The Maid and the Queen: The Secret History of Joan of Arc

The Maid and the Queen: The Secret History of Joan of Arc

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by Nancy Goldstone
     
 

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The untold story of the extraordinary queen who championed Joan of Arc.

Politically astute, ambitious, and beautiful, Yolande of Aragon, queen of Sicily, was one of the most powerful women of the Middle Ages. Caught in the complex dynastic battle of the Hundred Years War, Yolande championed the dauphin's cause against the forces of England and Burgundy,

Overview

The untold story of the extraordinary queen who championed Joan of Arc.

Politically astute, ambitious, and beautiful, Yolande of Aragon, queen of Sicily, was one of the most powerful women of the Middle Ages. Caught in the complex dynastic battle of the Hundred Years War, Yolande championed the dauphin's cause against the forces of England and Burgundy, drawing on her savvy, her statecraft, and her intimate network of spies. But the enemy seemed invincible. Just as French hopes dimmed, an astonishingly courageous young woman named Joan of Arc arrived from the farthest recesses of the kingdom, claiming she carried a divine message-a message that would change the course of history and ultimately lead to the coronation of Charles VII and the triumph of France.

Now, on the six hundredth anniversary of the birth of Joan of Arc, this fascinating book explores the relationship between these two remarkable women, and deepens our understanding of this dramatic period in history. How did an illiterate peasant girl gain access to the future king of France, earn his trust, and ultimately lead his forces into battle? Was it only the hand of God that moved Joan of Arc-or was it also Yolande of Aragon?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Joan of Arc’s visionary leadership and legendary courage exemplify the medieval belief in the power of divine revelations and miraculous events that alter human history. At the height of the English siege of Orléans in 1428, a young woman mysteriously appeared in the court of Charles VII, urging him to march against the English troops and reclaim the crown of France. Yet, as Goldstone so forcefully reminds us in this tale of madness, mysticism, intrigue, and courage, we might never have heard of Joan of Arc if Yolande of Aragon, Charles’s mother-in-law and powerful queen of Sicily, hadn’t needed to convince him of his legitimate claim to the throne and bolster his courage in battle. Influenced by her reading of the popular Romance of Melusine—which featured a half-human, half-fairy heroine who helped a king achieve political success—Yolande chose Joan and her visions from God to help Charles triumph. With compelling storytelling, Goldstone (Four Queens: The Provençal Sisters Who Ruled Europe) colorfully weaves together the tales of these two women—one rich, one poor; one educated, one illiterate; one worldly, one simple—whose powerful personalities and deep allegiance to France helped shape the country’s future. Illus., maps. Agent: Michael Carlisle, Inkwell Management. (Apr.)
Library Journal
This fascinating dual biography weaves together the stories of two late medieval women—one highly familiar, the other virtually hidden from history. Goldstone (Four Queens: The Provençal Sisters Who Ruled Europe) presents a new interpretation of events surrounding the life and legend of Joan of Arc, seeking to uncover how and why this illiterate peasant mystic came to influence political and military policy. The backstory involves Yolande of Aragon (1381–1442), queen of Sicily, duchess of Maine and Anjou, countess of Provence, and mother-in-law to the dauphin and future King Charles VII. She had personal and political motives for bringing Joan to the attention of the French court. Relying heavily on medieval French sources as well as the wildly popular medieval Romance of Melusine, Goldstone identifies the powerful Yolande as a woman who used her skill in diplomacy, her wealth, and her love for her family to ensure that the throne of France would be preserved for her daughter Marie and son-in-law Charles. VERDICT The lack of scholarly citations may cause specialists to question Goldstone's "overwhelming evidence" of Yolande's power and influence, but her entertaining narrative will intrigue general readers interested in the Middle Ages, Joan of Arc (whose 600th birthday is this year), or biographies of royal figures or women in history.—Marie Marmo Mullaney, Caldwell Coll., NJ
Kirkus Reviews
A French noblewoman arranged Joan of Arc's miraculous career. So argues popular historian Goldstone (The Lady Queen: The Notorious Reign of Joanna I, Queen of Naples, Jerusalem, and Sicily, 2009, etc.), who contends that Yolande of Aragon was deeply influenced by The Romance of Melusine, the story of a fairy aiding a young nobleman that she took as a blueprint for what needed to be done to goad France's indecisive Charles VII into battle against English invaders. The author presents no hard evidence that Yolande even read the book, but Joan of Arc's short life is nicely contextualized within the story of Yolande's astute maneuvers among the shifting political currents of the Hundred Years War. It's particularly valuable since there is no biography in English of this remarkable woman, thrown into the thick of European politics by her marriage to Louis II, a member of the French royal family who was also King of Sicily. Yolande administered her husband's French possessions while he was consolidating his claim to Sicily, and she saw that her family's security and prosperity depended on bolstering the resolve of Charles VII. Goldstone strongly suggests that Yolande was responsible for the prophecy that began to circulate around this time--"France, ruined by a woman, would be restored by a virgin from the marches of Lorraine"--though she's too conscientious a historian to state outright that the prophecy prompted Joan's hearing divine voices. It's possible that Yolande smoothed Joan's path to Charles and encouraged his acceptance of her as literally heaven-sent, though again there's no hard proof. Nonetheless, Goldstone's vivid retelling of Joan's astounding victories and her capture and martyrdom by the English is as gripping as ever, and she brings Yolande back into the narrative following Joan's death in 1431 to spur Charles to a truce with the powerful duke of Burgundy, which ultimately led to the French victory. Readers don't have to buy the shaky premise to enjoy this knowledgeable and accessible account of a turning point in French history.
From the Publisher
Praise for The Maid and the Queen by Nancy Goldstone:
 
