November 5, 2020
In today’s story, Geburon tells of another woman—a humble ferrywoman this time—who manages to avoid being raped by two men not by physical resistance but by quick and clever thinking. Her would-be assailants are Franciscan friars. This tale marks the first of numerous appearances of lustful Franciscans in the Heptameron, as Marguerite de Navarre takes aim at corruption in the Church, joining with the many voices calling for religious reform in this period. Two of Geburon’s female listeners lighten the mood with their own critiques, as Longarine claims not to know “how anyone could possibly feel any affection” for a friar, and Nomerfide says she would “rather be thrown in the river any day, than go to bed with a friar!”
The story begins at the port of Coulon, near the Atlantic coast, in what is now a marshy area known as the marais poitevin or, informally, the Venise verte. Visitors to this region today can rent small rowboats and ferry themselves through the canals and from bank to bank!