I loved reading historical novels when I was in middle school.
Definitely check out Dove and Sword by Nancy Garden. It's a novel about Joan of Arc, and PW says it's for 12+, but I think kids a little younger than that would still like it (I know I did!).
If you're looking for books for boys, check out Clara Bourreau's On the Run. That's a better bet for the younger set, but I think 5th grade would be fine. It's about a boy who goes, well, on the run, with his bank robber father. It's not only set in France, but it's actually translated from an original French novel. Unlike Dove and Sword, I haven't read it personally, but it got great reviews.