King David, Joan of Arc
by Claudia Willetts
John Trueman writes in The Enduring Past: Earliest Times to the Sixteenth Century, that few men have been more fortunate than King David. His rise to power about the year 1000 B.C. coincided with the decline of surrounding kingdoms, allowing him and his successor King Solomon time to build up a central administration. David had been a shepherd boy who became a successful warrior under King Saul, who made him military chieftain. After the death of the moody, insecure King, the throne passed to David, who welded the tribes into a permanent nation and founded a dynasty which ruled for over four hundred years. John Bowman tells us in The Universal History of the World: Early Civilizations, that King David was an unusual man who could fight and kill his enemies, yet was a fine musician and poet. He was often selfish, yet knew he was bound by the laws of his people and their agreement with the Lord God Yahweh.
George Willis Botsford in Ancient History for Beginners, states that King David made Israel a united kingdom, and extended it from the River Euphrates to Egypt. Also, I Tenen writes in The Ancient World, that David selected the stronghold of a defeated tribe, Jerusalem, to be the capital, where his son built the first temple to the God Jehovah.
Interestingly, Sir Iain Moncreiffe in Royal Highness: Ancestry of the Royal Child, explains that the Queen may be descended from the Royal House of David through a Jewish Prince of Narbonne in southern France, under Moslem rule in the late eighth century. A certain Makhir founded a line of Exilarchs (Babylonian “Princes of Captivity”) in feudal France which lasted at least until the fourteenth century. Through the female line, Makhir was a forefather of Queen Isabelle of Angouleme, who became the second wife of King John of England in 1200, and mother of King Henry III, ancestor of Queen Elizabeth II.
The background to the story of Joan of Arc, was the Hundred Years’ War, writes Francois Ganshof in The Middle Ages: A History of International Relations. This was a struggle between England and France for control of France in the fifteenth century. By winning a series of military actions for the French, Joan began a reconquest, which, among others things, prevented England from becoming a dependency of France.
Our story begins in 1429, with France being divided into half with two kings, each claiming sovereignty of the whole, and ruled by the weak-spirited dauphin, Charles VII, writes Henry Sedgwick in France: A Short History. Charles was downcast in part because of doubt instilled by his parents as to his legitimacy, the “King’s secret”. When the city of Orleans was under siege, Charles, afraid that he was not the lawful king, did not feel confident enough to come to its relief. When Joan was led into his presence, she told him that God had told her that he was the true son of the King, the heir of France, and so gained his confidence. He sent her into battle. In The Vital Spark: 101 Outstanding Lives, Lowell Thomas tells us that Joan set out for her great exploit clad in male attire, wearing a suit of white armour, and carrying a banner with the golden lilies of France. After victory, she persuaded Charles to march on to Rheims to be crowned rightful King of France, with Joan and her banner at his side.
Lynn Thorndyke tells us in The History of Medieval Europe, that Joan’s success was chiefly due to the fact that all France needed at this time was confidence and leadership, and she supplied both. Joan loved her country and was devoted to her King. She wanted to relieve her suffering land, and the idea of one France under her king, in contrast to feudal states and local interests, then came into being.