III 44 A SEVENTEENTH CENTURY TECHNICAL ADVANCE IN PREVIEW
My computer security is still preventing me from visting Mario Gregorio’s website, recommended by me otherwise, and the proto-French herein is from the easier-to-access ‘Nostradamiana.astrologer.ru’.
Quand l’animal à l’homme domestique
Apres grand peine & sauts viendra parler :
Le foudre à vierge sera si malefique
De terre prinse & suspenduë en l’air.
A modern Fr. translation could easily produce,
When after great pains and leaps domestic animals
Will come to speak to man:
The lightning to the virgin will be very harmful
Taken from earth and suspended in the air.
but we should not agree too quickly. Here’s my reasoning:
This quatrain is all about a Seventeenth Century technological advance – the Flintlock. (The term firelock was used generically for muzzle-loaded smoothbore flintlock, matchlock and wheellock muskets and firearms generally right up until the percussion-cap.) The flintlock was invented in 1615 by Le Bourgeoys a French gunsmith but adoption by the military was reluctant as although they were robust and simple they took time to make and were more expensive. It was not until the end of the Seventeenth Century that they became the predominant military firearm in Europe.
It was introduced only after trials. Fancifully, Nostredame seems to see it as an evolution, so to speak, of the reliable and strong working guard dog. This dog leaps and kicks as it issues a commanding bark followed by a terrible destruction. Rod-rammed and fired by a lock, the exploded powder – extracted from the earth – then hangs in a cloud.
My Technical Translation:
When after taking great pains to make it tumble
the ‘chien’ will come to report:
The saltpetre prised from the earth will behave most malefically
and hangs in the air.
Line 1. OF ‘l’animal à l’homme domestique’ is almost cetainly ‘chien’, a French noun both for a dog and the manufacturing slang for a part of this weapon’s lock. (There is no thoughtful connectivity that will translate it in English other perhaps than ‘cock’).
Line 2, OF ‘peine’ is penalty, effort, evil inflicted. It can also mean to take pains in the execution of something. OF ‘saut’ is a rapid deplacement or a fall or tumble.
Whereas the wheellock’s mechanism showered sparks into the priming pan, the flintlock had a falling flint. The latter was perhaps more ‘obedient’ or more ‘biddable’ than the former.
Line 3, OF ‘foudre à vierge’ is, in Latin-French, saltpetre.
Line 4, OF-Romance ‘prinse’ meant obtained or prised.
Nostradamus died in 1566. The smoothbore matchlock musket with its rest were the main firearmament of infantry from the end of his life up to and beyond the 1670’s. They used a lighted match and were a danger around artillery so giving the superior flintlock its first military usage by guards watching over artillery-trains.
Out of interest, OF ‘émouchet/mouchet’ meaning a kestrel was possibly the origin of ‘mousquet’ or musket, a later vocabulary entry to be found jumbled in the letters of Line 1.
This seems an impossibly detailed technical prediction that might have appeared to be gibberish-deviled-in-doggerel when it was first composed. It is quite a firm proof of powers of prophecy/forward time-travel unless such subjects can be satisfactorily disproved (which by the laws of physics they cannot).
NIGELRAYMONDOFFORD © 2015