1. The Berne manuscript. Berne 205 was first mentioned by J.R. Sinner in his Catalogus codicum mss bibliothecae Bernensis, Berne, 1760-72. It is described in detail in H. Hagen's Catalogus codicum Bernensium (Bibliotheca Bongarsiana), Berne, Haller, 1874, pp. 24854, and in the edition of the Ditié de Jehanne d'Arc published by Ch. de Roche and G. Wissler in the Festschrift Louis Gauchat, Aarau, 1926, pp. 330-332; a briefer description will be found in the Rapport à M. le Ministre de l'instruction Publique, Paris, A La Librairie Spéciale des Sociétés Savantes, 1838, pp. 15-6, 22, published by Achille Jubinal, who first brought Christine's poem to light in 1838. Berne 205 originally contained 570ff., but a number of leaves have now been lost and others bound out of sequence: ff. 1-6, 83-102, 127, 167-8, 201, 324-64, 393, 395-412, 414-519, 547-50 are missing; ff. 156-66 follow f. 376 and f. 394 follows f. 413. The Ditié de Jehanne d'Arc is the fourteenth item of 165 different entries (following Hagen's classification) and occupies ff. 62r-68r.
The contents of Berne 205, written partly in French, partly in Latin, vary enormously in length and subject-matter. The entries do not seem to have been arranged in any special order, serious items relating to law, science, grammar, theology, medicine and literature being freely intermingled with light-hearted or satirical matter. Of particular interest are a number of items concerning Joan of Arc: in addition to the Ditié and immediately following it are the Lettres closes envoiées de par la pucelle au roy d'Angleterre (22 March 1429) and the Consultation de Poitiers (March-April 1429) ff. 68r-69r, and, as item 44, ff. 133r-133v, Versus XVI in Johannam d'Are. De Roche and Wissler have drawn attention(7) to the fact that the main documents on Joan (the Ditié, the Lettres closes and the Consultation de Poitiers) are grouped together and immediately preceded in the manuscript by the credentials of one of the compilers of Berne 205, Nicolas du Pleissy, who was nominated 'procureur du bailliage et garde des sceaux de la prévôté de Sens' on 17 January 1430, no doubt as a reward for his loyalty to Charles VII. Given that Nicolas must have begun his compilation c.1428 (the note on f.257 recording the birth of his first son Guiot was entered on 13 July 1428), it is likely that the entries on Joan were made shortly after the dates to which they refer. If this is so, it is clear that Berne 205 contains what must have been one of the earliest copies made of Christine's Ditié de Jehanne d'Arc.
As the photographic reproduction of the Ditié shows, the poem appears to have been copied by one hand, though there is evidence of changes of pen possibly coinciding with different copying-sessions (see Plate VI and compare the first three huitains on the right with the last two). With the exception of f.62v (which contains two huitains) and f.68r (which contains four huitains), there are five huitains per side. Though the manuscript is relatively neatly executed, the scribe made a number of self-corrections and alterations (see e.g. Plate II. last -line of fourth huitain on right) and clearly had difficulty in understanding parts of the manuscript from which he was copying (see e.g. Plate 11, fourth line of second huitain on right); in addition, he made a number of slips, particularly in the latter sections of the poem. It is evident, therefore, that while Berne 205 probably represents the oldest version of the Ditié to have survived, the text which it contains requires on occasion to be corrected in the light of the other manuscripts.
2. The Carpentras manuscript. The Ditié occupies ff.81r-90v of MS.390 in the Bibliothèque Inguimbertine at Carpentras. This manuscript, which does not seem to have been known to the nineteenth-century editors of the poem, is described in C.G.A. Lambert's Catalogue descriptif et raisonné des manuscrits de la bibliothèque de Carpentras, Carpentras, E. Rolland, tome 1, 1862, pp. 218-221; in M. Duhamel's Catalogue général des manuscrits des bibliothèques publiques de France. Départements, Tome XXXIV: Carpentras, Plon, tome 1, 1901, pp. 193-5; and in J. C. Laidlaw's The Poetical Works of Alain Chartier, Cambridge University Press, 1974, p. 120. Carpentras 390 is a fifteenth-century, leather-bound, paper manuscript which measures 305 x 220 mm; it contains 79ff. numbered 11-39, 41-90 and is made up of an anthology of poems of which Christine's Ditié is the last: Le Psautier des Vilains ff. 11-20, I'Hospital d'Amours ff.21-37, La Belle Dame sans Mercy ff.38-55, I'Excusacion aux Dames ff. 55-60, Debat de Vamant et de la dame ff. 61-68, a pastourelle ff. 69-72, Debat de Reveille Matin ff. 73-80, Ditié de Jehanne d'Arc ff. 81r-90v. Little is known of the history of the manuscript apart from the fact that it once belonged to a de Castellane family, whose names occur frequently in the text - immediately after the Explicit of the Ditié, for example, there is the signature of Henry de Castellane. Christine's Ditié is neatly written out, 25 lines to a side, with no spacing between the huitains. Thus, f.81v begins with huitain IV, line 2, 82r with VII, line 3, 82v with X, line 4 etc; for an illustration of f. 88v huitain XLVIII, lines 2-8 to huitain LI, lines 1-3, see Plate VIIIb. The huitains are distinguished from each other by a small marginal letter placed usually about 1-2 cms. to the left of the first word of each huitain. For example, on f. 82r the letters o, e and q are written in the margin, indicating the initial words of VIII, IX and X respectively. As for the date of this transcription, it is impossible to be more specific than 'fifteenth-century'; it is unlikely, however, that Carpentras 390 could be earlier than Berne 205.
