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The Afterlife Of A Hero: Bertrand Du Guesclin Imagined

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Chapter Summary

In the chapel of the Montmuran Castle in Brittany, a stained-glass window chronicles in bright colors the history of that medieval stronghold. One of the scenes represented is that of the knighting of Bertrand du Guesclin in that very chapel, by the marshal of France, Arnoul d?Audrehem. Towards the end of the nineteenth century, Siméon Luce?s painstaking search for archival documents produced an historically-informed account of du Guesclin?s early career. In the wake of the French defeat of 1870 that resulted in the loss of Alsace and Lorraine, the hope of reconquest needed auspicious antecedents: none would fit better than the spectacular recovery accomplished five hundred years before, casting the victor of Cocherel and Pontvallain as forerunner of the desired revanche. The story of Joan of Arc, on the contrary, became in the late-nineteenth century emblematic of a conservative, Catholic France overwhelmed by the ascendancy of the anti-clerical Third Republic.

Keywords: Bertrand Du Guesclin; Brittany; Cocherel; France; Joan of Arc



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