The miller in The Miller of Angibault is, according to George Sand, really, really huge. "The big miller descended, stretching, from his corn-loft, cracking the joints of his long arms and legs. He was well-proportioned, robust, easy in his movements, and strikingly featured. This speciment of the countryside was remarkable for a region whose inhabitants are generally on the short side." How tall was this "tall miller?"
Nineteenth-century novelists rarely give us hard data, but George Sand provides the exact measurement for this "specimen." "Grand-Louis" is exactly five feet eight inches tall!
Le Meunier d'Angibault was written in 1844. It's in Thackeray's Pendennis (1850), I think, that one of the female characters is described as a "maypole" of five feet four inches.
I wonder how tall Shakespeare imagined Helena -- the famous "painted maypole" of A Midsummer Night's Dream to be. Probably just as tall as the boy who played the part, but how much would that be in inches?
Height is believed to have increased a centimeter a decade in western Europe from 1850 to 1950. Is it possible that the great heroes of antiquity -- Hector, Samson etc. -- were all under five feet tall? My grandfather was just a hair above five feet tall.
The average height of American males was 5' 8" in 1960 and is 5' 9 1/2" today. How tall would a Louis have to be today to be called Grand-Louis?