Connétable de France

Badge of Office


Connétables de France

The Royal Sword

First Empire and Restauration


Back to France





The Constable of France (French connétable de France, from Latin comes stabulari for “count of the stables”), as the First Officer of the Crown, was one of the original five Great Officers of the Crown of France (along with seneschal, chamberlain, butler, and chancellor) and Commander in Chief of the army. He, theoretically, as Lieutenant-general of the King, outranked all the nobles and was second-in-command only to the King. He was also responsible for military justice and served to regulate the Chivalry. His jurisdiction was called the connestablie. The office was established by King Philip I in 1060 with Alberic becoming the first Constable. After Philip August did not nominate a Sénéchal of France any more after 1191, the connétable by and by took over his offices including the supreme command of the army. Also because of the development of the standing army the office became more and more independendent. When it became a threat for the royal power, the office was abolished in 1627 in accordance with the Edict of January 1627 by Cardinal Richelieu, upon the death of François de Bonne, duc de Lesgiguières, after his conversion from Protestantism to Catholicism in 1622. The position was replaced by the Dean of Marshals (Doyen des maréchaux), in reality the most senior Marshal of France in a strictly ceremonial role. A few constables died in battle or were executed for treason, mostly for political intrigue. Note that there are gaps in the dates as the position was not always filled following the demise of its occupant.


The Connétable, who had the jurisdiction over the Connétablie and the Maréchaussée, exercised from the beginning high justice over the staff of high officers by a supreme court of military justice.

After the suppression of the office of Connétable in 1627, the jurisdiction of the Connétablie was in theory exercised by the Marshals of France, former lieutenants of the Constable. The Connétablie and Maréchaussée sat with the Admiralty and the Waters and Forests at the “Marble Table” of the Great Hall of the Palace.


In the Conciergerie hangs a fragment of the Marble Table used at the receptions the french monarchy gave in the Great Hall of the Palace, formerly on a stock now disappeared.


It was presided over by a Lieutenant General. A Provost Marshal of the Connétablie commanded its military executive personnel, consisting of a company of three lieutenants and fifty-two archers. The Connétablie and Maréchaussée was a sovereign court from 1655. It was the last court of appeal for the criminals of the "provost cases": "excesses" committed or undergone by the gendarmes and soldiers, vagrants and looting, desertions and betrayals and all cases of military discipline. In civil matters, its jurisdiction applied to disputes over the pay and malfeasance of commissioners and treasurers of wars. The marshals sat in person at the Point d'Honneur court, whose jurisdiction applied to all cases of insults and provocations to duel involving civil and military gentlemen, French and foreign. The marshal's court also drew up every year the list of Maréchaussée officers worthy of receiving the cross of St. Louis.

The Connétablie and Maréchaussée was abolished in 1791 with the courts of the old Regime.


Persons Subordinate to the Constable of France


  • Maréchaux de France

·         Colonel-general - a special position in the French army, which commands all the regiments of the same branch of service (ie. infantry, cavalry, Dragoons,...)

·         Lieutenant-general - the highest general rank of the French army

  • Maréchal de camp (Field Marshal) - the lowest general rank
  • Porte Oriflamme  - a very prestigious position, though unofficial, which carries the royal banner in battle.



The ORIFLAMME was the standard banner of the abbey of Saint-Denis; the attorney of this church bore it, because he was the defender, and he commanded the vassals of the abbey, when they were obliged to march for the defense of his rights, and to bear their ensign. It is from there that they are commonly called the ensigns of churches. The Counts of Vexin and Pontoise had this title in the abbey of Saint-Denis; they were the solicitors and protectors of it: it was in this capacity that they bore the ORIFLAMME in the wars that were taking place in defense of their property. In time of peace, this standard was suspended on the tomb of Saint-Denis, and in time of war, the abbot put it in the hands of his abbot or his first vassal, who was the count of Vexin, after having blessed it with some special prayers, which we still see in the ancient rituals of Saint-Denis.


  • Grand Master of Archers (Grand-Maître des Arbalétriers - commander of the cross-bowmen)
  • Grand Master of Artillery (Grand-Maître de l'artillerie). From the beginning of the XVII century, the Grand Master of the Artillery became a Great Officer of the Crown and was no longer subordinate to the Constable.

·         Lieutenant-general of the Realm - Occasionally appointed and served as a pseudo-viceroy to oversee royal business in a region and served directly under the King.


Badge of Office


The badge of office of the Constable was a highly elaborate sword called the “Royal Sword” surnamed "Joyeuse" or “Sword of Charlemagne” (Épée de Charlemagne). Its blade was modern and was contained in a blue scabbard embellished with fleur-de-lis in column from hilt to point.  It was a part of the royal treasury before its destruction after the revolution. Today it is in the Musée du Louvre.


Technical data

Sword: Ile de France, 10th-11th century (pommel); 9th-10th cent. (cross-guard); hilt: gothic or modern; blade: modern.

Gold, pearls of lapis lazuli or dark glass, steel.

Length 100,5 cm; of the pommel: 5,6 cm; of the cross guard 22,6 cm; of the blade: 82,6 cm..

The sword has often been restored and repaired in particular in 1804 by Biennais and in 1825 by Bapst.

Inscription: under the cross-guard II M / et demi et X estelli[n]s.


Scabbard: Ile de France, end of 13th or beginning of 14th cent..

Gilded silver, copper, precious stones, purple gold-embroidered velours.

Very often restored in particular before 1634, in 1775, 1804, 1825; repair of the mouthpiece and replacement of the sapphire of the locket before 1634. The present velours is the one of the coronation of Charles X; the gilding has been  renewed in 1825.