3. The Grenoble manuscript. An important fragment of the Ditié is kept in the Bibliothèque Municipale de Grenoble, where it forms part of Ms. U.909. Rés., the Registre Delphinal. A description of this manuscript will be found in the Catalogue général des manuscrits des bibliothèques publiques de France. Départements. Tome VII: Grenoble, by P. Fournier, E. Maignien, and A. Prudhomme, Plon, 1889, pp. 314-6. The manuscript is of vellum and paper, measures 300 x 205 mm. and is dated fi fteenth- sixteenth century. It was lent to the Bibliothèque Municipale de Grenoble by Berri at-Saint-Prix in 1820 and bequeathed to the same library in 1836.
The Registre Delphinal was the work of Matthieu Thomassin who had been commissioned by the Dauphin Louis, the future Louis XI, on 20 May 1456, to collect documents relating to 'les droiz, fais, gestes et choses du Dauphiné'. Thomassin claims that his collection is divided into three parts: the first of these was to deal with the Kingdom of Vienne and Burgundy, the second was to relate 'comment la dignité dalphinale fut mise sus après la fin dudit royaulme', while the third was to deal with 'la translation du Dauphiné à la maison de France.' In fact, Thomassin often assembles his material at random and does not really adhere to this classification. The Ditié is found within part I which extends as far as f. 117, and occupies ff. 98-102.
When Thomassin comes to write about Joan of Arc and Christine, he does so with great feeling, stressing the way in which each may be considered to have brought honour to the female sex: 'Mais sur tous les signes d'amour que Dieu a envoyez au Royaulme il n'y a point eu de si grand ne de si merveilleux comme de ceste pucelle. Et pour ce grandes croniques en sont faictes. Et entre les autres une notable femme appellée Christine qui a faict plusieurs livres en fraqoys (je l'ay souvent veue à Paris) fist de J'advenement de ladite pucelle et de ses gestes ung traictié dont je mectray cy seulement le plus special touchant ladicte pucelle. Et ay lessé le demourant, car ce seroit trop long à mectre icy. Et j'ay plustost desiré de mectre icy le traictié de ladite Christine que des autres affin de tousjours honnorer le sexe feminin par le moyen duquel toute chrestienté a eu tant de biens - par la pucelle vierge Marie, la reparacion et restauracion de tout le humain lignaige; et par ladicte pucelle Jehanne, la reparacion et restauracion du royaume de France qui estoit du tout en bas, jusques à prendre fin, si ne fust venue. Pour ce bien doit de chacun estre louée, combien que les angloys et les alliez en ont dit tous les maulx qu'ilz ont peu dire; mais les faictz de laditte pucelle les ont rendus et rendent tous mensongers et confus' (ff. 97v-98r).
Thomassin then begins to quote from the Ditié, beginning with huitain XX 'Ah! soyes loué, hault Dieu!', continuing with XXIXXXIV, XXXVI, XXXIX-XLI, XXXV, and ending withXLIV-1-11, i.e. quoting 29 huitains altogether. These extracts begin on f. 98r and extend to the bottom of f. 102r; no attempt is made to copy the same number of lines per page (this varies from 22 to 28), nor to begin a huitain at the top or to end one at the bottom of a page. The handwriting, in black ink, is very neat and all apparently by the same scribe. The initial letter of each huitain is coloured, and the remainder of the first word or words of XX-XXIII is in large black lettering. As indicated above, the compilation of the contents of the Grenoble manuscript was not begun until after 20 May 1456, but presumably soon after. It is likely, however, that Grenoble U.909. Rés. is a late fifteenth- or sixteenth-century copy of Thomassin's compilation.
Relationship of the manuscripts. No obvious relationship between the three manuscripts is evident to us. As the variants and notes to the text show, they differ from each other on the content of the Ditié in only relatively minor ways, but such variation as there is makes it clear that they are all probably independent of each other.
1. Achille Jubinal, 'Ung Beau Ditié fait par Christine de Pisan à la louange de Jeanne d'Arc' in Rapport à M. le Ministre de l'instruction publique, suivi de quelques &ces inédites tirées des manuscrits de la Biblioth~que de Berne, Paris, A la Librairie Spéciale des Sociétés Savantes, 1838, pp. 75-88.
