Device converter



Classified ads

Put an ad on this website

Recently added

articles > Culture events

Joan of Arc's ring

Joan of Arc’s ring: on the verge of a new Hundred Years' War

By Manon Variol

History can sometimes be ironic. While the English thought they had got rid of Joan of Arc once and for all, she has returned to haunt historians. Her ring is reviving quarrels between the French and the Brits. Sold for £300,000 (€376,000) to the history-themed park le Puy du Fou, the ring is back has been back on the other side of the Channel since March. But a tax could change its fate, as the British government demands its return.

The Maid of Orléans’s ring was the centrepiece of the auction and many came to have a look at it. When Philippe de Villiers, the founder of the Puy du Fou and passionate about Joan of Arc, heard about the auction, he rallied everyone. He could not pass up the opportunity. He was the winning bid during the auction and he proudly brought the ring back to France. The precious jewel is intented to be exhibited in a special area of the park. But Philippe de Villiers’s plans could now be jeopardised by an export tax that he failed to pay. Such a tax is required for objects of “national and historic” importance.

The hatchet has still not been buried

Joan of Arc's ring - Timeline Auction
Joan of Arc's ring - Timeline Auction

France and England are old enemies. During the 15th century, both countries were torn apart by the Hundred Years' War. Joan of Arc was a leading figure of the conflict, guiding the French armies to the battlefield. Her ring is engraved with “JHS MAR” meaning “Jhesus Maria”. In a manner of speaking, it was her lucky charm. She used to look at it before going into battle, and said she was wearing it when she encountered Saint Catherine, who asked her to fight against the English armies. Accused of heresy by the Bishop Cauchon, Joan of Arc, 19 years old, was burned at the stake in 1431. The Bishop took her ring and gave it to Cardinal Beaufort, who brought it to England. The story tells that the ring had never left the British ground since then. At least until last month.

The Puy du Fou park was determined to bring the ring back. "This was an instinctive gesture", the President and artistic director of the park Nicolas de Villers told us, "Our French heart pushed us forward." In less than 36 hours, the park raised €350,000 (£278,000) of pledges thanks to about 200 donors, passionnate about history.

The authenticity of the ring has still not been proven but it matches the descriptions given by the Maid of Orléans during her trial. Timeline Auctions presented the jewel as “associated” with Joan of Arc. Some experts are sceptical, others say the theory is plausible, but for Philippe de Villiers, there is no doubt that the ring is the real one. Whether it is or not, the British government considers the ring as “an object of high national symbolic value”, as pointed out in a letter to the Puy du Fou's lawyer in London.

Joan of Arc's ring engraved with
Joan of Arc's ring engraved with "Jhesus Maria" - Timeline Auction

A fight for a licence

In this letter, the British Arts Council, which refused to answer our questions, demands that the ring be returned to England. The Puy du Fou failed to pay for a special export licence, which is necessary to take an object of “national and historic” importance out of British territory. "The ring is a part of England’s national heritage" said the Arts Council, according to whom the object should be returned to the Crown if the park does not pay for a licence. They demand that the ring be seized and sequestrated until the case goes to court.

It is a fair game for the park's managers. "I think our British friends did not see us coming," says Nicolas de Villiers while smiling. "We snatched victory in a very unexpected way for the British, as we heard about the auction at the last moment and we committed to attend only 24 hours before the event." The President of the Puy du Fou claims that all the required documents to take the ring to France were filled in. But the battle is not over. The park's managers talk to the Arts Council every day and are determined to resolve the situation very quickly.

The ring's arrival in Le Puy du Fou - PUYDUFOU
The ring's arrival in Le Puy du Fou - PUYDUFOU

The precious object arrived in the theme park on Sunday 20 March. Received with great pomp, the ring was presented on a velvet cushion under a wooden arch carried by medieval knights in armour, then shown to the audience by girls dressed as Joan of Arc. Thousands of curious people came to see the famous jewel. "We will not hand Joan over another time" Philippe de Villiers said. He will do absolutely anything to make the ring stay in France. "Ladies and gentlemen from Britain, if you want to see the ring, come to Le Puy du Fou."

According to the park's lawyer, if they do not send the ring back to the UK, Philippe de Villiers and his associates could be fined €1million and sentenced to up to 6 years in prison for misappropriating national property. But this does not scare Nicolas de Villiers: "We will take this significant risk. We believe that the British people are reasonable and they will listen to reason." For now, the ring is not being exhibited. But the Puy du Fou hopes to be showing it to visitors within the next few weeks. Who will win this war?

The ceremony for the ring in Le Puy du Fou - PUYDUFOU
The ceremony for the ring in Le Puy du Fou - PUYDUFOU


26/04/2016 - accueil said :

Un article d'actualité, instructif, et qui laisse planer le mystère .... en espérant que l'amitié franco-anglaise perdurera !

22/04/2016 - gill.danis said :

Frankly, Jeanne d'Arc has a far greater significance to the average French person than she does to Brits. Her bones were deliberately disposed of in the river, specifically to avoid veneration(though believers were tricked for centuries into worshipping some ancient cat's bones!). As the French are rather enthusiastic about relics, I have no doubt that Joan of Arc's ring will give great pleasure to many - and a geat boost to the finances of Le Puy du Fou. By the way, I think that was a bagain price.


Comments are moderated. They are displayed after an administrator validation.


You can reload the captcha by clicking on it