V 69 THE CRESCENT SCYTHE
1557 Utrech Du Rosne
Plus ne sera le grand en faulx sommeil,
L’inquietude viendra prendre repoz:
Dresser phalange d’or, azur, & vermeil,
Subiuguer Affriq- la ronger iusques aux oz.
No more will it be that the great Scythe is in a supine state,
Agitation overtakes a troublefree phase:
The upright phalanx of the gold, the azure and the vermilion
Subjugate the ‘Affriq-’ cut down to the bones.
Line 1. An interesting use of words. OF ‘sommeil’ suggests a lack of energy for activities, ‘faulx’ suggests a lack of attention or else the great Scythe, the planet-god Saturn. The scythe might also suggest the Islamic Crescent.
Line 2. Apart from being quite similar to the odd RAYPOZ (See the Article SOME NAMES AND SOME NOUNS IN NOSTRADAMUS) OF ‘repoz’, repose, is fairly straightforward (although in financial English ‘repos’ = repossessions or repurchase agreements or bank-to-bank overnight borrowings). .
Line 3, OF ‘dresser phalanger’ suggests an upright finger or a phalanx with pikes at the upright.
As it happens, the Swiss Guards at the Vatican (who are the world’s oldest non-fighting regiment, the Honorable Artillery Company being the world’s oldest fighting regiment) are dedicated pikemen who wear bright dress uniforms of red blue and gold when on guarding duties and a paler blue tunic when not.
Line 4, ‘Affrique’ with a capital ‘A’ seems like Africa or African but without the capital letter could be the OF adjective ‘affriquee’ which holds the idea of ‘the one rubbing against the other’. (In French phonetics an affriquee or affricative is a sound like ts, dz, pf.) OF ‘subjuger’ would likely have meant overcome by force rather than by political stealth. Here it could apply either to the colours or to ‘Affriq-’. OF ‘ronger’ implies indented tissue and evokes the expression ‘to the bone’. In a disturbed modern paraphrase, “They’d take your eyes right down to the sockets.”
A tricolor like this is also present on the flags of Afghanistan, North Friesland and many, many others including the 1772 land-flag of Galizien. The flag of the MDC in Zimbabwe actually has an up-stretched hand on it. If azure once meant a shade of what we now call green and ‘Subiuguer Affriq-’ meant adding black as the bottom line, this might fit too well for comfort. ‘Black’ and ‘bones’ could suggest the ‘skull and cross-bones’ a pirate signal flagging-up ‘surrender or we attack’. (A skull and crossed thigh bones was also the symbol favoured for Master Mason’s gravestones.)
During an attempt to liberate themselves in 1806 the Spanish colony of Nueva Grenada introduced a tricolor of yellow-blue-red (blue being the ocean that divided them from Spain) then becoming the Federation of Gran Colombia. Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador have similar flags to this day.
‘Dresser phalange’ could indicate that the bands of colours are vertical which narrows the field. Even more helpfully it could mean ‘reading from the hoisting pole; yellow-blue-red’. Unfortunately some countries, institutions and corporations often change their flag colours. Vertical tricolors containing reds and yellows have been the most popular of all and seem descended from Germanic heraldic designs.
SELIM AND SULEIMAN AND SO ON
Following the Fifteenth Century suppression of Hungary, Selim’s last years were spent in Istanbul enjoying the results of his victories. From 1520 onwards the Ottoman expansion into Europe should be ascribed to Selim’s mighty heir who agitated over the Habsburgs intentions for Hungary and resolved to test the geographical envelope that enclosed the Ottoman sultanate during its ‘golden age’. The major incursion he undertook led to the First Seige of Vienna in 1529 and shook all of Europe. A temporary Catholic-Protestant truce followed in 1532. In 1533, Süleyman the Magnificent (d.1566) engaged ‘Barbarossa’, who already had all Algiers plus some North African ports (his brother was once the Sultan of Algiers despite their father having been a humble potter on the isle of Lesbos) in a very high military and state position. Algeria was then garrisoned by the Ottomans and obliged to exist mainly to support its fleet.
In this interpretation of Nostradamus Quatrain V 69, ‘le grand’ is the Sultan and ‘Affriq-’ might be Algiers fully exploited to support the fleet or else it could suggest the huge Ottoman Islamic empire especially North Africa under Barbarossa. The colours in Line 3 are difficult to resolve with this slice of history, even as a Habsburg company pennant, other than the fancy of gold being the great Ottoman wealth accumulated, blue being the Mediterranean Sea and red being the Ottoman Admiral Hayreddin Barbarossa or Redbeard (d.1546). The recent strategic positioning of the modern navy of Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean has also been termed ‘Barbarossa’, incidentally. By extension ‘Dresser phalange’ could suggest a finger pointing to the night sky reminding us of the activated Scythe/Crescent of the first couplet.
The next bloody Siege of Vienna was not until 1683 which united all Catholics and Protestants once more as the news spread rapidly around Europe by printed gazettes.
A professional Ottoman Army of 140,000 (stoic and well-supplied) marched on Vienna, the capital of the Habsburg Empire. Given the scale of the attack this seemed like an ambush of the city’s small garrison. However, the assault had been mobilized for a year and three months without proceeding and the defenders were now heavily stocked including nearly four hundred of cannon. A good marching road for a relief HRE army to take had also been built well in advance and an indefensible bare plain was cleared at the place where the Ottomans would gather.
Both sides were resolved and no quarter was given. Flayed and skinned bodies of Ottoman troops were hung out for a warning. The eventual ‘Battle for Vienna’ (on 9/11) that lifted the siege was won in just over a day by a multi-national force including Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth winged hussars bearing lances who helped the HRE army to defeat the demoralized aggressors. (The Poles also helped deffray the troop expenses of the HRE.) In this interpretation, the colours of Line 3 are emblemic of Vienna, ‘the golden apple’, with red and blue being the colourful clothing traditionally sported by the Polish winged horsemen.
Although at the end of the Sixteenth and through the Seventeenth Century, lancers and pikemen were giving way to arquebusers and musketeers, the imperialist infantrymen at Vienna defended their cavalry from high-trajectory artillery by holding up 6-metre pikes! ‘Dresser phalange’ writ large! I guess that must be it. But I worry that Nostredame has confused his vision of the past (the time-marker first couplet that seems to be about the Sixteenth Century Ottoman leadership) with his future vision (the descriptive second couplet about besieged Vienna in 1683). Or else I have.