Page 409. " another story of the Sabine ladies "
Abduction of the Sabine women
Public DomainAbduction of the Sabine women - Credit: Nicolas Poussin

Legend has it that, shortly after Rome was founded by Romulus, the Romans entered negotiations with the neighbouring Sabines, to try to secure themselves wives.  The negotiations were unsuccessful, as the Sabines feared the emergence of a rival society.  The Romans thus resolved to abduct the Sabine women by force instead. Romulus devised a festival, to which all the neighbouring communities were invited.  At the festival, Romulus gave a signal, at which the Romans grabbed the Sabine women and fought off the Sabine men. According to ancient accounts, the women were enraged at first, but soon acquiesced.  Romulus spoke to each woman in person, and promised them they would live in honourable wedlock, and share all their property and civil rights, and would be the mothers of free men. 

The Sabine men, however, were not so easily persuaded. They returned to the city to wage war on the Romans.  The women, however, intervened, running among the warring soldiers and appealing to their fathers and husbands not to shed one another’s blood.  Their pleas had the desired effect – the Sabines agreed to form one nation with the Romans and the Sabine king, Titus Tatius, went on to rule Rome jointly with Romulus.

Page 410. " it was The Fatal Marriage "

Aphra Behn
Public DomainAphra Behn - Credit: George Scharf (1820—1895)
The Fatal Marriage, or the Innocent Adultery, was a play by Thomas Southerne (1660-1746), an Irish dramatist who lived in London from 1678. His first play, The Persian Prince, or the Loyal Brother (1682), was based on a contemporary novel.  The Fatal Marriage was a sentimental drama published in 1694.  It was based on Mrs Aphra Behn’s The History of the Nun, with a comic underplot added by Southerne. 

Page 415. " Lewis the Fourteenth was at the gates of Amsterdam "

The Franco-Dutch war of 1672 - 1678 saw the French army under Louis XIV overrun the Dutch United Provinces ‘up to the gates of Amsterdam.’ 

On one side of the war were France, Sweden, the Prince Bishopric of Munster, the Archbishopric of Cologne and England. On the other was the Dutch Republic, later joined by the Austrian Habsburg lands, Brandenburg and Spain. 

Louis considered the Dutch to be trading rivals, republicans, heretics and an obstacle to French expansion into the Spanish Netherlands.  England, in turn, felt threatened by the growing naval power of the Dutch, and was willing to partner with the French to take them down a peg or two. 

France mobilized about 120,000 men against the Dutch United Provinces, while England was expected to launch amphibious landings against the Dutch (this never happened).  The French marched to the heart of the Dutch Republic, and tried to gain sixteen million guilders from the Dutch in exchange for peace. The Dutch, however, were incensed, and flooded the countryside by opening their famous dikes – thus blocking further French advances. Attempts by the Anglo-French fleet to invade the Dutch Republic by sea were thwarted.  England abandoned the war in 1674.

Treaty of Nijmegen 1678
Public DomainTreaty of Nijmegen 1678 - Credit: Henri Gascard
Louis was forced to abandon his plans of conquering the Dutch and revert to a slow, cautious war of attrition around the French frontiers.  In 1676, the French navy finally destroyed a Dutch fleet near Palermo and temporarily achieved naval supremacy in the Mediterranean.  By 1678, Louis had broken the Dutch led coalition, and France gained considerable territories in the Southern Netherlands from the Spanish, under the terms of the Treaty of Nijmegen which ended the war.  France ended the war as a great military power of continental Europe.

Page 415. " Greenland should always be the scene of the Tramontane negotiation "

Tramontane clouds, France
GNU Free Documentation LicenseTramontane clouds, France - Credit: Gerbil
Tramontane is a classical name for a northern wind. The word is derived from Latin trānsmontānus, "beyond the mountains,” referring to the Alps in the North of Italy. The word can refer to anything that comes from, or anyone who lives on, the other side of mountains, or anything seen as foreign or strange.

The continuous howling noise of the tramontane is said to have a disturbing effect upon the psyche.  Thus to ‘lose the tramontane’ is to be disconcerted.

Page 421. " could truly say with him in Terence, Homo Sum "
Portrait of Terence
Public DomainPortrait of Terence - Credit: Codex Vaticanus Latinus 3868

Publius Terentius Afer (195/185–159 BC), known as Terence, was a playwright of North African descent in the Roman Republic.  He is believed to have lived in the territory of a Libyan tribe, called Afri by the Romans, near Carthage, before being brought him to Rome as a slave by Terentius Lucanus, a Roman senator.  The senator educated him and later, impressed by his abilities, freed him. Terence’s comedies were performed for the first time around 170–160 BC.  He wrote six plays, and died young. 

A famous quote from his play Heauton Timorumenos reads: "Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto", which translates as: "I am a man, I consider nothing that is human alien to me."