La Hire

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Étienne de Vignolles
Portrait of Etienne de Vignolles aka La Hire, by Louis-Félix Amiel, 1835.png
Idealized portrait of La Hire as imagined by Louis-Félix Amiel, 1835
Nickname(s)La Hire ("The Wrath")
Préchacq-les-Bains, Lordship of Albret
Died11 January 1443 (aged 53)
Montauban, Guyenne
Allegiance Kingdom of France
Service/branchFrench Army
Years of service1418–1443
Commands heldÉcorcheurs

County Bailiff of Vermandois Commander of Château Thierry

Commander of Château de Vitry-la-Ville
ConflictsHundred Years War (Lancastrian phase)

Loire Campaign

La Hire and Xaintrailles depicted in a 15th-century illuminated book.
Coat of arms of Étienne de Vignolles

Étienne de Vignolles (French pronunciation: ​[etjɛn də viɲɔl]), also known as La Hire (French: [la iʁ]; 1390 – 11 January 1443), was a French military commander during the Hundred Years' War.


One explanation for his nickname of La Hire would be that the English had nicknamed him "the Hire-God" (Ira Dei: the wrath of God).[citation needed] Alternatively, his name may simply come from the French "hedgehog" ("hérisson") because he had a prickly disposition.[1]

Military career[edit]

La Hire joined Charles VII in 1418, when the English army invaded France. Although not a noble, La Hire was regarded a very capable military leader as well as an accomplished rider.[2] Three years later, in 1421 he fought at the Battle of Baugé. Along with Jean de Dunois, La Hire was involved in scouting and skirmishing in the countryside as far north as Paris.[3] In 1427, both La Hire and Dunois relieved the siege of Montargis.[4] He was a close comrade of Joan of Arc. He was one of the few military leaders who believed in her and the inspiration she brought,[5] and he fought alongside her at Orleans.[6] At the Battle of Patay, La Hire commanded the vanguard and won a great victory for France.[7] La Hire was also known for praying before going into battle, something that could be attributed to Joan's influence.[8] In 1430, La Hire captured the English held fortification of Château Gaillard.[9] He was imprisoned in Dourdan in the spring of 1431. He won the Battle of Gerberoy in 1435 and was made Captain General of Normandy in 1438. His last two major military engagements occurred in 1440 at Pontoise where he assisted Dunois to capture it from the English; and in 1442 he assisted Charles of Orleans in capturing La Réole.[9] He died at Montauban on 11 January 1443, of an unknown illness.


He held the titles of Lord of Montmorillon and chatelain of Longueville.[citation needed]

In popular culture[edit]

In French tradition, "La Hire" is used as a nickname for the knave of hearts.[10]
His name remains a byword for a choleric disposition.[11]


La Hire is a minor figure in the "Catherine" novels of Juliette Benzoni.

Film, theatre and TV[edit]

In Cecil B. DeMille's film Joan the Woman, La Hire was played by Hobart Bosworth. In the French film La Merveilleuse Vie de Jeanne d'Arc (1929), he was played by Fernand Mailly.

La Hire was also played by veteran John Ford "stock company" member Ward Bond in Victor Fleming's classic 1948 Technicolor film Joan of Arc, which starred Ingrid Bergman.

In Otto Preminger's 1957 version of Saint Joan, La Hire was portrayed by Patrick Barr.

On British television, in the BBC's Play of the Month (1968) version of Saint Joan, La Hire was portrayed by Jack Watson. In the USA, Hallmark Hall of Fame did two versions of the story - The Lark (1957), La Hire being played by Bruce Gordon, and Saint Joan (1967), in which the character was played by Dana Elcar.

In the two-part French film Jeanne la Pucelle (1994), La Hire was portrayed by Stephane Boucher. In the television miniseries Joan of Arc (1999), La Hire was played by Peter Strauss. Also in 1999, La Hire appeared in the feature film The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc, portrayed by actor Richard Ridings.

In the Czech musical Johanna z Arku (2003), La Hire was portrayed by Petr Kolar.

Computer games[edit]

La Hire appears in Age of Empires II (1999) in the Joan of Arc campaign. A powerful "Champion"-class infantry unit, he is portrayed as an accomplished and capable yet Hulk-like brute that refers to himself in the third person. His remarks include "La Hire wishes to kill something", "The blood on La Hire's sword is almost dry", and "La Hire's sword is not bloody enough!".

La Hire is featured as a character in the tactical roleplaying video game Jeanne d'Arc (2005). In the game, La Hire is depicted as an axe-wielding lion beastman warrior and mercenary, known for his overwhelming strength and a fiery temperament.

In Wars and Warriors: Joan of Arc (2004), La Hire is a playable character who is portrayed as a giant with stunning strength. He fights with a massive club.

In Armored Core: For Answer (2008), one of the featured mechs is designated TYPE-LAHIRE. La Hire is also a character in Koei's Bladestorm: The Hundred Years' War (2015).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ David Nicolle (2001). Orléans 1429. Botley, Oxford: Osprey. p. 14. ISBN 1-84176-232-6.
  2. ^ DeVries, Kelly. Joan of Arc: A Military Leader Bath, England: Sutton Publishing, 1999, p. 55.
  3. ^ Perroy, Edouard. The Hundred Years' War London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1951, p. 290.
  4. ^ DeVries, p.65.
  5. ^ DeVries, p. 30
  6. ^ Warner, Marina. Joan of Arc: The Image of Female Heroism Berkeley, California: University of California Press, 2000, p. 65.
  7. ^ DeVries, p. 121.
  8. ^ Scott, W. S. Jeanne D'Arc: Her Life, Her Death, and the Myth London: George G. Harrap & Co. Ltd., 1974, p. 46.
  9. ^ a b DeVries, p. 188.
  10. ^ Benham, William Gurney (6 December 2012) [1931]. "Chapter XV: The Carboard Court (Continued) - The Knave of Hearts and the Story of La Hire". In Read, Benjamin (ed.). Playing Cards - History of the Pack and Explanations of Its Many Secrets (PDF). Redditch, Worcestershire, West Midlands, England, United Kingdom: Read Books Ltd. pp. 114–117. ISBN 9781447422754. Retrieved 17 June 2021 – via Google Books.
  11. ^ Gilman; Peck; Colby, eds. (1911). "La Hire". New International Encyclopedia. Vol. 11. Dodd, Mead & Co.