This edition contains the first transcription of all 61 huitains of the Berne manuscript which Jubinal brought to light during the survey which he made of the Berne Library on behalf of the Ministre de l'Instruction publique. Misreadings of the manuscript are numerous, some of these resulting from Jubinal's failure to recognise scribal abbreviations (e.g. he prints Chrispine for Christine 1.1, guerre for grace 1.88, soit for seroit 1.114, Charles for faite 1.458); emendations are frequently made but not indicated (e.g. 11. 24 and 55); the orthography has been unnecessarily modernised (e.g. toujours for tousjours 1.3, merci for mercy 1.30, lys for lix 1.96) and the punctuation is often open to question (e.g. 11.145-7, 216), There is no critical apparatus, and no reference is made to the Grenoble fragment which was published in the same year by Buchon.
2. J.A.C. Buchon, 'Documents divers sur Jeanne d'Arc' in Choix de chroniques et mémoires sur l'histoire de France avec notes et notices, vol.XXXIV of the Panthéon Littéraire, Paris, Desrez, 1838, pp. 540-3.
This edition contains the first and only transcription to date of the fragment of the Ditié in the Registre Delphinal, but is unfortunately full of inaccuracies, many of them serious (compare, for example, Buchon's transcription of huitain XXI with the original text as it is found in the Grenoble manuscript, f.98r). There is no critical apparatus apart from eleven footnotes which contain Buchon's modern French equivalents of words or phrases in the text.
3. Raymond Thomassy, Essai sur les écrits politiques de Christine de Pisan, Paris, Debécourt, 1838. On pp. XLII-XLVII of his introduction, Thomassy prints a selection of huitains: 1, first four lines of III and last four of XI printed as one huitain, XIII, XVIII, XXI, XXIV, XXXIV, XXXV, XXXVI, XLII, XLIII, XXXIX, XLVI, XLVII, XLVIII, LXI. This is an unreliable transcription, the material for which Thomassy received from Jubinal, before the latter's publication of the poem.
4. Jules Quicherat, 'Christine de Pisan' in the section entitled 'Témoignages des Poëtes du XVe siècle' in Procés de condamnation et de réhabilitation de Jeanne d'Arc dite la Pucelle, vol. V, Paris, Renouard, 1849, pp. 3-21. The inclusion of Christine's poem in Quicherat's great pioneering work on Joan of Are ensured that his became the most widely known version of the Ditié. Yet important and valuable as this edition is, it has a number of serious deficiencies. Although Quicherat states that he will reproduce 'le texte de la pièce tout entière, telle que M. Jubinal l'a publiée en 1838 d'après le manuscrit de Berne', this is not in fact what he does. While basing himself on Jubinal (and therefore reproducing the bulk of Jubinal's errors), he makes extensive and often unacknowledged use of Buchon's completely unreliable transcription of the Grenoble fragment. Consequently, unless the reader has access to the printed editions of Jubinal and Buchon, it is impossible to follow the method by which Quicherat established his composite text.
5. H. Herluison, Jeanne d'Arc; Chronique Rimée par Christine de Pisan, Orléans, Herluison, 1865, pp.41. This attractive little text (its pages measure only 11 x 7 cms.) was published in a limited edition of 100 copies. The text is based on Quicherat and therefore reproduces Quicherat's errors. Differences between Quicherat and Herluison are minor, and probably result from misprints or from the latter's instinctive modernisation of spelling.
6. Le Roux de Lincy et L.M.Tisserand, 'Apostrophe de Christine de Pisan aux Parisiens dans -Ung Beau Ditié fait l'an M. CCCC. XXIX"à la louange de Jeanne d'Arc', in Paris et ses historiens, Paris, Imprimerie Impériale, 1867, pp.420-7. This is an incomplete edition, or rather a selection of 38 of the poem's 61 huitains: I-VI, XIII-XIV, XXI-XXV, XXVII-XXX, XXXIII_ XXXVI, XXXIX-XLV, XLVIII-LI, LIII-LVI and LX-LXI. The text is based on Jubinal and therefore reproduces Jubinal's errors. Differences between Le Roux de Lincy/Tisserand and Jubinal are minor, and are concerned for the most part with punctuation, distribution of accents and modernisation of spelling.
7. Joseph-Amant Fabre, 'Stances de Christine de Pisan sur Jeanne d'Arc in Proces de rehabilitation de Jeanne d'Arc, 1888, republished Paris, Hachette, 1913, tome 2, pp.307-330. Fabre has reproduced, with minor modifications, the Quicherat edition; in addition, immediately after words or expressions likely to be unfamiliar to his readers, he has printed what he considers to be their modern French equivalent. The relationship of the nineteenth-century editions to the manuscripts and to each other may be summed up diagrammatically in the following way:
This represents the first attempt at a critical edition of the poem, based as it is on all three known manuscripts (Berne, Carpentras and Grenoble). It forms part of a study/edition of all the documents in Berne 205 relating to Joan of Arc. There is a valuable description of the base manuscript, Berne 205, pp. 330-2, a brief discussion of the poem pp.332-3 and a short account of the Grenoble and Carpentras manuscripts p.334; the poem then follows on pp.335-50, with variants at the foot of each page; there are two pages of explanatory notes at the end, pp.351-2.