The sword was mentioned for the first time in 1271 and was N° 111 of the inventory of 1634.[1] Sword and scabbard were deposed in the Museum on 5 December 1793.


In the next paragraphs it is explained how a sword became the badge of office of the constable for a short time in the 16th century and how the present Sword called Joyeuse became the the royal sword after teh abolition of the office in 1627.




In the carolingian era a sword is represented in the hands of the official who is positioned on the side of the emperor, an other official being armed with a shield and spear. These armed men may have been the bearers of the imperial arms or guard. They may also have been high ranking military officials like the ecuyer, seneschal, constable or the supreme commander and successors of the roman Magister Equitum and Magister Peditum. They certainly were recruited from the inner circle of the emperor, the so-called Paladines. Such a paladine was a certain Roland who died as the commander of the rear guard of Charlemagne and who was canonised in the 11th century in the Chanson de Roland.


The guardian soldiers of Lothair I in the Vivian Bible (843AD)


The emperor himself was not represented in arms but only in official dress with crown, sceptre and staff. Therefore this representation of Charles the Fat is quite exceptional.


Carolingian King, probably Charles the Fat (839-888)

with crown, sword, lance with vexillum and shield

From: Traité des Vices et des Vertus. BNF


Charles the Fat on his throne with courtiers

alias King Salomon

Bible of  San Paolo fuori le Mura,  Frontispiece to Proverbs with scenes from the life of Salomon  (Detail)


His arms distributed between a sword bearer and the ecuyer (squire, shield bearer).



The constables of Otto III and of Henry II (beginning 11th cent.)

each bearing a sword as a badge of office



Angels presenting the holy lance and the imperial sword  in scabbard to Emperor Henry II (1002)

Miniature from the Sacramentary of Henry II. (detail)

today in the  Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek in München (Clm 4456, Fol. 11r)


After the splitting up of the Carolingian empire the kings of both parts were not represented between their armed paladines, the spear and sword apparently being the privileges of the emperor. The french (West-Frankish) kings themselves were usually represented with their civic parafernalia: crown, sceptre and fleur de lis.

Seal of majesty of Louis VII, the Younger, 1137

The king at the age of 17 on a lion’s throne. In his dexter hand a lily and in his sinister hand a sceptre crested with a lily. Crown wit a cross.

Legend: ludovicus di gra francorvm rex .


Connétables de France





1 Connétable de France (v.1060)





2 Connétable de France (v.1065)





3 Connétable de France (v.1069)





4 Connétable de France (v.1071)





5 Connétable de France (v.1075)


Thibaut de Montmorency


Seigneur de Montmorency

6 Connétable de France (v.1085)


Gaston de Chaumont


Seigneur de Poissy et de Fresne


7 Connétable de France (v.1107)


Hugues le Borgne de Chaumont



8 Connétable de France (v.1108)


Mathieu I de Montmorency

                        1138- †1160

Seigneur de Montmorency, d'Ecouen, de Marly, de Conflans-Sainte-Honorine et d'Attichy


9 Connétable de France (v.1138)


Simon de Neauphle-le-Château


Seigneur de Neauphle-le-Château


10 Connétable de France (v.1165)


A sword playing a role at the coronation ceremonies of a french king is described in 1179 at the coronation of Louis Philippe as a co-regent in that year. Then it was given to the king who after  a short ceremony, gave it to one of his high officials, probably his sénéchal, being the commander of the army.


Washing and anointment of  Louis Philippe before his coronation

from: Ordo ad coronandum regem [2]


The sword on the altar after the investment of the king with sword and spurs. On the left and the right the Archbishop of Reims, Guillaume of Blois (1176-1202) presenting the unsheathted sword and on the right Thibaut of Blois (sénéchal de France 1153-1191) who was given the sword from the hands of the king.


Postmodum positis super altare corona regia, gladio in vagina incluso, calcaribus aureis, sceptro deaurato, & virga ad mensuram unius cubiti vel amplius, habente desuper manum eburnem. ...


[After a while the king’s crown is put upon the altar, the sword in the sheath, including the spurs of gold, a golden sceptre, and a rod of one cubit or more, crested with an ivory hand.] [3]


Raoul de Clermont                             



11 Connétable de France 1174


Dreux III de Mello


Seigneur de Saint-Prisc (dit de Saint-Bris)


 12 Connétable de France (1194)


Seal of Dreux III, Lord of  Mello (1138-1218)  1215

Æ53 mm. Archives de l’Yonne H 1494-1 (1/1) [4]


Arms: [Or], Two fesses between three merlettes [Gules].

Supporters:  Two merlettes



Equestrian seal of Louis VIII, 1211


Arms: Strewn with fleurs de lis. L.: X sigillvm lvdovici filii regis francie. D.: 1211.

(In 1211 Louis VIII was count of Artois).


Louis VIII, le Lion / Coeur de Lion


Count of Artois

King of France 1223 - 1226

LouisIX le Saint


King of  France 1226 - 1270

PhilippeIII le Hardi


King of  France 1270-1285


According to instructions for French coronations written down in between 1215 and 1274


1. The canons and clerks of Reims cathedral sing Matins and Prime in the usual way.

2. The king now approaches the cathedral in procession, accompanied by “the archbishops and bishops, barons and others, who he should wish to admit”. It is noted that there is likely to be 'a pressing crowd' of  'multitudes' outside the church, and all but one of the entrances have to be bolted and guarded.

3. The king sits on a throne that has been prepared before the altar, with bishops seated on one side of him (his right, the more honourable side) and secular peers on the other.

