For much of the past 600 years, Anglo-French negotiations concerning the ownership of a ring worn by Joan of Arc might have involved diplomatic insults, gunboat posturing and quite possibly the hundred years war going into extra time.
The fact that the ring returned to France this month following nothing more dramatic than an auction says much about the benefits of living in our oft-denigrated commercial world.
Which is why Obiter salutes the role of Edwin Coe in helping historical theme park Puy du Fou secure the medieval artefact, which has been dated and authenticated by experts at Timeline Auctions. History records that, whether in a forerunner of the victims’ surcharge or out of sheer malice, the ring was removed from Joan’s hand by bishop Pierre Cauchon, who presided at the first session of the Maid’s Rouen trial in 1431.
The verdict was nullified on appeal, partly on a technicality. Sadly for Joan, that was 25 years after she was burnt at the stake.