JOAN OF ARC IN FRENCH AND ENGLISH HISTORY.
Even in France no thoroughly satisfactory history exists of Joan of Arc, although a large number of histories have been written. Following is an enumeration of the most important.
As was natural while her countrymen were divided into two camps, those writers who belonged to the side of the English attacked the heroine, or rather her mission, with ill-placed zeal. Of them Enguerrand de Monstrelet was the most eminent.
Less well known chroniclers on the national side, such as Philip de Bergame, an Augustinian monk, on the other hand exaggerate the deeds of the Maid. None of these chroniclers’ writings can be called histories of Joan of Arc. Nor in the following (the sixteenth) century, did such writers as Du Bellay and Haillon do more than allude to Joan of Arc; the first in his Instructions sur le fait de la guerre, and the second in his book on the Affaires de France.
Haillon had written disparagingly of the heroine. It had the effect of raising the ire of that learned scribe William Postel, who wrote that the actions and renown of Joan of Arc were as necessary to maintain as the Bible itself. With Postel the celebrated jurisconsult Stephen Pasquier was quite in accord, and in his work called Recherches sur la France, he writes that ’never had any one saved France so opportunely or so well as did this Maid.’ In 1576 a book was published by the magistrates of Orleans relating to the siege of their town, in which all honour was given to the heroine for the part she had taken in its delivery. In the preface to that book the following sentiment is expressed:—’It is a lamentable fact that the Maid, respected by all other nations, the English alone excepted, finds amongst her countrymen writings to injure her memory by people who are greater enemies to the honour of France than those who are strangers to that country.’
It should be noted that as early as the year 1534 the famous early chronicler Polydore Virgile, Italian by origin, wrote a voluminous history of England in twenty-six books, and treated the Maid’s mission as one inspired by divine influence, severely blaming her judges for their inhuman conduct towards her.
In 1610 a book was published discussing the origin of the family of the Maid of Orleans; a work of little value. In 1612 one of the descendants of a brother of Joan of Arc—Charles du Lys—published a slight work called Traite sommaire sur le nom, les armes, la naissance et la parente de la Pucelle et de ses freres. In that same year the first history of Joan of Arc was published, also by a descendant of one of her brothers, John Hordal. This book was in Latin; it was entitled ’The History of Joan of Arc, that very noble heroine.’ Soon after an elaborated work, based on this book, was produced by Edmond Richer, a doctor of theology in Paris.