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 The Influences Of Historical Battlefields.

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Islanddawn
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PostSubject: The Influences Of Historical Battlefields.   Fri 26 Oct 2012, 05:28

The salute, the handshake and sayings like lock stock and barrel, flash in a pan, pick a quarrel, run roughshod, half cocked, throw down the gauntlet, turncoat and poleaxed are all still in use and have been an influence on our customs and etiquette since the Medieval era.
http://suite101.com/article/modern-manners-from-the-medieval-battlefield-and-other-sayings-a385652

What other battle traditions, whether on land or sea, do you know of that still influence us today?
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PostSubject: Re: The Influences Of Historical Battlefields.   Fri 26 Oct 2012, 08:47

Modern meteorology and weather reporting owes much to warfare, albeit indirectly. By the beginning of the 20th century much improved measuring techniques and equipment had allowed meteorologists to deduce the importance globally of what had previously been understood simply as competing zones of warm and cold air. Occlusion zones however, and an increasing understaning of the behaviour of air in these zones, something which went beyond simple "warm and cold" definitions, led to the recognition that it was this area which most needed to be examined and understood to allow for any kind of accurate weather forecasting. In Britain Sir William Napier Shaw, drawing on the work of some eminent meteorologists of the late 19th century, was essentially the first to present a model of air behaviour which used a greater knowledge of occlusion to explain in logical detail the structure of storms, their behaviour, and their patterns of dissipation. What he lacked in his theory however was an accurate description of how they originated - an essential ingredient in forecasting.

After World War One a group of Norwegian meteorologists led by father and son, Vilhelm and Jacob Bjerknes, took Napier Shaw's model to completion. At first their suggested explanation that storms too could be explained through occlusions and angled air masses met with scepticism worldwide. Other meteorologists had suggested as much before but could neither prove it nor even adequately demonstrate it in model form while using zonal and boundary terminology as was current at the time. What the Norwegians did was seize upon a whole new vernacular which had arisen in the wake of World War One, adapted a slew of terms from the conflict to illustrate their model, and then went on a global "persuasion tour" which itself can best be described in military terms. Their offensive, a global bombardment of scientific publications, lectures and submissions for peer review, meant that within only a few short years everyone was talking about "air masses", "mobilisations", "gathering strength" and of course "weather fronts".

We now know that the "front" term is inadequate a simile for all that occurs when two bodies of air of unequal character meet. But since the Bjerknes's model was accepted coincidentally at a time when weather maps and forecasting were becoming a daily inclusion in our newspapers, and indeed a regular feature in that new media taking over the world - radio - it is the terminology which stuck, and which is still in use today.
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PostSubject: Re: The Influences Of Historical Battlefields.   Fri 26 Oct 2012, 10:05

The term "to coventrate" is derived from the Luftwaffe attack on Coventry in November 1940. Though to be honest, I have never heard it used anywhere else.
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PostSubject: Re: The Influences Of Historical Battlefields.   Fri 26 Oct 2012, 10:22

"A shot across the bows", now in general usage as a warning.
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PostSubject: Re: The Influences Of Historical Battlefields.   Fri 26 Oct 2012, 13:22

"Trust in God and keep your powder dry."

Attributed to Oliver Cromwell but penned by Ulsterman William Blacker (in a poem about Cromwell) in the 1830s.
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PostSubject: Re: The Influences Of Historical Battlefields.   Fri 26 Oct 2012, 13:26

"Don't worry. They couldn't hit an elephant at this dist ..."

Last words (apocryphally) of American Civil War General John Sedgwick.
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PostSubject: Re: The Influences Of Historical Battlefields.   Fri 26 Oct 2012, 13:53

It was the aerial photography of WW1 battlefields that led pioneers like O G S Crawford to recognise the the usefulness of the method in identifying archaeological sites and in its turn helped to establish the landscape scale of research.

