Jeanne d'Arc's Suit of Armour


Charles VII provided Jeanne with a suit of armour costing 100 écus, either 2 500 sols or 125 tournois pounds. This was not an outstanding sum and contributed towards the inventory that Jeanne established during her trial:

Through the Count of Laval's testimony, we learn that the suit of armour was in fact a "harnois blanc" ,or "all-in-one" suit of armour, rather than a suit comprising of several detachable pieces. In comparison, this suit of armour cost twice as much as the cheapest equipment used, yet cost eigh time less than the most expensive.

This suit of armours was offered to the town of Saint Denis in ex voto after failed attack on Paris. Fom that moment on, Jeanne wore a suit of armours taken from a Bourguignon, the value of wich remains unknown. The Saint Denis suit of armours was almost certainly not destroyed but possibly suffered the same fate of the sword that was offered to Sainte Catherine de Fierbois by a soldier, and then borrowed by Jeanne d'Arc. [1]


After the inquest at Poitiers, Charles VII commissioned a suit of armor for Jeanne at the samme time that he set up a military household for her. The registra of the city hall of Albi, who saw her, testified that “Jeanne went armed in white iron, entirely from head to foot.” Moreover, Guy and André de Laval saw her on horseback near Romorantin “armed entirely in white, exept, for the head, a little ax in her hand, seated on a great black courser.”

The accounts of the treasurer Hémon Reguier refer to the purchase of that suit of armor in April 1429: “100 livres tournois were paid and delivered by the afforesaid treasure to the master armorer for a complete harness for the afforesaid Maid.” With this harness, Jeanne was equipped in the samme fashion as the men-of-arms of her era.

Jean Chartier reported that she was “armed as quickly as possible with a comlete harness such as would have suited a knight who was part of the arma and born in the king’s court. “She was equipped, moreover, like knights of a certain rank: 100 livres tournois was a significant sum.

Harness
The term "harness" designated the diverse garments of war; to be more precise, one spoke about "of the head" or "of the arm." Every piece was independent, as attested in the accont books of the armores, from whom pieces were ordered separately: a leg harness, an arm harness, a gaunlet, and so on.

Jeanne also wore a military garment of Oriental orgin, made of rectangular metal plates (usually of steel)-the jaseran, which was widely used in fourteenth century. She also wore a brigandine, an armed vest made of a great number of small plates of metal joined by rivets, the heads of which formed a kind og geometric design.

The right armwas protected in a lighter fashion than the left, so that a sword or lance could be wielded more freely. The armor of the left arm, by contrast, was folded back to assist in holding the horse’s reins.

We know that the first suit of mail-the blanc harnoys made for her in Tours-had been left be her in the Abbey church of Saint-Denis after the failure of her attack on Paris, and its subsequent history is unknown. We are ignorant of what happen to her second suit of armour.

It has been estimated that the purchase of a complete set of military equiment corresponded to two years’ wages for a man-at-arms.

It took 8 weeks for the Jeanne's armor to be made and 600 years later it still takes 8 weeks.
  • Jeanne d'Arc - Joan of Arc
  • Jeanne d'Arc - Joan of Arc
Jeanne's suit of armour remains is unknown, and we may never know exactly what happened to the armor. Her armour may have looked like the Swedish actress Ingrid Bergman's armour worn in the Victor Fleming's 1948 film Joan of Arc sold at auction june 2011 for $50,000

Helmet
The helmet shown here--a bascinet of the type worn during the 14th and early 15th centuries--is one of these works fraught with historical associations. It is believed to be the helmet that Jeanne d'Arc wore at the Siege of Orléans (1430), one of the turning points of the Hundred Years’ War. It is reported to have hung above the main altar of the church of St. Pierre le Martroi in Orléans (a short length of chain is still attached to its peak): it was considered to have been given as an ex voto by the Maid after she had been wounded at the siege by a crossbow bolt. There are marks of crossbow bolts on the helmet.

Jeanne made use also of a capeline, a steel hat equipped with a wide brim, frequently used when scaling fortifications. But her contemporaries remaked that she often went about with her head bare, which was hardly surprising since military commanders of high rank often wore a simple hood or a hat rather than a helmet.

The Maids Armour

" ...With this army Jeanne was sent. The King had caused armor to be made for her..." (2) - The Duc d'Alencon, Trial of Nullification

Armor was a very important part of the 15th century soldier. It had gone from the days of the lorica segmentata through chain mail to what was in the time of the Maid to complete sets of armor which covered the entire body. However this type of armor was expensive therefore it remained in the hands of the nobility, and royalty. The basic soldier could count himself fortunate if he possessed even the most even the most rudimentary helmet and Gambeson. By the time of the Hundred Years War, armor making had developed into a highly skilled profession. The latest improvements were incorporated into armor as well as better steel. While we do not know with exactitude what the Maid's armor actually looked like the print above is a fairly excellent representation from contemporary sources that are in existence and those which were most common.


