Stolen Ring Owned by Joan of Arc Finally Returned to France
Joan of Arc, also known as the Maid of Orleans (or, in French, la Pucelle) was a military hero of the first half of the 15th century. This French saint, whose feast is celebrated on the anniversary of her death, May 30, led the army of Charles VII in the Hundred Years' War to oust the English from France - when she was only 17 years old. Now, after spending nearly six centuries in England, Joan of Arc’s treasured ring returns to France, thanks to the work of the Villiers family, who will exhibit it at the famous Puy de Fou theme park.
The ring was stolen by Bishop Cauchon in Rouen when the brave Joan was caught in 1431. When it was taken, Joan shouted at the Bishop “Return it to me!” But the ring was not given back to its owner. Some say that perhaps Joan of Arc confirmed that the ring possessed magical powers.
Cauchon went down in history for having presided over the trial and martyrdom of Joan of Arc, and having been paid by the English. After the robbery, the precious ring was left in the hands of what some people call “Perfidious Albion.”
The ring was stolen from Joan of Arc by Bishop Cauchon before the trial which ended with Joan being sentenced to the stake. (Figaro Magazine/Timeline Auctions)
According to information published in Figaro Magazine, the repatriation of the ring began to take shape on February 24. That day, the lawyer Jacques Trémolet de Villers, who has just published a book about the trial of Joan of Arc, learned that the ring would be auctioned on February 26 in London. After he advised Philippe De Villiers, a politician, businessman, and creator of the Puy du Fou theme park, of the auction, they decided to raise the necessary funds to get the relic back to France. However, the auction house had put a starting price of 19,051 euros (20,984 USD).
"We suspected that the sale would beat all records. […] The Puy du Fou Hope Foundation could reach up to €80,000, but not beyond. Then we turned to potential donors and managed to collect the sum of €350,000," explained Nicolas de Villiers to Le Parisien.
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The day of the bid, despite the dizzying auction, Nicolas de Villiers took the ring for a total of 376,833 euros (415,063 USD). The ring was a gift that the parents of the unforgettable Joan had made for her on the day of her First Communion in the church of her hometown, Domremy. Thanks to the Villiers family, it will now return to its home country.
Nicolás de Villiers won the precious ring in a recent auction in London. The ring, accompanied by its own reliquary, cost 376,833 euros. (PhotoPQR/« Ouest-France »/Franck Dubray/Timeline Auctions)
Joan of Arc used to wear the ring on the index finger of her left hand. It is forged in brass, decorated with three crosses and is engraved with the initials “JM”. According to legend, Joan had a habit of staring at her ring moments before entering combat.
The Puy du Fou theme park wrote on its official website that it “aims to contribute to the brilliance of France, its history, its wonders, and its achievements.” It states that it was their “duty to end the exile of this symbol that belonged to the greatest heroine of the history of France.”
Nicolás de Villiers told Figaro Magazine that on March 20 a presentation ceremony will be held for the ring and that the relic will be on display to the public later in a special place in the park.
"Joan of Arc dies at the stake", painted in 1843 by German artist Hermann Anton Stilke (1803-1860). Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg. (Public Domain) Joan of Arc was eventually condemned to die at the stake, and the ring that her parents had given her for her First Communion spent nearly 600 years in English hands.
Featured image: “Joan at the coronation of Charles VII”, painted in 1854 by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres (1780-1867). Louvre Museum. Source: Public Domain
By: Mariló T. A.
This article was first published in Spanish at http://www.ancient-origins.es and has been translated with permission.