Saint Joan of Arc’s Glory Outshines That of All Medieval Heroes

April 23, 2020

Charlemagne, painted by Albrecht Dürer

We have frequently had occasion to bring out the very consoling truth that will serve as a conclusion to this work, which we have compiled from the epic poems of the Middle Ages. This conclusion is “Truth is superior to Fiction.” Herein, as elsewhere, reality is better than imagination!

The Life of King St. Louis by Alexandre Cabanel

The Charlemagne of history is superior to the Charles of legend; and so with the greater number of the heroes of our chansons de geste. Those of our annals are of the highest form.

Painting by Sir John Gilbert

Saint Louis in prison is a finer figure than William of Orange on the field of Aliscans; Du Guesclin, “for whose ransom all the spinsters of France applied themselves to their distaffs,” is greater than Renaud, the eldest of the sons of Aymon. Bayard is far superior to Ogier the Dane. But what are we to say of Joan of Arc? As soon as that incomparable and charming figure appears all the others are eclipsed: in such a brilliant light the rest do not seem to shine.

León Gautier, Chivalry, trans. Henry Frith (London: George Routledge and Sons, Ltd., 1891), 497.

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 723

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