Thursday 1 February 2018

Life in the time of… Joan of Ark by Odelia Floris #History #France @OdeliaFloris

Life in the time of… Joan of Ark

 by Odelia Floris

My Medieval 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 Reims.  
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
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.

Odelia loves to hear from readers, you can contact her: Website  Facebook Twitter

The Cockcrow Curse
(The Chaucy Shire Medieval Mysteries, Book 2)

 The 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...


  1. Such an interesting post, I have always been fascinated with the life and times of Joan of Ark. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Joan of Arc is someone who I've always been intrigued by. Her life story and accomplishments are amazing. What a woman of faith! Thank you both for an excellent post!

    1. Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it. Her story is a very unusual one, and quite inspirational.

  3. This is truly a beautiful piece. Thank you both. Yes Joan of Arc was unique.

  4. Joan of Ark is one of those historical people I really feel I should no more about. Thank you for the brief insight. I shall have to do some research on this remarkable lady.


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