4. The monks of St Remigius now come in procession to the cathedral carrying a sacred ampulla of holy oil beneath a canopy held by four monks. This ampulla was supposedly used to anoint King Clovis in 509, though in fact it probably dated to the mid-12th century.The Archbishop of Reims goes to the cathedral door and accepts the ampulla from them, with a promise to return it after the ceremony (!).

5. The archbishop then puts on his pallium and approaches the altar to conduct Mass.

6. The archbishop now asks the king to swear an oath to respect the rights of the Church and bishops. After this, he asks the assembled congregation in the church if they are willing to accept this king: they reply by shouting "Fiat! Fiat!" ('Let it be done!")

7. The king now swears additional oaths: to ensure peace, justice and mercy (the tria precepta), to defend the holy Catholic faith, to uphold and defend the churches and their ministers, and to govern and defend the kingdom granted him by God according to the tradition of justice of his fathers.

8. The assembled congregation now sings the Te Deum.

9. While it is being sung, various royal accoutrements are placed on the altar: a crown, a sheathed sword, golden spurs, a sceptre, a rod with a hand on the end, and a tunic, surcoat and boots of blue silk woven with golden lilies.

10. The king stands and strips to his underwear. The Great Chamberlain of France puts on his boots, and the Duke of Burgundy fastens the golden spurs to them. The king is then given the sword. (Note that this is, in essence, a knighthood ceremony). The king next ceremonially places the sword back on the altar; it is then given to the Seneschal of France to be carried in front of the king for the rest of the day.

11. The archbishop prepares the chrism using oil (probably scented olive oil) mixed with a tiny amount on a pinhead of the sacred oil from the holy ampulla.

12. The king kneels, and while the congregation sing a hymn the archbishop dabs the holy oil on the top of his head, his chest, the small of his back, and his shoulders and elbows.

13. The king now gets dressed in the blue clothes with gold lilies, assisted by the Chamberlain of France. The archbishop gives him the sceptre and rod to hold and places a ring on his finger.

14. The chief secular and ecclesiastic peers of the realm are now summoned by name (six of each - representing the twelve paladins of Charlemagne). The archbishop takes the crown from the altar and places it on the king's head. The twelve peers then reach out their own hands and touch the crown, as a symbol that they are its supports.

15. Still surrounded by the peers and the archbishop, the king is led to a high throne which has been covered in silk cloth. He is seated there, crowned, where the whole congregation can see him.

16. If the king is married, then his queen is now anointed and crowned as well.

17. She kneels before the altar and the archbishop applies sacred oil (but not from the ampulla; just normal oil) to her head and chest.

18. The cathedral cantor leads a Bible reading, then gives the New Testament to the king and queen for them to kiss the book.

19. The archbishop then conducts Mass (again). The king and queen approach the altar first and give bread and wine to the archbishop, before returning to their thrones; then at the appropriate point in the Mass they approach the altar again to take communion.

20. The archbishop then takes back the crowns from the heads of the king and queen.

21. The Seneschal of France, bearing the unsheathed royal sword, then leads the king and queen and assembled nobles out of the cathedral and back to the palace in procession.


A sword identified with Charlemagne's Joyeuse was carried in front of the Coronation processions for French kings, [for the first time in 1270 (Philip III), and for the last time in 1824 (Charles X).] The sword was kept in the Saint Denis Basilica since at least 1505, and it was moved to the Louvre in 1793.

This Joyeuse as preserved today is a composite of various parts added over the centuries of use as coronation sword. But at the core, it consists of a medieval blade of Oakeshott typeXII, mostly dated to about the 10th century. Martin Conway argued the blade might date to the early 9th century, opening the possibility that it was indeed the sword of Charlemagne, while Guy Laking dated it to the early 13th century. Some authors have even argued that the medieval blade may have been replaced by a modern replica in 1804 when the sword was prepared for the coronation of Napoleon Bonaparte.

The Louvre's official website dates the pommel to the 10th to 11th centuries, the crossguard to the 12th and the scabbard to the 13th century.[3]


at the occasion or the coronation of Philippe III le Hardi in 1271 it is writtten by Guillaume de Nangis:


Postmodum jam antea preparatis et positis super altare corona regis, gladio in vagina incluso, calcaribis aureis, sceptro deaurato et virga ad mensuram unus cubiti vel amplius habente desuper manusm eburneam...


Which is in ancient french:

“Entre ce l’en doit auoir appareillé & mis sus l’autel la couronne du roy, & l’espé & mise dedans son feurre, ses esperons d’or, son ceptre d’or, & sa verge à la mesure d’vn coude ou de plus, quit ara au dessus vne main d’yvoire. [5]


Without calling the sword “of Charlemagne” or “Joyeuse” anyhow.


Mathieu II le Grand de Montmorency


Seigneur de Montmorency, d'Ecouen, de Marly, de Conflans-Sainte-Honorine et d'Attichy


13 Connétable de France (1218)

After 1214


Matthew the Great:  CP 10: Li sires de Monmoranchi porte les armes d’or a une crois de gheules et a seize egles d’asur es quatre cartiers. 


Arms: A cross between sixteen eagles.

Crest: A peacocks’ head


The same arms on the counterseal


2. Mattheus


W.: Idem (Vred. p. 9 - 2)

Jan: C 151: Joan de Montmorency, d’or poudré de eglets d’azur un crois de gulez. Cl 111, Cd 122

Wijnbergen: 7: Goud, een rood kruis tussen 16 blauwe adelaartjes (Mathieu III, sgr de Montmorency   †1270).


