Story 35

December 5, 2020

Today, Hircan offers a tale designed to cure the women listening to him of their pride. His story is of a thirty-year-old married woman in Pamplona who develops a “wild passion” for a handsome Franciscan friar. When her husband intercepts a love letter she has written to the friar, he decides to test her by posing as him, first engaging in correspondence with her and then paying her a visit in disguise. Although the husband’s trick seems amusing at first, as he comes to his wife wearing the Franciscan’s habit along with a fake nose and beard (compare to story 26, also set in Pamplona!) and with cork in his shoes to make himself taller, and as he runs around the room making the sign of the cross and shouting “Temptation! Temptation! Temptation!,” the tale takes a dark turn, as the man proceeds to beat his wife “so soundly that he soon got rid of her temptation for her.” Like stories 4 and 12, it features scratching and biting: the woman’s reaction to the real friar who comes to her house for supper a few days later and, at her husband’s request, places his hands on her in order to cast out the devil that possesses her.

Hircan comments on the husband’s “good sense” twice at the end of this tale, as he praises him for reforming his straying wife. Hircan’s own wife, Parlamente, suggests that her husband may not be such a strong advocate of marital fidelity for all ladies, but she then states that she chooses to trust him, observing, “He will do what he likes [. . .] but I prefer to believe for my peace of mind that he always speaks as he just has.”

Here is a portrait of Marguerite at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, England, attributed to Jean Clouet and painted around 1527, near the time of her marriage to Henri d’Albret, King of Navarre.

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