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Joan of Arc and Richard III: Sex, Saints, and Government in the Middle Ages Reprint Edition

3 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
ISBN-13: 978-0195069518
ISBN-10: 019506951X
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Editorial Reviews


"A notably satisfying book....The pleasure is enlarged when the message, both for the detail and the broad view, is delivered with conscious punctilio and urbanity....These mature reflections are calculated to excite students and to provoke their teachers out of routine responses."--Speculum

"Professor Wood's study of French and English history in the late Middle ages is a notably satisfying book ... Wood has style, both in curiosity and diction, and fortunately he enjoys displaying it."--Speculum A Journal of Middle Eastern Studies

"Readers...will find much to ponder in this rich collection of essays."--Choice

"Wood works close to his primary sources and is therefore interesting to argue with....Contains a number of fresh insights."--American Historical Review

"A lively, provocative book...Wood dives into his story with zest."--Catholic Historical Review

From the Back Cover

Medieval historian Charles Wood considers the larger than life figures Joan of Arc and Richard III, whose actions, both real and legendary, helped to shape the political character of their respective countries. Wood explores how France and England, governmentally so similar in the eleventh century, became so dissimilar by the fifteenth, with France's monarchy moving rapidly toward absolutism while England's was becoming more limited and representational. Wood argues that Joan of Arc and Richard III gave final medieval form to these developments, Joan by restoring the sanctity of the French crown through her divine mission, Richard by rendering legitimate the restraining role of Parliament. Focusing on topics often neglected by other historians, Wood includes lively discussions of royal adultery scandals, child-kings and the problems they posed, and earlier peoples and crisis that helped to shape the culture of sex and sainthood that was so profoundly that of the Middle Ages.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; Reprint edition (January 3, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019506951X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195069518
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,755,272 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Caleb Hanson on April 27, 2011
Format: Paperback
A study of general trends in government and constitutional theory in France and England over the 13th, 14th, and 15th centuries: France under a semi-sacred royal dynasty starts heading towards divine-right-of-kings absolute monarchy, while England develops a more representational parliamentary theory of government. Very much more attention to England than to France. The individual chapters deal with separate issues--many are re-workings of articles previously published separately; particular attention to disputed and minority successions, and looking at issues from the contemporaries' point of view. No particular reason Joan and Richard deserve pride of place, except that they are among the last chapters and so can be read as some kind of culmination of Wood's thesis.

Should note that the book isn't quite as entertaining as the "sex and saints" in the subtitle makes it sound: the saints in question are Louis IX and Joan in their purely political contexts, plus a mention of Richard II's attempts to get Edward II canonized; the sex mostly refers to adulterous queens (Isabella in England, Isabeau in France) possibly complicating the legitimate succession. Interesting to see a somewhat different take on Richard III: neither evil Shakespearean wicked uncle nor wronged Daughter-of-Time noble king, but rather a military man caught way out of his depth in a political situation (but inclined more towards the wicked uncle than the wronged noble). I think he reads much more into the Wilton Diptych than is really there.
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