Queen of Navarre Margaret.

The Tales Of The Heptameron, Vol. V. (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 LI. Cruelty of the Duke of Urbino, who, contrary to the promise
he had given to the Duchess, hanged a poor lady that had consented to
convey letters to his son's sweetheart, the sister of the Abbot of Farse.

Tale LII. Merry trick played by the varlet of an apothecary at Alençon
on the Lord de la Tirelière and the lawyer Anthony Bacheré, who,
thinking to breakfast at his expense, find that they have stolen from
him something very different to a loaf of sugar.

Tale LIII. Story of the Lady of Neufchâtel, a widow at the Court of
Francis I., who, through not admitting that she has plighted her troth
to the Lord des Cheriots, plays him an evil trick through the means of
the Prince of Belhoste.

Tale LIV. Merry adventure of a serving-woman and a gentleman named
Thogas, whereof his wife has no suspicion.

Tale LV. The widow of a merchant of Saragossa, not wishing to lose the
value of a horse, the price of which her husband had ordered to be given
to the poor, devises the plan of selling the horse for one ducat only,
adding, however, to the bargain a cat at ninety-nine.

Tale LVI. Notable deception practised by an old Grey Friar of Padua,
who, being charged by a widow to find a husband for her daughter, did,
for the sake of getting the dowry, cause her to marry a young Grey
Friar, his comrade, whose condition, however, was before long discovered.

Tale LVII. Singular behaviour of an English lord, who is content merely
to keep and wear upon his doublet the glove of a lady whom he loves.

Tale LVIII. A lady at the Court of Francis I., wishing to prove that
she has no commerce with a certain gentleman who loves her, gives him a
pretended tryst and causes him to pass for a thief.

Tale LIX. Story of the same lady, who, learning that her husband is in
love with her waiting-woman, contrives to surprise him and impose her
own terms upon him.

Tale LX. A man of Paris, thinking his wife to be well and duly deceased,
marries again, but at the end of fifteen years is forced to take his
first wife back, although she has been living meantime with one of the
chanters of Louis XII.



Tale LXI. Great kindness of a husband, who consents to take back his
wife twice over, spite of her wanton love for a Canon of Autun.

Tale LXII. How a lady, while telling a story as of another, let her
tongue trip in such a way as to show that what she related had happened
to herself.

Tale LXIII. How the honourable behaviour of a young lord, who feigns
sickness in order to be faithful to his wife, spoils a party in which he
was to have made one with the King, and in this way saves the honour of
three maidens of Paris.

Tale LXIV. Story of a gentleman of Valencia in Spain, whom a lady drove
to such despair that he became a monk, and whom afterwards she strove in
vain to win back to herself.

Tale LXV. Merry mistake of a worthy woman, who in the church of St. John
of Lyons mistakes a sleeping soldier for one of the statues on a tomb,
and sets a lighted candle on his forehead.

Tale LXVI. How an old serving-woman, thinking to surprise a Prothonotary
with a lady, finds herself insulting Anthony de Bourbon and his wife
Jane d'Albret.

Tale LXVII. How the Sire de Robertval, granting a traitor his life at
the prayers of the man's wife, set them both down on a desert island,
and how, after the husband's death, the wife was rescued and brought
back to La Rochelle.

Tale LXVIII. The wife of an apothecary at Pau, hearing her husband give
some powder of cantharides to a woman who was godmother with himself,
secretly administered to him such a dose of the same drug that he nearly

Tale LXIX. How the wife of one of the King's Equerries surprised her
husband muffled in the hood of their servant-maid, and bolting meal in
her stead.

Tale LXX. Of the love of a Duchess of Burgundy for a gentleman who
rejects her advances, for which reason she accuses him to the Duke her
husband, and the latter does not believe his oaths till assured by
him that he loves the Lady du Vergier. Then the Duchess, having drawn
knowledge of this amour from her husband, addresses to the Lady du
Vergier in public, an allusion that causes the death of both lovers; and
the Duke, in despair at his own lack of discretion, stabs the Duchess



Tale LXXI. The wife of a saddler of Amboise is saved on her deathbed
through a fit of anger at seeing her husband fondle a servant-maid.

