Galla Placidia: Reign as Empress and Regent

Placidia moved into the palace with her brother, Honorius, when she entered Ravenna in 416.  As Honorius made no effort in the last 7 years to retrieve his sister as a hostage in the Goth’s camps, their relationship must have been somewhat awkward.  To make matters worse, Honorius still promised Placidia’s hand in marriage to his general, Constantius.  On January 1, 417 Honorius, to appease his general, forced Placidia to marry Constantius (Wikipedia, 2016).  Coercion on the side of Honorius is interesting seeing that it was Roman law and tradition is to not force women into marriage.  It may have been that Honorius was acting as Placidia’s legal guardian as she might not have been at the legal age of maturity (Sivan, 2011).  There was no formal ceremony or celebration, which would occur later, but only Honorius placing Placidia’s hand in Constantius’, making the marriage legal (Salisbury, 2015). By all accounts, Placidia severely disliked her new husband, he being particularly old and ugly.

honorius

Wikipedia. (2016). Honorius.

 

constantius

Wikipedia. (2016). Diptych of Constantius III

Around 418, Placidia gave birth to a girl named Justa Grata Honoria, hereafter called Honoria, being named after the reigning emperor (Salisbury, 2015).  Shortly thereafter, Placidia became pregnant and produced a male heir on July 2, 419, Flavius Placidus Valentinianus.  Since Honorius had produced no offspring, Valentinian was raised by his mother with the expectation to rule and reign as the next emperor of the Eastern Empire.

Reaching the pinnacle of his leadership in Rome, Constantius was appointed co-emperor of the Western Empire with Honorius in February of 421 (Salisbury, 2015).  Additionally, Placidia was finally awarded the title of Augusta or empress, and her son Valentinian was proclaimed “most noble” (Salisbury, 2015).  Curiously, Theodosius II, Placidia’s nephew (Son of Arcadius) did not approve or accept any of these titles.  This will be found significant later.  Although Placidia enjoyed her long-awaited title, Constantitus did not like this change.  Constatntius despised the “constraints of court ceremonials and greatly missed the parties that he used to enjoy” (Sivan, 2011).  However, Constantius’ reign did not last long when 7 months later, he died.

Being left without the co-emperor and general, Rome was in commotion.  During this time, there are several speculations to a new found relationship between Honorius and Placidia.  Some sources state that the emperor was showing unwanted affection towards his sister (Wikipedia, 2015).  However, some historians argue that Placidia welcomed the attention without complete incest to acquire an ally (Salisbury, 2015).  Olympiodorus records that “Such was Honorius’ affection for his sister after the death of her husband Constantius that the absence of restraint in their love for one another and their constant kissing on the mouth caused many people to entertain infamous suspicions about them” (Salisbury, 2015).  Either way, due to the rebellions in Rome and an argument with Honorius, Placidia took her two children and fled to Constantinople in 423.

children

Wikipedia. (2016) Portrait of Placidia and her children.

Placidia, Honoria, and Valentinian were greeted in Constantinople by her nephew the emperor, Theodosius II, his wife Eudocia, and his sister Pulcheria.  Back in Ravenna, Honorius died in 423 (Wikipedia, 2016).  Consequently, to avoid another usurper for the West, Theodosius II proclaimed Valentinian as the emperor.  However, because of his young age at the time, Placidia was made regent from 425-437 until Valentinian’s 18th birthday (Wikipedia, 2016).

This time period as regent allowed Placidia to finally extend the arm of leadership and control over her empire as empress.  Though Placidia was very successful in reign, her main motivation was to prepare Valentinian for his throne.  Early in his childhood, Valentinian was betrothed to Theodosius II’s daughter, Eudoxia which was most likely brought by the fruition of Placidia, Pulcheria, and Eudocia, each who were empresses as the time, to ensure the Theodosian dynasty (Salisbury, 2015).  Through accounts of new laws and establishment of dozens of churches, historians know that Placidia was in the center of the political and religious circles.   For example, we have many records of constitutions being presented to the Senate under Valentinian’s name that were clearly sent by Placidia.  One such constitution in 426 was meant to preserve the rights of the senators (Salisbury, 2015).  For her religious successes, see next blog.  Throughout her time as regent, Placidia was influential in imperial Rome.

