Short summary - The Virgin of Orleans: or, Joan of Arc - Voltaire, pseudonym of François-Marie Arouet

French literature summaries - 2021

Short summary - The Virgin of Orleans: or, Joan of Arc
Voltaire, pseudonym of François-Marie Arouet

The action of this satirical poem takes place during the Hundred Years War between France and England (1337-1453). Some of Voltaire's contemporaries said that the author, having ridiculed Joan of Arc, treated her more cruelly than the bishop of the city of Beauvais, who once burned her at the stake. Voltaire, of course, laughed mercilessly, he showed Jeanne being seduced, portrayed her in the most ambiguous and indecent scenes. But he laughed not at Joan of Arc, not at that girl from the people who, sincerely believing in her patriotic mission sent down to her by God, led the French to battle with the enemy and fearlessly climbed the fire, leaving history with her noble name and her human beautiful look.

From the first song we learn that the French king Charles VII is in love with the beautiful Agnes Sorel. His advisor Bonneau has a castle in a secluded wilderness, there, away from prying eyes, and lovers go. For three months, the king is drowning in the bliss of love. Meanwhile, the British prince, Duke of Bedford, invades France. Driven by the demon of ambition, he is "always on horseback, always armed ... shedding blood, condemning the wages, sending mother and daughter to the soldiers to shame." In Orleans besieged by enemies, at the council of warriors and wise men, a mysterious alien from heaven appears, Saint Denis, who dreams of saving France. He says "And if Karl wanted to lose honor for the girl and the kingdom with her, I want to change his lot by the hand of a young woman who preserved her virginity." The warriors laugh at him: “to save the fortress through virginity is nonsense, sheer absurdity,” and the saint goes alone in search of an innocent maiden.

Lorraine gave France to John, she was born here, “alive, dexterous, strong; in clean clothes, with his hand full and muscular he carries sacks ... laughs, works hard. " Saint Denis goes with John to the temple, where the virgin "in admiration puts on a garment of steel ... and raves with glory." John on a donkey, accompanied by the saint, rushes to the king. On the way, near Orleans, they find themselves in the camp of sleeping, drunken British. John is kidnapped from the famous warrior, Jean Shandos, a sword and wide trousers. Arriving at the court, Saint Denis calls on the king to follow this maiden, the future savior of France, who, with the help of the monarch, will drive out a terrible and cruel enemy. Finally, Karl is awakened, cut off from captivating fun and ready to fight. Together with Joanna, he rushes to Orleans.

Lovely Agnes, tormented by jealousy, accompanied by Bonno, secretly follows them. At night, in the parking lot, she steals Joanna's clothes (Shandos's pants and an Amazon's carapace) and immediately in this vestment is captured by the British, "to top off the hardships, it was just Shandos's horse platoon." Shandos, who vowed to take revenge on the enemy who stole his armor, upon seeing Agnes, changes his mind, he is seized by passion ...

John, with a large army, gives battle to the English, who are suffering defeat. The French commander Dunois, "flying like lightning, not wounded anywhere, cuts the British." John and Dunois "were intoxicated, they rushed so quickly, so wildly fought with the British that they soon parted with the rest of the army." Lost, the heroes find themselves in the Hermaphrodite castle. This is a sorcerer whom God created to be ugly and lustful. He kisses John, but gets a mighty slap in response. The offended villain orders the guards to impale both strangers. The monk Griburdon, who suddenly appeared, asks for mercy on John, offering his life in return. His request is accepted. Finding himself in hell, visiting Satan, Griburdon told the following. He, who was trying to dishonor John, suddenly saw a donkey descending from heaven and picking up the valiant knight Dunois, who, waving his sword, attacked Griburdon, the Monk turns into a lovely girl - and Dunois lowers the sword. The driver, who was at the same time with the monk and guarded John, when he saw the beauty, rushes to her, releasing the captive. The virgin, once free, grabs a shiny sword, forgotten by Dunois, and deals with the monk. "The virgin saved her honor, and Griburdon, guilty of blasphemy, said 'forgive' earthly existence." The donkey, which Saint Denis inspired to fly to Lombardy, takes Dunois with him, leaving John alone.

So where did the flying donkey of the Knight of Dunois go? He finds himself in the amazing temple of Rumor, where he learns about Dorothea, sentenced to burning, and rushes to help her in Milan. The executioner is already ready to carry out the order of the inquisitor, but suddenly Dunois appears in the city square and asks the girl to tell everyone what she is accused of. Dorothea, not holding back her tears, says in response: "Love is the cause of all my sorrow." Her lover, la Trimuille, leaving Milan a year ago and going to war, swore his love for her, promised to marry on his return. Dorothea, secluded, far from the light, endured separation and hid her baby, the child of love, from prying eyes. One day her uncle, the archbishop, decided to visit her niece and, despite the dignity and sanctity of kinship, began to harass her. At the cries of the resisting Dorothea, the crowd came running, and my uncle, hitting her in the face, said: “I excommunicate her from the church and with her the fruit of her adultery ... I curse them, the servant of God. Let the Inquisition judge them severely. " So Dorothea found herself at the place of execution. The fearless Dunois struck the archbishop's warrior with a sword and quickly dealt with his assistants. Suddenly, La Trimuille appears in the square, and the beautiful Dorothea is in his arms. Dunois is going on the road, he hurries to John and the king, agreeing with the lover to meet in the palace in a month. During this time, Dorothea wants to make a pilgrimage to Loret, and La Trimuille will accompany her.

