The Trial of Joan of Arcby Harvard
Pub. Date: 04/15/2007
No account is more critical to our understanding of Joan of Arc than the contemporary record of her trial in 1431. Convened at Rouen and directed by bishop Pierre Cauchon, the trial culminated in Joan's public execution for heresy. The trial record, which sometimes preserves Joan's very words, unveils her life, character, visions, and motives in fascinating detail.
No account is more critical to our understanding of Joan of Arc than the contemporary record of her trial in 1431. Convened at Rouen and directed by bishop Pierre Cauchon, the trial culminated in Joan's public execution for heresy. The trial record, which sometimes preserves Joan's very words, unveils her life, character, visions, and motives in fascinating detail. Here is one of our richest sources for the life of a medieval woman.
This new translation, the first in fifty years, is based on the full record of the trial proceedings in Latin. Recent scholarship dates this text to the year of the trial itself, thereby lending it a greater claim to authority than had traditionally been assumed. Contemporary documents copied into the trial furnish a guide to political developments in Joan's careerfrom her capture to the attempts to control public opinion following her execution.
Daniel Hobbins sets the trial in its legal and historical context. In exploring Joan's place in fifteenth-century society, he suggests that her claims to divine revelation conformed to a recognizable profile of holy women in her culture, yet Joan broke this mold by embracing a military lifestyle. By combining the roles of visionary and of military leader, Joan astonished contemporaries and still fascinates us today.
Obscured by the passing of centuries and distorted by the lens of modern cinema, the story of the historical Joan of Arc comes vividly to life once again.
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Table of Contents
Note on the Translation
1. Preparatory Trial
Joan is questioned about her voices, conduct in battle, wearing of men's clothing, and other matters. Her judges decide to proceed to an ordinary trial.
2. Ordinary Trial
Joan is formally accused of heresy but refuses to submit to the Church. Upon sentencing, she recants and receives a sentence of perpetual imprisonment.
3. Trial for Relapse
Joan withdraws her recantation and resumes wearing men's clothing. Sentenced as a relapsed heretic, she is handed over to the secular authorities for punishment.
The authorities deliver their assessments after the death of Joan.
Appendix: The "Poitiers Conclusions"
Major Participants in the Trial
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