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Posted July 25, 2002
This book is based on two main themes: 1) the idea that Joan's trial allegedly revolved around differences between laypersons versus clergy rather than Armagnacs versus Anglo-Burgundians; and 2) the notion that Joan used language 'miniaturizing' her Voices and allegedly rejected them. The first point ignores the fact that there are English documents throughout late 1430 and early 1431, dated Sept. 3rd and 14th, Oct. 24th, Dec. 6th; Jan. 31st, March 1st, April 2nd, 9th, 14th, 21st (etc) detailing payments given by English officials to Joan's judges and covering similar expenses; and we know that the chief judge, Pierre Cauchon, had long been a salaried official of the English occupation government who served for a time as Chancellor for the Queen of England. The other members of the tribunal are also known to have been partisans of the same faction: the reason why the University of Paris changed so dramatically (as the author herself notes) after Paris came under Anglo-Burgundian occupation is the simple fact that all the pro-Armagnac members had to leave, with the result that the University was thoroughly Anglo-Burgundian by the time of Joan's trial, and therefore rabidly opposed to her because she was defeating their faction's armies. All of the above (and similar evidence in other documents) corroborates the testimony in the Rehabilitation transcripts, which has prompted historians to accept the latter as the more credible of the two trials. This book, on the other hand, tries to dismiss the prevailing view by accepting at face value the very Condemnation transcript which is proved unreliable by so many other documents. This brings me to the second main point that the author tries to make, concerning Joan's view of her Voices. The book's version of this issue is based on a handful of phrases in the alleged confession mentioned at the end of the transcript, a section which is dated June 7 - a full eight days after Joan's execution. If you look at the original manuscripts you'll see that this section was never signed by any of the purported witnesses nor by the notaries, a fact which the notaries themselves later explained when they testified that the 'confession' had never been witnessed by them and in fact did not appear until after she was already dead. But the author of this book accepts it at face value, then engages in a bit of word play in relation to a few phrases in which Joan is made to say that her Voices appeared to her in 'great number and small size'. This is interpreted as an attempt to 'miniaturize' her Voices and thereby 'objectify' and in essence reject them, an interpretation which would be dubious even if these quotes were authentic. But the quotes are not authentic, nor would there be any reason to believe that the phrase 'small size' reflects 'feelings' at all. This is the problem with Sullivan's methods throughout the book, and the problem with such analysis in general.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.