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The Trial of Joan of Arc [Hardcover]

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Item description for The Trial of Joan of Arc by Daniel Hobbins...

No account is more critical to our understanding of Joan of Arc than the contemporary record of her trial in 1431. Convened at Rouen and directed by bishop Pierre Cauchon, the trial culminated in Joan's public execution for heresy. The trial record, which sometimes preserves Joan's very words, unveils her life, character, visions, and motives in fascinating detail. Here is one of our richest sources for the life of a medieval woman.

This new translation, the first in fifty years, is based on the full record of the trial proceedings in Latin. Recent scholarship dates this text to the year of the trial itself, thereby lending it a greater claim to authority than had traditionally been assumed. Contemporary documents copied into the trial furnish a guide to political developments in Joan's career---from her capture to the attempts to control public opinion following her execution.

Daniel Hobbins sets the trial in its legal and historical context. In exploring Joan's place in fifteenth-century society, he suggests that her claims to divine revelation conformed to a recognizable profile of holy women in her culture, yet Joan broke this mold by embracing a military lifestyle. By combining the roles of visionary and of military leader, Joan astonished contemporaries and still fascinates us today.

Obscured by the passing of centuries and distorted by the lens of modern cinema, the story of the historical Joan of Arc comes vividly to life once again.


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Item Specifications...

Studio: Harvard University Press
Pages   272
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.1" Width: 5.8" Height: 1"
Weight:   1.06 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Nov 30, 2005
Publisher   Harvard University Press
ISBN  067401894X  
ISBN13  9780674018945  

Availability  0 units.

More About Daniel Hobbins

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Daniel Hobbins is Associate Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame.

Daniel Hobbins was born in 1966 and has an academic affiliation as follows - University of Notre Dame.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > History > Europe > France > General
2Books > Subjects > History > Europe > France
3Books > Subjects > History > World > General
4Books > Subjects > History > World > Medieval
5Books > Subjects > Law > Perspectives on Law > Legal History
6Books > Subjects > Professional & Technical > Law > Perspectives on Law > Legal History

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Reviews - What do customers think about The Trial of Joan of Arc?

A thorough translation and introduction to the material  Jun 9, 2007
Originally encountering this work in a course dealing with interpretations of Joan of Arc, including film, I have found both the translation and introductory article more than satisfactory. It is an objective, empirical translation that places careful emphasis on wording so as to seem a direct translation from the Latin (certainly, it is clear that no small amount of effort was left in representing the complexities of the Latin) while considering discrepancies with the French text (which is of an altogether different nature, due to our lack of a contemporary source).

By taking such an empirical view, and one that is limited to the primary documents, Hobbins has allowed the book to remain academically credible while easily accessible to general readers and undergraduates. He does not fall into the trappings of generic popular history, to decry the injustice of the trial or project unwarranted modern archetypes onto Joan. Hobbins remains steadfast in the introduction when he argues the the trial could have found no verdict but guilty, and to suggest otherwise is to blatantly misrepresent late and high medieval court procedure and politics. Any student having completed a Western Civ course will find this basic knowledge, but it is useful to have it presented so concisely.

Though other reviews criticize Hobbins for not echoing the sensational, less justifiable arguments so common in popular history, I cannot recommend the book more highly. If I have spent more time praising the introduction than the translation, it is because of the lack of flaws within it, and unjustly harsh criticism of it by other reviewers. It seems that with iconic figures, those who seek to make more grandiose claims, or make claims from the perspective of a postmodern world, find eager audiences waiting for them. The argument that this work somehow buys into Hollywood convention lacks credit, be it the immortal work of Dreyer of the recent drivel with Sobieski as Joan. For the serious student of history, wishing to have as neutral a translation as possible in order to draw their own conclusions, Hobbins' text is a worthy addition.

In regard to the other reviews which cite the "retrial" 25 years later, this is an even more biased source than the original trial. Though the original text comes to us with English bias, the nullification trial occurred after French victory and relied on the memory of witnesses coming forward 25 years after the incident. By this point Joan had become a French icon, and the natural bias of the French combined with the passage of time hardly allow it to discredit the original minutes, however influenced by the bias of the English. Certainly, the fact that the original trial was spread through an authoritative Latin text, meant to be dispersed across Europe, discredits much of the "cover up" theory. The English did not believe that they had committed some enormously unwarranted action, but justly convicted a heretic in accordance with medieval Church precedent. Both the trial and the nullification trial echo the beginnings of nationalistic bias, but a nullification trial conducted by the French government 25 years after the fact hardly seems a worthy one to discredit our only account of the original trial.

As a final note about the free translations mentioned by other reviewers, these are long outdated versions that have seen their copyrights expire. For instance, the one available at the Fordham Medieval Database, commonly cited, was written before recent dating definitively placed the text 4 years earlier than the one argued for by the author, placing it within months of the trial date. This serves to render much of its introduction useless, and the translation would certainly seem to be of lower quality.
Not Quite a Better Mousetrap  Nov 9, 2005
The basis for questioning the accuracy of Joan of Arc's condemnation trial transcript has not been its date of creation, but the myriad ways in which the trial was rigged. Joan of Arc was a famous political prisoner. Her trial was funded by the government she had warred against and numerous court officials worked under compulsion, some even under death threats. Court clerks later testified under oath that portions of the official transcript were altered. This document did not stand the test of time. A quarter century later the verdict was overturned.

While this remains an important historical source, it lacks the weight that court records normally carry. Serious scholars will prefer the Latin original. English translations are already available for free on the Internet. A new translation that makes suspect claims for the document's value is not what the English speaking public needs.

I wish Professor Hobbins well and hope he follows up with a translation of Joan of Arc's retrial transcript. A complete and adequate version has never been readily available in English.
A Failed Attempt  Oct 16, 2005
Although this book's marketing material states that it is designed to counter the Hollywood version, the book instead ironically tries to justify the standard Hollywood claim that Bishop Cauchon was a sincere fellow operating under lawful procedures - in contradiction to the many historians, as this book itself admits, who have soundly and consistently debunked that idea. This book does not present any credible evidence to back up its claims, selectively quoting (or misquoting) testimony at the appeal while ignoring both the majority of the witness testimony at the latter trial and glossing over or excusing the well-documented illegalities of the original trial.

There have been many other books which give a more substantive and accurate accounting of the Condemnation trial, including previous translations such as those by Scott and Barrett.

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