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 career—from 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.
[Hobbins’s] careful translation, the first in 50 years, may well become the definitive edition.
The Trial of Joan of Arc is a translation of those illuminating Latin trial records by Daniel Hobbins… It is in these records that Joan speaks and her words—though filtered through the pens of enemies determined to mark her a blasphemous liar and heretic—are capable of moving anyone reading them, hence the numerous authors and poets that have been bewitched, including the likes of Leonard Cohen, Hilaire Belloc and Mark Twain… Joan’s replies, no matter how edited, have ensured her place in history not as a heretic burned at the stake as her inquisitors wanted, but as national hero, a saint, a fable, a myth—everything this trial tried to suppress.
While no portraits of Joan of Arc survive from her lifetime, we are very fortunate to have access to the record of her trial in several languages, including this latest, first-rate edition in English. Daniel Hobbins…does an excellent job not only with his translation of the original texts themselves (in medieval French and Latin), but also with his introduction to the trial, Joan’s life and the importance of the trial record as medieval literature… It is an engrossing read, regardless of one’s academic background.
Given Joan’s celebrity, Daniel Hobbins’s translation and commentary on the records (both in Latin and French) of her trial are welcome. His review of the transcripts and their subsequent interpretation by scholars over the last two centuries is a model of economy and clarity… In his historical commentary and excellent translation of the trial records, Hobbins does justice not only to both visionary and soldier, but also to the extraordinary peasant girl who amazed and troubled her contemporaries, and has continued to bedevil historians ever since.
Daniel Hobbins’s English translation of the three Latin and French legal records of proceedings against Joan of Arc contains both a readable translation and a valuable commentary on the trials’ context and importance. The records correct many misconceptions about what actually happened during the trials… Those wishing to understand how fifteenth century politics, inquisitorial procedure and gender constraints condemned a nineteen year old girl for wearing male garb and acting as a soldier (among many other charges) would profit from reading Hobbins’s translation.
Joan of Arc, the French peasant girl who claimed God instructed her to lead the French army to victory at Orléans during the Hundred Years’ War, has intrigued people for centuries. Captured by the Burgundians in 1430, she was held in a secular prison and tried the following year. Hobbins has translated the entire Latin text of the trial as found in Pierre Champion’s Proces de Condamnation de Jeanne d’Arc (1920), providing introductions and—in the case of matters dealing with court procedure rather than the actual trial—summaries. His translation is the first in 50 years. The text documents Joan’s belief in the voices she heard, her resistance to authority, her ‘err’ in faith to the Mother Church, and her immodest men’s dress. After four months of trial, she submitted to a retraction and some rehabilitation but continued to wear men’s clothing and was eventually burned at the stake as a relapsed heretic. This trial transcript demonstrates her lack of intimidation by authority.
The record of Joan of Arc’s 1431 heresy trial is one of the most significant primary sources historians have for understanding this young woman’s life and beliefs. Now Hobbins, who teaches history at the University of Texas, has produced what is sure to be the definitive edition of the trial documents… Especially valuable is Hobbins’s 32-page introduction, which assesses the reliability of the text, explains medieval court procedure, and offers a description and evaluation of Joan herself… Sure to find wide use in classrooms, this text promises to transport any reader who wishes to go back in time with Joan of Arc.
- 272 pages
- 0-3/4 x 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
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