Fans of Chamonix-Annecy-Mont Blanc may know the Bourg St. Maurice area with its numerous climbable cliff-faces including Val d’Isere’s Falaise de Manchet and nearby Falaise du St. Marcel.

Saint Marcel was successor to Saint Marcelin as Pope in Rome. Here’s the story that connects them forever, my precis of a section of Volume 3 of the Thirteenth Century ‘Golden Legend or Lives of the Saints’ compiled by the Archbishop of Genoa, Jacobus de Voragine and first printed-published in 1470. According to the reader’s sentiment it is either mystical or overtly political with Marcelin playing the political card fatally badly and Marcel playing his political cards extremely well back in 280 AD:

Saint Marcelin was an early Christian pope. He received ministerial demands that he must sacrifice to pagan gods in the temple. As these were backed by threats of violent death he made some minor concessions with incense which both incensed and sorrowed all faithful Christians. He put himself before his Bishops who stated that the pope was beyond their scope to cricticize and so he recanted his own folly to himself. At this the Emperor said that he should be decapitated and Christian persecution broke out with 17,000 martyred. At  the hour of his execution, Marcelin announced that he was just not good enough for a Christian burial and his body should stay above ground. This loitering lasted for 35 days when the Apostle Peter appeared to Marcelin’s successor pope, Marcel, saying “I hold myself unburied for as long as Marcelin is not buried” and“Why don’t you bury me?”. The new pope Marcel replied that he would then be accursed by Marcelin. Peter pointed out that one who is modestly self-effacing is added to and not diminished and so Marcelin should be buried in glory next to St. Peter at his feet. Sainted Marcel did this quickly and then the people started to implore the dead pope Saint Marcelin to intercede with Heaven on their behalf.

VIII 76  Macelin

1568 Lyon Benoist Rigaud

Plus Macelin que roy en Angleterre,
Lieu obscur nay force aura l’empire:
Lasche sans foy, sans loy saignera terre,
Son temps s’approche si pres que ie souspire.

Translation 1:
More like the political Saints Marcel and Marcelin OR more a meat-grinder OR more the mace-bearer than the monarch for England,
From a minor position he will forge a commonwealth by force.
To put it at the least, knowing neither spirituality nor inherent humanity he will bleed that land,
His times approach so near that it makes me sigh.

Translation 2:
More butcher than a king in England,
Born of obscure rank through force shall have the empire:
Coward without faith, without law will bleed the land,
His time approaches so close that I sigh.

The word ‘Macelin’ in Line 1 may somehow align with ‘manchet’ in Nostradamus Quatrain VI 76 I feel. Otherwise, it might mean ‘of the masses’ or ‘an underling’ but for its commanding capital letter, perhaps indicating a slightly superior title such as Mace-bearer. Most commentators now derive it from the Latin ‘macellum’, a meat market, which does not itself fit to the line so well as ‘meat-grinder’.

‘Lasche’ is an interesting choice of word. The sound of lasch suggests lax or lacks or least or lesser more than base or bestial. German has lasch as an adjective for a slouching gait or a limp and listless person.  Old German has served up the similar ‘szlachta’, a polarized term meaning the old Polish nobility who were often more hard up than many commoner Polish contemporaries and probably not up to mimicing the newest standards of appearance, speech and manners in the West. The word was proper enough in Poland but had inferior social connotations outside that land. It also sounded very like other Germanic words meaning slaughter, butcher and battle.

Line 4 serves well to make it clear that the quatrain does not refer to Cardinal Wolsey of England who died in 1530 having ruled over the King in practice. (The English nobles hated Wolsey. His household was rather regal and even his cook was dressed in satin, velvet and a gold chain. Wolsey was proud and haughty yet he was a butcher’s son.)

This must be Oliver Cromwell, ‘born in 1599 by the Old Style’. My distinctly “Old English” friend went into a sales kiosk in a sleepy village in Western Eire and on enquiring about the large stones inexplicably strewn around the locality he met with a curt, “Have you heard of Oliver Cromwell?” Detested even to this day by different folks with differing justifications and their own special horror story to tell.

Are these quite fair? He was by inheritance a minor member of the landed gentry, by occupation a Cathedral tithe-collector and he married a Bouchier. He could be momentarily mistaken for a candidate for Nostredame’s Great Monarch (admittedly his written title was only Protector or Constable but his spoken one was ‘Your Highness’ and he signed himself as ‘Oliver P’) as he was indeed a world-changing personal force who believed somehow that God was his motivator and whose sober Puritanism extended to breaking the stone ornamentation of old Catholic churches. Yet he also extended uncommon benevolence to Jewish folk, expelled fromEnglandin past centuries. An occasional biographer would persuade us that folk history and prevailing interpretations of recorded history have been unfair to Cromwell – apparently he was no longer in Ireland when the most atrocious crimes of misrule were occurring – although as  Winston Churchill wrote in A History of the English Speaking Peoples, “Upon all of us there still lies the curse of Cromwell”.

A British village dialect apparently uses the vocal sound ‘lesh’ to flip the adjectival phrase ‘without any superior’. A “lesh hailstorm” means ‘king of hailstorms’ and “lesh wicked” would mean ‘nobody is above him at being really wicked’. So ‘lesh as Cromwell’ would mean ‘at least as good at being bad as Oliver Cromwell was’.

