policy to discourage women from fighting. She testified that the sword had a scabbard made of red velvet. It isn't known what happened to this fabled weapon after Joan's death -- she wasn't carrying it when she was captured. But Rene surely knew what the sword looked like.

Another clue is what the girl's hands are doing. According to modern handwriting experts who studied the signatures on her letters, Joan was left-handed. If so, Rene would have known this too. Like Prince Edward on the opposite panel, this girl is holding her sword with its point downward -- a symbolic way of saying that the war is over. But Edward holds his sword in his fighting hand, his right, whereas the mystery girl's fighting hand -- the one that holds the sword -- appears to be her left hand.

The girl's crown alludes to the traditional crown that symbolized martyrdom -- and Rene would definitely consider Joan a martyr, albeit one who was murdered by the Church itself, not by enemies of the Church. However, the crown could also denote Joan's rank in the peerage. In 1429, after Joan got Charles VI crowned king of France, he rewarded her by creating her Countess of Lys, though she never used the title. I note that the crown is similar to -- but less grand than -- the one worn by Jeanne de Laval, who was a Duchess and therefore higher in rank than Joan.

One detail doesn't jibe. Rene would know that Joan had dark hair. But this girl has light brown hair. However, if the painters had given her the correct hair color, her head would disappear into the dark background they wanted. So the lighter hair may be a case of artistic license, to make her head stand out.

Another odd detail: the girl is wearing a woman's gown, not men's clothes. But contrary to myth, Joan often shifted back to women's wear when she wasn't fighting or traveling on horseback. This fact is documented by an eyewitness commentary of her time, Quadam puella (A Certain Girl), that was widely circulated in the 15th century. It suggests that her real-life dress habits were known to many, explaining why so many of the posthumous imaginary portraits of Joan show her in a flowing gown, not armor.

Taking a Risk

If this figure is Joan, Rene was going out on a limb by putting a halo around her head. By 1474, people all over Europe were acclaiming her a saint, but the Church was leery of her and did not formally beatify her until 1909. Yet the Duke had moved into such a left-field world view that he probably didn't give a damn what the Church thought. Indeed, the prayer book in front of him is closed -- a detail that suggests he no longer believed in orthodox Catholic doctrine.

All eight faces in the prayer scene are warmly realistic. The Duke and his wife evidently sat for these portraits. For the six memorialized relatives and allies, Rene and Froment may have searched for suitable models among local people. If so, Rene's talent search may have located a maid of Provence who resembled Joan at age 19. Her face is calm; like her sword, she is at rest.

After Froment finished the altarpiece in 1476, Rene gave it to the Carmelite church in Aix-en-Provence. Four years later, the Duke was dead. Today the work hangs in the Aix cathedral, and is considered one of the great masterpieces of its time. But it may also be the Duke's way of having the last word on Joan, thumbing his nose at the Church that killed her, enshrining her among the holy -- if heterodox -- patrons of his family for all time.

If this figure is Joan, then we LGBT people can add one more real face to our own long and tumultuous history.

___________________

Readers who want to study a full-resolution blowup of the side panels can find it at a Wikipedia page relating to Rene of Anjou:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Nicolas_Froment_004.jpg

The center panel, with Mother and Child, can be viewed in full resolution at a Wikipedia page relating to Nicholas Froment:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Nicolas_Froment_003.jpg


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I'm one of those who think she was a case of androgen insensitivity syndrome ...

If Joan of Arc was a case of AIS, then genetically she was XY but the male hormones, developmentally, didn't give her male genitals or male secondary sex characteristics. Obviously nothing remains for us to test her DNA (unless we have some splatters of blood, maybe?) so this speculation can't be proven or disproven.

But it's an interesting theory. Other than her breaking of gender roles in regard to her dress, and her unusual combat abilities, is there any specific evidence that her gender ambiguities extended into her sexual behavior? Not all "tomboys" are also lesbians.

Great question. One trademark of complete androgen insensitivity syndrome (CAIS) is that the individual doesn't menstruate. The reproductive apparatus typical of women does not develop inside the body, though the exterior genitalia look "normally" female. There is evidence (in the form of testimony) that Joan did not menstruate.

You're right -- we would have to look at her sex chromosomes to verify the presence of XY. Ironically, there WAS one wisp of Joan's DNA-bearing material that did survive till just recently. On a letter, she had stuck one of her hairs in the wax seal as a sign of the letter's authenticity. The letter is still around, but sometime in the 1800s the hair disappeared. So yes, this is conjecture.

About her sexual orientation -- I didn't get into that, because I wanted to focus on the story of the painting. But I don't think Joan was a lesbian, or bisexual. She is so richly documented that we know what she did on almost a daily basis for two years, but there is no evidence that she had relationships with women. But she doesn't come across as interested in heterosexual sex either. All her drive seemed to go into her mission.

