In the Middle Age, the church of Fierbois, dedicated to Sainte Catherine, patron of soldiers, was renowned for its miracles. On her way to Chinon, Jeanne arrived here in 1429 to meet the Dauphin. The church has always been a pilgrim centre on the way to Saint Jacques de Compostelle and was a very important place in the Middle Age.
Instead of the sword the king offered her, she begged that search might be made for an ancient sword buried, as she averred, behind the altar in the chapel of Ste-Catherine-de-Fierbois. It was found in the very spot her voices indicated. The blade was so covered in rust it would have been impossible for her to describe it without having seen it before. The descendants of Jeanne's brother, Pierre, had in their possession three of her letters and a sword that she had worn. The letters were saved but Jeanne's sword was lost during the chaos of the revolutionary period.
She testified at her trial that she never used those arms personally, only displaying her famous banner.
In this famous illustration Jeanne using the flat of the sword to beat a prostitute following the army, one of a host of such professionals driven out of the camp. She was not at all gentle on these occasions. The sword, broke it on the back of one of them. Jeanne clamed that it was not the the Sword of Fierbois. But rumours began between the soldiers, that Jeanne had broken a holly sword made in heaven, course no could repairer it again.
The king told her later on, that she should have used a stick instead, of this holly relic heaven had send her. Many started believing that she had lost her power from that on.
The prostitutes followed the French army hoping for work when the army stopped marching and made camp. This upset Jeanne greatly, who often attempted to chase the prostitutes away. Before the siege of Paris, she rode after one and smacked her with the flat of her sword.
The sword, which had been found in the Church of Saint Catherine of Fierbois and was considered magical and lucky, shattered. The destruction of the sword upset everyone, who considered it to be a bad omen, and negative feelings about the Paris campaign in general were beginning to increase.
Charles, who was especially superstitious, took the sword-breaking incident to mean that the attack on Paris was doomed.
"Jeanne's Voices had told her that there was an ancient sword hidden somewhere behind the altar of St. Catherine's at Fierbois, and she sent De Metz to get it. The priests knew of no such sword, but a search was made, and sure enough it was found in that place, buried a little way under the ground. It had no sheath and was very rusty, but the priests polished it up and sent it to Tours, whither we were now to come. They also had a sheath of crimson velvet made for it, and the people of Tours equipped it with another, made of cloth-of-gold.
But Jeanne meant to carry this sword always in battle; so she laid the showy sheaths away and got one made of leather. It was generally believed that his sword had belonged to Charlemagne, but that was only a matter of opinion.
I wanted to sharpen that old blade, but she said it was not necessary, as she should never kill anybody, and should carry it only as a symbol of authority." (Joan of Arc Chapter 10, book II)
This ceremoni sword was used on sunday, 17 July, 1429, where Charles VII was solemnly crowned.
In the Journal du siège and Chronique de la Pucelle, Jean Chartier, writes about the sword used by Jeanne d'Arc and the circumstances by wich it was acquired: The King wanted to present her with a sword, so she asked for that of Sainte Catherine de Fierbois. "on lui demanda si elle l'avoit oncques veue, et elle dit que non"........
A black-smith was sent from Tours who found the sword amongst several other ex-voto that had been left in a trunk behind the altar. ( From1415 and the beginning of the battle of Azincourt, armed soldiers would come and offer all or least some of their weapons in thanks to Sainte Catherine who had protected them in battle ). It is amongs these weapons that Jeanne's sword was chosen.
According to the Duke of Alençon, Jeanne's sword was destroyed in Saint Denis, when she lanced it through the back of a prostitute, most probably after the failed attack on Paris. It seems that Jeanne was in the habit of stiking her sword across the backs of any prostitutes that she would come across; such incidents being reported in Auxerre by Jean Chartier and this page, Louis de Coutes for the stage of Chateau Thierry.
Charles VII showed himself to be most displeased upon hearing that the sword had been destroyed, as amongst Jeanne's companion, the sword was reputed as a somewhat magical weapon, and therefore its' destruction was seen as a bad omen. We have no clue as to what became of the broken pieces.
"How did you know that there was an ancient sword buried in the ground under the rear of the altar of the church of St. Catherine of Fierbois?"
Jeanne had no concealments to make as to this:
"I knew the sword was there because my Voices told me so; and I sent to ask that it be given to me to carry in the wars. It seemed to me that it was not very deep in the ground. The clergy of the church caused it to be sought for and dug up; and they polished it, and the rust fell easily off from it."
"Were you wearing it when you were taken in battle at Compiègne?"
"No. But I wore it constantly until I left St. Denis after the attack upon Paris."
This sword, so mysteriously discovered and so long and so constantly victorious, was suspected of being under the protection of enchantment.
"Was that sword blest? What blessing had been invoked upon it?"
"None. I loved it because it was found in the church of St. Catherine, for I loved that church very dearly."
She loved it because it had been built in honor of one of her angels.
"Didn't you lay it upon the altar, to the end that it might be lucky?" (The altar of St. Denis.)
"Didn't you pray that it might be made lucky?"
"Truly it were no harm to wish that my harness might be fortunate."
"Then it was not that sword which you wore in the field of Compiègne? What sword did you wear there?"
"The sword of the Burgundian Franquet d'Arras, whom I took prisoner in the engagement at Lagny. I kept it because it was a good war-sword - good to lay on stout thumps and blows with."
She said that quite simply; and the contrast between her delicate little self and the grim soldier words which she dropped with such easy familiarity from her lips made many spectators smile.
"What is become of the other sword? Where is it now?"
"Is that in the procès verbal?"
Beaupere did not answer.
"Which do you love best, your banner or your sword?"
Her eye lighted gladly at the mention of her banner, and she cried out:
"I love my banner best - oh, forty times more than the sword! Sometimes I carried it myself when I charged the enemy, to avoid killing any one."
Then she added, naïvely, and with again that curious contrast between her girlish little personality and her subject, "I have never killed anyone."