Shakespeare Connected - Shakespeare and Religious War
Shakespeare's Birthplace by Thomas H. Pitt, 1849.
The word ‘massacre’ came from French, where originally it referred to the ‘butchery’ or ‘slaughter’ of animals. Its usage really only spread in England during the French wars of religion. The earliest atrocities took place in Normandy, where machacre meant ‘butchery meat’. In Rouen, the street where butchers had their shops is still called Rue Massacre.
It is not yet an English word for the translator of the Discours merveilleux in 1575. He uses ‘murder’, even in the phrase ‘the murder of Paris’.
As for Saint Bartholomew: he was the patron saint of leather workers (like Shakespeare’s father). Why? Because he was flayed. He can be seen holding his skin on the wall of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican.
Watercolour by Thomas H. Pitt showing Shakespeare's Birthplace still in use as a butcher's shop. 1849.
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