King Charles VII had a problem. He had been King of France for seven years and had not yet been crowned. France was in the 92nd year of the “Hundred Years War” with England—a war which, by the way, lasted 116 years (1337 – 1453). The Cathedral at Reims was the traditional and proper site for French coronations, and Reims was being held by the English.
On this day in 1429, Charles was finally fitted with his crown—in his cathedral at Reims. Thanks to successful campaigns by Joan of Arc (and other charismatic military leaders), France had pushed-back the English and re-capture Reims. This military success (along with the coronation of their king) boosted the country’s morale and gave them the momentum to see-through the end of the war (still 24 years off).
Despite Joan’s victory, she wouldn’t have long to enjoy it. Within two years, she would be captured by English supporters, tried, and sentenced to execution. One of the charges against her was for cross-dressing. On 30 May 1431, Joan of Arc was lashed to a stake in a public square in Rouen and burned to death. When the fire had burned-out, the cinders were raked away, exposing Joan’s charred remains for public inspection. She was then burned two more times—to prevent any of her remains from being taken as relics.
The bronze bookends pictured above capture the famous French cathedral in exceptional detail.