Skip to comments.Lazy, arrogant cowards: how English saw French in 12th century
Posted on 01/17/2010 12:08:03 AM PST by bruinbirdman
Twelfth-century poem newly translated into English casts fresh light on the origin of today's Francophobic stereotypes
Although it is meant to be an 'entente cordiale', the relationship between the English and the French has been anything but neighbourly.
Poet Andrew de Coutances, an Anglo-Norman cleric, describes the French as godless, arrogant and lazy dogs
When the two nations have not been clashing on the battlefield or the sporting pitch they have been trading insults from 'frogs' to 'rosbifs'.
Now the translation of the poem has shown just how deep-rooted in history the rivalry and name-calling really is.
Written between 1180 and 1194, a century after the Norman Conquest united England and Normandy against a common enemy in France, the 396-line poem was part of a propaganda war between London and Paris.
Poet Andrew de Coutances, an Anglo-Norman cleric, describes the French as godless, arrogant and lazy dogs. Even more stingingly, he accuses French people of being cowardly, and calls them heretics and rapists.
It has taken David Crouch, a professor of medieval history at Hull University, months to complete the translation of what is one of the earliest examples of anti-French diatribe.
The poem was written at a time when Philip II of France was launching repeated attacks on Normandy, taking advantage of in-fighting within the English royal family.
Prof Crouch says that the poem is of great interest to historians because of its "racial rhetoric", which was deployed by Anglo-Norman intellectuals in support of their kings' bitter political and military struggle.
While rivalry between the English and their Gallic neighbours now only tends to surface at sporting occasions and European summits, the poem recalls battles between the two countries and describes the vices of the French in detail.
In one passage, it claims that
(Excerpt) Read more at telegraph.co.uk ...
Plus ça change...
Rumsfeld said it best,
“Going to war without the French is like going duck hunting without an accordian.”
What’s changed since then? /s
Anyone who's seen The Lion in Winter will recognize the situation.
They haven’t won a war since Napoleon.
Even Julius Caesar held the Gauls in contempt.
Thus, then, in few.
Your highness, lately sending into France,
Did claim some certain dukedoms, in the right
Of your great predecessor, King Edward the Third.
In answer of which claim, the prince our master
Says that you savour too much of your youth,
And bids you be advised there’s nought in France
That can be with a nimble galliard won;
You cannot revel into dukedoms there.
He therefore sends you, meeter for your spirit,
This tun of treasure; and, in lieu of this,
Desires you let the dukedoms that you claim
Hear no more of you. This the Dauphin speaks.
KING HENRY V
What treasure, uncle?
Tennis-balls, my liege.
KING HENRY V
We are glad the Dauphin is so pleasant with us;
His present and your pains we thank you for:
When we have march’d our rackets to these balls,
We will, in France, by God’s grace, play a set
Shall strike his father’s crown into the hazard.
Tell him he hath made a match with such a wrangler
That all the courts of France will be disturb’d
With chaces. And we understand him well,
How he comes o’er us with our wilder days,
Not measuring what use we made of them.
We never valued this poor seat of England;
And therefore, living hence, did give ourself
To barbarous licence; as ‘tis ever common
That men are merriest when they are from home.
But tell the Dauphin I will keep my state,
Be like a king and show my sail of greatness
When I do rouse me in my throne of France:
For that I have laid by my majesty
And plodded like a man for working-days,
But I will rise there with so full a glory
That I will dazzle all the eyes of France,
Yea, strike the Dauphin blind to look on us.
And tell the pleasant prince this mock of his
Hath turn’d his balls to gun-stones; and his soul
Shall stand sore charged for the wasteful vengeance
That shall fly with them: for many a thousand widows
Shall this his mock mock out of their dear husbands;
Mock mothers from their sons, mock castles down;
And some are yet ungotten and unborn
That shall have cause to curse the Dauphin’s scorn.
But this lies all within the will of God,
To whom I do appeal; and in whose name
Tell you the Dauphin I am coming on,
To venge me as I may and to put forth
My rightful hand in a well-hallow’d cause.
So get you hence in peace; and tell the Dauphin
His jest will savour but of shallow wit,
When thousands weep more than did laugh at it.
Convey them with safe conduct. Fare you well.
They surrendered twice in WWII?
Once to the Nazis and again to the U.S.A.?
A phobia is a fear. Good grief. The English and Normans had many a strong feeling about the Gauls — fear wasn’t one of them.
So, I’m taking it they didn’t have hate speech laws or diversity training back then?
At the time we are speaking of - 12th century,
the following had already occurred:
From around 395 onwards the Goths, Vandals, and Burgundians, Germanic peoples who had long inhabited the area east of the Rhine, came under pressure from invasions of nomadic peoples from further east, and began to migrate westwards over the Rhine. The Burgundians were the first to settle, and they founded a kingdom that stretched down the Rhine valley from the Vosges to the sea (see Burgundy (ancient)). The Vandals founded a Visigothic kingdom in Spain, a kingdom that also stretched into southwest France. In 451, at the great battle of the Catalaunian Fields, Aëtius, the last of the Roman generals in Gaul, defeated the Huns of Attila.
The most important of the barbarian invaders of Gaul was Clovis I, the king of the Franks (481511). The Franks were a Germanic tribe who had lived in what is now Belgium (the Salian Franks) and on the banks of the rivers Sambre and the Meuse (the Ripuarian Franks). United by Clovis, the Franks invaded Gaul and quickly overran it, advancing rapidly towards Paris, which they made their capital.
http://encyclopedia.farlex.com/France:+history+to+1515 Though there is much more to the tale, before the 12th century, it is from that point, from "the Franks", that the nation and the people took and retained their name - France. By then the Gauls were a long-ago over-run minor remnant strain in the make-up of the people.
The English had problems with all their neighbors. That was the nature of Kingdoms back then. The Irish, the Scottish, the French and the Spanish. Granted, sometimes England itself was the one that was attacked and it was just defending itself. But for many of the conflicts, England was the aggressor. And I say that with a very trace of amount British ancestry in my bloodline, according to my father. Mostly Scottish.
Forgot the Danes (Vikings), but I think the Vikings were always the aggressor. Do not recall England attacking Norway or Denmark.
The defeat of the French armies has never been caused by the cowardice of the poilu, but some bad generalship.
*** “the Franks”, that the nation and the people took and retained their name - France. By then the Gauls were a long-ago over-run minor remnant strain in the make-up of the people. ***
Maybe it is something in the soil of the area.;-)
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