UPDATED Joan of Arc: supplement to “Talking History” on Newstalk 106

UPDATE: Post-broadcast, I’ve updated the bibliography at the end of this post with the Talking History panel’s suggestion for further reading …


The following might be of interest if you’re tuning in to Talking History with Patrick Geoghegan and Lyndsey Earner-Byrne on Sunday (the 24th, at 7.00 p.m.) on Newstalk 106, and featuring The Obrienatrix.

As a tie-in, here is some freely available Joanery courtesy of the joy that is the WWW. I’ve picked out four major items offering a wide range of angles and approaches. Followed, further below, by a proudly subjective selection of specially hand-picked suggestions for further reading, viewing, and appreciation:


In Our Time, BBC Radio 4 history of ideas programme: The Siege of Orleans – did Joan of Arc really rescue France?
Melvyn Bragg, in conversation with Anne Curry, Professor of Medieval History at the University of Southampton; Malcolm Vale, Fellow and Tutor in History at St John’s College, Oxford; and Matthew Bennett, Senior Lecturer at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst (24 May 2007).

The International Joan of Arc Society: Bonnie Wheeler et al; website navigation currently a little wobbly; includes a slightly out-of-date but otherwise outstanding bibliography.

Jeanne d’Arc: hypermedia online exhibition, recommended for quality reproductions of images and other original documents.

Maid Of Heaven: Joan of Arc – The Definitive Website: popular; associated with Ben D. Kennedy’s Maid of Heaven: The Story of Saint Joan of Arc. A fair place to begin.

Ste Jeanne d’Arc: an impressive range of resources, including reproductions, editions, and translations (plus original Latin) of primary documents, as well as a whole online library of 19th c. French historiography. Includes the monumental Quicherat (Le Procès de condamnation et de réhabilitation de Jeanne d’Arc, 5 vol., 1841-49) and Ayrolles (La vraie Jeanne d’Arc, 4 vol., 1891-98).


Charles VII, letter of ennoblement for Joan (1429); assorted other contemporary documents, including letters attributed to Joan, are at Ste Jeanne d’Arc – in “Chroniques et textes” and so on, in the menu on the left-hand side.

Chronique de la Pucelle (part of the Chronicles around Charles VII; covers the events of 1422-29), Geste des nobles François, Chronique of Perceval de Cagny, Journal du siège d’Orléans et du voyage de Reims.

Documents from the 1431 heresy trial and the 1455-56 rehabilitation process.

Jules Quicherat (1840s): collection and compilation of an exhaustive historiography (inc., obviously, contemporary documents); available, along with an impressive range of other resources (albeit alongside the odd bit of partisan comment), on Ste Jeanne d’Arc.


Alain Chartier (attrib.; 1430): his supposed last known work is a letter recounting Joan’s exploits, composed a short time before his death (and, indeed, hers).

Christine de Pisan, Ditié de Jehanne d’Arc (1429). Christine’s last work before her death around 1430 (approximately – 1430-34). Odd, I’m tending towards odd in a good way, and probably good (NB slightly wobbly site and link).

Martin le Franc, Le Champion des dames (1442)

François Villon, Ballade des dames du temps jadis, ll. 349-50 (ll. 329-56 in the Testament, 1461-62; NB Villon is born around 1431…)


Some other Joanery, in purely alphabetical order by author/composer, in order to preserve some sense of variety. I have ommitted several Joan films simply because I don’t think they are anywhere near as good as those I have listed here (except for one, and that’s here mainly because it’s the most recent, and gives some idea of the current state of Joan-the-idea/mythified entity). Life’s too short to watch bad movies.

Jean ANOUILH, L’Alouette (1953); play subsequently scored by Leonard Bernstein (1966)


Luc BESSON, The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc (1999): the most recent Joan film. May prove to be interesting mainly for historical reasons, as the most dated of all 100-odd years’ worth of Joan films. (Not a recipient of the O’Brien Seal of Quality.)

Bertold BRECHT, Die Heilige Johanna der Schlachthöfe (first staged 1932); with Leon Feuchtwanger, The Visions of Simon Machard (1942)

Robert BRESSON, Le Procès de Jeanne d’Arc (1962). The other best Joan film ever made.

