Joan of Arc

Jean Hordal (1542–1618).
Heroinæ nobilissimæ Ioannæ Darc Lotharingæ.
Pont-à-Mousson: Melchior Bernard, 1612. (BRA2124)

Jeanne d’Arc (ca. 1412–1431), or “Joan of Arc,” was born to a French peasant family in Domrémy. Claiming divine guidance, the teenager convinced Charles VII, the uncrowned French king, that a renewed war effort could lead to victory over the English occupiers of his kingdom. Donning battle armor, Jeanne led the French forces to several victories, including the liberation of the besieged city of Orléans, a turning point in the Hundred Years’ War. The “Maid of Orléans” became a French folk hero, leading the French to Rheims, where the coronation of Charles VII took place. After the Siege of Paris, Jeanne was wounded and captured near Margny by England’s Burgundian allies. In an attempt to undermine the legitimacy of Charles VII’s sovereignty, Jeanne was tried for heresy by the Bishop of Beauvais. The nineteen-year-old was found guilty and burned at the stake at Rouen in 1431. Pope Calixtus III nullified her conviction in 1456, and in 1920 St. Jeanne was canonized by the Catholic Church. 

This 1612 biography of the “noble heroine” was compiled by Jean Hordal, a descendant of her brother. Although this work exaggerates Jeanne’s military heroics, the engraved title page accurately reproduces the design of the civic monument that was erected in her memory at Orléans in 1571. Destroyed in 1745, the statuary represented Jeanne and Charles VII kneeling in prayer before an image of the Pietà. Below this printed image, the engraver added personifications of her saintly virtues, Fortitude and Virginity.

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