Tale LXXII. Kindness of the Duchess of Alençon to a poor nun whom she
meets at Lyons, on her way to Rome, there to confess to the Pope how a
monk had wronged her, and to obtain his Holiness's pardon.

Appendix (The Narrators of the Heptameron)



Tale LI. The Duke of Urbino sending the Maiden to Prison for carrying
Messages between his Son and his Sweetheart.

LII. The Gentleman and his Friend annoyed by The Smell of that which
they Thought was Sugar.

LIII. The Lord des Cheriots flying from the Prince's Servant.

LIV. The Lady watching the Shadow Faces Kissing.

LV. The Servant selling the Horse with the Cat.

LVI. The Grey Friar introducing his Comrade to the Lady and her

LVII. The English Lord seizing the Lady's Glove.

LVIII. The Gentleman Mocked by the Ladies When Returning From The False

LIX. The Lady discovering her Husband with the Waiting-woman.

LX. The Chanter of Blois delivering his Mistress from the Grave.

LXI. The Lady returning to her Lover, the Canon of Autun.

LXII. The Gentleman's Spur catching in the Sheet.

LXIII. The King asking the Young Lord to join his Banquet.

LXIV. The Lady Swooning in the Arms of the Gentleman of Valencia who had
become a Monk.

LXV. The Old Woman startled by the Waking of the Soldier.

LXVI. The Old Serving-woman explaining her Mistake to the Duke and
Duchess of Vendôme.

LXVII. The Wife Reading to her Husband on the Desert Island.

LXVIII. The Apothecary's Wife giving the Dose of Cantharides to her

LXIX. The Wife discovering her Husband in the Hood of their

LXX. The Gentleman Killing Himself on the Death of his Mistress.

LXXI. The Saddler's Wife Cured by the sight of her Husband Caressing the

LXXII. The Monk Conversing with the Nun while Shrouding a Dead Body.


_On the Sixth Day are related the deceits practised
by Man on Woman, Woman on Man, or
Woman on Woman, through
greed, revenge, and


In the morning the Lady Oisille went earlier than was her wont to make
ready for her reading in the hall, but the company being advised of
this, and eager to hearken to her excellent instruction, used such
despatch in dressing themselves that she had not long to wait.
Perceiving their fervour, she set about reading them the Epistle of St.
John the Evangelist, which is full of naught but love, in the same wise
as, on the foregoing days, she had expounded to them St. Paul's Epistle
to the Romans. The company found this fare so much to their taste, that,
although they tarried a half-hour longer than on the other days, it
seemed to them as if they had not remained there a quarter of an hour
altogether. From thence they proceeded to the contemplation of the mass,
when one and all commended themselves to the Holy Ghost in order that
they might that day be enabled to satisfy their merry audience; and,
after they had broken their fast and taken a little rest, they set out
to resume their accustomed diversion.

And the Lady Oisille asking who should begin the day, Longarine made
answer -

"I give my vote to Madame Oisille; she has this day read to us so
beauteous a lesson, that she can but tell us some story apt to crown the
glory which she won this morning."

"I am sorry," said Oisille, "that I cannot tell you aught so profitable
this afternoon as I did in the morning. But at least the purport of my
story shall not depart from the teaching of Holy Scripture, where it is
written, 'Trust not in princes, nor in the sons of men, in whom is not
our salvation.' (1) And that this truth may not be forgotten by you for
lack of an example, I will tell you a tale which is quite true, and the
memory of which is so fresh that the eyes of those that saw the piteous
sight are scarcely yet dried."

[Illustration: 005a.jpg The Duke of Urbino sending the Maiden to Prison for carrying
Messages between his Son and his Sweetheart]

[The Duke of Urbino sending the Maiden to Prison for carrying
Messages between his Son and his Sweetheart]

[Illustration: 005.jpg Page Image]


_Because he would not have his son make a poor marriage, the
Duke of Urbino, contrary to the promise given to his wife,
hanged a young maiden by whom his son was wont to inform his
sweetheart of the love he bore her_.