The development of mine detectors also led to the mixed blessing that is metal detecting too.
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PostSubject: Re: The Influences Of Historical Battlefields.   Fri 26 Oct 2012, 14:36

"Hoist by your own petard". Being hurt yourself by a plan designed to hurt someone else. A petard being an explosive device to blow in gates. Shakespeare uses it in Hamlet.
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PostSubject: Re: The Influences Of Historical Battlefields.   Fri 26 Oct 2012, 22:56

"bloke"

"sweet fanny adams"

"show a leg"

"chock-a-block"

"pipe down"



All Naval terms which have come into common use.
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PostSubject: Re: The Influences Of Historical Battlefields.   Sun 28 Oct 2012, 11:44

A couple of items of clothing "Cardigan" and "Balaclava" are taken from the Crimean War
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PostSubject: Re: The Influences Of Historical Battlefields.   Wed 03 Dec 2014, 09:48

"Cannon fodder" (le chair à canon) apparently originated in de Chateaubriand's 1814 criticism of Napoleon's battle tactics in which conscript soldiers were used to "soak up" enemy fire in order to give the more experienced artillery and cavalry a greater chance of success.

One that isn't quite what it seems is the expression "forlorn hope" - indicating an assault launched in the knowledge that it would lead to huge casualties but was deemed necessary for overall victory. While the expression makes perfect sense in English and is in fact a rather apt description, it is actually derived from the Dutch "verloren hoop" which in the original context of the phrase literally meant "lost troop" ("hoop" in Dutch can mean "hope" in English but in fact here meant "heap", a particular military troop formation during siege assault).
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PostSubject: Re: The Influences Of Historical Battlefields.   Wed 03 Dec 2014, 10:38

Re: forlorn hope/lost troop ...

I can't find the reference, but I'm pretty sure I've read somewhere that in its original 16th century usage the troop wasn't necessarily "lost" in that they were all about to be slaughtered, but rather verloren could also mean that they were detached from the main unit  and were literally out on their own and operating independently. The two subtely different meanings seem to me typical soldiers' black humour. However there was generally a clear inference that they might well be lost, as in killed, since in Landsknecht regiments the Verloren Hoop traditionally carried a blood-red banner, in recognition of their perilous position in advance of the main mass of the army where their casualties were likely to be high. Usually the Verloren Hoop was entirely composed of volunteers who had been encouraged by the promise of promotions or cash ... if they survived. Lost, implying vulnerable and liable to be slaughtered, was similarly implied by the term "Enfants Perdus" used in French armies - meaning literally "lost children".

EDIT : Incidentally Chateaubriand's comment, "chair à canon", is even more brutal than the usual English translation (cannon fodder) as it literally means cannon meat, as in meat for cannon ... and that's meat as in flesh rather than the more innocuous English word that can even just mean food. In culinary usage the French "chair" often implies meat/flesh that's been minced or roughly chopped, as in chair à saucisse - sausage meat.
,


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PostSubject: Re: The Influences Of Historical Battlefields.   Wed 03 Dec 2014, 12:08

We still talk of someone or something being "in the vanguard of fashion" - or indeed of being "avant-garde". This comes - I think - from the medieval French word for the advance guard of an army.


PS Is this  of any relevance for the "forlorn hope"? It's from  Cymbeline Act V:


The forlorn soldier, that so nobly fought,
He would have well becomed this place, and graced
The thankings of a king.
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PostSubject: Re: The Influences Of Historical Battlefields.   Wed 03 Dec 2014, 12:38

Probably yes - a subtle reference that any soldiers in the audience would have picked-up on.

Shakespeare also pre-empts Chateaubriand's 'cannon fodder' comments by referring to soldiers as just food for guns. In Henry IV, Part I, when Prince Henry mocks Falstaff's pitiful group of soldiers, Falstaff replies cynically, that his men are,

"..... good enough to toss,
food for [gun] powder, food for powder,
they'll fill a pit [ie a mass grave] as well as better men"
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PostSubject: Re: The Influences Of Historical Battlefields.   Wed 03 Dec 2014, 12:56

Ah! Our William the Conqueror always gets there first MM! Yah-boo sucks to Chateaubriand.
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PostSubject: Re: The Influences Of Historical Battlefields.   Wed 03 Dec 2014, 13:23

Ironically, given Vicomte François-René de Chateaubriand's scathing use of the word "chair" (flesh), when criticising Napoléon's use of soldiers as mere "cannon fodder", the term "Chateaubriand" nowadays usually refers to a Chateaubriand steak, that is a prime tenderloin steak cut from the thickest part of a fillet of beef, and often served with a Chateaubriand sauce (a reduced stock/onion/mushroom/tarragon/white wine sauce). And before you ask I doubt the name is a cynical reference to his "cannon's meat" comment since the dish was created in his honour but his own personal chef.