“A dual biography of two fascinating medieval women with the descriptive energy of a novel.”
USA Today (An Editor's Book Pick)
 
“Goldstone has peeled back the nostalgic drapery of The Maid of Orléans, and tells the most complete history of Joan of Arc that I have ever read. . . . Gripping and informative and should be the next book you read.”
Sacramento/San Francisco Book Review
 
“With compelling storytelling, Goldstone colorfully weaves together the tales of these two women [Yolande of Aragon and Joan of Arc]-one rich, one poor; one educated, one illiterate; one worldly, one simple-whose powerful personalities and deep allegiance to France helped shape the country's future.”
Publishers Weekly

“Goldstone's vivid retelling of Joan's astounding victories and her capture and martyrdom by the English is as gripping as ever . . . [A] knowledgeable and accessible account of a turning point in French history.”
—Kirkus Reviews

“[Nancy's] entertaining narrative will intrigue general readers interested in the Middle Ages, Joan of Arc (whose 600th birthday is this year), or biographies of royal figures or women in history.”
Library Journal

“Goldstone adds an enlightening new chapter to a legendary saga and rescues another unjustly neglected woman from the dust pile of conventional history.”
Booklist

“The mysterious and secret bond between the worldly and powerful Yolande of Aragon, queen of Sicily, and the transcendent Joan of Arc comes into glorious view in this meticulous, colorful study of their lives. A fascinating historical excursion, bursting with medieval flavor.”
—Margaret George, author of Elizabeth I

“A wonderful medieval tapestry of a book that tells the still-amazing story of Joan of Arc, a peasant girl-turned-warrior who saves her king and France, and the pivotal role played by yet another extraordinary woman, Yolande of Aragon, queen of Sicily, whenin this time of tumult and treachery Joan rose to such unexpected power.”
—Jill Jones, author of Eiffel's Tower

“Attention, ‘Game of Thrones’ fans: The most enjoyably sensational aspects of medieval politicsdouble-crosses, ambushes, bizarre personal obsessions, lunacy and naked self-interestare in abundant evidence in Nancy Goldstone's The Maid and the Queen. . . .Thanks to this book, a bit more of [Yolande's] remarkable life has been coaxed out into the open.”
—Laura Miller, Salon.com

“A lively, fast-paced and fascinating account of Joan's story, weaving together the labyrinthine intrigues of medieval politics, the real story behind a medieval fairy tale and the astonishing events that led a young peasant girl from the command of an army to a fiery death at the hands of the English.”
BookPage

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780670023332
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
03/29/2012
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.14(h) x 1.06(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
Praise for The Maid and the Queen by Nancy Goldstone:
 
“A dual biography of two fascinating medieval women with the descriptive energy of a novel.”
USA Today (An Editor's Book Pick)
 
“Goldstone has peeled back the nostalgic drapery of The Maid of Orléans, and tells the most complete history of Joan of Arc that I have ever read. . . . Gripping and informative and should be the next book you read.”
Sacramento/San Francisco Book Review
 
“With compelling storytelling, Goldstone colorfully weaves together the tales of these two women [Yolande of Aragon and Joan of Arc]-one rich, one poor; one educated, one illiterate; one worldly, one simple-whose powerful personalities and deep allegiance to France helped shape the country's future.”
Publishers Weekly

“Goldstone's vivid retelling of Joan's astounding victories and her capture and martyrdom by the English is as gripping as ever . . . [A] knowledgeable and accessible account of a turning point in French history.”
—Kirkus Reviews