The Duke of Urbino, called the Prefect, (1) the same that married the
sister of the first Duke of Mantua, had a son of between eighteen and
twenty years of age, who was in love with a girl of an excellent and
honourable house, sister to the Abbot of Farse. (2) And since, according
to the custom of the country, he was not free to converse with her as
he wished, he obtained the aid of a gentleman in his service, who was in
love with a very beautiful and virtuous young damsel in the service of
his mother. By means of this damsel he informed his sweetheart of the
deep affection that he bore her; and the poor girl, thinking no harm,
took pleasure in doing him service, believing his purpose to be so good
and virtuous that she might honourably be the carrier of his intentions.
But the Duke, who had more regard for the profit of his house than
for any virtuous affection, was in such great fear lest these dealings
should lead his son (3) into marriage, that he caused a strict watch
to be kept; whereupon he was informed that the poor damsel had been
concerned in carrying some letters from his son to the lady he loved. On
hearing this he was in great wrath, and resolved to take the matter in

1 This is Francesco Maria I., della Rovere, nephew to Pope
Julius II., by whom he was created Prefect of Rome. Brought
up at the French Court, he became one of the great captains
of the period, especially distinguishing himself in the
command of the Venetian forces during the earlier part of
his career. He married Leonora Ypolita Gonzaga, daughter of
Francesco II., fourth Marquis of Mantua, respecting whom see
_ante_, vol. iii., notes to Tale XIX. It was Leonora rather
than her husband who imparted lustre to the Court of Urbino
at this period by encouraging arts and letters. Among those
who flourished there were Raffaelle and Baldassare
Castiglione. Francesco Maria, born in March 1491, died in
1538 from the effects - so it is asserted by several
contemporary writers - of a poisonous lotion which a Mantuan
barber had dropped into his ear. His wife, who bore him two
sons (see post, note 3), died at the age of 72, in 1570. - L.
and Ed.

2 The French words are _Abbé de Farse_. Farse would appear
to be a locality, as abbots were then usually designated by
the names of their monasteries; still it may be intended for
the Abbot's surname, and some commentators, adopting this
view, have suggested that the proper reading would be
Farnese. - Ed.

3 The Duke's two sons were Federigo, born in March 1511,
and Guidobaldo, born in April 1514. The former according to
all authorities died when "young," and probably long before
reaching man's estate. Dennistoun, in his searching _Memoirs
of the Dukes of Urbino_ (London, 1851), clearly shows that
for many years prior to Francesco Maria's death his second
son Guidobaldo was the only child remaining to him. Already
in 1534, when but twenty years old, Guidobaldo was regarded
as his father's sole heir and successor. In that year
Francesco Maria forced the young man to marry Giulia Varana,
a child of eleven, in order that he might lay claim to her
father's state of Camerino and annex it to the duchy. There
is no record of Guidobaldo having ever engaged in any such
intrigue as related by Queen Margaret in the above tale,
still it must be to him that she refers, everything pointing
to the conclusion that his brother Federigo died in
childhood. Guidobaldo became Duke of Urbino on his father's
death. - Ed.

He could not, however, conceal his anger so well that the maiden was
not advised of it, and knowing his wickedness, which was in her eyes
as great as his conscience was small, she felt a wondrous dread. Going
therefore to the Duchess, she craved leave to retire somewhere out of
the Duke's sight until his passion should be past; but her mistress
replied that, before giving her leave to do so, she would try to find
out her husband's will in the matter.

Very soon, however, the Duchess heard the Duke's evil words concerning
the affair, and, knowing his temper, she not only gave the maiden leave,
but advised her to retire into a convent until the storm was over. This
she did as secretly as she could, yet not so stealthily but that the
Duke was advised of it. Thereupon, with pretended cheerfulness of
countenance, he asked his wife where the maiden was, and she, believing
him to be well aware of the truth, confessed it to him. He feigned to
be vexed thereat, saying that the girl had no need to behave in that
fashion, and that for his part he desired her no harm. And he requested
his wife to cause her to come back again, since it was by no means well
to have such matters noised abroad.

The Duchess replied that, if the poor girl was so unfortunate as to have
lost his favour, it were better for a time that she should not come
into his presence; however, he would not hearken to her reasonings, but
commanded her to bid the maiden return.

