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This page is dedicated to my mother,
Colette Boucherle (1919‑1992),
who abhorred Latin. . . .

The Unexpected Perils of Latin Toponymy:
the Marquise de Créquy on "Lugdunum"

p72 An excerpt from the

Souvenirs de la Marquise de Créquy de 1710 à 1803,

(Paris, Garnier Frères, n. d., ca. 1839),

Tome Ier, pp72‑73 (my translation):

The tale I have just related comes from a Grandee of Hungary who was called the Supreme Count Esterhazy, whose wife we met at the abbey of Saint Étienne in Caen. She had just arrived from England where her husband had left her at the mineral waters of Bath while he went off to continue his travels. She says, quite sweetly withal, that her husband, who spoke several languages very well, could write neither Hungarian nor German nor French, nor any other language than Latin, which was proving rather of a nuisance to her just then, since she had just received a letter in which her husband asked her to go meet him in Lugdunum, where he would be staying thru the end of the summer. My aunt dared to suggest to her that by turning to the Governor or the Intendant of Lyon, she should most certainly procure the address and find the lodging of the Supreme Count; but the Hungarian woman, as she was, set out to enumerate to us all the Lugdunums of Peuttinger's Map and of the Itinerary of Antonine: well there was Leyden (Lugdunum Batavorum),a Lansberg, Lens, Langres, Laon, Lans-le‑Bourg and even Lons-le‑Saulnier, without prejudice to Lugdunum Rhodanusium, prima sedes Galliæ, of which my aunt was telling her; so that she was giving up on it and would be returning straightaway to Hungary. I didn't say by herself, the reason being that the Marquis d'Hautefeuille corculum erat prædictæ Comitissæ, and that he was the one who was confusing her by informing her with such erudition as to all the Lugdunums with which the ancient Gauls were besprinkled. He'd discovered thirty to forty of them, and here one could quite apply what Father Cotton used to say to Plessis-Mornay about Theology: "there is no science good for all manner of people, but that fools get tripped up by it and the wicked become worse."

Several thousand pages later (Tome IX, Ch. 3) the good marquise, or whoever is impersonating her, will write:

Who will deliver me from the Greeks and the Romans?

From their very graves these abominable races

Shall surely be the end of me!

Friends, hear what I have to say, I beg of you. . . .


Thayer's Note:

a My pal Jona Lendering (of Livius) writes: "Maybe the greatest joke is that the Dutch Lugdunum is not Leyden, as she says, but Katwijk." And thus a thousand Renaissance printers are wrong (playing Pied Piper to tens of thousands of innocent readers behind them, including yours truly until Jona alerted me to his pages on the Batavian Lugdunum and Matilo).


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Page updated: 18 Oct 14