Monday, June 18, 2012

Joan of Where?

I’ve always wondered why Joan of Arc (or Jeanne d'Arc, if you want to get all Frenchy about it) was called that—since she was born in Domrémy, a village in the Vosges department of northeast France, the area known as Lorraine. 

As it turns out, she wasn’t really “of Arc” at all. Her father, Jacques, born in Ceffonds, did not come from Arc either, although his surname was d’Arc. The name d’Arc stemmed from the fact that Jacques’ ancestors had lived in the village of Arc-en-Barrois, and thus the surname d’Arc was handed down to him through them.

Joan never called herself Jeanne d’Arc or used her father’s surname at all.  When she left Domrémy she liked to be known as Jeanne la Pucelle, or “Joan the Maid.” Sometime later she took on the sobriquet “Joan of Lorraine” and also “Maid of Orléans,” from the place where she victoriously led the French in the Hundred Years War.  At any rate it was the custom in those days for unmarried daughters to take their mother’s maiden name, so had she chosen to use it she would have been Jeanne Romée. 

After Joan’s death, King Charles VII honored her family with a coat of arms containing the fleur-de-lis, which granted them the right to change the family name to Du Lys.

The Bard of Buffalo Bayou is always known by that name, except when he is arrested and, for ample reasons, uses a variety of aliases. But there is no way to arrest his attempts to versify:

            Joan of Arc and Helen of Troy
            In many ways were the same.
            They both caused armies to deploy
            And they shared the same middle name.
            One more peculiarity
            Of which I am aware is
            Another similarity:           
            Both of them loved Paris.

1 comment:

  1. Hello there! I could have sworn I've been to this website before but after reading through some of the post I realized it's new to me. Anyhow, I'm definitely delighted I found it and I'll be book-marking and checking back frequently!
    My site - make spicy mayo