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DEALER CLAIMS DISCOVERY OF JOAN OF ARK'S  ARMOUR
01 November 1997


A Paris antique dealer is believed to be in possession of Joan of Ark's armour after purchasing it from an old lady whose ancestor bought the 15th century priceless piece during a visit to London in 1760.
Pierre de Souzy first thought he had acquired a magnificent and rare 15th century armour which is complete and well-preserved. An expert in antique weapons and armours, the Paris dealer was nevertheless pleased with the fact that this set had been made for a rather small person measuring no more than 4 feet 11 (1,50 metre).

The armour showed traces of combat and therefore had not been made for a boy under 17. Moreover, knights of the time were older. Pierre de Souzy invited his 14-year-old daughter to try it and it fitted her nicely. He deducted that the armour had been shaped for a woman.

It is known that Colas de Montbazon of Tours had made an armour for Joan of Ark following a request by king Charles VII in April 1429.
Only a miniature painted by one of Joan's aides some 50 years after she had been burned to death in 1431. This miniature shows Joan wearing an armour very similar to that found by the antique dealer. All the more, there is a small hole above the right breast side and another in the region of the right thigh while the helmet shows traces of a heavy blow. During the siege of Orleans in 1429, Joan of Ark was hit by a crossbow trait above the right breast and received a head wound. In September of the same year, she received another crossbow wound during the siege of Paris. Traces of repairs were also detected in the region of the belt and only a few historians know that Joan severely injured her womb violently falling forward against her saddle when her horse went astray.

Several experts have examined the armour and are convinced it belonged to Joan of Ark. They went as far as analysing the metal to make sure it was not a 19th century fake and concluded it was undoubtedly genuine. Now, it is difficult to prove it was made in 1429 and it is more difficult to claim it belonged to Joan of Ark who became a legend and a symbol for the French in the 19th century after she had been forgotten for 400 years.
Joan of Ark, sanctified by the Catholic Church, has become a top symbol for conservative Catholics as well as extreme right-wingers who claim that in the France of Joan of Ark there would be no room for immigrants. If it were proved that this armour belonged to her, this piece would probably become a dangerous relic for many fanatics...
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