1429 Charles VII is on the verge of losing his throne. He is treated as a bastard, a rebel, the English and Burgundians have cornered him in the South of the Loire and this last rampart will give way as soon as the besieged city of Orleans has ceded ... At the other end of France, a young virgin whom we will call Jeanne D'Arc received a visit from apparitions which she believes to be divine and who order her to come to the aid of her king. What she does not know is that she is only the puppet of Yolande d'Anjou, mother-in-law of the king, who created from scratch the Liberating Maid announced by an old legend and who will give back to Charles VII and to his men the strength to repel the invader and the conviction to serve a just cause since supported by God himself
From 1424 to 1429, we follow two atypical destinies ...
On the one hand, Charles VII, king of France who is not sacred and over whom there are great doubts of bastardy. Not sacred and disputed since the Treaty of Troyes signed by his mother disinherited him and made the King of England the new King of France. The King of England? Henry VI, a child… It was John of Lancaster, Duke of Bedford, who effectively ruled north of the Loire as regent of the kingdom of France. As if the Franco-English war were not enough, the civil war separated Burgundy from the Armagnac party of Charles VII… Poor Charles VII did not know what to think, undecided he could not give a strong guideline to his military campaigns . The army of France goes from debacle to debacle ... The warlords act as they please, in a disjointed fashion, and their reckless panache shatters on the cold and pragmatic organization of the English armies. In 1429 the English troops besieged Orleans, a strategic city blocking the passage of the Loire: if Orleans falls, the English will sweep over what remains of the kingdom of Charles VII, whom they consider only a rebel! Distraught, Charles VII turned to God for a sign of his legitimacy to rule this kingdom of France which eluded him.
On the other hand, far from the Loire Valley, in Dormény, lives little Jeannette. The daughter of a laboring family, a child who loves to listen to stories about the fairy tree, but who, like her mother, is inhabited by the most intense faith which conditions her life as an exemplary Christian.
These two destinies will intersect through the intercession of a woman: Yolande d´Anjou, stepmother of Charles VII. The latter, with the help of Saint Colette de Corbie, will manipulate the naive Jeannette to make her the pseudo divine envoy that everyone has been waiting for since a legend tells that the kingdom lost by a woman (the mother of Charles VII) would be saved by a virgin. Yolande is going to serve on a silver platter this divine sign which Charles VII and his army need to take over the situation.
The first glimpse is very positive. While leafing through this comic strip, you can savor the boards drawn by Théo and colored by Lorenzo Pieri. Scenes of battles, villages, interiors and exteriors of castles from the beginning of the 15th century, outfits and landscapes: everything forms a fairly realistic atmosphere, historically credible, beautiful and perfectly immersive! A very good thing, since comics, like the Books of Hours of the period presented, are admired at least as much as they are read!
When we stop at one of these castles, at the court of King Charles, we are completely immersed in the hubbub that accompanies the debate over whether or not the king himself will participate in the Normandy campaign. More generally, the geopolitical context of the years 1424/1429 is very well presented for a comic book for which this is not necessarily the primary objective. From debates to discussions, from Verneuil, from the first cannon shots from the ramparts of Orleans to Herrings Day, the reader is offered in the background a whole refresher course in medieval history! So much so that it can, perhaps, destabilize those who have no knowledge in the field. But France Richemond's clear style makes the history course accessible to as many people as possible.
History class ? Yes and no… Yes, the political background is quite historical. No, this comic is not an illustrated history book, but a work of fiction, with its own script. This is perfectly visible with regard to the central character of this volume 5: Jeanne la Pucelle. The scenario takes again many elements of the youth of Jeanne which are attested by the sources: the garlands of flowers to the tree of the fairies, the pilgrimage of her mother, the dream of her father, her attendance at church, the cakes that she wanted to offer the bell ringer so that he can do it correctly, the name of his comrades, the attack on the village… On the other hand, History takes a lead in the wing when the screenwriter is confronted with the voices and to the apparitions of Joan. There are certainly several schools: accepting the irrational idea of a divine message, linking the voices to a medical phenomenon or denying them, thus making Jeanne a liar created or at least used by the Armagnacs. France Richemond goes further since she makes voices and appearances a device created by Yolande of Anjou to convince Joan of her divine pseudo-mission for the benefit of the king. Create appearances? Yes, using the services of a Sicilian alchemist
covering accomplices with oils and stone powder which reflect the radiance of the sun directed towards them by mirrors! ... There of course we leave the story completely and to be worth rationalizing the apparitions we arrive at a scenario more laughable than credible… It is to demean Jeanne to imagine her amazed in front of an oiled and powdered man lit by an alchemist who wields mirrors hidden in the bushes… By the way, it is not only non-historical, c 'is also in contradiction with the historical sources since Jeanne affirmed to see the saints in bust and not on the level ... And when one thinks that the screenwriter mixes Saint Colette de Corbie in all this masquerade ... So certainly, it is only a comic, not a history book, but the neophyte may have doubts on the cover of the logo "recommended by Historia" which unfortunately often rhymes for readers with "historically reliable comic book" ... The doubt will hover more so than this saga has so far a very good reputation as a "historical comic" on the sites dedicated to the 9th art. Too bad therefore to scuttle a scenario which for the rest was completely immersive. However, it was easy to keep the idea of Yolande d'Anjou's manipulation of a Jeanne having visions (whatever the explanation given to them) or on the contrary completely playing a role. But the Sicilian alchemy does not take, and the reader risks taking Historia's recommendation as a mirror to the larks in favor of a comic that has qualities, but is not strictly speaking historical.
Screenplay: France Richemond
Color: Lorenzo Pieri
The Throne of Clay:
Volume 1: "The knight with the ax"
Volume 2: "The Montereau Bridge"
Volume 3: "Henry, King of France and England"
Volume 4: "The death of kings"
Volume 5: "La Pucelle" (also available in black & white luxury edition)