Gilles de Montmorency-Laval, Baron de Rais, 1404-1440: Gilles et Jeanne

Gilles et Jeanne.  Sounds like a Truffaut film.  The Jeanne in question is Joan of Arc, and the two did in fact work together, fought side by side for France, and both were vilified by and tried by Ecclesiastical courts.  Joan of Arc became a saint. Gilles became the template for Bluebeard.

We all have our bad days.

So what was the back story here, what got him to his ugly end?  You wouldn’t necessarily come to it by a look at his early years.   He was born in 1404, son of minor aristocrat who had fought for the King of France in the earlier stages of the Hundred Years War.   Gilles spoke Latin and illuminated manuscripts.   He was raised by his grandfather, an ambitious man who married Gilles off well, that is to say, to a girl whose family could increase the Monmorency-Laval estates.  Continue reading

Yolande of Aragon (1384-1442): Farewell, Yolanda

The Maid and the Queen: The Secret History of Joan of Arc
by Nancy Goldstone, Viking Adult (2012)

Subtitling anything with “Secret History”  is a bit risky, given the number of alternative theories of Joan there are out there, some more wacko than others.*

The good news is that the secret here is not at all wacko, but rather an expansion on the shadowy role of Yolanda of Aragon, Duchess of Anjou,  in getting Joan into the company of the Dauphin.  This book is a three parter, a bio of Yolanda, a bio of Joan, and aftermath of the execution to the end of the Hundred Years War.

Joan you already know.  Yolanda – you may need an introduction.

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