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Old January 1st, 2017, 11:07 AM   #581

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From the previous page:

munificent adjective \myu̇-ˈni-fə-sənt\ (back-formation from munificence, from Latin munificentia, from munificus generous, from munus service, gift)

1. : very liberal in giving or bestowing : lavish

2. : characterized by great liberality or generosity

mu·nif·i·cence noun

mu·nif·i·cent·ly adverb

* * *

A bit of the history of the construction of the University of Cambridge:

Quote:
Before colleges were built, the students of the University lived in hired houses, the rents of which were determined by two of the University and two of the townsmen, and therefore the schools were, as denominated by Caius, "vagæ et conductitiæ domus urbanorum" [roughly translated: "rented houses that were spread about in the town"], and rented decenially. Under these disadvantages the University found the necessity of erecting suitable accommodations of its own; accordingly, about 1136, it commenced building proper edifices for the use of the students. And first of all, on the western side of their present site, the philosophy and civil law schools were erected, which were let at a certain payment to such as read in those faculties. In the reign of Richard the Second (1398), the divinity schools were built on the north side by Sir William Thorpe: the succeeding reign saw the completion, at the expense of the University, of the south side; and in a few years subsequently the east side was finished at the charge of Rotherham, archbishop of York. As it to this munificent patron that we owe the foundation of our public library, the account of whose original building has been so intricately interwoven with the public schools, it has been deemed requisite to describe thus briefly by whom and at what times they were constructed, particularly since more than one half of their spacious allotment has been destined, like those at Oxford, for the reception of the library treasures that they now contain.

— Charles Henry Hartshorne, The Book of Rarities in the University of Cambridge (1829)
Bonus word:

decennial adjective \di-ˈse-nē-əl\ (from Latin decennium, from decennis of 10 years, from decem ten + annus year)

1 : consisting of or lasting for 10 years

2 : occurring or being done every 10 years

decennial noun

decennially adverb


The Old Schools quadrangle, showing Rotherham's eastern front, from
Catalogus cancellariorum, 1574


Click the image to open in full size.


A much later engraving of essentially the same view

Click the image to open in full size.


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factotum noun \fak-ˈtō-təm\ (New Latin, literally, do everything, from Latin fac [imperative of facere do] + totum everything)

1 : a person having many diverse activities or responsibilities

2 : a general servant
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Old January 5th, 2017, 08:21 PM   #582

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Some anecdotes about a stout-hearted British officer in the Anglo-Zulu War:

Quote:
One of the men omitted from Greaves and Knight's excellent The Who's Who in the Zulu War is Robert Wilstone Black. The historian Sonia Clarke describes him as 'the Central Column's general factotum', and in Zulu Rising Ian Knight calls Black 'indefatigable'. Black was with Chelmsford at Isandlwana on the morning before and night after the battle, and led the first search back there in March, when a strong stench of death still hung over the place. Zulus tried to cut off his party. He returned on 15 May, but once again the Zulus fired on his patrol. Black's most celebrated moment came when he led a party of volunteers to Fugitives Drift. The bodies of his comrades Melvill and Coghill were found and buried temporarily under a pile of rocks. Then, with Zulus watching from the opposite riverbank, Black bravely instigated a search for the Queen's colour of the 24th that had been taken from the battlefield by the dead officers. It was miraculously found in its case and handed to Black, the only officer of the 24th who was present. Later, in a moving ceremony, he returned it to his regiment.

Robert Black was born in Glasgow in 1833 and commissioned in the 42nd Highlanders in 1854, serving almost immediately in the Crimean War. He later transferred into the 24th Foot and sailed with them for South Africa. During the Ninth Frontier War, 1877—78, he learned some of the Xhosa languages and acted as regimental interpreter.