One of Placidia’s last roles as mother before she died was protecting her daughter Honoria.  As her brother Valentinian had only produced daughters, Honoria desired to threaten Valentinian’s throne.  She devised to accomplish this by producing an heir of her own with an affair with the steward Eugenius in 449 (Salisbury, 2015).  However, after being discovered, Eugenius was put to death and Valentinian was close to executing Honoria before Placidia stepped in.  They came to a compromise by stripping Honoria of her title as empress and betrothing her to a high-ranking senator named Flavius Bassus Herculanus.

Enraged by her brother’s decision, Honoria decided to write to Attila the Hun, asking that he “avenge her marriage.  In addition she also sent a ring pledging herself to the barbarian, who made ready to go against the western empire” (Sivan, 2011).  As the most feared barbarian, Attila the Hun needed no excuse to invade Italy so he readily used the reason of claiming his bride to prepare his army.  Attila’s advances would only be stopped by the persuasive Pope Leo in 452 at the famous Battle of Catalaunian Plains in Gaul (Salisbury, 2015).

Placidia’s last days were consumed by current Catholic Church’s controversy.  A reemerged argument was the incarnation of Christ.  A popular monk was stating that although the reestablished doctrine said that Mary was the mother of God, Christ was more divine than human, making Him not like us.  After much debate and council, the church leaders agreed with Pop Leo on the nature of Christ, that He was both human and divine (Salisbury, 2015).  However, many people, particularly those in Egypt, were angered by this decision, many leaving the empire to keep their views; Placidia was never able to see the resolution of this controversy.  The pious empress and mother died peacefully in her sleep on November 27, 450 at the age of 62.  She was buried in the family mausoleum, which is estimated to now be the Chapel of Saint Petronilla.

 

 

References

Salisbury, J. (2015). Rome’s Christian empress: Galla Placidia rules at the twilight of the empire. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press.

Sivan, H. (2011). Galla Placidia: The Last Roman Empress. New York, New York: Oxford University Press.

Wikipedia. (2016). Galla Placidia. Wikipedia. Retrieved December 13, 2016 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galla_Placidia

Wikipedia. (2016). Theodosius II. Wikipedia. Retrieved December 13, 2016 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodosius_II

 

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Galla Placidia: Sack of Rome and Wedding Bells

 

For Galla Placidia’s entire lifetime, barbarians, particularly the Goths, fought against the Roman Empire for two particular purposes: to obtain food and land.  As they traveled throughout modern day Europe, they plundered villages and towns in search of food to sustain their massive numbers.  Starting in 395, Alaric became the King of the Goths (Wikipedia, 2016a).  Placidia’s cousin’s husband, Stilicho and Alaric had many encounters throughout their military careers, fighting over these precious commodities.  However, due to the incompetence of Emperor Honorius, the Goths would soon take advantage over the Romans.

In the winter of 409, both the Romans and the Visogoths were in want of food.  Due to their allegiance to the emperor, the African provinces had cut of their grain supply (which served the majority of the empire) to Rome.  With the addition of Alaric’s plundering of Italy, all of Rome was in dire need.  As Alaric needed to feed close to 180,000 people, he sought to negotiate with Honorius (Salisbury, 2015).  Upon their meeting, a Gothic general, Sarus, who was paid by Honorius, turned and attacked Alaric and his men, causing considerable loses.  This enraged Alaric so he turned his forces toward Rome.

On the night of August 24, 410 the Goths entered the city through the Salarian Gate, which was opened from within.  As barbarians, the Visogoths mainly focused on looting the city, stealing much of Rome’s wealth.  However, that did not stop the destruction of the city.  According to excavations, many buildings were burned, including the palace of the historian Sallust and the Basilica Aemilia as well as statues and decorations.  One Biritsh monk named Pelagius who was present described the scene, “Rome the mistress of the world, shuddered, crushed with dismal fear at the sound of the shrieking trumpet, and the shouts of the Goths” (Salisbury, 2015).  Although this siege was bloody, the Goths were respectful to the Christians and their churches.  The Christians had considerable wealth but Alaric ordered his men to escort the Christians and their gold safely outside the city walls (Salisbury, 2015).

sack-of-rome

Wikipedia (2016). Sack of Rome.

