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Old 24 April 2008, 07:59 AM
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ganzfeld ganzfeld is offline
Join Date: 05 September 2005
Location: Kyoto, Japan
Posts: 23,789

Originally Posted by Troberg View Post
The way I heard it on some documentary, it was not something the French ever did, but that they had promised to do it before the Battle of Agincourt in order to demoralize the English. This had the opposite effect, as the English waved the two fingers at the French in a "Come get 'em" gesture. As the battle went the way it went, we'll never know if the French would actually have gone through with it.
It was the first three fingers that were said to have been threatened. For some reason -- well for the pretty obvious reason that it makes a more believable story -- those accounts (generally emerging in the late 1990's, as far as I can tell) claiming this is the origin of one salute or another have changed the story to one or two fingers.

The point is that the connection to the gesture has never been anything more than a fanciful story. It probably arose when someone heard the story of Agincourt and thought, "That must be how..." Or maybe they just thought it would make a good tale. Some books even take this story back to the Norman invasion so I wonder if even the part about threatening to cut fingers is not true. I haven't been able to find it in any old historical books on the subject, only those printed after 1985. (ETA - Interestingly, the further back you go with this story, the more the accounts say that the archer's whole right hand was threatened with amputation.)

In short: Yes, this story is now in many books and presumably documentaries but, no, it isn't true.

Last edited by ganzfeld; 24 April 2008 at 08:09 AM.
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