Print

Print


Tom K. wrote:

> It is my understanding that d'Arc is an incorrect (though nearly
> universal) usage, implying that Joan was of "noble" birth when she was
> not.  I claim no expertise here, but I read somewhere recently that
> Jaques Barzun, who I belive does speak French and knows many things,
> told them this about Joan's name.

> I do not know how one is supposed to refer to the Maid of Orleans
> under this view, so I went with Darc, which is almost surely not the
> answer.

> Maybe someone on the list knows, and would enlighten me, as to:
> (i) whether the view attributed to Prof.  Barzun is right and, if so,
> (ii) how one properly ought to refer to Joan.  (Surely, whatever the
> answer, "Joan of Arc" or "Jean D'Arc" is the way to go if you want to
> be commonly understood: still, I wonder what the technical answer is.)


The site to go to is:
    http://archive.joan-of-arc.org


From her biography page
    http://joan-of-arc.org/joanofarc_life_summary.html

    On the night of the Feast of the Epiphany (January 6th) at the end of
    the medieval Christmas season, in the year 1412 during the final
    waning period of relative peace secured by the Truce of Leulinghen, a
    baby was born to Jacques Darc (or "d'Arc") and his wife Isabelle in
    the village of Domrémy. She was christened Jehanne ("Joan"),
    apparently after her mother's sister Jehanne Lassois, or her
    godmothers Jehanne Royer, Jehanne de Viteau, and Jehanne "the wife of
    Mayor Aubéry". Lord Perceval de Boulainvilliers later claimed that the
    roosters of the village, "like heralds of a new joy", hailed her birth
    by crowing long before dawn4, as if to announce a different type of dawn.


A few snippets from a page on her name and signature
    http://archive.joan-of-arc.org/joanofarc_signatures.html

    ...

    Another point of contention: there are those who strenuously object
    to the modernized version of her family's surname (d'Arc, meaning "of
    Arc", instead of the medieval "Darc"). The lack of any apostrophe in
    15th century contractions has left the matter open to speculation,
    although the Latin form, "Darco", has been taken to indicate that it
    was simply a name rather than a contracted phrase. (Those who are
    interested in the gritty details can click here for the various pro
    and con arguments invoked in this momentous intellectual battle).

    Inevitably, those scholars who favor the "contraction hypothesis" are
    further divided into two camps: those who believe that the name "of
    Arc" merely indicates place of origin, versus those who believe that
    it indicates feudal ownership and therefore noble lineage (i.e.,
    aristocratic roots prior to the family's ennoblement by Charles VII in
    1429). The issue is largely moot, since there wasn't any meaningful
    distinction between the lowest noble families and the more prosperous
    farmers: the aristocracy was constructed along the same 'pyramid' form
    as the rest of society, meaning that there were thousands of petty
    nobles at the bottom of the scale who lay within the economic gray
    area where the Second and Third Estates overlapped. By necessity such
    families often intermarried with commoners, blurring the line between
    the two classes. The moderate prosperity of the Darc family could
    indicate that they were either a faded remnant of an old noble house,
    or a rising peasant family; either way, it would make little practical
    difference.

    In the medieval manuscripts, the name appears in numerous forms: Darc,
    Tarc, Tart, Dare, Day, Daix, etc. The latter two spellings (Day and
    Daix) were attempts to reflect the pronunciation used by the family
    itself: in their native dialect the final consonants were dropped and
    the vowel shortened. The spellings which use a 't' for the initial
    consonant are believed to reflect the sharp pronunciation of 'd' in
    the same dialect.

    ...

    Her first name, "Jehanne" or "Jhenne" ("Joan" or "Joanna" in English)
    was virtually the most common female name in that era, appearing
    prominently and repeatedly in all French families of the late medieval
    period.

Regards,
    Rick Parker