Queen of Navarre Margaret.

The Tales Of The Heptameron, Vol. IV. (of V.) online

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Produced by David Widger




Margaret, Queen of Navarre

_Newly Translated into English from the Authentic Text_





Also the Original Seventy-three Full Page Engravings

Designed by S. FREUDENBERG

And One Hundred and Fifty Head and Tail Pieces






[Illustration: Frontispiece]

[Margaret, Queen of Navarre, from a crayon drawing by Clouet, preserved
at the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris]

[Illustration: Titlepage]




Tale XXXI. Punishment of the wickedness of a Friar who sought to lie
with a gentleman's wife.

Tale XXXII. How an ambassador of Charles VIII., moved by the repentance
of a German lady, whom her husband compelled to drink out of her lover's
skull, reconciled husband and wife together.

Tale XXXIII. The hypocrisy of a priest who, under the cloak of sanctity,
had lain with his own sister, is discovered and punished by the wisdom
of the Count of Angoulême.

Tale XXXIV. The terror of two Friars who believed that a butcher
intended to murder them, whereas the poor man was only speaking of his

Tale XXXV. How a husband's prudence saves his wife from the risks she
incurred while thinking to yield to merely a spiritual love.

Tale XXXVI. The story of the President of Grenoble, who saves the honour
of his house by poisoning his wife with a salad.

Tale XXXVII. How the Lady of Loué regained her husband's affection.

Tale XXXVIII. The kindness of a townswoman of Tours to a poor
farm-woman who is mistress to her husband, makes the latter so ashamed
of his faithlessness that he returns to his wife.

Tale XXXIX. How the Lord of Grignaulx rid one of his houses of a
pretended ghost.

Tale XL. The unhappy history of the Count de Jossebelin's sister, who
shut herself up in a hermitage because her brother caused her husband to
be slain.



Tale XLI. Just punishment of a Grey Friar for the unwonted penance that
he would have laid upon a maiden.

Tale XLII. The virtuous resistance made by a young woman of Touraine
causes a young Prince that is in love with her, to change his desire to
respect, and to bestow her honourably in marriage.

Tale XLIII. How a little chalk-mark revealed the hypocrisy of a lady
called Jambicque, who was wont to hide the pleasures she indulged in,
beneath the semblance of austerity.

Tale XLIV. (A). Through telling the truth, a Grey Friar receives as alms
from the Lord of Sedan two pigs instead of one.

Tale XLIV. (B). Honourable conduct of a young citizen of Paris, who,
after suddenly enjoying his sweetheart, at last happily marries.

Tale XLV. Cleverness of an upholsterer of Touraine, who, to hide that
he has given the Innocents to his serving-maid, contrives to give them
afterwards to his wife.

Tale XLVI. (A). Wicked acts of a Grey Friar of Angoulême called De Vale,
who fails in his purpose with the wife of the Judge of the Exempts, but
to whom a mother in blind confidence foolishly abandons her daughter.

Tale XLVI. (B). Sermons of the Grey Friar De Vallès, at first against
and afterwards on behalf of husbands that beat their wives.

Tale XLVII. The undeserved jealousy of a gentleman of Le Perche towards
another gentleman, his friend, leads the latter to deceive him.

Tale XLVIII. Wicked act of a Grey Friar of Perigord, who, while a
husband was dancing at his wedding, went and took his place with the

Tale XLIX. Story of a foreign Countess, who, not content with having
King Charles as her lover, added to him three lords, to wit, Astillon,
Durassier and Valnebon.

Tale L. Melancholy fortune of Messire John Peter, a gentleman of
Cremona, who dies just when he is winning the affection of the lady he

Appendix to Vol. IV.


Tale XXXI. The Wicked Friar Captured.

Tale XXXII. Bernage observing the German Lady's Strange Penance.

Tale XXXIII. The Execution of the Wicked Priest and his Sister.

Tale XXXIV. The Grey Friar imploring the Butcher to Spare his Life.

Tale XXXV. The Lady embracing the Supposed Friar.

Tale XXXVI. The Clerk entreating Forgiveness of the President.

Tale XXXVII. The Lady of Loué bringing her Husband the Basin of Water.

Tale XXXVIII. The Lady of Tours questioning her Husband's Mistress.

