Joan of Arc

Helen Castor

Preface by the author

Fearless warrior, religious fanatic, fierce patriot: the familiar story of Joan of Arc is remarkably retold in Helen Castor’s best-selling account, now presented in an incredible Folio Society edition.


‘Helen Castor has brought back to life the fifteenth century’s most famous woman … and she’s done so with a true historian’s care’

  1. Lucy Worsley, Mail on Sunday

A French peasant girl hears heavenly voices; a disinherited dauphin is close to ceding his throne to the Burgundians; and a decimated army needs motivation to rouse its bloodlust. Joan of Arc’ story is as familiar as it is incredible, but it began long before her religious visions. In her meticulously researched book, Helen Castor begins her tale at the start of the 15th century, in the midst of the Hundred Years War. The long-standing rift between the Armagnacs and Burgundians threatens the stability of the entire French kingdom and is paving the way for an English king to seize control. This fascinating history is essential to understanding the ferocity of Joan’s desire to follow God’s instruction and unite the warring factions of her countrymen in order to turn the tide and evict the English from France.

Production Details

Bound in cloth blocked with a design by Neil Gower

Set in Centaur

336 pages

Frontispiece, full-page map, and 16 pages of colour plates

Printed endpapers

Blocked slipcase

10˝ x 6¾˝

incredible archive documents

Castor’s previous Folio title, She-Wolves, was a bestseller and we have worked closely with the author on this new illustrated edition of the equally absorbing Joan of Arc. Illustrated using incredible archive documents, paintings and illuminations, Castor’s account features lavish portraits of key figures – including John the Fearless and Philip the Good – as well as bloody battle scenes, the sole surviving image of Joan made within her lifetime, and an example of her signature. The stunning cloth binding is blocked with a striking silver portrait of Joan in full armour.

The most remarkable figure in medieval history

Abandon your strongholds and go back to your country. If not, I will make a war-cry that will be remembered forever

The year is 1429 and a 17-year-old girl from the village of Domrémy in north-east France is granted an audience with the dauphin to share her divine message. Her absolute belief in God’s plan to overthrow the English at Orléans, and thus prevent their advance into Armagnac-held France, eventually leads to her being despatched to the town, which has been under siege for seven months. Just four days after Joan the Maid arrives, the English retreat and the town is liberated. However, her rise to glory is short-lived: just two years after this unprecedented victory, Joan is put on trial by the Burgundians for heresy, and she is burned at the stake. Five hundred years later, Joan of Arc was made patron saint of France and became the only person in history to be both condemned and canonised by the Catholic Church.

The definitive account

In France, a deeply religious country with a history of female visionaries, Joan was not unusual, but her ascendance to military leadership and the victory she secured made her legendary. Over the intervening centuries, Joan has been mythologised and her story often retold without its wider historical context. Here, Castor peels away the conjecture to reveal the woman behind the hearsay; a proud young patriot driven by religious conviction in the midst of a bloody civil war. The part Joan played in turning the tide of the Hundred Years War is remarkable, but it can only be fully appreciated as part of a carefully retold chronological history, and Castor’s is, without doubt, the definitive account.

About Helen Castor

Helen Castor is a historian of the Middle Ages and 16th century, and a Bye-Fellow of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge. Her first book, Blood & Roses, a biography of the 15th-century Paston family, was longlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize in 2005 and won the English Association’s Beatrice White Prize in 2006. Her second, She-Wolves, was made into a three-part television series, and was widely selected as one of the books of the year for 2010 – it was published in a Folio Society edition in 2017. She presents history programmes for BBC Television, Channel 4 and BBC Radio, including Radio 4’s Making History.


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