Remembering less famous French Joan
She may not be as internationally famous as Jeanne d’Arc (Joan of Arc), but in her home town of Beauvais Jeanne Hachette is just as revered.
In 1472, when the town in the Oise département in Northern France was being beseiged by the Burgundians, an invader managed to scale the battlements and plant the Burgandian banner atop them. Jeanne, only 16 at the time, grabbed an axe and swept the soldier from the wall to the moat below, before hurling his banner after him. Her act of valour acted as a spur to the defenders’ morale and they went on to win the battle.
Jeanne’s name Hachette means ... well axe.
Now each year, Beauvais celebrates with a weekend of festivities, with a medieval fair, a pageant re-enacting a procession given her by the then King of France Louis XI to celebrate her marriage, and a grand fireworks display attended by thousands of people.
Beauvais is Maidstone’s twin town and this year 10 members of the Maidstone Beauvais Twinning Association, led by Cllr Wendy Hinder, plus the new Mayor Cllr Dave Naghi, joined the French for their celebrations.
Fortunately, unlike Joan of Arc, whose battles were with the English, and whom we later burnt at the stake, we were uninvolved in Jeanne Hachette’s troubles - so the visitors from Maidstone were able to fully partake in the festivities.
David Pickett, one of the English contingent, said: “It really is quite a spectacle, and the French made us feel very welcome.
“It’s important, especially with Brexit, to still encourage these international links.”
Maidstone Mayor Dave Naghi visiting Beauvais