III 15 and VIII 32 A TWIST IN THE TAIL
During the War of the Spanish Succession the grand alliance against Louis XIV ‘s France was reintroduced by William of Orange. It was in the Sun King’s complex character both to look for a way to avoid war with good reason and to embrace it with real enthusiasm, seeking to win at almost all costs.
By 1709 the dominant position of France at the turn of the Century had been virtually eroded. At the time of Louis XIV’s death in 1715 the army and the quality of life of the people were severely depleted. So too, as fate would have it, was the original line of succession to the monarchy.
There is a Chinese saying, ‘What is empty shall be filled up and that which is full shall be emptied out’. As if by a further sweep of the hand of Fate, the Sun King lost his son, the Grand Dauphin, plus two grandsons, the duc de Bourgogne (and his wife, also dear to Louis) and the duc de Berry, and then his great-grandson, the duc de Bretagne.
Another contrary outcome was the posthumous defeat of Louis’s Will by Parliament in favour of the man with the worst reputation of that age, Philippe II duc d’Orléans, Duc de Chartres. He was the nephew of Louis XIV by the King’s sole brother Philippe of France, premier duc d’Orléans, a.k.a. Monsieur unique.
No historical French figure has excited our present-day historians to such castigations of him personally/praising accounts of his rule (modernizing, reforming, maintaining peace) as the Regent to Louis XV yet at the time his name was ‘urdu’ and epitomized the wildly decadent aristocracy and royalty.
Cœur, vigueur, gloire, le regne changera,
De tous points, contre ayant son* aduersaire:
Lors France enfance par mort subiugera,
Le grand regent sera lors plus contraire.
*OF ‘son’, used in its possessive sense, is mild cataphora here as we do not yet know who this is. This is properly discounted by substituting the article, i.e. ‘I’aduersaire’.
Line 2, OF ‘aduersaire’, enemy or opponent in a fight or conflict, opposition in a debate, the Devil, one who seeks to harm someone. It may sometimes be used to denote a lover (as m+f are traditional opposites).
Line 3 and 4, OF ‘lors’, then, at that time, so every time, from that moment on, when.
OF ‘enfance’, childhood, first part of life, a dependent kept like a child, diminished in reason, naivety, innocent foolishness, lack of selfconsciousness or, by metonym, children.
Yet OF ‘France enfance’ seems collective and to imply the titles of the successors to the throne, ‘Son of France’, ‘Grandson of France’, ‘Great-Grandson of France’ with France here being the Monarchy.
OF, ‘subiugera’, subjugate a people, a nation, a country, to set back, to defeat, overcome, dominate, force into submission.
Line 4, OF ‘contraire’ means contrary. Is that it, a single meaning? Au contraire – we have a mess of meanings, as follows,
Who is of a situation, location or property opposed to some other
Who is in the opposite direction from, who acts in an opposite direction to
Who is unfavorable to, hostile to, damaging to
As a substantive; that which is wrong, not right
A particular proposal contradictory or incompatible with another
What is of the opposite quality or an opposite property to the character of somebody.
What is different from or is to the detriment of someone or something. What goes against.
The one who opposes an enemy, a competitor, a rival
To tighten or contract something of one’s own
By the associated OF verb ‘contrait’, deformed by an ailment or narrowed or faked. Likewise by OF ‘contrahere’, counter to and causing harm, opposing by arms, displaying opposition, to contradict or thwart oneself, to torment, mistreat or afflict someone. (Also, it could mean a contract of marriage or to engage to marry. OF ‘contrahan’ was one who engages in something by way of contract, particularly marriage)
OF ‘contraire’ in its reconciliatory sense had the meaning ‘to gather’.
In heart, vigor, glory, the reign will be changed,
In all respects, opposite to the antagonist/the preceding protagonist :
The line of succession in France set back by fatalities,
The great regent from that time will become even more wrong.
The great regent from that time will become more inclusive.
The great regent from that time will become straighter.
Rumours about suspect deaths both before and after 1715 hung heavily upon the Regent of France, Philippe d’Orléans, whose way of life and reputation left him open to many black accusations.
Probably this quatrain is addressed to the French Sun King Louis XIV warning of his nephew Philippe, son of his only brother ‘Monsieur unique’.
Among many other outré allegations (inspired by the extraordinary black nature he liked to display, even in Court) Philippe d’Orleans was said to be trying to seat hisself upon the throne of France. In effect, he succeeded by attaining the Regency of France from 1715 until his death in 1723.
Garde toy roy Gaulois de ton nepueu,
Qui fera tant que ton vnique fils
Sera meurtry à Venus faisant vœu,
Accompagné denuict que trois & six.
Line 3, OF ‘meurtrir’ could mean variously to kill, bruise, hurt, tear, disfigure or smother someone.
OF ‘vœu/voeu’ appears as the first part of words like OF ‘vouglaire/veuglaire’, a weapon, or as an alternative spelling to OF ‘voe’, perdition. It was used similarly with respect to OF ‘voil’ (as were the spellings ‘veil/veul/veulh/voel/vol/vueil/veuil/weul’)
all meaning a wish.
A wish to do what? Who knows to what lengths those addicted to Venus may go?
Line 4, OF ‘trois & six’ could mean several things:
As 3 + 6 it is 9. (Incidentally, Nikola Tesla has suggested that some eternal truth exists within the numeric trilogy 3, 6, 9.)
As three sixes, it would be either 3 x 6 equals 18 or 6, 6, 6 = 666.
(It’s entirely possible that royal nephew Philippe could have been labelled ‘666’ as he is said to have practiced Satanics and drawn others into that with him.)
An OF phrase, ‘trente-six’, was used to indicate an indeterminate or unimportant number. (It’s conceivable that a hot-type printer under dictation might misapprehend ‘trois & six’ for ‘trente-six’.)
Take guard against thy nephew thou King of France,
Who so much will make happen that your only son
Gets smothered through lust for/love of Venus,
Accompanying at night as many as may be.
Degeneracy as a cause of Monsieur’s death (in the loose sexual climate that Philippe had always actively promoted at Court) contradicts absolutely the history books which portray him as really quite faithful to his male lover and describe him declining over a time, culminating in some kind of sudden attack, and being nursed a short while by his then reconciled wife, in 1701. Perhaps I am wrong, or maybe Nostredamus is adrift, but as a translation this will fit to the OF text and the social context of the time better than alternative interpretations of quatrain VIII 32 that I have seen so far.
However, there’s a twist in the tail! Monsieur’s lover the greedy Chevalier de Lorraine (hated by Monsieur’s danger-loving son Philippe, by the way) died in 1702, aged 59, officially from apoplexy after a night of sex with plural women.
NIGELRAYMONDOFFORD (C) 2018