Wednesday 9 April 1662

Sir George Carteret, Sir Williams both and myself all the morning at the office passing the Victualler’s accounts, and at noon to dinner at the Dolphin, where a good chine of beef and other good cheer.

At dinner Sir George showed me an account in French of the great famine, which is to the greatest extremity in some part of France at this day, which is very strange.1

So to the Exchange, Mrs. Turner (who I found sick in bed), and several other places about business, and so home. Supper and to bed.

25 Annotations

First Reading

JWB  •  Link

Sun King
"... 1662, on the occasion of the famous Fete de Carrousel, the King took to himself the symbol that is still linked with his name:

I chose to assume the form of the sun, because of the unique quality of the radiance that surrounds it;..." Philippe Erlanger…

language hat  •  Link

"that splendid carousal... from which the place has ever since taken its name"

The note is mistaken; the OED derives carrousel from Italian carosello, garosello "a kind of joust or feat on horseback" and says “Many writers employing the word historically, have erroneously identified it with carousal.”

vicenzo  •  Link

There were surposed to be 11 Famines during 17C in France, but the only reference found was this: "1659
Starvation, pestilence and war plague France. The peasants are paying a large portion of their crop for local seigneur feudal dues, church tithes and the king's taxes. The average life expectancy is about twenty-five years”…
Burgandy wine saved the day??

JWB  •  Link

16th,17th & 18th centuries called the little ice age with resultant famines. The 30 Years War in Germany certainly did not help. Imagine that little turnip of a man calling himself the Sun King a century & half into three centuries of global cooling. Beware if an Ice King cometh in this era of global warming.

vicenzo  •  Link

To-day, the House of Commons is deciding which mines to give to the King [There be thinking it be a Socialist idea to Nationlize mines, Silly me]…

Britney Spears  •  Link

Language hat, it's not carrousel, it's carousel with one r. The place de carousel is near where the old Tuileries palace used to stand, and it was named after Louix XIV's big show.

Britney Spears  •  Link

Vincent, I found this…

'Two great famines - those of 1594-7 and 1659-62 - had a particularly disastrous impact on Europe in this century.

The Electors of Burgundy, for instance, sent a protest to the King in 1662 which stated that 'famine this year has put an end to over seventeen thousand families in your province and forced a third of the inhabitants, even in the good towns, to eat wild plants.' The chronicle even alleged that 'Some people ate human flesh".

Britney Spears  •  Link

Actually, it does have two rs.

Linda  •  Link

An interesting site on carroseuls:…
I always thought they were a French invention put into place after a king was killed during jousting, but see I was wrong. I do know jousting was outlawed after this happened. After the Revolution, the caroseul was then used by the public, having only been in the domain of the nobles until then.

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"Sun King"
Not because he was warm or because everything revolved around him(it was before Galileo,I think)but because he was compared to Apolo,sometimes to Hercules cf Ercole Amante-Cavalli.

dirk  •  Link


According to the dictionary both spellings are correct in English - although French only permits the "rr" spelling (from Italian carosello, tilting match)

For those interested, "Le Dictionnaire de l'Académie françoise”, 1st Edition, 1694, defines:

CARROUSEL. s. m. Sorte de feste qui consiste en courses de testes & de bagues entre plusieurs personnes, divisées par Quadrilles distinguées par couleurs & livrées, & differents habits magnifiques. Faire un carrousel. le carrousel du Roy. le carrousel de la Place Royale.…

[I’m not sure I can give an adequate translation of this ancient French, but it comes down to some kind of festival, which involves dancing of groups of people distinguished by the colour of their dress.]

dirk  •  Link


"dancing" should read "racing"

Alan Bedford  •  Link

And while we're talking etymology, to carouse (v.i.) '1567, from M.Fr. carousser "drink, quaff, swill," from Ger. gar aus "quite out," from gar austrinken "to drink up entirely."'


vicenzo  •  Link

Strange, history tells us the very little of the plight of the majority, only about the affluence of the Successful whom doth be de winners. 'Tis our weakness and strength. Let us eat cake.

GrahamT  •  Link

My flawed translation of dirk's definition:
"A kind of festival consisting of head (to head?) races and ring (circuit?) races between many people, divided into teams of four, distinguished by their colours and livery, and by their magnificent different dress."
This assumes "teste" is old French for "t?te” as “feste” is to “f?te”
If they were racing around a ring on horse back, it is easy to see where the modern fairground meaning of car(r)ousel comes from.

dirk  •  Link


re - GrahamT

Fair translation, I think. Thanks. But "bague" only means "ring" as the object you put on your finger - not circuit.

So, as I see it, what happened was a kind of contest between groups of four people, where they tried (probably on horseback) to snatch a ring or an animal head from a pole or similar. Not so long ago there were still races in some parts of western Europe where people on horseback tried to be the first to pull the head off a (live) goose... So this may be less improbable than it sounds!

GrahamT  •  Link

Absolutely right Dirk. A bague in this instance (course de bague) is a ring hung up in the lists which the knights tilted at and tried to catch on their lances, if I have followed the word trail through the 1694 La Rousse, linked above, correctly. Maybe the course de teste (t?te) is something similar using a head as you describe.

A. Hamilton  •  Link

that splendid carousal in the court before the Tuileries, from which the place has ever since taken its name

Pace LHat, I think the note is probably not mistaken. As Britney Spears (!) notes, it is a place name that figures, for example, in Baudelaire's Le Cygne, where the poet speaks of the "bric-a brac confus" of the "nouveau Carrousel."…

I find nothing in the OED to contradict the assertion that this space got its name from a festivity given by Louis XIV.

language hat  •  Link

The note *is* mistaken--
not in asserting that the place was named for the festivity (which is not in question) but in asserting that the word is the same as "carousal" (from the verb "carouse"), which it's not -- the two are entirely unrelated.

language hat  •  Link

And the Baudelaire poem is one of my favorites; it's where I learned about the place.

Second Reading

Louise Hudson  •  Link

"At dinner Sir George showed me an account in French of the great famine, which is to the greatest extremity in some part of France at this day, which is very strange. . .

. . .and so home. Supper and to bed."

(And let the French eat cake.)

eileen d.  •  Link

hmm... since nobody else brought this up, maybe the answer is obvious. but why did our Sam find reports of the famine strange?

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"At dinner Sir George showed me an account in French of the great famine,"

L&M: ? one of the appeals for money issued during the famine by the ladies of the Compagnie du Saint-Sacrement: list in Revue d'hist. écon. et soc., 12/69, n. 95. This famine was for France one of the worst of the century and caused many deaths, especially in Normandy, the Loire valley and Paris (ib., pp. 53+; C. W. Cole, Colbert, ii. 503+): parts with which Cartaret (a Jersey man and recently an exile in France) had several contacts. At the time of this entry, starvation was at its worst, and the authorities -- King, churches, towns -- were busy with measures of relief.

Log in to post an annotation.

If you don't have an account, then register here.