Besides seeking gold, the Visogoths also sought out prized hostages.  As a potential empress and very valuable, Placidia was safely taken from her palace in Rome.  Historians believe that Placidia was 22 years old when she was taken hostage (McHardy & Marshall, 2004).  For an upper class woman to still be unmarried at this age was quite unusual in Rome.  Alaric entrusted his own brother-in-law, Athaulf, to capture and watch over her.  One chronicler wrote of Placidia’s circumstances, “she enjoyed all the honor and ceremony due to her imperial rank” (Salisbury, 2015).

While Placidia and the Visgoths were traveling, their leader Alaric died, giving the crown to his brother, Athaulf.  When Athaulf took over as leader, his initial goal was to take over Rome, with the Goths dominating and he the next Caesar Augustus (Salisbury, 2015).  According to some second-hand accounts who listened to Athaulf, his mind was changed to combining with the Romans and directing the Goths to a more legal tradition.  His attitude was altered “by the persuasion and advice of … Placidia, a woman, indeed, of a very keen mind and very good religiously” (Salisbury, 2015).  This was to be expected as Placidia and Athaulf spent most of their time together in camp, developing a strong relationship.  athaulf

Wikipedia. (2016). Athaulf.

As Athaulf sought to negotiate with Rome, he ran into several issues.  Emperor Honorius had promoted Constantius to master general in his army, replacing Stilicho.  Constantius desperately wanted to marry Placidia and convinced Honorius to arrange it with his military victories (Salisbury, 2015).    However, Athaulf kept raising the amount of grain he wanted from Honorius that it became impossible to follow through.  Knowing how much Constantius wanted Placidia, and his own admiration for her, Athualf decided to join the Theodosius dynasty and the Visogoths by marrying Placidia (Salisbury, 2015).

The wedding took place on January 1, 414 at a mansion in Narbonne (Wikipedia, 2016; Salisbury, 2015b).  Placidia was dressed in abundant royal silks, signifying her right to the throne (Sivan, 2011).  Interestingly, Athaulf did not dress as a Gothic king but as a Roman soldier in military garb (Sivan, 2011).  Additionally, Athaulf wore the paludamentum with a precious brooch fastened to one side.  This cloak was worn by generals and emperors, suggesting Athaulf’s desire to lead the Romans.  To further cement his intentions, during the wedding itself, Athaulf swore allegiance to Rome and everything it stood for (Sivan, 2011).

As described by Olympiodorus, Athaulf brought in gifts to his new bride including “fifty handsome young men dressed in silk clothes each bearing aloft two very large dishes, one full of gold, the other full of precious, or rather priceless stones” that were from Rome during its destruction (Sivan, 2011).   Finally, the epithalamia, which are verses and compositions to honor the bride and groom, were written by three men: Attalus, Phoebadius, and Rusticus (Sivan, 2011).  Concluding with typical music, dance, and food, Placidia’s wedding was a true Roman festival.

Historians estimate that around 415 in January, Placidia and Athaulf gave birth to a son whom they named Theodosius.  His birth secured the unification of the Goth and Roman line.  However, in July or August of that same year, Theodosius died from unknown circumstances (Salisbury, 2015).  Another blow would strike Placidia when Athaulf was assassinated just a few months after the death of Theodosius.  A trusted servant of Athaulf’s was avenging his chief Sarus who was killed by Athaulf (Salisbury).  There is much speculation of the location of this assassination; some sources state that Athaulf was killed while taking a bath (Wikipedia, 2016), while others believe they were in the stable tending the horses (Salisbury, 2015).  Athaulf’s dying wish was for Placidia to return to her brother Honorius in Constantinople and secure friendship with Rome.  To ensure her safety, Constantius (with Honorius’ agreement) sent his representative Euplutius to accompany Placidia back to Ravenna (Salisbury, 2015).    However, spending 7 years with the Visigoths in their camp, Placidia had their allegiance and therefore brought a substantial guard of Goths with her.  As Placidia entered the capitol in 416, she was prepared to take over political and religious leadership in Rome.

 

 

 

 

 

References

McHardy, F. & Marshall, E. (2004). Women’s influence on classical civilization. Psychology Press.

