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The Maid and the Queen: The Secret History of Joan of Arc Hardcover – March 29, 2012

4.2 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Praise for The Maid and the Queen by Nancy Goldstone:
“A dual biography of two fascinating medieval women with the descriptive energy of a novel.”
USA Today (An Editor's Book Pick)
“Goldstone has peeled back the nostalgic drapery of The Maid of Orléans, and tells the most complete history of Joan of Arc that I have ever read. . . . Gripping and informative and should be the next book you read.”
Sacramento/San Francisco Book Review
“With compelling storytelling, Goldstone colorfully weaves together the tales of these two women [Yolande of Aragon and Joan of Arc]-one rich, one poor; one educated, one illiterate; one worldly, one simple-whose powerful personalities and deep allegiance to France helped shape the country's future.”
—Publishers Weekly

“Goldstone's vivid retelling of Joan's astounding victories and her capture and martyrdom by the English is as gripping as ever . . . [A] knowledgeable and accessible account of a turning point in French history.”
—Kirkus Reviews

“[Nancy's] entertaining narrative will intrigue general readers interested in the Middle Ages, Joan of Arc (whose 600th birthday is this year), or biographies of royal figures or women in history.”
—Library Journal

“Goldstone adds an enlightening new chapter to a legendary saga and rescues another unjustly neglected woman from the dust pile of conventional history.”

“Attention, ‘Game of Thrones’ fans: The most enjoyably sensational aspects of medieval politicsdouble-crosses, ambushes, bizarre personal obsessions, lunacy and naked self-interestare in abundant evidence in Nancy Goldstone's The Maid and the Queen. . . .Thanks to this book, a bit more of [Yolande's] remarkable life has been coaxed out into the open.”
Laura Miller, Salon.com

“The mysterious and secret bond between the worldly and powerful Yolande of Aragon, queen of Sicily, and the transcendent Joan of Arc comes into glorious view in this meticulous, colorful study of their lives. A fascinating historical excursion, bursting with medieval flavor.”
Margaret George, author of Elizabeth I

“A wonderful medieval tapestry of a book that tells the still-amazing story of Joan of Arc, a peasant girl-turned-warrior who saves her king and France, and the pivotal role played by yet another extraordinary woman, Yolande of Aragon, queen of Sicily, whenin this time of tumult and treachery Joan rose to such unexpected power.”
Jill Jones, author of Eiffel's Tower

“A lively, fast-paced and fascinating account of Joan's story, weaving together the labyrinthine intrigues of medieval politics, the real story behind a medieval fairy tale and the astonishing events that led a young peasant girl from the command of an army to a fiery death at the hands of the English.”

About the Author

Nancy Goldstone's previous books include Four Queens: The Provençal Sisters Who Ruled Europe and The Lady Queen: The Notorious Reign of Joanna I, Queen of Naples, Jerusalem, and Sicily. She has also coauthored five books with her husband, Lawrence Goldstone. She lives in Westport, Connecticut.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Viking; First Edition edition (March 29, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670023337
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670023332
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #223,616 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Nancy Goldstone (www.nancygoldstone.com) has a passion for medieval history and old and rare books. She is the author most recently of three works of non-fiction examining the role of high born women in the Middle Ages: The Maid and the Queen: The Secret History of Joan of Arc, which unravels the mystery of the Joan of Arc by revealing the fascinating role played by Yolande of Aragon, queen of Sicily and the dauphin's mother-in-law in her story; Four Queens, about a family of four thirteenth century sisters, the daughters of the count of Provence, who all became queens; and The Lady Queen, a biography of Joanna I, fourteenth century queen of Naples, Jerusalem and Sicily and countess of Provence, the only woman of her day to rule in her own name. Nancy has also written a number of books with her husband Lawrence, including The Friar and the Cipher, a narrative non-fiction account of the life of the great 13th century scientist Roger Bacon, and Out of the Flames, the story of 16th century theologian and physician Michael Servetus, who was burned at the stake by John Calvin, reputedly with the last copy of his book, in which he had hidden a great medical discovery, chained to his leg. She and her husband have also written three acclaimed humorous memoirs on their experiences in the world of rare and antiquarian books: Used and Rare, Slightly Chipped, and Warmly Inscribed.
The Goldstones are committed to fostering literacy and critical reading skills in elementary school children. To this end, both Nancy and Larry volunteered their time for eight years running parent-child book groups at their local library. Their book, Deconstructing Penguins: Parents, Kids and the Bond of Reading, a guide to developing reading skills in children, grew out of this program.
Nancy Goldstone graduated with honors in history from Cornell University in 1979 and received her MA in International Affairs from Columbia University in 1981. Immediately upon graduation she embarked on a hilariously brief career trading foreign currency options, an adventure which was chronicled in her first book, Trading Up: Surviving Success as a Woman Trader on Wall Street. Since that time, Mrs. Goldstone has written and reviewed for a number of publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe Magazine and The Miami Herald. If you are interested in Larry, go to www.lawrencegoldstone.com

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The legend of Joan of Arc has always been well known: The Maid of Orléans, poor and uneducated, touched with divine guidance, led the armies of France to key victories over the English, and was burned at the stake by her captors at the tender age of 19. Twenty-five years after her death, she was labeled a martyr and canonized in 1920. That's the story. Simple. Majestic. Powerful. Yet as we recognize the 600th anniversary of her birth this year (the date is unknown as the practice of recording the dates of non-noble births were not in effect in the 15th century), Nancy Goldstone tells us that, up until now, we have only heard half the story. With THE MAID AND THE QUEEN, history is opened to illustrate a connection between Joan and the oft-forgot Queen of Sicily, Yolande of Aragon.