The Duchess failed not to make the Duke's will known to the maiden; but
the latter, who could not but feel afraid, entreated her mistress that
she might not be compelled to run this risk, saying that she knew the
Duke was not so ready to forgive her as he feigned to be. Nevertheless,
the Duchess assured her that she should take no hurt, and pledged her
own life and honour for her safety.

The girl, who well knew that her mistress loved her, and would not
lightly deceive her, trusted in her promise, believing that the Duke
would never break a pledge when his wife's honour was its warranty. And
accordingly she returned to the Duchess.

As soon as the Duke knew this, he failed not to repair to his wife's
apartment. There, as soon as he saw the maiden, he said to his wife,
"So such-a-one has returned," and turning to his gentlemen, he commanded
them to arrest her and lead her to prison.

At this the poor Duchess, who by the pledging of her word had drawn the
maiden from her refuge, was in such despair that, falling upon her knees
before her husband, she prayed that for love of herself and of his
house he would not do so foul a deed, seeing that it was in obedience to
himself that she had drawn the maiden from her place of safety.

But no prayer that she could utter availed to soften his hard heart, or
to overcome his stern resolve to be avenged. Without making any reply,
he withdrew as speedily as possible, and, foregoing all manner of trial,
and forgetting God and the honour of his house, he cruelly caused the
hapless maiden to be hanged.

I cannot undertake to recount to you the grief of the Duchess; it was
such as beseemed a lady of honour and a tender heart on beholding one,
whom she would fain have saved, perish through trust in her own plighted
faith. Still less is it possible to describe the deep affliction of the
unhappy gentleman, the maiden's lover, who failed not to do all that
in him lay to save his sweetheart's life, offering to give his own for
hers; but no feeling of pity moved the heart of this Duke, whose only
happiness was that of avenging himself on those whom he hated. (4)

4 That Francesco-Maria was a man of a hasty, violent
temperament is certain. Much that Guicciardini relates of
him was doubtless penned in a spirit of resentment, for
during the time the historian lived at Urbino the Duke
repeatedly struck him, and on one occasion felled him to the
ground, with the sneering remark, "Your business is to
confer with pedants." On the other hand, however, there is
independent documentary evidence in existence - notably
among the Urbino MSS. in the Vatican library - which shows
that Francesco-Maria in no wise recoiled from shedding
blood. He was yet in his teens when it was reported to him
that his sister - the widow of Venanzio of Camerino, killed
by Caesar Borgia - had secretly married a certain Giovanni
Andrea of Verona and borne him a son. Watching his
opportunity, Francesco-Maria set upon the unfortunate Andrea
one day in the ducal chamber and then and there killed him,
though not without resistance, for Andrea only succumbed
after receiving _four-and-twenty_ stabs with his murderer's
poignard (Urbino MSS. Vat. No. 904). A few years later, in
1511, Francesco-Maria assassinated the Papal Legate
Alidosio, Cardinal Archbishop of Pavia, whom he encountered
in the environs of Bologna riding his mule and followed by a
hundred light horse. Nevertheless Urbino, with only a small
retinue, galloped up to him, plunged a dagger into his
stomach and fled before the soldiery could intervene. From
these examples it will be seen that, although history has
preserved no record of the affair related by Queen Margaret,
her narrative may well be a true one. - Ed.

Thus, in spite of every law of honour, was the innocent maiden put to
death by this cruel Duke, to the exceeding sorrow of all that knew her.

"See, ladies, what are the effects of wickedness when this is combined
with power."

"I had indeed heard," said Longarine, "that the Italians were prone to
three especial vices; but I should not have thought that vengeance and
cruelty would have gone so far as to deal a cruel death for so slight a

"Longarine," said Saffredent, laughing, "you have told us one of the
three vices, but we must also know the other two."

"If you did not know them," she replied, "I would inform you, but I am
sure that you know them all."

"From your words," said Saffredent, "it seems that you deem me very

"Not so," said Longarine, "but you so well know the ugliness of vice
that, better than any other, you are able to avoid it."

"Do not be amazed," said Simontault, "at this act of cruelty. Those who
have passed through Italy have seen such incredible instances, that this
one is in comparison but a trifling peccadillo."