Amaury VI de Montfort


Comte de Montfort-l'Amaury


14 Connétable de France (1231)


Simon of Montfort or his son Amaury VI

Chartres Cathedral, stained glass in the choir


Seal of Amaury VI of Montfort


Arms: Gules, a lion Argent


Humbert V de Beaujeu


Seigneur de Montpendier

15 Connétable de France (1240)




Ymbert de biaugeu:  Lion de sable billeté. (Wijnbergen 35) [6]


Gilles II de Trasignies

† v.1275

Seigneur de Trasignies

16 Connétable de France (1248)

Seal of  Gilles de Trazegnies [7]


Arms: Bendy of 10 pieces

Supporter: Lion rampant


Humbert de Beaujeu


Seigneur de Montpensier, d'Aigueperse, de la Roche-d'Agoux, d'Hermene et de Roanne


17 Connétable de France (1277)



Armorial Bellenville, fol 2r. 16


Arms: Or, a lion Sable and a label of five, Gules.


Raoul II de Clermont


Seigneur de Nesles et de Briois


18 Connétable de France (1277)


Arms:.Gules, strewn with trefoils, two bars adossés Or. (Wijnbergen, n° 1229)




Gaucher de Châtillon


Comte de Porcéan, Seigneur de Châtillon-sur-Marne et de Crécy


19 Connétable de France (1302)


Bellenville, 2r 8


Arms:  Gules, three pales vair and a chief Or, a merlet in the dexter Sable.

Crest: A dragon


Seal of Gaucher de Châtillon


Raoul I de Brienne


Comte d'Eu et de Guines


20 Connétable de France (1329)


modern rendering

Arms: Azure billety, a lion Or


Seal of Raoul I de Brienne [8]


Raoul II de Brienne


- fils du précédent Comte d'Eu et de Guines


21 Connétable de France (1344)


The count of Guines

The count of Eu

Armorial Bellenville

1. Arms: Vair Azure and Or


2. Arms: ¼: 1&4;Or, a bordure engrailed; 2&3: Azure billety a lion Or

The commentary of Léon Jequier is: Raoul de Brienne, comte d’Eu, porte Brienne sur son sceau et l’écu a la bordure engrelé sur le contre-sceau (1323-1359).[9]


Charles de Castille d'Espagne


Comte d'Angoulême, Seigneur de Lunel, de Benaon-en-Aunis, de Fontenay-l'Abatut


 22 Connétable de France (1350-1354)


Charles d’Espagne, Connétable de France 1350- 1353.


Arms: 1. France ; 2&3 Castilla; 4. Leon. (Gelre n° 1481)


Jacques Ier de Bourbon


Comte de La Marche et de Ponthieu


26 Connétable de France (1354)




Gauthier VI de Brienne


Comte de Brienne, Duc d'Athènes, Seigneur de Liches et Conversano


27 Connétable de France (1356)


Coat of arms of Gautier VI de Brienne

Via dei Calzaioli, Florence

Arms: Azure, a lion double-queued Or.


The Expulsion of the Duke of Athens by Andrea Orcagna (1308-’68),

detached fresco, in Palazzo Vecchio (detail)

His shield and broken spear and sword, and his balance  for measuring taxes on the ground


Arms: Bendy sinister Argent (Or?) [and in nombril point an escutcheon Azure, a lion Or?].


In the 18th century his coat of arms was ascribed by Ritter Vitezovic to Greece:



Arms: Bendy of 9 piece Azure end Or

Crown: A royal crown [10]


Robert Moreau de Fiennes


Seigneur de Tingry, de Belles et de Ruminghen


28 Connétable de France (1356-1370)


Armorial Bellenville, 2r. 21


1356-1359 Robert dit Moreau de Fiennes, Connétable de France. A.: d’arg. au lion de sa. arm. lamp. de gu.. C.: une tête de cerf de sa. accorné d’or. L.: Die H. v Vielgen. Gelre n° 414.

Seal of Robert Moreau de Fiennes

Arms: Argetn, a lion Sable

Crest: A stags’ head Sable attired Or.



Charles V, the Wise 


Dauphin of Vienne 1349-1380

King of France 1364-1380


A sword is represented at the coronation ceremonies of Charles V in 1365:


The royal sword and scabbard on the table of credence.

From:  BL Cotton MS Tiberius B VIII/2 f. 46v, The Archbishop of Reims administering the oath to the King.


During the ceremony the sword was given to the king who put it on the altar for blessing. When it had been returned to him  he transmitted  it to the seneschal (then the duke of Anjou) who kept it upright in the vicinity of the king during the rest of the ceremony.


The seneschal with the sword during the coronation ceremonies, 1365

From:  BL Cotton MS Tiberius B VIII/2. f. 56r: The Archbishop of Reims blessing of the King’s gloves.


Five years later a sword was presented. not to the seneshal but to the connétable by name of Bertrand du Guesclin. However the sword presented was still naked, the royal scabbard only being added later.


Bertrand du Guesclin


Seigneur de Roche-Derrien, Vicomte de Pontorson, Comte de Soria, Duc de Molina


29 Connétable de France (1370)


 Armorial Bellenville, 2r.12


1380 Bertrand du Guesclin, Connétable. W.: d’arg. à l’aigle éployée de sa. mem. becq. de gu., au bâton de même. C.: la tête d’aigle dans un vol banneret d’arg.; tortil d’arg. et de gu. L.: Her Bertran Claykim. Gelre n° 335.


Charles V presents the sword of command to Bertrand Duguesclin

2 October1370

Brit. Lib. Yates Thompson 35 (betw. 1380-1392 )


Apparently this is not the royal sword as this had a quite different pommel and grip.


