Merlin and the myth about the maid of Lorraine
“France will be lost by a woman and saved by a virgin from the oak forests of Lorraine”
The legend evolved many years before Jeanne d’Arc was born. The prophecies were vague but concerned a young maid of honor and sacrifice who would become the savior of France. Some of these spoke of a maid of humble beginnings who would come from the “borders of Lorraine” or from the area of the Oak Forrest. She would be dressed in armor, carrying a sword and riding a white stallion. In other accounts she would emerge from oak wood and perform miracles. The prophecies have been attributed to several sources, with Merlin being the most famous. St. Bede the Venerable and Euglide of Hungary also predicted her arrival.
For some years before and around the time of activity of Jeanne d’Arc, a number of vague prophecies concerning a young Maid who would save France were circulating. The prophecies were attributed to several sources, including St. Bede the Venerable, Euglide of Hungary, and Merlin. Some of these spoke of a Maid who was supposed to come from the “borders of Lorraine”. Since Jeanne’s village was near the border between France and the Duchy of Lorraine in the Holy Roman Empire, at the time many in France believed in her.
During her examination at Poitiers, Jeanne was reportedly questioned about a recent prophecy attributed, perhaps incorrectly, to Marie d’Avignon (fr:Marie Robine) concerning an armed woman who was to save the Kingdom. One version of the prophecies had it that the Maid would come forth from an oak wood and would work miracles, although when questioned about this version of the prophecy at her trial, Jeanne said she did not place any faith in that one.
Rehabilitation trial testimony also brought up the subject of such prophecies. Durand Laxart, Jeanne’s uncle, who accompanied Jeanne on both of her journeys to Vaucouleurs, reported at the rehabilitation trial that Jeanne had told him: “Was it not said that France would be ruined through a woman and afterwards restored by a virgin?”. Catherine Royer, with whom Jeanne stayed while at Vaucouleurs on her second visit in January and February 1429, also reported substantially the same thing.
In any case, it is known that such prophecies were widely known in France at around that time and that many in France among the supporters of the Dauphin identified Jeanne with the Maiden in the prophecies and this identification contributed to her popularity and following.