La Légende des Siècles eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 268 pages of information about La Légende des Siècles.

Pharamond, a somewhat legendary Frankish chieftain of the fifth century A.D.

Final.  The name, alone or in composition, is borne by three small towns or villages on or near the Genoese coast.  There was a marquisate of Final in the Middle Ages.

Witikind.  Hugo possibly had in mind the Saxon chief of this name (A.D. 750-807) who for five years successfully resisted the power of Charlemagne, and finally made an honourable peace with him.  It does not appear that he ever bore the title of king.  His country was the ancient Saxony, that is the country between the lower Rhine and the lower Elbe.  He had no connexion with Genoa, whither Hugo has dragged the Saxons without justification.

Albenga:  the name is taken from a small town on the Genoese coast, not far from Final.

abbe du peuple, a name of a popularly elected magistrate at Genoa.  The office was in existence from 1270 to 1339.

tribun militaire de Rome:  Latin, tribunus militaris; the officers of the legion, six in number, who in republican times commanded in turn, six months at a time.

architrave, the lower part of the entablature, that which rests immediately on the column.  To understand the line, it must be remembered that the tower is conceived as a ruin.

alleux, a feudal term, signifying hereditary property.  The word is misused here in the sense of feudal dues.

censive.  Another feudal term, meaning the dues owed by an estate to the lord of whom it was held.

balistes (from Latin ballista), mediaeval machines for hurling stones and darts.

le puits d’une sachette, a hole in which a recluse lived. Sachette (masc. sachet) was the name given to certain nuns of the Augustinian order who wore a loose woollen garment (sac), whence the name was derived.  It afterwards became used of any recluse.  In Notre-Dame de Paris Hugo applies it to the half-crazy inhabitant of the Tour-Roland.

cruzade, an old Portuguese coin, so called because it was marked with a cross.  There was an old cruzade worth about 3 fr. 30, and a new cruzade worth not quite 3 fr.

Narse, or Narses, was king of Persia A.D. 294-303.

Tigrane, the name of an Armenian, not a Persian dynasty.  There were seven kings of this name, and they occupied the Armenian throne from 565 to 161 B.C.

nonce.  This word is in strictness used only of the emissaries of the Pope.  Its use in any sense is an anachronism, as it was not introduced till the sixteenth century.

Ratbert is thus described at the beginning of the poem:—­

  Ratbert, fils de Rodolphe et petit-fils de Charles,
  Qui se dit empereur et qui n’est que roi d’Arles.

Arles, which Hugo spells with or without the s according to the exigencies of the metre, was the capital of the kingdom of Provence, one of the kingdoms formed out of the fragments of Charlemagne’s empire.  It embraced most of S.E.  France, and lasted from A.D. 855 to 1032.  This kingdom was frequently called le royaume d’Arle. Roy d’Arle is therefore a historical title, but the names Ratbert and Rodolphe, as grandson and son respectively of Charlemagne, are imaginary.

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La Légende des Siècles from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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