Jeanne d'Arc - Joan of Arc
Commissioned for her by the French king Charles VII Jeanne was given suit of armor that was made to fit her slight body exactly.
The description "White harness" means that the armor is without any embellishments. In the miniseries, "Joan of Arc" with Lee Lee Sobieski, the armor she wears is not white harness. She has a lys on her chest and lyse around the besagues (small round 'shields' laced to the mail at the shoulder to defend the armpit.) contrary to modern belief armor of the time was about 50 lbs or so. The modern idea that has been passed down from the 19th century that knights had to be lifted up onto their horse by use of a crane is nonsense. The Constable of France, Bertrand du Guesclin, was noted for leaping onto his horse and climbing rope ladders while fully clothed in his armor. Jeannes armor was made for fighting in. She could be found in the thick of the actions urging the troops on.

Her armor saved her on several occasions. While at Orleans, Jeanne wearing her armor was in fact wounded by an arrow, which penetrated her armor. She was taken from the battle, and the English perceiving an advantage in this screamed obscenities. They believed that they had won the encounter. Jeanne stayed behind the lines but returned just before dusk. This turn of events was a psychological blow to the English and to the French it appeared as a miracle.


"...Jeanne was there wounded by an arrow which penetrated half-a-foot between the neck and the shoulder; but she continued none the less to fight, taking no remedy for her wound...." Jean, Bastard of Orleans, Count de Dunois.


"...When she felt herself wounded, she was afraid, and wept; but she was soon comforted, as she said. Some of the soldiers seeing her severely wounded wished to "charm " her; but she would not, saying: "I would rather die than do a thing which I know to be a sin; I know well that I must die one day, but I know not when, nor in what manner, nor on what day; if my wound may be healed without sin, I shall be glad enough to be cured." Oil of olive and lard were applied to the wound. After the dressing, she confessed herself to me, weeping and lamenting..."
Fr Jean Pasquerel, Trial of Nullification.


"...The King's troops remained there from morning to night, and Jeanne was wounded: it was necessary to take off her armor to dress the wound; but hardly was it dressed when she armed herself afresh and went to rejoin her followers at the attack and the assault, which had gone on from morning without ceasing..."
Louis De Contes, Trial of Nullification.


"...During the assault on Jargeau... ...Jeanne made the attack; in which I followed her. As our men were invading the place, the Earl of Suffolk made proclamation that he wished to speak with me, but we did not listen, and the attack continued. Jeanne was on a ladder, her standard in her hand, when her Standard was struck and she herself was hit on the head by a stone which was partly spent, and which struck her calotte. (Head-covering without visor, "chapeline casque leger en fornie de calotte sans masque.") She was thrown to the ground; but, raising herself, she cried: "Friends! friends! come on! come on! Our Lord has doomed the English! They are ours! keep a good heart."
The Duc d'Alencon, Trial of nullification.

Parts of armor in the Middle Ages and Renaissance

Under Clothes

- Linen Under-shirt and under-pants. Woollen stockings.
Underclothes were important as they prevented the armor from chafing the Knights skin.

Sabatons

- these were the first armor to be put on. Sabatons was armor for the foot and consisted of riveted iron plates on the boots Akelon - arming doublet.

Arms

- Layer of chain mail over the arms of the Medieval Knights

Besagues

- which were small round 'shields' laced to the mail at the shoulder to defend the armpit

Rerebrace

- for the defence of the upper arm

Vambrace

- for the defence of the lower arm

Greaves

- Plate armor which protected the calf and ankles

Poleyns

- Plate armor which protected the knee cap

Cuisses

- Plate armor which protected the thigh

Chest Armor

- Breast Plate

Back Armor

- The Backplate

Faulds

- were rings of armour which were attached to the breast plate and protected the hips, abdomen and lower back of the Medieval Knights

Head and Neck armor

- the helmet was called the Bascinet which had a skirt of mail called an aventail to protect the neck.
There was also a great helm, and a sallet.

Face protection

- A Visor was a detachable piece of armor which protected the face and eyes

Gauntlets

- ringed metal plates over the fingers.

Spurs

- Spurs were attached to the heel by straps and used to 'spur' the Knights horse on in battle.
The spurs became a symbol of knighthood

Surcoat

- A robe, with a belt around the waist, was placed over the body armor.
The surcoat was emblazoned with the cote of arms or device of the Medieval Knights in order for identification purposes

Weapons

- A Dagger and Sword were attached to the Knights belt

Shield

- Carried in defence and displaying the Knights heraldic blazon, by the 15th century these were getting smaller and smaller as the armor became more incasing until they disappeared altogether.

Read more at Glossary of Medieval Terms

(1) In the Accounts (formerly kept in the Chamber des Comtes at Paris), of Maître Hemon Raguier, Treasurer of War, there is an item relating to this suit of armor: ..."To the Master Armorer, for a complete harness for the said Pucelle, 100 livres tournois."... "
(2) Source - Olivier Bouzy,"Jeanne d'Arc, Mythes et Réalités", Atelier de l'Archer.

Credits: Richard de Nevers, sieur de Brantigny (dit) Boisvert
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