Despite seeming to be everywhere, Black fought in none of the major Zulu battles. Yet on 11 January, when Sihayo's kraal was attacked in the first fighting of the war, he temporarily commanded the 3rd Regiment, Natal Native Contingent. When his men wavered, Black urged them on at the point of his sword (and some 24th bayonets). Then he got off his horse and led the fight on foot. In the close-quarter action a bullet tore his hat from his hand. Calmly, he bent down and picked it up. A few minutes later an observer recalled Black standing 'with his back to the rock and ... waving his sword when the Zulus hearing him rolled over some stones; one struck the gallant Major on the — well, not the head — and he fell to his knees and poured forth a volume of Gaelic that filled my non-coms with delight'. At Isandlwana one fateful morning Black led some of his regiment as an escort for the guns accompanying Chelmsford's column. Later, when firing was heard in the camp's direction, he urged a return to investigate. That night, as troops shakily returned in the inky darkness, he was a tower of strength. One officer wrote: 'Every now and then Black's voice would ring out, "Steady the 24th — be ready to fire a volley — and charge."' John North Crealock, usually acidic towards everyone, was generous in his praise of a man he called 'energetic and plucky and liked by the men ...' Later in the war, as the columns converged on Ulundi, the Zulu capital, Crealock once again praised Black for his 'initiative' while 'keeping our right flank open'. Hamilton-Browne, one of the tough NNC officers, described him as 'brave as his own sword ... but with a temper, well may I say it, just a little peppery'.

His reputation enhanced by the Zulu campaign, Black held various peacetime military commands across the Empire until his retirement in 1899. He died ten years later.

— William Wright, Warriors of the Queen: Fighting Generals of the Victorian Age (2014)

Click the image to open in full size.

Monument at Isandlwana
Image Credit: Tim Brown

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candent adjective \ˈkan-dənt\ (Latin candent-, candens, present participle of candēre to shine)

: glowing from or as if from great heat
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Old January 28th, 2017, 10:48 AM   #583

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James Elkins, art critic and art historian, describes the work of Monet in the opening of a book in which he uses the language of alchemy to help us understand the art of painting.


Quote:
Painting is alchemy. Its materials are worked without knowledge of their properties, by blind experiment, by the feel of the paint. A painter knows what to do by the tug of the brush as it pulls through a mixture of oils, and by the look of colored slurries on the palette. Drawing is a matter of touch: the pressure of the charcoal on the slightly yielding paper, the sticky slip of the oil crayon between the fingers. Artists become expert in distinguishing between degrees of gloss and wetness—and they do so without knowing how they do it, or how chemicals create their effects.

Monet's paintings are a case in point. They seem especially simple to many people, as if Monet were the master of certain moods—of moist bluish twilight or candent yellow beaches—but nothing more: as if he had no sense that painting could be anything but a method for fixing light onto canvas. In his singleminded pursuit of the grain and feel of light, he seems to forget who he is, and who he is painting. He has only a weak attachment to people, and he treats the figures who stray into his pictures as if they were colored dolls instead of friends and relatives. Instead, his attention is riveted to the blurry shapes that come forward through the imperfect atmosphere, and on the shifting tints of light that somehow congeal into meadows and oceans and haystacks. In that respect Monet's paintings are masterpieces of repression, keeping every thought quiet in order to concentrate on light: in order to pretend that there is nothing in the world—to borrow a phrase of Philip Larkin's—but the wordless play of "any-angled light," congregating endlessly on shadowed cliffs and ocean waves.

Recently, art historians have learned to see that more is happening, and that Monet tried to give his paintings the sense of freedom and civility that he thought was appropriate to bourgeois society. He painted contemporary scenes, recent technology such as steamboats, and the life of leisure that he valued most. But still the idea persists that Monet is "just an eye," as Cézanne said, and for good reason: his paintings are ravishing, even for people who don't particularly like glaring multicolored sunlight or soggy green gardens. These days, art historians are apt to be a little indifferent to Monet's eye, and the Impressionists can easily seem less interesting than the generations before them, who were tortured by history and the pressure of great painting, or the generations that followed, with their pseudoscientific and mystical preoccupations. A large part of that lack of engagement on the part of historians comes from Monet's technique itself: the paintings seem so obviously daubed, as if his only thought for the canvas was to cover it with paint as efficiently as possible. It can look as if he allowed one stroke for a leaf, another for a flower, and so on, building up meadows and forest through a tedious repetition.