Salisbury, J. (2015). Rome’s Christian empress: Galla Placidia rules at the twilight of the empire. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press.

Sivan, H. (2011). Galla Placidia: The Last Roman Empress. New York, New York: Oxford University Press.

Wikipedia. (2016a). Alaric I. Wikipedia. Retrieved December 10, 2016 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alaric_I

Wikipedia. (2016b). Galla Placidia. Wikipedia. Retrieved December 12, 2016 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galla_Placidia

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Galla Placidia: Born to Be An Empress

aelia_galla_placidia

Wikipedia (2016). Galla Placidia

 

Early Life

Galla Placidia is known as the last Roman Empress.  Throughout her lifetime, she exerted much influence over the political and religious atmosphere in the imperial court.  Before a review can be given on Galla Placidia’s childhood, it is crucial to begin with her family history.  Placidia’s father was Theodosius I, who became the coemperor of the Eastern empire of Rome on January 19, 379 (Salisbury, 2015).  Although he was dedicated to his campaign and securing the safety of his empire, Theodosius wanted to secure his own dynasty.  With his marriage to the Spanish Aelia Flavia Flaccilla, he received an heir, Arcadius, and a daughter, Pulcheria, who would later die in childhood.

I believe that Flaccilla was a prominent woman figure in Placidia’s growth as a leader, although she never met her.  Theodosius, while crowning Arcadius as a young emperor, crowned Flaccilla as “Augustus”, empress.  Although it was not unusual to have a Roman Empress, Theodosius awarded her the same ceremony as her son; dressed in a “purple military cloak fastened on the right shoulder with a jeweled fibula and crowned her with a jeweled imperial diadem” (Salisbury, 2015).  Additionally, Flaccilla was imprinted onto the coinage in Rome.  This action showed no distinction between women and the status of men.  This equality founded Placidia in her search for power.  flaccilla Wikipedia (2016) Aelia Flaccilla Coin

However, shortly after the death of Theodosius’ daughter, Flaccilla also died.  As emperor, Theodosius needed to make another politically advantageous marriage, even though Flaccilla was able to produce two male heirs, Arcadius and Honorius.  Valentinian I’s son, Valentinian II was at the time the coemperor with Theodosius.  It is said by the chronicler Zosimus that Valentinian II’s mother, Justina, arranged the meeting of her daughter Galla and Theodosius to ensure the safety of Valentinian II.  Theodosius was struck by Galla’s beauty that he agreed to aid Valentinian II in exchange to marry Galla (Salisbury, 2015).

Theodosius was off conducting military affairs when Galla gave birth to their daughter, Galla Placidia.  Historians are unsure to the actual date of Placidia’s birth, however.  Due to Galla’s family circumstances, Placidia’s birth could have been as early as 388.  Additionally, Galla died in childbirth of their son in 394, so Placidia could have been born as late at 393 (Oost, 1965).  It is estimated that she was likely born in 389.  When Theodosius returned from Constantinople in 391, he granted Placidia her own household thus ensuring her financial security.  This was significant in Rome as to be granted financial independence at such a young age (Wikipedia, 2016c).

Another significant even in Placidia’s childhood occurred at the crowning of her brother, Honorius, in 393.  Placidia was awarded the title of “most noble girl” (nobilissima puella) by her father, Theodosius.  Similar to Flaccilla, this was a traditional step to becoming an empress (Salisbury, 2015).   A tragedy struck the Theodosius dynasty when Placidia was only 7 years old, Honorius at 10 years old, and Arcadius at 18 years old (Wikipedia, 2016a).  During a chariot race on January 17, 395, Theodosius died from what historians presume was severe edema (Wikipedia, 2016a).  With her mother’s death years ago, this left Placidia an orphan.  Fortunately, Theodosius’ niece and her husband, Stilicho, were able to care for Arcadius, Honorius, and Placidia.

