Certain expressions that have appeared over the centuries are in common use today. But are they still appropriate? In his work '' The fascinating daily life of the FrenchJean-Pierre Rorive tells us twenty-one centuries of anecdotes and customs, sometimes cruel, sometimes funny, which, from the Gauls to our days, have marked the daily life of our country. Is the Gallic rooster what we imagine? What does it mean to "take a dip", to do the sleeve? Where do foals come from, what is the origin of the word strike? How were attributes and the sexual act called in the Middle Ages? From what period do the first condoms date? Where does the expression “to have sea legs” come from? Who made the door crinolines? ….
Rooster not very Gallic
Coq is called "gallus" in Latin hence the puns assimilating the term to the Gauls. Around the 12th century, European courts took advantage of this association to make fun of the kings of France `` who flapped their wings while screaming '' but ineffectively. It was only with the Revolution that the rooster, symbol of energy, became the emblem of the French people. This same people was caricatured as a plucked rooster by Louis-Philippe under the July monarchy. In 1848 the republic placed it at the top of the national flag and it appears today on the great seal of the republican state.
Take a dip
When attacking a city, the Gauls planted spears and javelins all around, stuck with the corpses and heads of their enemies. They used to cut off the heads of the vanquished, which they tied to the harnesses of horses or to the entrances of their houses after having induced them with a preparation intended for their preservation. Those of illustrious enemies were rubbed with cedar oil and then kept in chests as war trophies, displayed with pride to strangers.
Making the sleeve in the Middle Ages
Until the 12th century, the "bliaud" of women consisted of a blouse going down to the hips and a long tunic which hugged their body to make it slender, being tied very tightly at the back or at the sides. The sleeves were often removable and sewn in large stitches, revealing the bare arm of these ladies. It happened that knights carried at the end of their lance a maiden's sleeve, as a trophy of love. A troubadour recommended that the servants always have a needle with them to "sew up their mistress" with a tender heart!
The origin of foals
At the end of the Middle Ages, whalebones were also used to reinforce men's shoes ending in a long point, straight or curved: foals. Their name comes either from their Polish evening origin from their houndstooth ends. Their lengths were regulated by the label. Those of the princes were not limited, those of the dukes and barons were twice the length of their feet, those of the knights one and a half times, the bourgeois and the common: once only!
Strike place de Grève
In the 17th century, “being on strike” meant going to the Place de Grève in Paris to find a job because employers recruited workers there in search of a livelihood. The first strike recorded in the current sense was that of the bonnetiers de Paris in 1724, to demand a salary increase. It was followed by bookbinding workers in 1776, masons and weavers in 1785 etc ...
The language to talk about attributes and the sexual act
Pictorial expressions were not lacking in the Middle Ages to designate the sexual attributes of men and women, (the same for the Rabelaisian language used in the streets by vehicle drivers, see the article '' Hygiène et de pollution''). The sex of a woman is commonly called "conin" from the Latin cuniculus (hole) and those of a man "three-piece service". A well-hung young man with the 'saw' it well trimmed and a yearning young girl 'smells of oats'. So making love could be translated as "giving oats".
Charles-Louis Panckoucke's medical dictionary, published in 1820, tells us that the condoms of the time were made from sheep's bladder skin “because their resistance allowed them to be reused”. But the author doubts their impermeability, "it can be punctured if the worms get into it and on the other hand, it is likely to move for reasons that are easy to understand. It is also subject to moral reprobation: "this instrument having the effect of preventing pregnancy can lead to debauchery".
The sea foot
In Marseille, the desertion of Catalan sailors was frequent in the 14th century despite the punishments incurred: removal of the foot or hanging. Anyone who came back on board after spending a night in a port without permission suffered the whip and lost part of his pay.
The cage or crinoline, a sort of skirt with crisscrossing hoops and vertical wooden supports meant to give volume to the bottom of the dress, was invented around 1856 and manufactured by Peugeot. Two years later it became so ample that you had to enter through a small door and slip in as best you can! It was also necessary to remember to go through the doors on the side to avoid getting stuck in the armatures!
This is a sample of the countless tasty stories telling the daily life of our ancestors in France in a vast social fresco that will delight history lovers.
The fascinating daily life of the French, by Jean-Pierre Rorive. Editions. Jourdan, 2012.