Abbey church of Saint-Denis
Jeanne hung up her arms in the church of St-Denis in 1429
Before the attack on Paris in September 1429, Jeanne stopped at the Basilica of Saint-Denis, where she was able see the saint’s relics as well as the effigies of the ancestors of Charles VII. She also reappeared after the failed attack where she sacrificed her white armor that was paid by Charles VII. The special armor which was paid by Charles VII sacrificed Jeanne September 13, 1429 in Saint-Denis, after the failed attack on Paris, where she was wounded by a crossbow arrow while carrying her banner. She followed a tradition that many men-at-arms used from the period in which they sacrificed all or parts of one’s own armor in the churches. We do not know exactly where the armor was placed or hung in the church.
From that moment, she wore another armor that was take from a Burgundian soldier. There is no knowledge of the value of this new equipment. The armor she left Saint-Denis was later taken over by British soldiers when they took over the city. It is unknown what happened to her original “white” armor later on. Possibly, parts of the armor distributed among the winners of the battle.
The Voices had been silent during the attack on Paris leaving the siege to her own discretion. The King had put an end to the battle, and though coward that he was, the Saints could not tell Jeanne to act against his word. And when the treaty had at last been signed, they bid her leave. It was a lonely Jeanne d’Arc who made her way to the Cathedral of Saint Denis. There, before Our Lady’s altar, she unbuckled her beloved armor, and in tears, placed it at the feet of the Help of All Christians, resigning herself to the will of God.
The Abbey Church of Saint-Denis
The first European Gothic cathedral was built on the spot of a small abbey of Saint Denis that had existed since 384. In 1122 Louis VI made the Saint Denis basilica a place of burial for French kings, but today all the sarcophagi are empty: during the First Revolution the remains of all deceased kings were thrown into pits.
The abbey church of Saint-Denis stands today as much a testament to French history as to Gothic architecture. Although a day’s walk from the center medieval Paris, the monastery and abbey church had strong connections with the French monarchy. Saint-Dionysius, the legendary first bishop of Paris and apostle of Gaul believed to have been buried at the site, was hailed as the patron saint of the French kings.
The monastery held the monarchy’s regalia from as early as the 6th century and the church became the necropolis of the French kings. Constructed over a small Constantinian chapel, the first church dated to around 475, and was itself rebuilt in successive phases and periods under the Frankish, Carolingian, and Capetian kings.
The east end of the current church, begun in 1140 by Abbot Suger, combines the elements of the pointed arch with the rib vault, enabling large stained-glass windows to filter in colored light in a construction often taken to be the first expression of Gothic architecture. In attempting account for the complex circumstances that engendered the particular combination of elements distinguishing Suger’s church from others in its period, the copious academic literature has raised Saint-Denis to the level of a paradigm for Gothic architecture.
However, the recent scholarship tends to downplay the role of Abbot Suger in the conception of the building as well as the novelty of the forms. Only the facade and apse of Suger’s vision was completed; the current nave was begun in 1231 under Abbot Eudes Clément and consecrated in 1281. The main body and upper levels of the east end dating from this campaign present a reinterpretation of Gothic forms in the use of extended mullions and a glazed triforium, among other stylistic elements associated with the beginning of the Rayonnant style.