Bonaventure des Périers's Novel Pastimes and Merry Tales

Bonaventure des Périers's Novel Pastimes and Merry Tales

RAYMOND C. LA CHARITÉ
VIRGINIA A. LA CHARITÉ
Copyright Date: 1972
Pages: 264
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt130hx1p
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  • Book Info
    Bonaventure des Périers's Novel Pastimes and Merry Tales
    Book Description:

    TheNouvelles Récréations et Joyeaux Devisof Bonaventure des Périers are here translated for the first time into modern English. The translators have been successful in retaining the vitality of this important French Renaissance satirist, turning his colloquial sixteenth-century French into equally colloquial and lively American. The translation of the 129 tales is prefaced by a biographical study of des Périers both as man and artist, and a critical bibliography is also included.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6369-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 2-8)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 9-14)
  3. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 15-28)

    Poet, humanist, grammarian, satirist, secretary, thinker-Bonaventure des Périers was all that and more, for, with the sole exception of his brilliant contemporary, Rabelais, Des Périers was also the most powerful, resourceful, and original of the sixteenth-centuryconteurs. Yet, much of this versatile and controversial figure’s life and an important segment of his work remain enigmatic and shrouded in mystery. Misunderstood and maligned in his own time, he fared no better at the hands of posterity. The pace of revaluation has been halting, but today, thanks to painstaking and penetrating research, Des Périers has been restored to his rightful place as...

  4. NOVEL PASTIMES AND MERRY TALES
    • From the printer to the reader Greetings
      (pp. 31-32)

      Gluttonous time, devourer of human excellence, has the habit very often (so much is it our enemy) of suffocating the budding glory of many noble minds or of burying with ungrateful forgetfulness their exquisite works; if knowledge of them were permitted us, O benevolent God, what advancement to learning this would be. Of this wrong, bygone centuries and even our own times give us more than ample proof. And I even venture to persuade you (friendly reader) that the same thing would have happened to the present volume, and we would still be deprived of it, were it not for...

    • SONNET
      (pp. 33-34)
    • 1 First tale, by way of preamble
      (pp. 35-38)

      I was keeping these merry remarks for you for the time when there would be peace so that you might have something to rejoice about publicly and privately and in every way; but when I saw that the broom of peace was missing its handle and that people didn’t know how to hold on to it,¹ I decided to go ahead and give you a way to outfox time, sprinkling merriment upon your anxieties, until such time as peace might be made by the will of God. And so I came to the conclusion that now was truly the time...

    • Tale 2 Of the three fools, Caillette, Triboulet, and Polite
      (pp. 38-40)

      Some pageboys had fastened Caillette’s ear to a post with a nail, and poor Caillette stood there without saying a word, for his only thought was that he would be confined there for the rest of his life. Along came one of the lords of the court; as soon as he saw him in counsel with the pillar, he had him released and inquired specifically who had done it and put him there. What do you expect? An ass put him there. When he was asked, “Was it the pageboys,” Caillette naturally answered in his own way, “Yes, yes, it...

    • Tale 3 Of the cantor of Saint Hilary in Poitiers who compared the canons to their stews
      (pp. 40-43)

      In the church of Saint Hilary in Poitiers there once was a cantor with a deep bass voice and, because he was a jolly fellow and loved to drink (as such people do), he was welcome among the canons, who often invited him for dinner and supper, and, because of the friendship they showed him, it seemed to him that there wasn’t one among them who did not desire his advancement. It was for this reason that he often said to one and then another:

      “Sir, you know how long I’ve been serving in this church; it would now seem...

    • Tale 4 Of the bass of Rheims, cantor, native of Picardy and master of arts
      (pp. 43-44)

      A cantor from Our Lady of Rheims in Champagne had a particularly good bass voice, but he was the most difficult man in the world to keep in check, and a day didn’t go by that he didn’t do something foolish: he’d strike one man, he’d beat another, he played cards and dice, he was always in the tavern or after wenches. Complaints were lodged at all hours with the gentlemen of the chapter, and they frequently scolded this bass for it, threatening him in private and in public. They often made him promise to be a good fellow, but...

    • Tale 5 Of the three newly wed sisters and how each answered her husband cleverly on her wedding night
      (pp. 45-49)

      In the province of Anjou there once was a gentleman who was rich and of good family, but who was rather fond of his pleasures. He had three beautiful and charming daughters and of such an age that the youngest would have been ready for the rough-and-tumble of love. They had been without a mother for some time now; and because the father was still in the prime of life, he continued to indulge in his habit, which was to receive at home all fun-loving groups, and the customary thing was to dance, frolic, and enjoy all sorts of sumptuous...

    • Tale 6 Of the husband from Picardy who drew his wife away from wanton love by upbraiding her in the presence of her parents
      (pp. 49-52)

      There once was a king of France, whose name is not exactly known insofar as this matter I want to talk about is concerned, but the fact remains that he was a good king and worthy of his crown. He was very affable with everyone, and he was all the better for it, for he learned the truth about things, and that doesn’t happen when you don’t listen. But to get to the point of my tale, this good king used to travel throughout the provinces of his kingdom, and he even went through towns at times dressed in disguise...

