“French news”

Most of the time, Cocks (whose letters I’m working on) includes a disclaimer when he reports on news and rumours of, shall we say, less credibility:

“but I doe not beleeve that to be trew / for it is french news”
(SP 94/13 f.69r)

This made me think of national stereotypes and classic insults, but in fact it is not intended quite in that way, but rather:

“this is the comon report but most comonly french news proue false” (SP 94/12 f.89v)

..so instead of Cocks equating ‘French’ news as inherently false, he rather makes sure to underline that his sources come from France, and thus likely are street rumours, which more often than not prove not to be true, and therefore caveat lector:

“but this is french news / & therfore I refer both that and the rest vnto your better Consideration” (SP 94/13 f.19r)

But if he was perfectly aware that some of the news he relayed were ‘French’, why would he report them to England? In fact, he was directed to include such rumours in his reports. As Cocks himself acknowledged, his superiors at home were perfectly aware that:

“by the market fowlkes, a man may know how the market goeth”
(SP 94/14 f.126v)

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *