Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

La Hire (Etienne de Vignolles)

Portrait of Etienne de Vignolles (La Hire) by J. Lecurieux

Etienne de Vignolles (born circa 1390) or La Hire as he was known was one of Joan of Arc's best military commanders. La Hire spent almost his entire life as a soldier fighting the English and may have started as early as the Battle of Agincourt in 1415. He was definitely fighting for the cause of Charles VII by 1418 and participated in all of Joan of Arc's major battles. At Patay he was instrumental in leading the vanguard of the French forces against the English defenders overrunning them with a calvary charge before they could properly set up their defenses.

La Hire was boisterous, vulgar and ill tempered at times which was probably what earned him his nickname since "hire" means anger. He first fought with Joan of Arc at Orleans where he had been actively engaged in the military operations to protect the city from the time he arrived in October of 1428. It is unknown as to his original opinion of Joan but he quickly came to recognize her military capabilities on the first day of fighting after she arrived. In an assault against one of the English forts outside the city La Hire joined Joan in leading a charge that completely reversed the tide of the fighting back in favor of the French forces. La Hire fought with Joan in all the operations at Orleans and was present throughout the Loire Valley campaign which culminated in the march to Reims for the coronation of Charles VII.

Battle Shield of Etienne de Vignolles (La Hire)

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La Hire seems to have had such a high regard for Joan that he allowed her to exert a moral influence upon him. At Joan's request, La Hire began to go to confession regularly and even renounced his once famously bad language thereafter cursing only "upon his baton." Whether Joan approved of it or not is unknown but La Hire is remembered for his prayer that went along the lines: "May God do for La Hire what God would have La Hire do for Him if God were La Hire and La Hire were God."

At the end of Joan's life, La Hire was one of the few of Joan's men who attempted to rescue her from her imprisonment in Rouen and save her from the flames. For this he paid with capture and imprisonment. He eventually obtained his release through payment of a ransom and continued as the valiant soldier that he was throughout his life fighting the English invaders until the end. As A.B. Paine romantically describes the end of his life: "La Hire, wild, heroic, always half mythical, went fighting down through the years and somewhere vanished in the mists of battle." Legend has it that La Hire is pictured on the Jack of Hearts playing card as shown below:

Jack of Hearts Playing Card (La Hire)

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