PCS Blog

A Lesson In Vocabulary for “Cyrano”

Posted by Lindsay Pfeifer | 15 April 2015

DUELING – A combat between two individuals, equally armed, intended to settle a point of honor between the two parties involved. Strict rules are agreed upon before the combat begins, and oftentimes each party recruits close friends to witness the event and outcome. Historically, duels have been frequently outlawed or strictly regulated, often with little impact on the popularity of dueling as a social norm.
 
TOUCHE – Originally, a fencing term used to acknowledge that you have been hit by your opponent. Also used to admit your opponent has made a good point in an argument. From the French toucher, “to touch.”
 
PANACHE – connotes flamboyant manner and reckless courage. The literal translation is a plume, such as is worn on a hat or a helmet. Rostand’s play was the first text to portray panache in a romantic fashion. Prior to Rostand, panache was not necessarily a good thing and was seen by some as a suspect quality.
 
GASCONY GUARD – a unit of the French military in the 17th century, composed of lesser nobles and meritorious commoners. Gascon officers had a high reputation, commanding 4 in 5 companies throughout the French army. Gascon soldiers were held to be paragons of military prowess and machismo.
 
THIRTY YEARS’ WAR – 1618-1648, a war between primarily Protestant princes of the Holy Roman Empire (modern Germany) and the Catholic Habsburg monarchs of the Holy Roman Empire and Austria. For most of the war, Catholic France refrained from open hostilities. In 1635, France (ruled by Catholic Cardinal Richelieu) entered the war in support of the Protestant cause, seeking to undermine the political and military hegemony of the Habsburgs.
 
FRANCO-SPANISH WAR – 1635-1659, an extension of the Thirty Years’ War. Richelieu’s France extended the war to Catholic Spain, also ruled by Habsburg monarchs, in an attempt to break the Habsburg’s strategic encirclement of French territories. The wars end with the eclipse of Spanish and Habsburg supremacy and the eventual ascendancy of Louis XIV, the apogee of French power prior to the French Revolution.
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