About Joan's gender behaviour...we have to look at her through the lens of her own century, not our century. People of late medieval times did not know anything about sex chromosomes or DNA, and their definition of gender was very different from ours. I realized this when I started looking at the state of women's medicine in the 15th century.

Joan was not a tomboy, nor was she deliberately trying to "defy gender norms" in the political sense that we understand today. She perceived that she had a mission to lead an army, and to do that, she needed to lead a soldier's life and wear men's clothes and armor while doing it. The Crusades era was a time when quite a number of other women had taken up arms -- Joan was not unique in that way. Because of this, the Catholic Church actually permitted legitimate exceptions to their prohibition on crossdressing. At the start of Joan's military career in 1429, a panel of French churchmen actually ruled that she had legitimate reason to wear men's clothes while pursuing her mission.

Her English-friendly prosecutors deliberately ignored these exceptions and the 1429 ruling when they condemned her -- it was one of the lapses of justice that led to her conviction being voided in 1457.

Beyond all this, however, I think that Joan may have had some intuitive sense that she was somehow "different" from other women. It's a fascinating subject, and I've been working on an article about it that will be published sometime soon.

Marja Erwin | October 18, 2008 7:21 PM

The figure identified as St. Catherine or as Joan of Arc is as tall as the figure on her right, and may be as tall as or taller than the figure on her left.

Women with AIS tend to be taller than women with XX chromosomes.

The description of Joan of Arc as "short and stocky" doesn't seem to correspond with the picture or with AIS, though it doesn't rule out either one.

In the painting, I doubt that the different individuals' heights can be taken as realistic. Joan looks taller than John the Evangelist, and as tall as St. Maurice...but the painter has arranged these figures in a design, a pleasing grouping and perspective, and they're standing in different planes, so some more "artistic license" may be operating here.

As to CAIS and tallness -- according to CAIS literature, these individuals are not said to be "always taller" as an absolute. They're said to be "often taller." You have to ask, taller than who? An XY woman inherits a dose of extra height on the Y chromosome, but she also inherits genetic modifiers for height that run in her family. Joan may have been "short," but she may also have been "taller" on average compared to others in her family. We have all seen men who are shorter than many women.

Thank you for this information. I am interested in medieval and Renaissance history. Can you recommend a good book to read about Joan? Thanks.

Through the centuries, an enormous mass of stuff has been written about the Maid. She is a real Rorschach blot for historians. They tend to interpret her story through their own personal belief system. The ones who believe that "Joan was sent by God" look at her story one way, and they usually avoid mentioning how the Angevins put her into orbit. Those who look at her as a product of the religio/political upper-class agendas of her time look at her differently.

So you have lots of choices. To start with, I recommend French historian Regine Pernoud, who has written very feelingly about Joan in two books. They can be found on Amazon.com under author name. If you want more titles, email me.

For gripping primary sources, there's no substitute for the transcripts of Joan's two trials. You can find them in English at http://www.stjoan-center.com/Trials/. You can't make this stuff up. Joan speaks off the pages loud and clear.

For the medieval and Renaissance background, you can range more widely. I've found that Joan's story doesn't make much sense unless it's put in the frame of Angevin history -- the family's part in the Hundred Years' War, the Avignon papacy, the Great Schism, etc. Rene of Anjou isn't given much attention by American historians, but he is a key Renaissance figure.

Good luck. (And this subject can be addictive.)

"For gripping primary sources, there's no substitute for the transcripts of Joan's two trials."

I was under the impression that the original trial transcripts had been altered at the time of the trial. If so, isn't relying on them misleading?

Also, you talked about Joan being left-handed, which would fit in to the beliefs of the day that viewed that as "otherness" or mystical.

But my understanding is that since she was illiterate, that her signature wouldn't have been a representative sample in either volume or in having developed a personal style from which to judge. Everything other than the signature was apparently written by someone else.

Patricia, what an amazing theory to come to. When you described that the feeling of your hair standing on end, to me, that is a clue that you are on to something. As usual, you offer some great intellect in history that makes one pause in conjecture. Awesome job.

The complete text of the Trial of Joan of Arc is available in English translation at the Internet Medieval Sourcebook. If you're looking for background, Christober Allmand's The Hundred Years War is a good treatment of the subject, focusing on the effects of the war in both England and France. Edouard Perroy's The Hundred Years War is an older text, but still a good narrative.

Having said that, I specialized in twelfth-century intellectual history back when I was studying medieval history in graduate school. I can't comment with any authority on Patricia's analysis of Joan, but thank her for keeping medieval studies alive in this day and age.

You're welcome. Medieval studies are not only important -- they're a help to understanding our own time better. With its corporate feudalism, its political corruption, its arrogance of the rich and powerful, its spread between extreme poverty and extreme wealth, its endless wars and religious fanaticism, and its refinements of cruelty, our time reminds me not a little of the 14th century.