— James Elkins, What Painting Is (1999)
Elkins then goes on to show that the appearance of simple daubing in Monet's work is deceptive, and that when attempting to copy Monet, he learned that the technique takes considerable skill.



Click the image to open in full size.

Étretat: The Beach and the Falaise d'Amont
by Claude Monet (1885)

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insipience noun \ ə̇n-ˈsip-ē-ən(t)s\ (Middle English, from Middle French, from Old French, from Latin insipientia folly, from insipient-, insipiens insipient + -ia)

: lack of intelligence; stupidity; folly
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Old January 28th, 2017, 01:53 PM   #584

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"on - well, not the head" - no wonder he got so peppery!
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Old March 18th, 2017, 08:49 AM   #585

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Here we have an excerpt from a book written by Thomas Ashe, who styled himself 'Captain.' According to what I've been able to find out about him, Ashe was, not to put too fine a point on it, a scoundrel. He did live a rather interesting life, travelling extensively, swindling and embezzling, and wrote about 20 books. In the quote he describes an encounter with some Indians that occurred as he travelled along the Great Miami River in Ohio.

"Captain Thomas Ashe (83rd Foot Regiment)" | Ashe Family

"Thomas Ashe" | Glasnevin Heritage (Facebook)

Quote:
I soon came up to a small Indian camp of three tents, and a fire already prepared. I alighted, and advanced with affability and confidence to the oldest man of the party, who gave me his hand with much courtesy, and afterwards offered me his pipe with an expression of great kindness. I received it as the calumet of peace, and entered into an alliance of friendship, the violation of which, on either side, according to the Indian's own rule, "would be deserving the wrath of the Good Spirit, and the immediate punishment of Heaven."

Having fallen in such excellent company, I resolved to remain among them for the night, and, with permission, I pitched my tent, and made my fire immediately in the vicinity of the spring which the Indians had chosen for their camp. I soon discovered that the party I fell in with was a family of Mingoes—a nation formerly powerful, inhabiting the banks of the Scioto, and now attached to that river, though reduced to the small number of forty-five!

The family consisted of a father, a married son and daughter, and five of their children, one of which was at the breast, and another but three years old. They manifested no manner of surprise on my arrival, and expressed no curiosity at the sight of the objects with which I was furnished, though they differed so entirely from any they had ever before beheld. Nor was I asked from whence I came; whither I was going; or, any other question whatever. This little appetite to curiosity has exposed almost all Indian nations to the charge of stupidity and insipience of character. Never was charge more ill-founded and unjust. Their apparent want of curiosity is the result of habit growing out of maxims, and the first instructions of their youth—which tend to suppress idle enquiries.

After a very interesting conversation with Onamo, the head, I retired to rest, and reposed with the utmost peace, security, and confidence.

— Thomas Ashe, Travels in America, Performed in the Year 1806 (1809)

Click the image to open in full size.

Logan, Mingo leader

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monition noun \mō-ˈni-shən, mə-\ (Middle English monicioun, from Anglo-French monicion, from Latin monition-, monitio, from monēre warn)

1. : warning, caution

2. : an intimation of danger
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Old June 10th, 2017, 09:42 AM   #586

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In The Reivers: The Story of the Border Reivers, Alistair Moffat describes a period of lawlessness in the Border region (northern England and southern Scotland), and includes an attempt by an archbishop to deal with the reivers.

Quote:
In the 1520s the Border Reivers were becoming increasingly notorious across the north of Britain. News of their crimes and lawlessness had spread all over Scotland and much of England. They had become a national disgrace and were the target of a remarkable reaction from the national churches. Gavin Dunbar, the Archbishop of Glasgow, had been tutor to young James V. When the king began his personal rule, free of the Red Douglases, Dunbar was appointed as Lord Chancellor of Scotland. Where military solutions had failed to make much impact on the perennial problem of the Borders, perhaps the spiritual power of the church might do better. It was certainly cheaper, and worth a try.

