27 October 2007

La Pucelle

Joan of Arc miniature, ~1450-1500, author unknown

Dijon has the unfortunate fate of being home to the man responsible for turning St. Joan of Arc over to the English to burn at the stake.

It is said that in 1519, a Carthusian monk showed an acquaintance the fractured skull of John the Fearless, the murdered duke of Burgundy, and remarked, “This is the hole through which the English entered France.”

He was referring to the third phase of the Hundred Years War of a century earlier, during which Henry V captured and occupied Paris and all of northern France (begun, of course, by the Battle of Agincourt, the king’s speech romanticized and immortalized by Shakespeare:

And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

It was through the help of Philip the Good, considered one of “the four great dukes of Burgundy”, and resident of Dijon, that England was able to secure victory over Paris and all of northern France. (Why Phillip is considered good or great is beyond me.) John the Fearless had been his father. The Armagnacs, the royal family that ruled northern France, had murdered John as revenge for his murder of Louis of Orleans. Philip, in turn, avenged his father’s death by allying himself with the English and helping them obtain victory over France.

(The rest can be read at Patum Peperium.)