Tale XXXIX. The Lord of Grignaulx catching the Pretended Ghost.

Tale XL. The Count of Jossebelin murdering his Sister's Husband.

Tale XLI. The Beating of the Wicked Grey Friar.

Tale XLII. The Girl refusing the Gift of the Young Prince.

Tale XLIII. Jambicque repudiating her Lover.

Tale XLIV. (B). The Lovers returning from their Meeting in the Garden.

Tale Tale XLV. The Man of Tours and his Serving-maid in the Snow.

Tale XLVI. (B). The Young Man beating his Wife.

Tale XLVII. The Gentleman reproaching his Friend for his Jealousy.

Tale XLVIII. The Grey Friars Caught and Punished.

Tale XLIX. The Countess facing her Lovers.

Tale L. The Lady killing herself on the Death of her Lover.


_On the Fourth Day are chiefly told Tales of the
virtuous patience and long suffering of
Ladies to win over their husbands;
and of the prudence that Men
have used towards Women
to save the honour of
their families and


The Lady Oisille, as was her excellent custom, rose up on the morrow
very much earlier than the others, and meditating upon her book of
Holy Scripture, awaited the company which, little by little, assembled
together again. And the more slothful of them excused themselves in the
words of the Bible, saying, "I have a wife, and therefore could not come
so quickly." (1) In this wise it came to pass that Hircan and his wife
Parlamente found the reading of the lesson already begun. Oisille,
however, knew right well how to pick out the passage in the Scriptures,
which reproves those who neglect the hearing of the Word, and she not
only read the text, but also addressed to them such excellent and pious
exhortations that it was impossible to weary of listening to her.

1 "I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come." - St.
Luke xiv. 20. - M.

The reading ended, Parlamente said to her -

"I felt sorry for my slothfulness when I came in, but since my error
has led you to speak to me in such excellent fashion, my laziness has
profited me double, for I have had rest of body by sleeping longer, and
satisfaction of spirit by hearing your godly discourse." "Well," said
Oisille, "let us for penance go to mass and pray Our Lord to give us
both will and power to fulfil His commandments; and then may He command
us according to His own good pleasure."

As she was saying these words, they reached the church, where they
piously heard mass. And afterwards they sat down to table, where Hircan
failed not to laugh at the slothfulness of his wife. After dinner they
withdrew to rest and study their parts, (2) and when the hour was come,
they all found themselves at the wonted spot.

2 Meaning what they had to relate. The French word is
_rolle_ from _rotulus_. - M.

Then Oisille asked Hircan to whom he would give his vote to begin the

"If my wife," said he, "had not begun yesterday, I should have given her
my vote, for although I always thought that she loved me more than any
man alive, she has further proved to me this morning that she loves me
better than God or His Word, seeing that she neglected your excellent
reading to bear me company. However, since I cannot give my vote to the
discreetest lady of the company, I will present it to Geburon, who is
the discreetest among the men; and I beg that he will in no wise spare
the monks."

"It was not necessary to beg that of me," said Geburon; "I was not at
all likely to forget them. Only a short while ago I heard Monsieur de
Saint-Vincent, Ambassador of the Emperor, tell a story of them which is
well worthy of being rememorated and I will now relate it to you."

[Illustration: 007a.jpg The Wicked Friar Captured]

[The Wicked Friar Captured]

[Illustration: 007.jpg Page Image]


_A monastery of Grey Friars was burned down, with the monks
that were in it, as a perpetual memorial of the cruelty
practised by one among them that was in love with a lady_.

In the lands subject to the Emperor Maximilian of Austria (1) there was
a monastery of Grey Friars that was held in high repute, and nigh to it
stood the house of a gentleman who was so kindly disposed to these
monks that he could withhold nothing from them, in order to share in the
benefits of their fastings and disciplines. Among the rest there was
a tall and handsome friar whom the said gentleman had taken to be his
confessor, and who had as much authority in the gentleman's house as the
gentleman himself. This friar, seeing that the gentleman's wife was as
beautiful and prudent as it was possible to be, fell so deeply in love
with her that he lost all appetite for both food and drink, and all
natural reason as well. One day, thinking to work his end, he went all
alone to the house, and not finding the gentleman within, asked the lady
whither he was gone. She replied that he was gone to an estate where he
proposed remaining during two or three days, but that if the friar had
business with him, she would despatch a man expressly to him. The friar
said no to this, and began to walk to and fro in the house like one with
a weighty matter in his mind.

