Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Saturday, August 02, 2008

The defendant gave two fingers to the judge......


(Note for US readers: the British equivalent of "flipping the finger" involves two fingers rather than one, and here's why:

It has long been told that the famous "two-fingers salute" derives from the gestures of English archers, fighting at Agincourt. The myth claims that the French cut off two fingers on the right hand of captured archers and that the gesture was a sign of defiance by those who were not mutilated.

This may have some basis in fact - Jean Froissart's (circa 1337-circa 1404) Chronicle, a "journalistic history" of Europe in the fourteenth century records the twists and turns taken by the Hundred Years' War. The story of the English waving their fingers at the French is told in the first person account by Froissart, however the description is not of an incident at the Battle of Agincourt, but rather at the siege of a castle in another incident during the Hundred Years War. Froissart died long before the Battle of Agincourt, so, if the "V sign" did originate with English longbowman, it was well before that battle.


The normally fairly definitive snopes.com appears to reckon this is a myth, but the article seems to be based on a number of misunderstandings, AND doesn't mention Froissart at all. There is an extensive set of comments which quite frankly don't help too much one way or the other, except for one that reckons the Fortean Times investigated the myth and could find no evidence from chroniclers on other side. So either the Froissart citation is bogus or the FT concentrated on the battle of Agincourt alone.


The jury agreed to adjourn the trial after a show of hands....


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