All that's missing is a tsunami of epidemic disease that will wipe out one one third of the population, leaving the entire planet (not just Europe this time) in a deep shock. Our public-health people know it's coming.

No doubt you've read Barbara Tuchman's "A Distant Mirror." Not so distant, these days...

Patricia-

This is one of the most fascinating posts I have read here on Bilerico! I look forward to reading more about this and doing some digging of my own!

Great post!!

Have fun with the digging, Waymon! As I said, this subject can be addictive.

Down through stories, very few people's lives have had as many different spins put on them as Joan's life has. So the challenge is -- how do you get through all the top-spin to find out who she REALLY was?

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | October 19, 2008 10:33 PM

Fascinating post, Patricia!!! Thought-provoking theory. Thanks for sharing!!!

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | October 20, 2008 4:04 AM

Ah, the internet is up again! I finally get to tell you I loved it.

Patricia, I enjoyed your article. Its been a long, long time since I have looked at medieval or renaissance paintings with an eye toward symbolism, and I had forgotten how fun it is.

If you will forgive an off-topic question, I am curious about the three naked children at the feet of St. Patrick. Two of them are looking at him with an expression of apprehension, while he looks down at them with impassivity. Do you happen to know what that scenario is about?

If others want to see what I am referring to a bit more clearly, the wikipedia entry which Patricia mentioned can be enlarged to show great detail.

Not off-topic at all. And yes, the detective work is fun! The figure's miter and crozier (staff) make him a bishop beyond all argument. But which one? There are hundreds.

Most historians say this figure is St. Nicholas of Myra (Turkey, 3rd century). They cite the tradition of Nicholas resurrecting three children who were murdered by an evil butcher and pickled in a brine tub. Nicholas was a patron of sailors and traders -- as such he became a saint of interest to the Templars. But the real St. Nicholas was a fierce persecutor of pagans and heretics. Rene of Anjou was such a friend of pagans and heretics that I can't see him putting the bloodthirsty Nicholas in him painting. Besides, this bishop figure clearly has the stigmata, as you can see from the marks on his palms -- he's even wearing gloves to protect the wounds. St. Nicholas wasn't known as a stigmatic.

Initially I wondered if this bishop was St. Maximus, who came to Provence in a boat without sails with Mary Magdalene, her children and the rest of her refugee party. The little scene you're talking about could represent that arrival, though it's notably lacking in women. Maximus was a devoted friend and protector of the Magdalene, during her years of preaching in Provence. After her death in 63 A.D., he launched her cult. Church history records him as the first bishop of Aix.

Rene would have every reason to enshrine St. Maximus in these scene. However, there's no tradition connecting Maximus with stigmata.

So... at the moment I identify this guy as Patrick of Ireland, a bishop who was said to have the stigmata. The three little figures look more like men, not children. As a young man, Patrick spent six years in slavery, and had a miraculous escape in a boat with several other slaves. Perhaps this little scene refers to that story -- especially since the man climbing out of the boat has a face resembling the bishop's.

Patrick had his strong Provence and Angevin connection. His story has been re-worked by orthodox historians who were bent on eradicating the record of an early Arian Christianity in the Celtic North, but there are those who say that Patrick's writings show Arian tendencies. Anyway, putting Patrick's story together from various sources and traditions:

Patrick evidently studied at the famed monastery of Saint Honorat, a center of learning on an island off the Provencal coast. There he was given a pastoral staff said to have belonged to Jesus, probably brought there by the original refugees. Ownership of the staff got him consecrated as a bishop. He took this staff back to Britain, where it was kept at the monastery of Glastonbury for centuries (history records that it was destroyed during Henry VIII's takeover of English monasteries). Glastonbury has rich traditions of Desposyni (relatives of Jesus) who were said to have settled in Britain. The Angevins had strong ties with Britain, and believed that their earliest ancestors were Desposyni.

Ultimately it's the stigmata, the staff and the family thread in Patrick's story that clinches the identity for me -- but I still have an open mind.

Unraveling the mass of other symbols in this altarpiece, with all its complex cultural, historical and political allusions, would take a whole book. I'm still working on it!

It's interesting that she imagined she heard voices from female saints, Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret. This was a healthy step in the right direction of self awareness and discovering her potential as a woman. Up until that time, most nuns imagined they heard the male mythological voices of jeebus or god. I've never understood why some Christian and Muslim lesbians think they are under the power of male dieties.

You're absolutely right. The different threads of "powerful females" that come together in Joan's story are amazing, and show an awakening awareness in other women as well.

