III 73 & V 78 BEHIND THE SUN
Quand dans le regne paruiendra la boiteux,
Compediteur aura proche bastard,
Luy & le regne viendront si fort rogneux
Qu’ains qu’il guerisse son fait sera bien tard.
When into regnance/regency the lame one comes,
His competitor will have illegitimate kinship to the bastard,
He and his regnance/regency will become so strongly rotting
That it will be very late when he makes restoration.
OF ‘compediteur’ is either a mistake for OF ‘compétiteur’, one in competition who vies with others for prizes, or OF ‘compendieux’, meaning both succinct and vital. OF ‘rogneux’ relates specifically to animate matter that has been scabbed or cankered or become mangy and more generally to things burned or scorched.
Line 1 is the Duke of Maine who, with his brother Louis Alexandre, was the legitimate regent for a day. He was lame and born out of wedlock.
Line 2 is Philippe II Duke of Orleans, Regent of France, who ousted them both and became as powerful as a king. He too was from a non-legitimate scion of the House of Bourbon.
Line 3 reports Philippe’s rotting effect on Parisian morality and at the Royal Court.
Line 4 blames this for the long time that the Duke of Maine lost influence at Court.
It was the Age of Enlightenment and the Duke of Orleans was apparently a professed atheist who indulged in occasional devil invocation. He loved orgies and drunkenness. Pretty mangy, really, and possibly scabbed too if all this is true.
“The flavour comes from the top.”
Ce grand monarque qu’au mort succedera,
Donnera vie illicite & lubrique:
Par nonchalance à tous concedera,
Qu’a la parfin faudra fail la loy Salique.
Line 3, OF ‘conceder’ can mean to admit, agree, adhere to something. It has another meaning – to grant by way of privilege, grace and favour. Or to bring forward something, make a concession.
Line 4, OF ‘parfin’ could be a phantom word meaning no more than ‘OF ‘fin’, end. Or else OF ‘parfait’ (arrive at its term) and ‘fin’ (end) have been combined.
Given Nostredame’s locale Provence this could be a combination perhaps of the Occitan ‘par’, pair-equal-kinsman, and the Occitan ‘fin’, fine-pure-faithful-true. But ‘parfin’ as ‘parfait fin’ fits this context best.
Salic Law or Lex Salica is a code of law written for the Salian Franks in the Fifth Century. It was in Latin with Germanic words weaved in. Being mostly civil law it gradually blended into Common Law and by the Fourteenth Century it had mostly disappeared. It was best remembered for laying down the rules on primogeniture and lawful succession.
This grand monarch who succeeds through a death, Liberalises life as ‘anything goes’ and lascivious (mod.Fr., illicit and horny):
He will bring licentiousness to all through his carefreeness, By the end Salic Law will have ceased.
Louis XV, heir to his grandfather the Sun King Louis XIV, d.1715, was unable to take some aspects of life seriously it seems. Aged only 5 at succession he was meant to be left in the hands of the Sun King’s two legitimized sons but Philippe II duc d’Orléans – the premier prince of the blood married to Louis’ legitimized daughter – outmanoeuvered them to attain unimpeded regency by inducing the ‘high court of justice’, the Parlement of Paris, to annul Louis XIV’s will. Louis XV came of age in 1723 and Philippe subsequently became First minister, dying later in that year. As to his reign as the King of France, Louis took little interest in ruling and left much activity to improper agents namely Mme. de Pompadour’s crew and, later on to Mme. du Barry. Apart from overseeing further military and fiscal disaster they also overturned the established Salic Law of succession by way of the Pragmatic Sanction in the Treaty of Vienna 1738 that first allowed a succeeding female to sit on the throne. The First Couplet may legally refer to Louis XV but easily can be interpreted as parallel with Phillipe who spent at least the first part of his marriage drunk and debauched but went on to fulfill the functions of a king (while his sex was life was as famous then as now, rumours including that he took part in orgies on church holidays, that he tried repeatedly to summon the Devil, practiced incest and would encourage Parisian society into debauchery).
In fact the reign of Louis XV widened the ongoing path to the French Revolution that was to come under Louis XVI. The letters of the full name of Louis XV – Louis le Bien-Aimé – may be found scattered around the First Couplet.
The letters of Philippe le second duc d’Orléans are in the Second Couplet (duplicates ‘p’ and ‘d’) as is his title prior to the succession, le duc de Chartres.
The letters of le Siècle des Lumières, the Age of Enlightenment, are available from the quatrain as a whole as are Pompadour, du Barry, Maîtresse-en-titre, Prince du sang, Prince légitimé de France, Roi des Français and La sanction pragmatique.
Mme de Pompadour’s infamous consolatory remark to Louis, “au reste, après nous, le Déluge”, after a martial failure that would leave the country bankrupted, as it were, is lettered into the first three lines.
“A happy King does not know his own Kingdom.”
NIGELRAYMONDOFFORD (C) 2017