Some time in the late 1520s the Archbishop promulgated 'a monition of cursing' against the reivers. He did not hold back:
I curse their head and all the hairs of their head: I curse their face, their eyes, their mouth, their nose, their tongue, their teeth, their neck, their shoulders, their breast, their heart, their stomach, their back, their belly, their arms, their legs, their hands, their feet, and every part of their body from the top of their head to the soles of their feet, before and behind, within and without.
And that's not all:
I dissever and part them from the Church of God, and deliver them alive to the Devil of Hell, as the Apostle Paul delivered Corinth. I interdict the places they come to for divine service, the ministrations of the sacraments of the Holy Church, except the sacrament of baptism only, and forbid all churchmen to shrive or absolve them of their sins, until they first be absolved of this cursing.
Because they are nothing but
common traitors, reivers, thieves, dwelling in the south part of this realm, in Teviotdale, Eskdale, Liddesdale, Ewesdale, Nithsdale and Annandale. They have been in several ways pursued and punished by the temporal sword and our Sovereign Lord's authority, and do not fear it.
The vehemence of the language is palpable—even at a distance of five centuries—but it should not be allowed to distract from the importance of Dunbar's actions. Not only were the reivers placed outside the temporal legal system, there were now also cast out of the church.

Excommunication was an extremely serious matter. Marriages could not be blessed or contracted, funerals would lack a priest, last rites could not be administered or a final confession heard and the sins absolved. The sole consolation was that the monition of cursing was very general, no individuals were named and many no doubt claimed that it did not apply to them.

English reivers did not escape. Perhaps as a deliberately time complement, the Bishop of Durham delivered himself of a similar curse on the surnames of Tynedale and Redesdale, but again it was not practical to name specific names. Apparently Hector Charleton a Tynedale reiver, held a communion where he himself took the service and served all those who attended with wine. In a time when—even on the eve of the Reformation—religion and the church played a central role in the lives of everyone, it was a surprising and shocking example of blasphemy.

— Alistair Moffat, The Reivers (2008)
The full text of the archbishop's 'Monition of Cursing':

Quote:
I curse their head and all the hairs of their head; I curse their face, their brain (innermost thoughts), their mouth, their nose, their tongue, their teeth, their forehead, their shoulders, their breast, their heart, their stomach, their back, their womb, their arms, their leggs, their hands, their feet, and every part of their body, from the top of their head to the soles of their feet, before and behind, within and without.

I curse them going and I curse them riding; I curse them standing and I curse them sitting; I curse them eating and I curse them drinking; I curse them rising, and I curse them lying; I curse them at home, I curse them away from home; I curse them within the house, I curse them outside of the house; I curse their wives, their children, and their servants who participate in their deeds. I (bring ill wishes upon) their crops, their cattle, their wool, their sheep, their horses, their swine, their geese, their hens, and all their livestock. I (bring ill wishes upon) their halls, their chambers, their kitchens, their stanchions, their barns, their cowsheds, their barnyards, their cabbage patches, their plows, their harrows, and the goods and houses that are necessary for their sustenance and welfare.

May all the malevolent wishes and curses ever known, since the beginning of the world, to this hour, light on them. May the malediction of God, that fell upon Lucifer and all his fellows, that cast them from the high Heaven to the deep hell, light upon them.

May the fire and the sword that stopped Adam from the gates of Paradise, stop them from the glory of Heaven, until they forebear, and make amends.

May the evil that fell upon cursed Cain, when he slew his brother Abel, needlessly, fall on them for the needless slaughter that they commit daily.

May the malediction that fell upon all the world, man and beast, and all that ever took life, when all were drowned by the flood of Noah, except Noah and his ark, fall upon them and drown them, man and beast, and make this realm free of them, for their wicked sins.

May the thunder and lightning which rained down upon Sodom and Gomorra and all the lands surrounding them, and burned them for their vile sins, rain down upon them and burn them for their open sins. May the evil and confusion that fell on the Gigantis for their opression and pride in building the Tower of Babylon, confound them and all their works, for their open callous disregard and opression.

May all the plagues that fell upon Pharoah and his people of Egypt, their lands, crops and cattle, fall upon them, their equipment, their places, their lands, their crops and livestock.

