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According to a popular legend the two-fingers salute and/or V sign derives from the gestures of longbowmen fighting in the English army at the Battle of Agincourt (1415) during the Hundred Years' War. The story claims that the French cut off the index and middle fingers of the right hand of any captured archers, and so the gesture was a sign of defiance from the greatly outnumbered English. Historian Juliet Barker quotes Jean Le Fevre (who fought on the English side at Agincourt) as saying that Henry V included a reference to the French cutting off longbowmen's fingers in his pre-battle speech. If this is correct it confirms that the story was around at the time of Agincourt, although it doesn't necessarily mean that the French practised it, just that Henry found it useful for propaganda, and it does not show that the 'two-fingers salute' is derived from the hypothetical behaviour of English archers at that battle.
The origin of this gesture is speculative, and quite possibly thousands of years old. It is identified as the digitus impudicus ("impudent finger") in Ancient Roman writings and reference is made to using the finger in the Ancient Greek comedy The Clouds by Aristophanes. It was defined there as a gesture intended to insult another. The widespread usage of the finger in many cultures is likely due to the geographical influence of the Roman Empire and Greco-Roman civilization. Another possible origin of this gesture can be found in the first-century Mediterranean world, where extending the digitus impudicus was one of many methods used to divert the ever present threat of the evil eye.
There is a popular, but apocryphal, story about English bowmen waving fingers at the French army during the Hundred Years' War.
Another possible origin is the phallic imagery of the raised middle finger (the middle finger being the longest finger on the human hand), similar to the Italian version of the bent elbow insult. Also, there is a variation of the finger where it can be done by performing The Fangul, by sticking out the finger during the throwing motion.
Many men in medieval England were capable of shooting bows from 150–200 pounds (670–900 N)—deformed skeletons of archers have been studied, revealing spur like growths on their bones where the over-developed muscles pulled. However, these men did train daily from a very young age and their lives depended on being able to use such powerful bows.
Originally posted by hsur2112
Hmmmm, well, I'm kind of sad, yet intruiged. I thought I started it in the 80's.