Stilicho was a Vandal who became a high-ranking general (magister militum) in the Roman army under Theodosius.  There were several threats to the empire from barbarians so Theodosius wanted someone who could fight against and lead them, and his choice was Stilicho.  To ensure that his leadership would continue, Theodosius arranged for his favorite niece, Serena, to marry Stilicho (Salisbury, 2015).  Stilicho was written about by his contemporary and historian, Orosius, “Stilicho, sprung from the Vandals, an unwarlike, greedy, treacherous and crafty race” (Salisbury, 2015).  As Placidia had no other caretaker, Serena took the primary role of raising Placidia to be a ruler.  serena-and-stilicho

Wikipedia (2016) Diptych of Serena and Stilicho

Not much is known about the upbringing of Placidia and Serena’s daughter, Maria, who were the same age.  We assume that Serena taught Placidia and Maria according to the Roman culture which included mathematics, reading, and eventually literature.  Additionally, historians know that Placidia learned to weave and embroider (Wikipedia, 2016c).   An interesting story tells of Placidia helping Serena embroider a girth for her brother, Honorius’ horse (Salisbury, 2015).  An important note is to be made about Placidia’s brothers, Arcadius and Honorius.  As they were surrounded by luxuries and eunuchs, much is said of these future leaders as spoiled brothers who were completely incompetent to be emperors.  Neither were taught much on military strategy or how to maintain an empire.  These weaknesses will turn into consequences for all of Rome (See next blog).

As Honorius began to fulfill his duties, which were taken by Stilicho when he was underage, he surrounded himself by other counselors.  Under their advisement, particularly that of Olympius, Honorius began to question Stilicho’s loyalty.  In 408, Honorius issued his arrest, and shortly thereafter, his execution (Salisbury, 2015).  Consequently, because Serena was married to this Vandal, and was falsely accused of conspiring with the Goths during their siege of Rome, she was later killed (Wikipedia, 2016b).  There is much speculation as to the death of Serena, suggesting involvement and direction on Placidia’s part.  It is argued that Placidia despised her caretaker and wanted to remove her as the obstacle to gaining power.  Others suggest that as a good Christian woman, Placidia would never disrespect her guardian this way (Salisbury, 2015).  Regardless, Placidia was now free to start leading her country.

 

References

Oost, S. (1965). Some problems in the history of Galla Placidia. Classical Philology, 60(1), 1-10.

Salisbury, J. (2015). Rome’s Christian empress: Galla Placidia rules at the twilight of the empire. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press.

Wikipedia. (2016a). Theodosius I. Wikipedia. Retrieved December 7, 2016 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodosius_I

Wikipedia. (2016b). Serena (Roman). Wikipedia. Retrieved December 7, 2016 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serena_(Roman)

Wikipedia. (2016b). Galla Placidia. Wikipedia. Retrieved December 5, 2016 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galla_Placidia

 

 

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Joan of Arc’s Capture, Trial, and Death

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Blog Post 5

Joan of Arc’s Capture, Trial, and Death

After several months of not being allowed to fight, the Maid was able to rush north to repel the English as much as she could. The duke of Burgundy was expected to arrive with troops to crush her campaign, but he never appeared. Instead, he ventured to Compiegne to claim it. The citizens however, did not want to surrender themselves to him. They fortified the city with a moat and guns and stocked up on supplies so they’d be ready for whatever happened.

Joan of Arc felt confident in her ability to rescue Compiegne, just as she had Orleans. During the night of May 22, the Maid led her soldiers to the besieged city and attacked the Burgundians. Her enemies retreated farther and farther back from her barrage, the Armagnacs chasing them at their heels. Then suddenly, Joan looked over her shoulder to see that not all of her opponent’s forces were in front of her. She and her men could not fight a battle with two fronts. Her army began to retreat toward Compiegne, but the gate was closed before the Maid could get inside. Surrounded by Burgundian soldiers, Joan was forced to surrender. Her captor, Jean de Luxembourg, took her to his castle at Beaulieu-les-Fontaines to await the next move.

King Charles, other politicians, and theologians of his court had trouble deciding what to do regarding Joan. Now that she had been captured and not miraculously spared, it seemed that God had completely abandoned the Maid, so they determined to let her meet the end God had prepared for her. The English-controlled French believed Joan’s failure was in the failure of her mission. The theologians at the university of Paris wrote to the duke of Burgundy, asking him to release her to them to be tried (and condemned) for heresy. Jean de Luxembourg wanted a sizeable ransom for his prisoner, which he got from the English.

