Story 40

December 10, 2020

To close the fourth day of storytelling, Parlamente tells us a tale explaining why the father of Rolandine (story 21) had built the castle in the forest in which he had her imprisoned. It was, it turns out, in order to enclose his sister, to prevent her from seeking revenge or legal action after he killed her husband, a gentleman in his household, when he discovered that the two had secretly married. Both Rolandine and her aunt had thus entered into clandestine marriages, a practice Parlamente firmly denounces.

The lengthy discussion following this tale, in which our storytellers again take up the topic of marriage, includes a clear statement from Dagoucin criticizing marriage as an institution in which “in order to maintain peace in the state, consideration is given only to the rank of family, the seniority of individuals and the provisions of the law.” Geburon counters that there are plenty of “couples who marry for love without considering differences of family and lineage, and who have never stopped regretting it.” Parlamente tries to reconcile these two positions by advocating for a marriage that is not only built on love, but also pleases a family, arguing that true happiness in marriage comes only from living “in the state of matrimony as God and Nature ordain, loving one another virtuously and accepting their parents’ wishes.”

In crafting this discussion, Marguerite de Navarre may have had in mind her own daughter, Jeanne d’Albret, who had been married at age 12 against her will to Guillaume, Duke of Clèves, in 1541, a marriage that was annulled in 1545. Here is a sketch presumed to be of Jeanne d’Albret (despite the inscription identifying the figure as her mother) at the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris.

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