May the waters of the Tweed and other waters which they use, drown them, as the Red Sea drowned King Pharoah and the people of Egypt, preserving God's people of Israel.

May the earth open, split and cleave, and swallow them straight to hell, as it swallowed cursed Dathan and Abiron, who disobeyed Moses and the command of God.

May the wild fire that reduced Thore and his followers to two-hundred-fifty in number, and others from 14,000 to 7,000 at anys, usurping against Moses and Aaron, servants of God, suddenly burn and consume them daily, for opposing the commands of God and Holy Church.

May the malediction that suddenly fell upon fair Absolom, riding through the wood against his father, King David, when the branches of a tree knocked him from his horse and hanged him by the hair, fall upon these untrue Scotsmen and hang them the same way, that all the world may see.

May the malediction that fell upon Nebuchadnezzar's lieutenant, Olifernus, making war and savagery upon true christian men; the malediction that fell upon Judas, Pilate, Herod, and the Jews that crucified Our Lord; and all the plagues and troubles that fell on the city of Jerusalem therefore, and upon Simon Magus for his treachery, bloody Nero, Ditius Magcensius, Olibrius, Julianus Apostita and the rest of the cruel tyrants who slew and murdered Christ's holy servants, fall upon them for their cruel tyranny and murder of Christian people.

And may all the vengeance that ever was taken since the world began, for open sins, and all the plagues and pestilence that ever fell on man or beast, fall on them for their openly evil ways, senseless slaughter and shedding of innocent blood.

I sever and part them from the church of God, and deliver them immediately to the devil of hell, as the Apostle Paul delivered Corinth. I bar the entrance of all places they come to, for divine service and ministration of the sacraments of holy church, except the sacrament of infant baptism, only; and I forbid all churchmen to hear their confession or to absolve them of their sins, until they are first humbled / subjugated by this curse.

I forbid all Christian men or women to have any company with them, eating, drinking, speaking, praying, lying, going, standing, or in any other deed-doing, under the pain of deadly sin.

I discharge all bonds, acts, contracts, oaths, made to them by any persons, out of loyalty, kindness, or personal duty, so long as they sustain this cursing, by which no man will be bound to them, and this will be binding on all men.

I take from them, and cast down all the good deeds that ever they did, or shall do, until they rise from this cursing.

I declare them excluded from all matins, masses, evening prayers, funerals or other prayers, on book or bead (rosary); of all pilgrimages and alms deeds done, or to be done in holy church or be Christian people, while this curse is in effect.

And, finally, I condemn them perpetually to the deep pit of hell, there to remain with Lucifer and all his fellows, and their bodies to the gallows of Burrow moor, first to be hanged, then ripped and torn by dogs, swine, and other wild beasts, abominable to all the world. And their candle (light of their life) goes from your sight, as may their souls go from the face of God, and their good reputation from the world, until they forebear their open sins, aforesaid, and rise from this terrible cursing and make satisfaction and penance.
Part of the 'Monition' was inscribed on a polished granite boulder in an art installation at the Tullie House Museum's Millennium Gallery in Carlisle in the United Kingdom county of Cumbria. Apparently there are some who believe that its power is such that the curse has blighted Carlisle ("Curse of the Cursing Stone" | BBC).



Click the image to open in full size.

The 'Cursing Stone'
Image Credit: Border Reiver Stories

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opuscule noun \ō-ˈpə-(ˌ)skyül\ (French, from Latin opusculum, diminutive of opus work)

: a small or petty work [generally literary or musical]

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Old June 10th, 2017, 12:53 PM   #587

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Emendation to the above: Though I might argue that "the Border region" is not irretrievably incorrect, I don't believe it's common British usage, nor historically accurate. If it weren't too late, I would have edited my post to say "lawlessness and banditry in the Borders (northern England and southern Scotland)".
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Old June 29th, 2017, 04:15 AM   #588

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A brief look into the history of winemaking and enology.