Instead of being tried at the university of Paris, King Henry VI’s counsellors moved her trial to Rouen, the English capital of Normandy under Bishop Pierre Cauchon. The understanding was that if she were found innocent by the church (which was highly unlikely), the Maid would be returned to the English. She represented herself bravely in court, but the church had decided her fate before the trial had even opened. Her first examination, as in Poitiers, was to determine if she were still a virgin, which she was. Then, again, her spiritual integrity had to be determined by interrogation. The Maid was told to place her hand on the scriptures and swear to tell the truth, which she refused. She would gladly tell of her journey and actions, but she would not speak about her revelations she claimed were from God. She eventually swore to tell the truth about the Catholic faith, so the trial could resume.

On the second day of her trial, Joan was asked about her home life and childhood, and eventually, to everyone’s amazement, she spoke about her revelations.Two days later, she was asked when she had last heard a voice to which she said she had heard one that morning and three times the previous day. The days spent in trial turned into weeks, and Joan knew her end was near. The Maid’s trial lasted over three months, but ultimately, she was accused of heresy for wearing men’s clothing (an abomination in the Old Testament) and spreading false doctrines among the people of France. She was sentenced to death and was burned at the stake May 30, 1431.

Joan of Arc’s Death at the Stake, by Hermann Stilke (1843)(Wikipedia Contributors)

In the end, Joan of Arc was unsuccessful because she no longer had the support she needed. King Charles VII lost faith in his extraordinary warrior and sent his troops home (after the failed attack on Paris). Others questioned her authority and holiness, which led to doubt being spread across France. Her capture at Compiegne seemed to prove her blasphemy (because God, if he had ever been on her side had forsaken her) and sealed her fate.

Sources:

Castor, Helen. “I Will be with You Soon.” Joan of Arc: A History. New York, NY: Harper, 2015. 149-180. Print.

Wikipedia contributors. “Joan of Arc.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 19 Nov. 2016. Web. 15 Dec. 2016.

Yeatts, Tabatha. Joan of Arc: Heavenly Warrior. New York: Sterling, 2009. Print.

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The Maid’s Failures

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Blog Post 4

The Maid’s Failures

The city of Paris had been more thoroughly fortified than any other fortress the Maid had encountered. The walls had slits for arrows, fortified towers on top,  and “gun placements” (Castor 140). The six gates were all protected by boulevards, and a deep ditch surrounded the entire city. The duke of Bedford had called upon his forces in Normandy to join him in defending the capital. Joan and her army were in for a struggle.

The Palais de la Cite and Saint-Chapelle, viewed from the left bank, from the Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry (month of June) (1410)

On September 8, on the feast of the Nativity of the Virgin, Joan rode with her banner into battle. She started on the western side of the city by the Louvre. She led her men into the ditch with showers of rocks and arrows falling on them. She called out to the Burgundians above commanding them to surrender to her army, or they would force their way in. Given her history of success, perhaps her command wasn’t completely cast aside, but her efforts at this point had been futile. Neither she nor her men had been able to scale the fortified walls, let alone penetrate them. She was then injured by a crossbow lodged in her leg, and her standard-bearer was killed right next to the Maid. The Burgundians sneered at her. When night fell, her men retreated, dragging Joan behind them. She refused to leave, but her injury and loss of blood had made her weak.

The next day, the Maid was determined to continue, but King Charles had decided otherwise. He knew the duke of Bedford’s troops would arrive at any moment to help defend the city, and his warrior had failed. He sought peace with the Burgundians to unite France once and for all against the English. The Burgundians had agreed upon a truce that would last through Christmas. Charles VII was strapped for cash and thought it useless to pay soldiers during times of peace, so he sent them home. Joan was distressed and saddened. She no longer had her king’s full support, and the Burgundians spun this to their advantage. They claimed that she had failed because she was not inspired by God but by the devil. The Maid had committed abomination after abomination, and thus could not receive holy inspiration from the divine.

