A 15th-century item of jewellery believed to have belonged to Jeanne d’Arc. The ring have the inscription ‘Jhesus Maria’ as well as three crosses, and was made from brass, which she probably received as present, for her first communion.
It was bought in 1914 by a keeper of the Royal Armouries from the painter Augustus John, who is said to have been given the ring by his lover, Lady Ottoline Morrell. Her family tree can be traced back to Cardinal Henry Beaufort, who was at the Catholic saint’s trial and execution.
Beaufort is believed to have given the ring to his nephew Henry VI, although how the cardinal acquired the ring is shrouded in mystery. It then passed down the family line to society hostess Morrell.
There is no absolute, conclusive proof that Jeanne d’Arc owned the ring but its rare design very closely matches her own words describing the ring which were recorded at her trial.
When Jeanne was burnt to death, in May 1431, all her possessions disappeared with her. Her British and Burgundy enemies didn’t want any personal objects to be left behind, so as not to leave relics that could become the object of a cult.
The exception was a ring. The ring was supposedly confiscated by the Burgundy family or by a soldier in their army. This French aristocratic house fought with the English against Charles VII. One thing is certain: X-ray Fluorescence metal analysis has proven the ring was created during Jeanne d’Arc’s lifetime, in the 15th century.
(from the The Trial of Condemnation)
March 1, 1431
She was then asked about her rings and whether she attempted to effect cures thereby, to which she replied: “I never cured anyone with any of my rings”.
17 March 1431
During her trial in Rouen, Jeanne described the ring and was asked what it was made of.
“I do not truly know. If it was gold, it was not fine gold. I do not know whether it was gold or brass. And I think it had on it three crosses, and no other sign that I know except the words Jesus Maria”.
Jeanne was further questioned about the importance of this ring when she was going into battle to which she replied: “Out of pleasure and in honour of my father and my mother; and while having this ring on my hand and on my finger I had touched Saint Catherine when she appeared before me”.
Catalogue of finger rings brought together by F.A. Harman Oates, F.S.A. Publication date 1917.
“Thirty-six copies only of “Finger Rings” have been privately printed. This copy is No. 3.” — t.p. verso. Autographed by F.A. Harman Oates. Includes 5 plates of illustrations. Entry for ring “believed to have been the property of Jeanne d’Arc p. 5.