X 56 A LOYAL BISHOP BURNS
1568 Lyon Benoist Rigaud
Prelat royal son baissant trop tiré,
Grand fleux de sang sortira/fortira par la bouche,
Le regne Anglicque par regne respiré
Long temps mort vif en Tunys comme souche.
Line 1, OF ‘baissant/baisser’ means decrease intensity in pride, to lower oneself or to stoop. OF ‘baiser’ differs by only one letter and means to kiss and hug including in the extended sense of ‘a male owning a female carnally’ or Judas betraying Jesus with a kiss or else a person kissing the ground. OF ‘tiré’ is presumably from OF ‘tirer’, to pull at or remove something or someone or to imprint on such by shooting a tracer or to make tender perhaps by stretching.
Line 2, OF ‘fleux’ is tricky. The common translation of OF ‘fleuve’ is a river current or flow (here a flow of blood) that is widely used but has never rendered a solution to the quatrain and may well be incorrect. Working around we find OF ‘fleur’ which meant the most colourful part of a plant, the flower, and figuratively the best part of a thing. Otherwise, menstrual blood. White flowers meant losses, apart from the fleur-de-lis which as well as being a royal emblem precisely meant the mark of red-hot fire. The related OF ‘flétrissure’ is the state of being withered. In fact, OF ‘flux’ was the Medieval medical term for flow.
OF ‘sang’ is blood, the sustaining force of life, vitality, a cardinal humour so to speak. It was one of the states of the soul – temperament, emotions, consciousness – considered relative to renal circulation. By metonym it can mean heredity, lineage.
The recurring printer’s type problem of ‘s’ and ‘f’ being an identical font means that we have here a choice though without ambivalence: OF ‘sortira/sortir’ which has the idea of removing, taking away, ‘tirage’, and OF ‘fortira/fortir’, which yet again means to remove or eradicate.
Line 3, OF ‘Anglicque’ meant not only English – the language, customs, law and soldiery – but also served to differentiate one of the parties to the unending pretentions or royal disputes between England and France. In religious terms, Anglicque could also mean the Church (of England) being a clique or set of faithful within Christianity who have formed a particular community. Or else an ‘ekklesia’, a grand assembly.
OF ‘regne’ had two meanings: a sovereign period and a person’s destiny. As Nostredame uncharacteristically puts both words in one line I feel we need to employ both meanings. OF ‘respire’ was all about breath and breathing including the notions of catching one’s breath or taking a breather, tantamount to the verb postpone.
Line 4, OF ‘souche’ is literally a little unclear in the 1568 surviving text but its meaning at face-value adds up to whatever remains of a tree once it is felled, the diminished trunk and any exposed roots.
This may seem grizzly but I am thinking of a person ‘burned at the stake’. Nicholas Ridley was a prelate, the only Bishop of London and Westminster being one of the first sees created after the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII. Before the diocese was put together and Westminster dignified as a city the abbey had been called the Monastery of St. Peter. Westminster Abbey is now out of the direct possession of the Church of England and is effectively owned by the royal family for some reason.
For a reason quite independent of the duties of the executioner, Nicholas Ridley, today an Anglican saint, burned very slowly and pre-placed explosives failed to hasten matters leaving Nicholas to suffer prolonged unintended and unimaginable agony. To hasten his death for humane reasons extra faggots were added ignorantly to the base of the fire but these served only to burn away his lower legs leaving his torso to continue to candle. It is imaginable that his body would have fallen and stooped forward in the flames. In any event such a gruesome legend may have travelled far.
Bishop Ridley was a loyal royalist and annotated his signature to the new Succession Act, a patent of dying Edward VI expressing the wish for Lady Jane Gray to ascend to the throne. He subsequently preached publicly that Princesses Elizabeth (strong Anglo-Protestant) and Mary (strong Roman Catholic) were illegtimate heirs to the throne. His mouthings got him into serious straits. As soon as Catholic Mary unexpectedly commenced her bloody reign he was reined-in to the Tower so as to face a summary trial legalizing his execution.
The royal prelate his stooping exaggerated by eradications,
Great flows of blood will come through or by his mouth,
The Anglican sovereignty postponed by destiny,
A long time dead and yet still alive like a tree stump in Tunis.
Despite that Tunis appears in three other Nostradamus Quatrains – I 73, VI 53 and VI 54 – I feel that here it is simply a poetic reference with Tunis representing fierce sunlight and a lack of water finishing-off a dying tree stump gradually. The next Anglican monarch would be Elizabeth, the Virgin Queen, who undoubtedly ascended to meet her destiny.
Out of interest, the letters of the name ‘Nicholas Ridley’ are in the First couplet (and again in the Second Couplet once we borrow a ‘d’). His place of execution ‘Oxford’ is likewise lettered in Line 2. Alternatively, ‘Cranmer, Ridley et Latimer, les martyrs Oxford’ may be extracted from the quatrain as a whole. More letteration fun, ‘bloody’ is jumbled up in the letters of the First Couplet and ‘mary’ in the letters of the Second Couplet. (Bloody Mary having become a proper name by usage it should properly be spelt the same in French as in English, do you think?) The noun ‘Catholique’ is of course easily found lettered into the same Second Couplet as ‘Anglicque’ while ‘Doctrines protestantes …’ is to be found in the First Couplet with ‘… et réformées’ in the Second so giving us the Protestant and Reform Doctrines.