Story 57

December 27, 2020

Today, Parlamente tells us about an English lord who, unable to get closer to the lady he loves than, once, to press her hand against his heart, keeps the glove she was wearing on this occasion, adorns it with diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and pearls, affixes it to his cloak, and wears it wherever he goes. Although Parlamente presents this man as an admirable lover “who was happy with nothing more than a lady’s glove,” her story suggests that he was only satisfied because he had no other choice, as he tells the lady he hopes “for mercy, for pardon, and for life,” grips her hand when she tries to pull it away, calls her hand “cruel,” and refers to his “wounded heart.” Guillaume de Montmorency, who brings this story back to France, finds the English lord ridiculous and mocks him without his realizing it.

Our storytellers discuss what it is like to touch a dead body, as Simontaut says the lady probably withdrew her hand because she was alarmed by the man’s pounding heart and thought he was about to die, prompting Ennasuite to remind him that it is usually women, rather than men, who lay out the bodies of the dead in hospitals. They then discuss kisses, holy and otherwise, and it falls to Dagoucin to tell the next tale.

Here is a portrait of Guillaume, Baron de Montmorency (ca. 1450-1531) at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Lyon (B441). He was the father of Anne de Montmorency (1493-1561), a close friend of François I, a leading military and diplomatic figure during his reign, and a correspondent of Marguerite de Navarre. Incidentally, in this portrait, Guillaume de Montmorency is holding a pair of gloves!

One thought on “Story 57

  • Another story with 7 years of waiting for the English Milord to declare his love to a lady who misunderstands him as he uses an ambiguous term: he has an unbearable heart pain, and she thinks he has a heart disease, so when he holds her gloved hand tight against his chest as his heart beats fast and he declares his love, she pulls back in dismay and loses the glove that becomes a token of his lost love. He wears it on his tunic after he adorned it with rings, diamonds, and pearls like Elisor (novella 24) when he wore a richly adorned coat the day he wanted to reveal his love to the queen. Another courtly love mishap that does not have the poignancy of Elisor’s demise, but gives sound agency to the lady through her refusal. A sort of “Belle Dame sans mercy”, whose hand the Milord calls “cruelle” in a metonymic way.

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