Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


College of Humanities and Social Sciences


Modern Languages and Literatures

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Kathleen Loysen

Committee Member

Rabia Redouane

Committee Member

Lois Oppenheim


This thesis concentrates on the use of Joan of Arc by various political groups during the period of 1870-1914, which marks the period of La Belle Époque. Nineteenthcentury France witnessed an acute anti-clerical campaign led by the Third Republic, which saw the French Church as a threat to the progress of its modernist ideas. The schism between the Republicans and the Catholics dates back to the French Revolution of 1789, when the Civil Constitution of the Clergy of 1790 placed the church under the control of the government. A de-Christianization process began, but was temporarily resolved with the signing of the Concordat of 1801 between Napoleon I and Pope Pius IX. The concordat reinstated the laws that had limited the Church’s influence on the state after the Civil Constitution. The influence of the church gave rise to a great fear of the Third Republic, which came into power in 1878. The canonization of Joan of Arc was seen as a solution to allowing the French Republic and the French Catholics to live harmoniously side-by-side, since Joan of Arc was able to simultaneously be devout to God and to show a deep patriotism towards her country.

This research will be divided into three sections: the Catholic Joan of Arc, the Historical Joan of Arc and the Legendary Joan of Arc, to show the development of each during the nineteenth century. The Catholic Joan of Arc will show the development of religious events in the nineteenth century and how the canonization of Joan of Arc resulted. Then, a discussion of the events of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71, the Alfred Dreyfus Affair, and the Paris Commune of 1871 will show how Joan of Arc was used as a symbol of national patriotism. Finally, a study of the works of Anatole France and Charles Péguy will illustrate how the events of La Belle Époque influenced their versions of the legends surrounding Joan of Arc.

In the course of this analysis we will attempt to answer such pivotal questions as how the image of Joan of Arc was used by the Catholic Church, and how Joan of Arc was used during the Franco-Prussian War and the Dreyfus Affair. Finally, the question of what Joan of Arc represented to nineteenth-century France will be answered.

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