"Ay, truly," said Geburon. "When Rivolta was taken by the French, (5)
there was an Italian captain who was esteemed a knightly comrade, but
on seeing the dead body of a man who was only his enemy in that being a
Guelph he was opposed to the Ghibellines, he tore out his heart, broiled
it on the coals and devoured it. And when some asked him how he liked
it, he replied that he had never eaten so savoury or dainty a morsel.
Not content with this fine deed, he killed the dead man's wife, and
tearing out the fruit of her womb, dashed it against a wall. Then he
filled the bodies both of husband and wife with oats and made his horses
eat from them. Think you that such a man as that would not surely have
put to death a girl whom he suspected of offending him?"

5 Rivolta or Rivoli was captured by the French under Louis
XII. in 1509. An instance of savagery identical in character
with that mentioned by "Geburon" had already occurred at the
time of Charles VIII.'s expedition to Naples, when the
culprit, a young Italian of good birth, was seized and
publicly executed. - Ed.

"It must be acknowledged," said Ennasuite, "that this Duke of Urbino
was more afraid that his son might make a poor marriage than desirous of
giving him a wife to his liking."

"I think you can have no doubt," replied Simon-tault, "that it is the
Italian nature to love unnaturally that which has been created only for
nature's service."

"Worse than that," said Hircan, "they make a god of things that are
contrary to nature."

"And there," said Longarine, "you have another one of the sins that
I meant; for we know that to love money, excepting so far as it be
necessary, is idolatry."

Parlamente then said that St. Paul had not forgotten the vices of the
Italians, and of all those who believe that they exceed and surpass
others in honour, prudence and human reason, and who trust so strongly
to this last as to withhold from God the glory that is His due.
Wherefore the Almighty, jealous of His honour, renders' those who
believe themselves possessed of more understanding than other men,
more insensate even than wild the beasts, causing them to show by their
unnatural deeds that their sense is reprobate.

Longarine here interrupted Parlamente to say that this was indeed the
third sin to which the Italians were prone.

"By my faith," said Nomerfide, "this discourse is very pleasing to
me, for, since those that possess the best trained and acutest
understandings are punished by being made more witless even than wild
beasts, it must follow that such as are humble, and low, and of little
reach, like myself, are filled with the wisdom of angels."

"I protest to you," said Oisille, "that I am not far from your opinion,
for none is more ignorant than he who thinks he knows."

"I have never seen a mocker," said Geburon, "that was not mocked, a
deceiver that was not deceived, or a boaster that was not humbled."

"You remind me," said Simontault, "of a deceit which, had it been of a
seemly sort, I would willingly have related."

"Well," said Oisille, "since we are here to utter truth, I give you my
vote that you may tell it to us whatsoever its nature may be."

"Since you give place to me," said Simontault, "I will tell it you."

[Illustration: 014.jpg Tailpiece]

[Illustration: 015a.jpg The Gentleman and his Friend annoyed by The Smell of that which they Thought was Sugar]

[The Gentleman and his Friend annoyed by The Smell of that which they Thought was Sugar]

[Illustration: 015.jpg Page Image]


_An apothecary s man, espying behind him an advocate who was
to plague him, and on whom he desired to be revenged,
dropped from his sleeve a lump of frozen ordure, wrapped in
paper like a sugar-loaf, which a gentleman who was with the
advocate picked up and hid in his bosom, and then went to
breakfast at a tavern, whence he came forth with all the
cost and shame that he had thought to bring upon the poor

Near the town of Alençon there lived a gentleman called the Lord of La
Tireliere, who one morning came from his house to the town afoot, both
because the distance was not great and because it was freezing hard. (1)
When he had done his business, he sought out a crony of his, an advocate
named Anthony Bacheré, and, after speaking with him of his affairs, he
told him that he should much like to meet with a good breakfast, but at
somebody else's expense. While thus discussing, they sat themselves down
in front of an apothecary's shop, where there was a varlet who listened
to them, and who forthwith resolved to give them their breakfast.

1 The phraseology of this story varies considerably in the
different MSS. of the _Heptameron_. In No. 1520, for
instance, the tale begins as follows: "In the town of

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Online LibraryQueen of Navarre MargaretThe Tales Of The Heptameron, Vol. V. (of V.) → online text (page 1 of 13)