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Cotgrave's World: Book 7 Oddities

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Thoughts, proverbs and Sayings from the 16th Century

Extracts from a French to English dictionary by, R Cotgrave. Published 1611. In this section we cover, amongst other topics:

  1. Werewolves
  2. Diana
  3. Driuds
  4. Mystic
  5. Thomas Cromwell
  6. Henry 8th
  7. Christmas
  8. Nez-nose
  9. Spitfire
  10. Orgasm
  11. Civil days
  12. Mad humour
  13. Burial at sea
  14. Reincarnation.
  15. Marion and Robin Hood


A mankind wolf, that seeks men; as one that has fed on human flesh, and would rather starve than feed on anything else; also, one that, possessed with an extreme, and strange melancholy, believes he is turned into a wolf, and thus behaves as one.

'Lycanthropie': f.
A frenzy or melancholy which causes a patient (who thinks he has turned into a wolf,) to flee all company, and hide himself away in dens or corners.

A kind of white wolf or beast engendered between a hind and a wolf, whose skin is much esteemed by great men; yet some (not believing that these beasts will, or can mingle) imagine it rather be the be the spotted Lynx, or Ounce; or kind thereof.

'Loup chat'.
The (ravenous, and spotted) lynx, or Ounce; (as Gesner thinks) the Hyena. [ just goes to show how distorted history can become, amongst the ancient Egyptians, the Pharaoh and the High priest were the only ones entitled to wear the skin of a leopard over their shoulder as a sign of their absolute authority. The use of wolf, hyena, or any kind of dog skin would not be entertained, such were like pigs, defiled animals, and while Lynx or Ounce skins might be mistaken for leopard skins, it is dubious to say the least. The Hebrew tribe allotted to the Zodiac sign of Scorpio, rejected the scorpion, considered by them no better than dogs or pigs, and apparently painted a man or obelisk on the tribal standard-flag. [thus, Gesner was wrong, a cat is never a dog.]

Nostradamus Century 2 Verse 28, Diana-Dodi.

'Dodo'. A word wherewith nurses rock,
or lull, their sucklings to sleep.

'Dodrental'. 9 ounces, 9 inches, 9= death.

'Apres beu Dodo'. After drink rest.

'Canars a la dodine'. Served in with
(French) onion sauce.
[Nostradamus Century 2 Verse 28. 'Le penultiesme du surnom du Prophete, prendre Diane pour son iour et repros.'

'penultiesme.' From the Latin, paenultim-us-a-um.]

'Contexte'. A context; a whole web, composition, work; or weaving together; also, the form, or style of process, book or discourse. [world web].
goddess of war.

'Bailer la DIANE'.
Soldiers to rouse their enemies with a hot mornings allarum, [alarm, rude awakening call, the screams, noises, made by attackers on a sleeping camp to cause panic], to give



The voice of country folk begging for small presents, or new years gifts, at Christmas: [an ancient term of rejoicing, derived from the Druids, who were wont, on the 1st of January, to go into the woods, where having sacrificed and banqueted together, they gathered mistletoe, esteeming it excellent to make beasts fruitful, and most sovereign against all poisons:
considering the connection of Mistletoe and Christmas; Mistletoe is the common name for many obligate hemi-parasitic plants in the order of SANTA -lales, and the 'viscum album' (European Mistletoe, of the family SANTA-laceae, in the order of Santalales) was the only species native to Gt Britain and much of Europe. Its various uses would not be unknown to the Druids; its ability to aid, bring on, as well as ward off convulsive nervous disorders, Epilepsy, etc, and its use as a narcotic, and cure for sterility; were definitely known and used by them, more especially the first use. The berries were considered by them the as the very seed of their god.

'Fresne de montaigne'.
The wild ash, the Whicken tree,
quicken tree, quick beam tree.

'Fresne de moutaigne (savage'),
the Whicken tree, mountain Ash.
[ the ash, both wood and fruit were from the mist of time associated with warding off evil, with its Apotropaic powers. [ also used in tanning for mordanting vegetable dyes.]


A teacher, or interpreter of mysteries,
and ceremonies; also,
a keeper of the churches relics.

Mystery; a religious secret,
hidden rite, obscure
and high point of religion.

[In memoriam of Thomas Cromwell.]

Thomas Cromwell

'Qui veut tuer son chien
luy metla rage sus'.

When a bad prince
would be rid of a good
servant or subject, the trick is,
to lay the
charge of treason upon him.

'Vn elou sert a` pousser l'autre'.
One nail serves to drive out another,
one friend employed to supplant,
replace another.

'Haine de prince signifie mort d' homme.'.
The hate of a prince, or a queen,
Presages the death of a man.

Henry 8th

'A chandelle la chevre semble Belle'.
He that chooses a wife by candlelight,
or by other eyes than his own,
may perhaps be foully deceived.
So, says Henry VIII, I heard.


'Tant crie on noel qu'll vient'.
We call so often on Christmas,
that at length Christmas comes.
[ as to waste your life on dreams and wishes, hoping foolishly that good fortune will seek you out, and change your life instead of dealing with reality. False hope is the crutch of fools. M.]