Olivier IV de Clisson


Seigneur de Clisson, Comte de Porhoët, Seigneur de Belleville, de Montagu, de la Garnache, de Blain, d'Yerrick et de Beauvoir

30 Connétable de France (1380)

Armorial Bellenville, 2r.11


1407 Olivier V. de Clisson, Connétable de France. W.: de gu. au lion d’arg. L.: Clisson. Gelre n° 339, 795.


Philippe d'Artois


Comte d'Eu

31 Connétable de France (1392)


Armorial Gilles le Bouvier [11]


Photo: Roel Renmans

ca. 1397 - 'Philippe d'Artois, comte d'Eu, connétable de France (†1397)

Collégiale Notre-Dame-et-Saint-Laurent, Eu, dép. Seine-Maritime, France


Arms: Azure strewn with fleurs de lis Or, and a label of three Gules on each label three castles per pale Or.


Louis de Sancerre


Seigneur de Bomiers


32 Connétable de France (1397)


Armorial de Gilles Le Bouvier


Arms: ¼: 1&4: Azure six crosses patée fitchée 3,2,1O and a crescent Argent:; 2&3: Gules, a cross moline Or (Villehardouin). And an escutcheon in nombril point ¼: 1&4 Or, a bend Argent and a dolphin Azure over all; 2&3: Azure, a bend Argent coticed of two cotices potent counterpotent


Photo H.d.V. 2014

Tomb of Louis de Sancerre, connétable.

 On the shield the arms of Champagne, a label of three.

Abbey church of St. Denis, Paris


Photo H.d.V. 2014

Shield on the tomb of Louis, Count of Sancerre, Connétable

Abbey church of St. Denis, Paris


Arms: Azure, a bend Argent coticed of two cotices potent counterpotent Or (Champagne) and a label of three Gules.

Crest: A king’s head bearded, crowned crested with a feather Argent. Silver crown 

L.: Die marscalc v. Sansorle. (Gelre 338.)


Charles Ier d'Albret


Sire d'Albret, Comte de Dreux et Vicomte de Tartas


33 Connétable de France (1st time 1402)


The arms of Albret

Armorial de Gilles Le Bouvier




Valéran III de Luxembourg


Comte de Saint-Pôl et de Ligny, Châtelain de Lille, Seigneur de Fiennes et de Bohain, Grand Bouteiller de France


34 Connétable de France (1411)


Modern rendering

Arms: Argent a lion Gules crowned Or


Charles Ier d'Albret


Sire d'Albret, Comte de Dreux et Vicomte de Tartas


33 Connétable de France (2nd time 1413 - rétabli en charge)


Armorial de Gilles Le Bouvier,


Van Bohemundus III (1163-1201) is een zegel bekend waarop hij staat afgebeeld met een schild met vanuit de umbo naar buiten toe lopende stralen.

Een wapen voor de de vorst van Antiochië en de graaf van Tripoli verschijnt in de literatuur pas in het werk van Joinville (1309). Hij  schrijft in zijn „Leven van de Heilige Lodewijk” over het bezoek van de zestienjarige Bohemundus VI in 1252 aan Lodewijk IX in Jaffa: „Direct nadat hij de koning had verlaten ging de prins naar Antiochië waar hij met vreugde werd begroet. Met toestemming van de koning kwartileerde hij zijn wapen, dat rood was, met het wapen van Frank­rijk, omdat de koning hem tot ridder had geslagen.”


Bernard VII d'Armagnac


Comte d'Armagnac et de Fezensac


35 Connétable de France (1415)


Armorial de Gilles Le Bouvier,


Charles le Hardi de Lorraine


Duc de Lorraine


36 Connétable de France (1418)



Seal of Charles II, te Bold of Lorraine, 1390


Arms: Or, a bend Gules chaged with three alerions Argent

Crest: An eagee sejant Arengent

Supporters: Two lions


Arthur III de Bretagne


Comte de Richemont, de Dreux, d'Etampes et de Montfort, Seigneur de Parthenay, puis Duc de Bretagne

37 Connétable de France (1425)


Richemont accepted the constables’ sword given to him by the king in Chinon 7 March 1425. (In disgrace 1428 - 1436)


Arthur III de Bretagne sitting with unsheathed sword and shield

From: Armorial de Gilles le Bouvier [12]


The three Orders on the Tree of the battles of Honorat Bovet (detail)

In the middle of the miniature King Charles VII between the dauphin Louis and of the constable Arthur de Richemont. Paris, BnF, Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal, ms. 2695 fo 6vo, 15th cent...


The Constable in full armour, the sword of his office upright.


Jeanne d’Arc




Leader of the french army


Posthumous portrait of Joan of Arc 2nd half 15th cent.

Centre Historique des Archives Nationales, Paris, AE II 2490  [13]



Coat of arms of Jeanne d´Arc


Arms: Azure, a sword upright piercing a crown, between two fleurs de lys Or.


John Talbot 1st earl of Shrewsbury



Henry VI of England presenting the Constable ´s sword to John Talbot, connétable de France, 1445


Henry VI of England, who claimed the throne of France, appointed John Talbot, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury a Constable of France in 1445.


2 October 1369: Charles V presents his sword of the Constable to Bertrand Duguesclin

Scene from Grandes Chroniques de France

Illustration by Jean Fouquet, about 1455-1460

© Bibliothèque nationale de France


On this picture which was painted after the end of the 100-years war (1337-1453) the sword and scabbard is of the model as at the coronation of Charles V in 1365 and therefore can be called the sword of Charles (V, the Wise/le Sage). In 1455-’60 there was no connétable at all and therefore the picture can be qualified as propaganda.


