Nostradamus
and
  The Hundred Years' War
between England and France



II.1.
Supplement
English Verse Translation
Vers Aquitaine par insults Britanniques,

British campaigns towards fair Aquitaine,
De par eux mesmes grandes incursions

And by them too, shall mighty inroads make:
Pluies, gelées feront terroirs iniques,
territoires
Hostile the lands are made by ice and rain.
Port Selyn fortes fera invasions.
Au Port de la Lune
At Lunar Port shall great invasions break.

Source: Presumably Froissart’s account in his Chroniques of John of Gaunt’s hugely destructive rampage right across France from Calais towards the English-held territory of Aquitaine during 1373 in the course of the Hundred Years’ War, involving a terrible passage through the mountains of the Auvergne in the depths of winter. The expedition cost Gaunt dearly, who lost nearly half his army through cold and starvation before the survivors finally reached the safety of Bordeaux, whose curving riverfront area is known to this day as the ‘Port de la Lune’.




IV.46.
Supplement
English Verse Translation
Bien defendu le faict par excelence,

Your strong defences being your greatest might,
Garde toy Tours de ta proche ruine.

Take guard, Tours, ’gainst your imminent demise!
Londres & Nantes par Reims fera defense

London and Nantes to Reims shall stake their right.
Ne passés outre au temps de la bruine.

No further go when mist about you lies!

Source: One of the numerous editions of Froissart’s celebrated Chroniques, detailing events during the Hundred Years’ War, and in particular those surrounding the decisive Battle of Poitiers in 1356. In 1355 the English Parliament had agreed to finance a combined campaign against France, under which it was agreed that Edward the Black Prince would advance northward towards the Loire from the English territories in the south-west, his younger brother John of Gaunt (Duke of Lancaster) would strike in from Brittany, and Edward III would eventually make a push towards Reims in the hope of being crowned King of France there. The Black Prince duly ransacked much of western France and conquered a number of towns in Touraine, but was unable to take the city of Tours (Froissart: Chron. xii, 205), because of determined resistance and torrential rain, which turned the low lying ground south of the town into an impassable swamp. Retreating, he was then trapped by a vastly superior French army near Poitiers under King Jean II. In the event, though, the French were utterly defeated, and King Jean was captured and sent to England. The last line may refer to the Black Prince’s use of a smokescreen to cover the movements of his archers prior to the French cavalry’s final, fatal charge. While Froissart doesn't in fact mention a siege of Tours, it seems overwhelmingly probable that Nostradamus assumed that there had been one, as a result of misreading his sentence 'Et estoit retrés li dis cardinaulz de Pieregorch apriés le departement dou siége en le bonne cité de Tours en Tourainne' [Livre Premier § 375, text kindly supplied by Jacques Halbronn, the 'siege' in question being that of Bretuel, mentioned by Froissart just previously] -- or 'And the said cardinal of Perigord returned, after the relief of the siege, to the fine city of Tours in Touraine -- as meaning 'And the said cardinal of Perigord went home after the relief of the siege of the fine city of Tours in Touraine.'




IV.47 Supplement English Verse Translation
Le noir farouche quand aura essayé

Once the fierce Black his bloody hand has tried
Sa main sanguine par feu, fer, arcs tendus:

And everyone to fire, sword, bow has put,
Trestout le peuple sera tant effraie,

The common folk shall soon be terrified
Voyr les plus grads par col & pieds pendus.
grands/nobles; cou
To see their noblest hanged by neck and foot.

Source: Almost certainly Froissart’s Chroniques, detailing the events of the Hundred Years’ War, and notably the Black Prince’s bloody campaign of burning and looting across western France leading to the Battle of Poitiers of 1356, which proved so disastrous for the French (Luce, I.147-181). One of its major consequences was the so-called Jacquerie of 1358, a major peasant rebellion in northern France that had a leaderless but growing mob ransacking the castles of the lords and gentry, who were blamed for the disaster and its consequences and duly put to death in the most grisly of ways (Luce, I.182-184: ‘These wicked people, without a leader and without ordinary weapons, plundered and burned every house they came to, like mad dogs, murdering every gentleman and raping every lady they could find, showing no mercy anywhere. Never was such cruelty shown in Christendom, or by Saracens either.’). There was an outbreak of general terror (‘Meanwhile all the knights fled, with their wives and children and squires, sometimes to a distance of fifty miles, where they thought they would be safe... Every knight and squire who could do so fled with his lady...’), and it took a group of nobles from further afield finally to put down the revolt, hanging many of those involved (‘a number of gentlemen soon came from those parts and began to kill and destroy the brigands, whenever they found them, and to hang up their bodies all together on the nearest trees’). In not untypical fashion, though, Nostradamus seems to be applying Froissart’s half-remembered mention of hanging to the lords and gentry, rather than to the mob.