Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Oaths Used by Men of Note

1. ANGUS (earl of), when incensed, used to say, by the might of God ! but at other times his oath was By St. Bride of Douglas !
2. BAYARD (The Chevalier), By God's Holy-day !
3. CHARLES II. of England, Ods fish ! a corruption of "God's flesh."
4. CHARLESVIII. of France, By God's light !
5 EDWARD THE CONFESSOR, By God and His Mother !
6. ELIZABETH, By God ! God's Death ! God's wounds ! softened afterwords into Zounds ! and Zouterkins !
7. FRANCOIS I., On the word of a gentleman !
8. HENRI IV., Ventre Saint Gris !
Ventre Saint Gris ! are you dumb, man? --- Stanley Weyman: A Minister of France (1895) ("V. The Lost Cipher").
9. HENRY II. of England, By the death of our Lord !
10. HENRY III., when he confirmed Magna Carta, On the word of a gentleman, a king, and a knight !
11. HENRY V., By'r Lady !
12. HENRY VIII. By God's wounds !
13. JAMES I., On my soul !
14. JOHN (King), By God's tooth ! By the light of our Lady's brow ! Sir W. Scott, in Ivanhoe (ch. xiii.) makes him swear, By the bones of St. Becket !
15. JOSEPH, viceroy of Egypt, By the life of Pharaoh !
16. LOUIS XI., By God's Easter ! (Pasque Dieu !) and Mother of God !
17. LOUIS XIII., The devil take me ! (Diable m'emporte!)
18. OTTO I. of Germany, By my beard !
19. PERROT (John), a natural son of Henry VIII., was the first to employ the profane oath of God's Wounds ! afterwards softened into Zounds !
20. RICHARD I. Mort de ma vie ! and Despar dieux !
21. RICHARD II., By St. John ! (i.e. the Baptist) and God of Paradise !í
22. RICHARD III., By my George and Garter !
24. SIMON DE MONTFORT, the great patriot in the reign of Henry III., By the arm of St. James !
25. WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR, By the splendour of God !
26. WILLIAM RUFUS, Par sante voult de Lucques ! ("By the holy face of Lucca !" or "By Lucca's holy face !"). Lucca was a gret crucifix in Lucca Cathedral.---Albert Butler: Lives of the Saints April 21), p. 494, col. I.
27. WINIFRED (St.) or Boniface, By St. Peter's tomb !

In the reign of Charles II., fancy oaths were in fashion. Eg.
28. FOPPINGTON (Lord), an empty-headed coxcomb, intent only on dress and fashion. His favourite oaths, which he brings out with a drawl (in speaking, his affectation is to change the vowel o into a, as rat, naw, resalve, waurld, ardered, mauth, paund, maunth, lang, philasapher, tarture, and so on), are : Strike me dumb ! Split my windpipe ! Strike me ugly ! Stap my vitals ! Sun, burn me ! Curse, catch me ! Stap my breath ! Let me blood ! Run me through ! Knock me down ! He is reckoned the king of all court fops.

The most common oaths of the ancient Romans were By Herculês ! (Mehercule !); Roman women, By Castor ! and both men and women, By Pollux !

Viri per Herculem, mulieres per Castorem, utrique per Pollucem, jurāre solíti.--Aulus Gellius : Noctes Atticæ, ii. 6.

NB -- In the early part of the nineteenth century, oaths were exceedingly common, both among men and women ; they were rarely heard in good society towards the close of the century.

Brewer's Readers Guide (On my shelf it says The Reader's Handbook though.)
Also: Profanity in Science Fiction (or Oaths Used by Non-Humans of Note) at Wikipedia.

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