Louis de Luxembourg


Comte de Saint-Pôl, de Ligny et de Consersan, Châtelain de Lille, Seigneur d'Enghien, d'Oisy, de Ham, de Bohain, de Beauvoir, de Condé-en-Brie et de Bourbourg


38 Connétable de France (1465)


Arms of Louis de Luxembourg Comte de St. Pol
From: Armorial "Le Breton"


King Louis XI (1461-’83) Surrounded by his pairs.

On the right Louis of Luxemburg bearing the sword- and-scabbard of a constable of France

By Etienne Colaud (†1541)


At the battle of Montlhéry, Louis commanded the van of Charles the Bold's army, yet later was made constable of France by Louis XI. The Treaty of Conflans ended the war, while Saint-Pol received the hand of the King's sister-in-law, Maria of Savoy.

After this, he was persistently disloyal to the King, conspiring with Charles, Count of Charolais, and with Edward IV of England, his nephew by marriage. The final treason came in 1474 when Saint-Pol approached Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, who had already entered into a compact with Edward IV of England to dismember France in a renewal of the Hundred Years' War. The scheme envisaged the murder of Louis and the sub-division of France between Saint-Pol, the Dukes of Burgundy, Brittany, Bourbon and Nemours, the Count of Maine and King Edward. Saint-Pol then proceeded to draw other magnates into the conspiracy.





Sword of the constable and its scabbard. France, about 1480.

Paris, musée de l'Armée [14]


Date:  1475-1500

Author: Unknown

Materials: Iron, brass, wood, textile and leather

Technics: Engraving and gilding

Crated in: France

Measures: Width  24 cm Î Length 112 cm

Weight: 1400 g

Inv, n°: Musée de l’Armée, Paris J 26

History: From the collection of the princes of Condé in Chantilly castle



The pommel, cross guard and rain-guard strewn with golden fleurs de lis, the blade decorated with a roundel strewn with fleurs de lis.

Compare the cross-guard with the cross-guard of the sword of Arthur III de Bretagne supra

The decoration of the blade however shows the emblem of Charles V before 1376, the year that the number of fleurs de lis was reduced to three. Therefore, the blade may be the blade of the sword of Charles V used at his coronation and transmitted to the seneschal and used at  the subsequent royal coronations until Louis XII.


Jean II le Bon de Bourbon        


Duc de Bourbonnais (dit de Bourbon) et Pair de France, Duc d'Auvergne et Pair de France, Comte de Clermont-en-Beauvaisis et Pair de France, Comte de Forez et Pair de France, Baron de Roannais et Pair de France, Comte de l'Ile-Jourdain et de Villars, Baron de Beaujeu et Pair de France, Seigneur de Roussillon et Prince de Dombes


39 Connétable de France (1483-†1488)



Louis XII


King of France 1498-1515

King of Sicily-Naples 1501-1504



Was the commander in chief or supreme commander after the death of John II of Bourbon.


Louis XII  (r. 1498-1515) of France Kneeling in Prayer (detail)

By Jean Bourdichon (1457-1521). France, 1498/9.


Blue scabbard strewn with fleurs de lis. The pommel of the arms of France.

Here the sword preserved in the Musée de l’Armée may be represented.


1506-1509 Livro do Armeiro-Mor (Livre du Grand Armurier)

Bertran 5v


At the beginning of the sixteenth century (during the reign of Louis XII)  it apparaently was taken for granted that the badge of office of a (french) constable was a sword with a blue scabbard  strewn with fleurs de lis. On this picture of the legendary Bertand DuGueslin a coat of arms of an unknown knight is wrongly ascribed to him of a lion below a chief of France.


Charles III de Bourbon



Comte de Montpensier et Dauphin d'Auvergne, Duc de Bourbonnais (dit de Bourbon) et d'Auvergne et Pair de France, Duc de Châtellerault et Pair de France, Comte de Clermont-en-Beauvaisis et Pair de France, Comte de la Marche et Pair de France, Comte de Forez et Pair de France, Baron de Beaujolais (dit de Beaujeu) et Pair de France, Comte de Gien, Vicomte de Carlat et de Murat, de Mercoeur, d'Annonay, de la Roche-en-Régnier et de Bourbon-Lancy, Prince de Dombes


40 Connétable de France (1515)




Le connétable de Charles III de Bourbon (1490-1527) portant son épée flamboyante lors des festivités de l’entrée royale de Lyon en 1515


Anne de Montmorency


Duc de Montmorency et de Damville, puis Duc de Montmorency et Pair de France, Comte de Beaumont-sur-Oise et de Dammartin, Vicomte de Melun...Premier Baron de France. Grand Maître de France, Maréchal de France.


41 Connétable de France (1538)


1538 Anne de Montmorency with constable’s sword 


The blade engraved with fleurs de lis.


Sword of Anne de Montmorency


Sword and scabbard of the Connétable 1549

and motto of Anne de Montmorency: ΑΠΛΑΝΟΣ (without deviating)

From: Les heures du Connétable Anne de Montmorency
Musée Condé
, Cabinet des livres, Chantilly Ms.1476


In the time of Anne de Montmorency a badge of office occurs for the first time. It is an armed hand swinging an unsheathed sword,  repeated two times on both side of his coat of arms


Arms of Anne de Montmorency

From: Les heures du Connétable Anne de Montmorency
Musée Condé
, Cabinet des livres, Chantilly Ms.1476


Arms of Constable Anne de Montmorency


Relief with the coat of Arms of Constable Anne de Montmorency

after 1551

stone relief  162 Î 152 cm 

Acc. No. : 1945-25-146

Credit Line : Purchased with Museum funds from the George Grey Barnard Collection, 1945 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Museum of Art.[15]


The idea of the arm with the unsheathed  sword was developed in Croatia and later in Hungary, mainly as a crest. It was the badge of office of the warriors at the border fighting against the Ottomans (after Bayezid the Thunderbolt (1389-1402)). The oldest occurence is on the coat of arms of Hrvoja Vukčić (~1350 – 1416) ban of Croatia, Grand Duke of Bosnia and  Duke of Split.