The involuntary-seeming sigh recorded at the close of the quatrain confirms that Nostredame had vividly imagined witnessing monstrous things to come on the other side of ‘La Manche’.

If England had not been mentioned here then this ‘Macelin’ might otherwise be interpreted as Ante Pavelic the ‘Butcher of the Balkans’, mass murderer of more than half a million in the “Independent State of Croatia” which he reigned over as if a diseased organ of Hitler. His given name could suggest the Antechrist to the suggestible and his surname requires only two letter changes to be an anagram of Macelin. Ante is contained in the word ‘Angleterre’. He possessed the ‘Croatia Ustaše Treasury’, was offered sanctuary by the Vatican and, like many Nazis, he slipped past War Trial by the Allies becoming a security advisor to both of Argentina’s Peron’s before retiring to Franco’s Spain. Loyal Ustaše expatriates apparently like to maintain a vigil at their founder’s grave inMadrid. A buried nationalist treasure? Then there was infamous SS man, Klaus Barbie, who was called the “Butcher of Lyons”. (We can take the point but should always be a little wary of these media-styled discourtesy titles, they were often unknown to those on the spot.) His connection with Pavelic is via Franciscan Father Krunoslav Draganovic. He was a “high ranking Ustaše official in the Nazi-allied NDH regime in Croatia, Bosnia-Hercegovina” employed by the USA’s Counter Intelligence Corps to help some implicated genocidal criminals to achieve freedom abroad and so upset the Soviets.

VI 76  manchet

1557 Lyon Du Rosne

La cité antique d’antenoree forge,
Plus ne pouuant le tyran supporter:
Le manchet sainct au temple couper gorge,
Les siens le peuple à mort viendra bouter.

Troy. Antenor was one of the elders and counsellors advocating peace with Greece. History then had him as a traitor to his own city. In Homer’s Iliad, Antenor witnesses Helen identifying each of the Greek warriors from the walls of Troy but Dante’s Inferno (from the Divine Comedy) was to locate Antenora in Hell’s Circle of Treachery reserved for turncoat citizens and politicians.

Athens. Antenor, d.510 BC, was a sculptor of bronzes. Pausanias’ Guide to Greece records that Antenor produced bronzes of the tyrannicidal Harmodios and Aristogeiton. The Antenor statues were snatched away to Persepolis until Alexander the Great’s group restored them to Athens alongside their replacement pair, repeating the frozen tyrannicide.

Line 3, OF ‘sainct’ means sacred/having the sanctity of the deity/a Christian title for one who has attained holiness or is perfect in their faith and their life/whoever rose to holiness/who has a purity that is supernatural/who was canonized and is well recognized by the Church as worthy of worship/one of irreproachable conduct or exemplary in piety in accordance with the teachings of the Church.

Lines 3 and 4 have a distinctive inner rhyme, ‘temple’ and ‘peuple’.

Line 4, OF ‘sien’ is that which belongs to the person we speak of. Fourteenth Century England had its Manchet bread baked for feastdays and ‘Le manchet sainct’ looks like ‘St. Manchet’ but is more likely to be the tiny bread loaf which could be kept in the glove (or up the sleeve). An anagram for OF ‘manchet’ is ‘mechant’, wicked. ‘Manchet’ is also the Dutch word for the coat cuff or – as with the English – a cuffing in a scuffle. The nearest to manchet in OF is ‘manche’, a pointed household instrument, or OF ‘manchot’ meaning disabled or missing an arm (as happened to the well-known kore by Antenor the Greek broze sculptor) or else OF ‘machet’ a small bird for the pot or even some derivation from OF ‘masser’, meaning to pile up or heap.

How can any of these be contextualized here? If only this were the word ‘machete’ meaning a type of cleaver like the Medieval ‘großes Messer’ or great knife. In fact, the second couplet contains the jumbled letters of ‘grand couteau’. (And the first couplet contains ‘statue colonne d’aerain’.)

Translation 1:
The old city and its tyrannicidal order as portrayed by Antenor’s sculptures,
Being no longer able to bear the tyrant:
At the temple to cut the throat of the one
We are talking about, the people will come to push around as to death.

Translation 2:
The ancient city betrayed by Antenor (Troy),
Over not being able to bear the tyrant:
‘Manchet’ at the holy temple to cut through the throat,
His own people will come to put to death.

Cromwell was given a monarch’s funeral at Westminster Abbey, the royal cathedral. On January 30th, 1661, anniversary date of the execution of King Charles I, Oliver Cromwell’s body was dug up and taken to where it was hanged from a gibbet all day as if by a true execution and the decapitate corpse reburied beneath Tyburn gallows. The people cried out curses along the processional route. The infamous man’s head was taken to Westminster Hall and put up on show for the greater part of the reign of Charles II. Cromwell had started out as a Cathedral tither, a local tax-collector filling his cups by a tithe on sanctity. His progress took him from converting a church building into the national Parliament through to his pompous burial in the Abbey and later exhumation in total disgrace for a resurrected hanging with his severed head posted on a spike in total denigration of his memory.

Is Macelin a Butcher and manchet a cleaver? Something makes me feel that this closet may not be closed yet. Watch-out you powerful ones who would butcher to get your way, the cleaver may well turn against you or your remembrance-heritage.

                                                           Nigel Raymond Offord © 2012