Chapter 9. Asterix and the Normans

Rene Goscinny

Albert Uderzo

English Translations: Anthea Bell & Derek Hockridge


The fearless Norman raiders descend upon Gaul to learn the meaning of fear. They capture Vitalstatistix's timid visiting nephew to get him to "teach" them, and it is up to Asterix & Obelix to sort them out...
Near the end of the early period. Drawing is nearly up to later standards. Fulliautomatix settles into his role of Cacofonix bashing, though he isn't named yet. Lots of names in this one. This introduces that Dogmatix hates when trees are hurt.

Historical Note.  Vikings, or Normands, raided and pillaged France quite a lot during early middle-age. With their flat boats, they could sail upstream on the Seine, and threaten Paris. So, king Charles le Simple made an arrangement: he gave a duchy to their leader Rollon, and he would stop wrecking havoc. They were given a land called afterwards Normandy, which is a very peaceful part of France nowadays.

In this adventure, the Vikings sometimes behave like modern-day Normands : drinking calvados, adding cream in many dishes are characteristic of contemporary Normandy. But these Normands were not content forever with Normandy: Guillaume (William) sailed out to become king of England (1066).

Table 9.1. Asterix and the Normans - Annotations

Page, Panel Comment
Page 2, Panel 5 Milan, Italy is the home of Italian sports car maker Ferrari. The chariot is also red, like most Ferraris.
Page 3, Panel 7 Catacombs: Subterranean cemeteries and tunnels. Paris has extensive catacombs.
Page 3, Panel 9 The Rolling Stones, of course
Page 6, Panel 3 Apple brandy = Calvados, a brandy made from apples. It seems the alcohol content can reach 40% and it is matured in oak casks for an average of six years. Calvados is often fondly referred to as 'Calva', which, ironically, is Latin for "skull". Is the Normans drinking Calva from skulls (Lt. Calva) an intentional pun ???
Page 4, Panel 11 Palace of Varietix: The Palace of Varieties, a music hall in London, now defunct. In the French this is Olympiacocatrix. The Olympia is a famous concert place, and Cocatrix is the owner.
Page 17, Panel 4 The Battle of Hastings, 1066 AD, the decisive battle in the Norman conquest of England.
Page 21, Panel 9 Half-uncia: half-inch
Page 22, Panel 2 Consensus is a Roman
Page 25, Panel 11 Gaulish Leave = French Leave - a hasty or secret departure, especially the leaving oh a place without having paid the debts. The French equivalent is "filer a l'anglaise" meaning "English leave".
Page 27, Panel 5 The Normans did quite a bit of raiding on the coast of France later.
Page 30, Panel 4 Sol lucet omnibus = the sun shines for everyone.
Page 31, Panel 8 This instrument is authentic!
Page 32, Panel 7 "This Old Man he played one" — an old nursery rhyme.
Page 38, Panel 6 "I Love a Lassie..." = A traditional Scottish song by Sir Harry Lauder & Gerald Grafton
Page 38, Panel 8 "Get with it! I'm real gone..." = What song is this???
Page 39, Panel 1 Horologium: clock. 'Rock around the Clock' by Bill Haley and the Comets; 'I Like to be in America' by Bernstein in West Side Story.
Page 41, Panel 4 Sic transit gloria = And so the glory passes (said at the coronation of a pope)

Table 9.2. Asterix and the Normans - Names

Name (in order of appearance) Comment
Postaldistrix Postal districts: areas for mail delivery
Doublehelix Double helix: a double intertwined spiral, the shape of DNA
Justforkix Just for kicks
Olaf Timandahaf Time and a half: overtime pay rate
Nescaf Nescafe: an instant coffee mix, though the company makes instant teas too.
Psychopaf Psychopath
Epitaf Epitaph: inscription on tombstone.
Cenotaf Cenotaph: empty tomb honoring person whose body is elsewhere
Transportcaf Transport cafe (Brits say "caf" instead of "cafe") - a greasy truckstop
Chiffchaf Chiffchaff: Small brown and green European bird
Operatix Operatic: like an opera
Acoustix Acoustics: the sound of a place
Polyfonix Polyfonics: multiple notes at once
Harmonix Harmonics: higher frequency "echoes" of a base tone
Riffraf Riffraff: the commoners
Fotograf Photograph
Oleaginus Oleaginous: oily, greasy
Caraf Carafe: bottle for beverages
Telegraf Telegraph
Polytechnix Polytechnic: skilled in many arts. Also a name given to certain colleges, though now they call themselves universities.
Selfservix Self service
Firsthaf First half
Secondhaf Second half
Autograf Autograph
Toocleverbyhaf Too clever by half