“[Nancy's] entertaining narrative will intrigue general readers interested in the Middle Ages, Joan of Arc (whose 600th birthday is this year), or biographies of royal figures or women in history.”
Library Journal

“Goldstone adds an enlightening new chapter to a legendary saga and rescues another unjustly neglected woman from the dust pile of conventional history.”
Booklist

“Attention, ‘Game of Thrones’ fans: The most enjoyably sensational aspects of medieval politicsdouble-crosses, ambushes, bizarre personal obsessions, lunacy and naked self-interestare in abundant evidence in Nancy Goldstone's The Maid and the Queen. . . .Thanks to this book, a bit more of [Yolande's] remarkable life has been coaxed out into the open.”
Laura Miller, Salon.com

“The mysterious and secret bond between the worldly and powerful Yolande of Aragon, queen of Sicily, and the transcendent Joan of Arc comes into glorious view in this meticulous, colorful study of their lives. A fascinating historical excursion, bursting with medieval flavor.”
Margaret George, author of Elizabeth I

“A wonderful medieval tapestry of a book that tells the still-amazing story of Joan of Arc, a peasant girl-turned-warrior who saves her king and France, and the pivotal role played by yet another extraordinary woman, Yolande of Aragon, queen of Sicily, whenin this time of tumult and treachery Joan rose to such unexpected power.”
Jill Jones, author of Eiffel's Tower

“A lively, fast-paced and fascinating account of Joan's story, weaving together the labyrinthine intrigues of medieval politics, the real story behind a medieval fairy tale and the astonishing events that led a young peasant girl from the command of an army to a fiery death at the hands of the English.”
BookPage

Meet the Author

Nancy Goldstone's previous books include Four Queens: The Provençal Sisters Who Ruled Europe and The Lady Queen: The Notorious Reign of Joanna I, Queen of Naples, Jerusalem, and Sicily. She has also coauthored five books with her husband, Lawrence Goldstone. She lives in Westport, Connecticut.

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The Maid and the Queen: The Secret History of Joan of Arc 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Many of the ideas in Goldstone's book are original and compelling. Everyone who wants to understand Joan of Arc, and 15th Century France should read this book. This book presents the relationship between the Queen of Sicily and Charles the dauphin more comprehensively and accessibly than I have seen anywhere else. Regardless of the extent you agree with Goldstone's theory of how Joan of Arc was able to reach the dauphin and convince him to let her attempt to break the siege, no discussion of Joan of Arc is now complete without addressing it. Very well written, strongly researched, detailed but accessible. I hope this book inspires a new generation of study of this incredible story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is an historical biography. Reviewers should not be misleading readers by calling this a novel which implies it is fiction!
Mirella More than 1 year ago
In the novel THE MAID AND THE QUEEN, author Nancy Goldstone proposes that Yolande of Aragon, Queen of Sicily, was a reckoning force behind Joan of Arc’s rise to power. It is an interesting premise and forms the basis of this novel about these two very remarkable women. The author has successfully blended their lives together, crossing paths amid the convoluted machinations of royal courts, political aspirations, and military secrets. Could these two women truly have met and known each other? Of course. How else could a poor young woman from an obscure town in France gain the introductions necessary to reach the loftiest heights of royal power? The author does her research to make this a very compelling possibility. Yolande of Aragon was the wife of Louis II, a member of the French royal family and King of Sicily.  With her husband embroiled in fights in Italy for his claim to the kingdom of Naples and The Hundred Year War, Yolande sought to help her husband and France any way she could. Thus, she used Joan of Arc. The connection between the two women was through the town of Domrémy in the duchy of Bar where Joan lived and Yolande’s mother who once held that duchy as her ancestral home. THE MAID AND THE QUEEN is a story told in three parts. The first part tells the life of Yolande, the second part focuses on the life of Joan, and the final part concludes with the latter part of Joan’s and Yolande’s life. The research is meticulous. The beauty and sadness of Joan’s story compliments the political events Yolande found herself embroiled in. There are plenty of gripping scenes and emotional passages. This is a fascinating novel about two powerful women, who were ahead of their time, struggling to survive in a world dominated by men. A very memorable read indeed.
efm More than 1 year ago
Informative,detailed history of Joan of Arc.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bad with the reaserch taking all of the story line. No excitment this could be used as a textbook
coopCA More than 1 year ago
I'm still reading this book. So far, it is very interesting.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was about Joan of Arc. It isn't, she is dead halfway through the book. Absolutely no story at all, just a boring stating of facts. Who could make Joan if Arc boring! Terrible!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ive read the sample and i liked it and i need a book for a report.can anyone tell me how may pages the full versian has? Thank you