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The French word massacre originated in the world of the slaughterhouse and denoted the “butcher’s block,” the said butcher’s cleaver being the massacreur (from the Vulgar Latin matteuca, cf. French massue, cf. English “mattock,” “mace”). It was during the French Wars of Religion (Religion, wars of) in the second half of the 16th century that the word acquired the sense it still has today, of extreme collective violence perpetrated against numerous defenseless victims. It is interesting to note that this shift of meaning can be observed taking place as ea…

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Burschel, Peter, “Massacre”, in: Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online, Editors of the English edition: Graeme Dunphy, Andrew Gow. Original German Edition: Enzyklopädie der Neuzeit. Im Auftrag des Kulturwissenschaftlichen Instituts (Essen) und in Verbindung mit den Fachherausgebern herausgegeben von Friedrich Jaeger. Copyright © J.B. Metzlersche Verlagsbuchhandlung und Carl Ernst Poeschel Verlag GmbH 2005–2012. Consulted online on 25 July 2024 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2352-0272_emho_SIM_023761>
First published online: 2015
First print edition: 20190801

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