Now that God had stopped intervening on behalf of the French, Joan was seen as a liability on the battlefield, not a source of inspiration. Her strength had come from God’s interference in previous battles, but it would seem the French would have to rely on military strategy, something Joan was untrained in. The king’s counsellors prevented her from fighting, even when other commanders had wished for her to join them. She was instead taken to Saint-Pierre to confront Perrinet Gressart, a mercenary who technically allied with England and Burgundy but truly acted in his own self-interest. She won the town, but still had Gressart’s city of La Charite-sur-Loire to conquer. She tried to lay siege to the city, but failed after only a few weeks due to a lack of supplies and money.

Meanwhile, Henry VI of England had been crowned at the age of eight and was traveling to France, heading a massive army, for his second coronation there. The university of Paris had written to Rome to accuse the Maid of heresy, and others still did not believe in her. Joan had nothing to show for her efforts and could only hope for good things to come which would turn back the tide to her favor. But that would take a miracle.

Sources:

Castor, Helen. “A Creature in the Form of a Woman.” Joan of Arc: A History. New York, NY: Harper, 2015. 140-149. Print.

Wikipedia contributors. “Paris.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 15 Dec. 2016. Web. 15 Dec. 2016.

Yeatts, Tabatha. Joan of Arc: Heavenly Warrior. New York: Sterling, 2009. Print.

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Peace Agreements between King Charles and Philip of Burgundy

marathonblogger2016

Blog Post 3

Peace Agreements between King Charles and Philip of Burgundy

Duke Philip of Burgundy and King Charles VII, after the Maid’s victories, had made a truce: the duke would relinquish Paris (which was the French capital even at that time) into Charles’ hands after fifteen days. This was a ploy to avenge the duke’s father John the Fearless, the former duke of Burgundy, who had been murdered while making peace agreements and taking the holy sacrament with Charles VI. Duke Philip and the duke of Bedford began fortifying the city and called for loyalty from its subjects.

Joan of Arc suspected this truce was too good to be true. She wrote a letter to the people of Reims warning them to be watchful of their city and to have faith in her plan. She would not enter Paris quickly and would only remain peaceful to preserve the honor of her king. If she could have her way, however, she would attack the English once more.

The duke of Bedford began to be anxious. He couldn’t determine (himself) if his ally, Philip of Burgundy, was loyal. The duke of Bedford did have to pay Philip for his service and alliance. John (the duke of Bedford) sent spies, including his wife, to observe Philip’s behavior and report back to Bedford. John was also shorthanded. The Maid had captured a few of his lieutenants, including the duke of Suffolk and commander John Talbot, and had driven away Sir John Fastolf (who had fought against the Armagnacs at Patay). When he became desperate, John of Bedford took matters into his own hands. He called upon Charles to face him in Paris and reminded his Burgundian ally of his father’s death.

The armies met north of Paris at Montepilloy. There were skirmishes, but neither side was successful in luring the other to battle. The next day, the English forces marched back to Paris without so much as a direct word to the Armagnacs. John went to Vernon (between Paris and Rouen) to keep an eye on both those threatened cities. Charles, however, began retaking cities near Paris, which further intimidated the English.

King Charles, now that he had his crown, sought to bring peace to the region thereafter. He was admitted to Duke Philip’s court in Arras to begin negotiations. Charles was willing to give Philip the lands he had been given by the English, exempt Philip from paying homage to the French crown, and pardon the duke. Philip, still angry about his father’s murder, could not convince himself to accept any permanent negotiations from his father’s killer (even if Charles VII had been too young to stop it). They made a temporary truce for all lands north of the Seine river except for the city of Paris. The French now had a chance to reclaim their capital.

Charles VII by Jean Fouquet 1445 1450.jpg

Portrait of Charles VII, by Jean Fouquet, tempera on wood, Louvre Museum, Paris, c. 1445–1450 (Wikipedia Contributors)

Philip the good.jpg

Philip the Good, wearing the collar of firesteels and of the Order of the Golden Fleece he instituted, copy of a Rogier van der Weyden of c. 1450

Unfortunately for Joan, the euphoria of her triumph was starting to wear off as the negotiations took place, and people all over the country, again, began to question her authority and power. She had little patience for the political skirmishes, but the Maid desperately needed her people’s confidence (and resources) to fulfill the rest of her mission. Her men, thankfully, still believed in her power and followed where she went. The Maid’s forces were able to retake Saint-Denis, a town dedicated to France’s patron, with little to no resistance, and this put them just four miles outside Paris.