1 Maximilian I., grandfather of Charles V. and Ferdinand
I., and Emperor of Germany from 1494 to 1519. - Ed.

When he had left the room, the lady said to one of her women (and there
were but two) "Go after the good father and find out what he wants, for
I judge by his countenance that he is displeased."

The serving-woman went to the courtyard and asked the friar whether he
desired aught, whereat he answered that he did, and, drawing her into a
corner, he took a dagger which he carried in his sleeve, and thrust
it into her throat. Just after he had done this, there came into the
courtyard a mounted servant who had been gone to receive the rent of a
farm. As soon as he had dismounted he saluted the friar, who embraced
him, and while doing so thrust the dagger into the back part of his
neck. And thereupon he closed the castle gate.

The lady, finding that her serving-woman did not return, was astonished
that she should remain so long with the friar, and said to the other -

"Go and see why your fellow-servant does not come back."

The woman went, and as soon as the good father saw her, he drew her
aside into a corner and did to her as he had done to her companion.
Then, finding himself alone in the house, he came to the lady, and told
her that he had long been in love with her, and that the hour was now
come when she must yield him obedience.

The lady, who had never suspected aught of this, replied -

"I am sure, father, that were I so evilly inclined, you would be the
first to cast a stone at me."

"Come out into the courtyard," returned the monk, "and you will see what
I have done."

When she beheld the two women and the man lying dead, she was so
terrified that she stood like a statue, without uttering a word. The
villain, who did not seek merely an hour's delight, would not take her
by force, but forthwith said to her -

"Mistress, be not afraid; you are in the hands of him who, of all living
men, loves you the most."

So saying, he took off his long robe, beneath which he wore a shorter
one, which he gave to the lady, telling her that if she did not take it,
she should be numbered with those whom she saw lying lifeless before her

More dead than alive already, the lady resolved to feign obedience,
both to save her life, and to gain time, as she hoped, for her husband's
return. At the command of the friar, she set herself to put off her
head-dress as slowly as she was able; and when this was done, the friar,
heedless of the beauty of her hair, quickly cut it off. Then he caused
her to take off all her clothes except her chemise, and dressed her in
the smaller robe he had worn, he himself resuming the other, which he
was wont to wear; then he departed thence with all imaginable speed,
taking with him the little friar he had coveted so long.

But God, who pities the innocent in affliction, beheld the tears of
this unhappy lady, and it so happened that her husband, having arranged
matters more speedily than he had expected, was now returning home by
the same road by which she herself was departing. However, when the
friar perceived him in the distance, he said to the lady -

"I see your husband coming this way. I know that if you look at him he
will try to take you out of my hands. Go, then, before me, and turn
not your head in his direction; for, if you make the faintest sign, my
dagger will be in your throat before he can deliver you."

As he was speaking, the gentleman came up, and asked him whence he was

"From your house," replied the other, "where I left my lady in good
health, and waiting for you."

The gentleman passed on without observing his wife, but a servant who
was with him, and who had always been wont to foregather with one of
the friar's comrades named Brother John, began to call to his mistress,
thinking, indeed, that she was this Brother John. The poor woman, who
durst not turn her eyes in the direction of her husband, answered not a
word. The servant, however, wishing to see her face, crossed the road,
and the lady, still without making any reply, signed to him with her
eyes, which were full of tears.

The servant then went after his master and said - "Sir, as I crossed the
road I took note of the friar's companion. He is not Brother John, but
is very like my lady, your wife, and gave me a pitiful look with eyes
full of tears."

The gentleman replied that he was dreaming, and paid no heed to him; but
the servant persisted, entreating his master to allow him to go back,
whilst he himself waited on the road, to see if matters were as he
thought. The gentleman gave him leave, and waited to see what news he
would bring him. When the friar heard the servant calling out to Brother
John, he suspected that the lady had been recognised, and with a great,
iron-bound stick that he carried, he dealt the servant so hard a blow in
the side that he knocked him off his horse. Then, leaping upon his body,
he cut his throat.

