Joan of Arc
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By Hilaire Belloc
On the Feast of the Epiphany, anno domini 1412, in the French village of Domrémy, was born to James d’Arc and his wife Isabel an infant daughter. To this child, they gave the name of Joan. To this Joan, God gave a divine mission: to seek out the dispossessed King of France, the Dauphin, rescue him and restore him to the throne, crowning him King at Rheims. To accomplish this mission, Joan would need also wage war against the English army and wrest back her country from its grip.
“Have you not heard how France, laid waste by a woman, shall be restored by a Maid?”
The story of Joan of Arc, as familiar as the gist of it may be, never loses the vigor of its appeal or the freshness of its flavor. Hilaire Belloc’s telling—originally written for the ear of children as a straightforward introduction to the Maiden of Orleans—presents that story in the simple style of legendary narrative. The result is “no child’s book in the ordinary sense…it is rare literature” (Blackfriars); as such, it is reading fit for anyone who would find in the forthright spirit of Jeanne d’Arc a standard of dignity, fortitude, and sanctity in the train of God’s company.
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Hilaire Belloc (1870–1953) was an author of singular talent, writing hundreds of books on topics ranging from biography to economics, religious studies to military science, novels and verse to travelogues and satire. Counted among the greats of English stylists, Belloc’s best-known works include The Path to Rome, The Servile State, and The Great Heresies.