• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Britain demands France 'return Joan of Arc’s ring'
Photo: AFP

Britain demands France 'return Joan of Arc’s ring'

The Local/AFP · 21 Mar 2016, 08:28

Published: 21 Mar 2016 08:28 GMT+01:00

Just as the historic gold-plated ring was safely back in French hands it’s emerged that British authorities want it back.

The saga of Joan of Arc’s ring took a new twist on Sunday just as it was officially unveiled on its return to France.

The ring thought to belong toFrance's most famous historical martyr, Joan of Arc, was unveiled on Sunday at the Puy de Fou historical theme park in the western Vendee region.

Some 5,000 spectators turned out to see the unveiling of the ring, that the park had bought at a London auction for €376, 833 ($425,000).

"It's a little bit of France that has returned. The ring has come back to France and will stay here," said Philippe de Villiers, the founder of Puy de Fou told the crowd.

The ring had thought to have been in Britain for over six centuries and de Villiers told spectators that there was “a new twist” in the story of the ring.

“The British government has sent our lawyer an unprecedented demand: the return of the ring to London,” de Villers told the shocked crowd.

“We are told that the National Arts Council considers this ring part of those objects with, and I quote ‘high national symbolic value’ and as such should have part of a special legislation.”

According to the demand, on purchasing the ring the Puy de Fou park should have obtained a special export license necessary under European regulations.

De Villiers said that they had checked the rules and claimed they only apply if the object is taken out of the European Union.

He then mocked the British and the potential of a Brexit fro the EU by telling the crowd: “It is not at all our intention to have a Puy de Fou exit.

He then sent a defiant message to the British government.

“Ladies and gentlemen from Britain, if you want to see the ring, then come to the Puy de Fou. For the rest it’s too late,” he said.   

Joan of Arc, who fought against the English occupation of France during the Hundred Years' War, was burned alive at the stake but became a symbol of French resistance and was later made a saint by the Catholic Church.

Sunday's official unveiling saw the ring carried on a cushion in a wooden ark, with its own honour guard and a military procession.

The gold-plated silver ring was dated to the 15th century by an Oxford laboratory, but the trove of historical documents that came with it have yet to prove it belonged to the famous French martyr.

"They are only at the start of the exploration. It's a lot of work but a beautiful adventure," said expert Vanessa Soupault, who saw the ring recently.

The bulky piece of jewellery features three engraved crosses and the inscription "JHS-MAR", signifying "Jesus-Maria".

Story continues below…

That fits a description recorded at Joan of Arc's trial in 1431, where she told the court the ring had been given by her parents.

Puy du Fou says the ring was probably enlarged and modified at some point in the last 200 years.

However the difficulty of tracing the ring's path through the centuries has left many historians sceptical.

Part of the problem is the number of copies in circulation. There was even a tombola in the early 20th century in which prizes included versions of the ring.

"Around Joan of Arc, we already have several cases of false objects," said Olivier Bouzy, head of the Joan of Arc archives in the north-central French town of Orleans

 

  

The Local/AFP (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
BREAKING
Ten children struck by lightning in Paris park
Photo: AFP

Eleven people including ten children have been injured by lightning during a thunderstorm at Parc Monceau in Paris on Saturday.

What to expect when working in a bar in Paris
Photo: Fabrizio Morrola/Flickr

Fancy the idea of a bar job in Paris? There are a few things you need to know first, writes bartender Lauren Belcher.

Five key tips to opening a bank account in France
Photo: Dave Dugdale/Flickr

Avoid the headaches. Read this before opening a bank account in France.

Afghan migrant killed by lorry in Calais
French riot police guard a truck after migrants tried to mount several trucks near the Eurotunnel, near Calais earlier this year. Photo: AFP

A 25-year-old Afghan migrant was killed by a lorry on a motorway near the French port city of Calais in the early hours of Saturday, according to officials.

French PM Valls stakes political career on union fight
A demonstrator wears a sticker featuring France's Prime Minister Manuel Valls last week in Nantes, western France, during a protest against government planned labour law reforms. Photo: AFP

Engaged in a fierce tug of war with unions and some of his own party over labour reforms, France's embattled Prime Minister Manuel Valls has staked his political career on staring down the crisis.

Which of France's strikes could affect Euro 2016?
Photos: AFP

A series of ongoing strikes in France could continue to affect the country throughout the Euro 2016 tournament, which starts in just two weeks.

Fuel crisis eases as French police unblock depots
Tires on fire in front of an oil depot near the Total refinery of Donges, western France, on Friday. Photo: AFP

After a week of fuel shortages in France, things are improving in time for the weekend.

Opinion - French strikes
'Stop pissing everyone off': French boss to union chief
Philippe Martinez, the head of the CGT union. Photo: AFP

In an open letter to the man attempting to bring France to a standstill, a business owner tells him to stop "living in the past" and stop "pissing everyone off".

Want a '30-hour work week'? Move to Paris (or Lyon)
Lunchtime in Paris? Photo: reynermedia/Flickr

Workers in Paris and Lyon put in the fewest hours out of 71 major cities around the world. Lazy or supremely efficient.

The nations the French love to make fun of the most
Photo: Romain Seignovert

The British are not the French's top target, believe it or not.

National
Which of France's strikes could affect Euro 2016?
Sponsored Article
Eat, learn, live: unforgettable holidays in France
'You're not welcome': French police chief warns English yobs
How to avoid running out of fuel if you're coming to France
National
It's Neighbours' Day! But what does it all mean?
National
The French fuel crisis for dummies: 27 key questions
National
The trials and tribulations of moving to rural France
National
Five free smartphone apps to help you find petrol in France
National
A complete guide to France's (many) ongoing strikes
Culture
Paris: Street artist makes the Louvre pyramid disappear
Interactive map: Where to find petrol in France
Who is the French union in a 'fight to the death' with the government?
Society
Opinion: Why the French are absolutely right to go on strike
National
Here's why both sides despise France's labour reforms
National
Who is really to blame for the fuel crisis in France?
National
Here are the parts of France hardest hit by the fuel shortages
Travel
It will soon be time to say 'au revoir' to the Paris Metro ticket
Culture
Revealed: The ultimate sex map of France
National
Migrants at Calais camp given dignity in death
International
How good is security at Charles de Gaulle airport?
Culture
How to make a traditional French cassoulet
Culture
IN PICS: Commuter trains in Paris get royal makeover
International
Terror attack 'likeliest cause' of missing EgyptAir plane
International
Who was on board the missing EgyptAir flight from Paris?
2,738
jobs available