Who is Yolande of Aragon, and just what part did she play in the story of Joan of Arc? Beautiful, ambitious, and educated in the manner of the men of her time, Yolande was one of the most powerful women of the Middle Ages. France was embroiled in the Hundred Years War with England and Burgundy. The throne of France was in upheaval, with Charles VII unable to claim his right due to the occupation by England and the betrayal of his parents (they declared he could not be King as he was the product of an affair by Queen Isabeau). Fearing for his life, Charles fled to the Queen of the Four Kingdoms: Yolande of Aragon. She would provide him protection and a wife, her daughter Marie, and begin to use her political acumen and impressive network of spies to see that her son-in-law could claim his throne. Some of her ploys backfired, such as the assassination of Charles's cousin, but she was soon driven more than ever to find the one who would bolster Charles and turn the tide against the English.
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Format: Hardcover
Joan is a most endearing, and at times, unnerving, figure, regardless of whether or not we believe she heard voices (or what kind of voices, or to what purpose); but, for the historian or biographer she can only be described as a loaded subject (being both a political and religious phenomena).

So, when I read that a new study was coming out about her for the 600th anniversary I was not surprised, but the author, Nancy Goldstone, did give me pause, mostly with a quiver of excitement. Would Joan finally have a biographer who could make her improbable, short life the stuff of immediacy, with a palpable authenticity that we have missed despite numerous efforts to give us the "real" Joan?

Just on reputation alone I guessed Goldstone would be up to the challenge, she is one of the truly elite historians, she knows her subjects with a thoroughness that has overwhelmed even me, and I am a fool for mountains of research. It was a surprise, anyway, that in this parallel biography of a Saint and a Queen, Goldstone pursued a macro approach, one of assessment, vision, a summary only possible with historians who do know every last letter, document, writ, who inhale archives as if oxygen itself. From this massive saturation of information they distill an essence.

Goldstone, then, is not doing a straight chronological history, nor a political or social essay, she is stepping back and considering this phenomena, as Joan was seen in her own day, and as we see her after 600 years.
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Format: Hardcover
This is the first real biography that I have ever read and I must say that I really enjoyed it. I thought I was getting myself into another historical fiction novel, however, when discovering that this was in fact a biography I wasn't at all disappointed. This was quite interesting for me to learn about a time in history which my experience comes from watching Wishbone or other such kids shows which depict Joan of Arc. I loved learning about Yolande as well. She was a really powerful figure and knew how to best wield that power.

I found Goldstone to have a sense of humor in her writing that occasionally made me chuckle to myself. On the whole it was neither boring nor dry. There were parts that I was able to skip though when I felt like I was getting bogged down with story. Also I was wondering why it took so long to end after Joan was martyred. This was because Goldstone not only showed how the war ended (I skipped that part, sorry) but also how Joan's name was restored. I had no idea that the French didn't really like her either after she died so I am very happy that we view her as a heroine now rather than a heretic.

If you are looking for a biography of this time or just want to improve your knowledge in general this is a quick way to do it. (It was a nice SHORT read)

Thanks to Netgalley and Viking Publishing for giving me a chance to read this for review!
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Format: Hardcover
Nancy Goldstone has made a significant contribution to popular English-language knowledge about Joan of Arc. FYI, the information in this book about how an ignorant peasant girl was able to come to the court in exile of Charles VII and gain access to the king has been told in French several times, most recently by Colette Beaune and Olivier de Bonzy.

The story of Joan is only a small part of this book. Goldstone spends most of her time explaining who was Yolande of Aragon, the Queen of Sicily who was incidentally Duchess of Anjou and Duchess of Maine as well. She also tells the tale of a so-called best selling romance of the era about a woman named Melusine and how she helped the rightful claimant to some noble title gain his title back. Yolande and many people were inspired by this story, escpecially people backing Charles VII who had been dismissed by his own parents as a bastard. Charles VI who reigned from 1380 to 1422 was mentally ill and suffered from bouts of insanity. He was king when the English won the battle of Agincourt. He agreed to allow his daughter to marry Henry V of England and to proclaim Henry the rightful successor by denying his own son.

Goldstone also has to explain the murky politics of France with an insane king whose uncles and brother were conspiring against each other to govern France and take the wealth for themselves. One uncle carved out Burgundy as an independent power. His son plotted to assassinate the king's brother. Eventually that son was murdered himself in revenge. The death of Henry V prior to the death of Charles VI left the English claim to the throne of France on the head of an infant Henry VI with Charles VII hiding out south of the Loire.
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