'A Noel au perron, a pasques au tison'.
Warmth at Christmas, coolness at Easter; the fire which Christ's eyes spares, Easter expends.


'Refaire son nez'.
To pick or gather up one's own snot, often playing with it or eating eat, as many children are seen to do. That, that the body had used great ingenuity to keep out, the fool delivers direct to his stomach; as some insanely are given to drink their own urine, thus that, which the Body had naturally rejected, it is forced to swallow,
what poisons do you use?


'Bouches a feu', spitfire,
artillery ordnance.

['Bouches' =mouth-s, mouths of fire,
thus the 'Spitfire'.]


'Orgasme'. An extreme fit,
0r, or expression of anger.
[the more things change, the more
they stay the same].

'Membrane corne'. The horny membrane; another of the four, which resembles both in colour and consistence, a thin piece of horn; it springs from 'la dure mere', and contains, by its hardness, all humours together, but serves especially as a glass or spectacle unto the crystalline. [ one doctor has restored sight in some by replacing this membrane with real bone.]

Civil days

'Iour Civil'.
The civil day; continues, as the ('Iour Naturel') 24 hours, but differs in its beginning,
by the different use,
or constitutions of several nations;
whereof some
(as the Chaldeans and Persians)
begin it from Sunrise;
(such as Jews, Athenians, ancient
Egyptians, and modern Italians)
from Sunset;
(as Umbrians)
from Noon;
and others
(as the ancient Romans,
and at this day,
the French, Spaniards, Germans
and the greater part
of the people of our world)
from Midnight.

The name of a river in Italy
that Julius Caesar passed over
in the beginning of his expedition
against Pompey, whence

'Franchir, ou passer le Rubicon'.
To undertake, or enter in a great
and dangerous exploit.
[ said of one, who boasts of exploits,
he cannot fail to fail in,]

'Au cul du sac'.
At length; in the end, or bottom,
when all is done, and gone;
when all is said, and done,
at the bottom of the sack.
When you come to
A Dead End.

Mad humour

'Petite pluye abat grand vent.'.
(so, said a mad fellow,
who lying in bed, pissed on his farting wife's back.) ('abbat, abat, - quells, allays, abates, thus, a little rain quells a great wind.]

'Il n'y a qu' vne huquee.'.
much like our northern wit;) you have but little (says the clown, when you have a great) way to go.

'Abestin, of abesstinum,'.
[asbestos]. A kind of line or flax, that will not be burned, and yields a cloth which fire scours better than water.

'Liperquam, faire de liper'.
To show his authority, to let the world see his power, to bear himself as one that can do all, in all, to take exceedingly much upon himself. (This word is corruptly used instead of 'luy per quim', all things are done. [for one purpose].

Burial at sea

'Celuy qui se met aur la mer ou il est fol,
ou il est pouvre, ou il a envie de mourir'.

He that unto the sea commits his body,
is either poor, desperate or a noddy.
[I was drawn to the word 'envie', 'fol' is fool, a noddy and pouvre, poor, but envie, is either envy, lusting after the luck or prosperity or good points of another, etc or as ENVIE, the spot, or mark, that a child hath on some part of its body, that represents the thing his mother longed for, or was frightened of when the child was in her womb. To intrust one's body with the sea, is as to trust the devil with your soul.]

'Qui veut apprendre a prier aille souvent
sur la mer'.

He that wishes to learn to pray,
let him go to sea often.

'Qui est sur la mer ne sair pas des vents
ce qu` il veut'.

The winds are not subject
unto those that sail.
No more than the Moon heeds
the howling of wolves.


The transmigration, or passage of the soul from one body to another (Pythagoras' error) [there is no such thing, reincarnation is foolish antidote for death].

'Paladin.' a knight of the round table.
Also, any of the 12 peers of Charlemagne's court, of whom count Palatine was chief, knight errant, champion. [similar to king Arthur and Lancelot.]

'Asned'inde.' the beast rhino, or as some would have it, the unicorn.
French penal colony.

'Penil.' A man's, {or more properly} a woman's groin, {thus a penil, penal, camp was a prison without women].

'Rouer sur les miseres et calamitez.'.
To turn upon the wheel of adverse fortune. [

'Rouer', to wheel, turn around, swing about, compass around; also, to break upon the wheel: thus,

'Espouser la roue'.
To be broken on the wheel,
[a torture often portrayed in some of Bosch's paintings; as savagely bizarre as his works are, they blind men. His ability to portray things as they are, to near perfection, is shown when he paints birds, yet almost everything else in his works is distorted. There is something else that appears is most in all his works, that I see?]

'Mettre au rouet'.
To gravel, plunge, lay sore to,
put to his last shifts,
which being so far spent
that she can run no more endways,
or away,
is fane to wheel about the dogs,
they say of her,

'Le lievre est mis au rouet'.
(to run around a circle of teeth,

'rouet', a spinning wheel
and as 'rouet detele', a wheel of teeth
- a cog wheel.)

