Story 56

December 26, 2020

Today’s tale from Hircan, who says he heard it from a French lady who heard it when she was passing through Padua (again, multiple layers of storytelling!), is about a Franciscan who dupes “a highly devout and respectable widow” by arranging a secret marriage between her only daughter and another, younger, friar whom he passes off as a student in Padua who is lying low after an unfortunate association with a murder. The fraudulent marriage takes place, the older friar pockets the five hundred ducats the widow had offered as a dowry, and the younger friar has supper and sleeps with his supposed wife each night before departing in the morning. One day, however, the widow and her daughter see the presumed husband saying mass at the Franciscan church. When he comes to their home that evening, they pin him down and remove his cap, revealing his tonsured head. They have him seized and bound, call for the older friar and do the same to him, then hand both men over to be punished in a court of law.

This tale, with many aspects now familiar to us—false friars, a secret marriage, a disguise—leads our storytellers to a spirited discussion of wickedness among women, men, and Franciscans!

One of the oldest in Europe, the University of Padua was founded in 1222. The monumental courtyard of the university’s Palazzo Bo was designed and built in the mid-sixteenth century.

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