Arms of Hrvoja Vukcic

from Missale Glagoliticum Hervoiæ Ducis Spalatensis, ~1410


Somewhat later the arm with the sword became the arms of the hungarian part of Bosna.

Hungarian shield of the arms of Bosnia (16th cent.)

Musée National du Moyen Age Inv. CL 2386


The arm issuing from a cloud.


Henri Ier de Montmorency


Seigneur de Damville, puis Duc de Montmorency et Pair de France, Comte de Dammartin et d'Alais, Baron de Châteaubriant, Seigneur de Chantilly et d'Ecouen.


 42 Maréchal de France et Connétable de France (1593)




His scabbard decorated with fleurs de lis




 His arms on the pommel of his sword.


Arms of Montmorency in Montmorency


Charles d'Albert



Seigneur, puis Duc de Luynes et Pair de France, Marquis d'Albert Grand Fauconnier de France.


43 Connétable de France (1621)


Arms: ¼: 1 &4: Or, a lion rampant Gules, crowned and unguled Azure; 2&3: Azure two lions rampant respecting Argent; And in nombril point Per fess, the chief Argent the Oriflamme Gules, the base Gules a a chancelors’mace per pale Or.

Connétable et chancelier de France (1621)



Louis XIII



François de Bonne


Seigneur de Lesdiguières et du Glaizilpuis Duc de Lesdiguières et Pair de France Maréchal de France

44 Connétable de France (1622)



Arms of François de Bonne Duc de Lesdiguières Pair et Connestable de France

After Daniel Dumonstier, 1638 [16]


Arms: Gules, a lion rampant Or and a chief Azure, three roses Argent buttoned Or

Crown: A crown of a pair de France

Orders: The collar of Of saint Michel and  Saint Esprit

Badge of Office: Two hand issuing from clouds on both sides, keeping swords upright:


1750 ca A variant probably mistaken

Arms: Azure, a lion Or, and a chief Gules, three roses Argent buttoned Or. (!!)

Crown and badges of office: As before

L.: François Bonne de Lesdiquieres Connetable, Cette Charge fut supprimée Par Lettres de Louis XIII en Janvier 1627.


The office of constable was abolished  in January 1627.


The Royal Sword


The “Sword of Charlemagne” as we know now must have been manufactured in the 17th century sometime before it was mentioned in the inventory of the Treasure of St. Denis of 1634 (N° 111).[17]

It was then that a pommel of the model of the sword of the seneschal or connétable of Emperor Otto III in 1002, was added and, perhaps the present cross guard was mounted at the same time.

The “Sword of Charlemagne” is therefore likely a creation of  Cardinal Richelieu (in office 1624-†1642).

It is not known where this pommel and cross guard came from.


Louis XIV



source BNF Gallica

Representation of the Sword of Charlemagne,

by Louis Boudan 1670-1715


lieu de conservation: Paris  BNF (Département des Estampes et de la photographie)

cote ou no d'inventaire:  RESERVE OA-9-FOL folio 14

no d'inventaire d'henri bouchot: 36 numéro de l'item (1711) incluant l'image 1319

titre de l'item: (1711) incluant l'image

Un portefeuille fo, parchemin marbré, dos doré, de modes dessinées tant sur velin que sur papier, pris sur les tombeaux et anciens monumens, commençant à Clovis et finissant par Michel Papelart et sa femme

titre et légende: Espee et porte espee tirès sur celle qui est au thresor de l'abbaie de sainct Denis en France qui servoit au roy Charlemagne mort en 814.

titre dans l'inventaire détaillé: Son epée [Charlemagne]

auteur: Boudan, Louis (16..-17..)

date de production: 1670–1715.


In 1701 the sword as we know now  is on the side of King Louis XIV.


Sword of Louis XIV (1638-1715) 1701

King of France from 1643, aged 63, in great royal dress

Workshop of Hyacinthe Rigaud (1659-1743). Oil on canvas, 276 Î 194 cm.

Château de Versailles MV 2041


In the Treasury of St. Denis there were at least four medieval swords, summed up in the inventory of 1534-1634: the sword of archbishop Turpin (First archbishop of France, 8th cent), the sword of St Louis or St Leonard, the sword of Charles VII or of Jeanne d’Arc and the most famous “Joyeuse” the legendary sword of Charlemagne destined for the Museum in 1793.


Sword of Charlemagne by Félibien,  1706

Sword of Saint Louis by by Félibien,  1706


The explication by Félibien reads:


R. Épée de Charlemagne dont la garde, la poignée & le pommeau sont d’or, aussibien que les éperons le haut du foureau de l’épée est d’or & enrichi de pierres.


M. Épée que le même Saint (le Roy S. Louis) rapporta de son premier voyage de la terre sainte.[18]


Louis XV



Sword of Louis XV, on his portrait at an older age

By Louis Michel van Loo (†1771).

 Oil on canvas, 227 × 184 cm. Palace of Versailles


The pommel of an unknown royal cypher or misunderstood by the artist.


