Right Thinking From The Left Coast
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French Culture

Here’s another example of French tolerance and sophistication.

The saga of Joan of Arc is one of France’s greatest stories but a new investigation suggests her martyrdom at the hands of the English never happened.

When the French authorities called on Serhiy Horbenko to throw fresh light on the country’s medieval heritage they never anticipated the Ukrainian orthopaedic surgeon would try to undermine the most potent patriotic story in the nation’s history.

But Horbenko, who has established an extraordinary reputation for his expertise in examining skeletons, has risked Gallic ire by casting aspersions on the accepted story of the demise of St Joan of Arc.

The death of the teenage warrior burned at the stake as a witch - prosecuted by her English enemy and their allies in the Catholic Church - is one of the defining moments in the French national psyche.

But Horbenko’s research into the skulls and skeletons of France’s long-dead royals has led him to conclude that the woman on the pyre was not Joan at all but another French woman. The woman known as “Joan”, he says, lived on for decades after her supposed execution.

It’s an interesting article, I recommend it to anyone with an interest in history.  However, what I want to draw your attention to, gentle reader, is the reaction from the French who invited him to do his research.

Denise Reynaud, the deputy mayor at Clery who commissioned Horbenko, described the Ukrainian as a “very difficult man to work with owing to his Slavic temperament’.

Charming, no?  Basically Reynaud is calling him an “uppity nigger.”

Posted by Lee on 12/28/03 at 10:17 PM in Europe and the UK • Permalink


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