The gentleman, seeing his servant fall in the distance, thought that he
had met with an accident, and hastened back to assist him. As soon as
the friar saw him, he struck him also with the iron-bound stick, just
as he had struck the servant, and, flinging him to the ground, threw
himself upon him. But the gentleman being strong and powerful, hugged
the friar so closely that he was unable to do any mischief, and was
forced to let his dagger fall. The lady picked it up, and, giving it to
her husband, held the friar with all her strength by the hood. Then her
husband dealt the friar several blows with the dagger, so that at last
he cried for mercy and confessed his wickedness. The gentleman was
not minded to kill him, but begged his wife to go home and fetch their
people and a cart, in which to carry the friar away. This she did,
throwing off her robe, and running as far as her house in nothing but
her shift, with her cropped hair.

The gentleman's men forthwith hastened to assist their master to bring
away the wolf that he had captured. And they found this wolf in the
road, on the ground, where he was seized and bound, and taken to the
house of the gentleman, who afterwards had him brought before the
Emperor's Court in Flanders, when he confessed his evil deeds.

And by his confession and by proofs procured by commissioners on the
spot, it was found that a great number of gentlewomen and handsome
wenches had been brought into the monastery in the same fashion as the
friar of my story had sought to carry off this lady; and he would have
succeeded but for the mercy of Our Lord, who ever assists those that put
their trust in Him. And the said monastery was stripped of its spoils
and of the handsome maidens that were found within it, and the monks
were shut up in the building and burned with it, as an everlasting
memorial of this crime, by which we see that there is nothing more
dangerous than love when it is founded upon vice, just as there is
nothing more gentle or praiseworthy when it dwells in a virtuous heart.

2 Queen Margaret states (_ante_, p. 5) that this tale was
told by M. de St.-Vincent, ambassador of Charles V., and
seems to imply that the incident recorded in it was one of
recent occurrence. The same story may be found, however, in
most of the collections of early _fabliaux_. See _OEuvres de
Rutebeuf_, vol. i. p. 260 (_Frère Denise_), Legrand
d'Aussy's _Fabliaux_, vol. iv. p. 383, and the _Recueil
complet des Fabliaux_, Paris, 1878, vol. iii. p. 253. There
is also some similarity between this tale and No. LX. of the
_Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles_. Estienne quotes it in his
_Apologie pour Hérodote_, L'Estoile in his _Journal du règne
de Henri III. (anno_ 1577), Malespini uses it in his
_Ducento Novelle_ (No. 75), and it suggested to Lafontaine
his _Cordeliers de Catalogne_. - L. and M.

"I am very sorry, ladies, that truth does not provide us with stories
as much to the credit of the Grey Friars as it does to the contrary. It
would be a great pleasure to me, by reason of the love that I bear their
Order, if I knew of one in which I could really praise them; but we have
vowed so solemnly to speak the truth that, after hearing it from such
as are well worthy of belief, I cannot but make it known to you.
Nevertheless, I promise you that, whenever the monks shall accomplish a
memorable and glorious deed, I will be at greater pains to exalt it than
I have been in relating the present truthful history."

"In good faith, Geburon," said Oisille, "that was a love which might
well have been called cruelty."

"I am astonished," said Simontault, "that he was patient enough not to
take her by force when he saw her in her shift, and in a place where he
might have mastered her."

"He was not an epicure, but a glutton," said Saffredent. "He wanted to
have his fill of her every day, and so was not minded to amuse himself
with a mere taste."

"That was not the reason," said Parlamente. "Understand that a lustful
man is always timorous, and the fear that he had of being surprised and
robbed of his prey led him, wolf-like, to carry off his lamb that he
might devour it at his ease."

"For all that," said Dagoucin, "I cannot believe that he loved her, or
that the virtuous god of love could dwell in so base a heart."

"Be that as it may," said Oisille, "he was well punished, and I pray God
that like attempts may meet with the same chastisement. But to whom will
you give your vote?"

"To you, madam," replied Geburon; "you will, I know, not fail to tell us
a good story."

"Since it is my turn," said Oisille, "I will relate to you one that is
indeed excellent, seeing that the adventure befel in my own day, and
before the eyes of him who told it to me. You are, I am sure, aware
that death ends all our woes, and this being so, it may be termed our
happiness and tranquil rest. It is, therefore, a misfortune if a man
desires death and cannot obtain it, and so the most grievous punishment
that can be given to a wrongdoer is not death, but a continual torment,
great enough to render death desirable, but withal too slight to bring
it nearer. And this was how a husband used his wife, as you shall hear."