Although this is by far the most valuable of all the previous editions of the poem, it has nonetheless a number of serious disadvantages: there are many misreadings (e.g. vugle for bugle 1.371) unnecessary rejections of the base manuscript Berne 205 (e.g. 1.216), and modernisations of orthography (e.g. 1.101, 103); emendations are made without an indication of this always being given (e.g. 1.364); the variants are not complete and contain in any case a number of errors (e.g. the reading voire does not occur in Carpentras 1.9; 1.197 is not omitted from the Berne manuscript);unless he has direct access to the manuscripts, the reader cannot tell whether the text has been established (a) in the light of the editors' 'commonsense' emendation or (b) in the light of a manuscript reading; finally, there is no glossary or notes on points of linguistic interest or difficulty.
As one traces the development of this theme through the poem, it soon becomes apparent that Christine's response to Joan's achievements is expressed on at least three different levels: as a devout Christian, she is concerned first and foremost (as the overall structure of the poem has already made clear) to express her heart-felt thanks to God for having entrusted Joan with her mission; as a patriot, she pays eloquent tribute to the French victory over the English and their allies, which will, she hopes, put an end to the twin evils of foreign occupation and civil strife, and lay the foundations of peace and political stability in France; and as a life-long defender of the feminist cause, she sees the opportunity to restate her case more tellingly than ever before. Each of these elements, which are developed simultaneously in the poem, will now be examined briefly in turn.
Given that Christine herself had been the author of a number of exclusively devotional works (L'Oroyson Nostre Dame c.1402, Les XV Joyes Nostre Dame, Une Oroyson de Nostre Seigneur, both before 1408, Les Sept Psaumes Allegorises c.1409 and the Heures de Contemplacion sur la Passion de Nostre Seigneur c.1420), and that she had, it will be remembered, spent the preceding eleven years in an 'abbaye close', it was inevitable that in the Ditié she should devote most attention to the religious significance of Joan's coming. That she wrote the Ditié primarily as a hymn of praise and thanks-giving to God (and intended it to be read as such) is clearly indicated in a number of ways. To begin with, she states in the opening section of the poem that the particular 'example' of Joan is illustrative of a general truth about life, namely, that it is Providence, not capricious Fortune, which ultimately governs all men's destinies (see 11.57-72, and in particular 11.69-72: 'Voie[z] comment tousjours n'est une/ Fortune, qui a nuit à maint!/ Car Dieu, qui aux tors faiz repune,/ Ceulx relieve en qui espoir maint!'(10). She reminds us that it was Providence which had predestined Joan to play her particular role (see, for example, the prophecies mentioned in 11.239- 248, 333-4, and huitains XLI-XLIII, which predict Joan's future achievements i.e. the complete and final overthrow of the English, the restoration of peace not just in France but in Christendom as a whole, the destruction of heretics and the reconquest of the Holy Land). She links Joan, just as her friend and ally Jean Gerson had done in his treatise De quadam puella, written c.March-April 1429 in defence of Joan's divine claims, (11) to a succession of Old Testament heroes and heroines who had themselves lived out their lives as the specially-chosen agents of Providence (11.179, 193, 209, 217). She lays particular stress on the miraculous nature of Joan's achievement (it is described in 1.58 as 'Chose sur toute merveillable', in 11.81, 225, 260 as a 'miracle', in 1.192 as a 'chose oultre nature', in 202 as a 'si grant merveille' and in 1.274 as 'chose fors nature'). Lastly and most importantly of all, she works into practically every reference to Joan a reminder that her powers originate directly from God: 'Chose est bien digne dr, memoire/ Que Dieu, par une vierge tendre/ Ait adés voulu (chose est voire!)/ Sur France si grant grace estendre' (11.85-8)... 'Et toy, Pucelle beneurée,/ Y dois-tu estre obliée,/ Puis que Dieu t'a tant honnorée' (11.161-3). . . 'Tu, Jehanne, de bonne heure née,/ Benoist soit cil qui te créa!/ Pucelle de Dieu ordonnée' (11.169-172)... 'une jeune pucelle,/ A qui Dieu force et povoir donne/ D'estre le champion' (11.186-8). .. 'Mais tout ce fait Dieu, qui la menne' (1.288)... 'N'appercevez-vous, gent avugle,/ Que Dieu a icy la main mise?' (11.369-70). It will have been seen from this that the Ditié is primarily a religious poem, designed to praise and glorify God for having delivered France from humiliation and suffering; as such it captures the sense of wonder and thank-. fulness that the whole French camp must have felt at what Joan had already achieved and at what she was expected to achieve in the near future. 'Le miracle de Jeanne', as Marie-Joseph Pinet has pointed out, (12) 'la Providence divine dans le fait de Jeanne, c'est la grande idée inspiratrice du dittiéi'