Rene's family had its own women war leaders who kicked butt in battle...including his own mother Yolande, who personally ran the English out of Anjou at the battle of Baugé in 1421. Most write-ups on this key battle focus on the male field commanders on both sides. They never mention that Yolande was the titular commander of the French force, which included a large contingent from Scotland, France's ally. She HAD to be the "chief," since the battle was taking place in her domain (which was loyal to, but not part of, France itself). The target of the English advance was her own capital, Angers. Baugé was the first French victory over the English in a long time, and set the stage for further French resistance when Joan came along.

In this context, Joan's testimony that she heard the voices of powerful female saints was mind-blowing for many women of her time -- along with her assertion that she was sent to fulfill the old prophecy about a "maid who would overcome the English archers." Every thinking woman in France resonated to this...from Yolande herself, who lobbied for Joan to be titular commander of the king's army, to the famed scholar and commentator Christine de Pizan, who wrote her last poem about Joan.

In fact, Joan had a whole host of women admirers who supported her -- who even showed up to testify at the posthumous church hearings in 1455 that declared Joan innocent.

Here is Cate Blanchett's statement about a historical reference to Joan of Arc. Making an effort to teach the dumbed down youth today about history.
QUOTE
I suppose it’s debatable whether Elizabeth actually wore armour. But how did it feel being in your armour on your white stallion? Was it an empowering sensation?
Cate Blanchett: Oh, it’s utterly debatable, of course. We talked about trying to create an image that would somehow, to an audience, create the sense of awe, wonder and shock that the troops must have felt that their monarch – and a female monarch – went to the frontline of battle and was prepared to lay down her life. This speech is so well known and has been done in virtually every version of the events of Elizabeth’s life… so because the film is a lot about a woman looking back at her youth, turning out a young lady in waiting and vicariously living through her, we found a lot of pre-Raphaelite images of Joan of Arc and thought: “Dare we?” And then thought “yeah”!

But it’s a terrifying thing, isn’t it? That we’re growing up with a very illiterate bunch of children who have somehow been taught that film is fact when, in fact, it’s invention. Hopefully, an historical film will inspire people to go and read about the history but in the end it is a work of fiction and selection. As for the armour itself, no it wasn’t particularly comfortable. Shekhar decided that he wanted the horse to be restless, so it was a challenge. Also, the winds were against me and I was addressing the troops all day but it was an absolutely glorious position in the world. The vista was stunning.

Fascinating comments by Blanchett. Thanks!

Period portraits of the Virgin Queen in armor are hard to find. She surely didn't wear full-body armor. By the Elizabethan period, nobody wore that any more, except for tournaments. For the battlefield, officers and commanders wore what's called "cavalry armor" or "cuirasser armor."

I'll bet this is what Queen Elizabeth I wore on that historic day. It's two pieces, front and back, that laced together to protect the upper body. This would allow her to look commanderly, but also be comfortable and dignified while ride sidesaddle in long sweeping skirts. Her hunting portraits usually show her riding this way.

Joan of Arc rode astride, and she wore full plate armor, made to fit her body (including her breasts). It was made by one of the leading armorers of the day. It was "white" (blank) armor, meaning not decorated with a lot of fancy chasing. With time it had some repairs, notably from the crossbolt wound she got.

The armor she was captured in "disappeared" from sight after she was taken prisoner by the Burgundians. Most likely that armor is in a private collection somewhere, and the owner is keeping quiet about it. If it ever surfaces, and could be authenticated, it would be one of the most highly prized historical relics in Western history. I can only imagine what it would sell for at Sotheby's.

Blanchett is right about how sad it is that children accept movies as "history." But the propagandists, whoever they are, have always twisted history their way, in whatever media they had to work with.

gregory brown | October 20, 2008 9:29 PM

PNW: I will never stop being surprised and fascinated by you. Long ago, when i was much younger and more innocent, i wrote a note to you asking about a phrse that was unfamiliar (to me, anyway) that was used in THE FRONT RUNNER. And shortly after, i rec'd a short, kind note of explanation.

Now I read your posts here and learn more every time, and am happy and thankful that you are part of my world. I can't think of anybody else, except Barbara Tuchman, who is likely to make the medieval period so accessible to people whose interests don't normally wander far outside the current season's TV shows.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | October 21, 2008 11:20 AM

Gregory, history is infinitely more interesting than any TV show. Unless it is the History channel. I am proud to say I have never seen an episode of "American Idol" and watch two episodes only of "Project Runway" and (sorry Patricia) have no time to watch sports either.

The saddest thing in the world is the manner in which history is taught as a subject rather than the reading and research of "addictive" historical material.

I loved this post. I just got to it yesterday and have been thinking about it over and over...

thank you so much.

I love this post. I've been thinking about it all day. I stumbled onto another site:

http://www.reportret.info/gallery/joanofarc1.html

Provides an historically accurate, if unsentimental and unromantic, rendering of Jeanne Darc with respect to the aesthetics of her day.

Joan of Arc | April 12, 2009 2:50 PM

Charge!
Interesting stuff. :)