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PostSubject: Re: The Influences Of Historical Battlefields.   Wed 03 Dec 2014, 13:33

Temp wrote:
Ah! Our William the Conqueror always gets there first MM! Yah-boo sucks to Chateaubriand.

He nearly got there first with cannon-fodder too. Well he was definitely heading along the right track ...

From Henry IV, Part One (ACT IV, scene ii)

Falstaff is leading his soldiers to Coventry. Having sent Lord Bardolph in advance to procure the booze he meets prince Henry and the Earl of Westmoreland ...

Henry V. I think, to steal cream indeed, for thy theft hath
already made thee butter. But tell me, Jack, whose fellows are these that come after?
Falstaff. Mine, Hal, mine.
Henry V. I did never see such pitiful rascals.
Falstaff. Tut, tut; good enough to toss; food for powder, food
for powder; they'll fill a pit as well as better tush
, man, mortal men, mortal men.
Earl of Westmoreland. Ay, but, Sir John, methinks they are exceeding poor
and bare, too beggarly.
Falstaff. 'Faith, for their poverty, I know not where they had
that; and for their bareness, I am sure they never learned that of me.
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PostSubject: Re: The Influences Of Historical Battlefields.   Wed 03 Dec 2014, 13:48

Stay with us Nordmann ... We've already discussed that quote and moved on from English cannon fodder to fine French cuisine ... do try to keep up. Rolling Eyes





sorry - I just couldn't resist. Smile
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PostSubject: Re: The Influences Of Historical Battlefields.   Wed 03 Dec 2014, 14:06

In that case I will have to draw honourable reference to the French general of Irish descent John/Jean McMahon who did not lend his name to a sauce, despite everyone in Ireland even now desperately clinging to the notion that one of their own was the inspiration behind "mayonnaise" (and who gleefully point out to Americans that "Mayo" is after all one of the country's largest counties too). It hasn't helped matters that Hellman's - the sauce manufacturers - actually used the story in their advertising in times past, an endorsement that was sufficient to elevate the myth to the realms of actual history and so be taught in schools.

However the alternative theories are probably equally apocryphal. They definitely can't all be right;

- that it came from the town of Mahon, Minorca's capital, when it was seized from the English by Admiral Richelieu in 1756
- that it's a corruption of "bayonnaise", originating in Bayonne
- that it comes from "mayennaise", originating in Mayenne
- that it comes from "magnonaise", based on the verb "manier"
- that it comes from "moyeunaise", based on "moyeu", the yolk of an egg

The matter has never really been settled but it took a French cook, Monsieur Alexandre Balthazar Laurent Grimod de la Reyniere, to at least attempt to put the matter to bed in 1808 by isolating the theory with at least some culinary plausibility (and therefore doesn't even deign to acknowledge the Irish general's existence at all):

"The purists aren’t in agreement about the name of these kinds of sauces: some say “mayonnaise,” others “mahonnaise,” and others “bayonnaise.” The first of these words is not French; and the second refers to a town where nothing’s renowned for its good food; it’s this which makes us decide for “bayonnaise,” for which the etymology lies in the name of a town that contains many inventive gourmands, and which, in addition, gives birth each year to the best hams in Europe."
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PostSubject: Re: The Influences Of Historical Battlefields.   Wed 03 Dec 2014, 14:14

Somebody mention food?

Chicken Marengo: legend has it that it was made with ingredients that Napoleon's chef, Durand, could scrounge from near the battlefield.
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PostSubject: Re: The Influences Of Historical Battlefields.   Wed 03 Dec 2014, 16:37

Over the years, I've known two women called Alma, (personally, that is, unlike Ms Cogan) and assumed the name derived from the battle thereof. 
Are there any other similarly commemorative names - apart from Temp's cat that is?
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PostSubject: Re: The Influences Of Historical Battlefields.   Wed 03 Dec 2014, 17:20

Used to know a pub landlord whose second name was "Belgrade". His birth date was 1st November 1918, the day Belgrade was liberated by French and Serbian troops, under the command of the man the Tommies dubbed "Desperate Frenchy".

