Wednesday, February 8, 2012

'World's last' WWI veteran Florence Green dies aged 110

From the BBC:

Florence Green, from King's Lynn, Norfolk, served as a mess steward at RAF bases in Marham and Narborough.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Notes on Joan of Arc: A Military Leader - Part 3.

Chapter 3 - A Military Mission?

This chapter starts by edging into the observation that Joan was a girl among soldiers. DeVries has several pages dealing with the testimony of soldier colleagues that Joan was definitely female, and considered 'untouchable' by those near her.

DeVries also notes "...there appears to have been no middle ground for anyone who came in contact with the Maid, friend or foe; they either loved her and would do anything for her, for they hated her and would do whatever they could to bring about her downfall."

DeVries next goes through Joan's origin and family, to demonstrate that she was raised a normal, "if perhaps overly pious girl."  Her family were prosperous peasants and Joan had 3 brothers and a sister. The family were not warriors at all.

At her nullification trial after her death, a friend from the village of Domrémy testified "... She was so devoted to God and the Blessed Virgin, that on account of this devotion, he who was then young and other boys use to ridicule her." (JH: Kids - 600 years later, and some things are exactly the same...)

Regarding Joan's visions that would inspire her to seek out the dauphin, DeVries observes:  "What is important, in fact what is key to Joan's history as a military leader, is that she believed that [her visions] came from God."

Joan's path from Domrémy to the dauphin's court was not a straight one. She first needed to convince her local lords: Robert, Count de Bandricourt, and his lord, Charles II, duke of Lorraine. Devries paints a picture of a cautious count, who wanted to be sure he was doing the right thing in sending this peasant girl to 'save France.'

DeVries next details some of the items Joan was given before she starts her journey from Valcour (where de Bandricourt was located) to Chinon, where the dauphin was headquartered. These include a horse, men's clothing "to make her ride more comfortable..." and a sword, from Robert de Bandricourt " a symbol of what she was about to do - fight for the freedom of occupied France."

Joan, and the small group that accompanied her, travelled for eleven days through enemy territory to reach Chinon. She celebrated Mass twice, once at the monastery of St. Catherine-de-Fierbois, where she also sent a letter to Charles the dauphin, announcing her intended arrival at Chinon. It should be mentioned that "...some in Charles's council, and indeed Charles himself, wondered how they should proceed once she had arrived."

Joan arrived in Chinon and met with Charles and his nobles in Chinon Castle. She was able to recognise the dauphin, and spoke with him. What she said was not recorded, but she is reputed to have recognized him as the 'true heir of France' and told him that 'God has sent me to you to lead you to Reims...' Joan's stated mission at this point was to raise the siege of Orléans, and to lead the King to Reims for his coronation.

The dauphin, not surprisingly, was not convinced enough to allow Joan to lead and army to Orléans. First he sent her to the University of Poitiers to be questioned. "In the end, she completely convinced her examiners that her mission had been given to her from God."

DeVries wryly notes, "There was nothing left for Charles the dauphin to do but to grant her wishes and send her with an army to the relief of Orléans."

Joan had a special standard made, a white canvas banner fringed with silk, with Fleur-de-lys, Christ, 2 angles and the words "Jesus Maria."  The dauphin ordered a full harness set of armor for her, and a sword was 'miraculously' located for her at the monastery of St. Catherines-de-Fierbois. DeVries gives a good deal of information about the finding of the sword, as part of Joan's 'transformation' into a military leader. " had become a captain, going to command in war, to draw her pay and her equipment, and to serve according to the size of her large heart."

DeVries adds that a large force that left Chinon for Orléans with Joan. "Soldiers flocked to her ranks, some 10,000 - 12,000 in total,  a formidable relief force."

Devries sums up chapter 3 thus: "Before she arrived... the king and his people had no hop... Now that Joan of Arc had arrived, the defeatism previously present had given way to a belief in the possibility of victory."

Chapter 3 is much more focused on Joan than Chapter 2. DeVries does a good job of handling the matter of Joan's visions: they are important to Joan, and are part of what gives her the opportunity to meet the dauphin, but it is Joan's own confidence in her visions and her mission that are the persuading factor in advancing her cause. It allows her to convince men to listen to her and allow her the opportunities to prove herself. Her confidence inspires confidence in others.

Next chapter, Joan finally arrives at Orléans.

Next Post: Notes on Joan of Arc: A Military Leader - Part 4.