A Study of Jeanne d'Arc's Standards

...She told me she had asked from the Messengers of her Lord that is to say, God who appeared to her, what she ought to do; and they had told her to take the banner of her Lord. It was for this she had her banner made, on which was painted the image of Our Savior seated in judgment on the clouds of Heaven, with an Angel holding in his hand a fleur-de-lys which Christ was blessing. I was at Tours with her when this banner was painted...*
Fr Jean Pasquerel. Of the Order of Hermit Friars of Saint Augustin, living at their Convent in Tours in 1429, Trial of Nullification 1456

Jehannes Battle Standard

There is historical proof that Jeanne d'Arc had three ensigns (an ensign is a national flag displayed with special insignia or a standard of a military unit.) Two were for military use: her Battle Standard, which was large in size and her Pennon which was small. The third was a religious banner made for the priests and men of the army to assemble around for morning and evening prayers.

The treasurer of Charles VII, Hémon Raguier, paid an artist to create Joan's Battle Standard and Pennon. It is noted in his accounts: "Hauves Poulnoir (Hamish Power), banner painter of Tours, is to create for The Maid, on 'baillé' (burlap) fabric a large standard and small pennon, at the cost of 25 livre tournois." For the third, Jeanne's Chaplain, Father Pasquerel, declares at Jeanne's trial of Nullification in 1456 that Jeanne asked him "to make a banner for the priests to gather around."

All three images that Jeanne used to symbolize her mission came directly from the New Testament. According to the interpretation of Jeanne's Rouen trial testimony, her Battle Standard depicted the final coming of Christ in judgement. The author of the Journal of the Siege of Orleans states that Jeanne's pennon had the image of the Annunciation painted on it. Father Pasquerel testified that the Crucifixion scene was painted on the banner.

Virginia Frohlick states her belief that the fabric of Jeanne's standard was entirely white. "... All the witnesses and Jeanne herself spoke only about the white color. There is nothing exceptional about the fact that the gold fleurs de lys were placed on a white area rather than blue. Why? Because all the regimental flags of the Kingdom of France in the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries, excluding the time in and around the French Revolution, as well as the period of the Restoration (1815-1830) had gold lilies on a white field. Moreover, in heraldic art (art of the blazon or Coat of Arms) and in vexillology (the science of the flags), gold and silver or white and yellow are, associated with the divine, for example the coat of arms of Jerusalem and the Papal States and now the Vatican's the flag.

The standard's silk fringe had an alternating pattern of yellow and white. It was almost one inch wide (2.5 cm). In French this type of fringe is called, "componée."

Because the fabric was only a single thickness, the decoration painted on the front showed through to the back. The standard makers overcame this problem by first applying the gold leaf for the lettering and the fleurs de lys to both sides after which then they painted the images only on one side. Actual sheets of thin gold were attached to the fabric by first applying a thin layer of a fatty substance onto the cloth after which the gold leaf was beaten into the fabric. In French this technique is called "appliquées et battues."

She continues "...Painted on the broadest part of the standard, the part closest to the pole, was the Apocalyptic image of Christ Who was seated on a rainbow, with the wounds in His side, hands and feet exposed. He was shown wearing a light red tunic and a bright red cloak. His right hand held the world (a blue sphere) and His left hand was raised in blessing. Christ was surrounded in an iridescent golden 'mandorle.' [English 'the Aureole']

...According to Jeanne's own testimony, "such as is painted in the churches," the usual representation of the Apocalyptic Christ, for her time, showed Him flanked by two angels. One is, the angel of justice, Saint Michael, who is armed with a sword, and the other is the angel of mercy, Saint Gabriel, who held a natural lily. Next to these figures and towards the tail of the standard, were written the names, "Jhésus Maria" in large gold letters. The white field of the standard's tail was covered with fleurs de lys. These fleurs de lys were painted parallel to the edge of the standard that was attached to the pole. The gold lettering and the fleurs de lys were painted thusly for aesthetic reasons because this part of the standard usually hung in a vertical position..."

The Pennon also called the Small Standard.

According to the Orleans' Siege Journal, the heroine entered the city, on the evening of April 29, 1429. The crowd pressed itself against Jeanne and her horse so much that one of those who carried a torch approached so near her small standard (Pennon) that the fire caught on to it. Jeanne turned her horse and came to her pennon where she extinguished the flames. "The men-at-arms held the sight with great wonder!" According to the majority of historians, this short history explains how the pennon was destroyed.

For my part, I do not think so. Why? Because the pennon was an essential piece of equipment for any company commander as it was used to indicate the position of the captain (like the "Commanding Officer’s Flag" is used in modern armies.) Either, only a small part was burned and repaired or it was entirely remade. On foot and in the middle of a battle, Jeanne could not have handled the large standard. This leaves only the possibility that she used the Pennon, which she could carry.

The "small standard," (Pennon) was triangular in shape with only one point, and as its name indicates, was more modest in size than the large one, thus making it easier to handle by a combatant on foot, as Jeanne did most of the time. The length of the Pennon's fabric ranged between 4 to almost 5 feet long (1.30 to 1.50 m). The part of the fabric that was attached to the pole was approximately 2. 6 feet wide (80 cm). The Pennon's pole was undoubtedly shorter than the Standard's lance, and did not exceed 10 feet (3 m).


Illustrations are from "Les Compagnons d' Arms de Jeanne d' Arc"

Above illustration is from "Joan of Arc" by M. Boutet de Monville

*Note, The account for this banner appears in the 13th Compte of Maître Hemon Raguier, Treasurer of War: 25 liv. tour. were paid to "Hauves Poulnois, painter, living at Tours, for painting and procuring materials for a great standard, and a small one for the Maid.")

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