Louis XVI




Sword on the portrait of Louis XVI in official dress, 1789

By Antoine François Callet

Oil on canvas, 278 ´ 196 cm. Palace of Versailles


On 5 December 1793 the Royal sword was given to the Musée du Louvre


First Empire and Restauration



Sword of Napoleon Bonaparte

On his official portrait by J.-A.-D.  Ingres (1780-1867)


Louis Napoleon Bonaparte



Connétable, 1807


Allegedly, the Bourbon family, through the Comte d'Artois, offered Napoleon Bonaparte, as First Consul, the title of Constable of France if he would restore the Bourbons as kings of France. In 1808, Napoleon also appointed the Grand Dignitaries of the French Empire (grand Dignitaires de l'Empire Français). In doing this he appointed as Constable his younger brother Louis Bonaparte, King of Holland, and as Vice-Constable, Marshal of the Empire Louis Alexandre Berthier, the French Army Chief of staff and Prince of Neuchatel. Both titles were strictly honorific.

Coat of arms of Louis Napoleon

Coll. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Decreet N° 25 dd. 20 mei 1807


LODEWIJK NAPOLEON, door de Gratie Gods en de Constitutie des Koning­rijks, Koning van Holland.

Nous avons decrété et decretons


Art. 1.


La Confection des armes Royales est ainsi qu'il suit.

Les armes Royales, en conformité de l'article 9 du traité de Paris de 24 Mai 1806, et de la Loi du 7 Aout dernier, sont les anciennes armes de l'Etat, ecartelées de l'aigle Impérial de France.

l'Ecu sera surmonté du casque, couronné de la couronne Royale et entourré du collier de l'Ordre Royal de la Hollande, portant sur la Ruban bleu céleste la Légende Eendracht maakt magt, avec un faisceau de flêches placé verticalement entre chaque syllabe de la dite Légen­de, en tout au nombre de trois, ainsi que de celui de la Legion d'honneur.

De chaque côté de l'ecu sera placé une Epée, la pointe haute, soutenue par un dextrochère armé de gantelet, & mouvant d'un nuage.

La sceptre Royal et le Baton de Justice seront placées en sautoir dernière l'écu et le tout enveloppé du manteau Royal.



Louis Alexandre Berthier


maréchal et grand veneur 1804

prince de Neuchâtel 1806

 vice-connétable de l'Empire en 1807

prince de Wagram 1809


Vice-connétable 1807


Foto H.d.V.

Arms of Louis Alexandre Berthier

Marechal et Vice-Connétable de France, Duc de Neuchâtel.


Arms: Or, an arm in armour Azure keeping a sword upright, bearing a shield  Sable inscribed W surrounded by the motto COMMILITONI VICTOR CÆSAR  Or, and a chief Azure strewn with bees also Or.






Funerary crowns and Sword of Charlemagne of Louis XVIII


Charles X




The sword and scabbard  of 1825

Musée du Louvre


Sword and Sceptre at the coronation of Charles X, 1825

By François Gérard.

Musée des Beaux Arts de Chartres


The sword “of Charlemagne.” held by Bon Adrien Jeannot de Moncey (*1754-†1842), Maréchal de France (1816).


The sword was not used by Louis Philippe and Napoleon III.


Les Armoiries des Connestables, Grands Maistres, Chanceliers, Admiraux, Mareschaux de France & Prevosts de Paris, depuis leur premier establissement jusques au tres-chrestien Roy de France & de Navarre Louis XIII. Avec leurs noms, surnoms, tiltres, faicts & vies.

Féron, Jean Le (1504-1570?); Morel, Claude (1574-1626)

Edité par Chez Charles fils de Claude Morel, Imprimeur ordinaire du Roy., Paris, 1628



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 © Hubert de Vries




[1] Gauthier,  Marie-Madeleine: Le trésor de Saint-Denis. Inventaire de 1634 p. 154 In:  Cahiers de Civilisation Médiévale  Année 1975  18-70  pp. 149-156

[2] BNF Ms latin 1246.

[3] Pinoteau, Hervé: Vingt-cinq ans d'études dynastiques. Eds. Christian. Paris, 1982. pp. 467-468


[5] Pinoteau op.cit. 1982 p. 469-470

[6] Adam-Even, Paul & Léon Jéquier Un Armorial français du XIIIe siècle, l'armorial Wijnbergen. In: Archives Heraldiques Suisses. 1951 pp. 49-62, pp. 101-110, 1952 pp. 28-36, 64-68, 103-111, 1953 pp. 55-77

[7] Collection de moulages de sceaux des Archives générales du Royaume Thumbnail van scan 510_2172_000_17276_000_0_0001

[8] Recherches historiques sur le tabellionage royal, principalement en Normandie : et sur les divers modes de contracter à l'époque du moyen-âge d'après de nombreuses pièces : et Sigillographie normande en XXIV planches (183 sceaux)

[9] Jequier, Leon:L'Armorial Bellenville. Paris, 1983.

[10] Vitezovic, Ritter, Paulus alias Stemmatographia, sive armorum Illyricorum delineatio, descriptio et restitutio, 1701. Autore Equite Paulo Ritter | Vitezovic


[12] Le connétable Arthur de Richemont, enluminure sur parchemin, Armorial de Gilles Le Bouvier, dit Berry, héraut d'armes du roi Charles VII, ms. 4985, fo 17 vo, xve siècle, BnF

[13] A "The later, fifteenth-century manuscript of Charles, Duke of Orléans contains a miniature of Joan in armour; the face has certain characteristic features known from her contemporaries' descriptions, and the artist may have worked from indications by someone who had known her." ccording to Joan M. Edmunds, The Mission of Joan of Arc (2008), p. 40




[17] Gauthier,  Marie-Madeleine. op.cit 1975. Together with three other swords

[18] Félibien, Dom Michel: Histoire de l’Abbaye Royale de Saint Denys en France. Paris, 1709. P. 543.