1557 Lyon Du Rosne

Dedans le puys seront trouvés les oz,
Sera lincest commis par la maratre:
L’estat changé on querra bruit & loz,
Et aura Mars ascendant pour son astre.

During the organized performances the bones will be discovered,
In the pit (or at Le Puys-en-Velay) bones will be found,
They will find the corpse narrowly confined,
A violation instituted ruiningly by one who would abuse their role:
The state changed its people will seek after tumult and looting,
And it will have Mars for its Ascendant luminary.

My first reaction on returning to this Nostradamus Quatrain is a partly-intuitive stab. A Bishop of LePuy, influential theologian and famous astrologer Pierre D’Ailly, became a Cardinal and took part in the heated Paris debates on the Papal Schism about which he wrote-out an argument. But in 1419 when some Paris professors were killed he fled to Avignon and died very soon after that. The date and circumstances of his death are unsafe. Around 1400AD he had been responsible for publicizing a calulation that implied the world would cease 155 years on, probably about 1555 the year Nostredame was to publish the first of his ‘perpetual vaticinations’. Did this enrage Nostredame into penning this Quatrain VI 50 because of the seemingly accelerated conflicts and violence which he thought had resulted from a Cardinal-astrologer’s prediction that was lacking in both ancient knowledge and divine inspiration?

Line 1, OF ‘puys’ taken as singular (as the final ‘s’ does not necessarily flag-up a plural) this would be a Medeval literary or musical Society of Northern France arranging dramatic or lyrical poetry performance contests to the honour of the Virgin Mary. ‘Le puys de’ can be found inside ‘Dedans le puys’ and then this Quatrain will comfortably yield the placenames ‘Amiens’, ‘Rouen’ and ‘Valenciennes’ from its remaindered letters and without duplications.

These were towns famous for their Puy d’amour and Puy de Musique groups led by troubadours and minstrels (mentioned in ‘Ancêtres violon’ by Grillet). Might ‘puys’ be where we took the arts term ‘piece’ from?

OF ‘puys’ as OF ‘puits’ = vertical mineral extraction shafts or wells. Might ‘puits’ be where we took the mining term ‘pits’ from?

OF ‘puys’ as a hill or mound: The Cathedral at Le Puys-en-Velay, Auvergne, and the local Chapelle are built from local volcanic rock. The smaller is a tower atop a lofty tight mound. Latitude 45 degrees North. What can be found thereabouts? From here countless pilgrims start their journeys to Santiago de Compostella (where are kept the bones of St. James) after official blessings. Le Puys-en-Velay is loaded with local legends and disputable religious myths in addition to the Black Virgin cult found across the South of France. From the Fourth Century the town became known for some time as Vetula.

Roger Bacon, among others, was taken by a discursive written tale called ‘De vetula’ (about an old lady who leads the author ‘Ovid’ into abandoning his love affairs) in which he thought he found Aristotle and Astronomy conjoined. (A&A?) It mentions Abumashar (Mabus?) and even inner probability calculations for games of chance. The cultural historian Eugenio Garin referred to the Astrology in it. A Catalonian translation was published in 1470.

Line 2, “Sera lincest commis par la maratre” is bizarre. It’s commonly translated as ‘the incest will be committed by the stepmother’ but that makes little sense. Whilst OF ‘inceste’ would mean sex between close relatives, the English ‘incest’ is only one letter away from ‘incept’ and the OF for this was ‘lancer’, to initiate or launch, which carried the cedilla ç in its conjugations. If we return the ‘l’ in  front of ‘incest’ then we get sonically closer to ‘lincest’ being possibly a misprint for ‘lancet/lancette’, a little lance or knife. (We should never underestimate the propensity to error in the hot-metal print dictation process but probably this is stretching it a little too far.)

OF ‘commis’  is the verb ‘commettre’ in its sense of performing, executing, charging somebody with the command of something, arousing somebody or instituting an act. In the substantive OF has ‘commis’ as a person, appointed to a task like a commis chef or else on a dedicated mission.