From Wikimisleadia :-

Quote :
Alma (/ˈɑːlmə/ AHL-mə)[1] is an English feminine given name, but has historically been used in the masculine form as well, sometimes in the form Almo.[2] The origin of the name is debated, it was reserved as a title for classical goddesses as in the use "alma mater".[3] It gained popularity after the Battle of Alma in the 19th century and appeared as a fashionable name for girls and a popular place name,[4] but it has decreased in appearance in the following centuries. The name Alma also has several meanings in a variety of languages, and is generally translated to mean that the child "feeds one's soul" or "lifts the spirit".[5]

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PostSubject: Re: The Influences Of Historical Battlefields.   Thu 04 Dec 2014, 07:14

@ferval wrote:
Over the years, I've known two women called Alma, (personally, that is, unlike Ms Cogan) and assumed the name derived from the battle thereof. 
Are there any other similarly commemorative names - apart from Temp's cat that is?


I can't think of any, but that is perhaps a good thing. Had it become fashionable to name offspring after battles, so many children could have been saddled with awful names - names far worse than those chosen by celebrities these days. Imagine being called Pinkie Cleugh or Killiecrankie or even Defenestration of Prague.

Going back to battle expressions still used today: "to pass muster" is still current. "Will I pass muster in this (dress or suit or whatever), do you think?"

Etymology: based on the military use of the phrase pass muster (to gather soldiers in a group to show officers they are acceptably dressed and equipped).
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PostSubject: Re: The Influences Of Historical Battlefields.   Thu 04 Dec 2014, 08:43

Queen Victoria's parents apparently named her after a railway station and tube line so I assume battles have always been fair game too. In fact come to think of it Victoria is named after every single battle in history that ever produced a winner.

I know a few Troys and in Ireland there are quite a few Taras knocking around, though how cogniscant these people's parents were of our glorious communal belligerent heritage is a very moot point indeed. One of the Taras' sisters of my own acquaintance was called Sunburst.
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PostSubject: Re: The Influences Of Historical Battlefields.   Thu 04 Dec 2014, 09:54

There are a few Inkerman Streets dotted around the British Isles, though the best known is probably the fictional one adjacent to Coronation Street.
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PostSubject: Re: The Influences Of Historical Battlefields.   Thu 04 Dec 2014, 10:05

@nordmann wrote:
Queen Victoria's parents apparently named her after a railway station and tube line so I assume battles have always been fair game too. In fact come to think of it Victoria is named after every single battle in history that ever produced a winner.

I know a few Troys and in Ireland there are quite a few Taras knocking around, though how cogniscant these people's parents were of our glorious communal belligerent heritage is a very moot point indeed. One of the Taras' sisters of my own acquaintance was called Sunburst.
Actually, Victoria's full forenames were "Alexandrina Victoria". Her mother was also named Victoria - and she was named by the delectable George IV, according to the then Royal protocol.
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PostSubject: Re: The Influences Of Historical Battlefields.   Sun 07 Dec 2014, 10:12

People, still talk about someone meeting their Waterloo, winning a Pyrrhic victory, and firing a Parthian shot.

I can't think of any battle other than Waterloo that has given its name to a modern metaphor - we don't speak of meeting ones Hastings, doing a Crecy, or having a Trafalgar moment. Although Churchill once, when inspecting a building site during WW2, vaulted over a low wall only to get stuck in a trench of liquid concrete, and his aide cheekily commented that he seemed, "to have met his Waterloo", whereupon Churchill snapped back, "Damned insolence ... and anyway I think you mean my Blenheim!"

Fighting
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PostSubject: Re: The Influences Of Historical Battlefields.   Mon 08 Dec 2014, 11:58

Marathon is now both an adjective and a noun and apparently means any "long-lasting or difficult task or activity". However contemporaries of the battle would be scratching themselves in the head as to why this should be so, or at least why only one lad got the credit for having fulfilled the task.

The lad in question, Pheidippides, was actually a much better runner than the modern misinterpretation of the legend assumes. The original version had him running not to Athens but from the city, his little pins covering a staggering 140 miles as he sprinted to Sparta to request their aid in fighting the Persians. Not only did he not "die of exhaustion" upon reaching his goal but he then ran all the way back again with the message that the formidably bellicose and bloodthirsty Spartans were "thinking about it".