Having reached the destination of the journey, the house of the Virgin Mary, the lovers stop for the night and get to know the Englishman d'Arondel. With him is a young mistress, in every way unlike Dorothea. La Trimuille asks the Briton to admit that Dorothea is more beautiful than his lady. The proud Englishman, offended by this, offers the Frenchman a duel. An Englishwoman, Judith de Rosamor, watches the fight with interest, while Dorothea turns pale with fear for her chosen one. Suddenly, the robber Martinger kidnaps both beauties and disappears faster than lightning. Meanwhile, the duel is going on. Finally, the duelists noticed the absence of the ladies. Misfortune unites them, and two new friends go in search of their beloved. Martinger has already managed to deliver the captives to his castle, a gloomy crypt. There he offers to share a bed with him. Dorothea burst into tears in response, and Judith agreed. God rewarded her with mighty hands, therefore, grabbing the sword hanging over the robber's bed, she cut off his head. The beauties flee the castle and board a ship that rushes them to the Fragrant Rock, the haven of lovers. There they meet with their valiant knights. “The brave Frenchman and the British hero, having put the lovely ones on their saddles, set off along the Orleans road ... but, as you yourself understand, they remained good friends, and neither the beauties nor the kings could cause strife between them."

And what about our king? Upon learning that Agnes was taken prisoner, he almost lost his mind, but astrologers and sorcerers convinced him that Agnes was faithful to him and she was not in danger. And meanwhile, finding herself in the castle belonging to the confessor of Shandos, she is persecuted by the owner. Shandos' young page, Monrose, comes to her defense. The monk enters the battle with the page and is defeated. Monroz falls passionately in love with Agnes. Soon the girl fled to the monastery, but even there she has no peace. A detachment of British appears in the monastery, who are ordered to capture Agnes. The Britons desecrate the monastery, and Saint Denis, the patron of France, admonishes John to save the monastery, which is overpowered by evil. John is "full of courage, bursting with anger" and stabs the English with a holy spear. And Saint Denis turns to Saint George, the patron of England, with the words: "Why do you stubbornly want war instead of calmness and silence?"

La Trimuil and Dorothea returned from their wanderings. Their happiness is overshadowed by the fact that La Trimuil is seriously injured while protecting Dorothea from the harassment of Shandos. And again Dunois comes to rescue Dorothea: he challenges Shandos to a duel and kills him. Soon Dunois will have to fight the British, who, having learned about the French feast in the Orleans Town Hall, launched a general offensive and stood firm in battle. "Karl, Dunois the belligerent and Virgo fly towards the Britons, pale with anger." British troops, fearing an attack, rush to leave Orleans. In the chaos of horror and disorder, d'Arondel and the fearless Judith Rosamor find death. “Daughter of death, merciless war, robbery, which we call heroism! Thanks to your terrible properties, the earth is in tears, in blood, and is ruined. "

La Trimuille unexpectedly encounters Tirconel, a friend of the late Shandos, who has vowed to take revenge on his killer. Finding secluded lovers near the churchyard, where Shandos was buried, Tirkonel becomes enraged. During the fight, the unfortunate Dorothea rushes to La Trimuille, stained with blood, but he, no longer distinguishing anything, responds to the blow of the Englishman, piercing Dorothea's heart. The merciless Briton stands numb. On Dorothea's chest he finds two portraits. One depicts La Trimuille, the second he recognizes his features. And immediately remembers how in his youth he left Carminetta waiting for the baby, giving her his portrait. There is no doubt that this is his daughter. At the cry of the Briton, people came running, and "if they had not arrived in time, life would probably have died out in Tirconel!" He sailed to England and, having said goodbye to worldly life, went to a monastery. John calls for revenge on the British for the death of the knight and Dorothea. But another test is in store for her. The terrible Griburdon and Hermaphrodite, staying in hell, come up with a plan of revenge on the Virgin. At the prompting of Satan, they send a donkey to John, in which a demon has possessed, he must seduce her, "as it was known to this dirty gang that he keeps the key under his skirt from the besieged Orleans and from the fate of all of France, John." The gentle insolence of the donkey confuses the Virgo, while Dunois, who was dozing beside him, having heard a speech soaked in sweet poison, wants to know "what kind of Celadon made his way into the bedroom, which was tightly locked." Dunois has long been in love with Joanna, but hides his feelings, waiting for the end of the war. Struck, Joanna, seeing Dunois, seizes herself and grabs the spear. Escaping, the devil flees.

On the way, he comes up with an insidious plan. Once in Orleans, he settles into the soul of the wife of the French President Louvet, who, not without reciprocity, fell in love with the great English commander Talbot. The demon inspired the lady to let Talbot and his army into Orleans at nightfall. Madame Louvet makes an appointment with her beloved. Monk Lourdi, sent by Denis to the British, learns of the upcoming meeting and warns the king about it. Charles summons all the military leaders and, of course, John to a council. A plan has been developed. First comes Dunois, “the long journey that he took was hard, and is famous in history to this day. The troops followed him along the plain in the direction of the city wall. " The amazed British, defending themselves from the swords of Joanna and her troops, fall into the hands of Dunois, while Talbot enjoyed a meeting with his beloved. Without doubting his other victory, he goes out to look at the conquered city. What does he see? "To him are not faithful Britons, but the Virgin rushes on a donkey, trembling with anger ... the French are breaking through the secret passage, Talbot was shocked and trembled." Talbot stands heroically to the last. The British are defeated, and a jubilant France celebrates victory.