The second level on which the poem ought to be read concerns, as indicated, Christine's response as a patriot to the coining of Joan of Arc. (13) To assess this response in its proper context and perspective it is essential to look briefly at the development of Christine's reaction to and reflections on the war, as formulated in her previous works. The best-known and perhaps most representative of her earliest writings on the subject are the three 'ballades' Sur le Combat de Sept Francais contre Sept Anglais (19th May 1402) (14) which give militant expression to Christine's passionate attachment to France. In these three poems she extols the valour of the French knights who ' . . . ont occis et mend a oultrance/ L'orgueil anglois', and praises God for thus having furthered the French cause: 'Louez soit Dieux qui de si grans perilz/ Vous a gittez, tant vous a enamez/ Que vous avez desconfiz, mors et pris/ Les sept Anglois de grant orgueil surpris . . . ' Although this militant anti-Englishness will recur in much of Christine's subsequent writings, to find its fullest expression indeed in the Ditié de Jehanne d'Arc, it is interesting to note that it is soon matched, at a very early stage, by an evergrowing awareness of the need for peace. Christine's increasing horror at the disruptive effects of war and civil strife, and the inevitable gratuitous violence which they bring in their wake, is reflected in general terms in the Livre du Chemin de Long Estude (1403), the Livre de la Mutacion de Fortune (1403) and the Avision Christine (1405) (15), and more specifically in the Epistre h la Reine of 5th October 1405 (an appeal to Isabella of Bavaria to settle the differences between the Dukes of Orléans and Burgundy), the Livre A Corps de Policie (1407), the Lamentacion sur les maux de la France (1410) and the Livre de la Paix (c.1413). The following lines from the Livre de la Paix(16) can be seen as representative in this respect: 'Tout royaume divisé en soy sera desolé et toute cité ou maison divisée contre le bien de soy meismes ne puet avoir durée'... '0! quel chose est aujourdhui au monde plus delictable que paix' . . . 'O Dieux! où est le cuer qui tout ne doye fremir pensant la perilleuse aventure où ce royaume a esté de toute perdicion à cause de ceste piteuse guerre.' What is important to note is that all of these works, as well as expressing her concern for France's plight, also point to what Christine sees as the only practical, longterm solution: at a time when the Church was dissipating its energies either in the conflicts of the Great Schism or in lavish displays of pomp and pageantry, Christine inevitably centres all her hopes on the monarchy, which she sees as the only effective force capable of protecting France against enemies both within and without her frontiers (see, for example, the concluding section of the Livre A Chemin de Long Estude, or the chapters on 'le bon prince' in the Livre du Corps de Policie and the Livre de la Paix, which sketch out a didactic portrait of the ideal ruler based on Christine's admiration for her father's patron, Charles V(17). When one turns now to the Ditié de Jehanne d'Arc and reads it within the context of Christine's political writings as a whole, it soon becomes apparent that her last surviving work blends together all the different elements which characterise her patriotism: her militant anti-Englishness, her sense of total commitment to France and the French Crown, and, above all, her desire to see France enjoy the benefits of lasting peace.
Christine's militant anti-Englishness is most effectively illustrated by huitains XXXIII, XXXIV, XXXIX-XLI and XLV, in which she exults in Joan's victory by heaping scorn on the defeated enemy. What is particularly indicative of her fierce sense of national identity is the concrete, violent, abusive nature of the language used in reference to the English (see, for example, 11.305-8: 'Si rabaissez, Anglois, voz cornes/ Car jamais n'aurez beau gibier!/ En France ne menez voz sornes!/ Matez estes en l'eschiquier'; 11.357-60: 'Quant des Anglois, qui que s'en rie/ Ou pleure, il en est sudi/ Le temps avenir moquerie/ En sera fait. Jus sont rué!'; 11.267, 271, 315, where the enemy is described respectively as 'ce grant pueple chenin', 'Ies traictres' and 'faulse mesgnié[e]'; and 1.354, where all that they stand for is summed up in the contemptuous, perjorative term 'I'Englecherie'). As well as finding expression in this negative way, Christine's patriotism is directly reflected in her absolute and unshakeable conviction, akin to that of Turold's in the Chanson de Roland, that God has espoused the French cause and positively wills the defeat of the enemy (see X and XLI; there is indeed, mutatis mutandis, a distinct crusading ring to 11.321-3, both in the language used and the thought expressed:'Et sachez que par elle Anglois/ Seront mis jus sans relever,/ Car Dieu le veult. . . '); it is further reflected in her equally firm belief that God has singled out the French monarchy for His special regard and affection (see 11.89-92: '0 quel honneur à la couronne/ De France par divine preuve!./ Car par les graces qu'll lui donne/ Il appert comment Il l'apreuve'), in her discreet attempt to remind the King of the corresponding obligations he has thereby inherited towards the people entrusted to his care (see XVIII and LVIII in which Christine lists all the qualities which she hopes will be embodied in Charles V11, (18) or describes those which already are), in the