Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Joan of Arc is taken verbatim from the first volume of Winston Churchill’s four-volume work entitled A History of the English-speaking Peoples (1956-1958). Lauren Ford adds seventeen full-color pictures interspersed throughout the text, which is itself only forty-six pages long. The biography begins with the death of King Henry V in 1422 and ends with the execution of Joan of Arc in 1431.

Churchill concentrates more on the person of Joan of Arc than on the military and political events of this part of the Hundred Years’ War. He describes her childhood, visions, battles, trial in Rouen, and death by burning. Joan’s persistence, single-mindedness, idealism, valor, innocence, and purity of motive are emphasized. The only battle discussed in any detail is Joan’s raising of the siege of Orléans, her first experience in combat. For Churchill, this event is the turning point in this phase of the Hundred Years’ War because the French troops were inspired to press the war to a conclusion. Joan’s example of bravery and fortitude gave the royal forces the confidence that they needed. Her greatest triumph was her success in having the dauphin crowned in the cathedral at Reims. When the dauphin became King Charles VII, the English realized that they had lost the propaganda war because their king, the boy Henry VI, was as yet uncrowned as the king of France—as agreed to by the Treaty of Troyes in 1420. In the eyes of the French, the...

(The entire section is 586 words.)