Luck (and resources) had seen the Maid through to this point, but her aid seemed to abandon her with her attack on Paris. She would not be majorly successful in battle again.

Sources:

Castor, Helen. “A Creature in the Form of a Woman.” Joan of Arc: A History. New York, NY: Harper, 2015. 127-140. Print.

Wikipedia contributors. “Charles VII of France.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 7 Dec. 2016. Web. 15 Dec. 2016.

Wikipedia contributors. “Philip the Good.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 29 Nov. 2016. Web. 15 Dec. 2016.

Yeatts, Tabatha. Joan of Arc: Heavenly Warrior. New York: Sterling, 2009. Print.

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On to Battle

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Blog Post 2

On to Battle

Joan of Arc was sent to battle in Orleans, the besieged city, with a full suit of armor tailored to her petite figure and a banner. The Maid’s standard had golden fleur-de-lis on a white field, the words “Jhesus Maria,” and a painted image of Christ on judgement day. She also had what is said to be Saint Catherine’s sword (that she carried and was killed by). The Maid sent for this sword from the church in the town of Sainte-Catherine-de-Fierbois, and many theologians thought it fitting she should receive assistance from Saint Catherine, the patron saint of young virgins. Joan also had the companions a military leader at the time would have: a squire, two pages, and a chaplain.

Joan of arc miniature graded.jpg

Artist’s Interpretation of Joan of Arc, 1485: Centre Historique des Archives Nationales, Paris, AE II 2490 (Wikipedia Contributors)

Instead of commencing battle immediately upon her arrival, the Maid, along with food and other provisions, snuck through the English blockade. The Orleanais, having seen the Maid, attacked the one English fortification, the bastille of the Saint-Loup so Joan could make her way through. Over the next few days, she began to familiarize herself with the terrain and strategies employed there. The Bastard of Orleans, the town’s commander, rode to Blois to rally Joan’s soldiers to come to Orleans to fight. When they returned, battle begun.

The Maid’s forces first attacked the bastille of Saint-Loup and burned it. Joan did not fight but carried her banner to embolden her men. With the Saint-Loup in French hands, the Maid and her troops were able to cross the river to attack the bastille of Saint-Jean-le-Blanc. The English soldiers that had been protecting that fortification fled to another: the bastille of Augustins and the Tourelles. These areas were “the key to the town’s safety” (Castor 109). The Maid led a charge to the bastille and forced her enemies back. By the end of the day, and after much bloodshed, the bastille of Augustins was under French control.

The English in desperation fought with their lives to protect the Tourelles as well as their honor, position, and the hope that God was still on their side. The French felt inspired because it seemed God had finally sided with the Armagnacs. Battle that day was still exhausting, and almost stopped when the Maid had been struck by an arrow between her neck and her shoulder, but she refused to quit and raised her standard. Her men became reenergized and fought with renewed vigor. The Englishmen panicked and within a few hours lost the Tourelles. The remaining English force retreated the next day. Joan had freed Orleans in just four days of fighting!

The Maid then rode to Chinon to see the dauphin and request more supplies and money. She also insisted he go to Reims to be crowned and that she would lead him there. It seemed an ambitious statement since Reims is farther away from Orleans than Paris, but Charles agreed.

She and the prince had to wait a month until she received the troops she needed, but when they came, they cleared the route of English forces (in cities such as Jargeau, Patay, and Troyes) and reached the city July 16, 1429.

When the royal procession entered Reims, the townspeople cried ,“Noel!” The archbishop reclaimed his seat which had been in Burgundian control for years. The next day, July 17, the dauphin was crowned King Charles VII, forty-nine years after his father’s coronation. The Maid had fulfilled her mission to restore the prince to the throne, but her battles were not yet over. She would not rest until the war was over and the king of England and the duke of Burgundy honored Charles as king of France.

Sources:

Castor, Helen. “Like an Angel from God.” Joan of Arc: A History. New York, NY: Harper, 2015. 100-127. Print.

Wikipedia contributors. “Joan of Arc.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 19 Nov. 2016. Web. 15 Dec. 2016.

Yeatts, Tabatha. Joan of Arc: Heavenly Warrior. New York: Sterling, 2009. Print.

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