sense of exaltation which she experiences at the news of the liberation of Orl6ans and the subsequent recapture of territory that had once been lost (XXXIII, XXXVI, L), in the warmth and pride with which she speaks of the French troops, who will win for themselves not only earthly honour and glory but also a special place in Paradise (XXXVII-VIII), and, perhaps most simply but most eloquently of all, in the instinctive, repeated mention of the word 'France' (11.34, 77, 88, 90, 121, 134, 149, 165, 189, 244, 281, 307, 313). Christine's attachment to France is expressed finally, as indicated above, in the reassertion of her commitment to peace: in 11.157-160 she expresses her thanks to God 'Par qui nous sommes parvenus/ A paix, et hors de grant tempeste!'; in 11.166-8, 185-190 and 351-2, Joan is greeted not just as victor but as the instrument of peace and political stability. . . 'Te pourroiton assez louer/ Quant ceste terre, humiliée/ Par guerre, as fait de paix douer?' . . . 'Considerée ta personne,/ Qui es une jeune pucelle,/ A qui Dieu force et povoir donne/ D'estre le champion et celle/ Qui donne à France la mamelle/ De paix et doulce norriture' . . . 'Si croy que Dieu ça jus l'adonne/ Afin que paix soit par son fait'; and the poem closes, it will be remembered, with Christine's prayer that all Frenchmen (rebels included) will swear allegiance to Charles VII and thereby bring an end to civil strife: 'Si pry Dieu qu'll mecte en courage/ A vous tous qu'ainsy le faciez,/ Afin que le cruel orage/ De ces guerres soit effaciez,/ Et que vostre vie passiez/ En paix, soubz vostre chief greigneur,/ Si que jamais ne l'offensiez/ Et que vers vous soit bon seigneur.'. When these lines are read in conjunction with huitain XVIII, in which she expresses all the hopes she cherishes for Charles VII, it becomes clear that, for Christine, the peace brought about by Joan could best be maintained by a strong but enlightened French monarchy conscious of its obligations towards its subjects. Commitment to the well-being of France thus overlaps completely, for very practical reasons, with commitment to the French Crown. As one of Christine's earliest biographers has rightly pointed out, 'Ce qu'elle a en vue, c'est l'intérêt public ... l'intérèt immédiat et pratique de sa patrie d'adoption la France.' (19)
The third level on which the poem may be read concerns Christine's response as a feminist(20) to Joan's achievements. Given Christine's involvement in the so-called 'Débat sur le Roman de la Rose' c.1400-02, when, aided by Jean Gerson and Guillaume de Tignonville, she had undertaken the defence of her sex against the strictures of Jean de Meung and his disciples, given, too, her spirited advocacy of the same cause both before and after the debate proper,(SUB21) it is easy to understand the particular sense of triumph she must have felt at the news of Joan's victories. The raising of the siege of Orléans, the coronation of the Dauphin at Rheims, the retreat of the English and their allies - all of this, Christine is careful to point out, had been made possible by a woman, a mere 'pucellette' (1.393), a 'fillete de XVI ans' (1.273). Christine goes out of her way to stress that Joan is to be seen as an outstanding, representative member of the female sex, whose exploits surpass those of the most illustrious of Old Testament and Classical heroes, male and female, including Moses, Joshua, Gideon, Esther, Judith, Deborah, Hector and Achilles (see XXIII, XXV, XXVII, XXVIII, XXXVI). Such extraordinary prowess, she claims, has clearly brought honour and glory to all womankind: 'Hee! quel honneur au femenin/ Sexe! Que Dieu I'ayme il appert. . . ' (11.265-6). What makes this sequence of comparisons and contrasts particularly effective is the fact that it betrays the same kind of irony and gentle humour that Christine put to such good use in some of her earliest and most successful writings on the role and status of women (notably, the Epistre au dieu d'Amours of 1399). Apart from the ironical use which she makes of the diminutives 'pucellette' 'fillete' (11.393, 273), one could point to the deliberate way in which she underlines the contrast between 'male' and 'female' in the following lines: 'Car, se Dieu fist par Josud/ Des miracles à si grant somme,/ Conquerant lieux, et jus rué/ 'y furent maint, il estoit hommel Fort et puissant. Mais, toute somme,/ Une femme - simple bergiere -/ Plus preux qu'onc homs ne fut à Romme!' (11.1939).. .' Hee! quel honneur au femeninl Sexe! Que Dieu l'ayme il appert,/ Quant tout ce grant pueple chenin,/ Par qui tout le regne ert desert,/ Par femme est sours et recouvert,/ Ce que Cn hommes Zfai-t7 n'eussent,/ Et les traictres mis à desert' (11.265-271). . .' Donc desur tous les preux passez,/ Ceste doit porter la couronne,/ Car ses faiz ja monstrent assez/ Que plus prouesse Dieu lui donne/Qu'a tous ceulz de qui l'on raisonne' (11.345-49). Although the debate of the Roman de la Rose must have lost some of its fervour by 1429, one senses from these lines that Christine took great delight in being offered one last opportunity to score a point against old adversaries. For that reason, therefore, it is appropriate to see the Ditié, on one level, as the fitting conclusion to a whole sequence of works written by Christine in defence of the feminist cause.
