Original French:  heſpaliers,

Modern French:  hespaliers,



Hespalier: m. A Sayler, or Marriner.

Cotgrave, Randle (–1634?), A Dictionarie of the French and English Tongue. London: Adam Islip, 1611. PBM


Espalier: m. He that rowes with the first oare in a gallie; also, as Espallier.

Cotgrave, Randle (–1634?), A Dictionarie of the French and English Tongue. London: Adam Islip, 1611. PBM


ESPALIER. s. m. (L’s se prononce.) Rameur qui est à l’espalle. Ce coquin est fort, il seroit bon à servir d’espalier dans une galere.

Dictionnaire de L’Académie française (5th Edition). 1798.


Nous avon trouvé ce mot dans Duez, dans Oudin, et dans Trévoux. On lit dans Duez: espalier ou espallier de galère, spalliere di galea, espalliere, premier banc de galère, spalliera di galea; espale ou espalle de galère; l’espace de la poupe, spalla di galea; et dans Trévoux: espalier, t. de mar., rameur qui est le premier d’un banc dans ine galère; espale, banc de rameurs le plus proche de la poupe dans les galères. Ce mot doit donc venir de palus, pieu, gourernail, puisque pilote en vient aussi, ainsi que le mot breton baol ou paol, barre du gouvernail d’un navire, et paolea, conduire un bateau avec un aviron, par la poupe, lequel avirons sert aussi de gouvernail: ce qu’on appele en françois gabarer, verbe dérivé de gabare et composé de barre. Hespaliers doit donc s’écrire sans h.

Rabelais, François (1494?–1553), Œuvres de Rabelais (Edition Variorum). Tome Cinquième. Charles Esmangart (1736–1793), editor. Paris: Chez Dalibon, 1823. p. 258. Google Books

How Pantagruel put to Sea to visit the Oracle of the Holy Bacbuc

Smith Quart Livre Chapter 1

How Pantagruel put to Sea to visit the Oracle of the Holy Bacbuc

In the Month of June, on the Day [Ov. Fast. vi. 247] of the a Feast of Vesta [The 9th of June], on the very Day on which Brutus conquered Spain [Ov. Fast. vi. 461] and subjugated the Spaniards, and also on which the covetous [ Ov. Fast. vi. 465 ] Crassus was conquered and destroyed by the Parthians — Pantagruel took Leave of the good Gargantua his Father, who prayed devoutly, according to the laudable [Act. Apostol. xxi. 36, xxi. 5] Custom in the primitive Church among the holy Christians, for the prosperous Voyage of his Son and all his Company. Pantagruel put to Sea at the Port of Thalassa, accompanied by Panurge, Friar John of the Trencherites, Epistemon, [Cf.ii. 18, 19, 20, 30] Gymnast, Eusthenes, Rhizotomus, Carpalim and others his ancient Servants and Domestics ; with them Xenomanes, the great Traveller and Traverser of perilous Ways, [This was the title assumed by Jean Bouchet, a friend of Rabelais. Cf. iii. 46, 49, and the Epistle to Bouchet] who had been sent for by Panurge and had arrived certain Days before.

For certain good Reasons Xenomanes had left with Gargantua, and marked out in his great and universal Hydrography the Route which they were to take in their Visit to the Oracle of the Holy Bottle Bacbuc. [Bacbuc is a Chaldean word occurring in the sense of “bottle” I Kings xiv. 3, Jeremia xix. I, and as a proper name, Ezra ii. 51, Nehemiah vii. 53]

The Number of the Ships was such as I have described in the Third Book, with a Convoy of Triremes, Cruisers [Ramberges, long swift ships used by the English against the French in the Channel. Du Bellay’s Memoirs, bk. x.], Galleons and Liburnian Galleys in equal Number, well rigged, caulked and stored, and with a plentiful Supply of Pantagruelion.

The Meeting-place of all the Officers, Interpreters, Pilots, Captains, Mates, Midshipmen, Rowers [hespailliers, so called from the espale or bridge on which they used to sit (M.)] and Sailors, was on board the Thalamege [Thalamege was the name of the Egyptian galley on which Cleopatra took Julius Caesar on a trip to Aethiopia. Cf. Suet. i. 52] ; for that was the Name of Pantagruel’s great Flag-ship, which had on her Stern for Ensign a large, capacious Bottle, half of Silver smooth and polished; the other half was of Gold, enamelled with crimson Colours ; whereby it was easy to determine that White and Claret were the Colours of the noble Travellers, and that they were going to get the Word of the Bottle.

Rabelais, François (1494?–1553), The Five Books and Minor Writings. Volume 2: Books IV-V and minor writings. William Francis Smith (1842–1919), translator. London: Alexader P. Watt, 1893. p. 38. Internet Archive


Ce mot (en provençal, espalié) désignait le premier rameur d’un banc, dans un galère (Sainéan, t. I, p 113).

Rabelais, François (1494?–1553), Oeuvres. Édition critique. Tome Cinquieme: Tiers Livre. Abel Lefranc (1863-1952), editor. Paris: Librairie Ancienne Honoré Champion, 1931. p. 338. Internet Archive



Posted 11 January 2013. Modified 11 September 2020.

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