'Espieur des chemins', a thief, a purse taker, highway robbers, one of Robin hoods followers, or St Nicholas' clerks. The only people who pretended to steal from the rich and give to the poor where the priests, the churches, and thus we might realize what Friar Tuck, was at, after all it is quite obvious that he took more than his share of the proceeds. [the word tuck, is as tucker, food, and as tucked away.]

Marion and Robin Hood

'Marion.' Marian, a proper name, also 'Robin a trouve Marion' seek biblical, also Jack hath met his gill or a filthy knave with a fulsome queen-ie. He has met his match, found his equal.

'Bors ont oreilles, & champs oeillers'.
Woods have ears and fields their eyes,
So, apt and able is every place
to detect close villainy;
during the 2nd world War we said. walls have ears. There is no safe place to tell another man anything, or you can trust no one.

'Walls ont oreilles, et champs oeillets'.
Some hear, and see him,
whom he sees and hears not;
but woods have ears and fields eyes.
[ concerning the book titled, 'An introduction in how to write and speak French truly']

'Gilles' (a proper name) Giles.

'Mal de St Gilles',
a kind of canker, or fistula.

'Faire Gille'. To fly, give the slip;
run away, and hence in anger some will say,

'Avant Gille'. Out! Begone,
get packing.
[ The authorship of the book concerned is not rightly known; however, we are to believe that Mary Tudor, was his pupil, and she knew him as Giles, he also gives himself this first name. In the first pages, a dedication-prayer to Mary, in which he infers she is the literal incarnation of the virgin Mary: each line starts with a capitol and spells out

'Giles du uues'.
However, we are reliably informed that Mary's mother Catherine of Aragon oversaw most of her daughter's education and consulted with the Spanish humanist,

'Juan luis Vives.'.
Such questions put aside, the book though listed under the title dictionary in no such thing, at best it might be viewed as teaching aid. But what the book is really about, is a plot, what is point of rendering his conversations with Mary, on various subjects. The first part of the plot is obvious; Mary is seen as a future saviour, restorer of the Catholic faith in England, which her father Henry had demolished. But that was not all that our author implies; he sees France, England and Scotland united under the Catholic flag of France, Paris is to be the new Rome, and the Pope will be French, and reside there, and the Mass will no longer be given in Latin, but in French.] thus, Cotgrave, chose's,

'avant Gille', out! begone, get packing. I think Mr. Cotgrave, knew of this work, as he did Nostradamus's.

'Marion.' Marian, a proper name, from whence,

'Robin a trove Marion'. Jack has met his gill. A filthy knave with fulsome queanie.
We surely all know of the fairytale story of Robin Hood and Maid Marian, but who understands it.
With blissful ignorance, we teach our children this rhyme, Jack and Jill, went up the hill to fetch a pale of water, Jack fell down and broke his crown and Jill came tumbling after.
Now consider this verse a mystery story, with hidden meanings.
Firstly, the rhyme makes no sense, who ever went up a hill to fetch water? What crown did poor Jack have? Where did Jill so often called Gill, tumble from?
Consider Jack, a naive young fellow, a `Jack the lad, bit slow, a jackass, who meets his dream woman, she is like a goddess, he desires her, she desires him, even though she is a maid of honour, a virgin. Together they make up the most ridiculous excuse to spend some time together. And thus, then Jack breaks his crown, dips his wick, gives the willing Gill who tumbles on to it, a shag. And we are so happy to hear our children repeat the story.

'Quand il tonne en Mars,
nous pouvons dire helas.'.

(so evil is the thunder of March
held to be.)
[March comes in like a lion,
and goes out like a lamb].

'La fillasse de Nostre Dame'.
The small and slender strings
of a cobweb.

'Chardon de Nostre dame'.
Our Ladies thistle, white thistle,
milk thistle.

'Gans de nostre Dame'.
Foxgloves, London button and our Ladies
glove. [from gantelee].

'D'evesque devenir musnier.'.
From rich to poor,
of noble to base,
of venerable, to, miserable;
to fall from a high estate to a low one;
(the original was)

'Devenir d'evesque Aumosnier,'.
But and (perhaps reason) has changed 'Aumosnier' into 'Musnier'. [ 'evesque' bishop, prelate; 'devenir', wax, become, grow; 'musnier' miller; 'aumosnier' a giver to the poor, charitable, alms giving person. Thus, the truth behind the original was to go from one who fed off the poor, to one of them, for churches and kings commonly rob the poor.

'Les paroles du soir ne resemblent
pas a celles du matin'.

He that gives the good morrow,
may yet before night procure thy sorrow.

'L'un meurt dont l'autre vit'.
That which preserves one-man poisons another. [We say now, one man's meat is another man's poison]. A man in favour may swim where others would sink. A shark may swim amongst sharks until its wounded, a wounded shark is shark's meat. A thing that does one good, harms another. The worthy learn from punishment, the villain hates all the more. Jail destroys the innocent, and strengthens the guilty.