On March 6th, 2016, The Telegraph, an English newspaper, announced the following:
“A ring believed to have belonged to Joan of Arc is being returned to France for the first time in 600 years after being sold at auction for almost £300,000.
The gold-plated silver ring was dated to the 15th century by an Oxford laboratory, but the trove of historical documents that came with it have yet to prove it belonged to the famous French martyr.”
If you’re reading my YA thriller, Cease & Desist, you know this ring has great symbolic importance in my work. I fictionalized it’s journey down through Jeanne’s bloodline. I wanted it to symbolize the paranormal power it bestowed upon all the girls who chose to wear it. My story is fiction, but the fact of a ring that belonged to Jeanne d’Arc is real and its description is documented at her trial. Nevertheless whether the ring auctioned recently is authentic is dubious to some–historians, for example, are skeptical about the provenance that was presented by Timeline Auctions–the English auction house that sold it–
According to the auction house, Jeanne gave the ring (or it was confiscated) by her Burgundian captors shortly before they handed her over to the English, and may have ended up in the hands of the archbishop of Winchester, Henry Beaufort, who was present at her trial, and stayed in Britain ever since.
Here are the only facts about Jeanne’s ring we know, from the transcripts of her trial:
The description of the ring–specifically that it contained three crosses and the words Jehsus Maria–were real, as Jeanne described it.
“I think it had on it three crosses, and no other sign that I know except the words Jesus Maria”
“It was a gift from her mother, Isabelle”.
In my version of the events, Jeanne handed the ring over to a Benedictine monk who heard her last confession. This is completely unsubstantiated, but it’s a whole lot more likely than having Jeanne turn it over willingly to Henry Beaufort, the archbishop who, as trial records show verbally abused Jeanne at trial and denied her the right of counsel. (One biographer suggested that he may have sexually abused Jeanne, the virgin as well) . It’s more likely that the ring was taken from Jeanne by her captors before her trial in Rouen.
So, is this the ring “The Maid” really wore? All we know for sure is that the French government refused to participate in the auction, citing concerns over authenticity and the buyer turned out to be an amusement park in France, not considered the typical home for a relic that belonged to the patron saint of France.