Fact-Finding Friday ~ Missing Relics of Joan of Arc

Updated: Aug 20


When I first added Maxwell Trent to the family tree of The “Other” Trents, I knew that he was off somewhere and traveled, but I hadn’t committed to a reason until I wrote Kissing the Lass, when his brother Gideon stated, “Maxwell is an Antiquarian. He loves history and relics and has gone on a number of digs.”


That was all well and good for Max until it was time to write his story. I could have placed him at any number of excavations like Pompeii, Babylon, Athens, and many more. But I also wanted him to be a Regency Era Relic Hunter, which meant, I needed a “relic” for him to go after.


I could have invented a fictional antiquity and given it a backstory of why it was sought after, but I like to dip my toe into history and began research into relics never found and still sought. The first site I landed on was https://historycollection.com/religious-relics-never-found/.


This site lists the following items:

1) The Holy Foreskin from when Jesus was circumcised. While interesting, I couldn’t see Max and Rosemary going on a quest for foreskin, so I moved on.

2) The Ring of Saint Edward. Having Max and Rosemary search for the ring didn’t feel right.

3) The True Cross. Many churches claim to have a piece of the Cross, and I’m sure some have gone missing through history. And while I didn't have Max and Rosemary search for a piece of the cross, there is a mention of where some pieces are located in Lord Maxwell’s Quest and will be the subject in a future post.

4) Veil of Veronica. This has been missing since the Sack of Rome in 1527.

5) The Ark of the Covenant. Max may be a relic hunter, but he’s not Indiana Jones.

6) Relic of Saint Christopher. I’m not real clear on what this is, but it had been placed in a small box of crystals at the base of a statue of St. Christopher.

7) Holy Grail. Who hasn’t searched for this?

8) Relics of Joan of Arc. “There was also a sword that belonged to Joan and was kept by the descendants of her brother Pierre until it was lost during the chaos of the revolutionary period in France.” This intrigued me.

Joan of Arc was a peasant and at the age of 19 rose to be a leader of French forces in 1431. Many of us are familiar with her story, but I never gave any consideration to what became of her belongings until I read this article and dug deeper.


“[The standard] remained [in the cathedral of Orleans] for three hundred and sixty years, and then was destroyed in a public bonfire, together with two swords, a plumed cap, several suits of state apparel, and other relics of the Maid, by a mob in the time of the Revolution. Nothing which the hand of Joan of Arc is known to have touched remains in existence except a few preciously guarded military and state papers which she signed, her pen being guided by her clerk or her secretary…a boulder exists from which she is known to have mounted her horse when she was once setting out upon a campaign. Up to a quarter of a century ago [c.1860] there was a single hair from her head still in existence. It was drawn through the wax of a seal attached to the parchment of a state document. It was surreptitiously snipped out, seal and all, by some vandal relic-hunter and carried off. Doubtless it still exists, but only the thief knows where” (Mark Twain, Joan of Arc (Ignatius Press: San Francisco, 1988), pp. 314-315). http://unamsanctamcatholicam.blogspot.com/2011/06/are-there-any-relics-of-joan-of-arc.html


Other research indicated that during the Revolution, a sword and ring in the possession of Pierre’s descendants disappeared, but her letters survived.


This had me questioning how many swords were owned by The Maid of Orléans, and sent me down a rabbit hole of seeking out information on these swords.


According to some articles I read, one sword she’d captured from a Burgundian during a battle, one was given to her in Vaucouleurs by Sir Robert de Baudricourt, and the third was found buried behind the altar in the chapel of Saint Catherine.


While there is nothing unusual about how she came about the first two swords, it is the third that holds the most interest.

The story is that after she received her armor and horse, Joan was offered a sword, which she refused. It is said that voices instructed Joan where her sword would be found. After it was unearthed in Saint Catherine, the priest set to clean it, but the rust fell away. There are many legends about the sword. Some say that it belonged to Charles Martel, grandfather of Charlemagne, and it was secretly buried for the next person whom God would choose to find it and save France.


She did not carry this sword into battle but wore it only for ceremony until she left St. Denis after the attack on Paris. Some report that she also used the sword when she chased down prostitutes and camp followers, swatting them with it. Some say that it was broken during such an incident, which was upsetting to everyone, and some considered it a bad omen.


By the way, if you are keeping count – we are now up to 4 swords

2 swords destroyed during the Revolution

1 sword disappeared from Pierre’s descendants

1 sword broken on a trollop’s back


Nobody knows for certain if it was the St. Catherine sword that was broken, however, and from what I found, she never said. In fact, when questioned during her trial, Joan stated, “to tell what became of my other sword does not concern this case, and I will not answer about it now. My brothers have all my goods – my horses, my sword, so far as I know, and the rest, which are worth more than twelve thousand crowns’.”


While she wouldn’t say what became of the sword, she also answered that her brother had all her goods, including her sword. So, did she answer and not answer?


I’m certain there are other stories and rumors involving her swords, but the above is what my characters chose to believe. Given that one disappeared during the French Revolution (1789-1799) and Lord Maxwell’s Quest takes place in 1815, I decided that my characters would believe it possible that the sword had been found and made its way to England. Thus, the quest was on.


Lord Maxwell’s Quest will be made available on all sites 8/24/21. https://books2read.com/u/bzdpV9


If you want to keep up with news of upcoming novels, talk characters, or just have fun, join my private reader group Romance & Rosé: https://www.facebook.com/groups/romanceandrose


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