Quote:
Historically progress in perfecting the art of wine making was painfully slow. The first evidence of alcoholic beverages comes from China. Only recently, in 2004 AD, a group of Chinese and American researchers analysed 9000 year old residues of a mixture of fermented rice, honey and fruits, which is currently the oldest evidence of an alcoholic beverage. Records of wine making date from 4000 BC. Interestingly, wine making is a male dominated profession althought the first winemaker appears to have been a woman. William Younger reported in his book Gods, Men and Wine (1966) that Siduri, The Wine Maker, is on record of being the first to have made wine from grapes in the 4th millenium BC. No other female winemaker has made the headlines until 1820 when Elizabeth Gervais was granted a patent by Louis XVIII for her invention of an elaborate wine making machine. This interesting detail was recorded by her brother Jean Gervais in 'Opuscule sur la Vinification'. One wonders if women, who were, after all, familiar with household chores, like cooking and preserving food, might not have achieved better results earlier, in terms of wine quality, had they been given the chance.

— Anton Massel, The Wine Pioneers (2008)
Bonus word:

enology (also spelled 'oenology') noun \ē-ˈnä-lə-jē\ (Greek oinos wine + English -logy)

: a science that deals with wine and wine making

enological adjective

enologist noun

* * *

I was intrigued by the Gervais "elaborate wine making machine," so investigated further. It wasn't so much a "machine" as it was a special cover for wine vats that was intended to return "alcoholic vapors" to the fermenting must.


Click the image to open in full size.

Condensing wine vat cover invented by Elizabeth Gervais
Image Credit: Leo A. Loubère

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crepitation noun \ˌkrep-ə-ˈtā-shən\ (Mid 17th century: from French crépitation or Latin crepitatio(n-), from the verb crepitare to crackle)

1 A crackling or rattling sound.
1.1 Medicine A crackling sound made when breathing with an inflamed lung, detected using a stethoscope.
2 Entomology The explosive ejection of irritant fluid from the abdomen of a bombardier beetle.

Last edited by Recusant; June 29th, 2017 at 04:28 AM.
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Old July 15th, 2017, 09:06 AM   #589

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Staying in France, moving back in time a few decades to the era of the Revolution:

Quote:
On 5 May 1789, at a meeting of the States-General, the towns and parishes of France were invited to list their grievances. The very idea that it might be possible to alter the conditions of life was a revolution in itself. For the first time, suffering seemed to have an audience and literacy had a point.

The sixty thousand or so 'Cahiers de Doléances'[Lists of Complaints] were, of course, written by literate or semi-literate people, often by the local lawyer. Crudely drafted lists of grievances were passed to larger committees who prepared more politely abstract reports for the States-General. But enough of the humbler Cahiers have survived to construct a detailed panorama of daily life in France.

Most of the Cahiers list the same grievances: taxation, the corvée (road-repairing duty), impassable roads and broken bridges, hospitals that no one could reach though they paid for them in taxes, the billeting of troops and their hungry horses, lack of representation and arbitrary or unaffordable justice, ineffective policing, the proliferation of con men, uncertified surgeons and beggars — either local people who were starving to death or aggressive intruders — and, of course, ecclesiastical and seigneurial privilege. Hunting rights were the sorest point: to see a furry feast scampering across a field and to know that catching it might mean death by hanging was more than a hungry peasant could bear. If the local lord spent all his time in a city or was not very keen on hunting, the area might be overrun by deer, boars, hares, rabbits and pigeons. To many foreign travellers, the characteristic sound of the French Revolution was the constant crepitation of muskets in the countryside exterminating the animals that had once enjoyed aristocratic immunity.

— Graham Robb, The Discovery of France (2007)

Click the image to open in full size.

Les trois ordres, a cartoon from around 1789, depicts the plight of the French Third Estate, represented by the peasant, under the Ancien Régime: The peasant is carrying an abbot and a noble on his back, representing the First and Second Estates, respectively. Meanwhile pigeons eat the seeds that he's sown (owning a dovecote was a privilege of nobility) and rabbits eat his cabbage (hunting was, again, a privilege of the nobility).

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piqueur noun \pēk-ˈkər(‧)\ (French, from piquer to prick, sting, goad + -eur -or)

1 : an attendant directing the hounds in a hunt

2 : a servant who runs before a carriage to clear the way
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