They might also wonder why the real feat of endurance isn't mentioned at all; the Athenian army having secured their victory in the battle then force-marching post-haste all the way back to Piraeus to meet the Persian fleet that was sailing round Cape Sounion. They had less than one day to cover the distance (30 miles) and just about managed it with all their kit and ammo. Their presence on the shore discouraged the approaching Persians who promptly sailed away. Only then was the victory proclaimed.
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PostSubject: Re: The Influences Of Historical Battlefields.   Tue 13 Jan 2015, 14:35

My belated addition to the sayings is " He bit the dust"...(with his armor ringing round him), from The Trojan war.
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PostSubject: Re: The Influences Of Historical Battlefields.   Tue 13 Jan 2015, 17:19

Wasn't "Mafeking" used as term for general merrymaking for quite a long while after the particular events of "Mafeking night"?


How about the colour (and the dye) Magenta?
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PostSubject: Re: The Influences Of Historical Battlefields.   Thu 15 Jan 2015, 10:52

When or how "Aughrim was lost" was a favourite of my granny whenever she wanted to explain the exact point or reason that some enterprise had become totally unfeasible. Unlike northerners in Ireland who seem to think the Battle of the Boyne was the decisive encounter in the war between William and James, southerners tended to recall the actual battle that decided the issue. Funnily enough the date of the battle at the time, using the old-style dating, was indeed 12th July. (22nd July these days).
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PostSubject: Re: The Influences Of Historical Battlefields.   Thu 15 Jan 2015, 11:25

Magenta, yes indeed. I never knew that. From wiki:

"Magenta was first introduced as the colour of a new aniline dye called fuchsine, patented in 1859 by the French chemist François-Emmanuel Verguin. Its name was changed the same year to magenta, to celebrate a victory of the French and Sardinian army at the Battle of Magenta on June 4, 1859, near the Italian town of that name".

You are a mine of interesting little bits of info, Gil.

PS - from another thread - I also never knew that Celsius' original temperature scale had 100° as the freezing point of water and 0° as the boiling point (did he have the freezing point as +100 or -100?). And why did he choose to put the zero point there - something to do with Boyle's law and the expansion of gases perhaps? I wonder what Celsius' original reasoning was?
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PostSubject: Re: The Influences Of Historical Battlefields.   Fri 16 Jan 2015, 00:13

Of course, "Kop" is short for "Spion Kop" and has been applied to numerous football stands (both Association and Rugby League)
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PostSubject: Re: The Influences Of Historical Battlefields.   Fri 16 Jan 2015, 08:44

Don't forget Stamford Bridge.

Though I appreciate that Chelsea fans buy completely into the now "standard" (see Wikipedia) version that the small bridge over nearby Counter's Creek was known locally as Stamford Bridge and that the stadium drew its name from this source. Maps however don't necessarily back this up - the bridge, more a culvert really, is sometimes marked Little Chelsea Bridge, though most often not actually named at all. What is true, regardless of the the origin, is that much publicity mileage was made by the Mears Brothers, Chelsea's founders, from the beginning of its time as a football venue over the fact that it was a "battleground".
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PostSubject: Re: The Influences Of Historical Battlefields.   Fri 16 Jan 2015, 10:12

Battles which become memorialised in formal or informal local place names usually have some kind of regional or national connections or at least resonances but there is - or was - one in Glasgow that has always intrigued me. Near Glasgow Cross there was a lane that ran under a railway viaduct joining London Rd. and Gallowgate, alongside but above it ran a walkway built into the side of the buildings and this became known as Schipka Pass. What interests me is how a series of battles fought in what is now Bulgaria during the Russo-Turkish war in the 1870's had entered public consciousness to the extent that the name was applied to this place. As far as I know there was no direct involvement by British troops so I can only assume that it was newspaper coverage that brought the place and the battles to the fore. Brief (exceedingly!) perusal suggests that Britain saw the defeat and breakup of the Ottoman Empire at that time not to be in her interests because of the increased dominance that would accrue to Russia so presumably that would be the line taken in the news.

The area has now been redeveloped.

Schipka Pass around 1900  

                                                                           

Schipka Pass around 1990

                                                                 


The name had become associated with the lane, officially St. Andrew's Lane, as well.

