Thursday, 2 April 2009

Beware of the Rhine

Pic 'Monmouth with Astrologer'

Carrying on the theme of supernatural elements in the Monmouth Rebellion the next place to look is about the person of Monmouth himself. If you have David Chandler's excellent Sedgemoor 1685 anthology you will notice the verse on the title page

When thy star is in trine,
Between darkness and shine,
Duke Monmouth, Duke Monmouth,
Beware of the Rhine!

This verse is attributed to a soothsayer's warning to Monmouth from 1672. The Rhine being to be of course the Bussex Rhine (pronounced Reen) that separated the Rebels from the redcoats between 'darknesss and shine'.
The story maybe proves one thing - Monmouth's interest in such things... when he was captured at Ringwood after Sedgemoor he was found to have a pocket-book of charms and spells. Also an anecdote from Fea's 'King Monmouth' is telling

An Italian astrologer who had cast his horoscope had foretold that if he out-lived St. Swithin's Day (presumably of the year 1685) he had nothing to fear! This fortune-teller, the Abbe Pregnani, was introduced to Charles II. by Monmouth at Newmarket in 1669. The king, writing to his sister, the Duchess of Orleans, March 22, 1669, says: " L'Abbe Pregnani was there [Newmarket] most part of the time, and I believe will give you some account of it, but not that he lost his money upon confidence that the Starrs could tell which horse would winn, for he had the ill luck to foretell three times wrong together, and James [Monmouth] believed him so much, as he lost his mony upon the same score." 4

Further reading on the career of James Scott is here in full King Monmouth, being a history of the career of James Scott, "the Protestant Duke", 1649-1685 : Illustrated by the author (1902)

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