At the conclusion of this brief survey of the different thematic elements that have gone into Christine's poem it remains to stress that while each has been defined and discussed separately for the sake of analysis, in the poem itself each has been fully integrated as part of a coherent whole. The different elements (religious, patriotic, feminist) are skilfully fused and blended together by a number of factors. Firstly, they are all contained within an overall structure which is itself cohesive and unified; secondly, they have all been woven round a single central figure, Joan of Arc; thirdly, Christine handles them simultaneously in such a way that each is made to highlight and reinforce the other; and finally, and perhaps most importantly of all, taken together they reflect a single, fundamental conception that underlies not just the Ditié but all of Christine's previous work, namely, the belief that women have a role of paramount importance to play in the unfolding of God's designs for the world in general and for France in particular. In the light of these considerations, therefore, it is clear that the Ditié, both from a structural and thematic point of view, reveals a greater degree of craftmanship and organising skill than has usually been allowed. That said and stressed, it remains true of course that a large part of the interest of the Ditié derives from the themes themselves (as distinct from Christine's handling of them). As this analysis has shown, the Ditié is at once a unique and representative work which, in capturing the sense of wonder and thankfulness that all of France must have felt at Joan's victories, also draws together some of Christine's central ideas and preoccupations; as such (and not just because it happens to be Christine's last surviving work) it fully merits Mathilde Laigle's apt description of it in her study of the Livre des Trois Vertus, as 'le testament litt6raire de Christine de Pisan.'(22)
All of these points - which range over questions of syntax, grammar, rhythm and versification - clearly require one to concede that at the level of the line or the stanza the poem does not reveal the same degree of skill discernible in its overall structure, that Christine's 'manner', in other words, does not always match up the splendid subject-matter of her poem. Yet when due allowance has been made for the rough edges which the poem undoubtedly has, it is important to stress (and readers of mediaeval poetry who prefer Béroul to Thomas will confirm this) that rough edges and imperfections need not automatically be equated with overall artistic ineffectiveness: it still remains possible to argue, as we propose to do, for a more positive assessment of Christine's achievement. In doing this, we shall concentrate on what we believe to be the Dité's most striking characteristic, its dramatic energy and vitality which is in fact created by many of the poem's so-called 'imperfections', and sustained and reinforced by an additional factor which has not yet been mentioned, namely, the skill with which Christine sometimes exploits the expressive value of the sound of her verse.
The first of these points can be illustrated briefly by looking in closer detail at a number of representative huitains which include some of the specific faults mentioned, such as the tortuous syntax, abrupt rhythms and the dislocation of normal grammatical or verse patterns. In the opening twelve lines of the poem which form a single sentence linking huitains I and II and thus dispense with the expected full pause at the end of 1.8, it is important to note that it is the syntactical complexity itself which most effectively captures Christine's sense of triumph and exultation. In these lines the main clause ('Ore A prime me prens à rire 1.8) is skilfully thrown into strong relief by being deliberately delayed through the sequence of subordinate clauses (11.1-7) and by then being immediately repeated with variation and inversion ('A fire bonement de joie/Me prens. . .') in 11.9-10: 'Je, Christine, qui ay plouré/ XI ans en abbaye close,/ OU' j'ay tousjours puis demour6/ Que Charles West estrange chose%/ Le filz du roy, se dire l'ose,/ S'en fouy de Paris de tire,/ Par la traison lh enclose,/ Ore h prime me prens à rire;//A fire bonement de joie/ Me prens. ..' Huitains X and XI are linked by an equally complex single sentence which nonetheless dynamically conveys Christine's sense of wonder at the workings of divine Providence: 'Qui vit doncques chose avenir/ Plus hors de toute opinion/ (Qui à noter et souvenir/ Fait bien en toute region),/ Que France (de qui mention/ On faisoit que jus ert ruée)/ Soit, par divine mission,/ Du mal en si grant bien muée,// Par tel miracle voirement/ Que, se la chose n'yert notoire/ Et evident quoy et comment,/ Il n'est homs qui le peilst croire?' In 11.203-6 and 449-54 it is the elliptical mid-sentence changes of grammatical construction which help to convey, in the first example, Christine's breathless excitement at Joan's achievement and, in the second, the urgency of her desire to see all France unite under Charles VII: 'Car tons les preux an long aler/ Qui ont esté, ne s'appareille/ Leur prouesse à ceste qui veille/ A bouter hors noz ennemis' ... 'Et vous, toutes villes rebelles,/ Et gens qui avez regnié/ Vostre seigneur, et ceulxet celles/ Qui pour autre l'avez nié,/ Or soit après aplanié/ Par doulceur, requerant pardon!' The fact that each successive line in huitain XLIII can be read almost as if it were a self-contained unit produces an abrupt staccato-effect: yet it is this very abruptness which dramatically underlines Christine's unshakcable faith in the future destiny of both Joan and Charles: 'Des Sarradins fera essart,/ En conquerant la Saintte Terre./ Là menra Charles, que Dieu garffl/ Ains qu'il muire, fera tel erre./ Cilz est cil qui la doit conquerre./ Là doit-elle finer sa vie,/ Et l'un et l'autre gloire acquerre./ Là sera la chose assovye.' In huitains XIII-XIV, particularly 11.10110, it is the irregular rhythms produced by the way in which Christine breaks up the expected verse pattern which to a large extent convey her sense of wonder and restless excitement at Joan's miraculous exploits: 'Mais, Dieu grace, or voiz ton renon/Hault eslevé par la Pucelle,/ Qui a soubzmis soubz ton penon/ Tes ennemis (chose est nouvelle!)// En peu de temps; que l'on cuidoit/ Que ce feust coin chose impossible/ Que ton pays, qui se perdoit,/ Reusses jamais. Or est visible-/ Ment tien, [puis quel qui que nuisible/ T'ait esté, tu I'as recouvré What clearly emerges, then, from these examples is that some of the features which have sometimes been dismissed as faults or weaknesses paradoxically work into the poem a robust dynamic quality appropriate to its central themes.
This impression of robustness is reinforced by the way in which Christine sometimes exploits the expressive value of the sound of her verse. Of the technical devices to which she has recourse by far the most common are alliteration and internal rhyme or assonance which are used with vigorous effect not only within a very large number of individual lines (e.g. 8, 24, 88, 150, 167-8, 223-4, 264, 296, 298, 352) but in whole huitains as well. Three particularly striking examples will suffice to illustrate this general point, the first being provided by huitain VI: 'Or faisons feste ( nostre roy!/ Que tresbien soit-il revenu!/ Resjoàz de son noble arroy,/ Alons trestous, grant et menu,/ Au devant -nul ne soit tenu!-/ Menant joie le saluer,/ Louant Dieu, qui l'a maintenu,/ Criant "Noël" en hault huer.' Here a series of alliterations (in f, n, r, tr) and the insistent repetition of similar vowel-sounds at approximately the same point in six out of the eight lines, i.e. at the second or third syllable of 11.41, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48 (faisons, alons, devant, menant, louant, criant), make the appeal formulated in this huitain all the more urgent and emphatic. The second illustration is provided by huitains XXXVVI, in particular 11.278-83: 'Et devant elle vont fuyant/ Les ennemis, ne nul n'y dure./ Elle fait ce, mains yeulx voiant,// Et d'eulx va France descombrant,/ En recouvrant chasteaulx et villes./ Jamais force ne fu si grant. . . ' In these lines the deliberate repetition of Similar nasal vowel-sounds both at the rhyme and internally (devant, vont, fuyant, voiant, descombrant, recouvrant, grant) produces an equally insistent effect, designed this time to highlight Christine's delight at the swiftness of Joan's victories. The third and last example which we have selected is represented by huitain XLIII: 'Des Sarradins fera essart,/ En conquerant la Saintte Terre./ Là menra Charles, que Dieu gard!/ Ains qu'il muire, fera tel erre./ Cilz est cil qui la doit conquerre./ Là doit-elle finer sa vie,/ Et l'un et l'autre gloire acquerre./ Là sera la chose assovye'. Here alliterative effects (Sarradins, essart, Saintte, Cilz, cil, sera, chose, assovye) and a dense pattern of sounds which take up and thereby highlight the-a of the future tenses fera, menra, fera in 11. 337, 339, 340 and 344 (Sarradins, essart 1.337, Sainte 1.339, là 11.339, 342, 344, Charles, gard 1.339, acquerre 1.343) give forceful expression to Christine's faith in the divinely-ordained, predetermined nature of Joan's life.
In the light of all these points, then, it is clear that, whatever reservations one may have about specific details in Christine's handling of her material, the Ditié de Jehanne d'Arc is a brisk, vigorous and compelling poem, and entitled as such to a more generous assessment than the one which it has hitherto usually been accorded. Though certainly lacking in the great imaginative and expressive power that a d'Aubignd or an Aragon could and did bring to warpoetry, it has nonetheless a number of positive literary qualities which raise it above the level of the mere 'chronique rimde' with which it has sometimes been too readily associated. (25) Robert Sabatier has perhaps best summed up both the strength and the limitations of C-bristine's achievement when he describes the Ditié in La Poésie du Moyen Age, as 'la meilleure oeuvre écrite à son époque à propos d'un événement qui n'a jamais fait naître l'Iliade fran~ai se attendue.'(26)
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