Re: Origins of the Peace (Victory) sign
Tue, 25 Jun 1996 08:59:00 -0400

>This is distinctly
>different from the opposite position (palm facing the sign-giver), which in
>Britain is a somewhat less friendly statement, one that uh, offers an
>invitation to give oneself "free love." To punctuate this expression, it's
>usually delivered in an upward motion, much like the American equivalent
>that features the middle finger by itself, delivered emphatically with the
>opposite hand slapped onto the crook of the arm, as the arm makes a right

I don't know where our peace sign came from but the Brit sign described
here comes from a distinct moment in history. At the battle of Agincourt
the French leader told his men to cut the index and middle fingers off
those damned British bowsmen after the battle--this was of course one of
the first uses of the famed British longbow. The longbow held the day
and the bowmen and their descendents give the finger(s) to their
opponents in the emphatic way described as if to say, "see, still got

I believe all this is recounted in John Keegan's superb The Face of

Randy Fertel