Kate BUSH, “Joanni,” Aerial (2005)

Paul CLAUDEL (text) and Arthur Honegger (music), Jeanne d’Arc au bûcher (1939); oratorio whence Roberto Rossellini’s Giovanna d’Arco al Rogo, starring Ingrid Bergman (1954)

Leonard COHEN, “Joan of Arc,” Songs of Love and Hate (1971)

Cecil B. DeMILLE, Joan the Woman (1917)

Carl DREYER, La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc (1928): the best Joan film ever made. And now on YouTube. Subject to occasional crashes and discreet removals… Script based on the freshly-released heresy trial archives (courtesy of the Vatican); written by Antonin Artaud (also acts here); directed by Carl Dreyer (of vampiric fame); and the second and last performance by Falconetti, turned off acting for life after excessive exposure to “theatre of cruelty” theory in practice, inc. surprise hair-shaving. Surprisingly enough. I’ll stop there – I have a tendency to ramble on about this film … (Source: YouTube)


Thomas KENEALLY, Blood Red, Sister Rose (1974)

Georges MÉLIÈS, Jeanne d’Arc (1900). There are also two earlier pieces of moving Joanery in existence, by Hatot (1898) and the Lumière bros. (1899)

Terry PRATCHETT, Monstrous Regiment (2003)


Friedrich SCHILLER, Die Jungfrau von Orleans – the Romantic counter to Voltaire’s Joan (1801); whence Verdi, Giovanna d’Arco (1845) and Werner Herzog film of the latter (1989); also, the base for Tchaikovsky’s opera, The Maid of Orleans (first performed 1881)

William SHAKESPEARE, Henry VI, Part 1 (first performed 1592)

George Bernard SHAW, Saint Joan (1923): I’m also on the lookout for a free online source for the 1950s TV adaptation starring Siobhan McKenna. (Source for the GBS: Project Gutenberg)


Mark TWAIN (as Samuel Langhorne Clemens), Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc, by the Sieur Louis de Conte (1896). (Source: Medieval Sourcebook)

Giuseppe VERDI: see SCHILLER

VOLTAIRE, La Pucelle (1755-62). Mock-heroic epic; parody of Chapelain’s one. Subsequently countered by Schiller’s Jungfrau.

Some entertainment may be derived from playing “spot the Joan” in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Jean-Luc Godard’s Vivre sa vie, and The Simpsons. Joan of Arc also has her very own profile page on the Internet Movie Database. See where having your own online profile page can get you …


Georges & Andrée Duby, Les procès de Jeanne d’Arc (1995; rep. and revis. of 1973)

Deborah A. Fraioli, Joan of Arc: The Early Debate (2000). Just read (23 August) – “reread[ing] as theological debate a number of texts that […] had scarcely sustained any critical reading at all […]” – and the thumbs are up.

Nora M. Heimann, Joan of Arc in French Art and Culture (1700-1855): From Satire to Sanctity (2006)

Marina Warner, Joan of Arc: The Image of Female Heroism (1981). It’s a classic.

Bonnie Wheeler, ed., Fresh Verdicts on Joan of Arc (1991)

The Wikipedia in French features a current debate around the article on Joan of Arc mythification and mythography (Jeanne d’Arc: naissance d’un mythe + discussion). Of more limited potential than the previous suggestion for entertainment.



*** Marie-Véronique Clin and Régine Pernoud, Joan of Arc: Her Story (1999)
Highly recommended by the Talking History historian panelists, with enthusiasm and in concord. The authors are historians based at the Centre Jeanne d’Arc of Orléans (Pernoud also founder of said Centre and a member of the Académie Française). (In English; good translation of the French original). Full publishers’ information:

Title: Joan of Arc: Her Story
Authors: Marie-Véronique Clin, Régine Pernoud; trans. Jeremy Duquesnay Adams; ed. Bonnie Wheeler
Publisher: (hb) St Martin’s Press – (pb) Palgrave MacMillan (also a 2000 Orion reprint)
Date of first publication: 1999
ISBN-10: (hb) 0312214421 – (pb) 0312227302
ISBN-13: (hb) 978-0312214425 – (pb) 978-0312227302
Price: US import, so pricier here in Ireland. New: ± $11.00-16.00. Used: via Abebooks (60 entries). Plus shipping.
Sample chapter“Search Inside” (requires enabled JavaScript)

*** Marie-Véronique Clin, Jeanne d’Arc (2003)
Also recommended, with the historians’ seal of approval. (In French: Cavalier Bleu “Idées Reçues” series)

Researching Joan of Arc in a literary and literary-critical context? Medieval French (and other) literature,  and its intersections with feminism, post-feminism, and queer theory? Try this post as a starting-point.

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