The official blog of Historical Fiction author, Mary Anne Yarde, and home to The Coffee Pot Book Club. Come and join Mary Anne on the hunt for everything historical, as well as mythological. Oh, and let's not forget the odd book or two! Grab a cup of coffee and enjoy...
Life in the time of… Joan of Ark by Odelia Floris #History #France @OdeliaFloris
in the time of… Joan of Ark
by Odelia Floris
romance/mystery, The Heart of Darkness,
takes place in England in the years 1430 and 1431. At that time, something was
happening across the Channel in France that went against everything that was
normal in medieval European society. Something of which, if it had never
happened and we had read of in a novel, we would say “This is fantastical and
ridiculous. Something like that would have never happened in real life.” This
something was Joan of Arc. Her story is almost unique in history. A girl of
humble origins, she broke almost every convention that applied to women of her
time. Many modern historical novels, films and
television dramas depict young women taking on roles and behaviours usually reserved for men. Does this
make them inaccurate, or is it true that Joan’s example shows that medieval
women could indeed act as men did?
To find the answer to
this, Joan’s story requires a closer look. In 1428, the English sent across the
Channel a new army intended to mop up the final resistance remaining in France
and finally conquer the kingdom they had so long been fighting to gain. The
France king, Charles VII, had been deserted by many of his barons. With little
money, few soldiers and hardly any support, Charles faced the gathering storm
alone. Meanwhile, in the tranquil beauty of the valley of the River Meuse, in
Lorraine, lived a peasant girl of teen years – like other humble folk, she did not know her exact age. To the outward
eye, there was nothing noteworthy about her or her history. She lived with her
mother and father in the small village of Domrémy, near the primeval Wood of
Oaks, helping her mother with household chores and driving the family’s sheep
out to pasture. All that could be said of her was that she was more devout than
the other children of Domrémy.
But it soon became clear
Joan was not at all like the other
peasant girls of Domrémy. They did
not go to the captain of the local fortress and tell him: “God has willed it
that the Dauphin shall be king of France. It is I myself who shall lead him to
be crowned.” The captain, Robert de Baudricourt, a knight of Charles VII,
reacted with anger and derision. Joan was sent home. That Joan had been able to
come at all had been through the help of her cousin, Durand Lassois. To
convince him, Joan had told him of the voices that urged her to France’s aid,
and of how the Archangel Michael had appeared to her. Michael commanded her to
go to Baudricourt, who would give her soldiers to take to the Dauphin. The archangel
told Joan it was her destiny to break the siege of Orléans, drive the English
out of France and lead Charles to be crowned at Reims. When Lassois still
hesitated, she reminded him of the prophecy: “France will be saved by a maiden
who comes from an oak forest”.
Joan returned home and
waited. At the end of the year, she appeared before Robert de Baudricourt once
again. This time, she spoke of a disastrous battle which had ended in a loss to
the English. No such defeat had been heard of, so Joan was scoffed at once again.
But news soon reached Baudricourt of a humiliating French defeat, where an
English force outnumbered twelve to one had routed them soundly. That Joan had
spoken of the battle before she could have heard of it seemed to confirm her
prophetic gift. And thus began the short but dazzling career of Joan of Arc the
warrior-maid. Dressed in the attire of a man, she went on to lead the French
armies to victory and did indeed bring Charles to be crowned King of France at
So, how did she succeed
in taking on a man’s role so completely in an age when no other woman had?
Medieval Europe was an age of faith. This was the key to Joan’s power.
Traditional ways and laws formed rigid channels in which the lives of most
medieval women flowed. But Joan of Arc was able to rise above these through the
special relationship she appeared to have with her God. Her devoutness and
visions made her revered, and as God-chosen saviour and seer, she entered a
realm where gender ceased to matter.
Odelia Floris grew up in
rural New Zealand. From a young age she created imaginary characters and
magical worlds. But rather than growing up and putting aside these flights of
fancy as most do, she turned to art, painting and drawing as a teenager before
taking to creative writing around the age of twenty-one. Her first novel, The Heart of Darkness, features a knight
in rusty armour and a damsel determined to uncover his dark secrets. Beguile Me Not, a historical romance set
in colonial New Zealand, and The Little
Demon Who Couldn’t, a historical urban fantasy for children, followed. Her
most recent book is The Cockcrow Curse,
a sequel to The Heart of Darkness.
She always has at least
two creative projects in progress, and is never short of inspiration. Odelia
Floris has a Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in Humanities, and diplomas in
ecology, communication and freelance journalism. She lives rurally on the east
coast of New Zealand’s beautiful North Island. Her other passions include
singing, playing piano, art, reading and nature.
Cockcrow Curse continues the ‘captivating and unusual’ Chaucy Shire Medieval Mysteries series where Book 1, The Heart of Darkness, left off. Escape
to late medieval England and spend a summer in the beautiful yet dangerous
little shire of Chaucy.
Rowena’s change of
circumstances was entirely unexpected. But as verdant summer comes to the
fields and forests of Chaucy Shire, her blossoming world of love and peace is
pierced by a sudden and mysterious trouble. The unknown forest-dwellers who
saved her life in the winter snows have called for the help she promised was
theirs in repayment if ever they had need of it. With Sir Richard still
suffering the effects of a knee wound, she and he reluctantly ride to the
rendezvous in Glymewood forest. Thus begins a trickle that soon turns to a
torrent of trouble...