Story 33

December 3, 2020

In the second of two tales of incest in the Heptameron (the first was story 30), a priest and his sister have a sexual relationship that they conceal under the guise of great piety and austerity. They attract the attention of Charles de Valois-Orléans, Count of Angoulême—father of Marguerite de Navarre and of François I—when the sister becomes pregnant and tries to pass herself off as “a second Virgin Mary.” Although the people around her fall for her ruse, the Count of Angoulême does not. He has the case investigated, carefully considers the words the woman uses to claim virginity, and realizes that the priest her brother is the father of her child. After she gives birth to “a fine little boy,” he has both sister and brother burned to death in punishment for their crime. Our storytellers praise the Count of Angoulême, and they denounce the incestuous pair for their hypocrisy in having “[cloaked] so heinous a crime under the mantle of God and of true Christian people!”

Here’s an image from Maria Colino’s comic-book version of this story, showing the pregnant sister kneeling before her brother as he sings mass in front of a large crowd gathered in the church.

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