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The Thirty Years' War (1618 to 1648), one of the most destructive conflicts in European history. On one side (mainly Protestant) were Sweden, Bohemia, Denmark, the Dutch Republic, France, Saxony, the Electoral Palatinate, England, Brandenburg-Prussia, Transylvania, Hungarian rebels and Zaporozhian Cossacks; on the other side (mainly Catholic) were the Holy Roman Empire, the Catholic League, Spain, Hungary, Austria and Bavaria. Cyrano and Christian participate in the 1640 Siege of Arras (not to be confused with the more famous 1654 Battle of Arras).
"Pistoles" refers not to guns but to a Spanish gold coin used at the time. 120 pistoles equalled 1,200 French livres, a significant sum of money at the time.
If you've seen the Jose Ferrer film, his final insult is "Was this the nose that launched a thousand ships?" In this film, it's "And finally, with sighs and cries, in language deeply felt, 'Oh that this too, too solid nose would melt!" The former is a reference to Marlowe's Doctor Faustus, and the latter to Shakespeare's Hamlet. Neither is an accurate translation of the original French. "Enfin, parodiant Pyrame en un sanglot, 'Le voila donc ce nez qui de trait de son maitre a detruit l'harmonie! Il en rougit, le traitre!" Loosely but more literally translated, this means: And lastly ... parodying Pyramuss sighs: Behold the nose that mars its owners nature destroying harmony! It blushes now, the traitor! Pyramus and Thisbe was a classic Roman tragedy, which had also been performed in French theatre, about two forbidden lovers from feuding families. Pyramus is led to believe that Thisbe has died, so he stabs himself, and she later does the same. The original quote references the knife that destroys its masters features. It's inclusion here is probably for another reason: many elements of Pyramus and Thisbe found their way into Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet, which was translated into French during Edmond Rostand's lifetime. A reference to the work that inspired Romeo & Juliet is probably no accident, as Cyrano's iconic balcony scene is a parody of the scene in Romeo & Juliet.
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