[Illustration: 0016.jpg Tailpiece]

[Illustration: 017a.jpg Bernage observing the German Lady's Strange Penance]

[Bernage observing the German Lady's Strange Penance]

[Illustration: 017.jpg Page Image


_Bernage, learning in what patience and humility a German
lady submitted to the strange penance laid upon her for her
unchastity by her husband, so persuaded the latter that he
forgot the past, showed pity to his wife, and, taking her
back again, afterwards had by her some very handsome

King Charles, eighth of the name, sent into Germany a gentleman called
Bernage, Lord of Sivray, near Amboise, (1) who to make good speed spared
not to travel both by day and night. In this wise he came very late one
evening to a gentleman's castle, where he asked for lodging, a request
which was not granted him without great difficulty.

1 Bernage, Bernaige, or Vernaiges, as the name is diversely
written in the MSS. of the _Heptameron_, was in 1495 equerry
to Charles VIII., a post which brought him an annual salary
of 300 livres. - See Godefroy's _Histoire de Charles VIII_.,
p. 705. Civray, near Chenonceaux, on the Cher, was a fief of
the barony of Amboise. In 1483 we find a certain John
Goussart doing homage for it to the crown. - Archives
Nationales, Section Domaniale, côte 3801. - L.

However, when the gentleman came to know that he was servant to so great
a King, he went to him and begged him not to take the churlishness of
his servants in bad part, since he was obliged to keep his house thus
closed on account of certain of his wife's kinsfolk who sought to do
him hurt. Bernage then told him the nature of his mission, wherein the
gentleman offered to serve the interests of the King his master, so far
as in him lay; and he forthwith led Bernage into the house, where he
lodged and entertained him honourably.

It was the hour for supper, and the gentleman led him into a handsome
room, hung with beautiful tapestry, where, as soon as the meats were
served, he saw come from behind the hangings the most beautiful woman it
were possible to behold; though her head was shorn and she was dressed
in black garments of the German fashion.

After the gentleman had washed his hands with Bernage, water was borne
to the lady, who also washed hers and then sat down at the end of the
table without speaking to the gentleman, or he to her. The Lord de
Bernage looked very closely at her, and thought her one of the most
beautiful women he had ever seen, except that her face was very pale,
and its expression very sad.

After eating a little, she asked for drink, which was brought to her by
a servant in a most marvellous vessel, for it was a death's head, the
eyeholes of which were closed with silver; and from this she drank two
or three times. When she had supped, the lady washed her hands, made
a reverence to the lord of the house, and retired again behind the
tapestry without speaking to any one. Bernage was exceedingly amazed at
this strange sight, and became very melancholy and thoughtful.

The gentleman, who perceived this, then said to him -

"I perceive that you are astonished at what you have seen at this table;
but for the sake of the excellence that I find in you I will explain
the matter, so that you may not think I could show such cruelty without
reasons of great weight. The lady whom you saw is my wife; I loved her
more than ever man loved woman, insomuch that in order to marry her I
forgot all fear, and brought her hither in defiance of her relations. On
her part, she showed me so many tokens of love that I would have risked
ten thousand lives in bringing her hither, to her delight and mine.
And here we lived for a while in such peace and gladness that I deemed
myself the happiest gentleman in Christendom.

"But it came to pass, upon my undertaking a journey which my honour
compelled me to make, she forgot her honour, conscience and love for me
to such a degree as to fall in love with a young gentleman whom I had
brought up in this house, and this I thought I could perceive when I
returned home again. Nevertheless, the love I bore her was so great that
I was not able to mistrust her, until at last experience opened my eyes
and made me see what I dreaded more than death, whereupon my love for
her was turned to frenzy and despair in such wise that I watched her
closely, and one day, while feigning to walk abroad, I hid myself in the
room in which she now dwells.

"Thither she withdrew soon after my departure, and sent for the young
gentleman, whom I saw come in with such familiarity as should have been

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Online LibraryQueen of Navarre MargaretThe Tales Of The Heptameron, Vol. IV. (of V.) → online text (page 1 of 12)