Story 26

November 26, 2020

Our story for Thanksgiving Day (in the United States) is of the young Seigneur d’Avannes and his love for two married women, one a “wanton woman” whose sexual demands exhaust him to the point that he becomes pale, thin, and sick and must take his leave of her, and the other a “wise woman” who loves him dearly but models for him such virtue that “the war in her heart between love and honour” leads her to melancholy, fever, and death.

Picking up on a theme from a previous discussion (of story 20, also narrated by Saffredent), note that d’Avannes disguises himself as a stableboy in order to gain access to the wanton woman. His disguise includes a fake nose and a fake beard!

This tale prompts our storytellers to discuss inner passion and outer virtue and to ask whether women’s pride in concealing their desires is a vice equal to men’s acting upon theirs. Hircan argues that he and his wife “are both children of Adam and Eve,” a statement to which Parlamente (his wife) agrees by observing “that we are all in need of God’s grace, since we all incline to sin,” but to which she adds, “if we sin through pride no one suffers for it [. . .] but all your pleasure is derived from dishonouring women, and your honour depends on killing other men in war.”

Salminen points out that this tale is the second one in the ten-story first draft of the Heptameron and suggests that the later addition of the frame discussion explains why Saffredent seems to contradict what he has said about the wise woman in his own story.

The Seigneur d’Avannes in this tale may be Gabriel d’Albret, who lived in Navarre at the end of the fifteenth century, when Pamplona was not yet a Spanish city. Here’s a photo of the fifteenth-century cathedral of Pamplona.

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