OF ‘maratre’ is either the new wife of a man who already has children from a previous relationship or else, metaphorically, it is about a person or a thing which does not play some part as it should be performed, say unfairly or detrimentally.

OF ‘mar’ is something that is to the misfortune of somebody. OF ‘atre’ would be a covered passage, walkway or gallery either inside or outside, from a blacked-out footpad to a dangerously concealed walkway.

Last thoughts on ‘maratre’; ‘atre’ might also suggest a hearth so making ‘maratre’ a mantle. A hearth-mantle? A mantlepiece? A shelf-altar for remembrance? Could ‘lincest’ be more properly written ‘l’encens’, incense or frankincense?

Line 3, ‘querra/querré’ is from OF ‘querir’, to fetch/search/pray/seek/require, in this context meaning to seek after what they want.

Line 4, OF ‘son’, his/hers/its, could also mean birdsong or clatter. OF ‘astre’ meant the heavenly bodies, meaning the visible planets. In Astrology the Ascendant is a technical term that identifies the dominant influencer on a Chart. Mars is forcefully malign.

Whatever morbidity lies behind the first two lines, and presuming that these should form a true quatrain together with the second pair, this would appear to be a a somewhat cryptic description of a life-altering event for somebody arising out of or else exemplified by the discovery of concealed bones. At its grandest, this could perhaps be the future turning-point for the prophecied Antichrist of Nostradamus and of Revelation or for, say, a pro-Gentle-Jesus-anti-Christ-the-King movement.

Of course, it could just be another pointer to the French Revolution, a pet theme of Nostradamus, with the word ‘marat-re’ containing the name Marat, the prime ally of blood-thirsty Robespierre. (At a stretch, could ‘-re’ mean ‘regent’ or ‘R-obespierr-e’, a demi-monarch, in portmanteau with ‘marat’? Could Marat-Robespierre = Mabus? Some aspects of the French Revolution certainly did seem apocalyptic.) A deputy to the Jacobin Convention, Marat was also the fiery editor of L’Ami du Peuple and known to be quick to violence. Some considered that his demagoguery held to whichever side suited his aggrandisement.

In 1793 a young Girondiste female who should not normally have had access to his apartment stabbed him to death whilst he was in the bathtub – a place he much frequented so as to ease his pruritic skin. The revolutionary artist David – who himself had despatched hundreds of nobles to the excecutioner – painted a portrayal of this martyred corpse that was straight out of classical antiquity and much like a post-crucifixion view of the slain Christ seen glowing vitally in death. The verse might fancifully be rewritten like this,

“In the tub they find the corpse,
An act performed on Marat by a young murderess on a mission:
The French State having changed,
To reflect Mars the violent.”

A sort of ‘proof of the Normans’ had been demanded by Marat as he lay in his bath. Charlotte Corday gained entry by claiming to be from Caens, begging her way in so as to warn of a Girondist plot there. Marat seems to have challenged her to reveal the names of the Norman co-conspirators, to which she obliged, and when he then stated that they were all to be guillotined she suddenly pierced his heart with her concealed dinner knife that she had bought specially beforehand from a rather nice shop. She was a rather nice girl it would seem – before this fateful bloody event – but then who can tell?

The Gironde-ists were a more-or-less republican political faction in the French Revolution inside both the Legislative Assembly and its successor the National Convention. They were further in than the Parisian deputies who retained some Royalist sympathies. La société des Jacobins was the most extreme group, eventually featuring Marat, Robespierre and Danton; three confreres of the People’s Principle. Perhaps here are Nostredame’s three ‘brothers but not brothers’ with their motherland La Belle France being the Grand Dame that the Monarch should have been husbanding but rather neglected his duties towards – something unknown under the older Celtic monarchies of Europe who, like the Green Man of old, were respected as highly eminent and yet were openly held disposable should they ever fail to further the people’s progress.


                                                           Nigel Raymond Offord © 2011