                                                                   


Schipka Pass area today.

                                                                 
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PostSubject: Re: The Influences Of Historical Battlefields.   Tue 20 Jan 2015, 22:13

I've just come across the Italian dish, 'Zuppa alla Pavese' which was supposedly created on 24 February 1525 during the battle of Pavia between Francis I of France and the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. The battle itself was a crushing defeat for the French: Francis himself barely escaped with his life when his horse was killed under him, and then he was eventually surrounded and taken prisoner .....

Francis had missed his breakfast because the battle had kicked off before dawn, and so after a hard morning's fighting he was rather peckish by the time he was captured. He might have been a prisoner but he was still a king and he was hungry. So having honourably surrendered up his sword, both captive and capteurs - all now amicably together as chummy nobles - promptly barged into a nearby cottage demanding to be fed. The poor housewife, already harrassed by having had a battle raging around her home all morning, was suddenly faced with a king for a lunch guest. Quickly she improvised by taking the simple broth she had simmering on her stove, pouring it over buttered fried bread onto which she had carefully placed eggs sprinkled with cheese, and then she let it all poach/cook just a few minutes before finally serving it up to her unwelcome guests. Francis was satisfied ... he might have lost his horse, his freedom, some 15,000 men, the battle and indeed the whole Italian campaign ... but at least he'd had his lunch.

Well that's the story but I suspect it's a bit apocryphal like the origin of chicken Marengo. Nevertheless 'Zuppa alla Pavese' is still included in that definitive heavy-weight tome of traditional Italian cuisine, 'Il Cucchiaio d'Argento' - 'The Silver Spoon'.
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Anglo-Norman
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PostSubject: Re: The Influences Of Historical Battlefields.   Tue 03 Mar 2015, 12:00

Having looked at the original article I'm not sure they're all correct.  'Hang fire' is generally regarded as as originating with the delay sometimes occurring between firing a gun and the charge going off (usually due to damp powder or similar) - nothing to do with a dangling slow-match.  The idea of saluting being related to raising the visor is much debated.  There are sculptural depictions of Roman soldiers (in visorless helmets) apparently performing a motion very similar to the modern salute.  'Ramrod straight' is unlikely to be medieval in origin.  I'd be interested to know when the first recorded incident of the expression dates to, but certainly in the 16th and 17th centuries the ramrod was referred to as the 'scouring stick' (presumably because of its other purpose in cleaning the barrel), and even in the late 18th century 'rammer' seems to have been more common than 'ramrod'.

On the subject of forlorn hopes, I believe that the expression, at least during the English Civil Wars, was occasionally applied to detached bodies of musketeers or dragoons (acting rather like skirmishers) in open battle, as well as in sieges.

"Sent to Coventry" (meaning to be made a social exile) reputedly originated with Royalist prisoners of war being held in the strongly Parliamentarian city of that name during the Civil Wars.

King Harold is often jokingly said to have been given "one in the eye", but I wonder if the expression did indeed originate with the traditional manner of his death.

"Bite the bullet" is said to have originated either with soldiers gnawing their ammunition to make them better fit their gun at a time when firearms had no standardised bore; from the habit of holding bullets in their mouth (in the days prior to pre-made cartridges) to speed up the loading process; from the need to paper cartridges to tear of the end with one's teeth before loading, or even (IIRC) from soldiers being given a bullet to bite on when undergoing surgery.

To have shot one's bolt perhaps originated from the crossbow (a bolt being an alternative name to the quarrel), and the tool known as a spanner also seems to have had a crossbow origin: a bow would be drawn back - or spanned - with a device sometimes called a spanner. This was then applied to the handle used to wind up the spring on a wheellock gun, which in turn led to the similarly designed tool.

Incidentally, not quite on-topic but I do wish script-writers and other such persons would remember that archers shoot or loose their arrows, not fire them.
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PostSubject: Re: The Influences Of Historical Battlefields.   Wed 04 Mar 2015, 11:09

@ferval wrote:
Over the years, I've known two women called Alma, (personally, that is, unlike Ms Cogan) and assumed the name derived from the battle thereof. 
Are there any other similarly commemorative names - apart from Temp's cat that is?

Margery Allingham's detective - Albert Campion - has a servant named Magersfontain Lugg.
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