    • Tale 7 Of the Norman who picked up some Latin in order to go see the Holy Father in Rome and how he used it
      (pp. 52-54)

      A Norman, seeing that priests had the best time in the world, decided after his wife died to become a man of the Church; but he could barely read or write. Nevertheless, having heard that money talks and considering himself as capable a man as many priests in his parish, he spoke to one of his friends. He told him what he wanted to do, and he asked his advice as to how he ought to conduct himself in this matter. After much debate both pro and con, his friend cheered him up and told him that if he wanted...

    • Tale 8 Of the attorney who sent to the village for a young wench to play with and how his clerk tried her out for him
      (pp. 54-57)

      A High Court attorney, who wasn’t forty yet, had been left a widower. He had always been a gay dog and still was. In fact, he couldn’t do without the female sex, and it annoyed him to have lost his wife so soon when she still had some good stuff left in her. Nevertheless, he put up with it and found ways of supplying himself as best he could by doing charitable works; to wit: loving his neighbor’s wife as though she were his own, sometimes reviewing the cases of widows and others who came to his house on business....

    • Tale 9 Of the man who finished the baby’s ear for his neighbor’s wife
      (pp. 57-59)

      You mustn’t be amazed if country girls aren’t very smart; after all, city ones sometimes let themselves be taken in very easily., Of course, it doesn’t happen to them often because it’s in the cities that women pull off the best tricks. Damn! that’s right, and I want to tell you that in the city of Lyons there was a very beautiful young woman who was married to a rather prosperous merchant. But they hadn’t been married for more than three or four months when he had to go out of town on business. She was only three weeks pregnant...

    • Tale 10 Of Fouquet, who made his master, an attorney at the Châtelet, believe that a man was deaf, and made the man believe that the attorney was, and how the attorney avenged himself on Fouquet
      (pp. 59-62)

      An attorney at the Châtelet¹ had two or three clerks under him, and one of them was an apprentice who was the son of a fairly wealthy man from the city of Paris itself and who had been sent to this attorney to learn the legal profession. The young son’s name was Fouquet; he was between sixteen and seventeen, was very prankish and was always playing tricks. Now, according to the custom of law firms, Fouquet did all the irksome tasks, one of which was that he had to open the door when someone knocked in order to greet the...

    • Tale 11 Of a professor of canon law who was so badly hurt by an ox that he did not know in which leg
      (pp. 62-63)

      A professor of canon law, who was on his way to his classroom lectures, met a herd of oxen (or the herd of oxen met him) that a butcher’s groom was driving ahead of him. As the professor was going by on his mule, one of the oxen brushed a bit against his robe, and he immediately began to shout, “Help! oh, that vicious ox! he’s killed me! I’m dead!” When they heard the shouting, many people gathered about because he was well-known and hadn’t budged from Paris for thirty or forty years. When they heard him yell, they thought...

    • Tale 12 Comparison of alchemists to the good woman who was taking a jug full of milk to market
      (pp. 63-64)

      Everyone knows that alchemists are all agreed that they look forward to a world of riches and that they know secrets of nature that all men put together don’t know; but in the end their whole case goes up in smoke, so much so that their alchemy might be more properly defined:Art which undermines, orArt which is not.¹ In fact, you couldn’t do better than to compare them to a good woman who was taking a jug full of milk to market and who reckoned as follows: she would sell it for two liards; with these two liards...

    • Tale 13 Of King Solomon, who made the philosopher’s stone, and the reason why alchemists cannot succeed in their purpose
      (pp. 64-68)

      Not everyone is aware of the reason why alchemists cannot succeed in their undertakings; but Mary the prophetess¹ explains it very well, pertinently, and at length in a book which she did on the great excellence of the art, exhorting the philosophers and encouraging them not to despair and saying that the philosopher’s stone is so worthy and so precious that, among its admirable virtues and properties, it has the power to command spirits and that whoever has it can conjure them up, anathematize them, tie them, bind them, abuse them, torment them, imprison them, torture them, martyr them. In...

    • Tale 14 Of the lawyer who spoke Latin to his chambermaid and the clerk who was the go-between
      (pp. 68-71)

      Twenty-five or forty years ago in the city of Le Mans, there was a lawyer whose name was La Roche Thomas. He was one of the most renowned lawyers in the city, even though there were many good ones at that time; in fact, people even came from the University of Angers to seek advice in Le Mans. This Mister La Roche was a merry man, and he easily reconciled relaxation with serious things; he lived well in his house, and, when he was in a good mood, which was quite often, he latinized French and frenchified Latin, and he...

    • Tale 15 Of the cardinal of Luxembourg and the good woman who wanted to make a priest out of her son who did not have testes, and how the aforesaid cardinal named himself Phelippot
      (pp. 71-73)

      In the days of King Louis XII there was a cardinal of the House of Luxembourg who was bishop of Le Mans¹ and who normally stayed in his manor; he was a man who lived magnificently and he was loved and honored, as the prince that he was, by the people of his diocese. Magnificence and all, he still had a certain friendliness which made him even more appreciated by everyone, and he was even witty when the occasion called for it; and although he loved to tease, he didn’t object to being made fun of. One day a country...

    • Tale 16 Of the man from Paris who was newly married and Beaufort, who found a way to make love to his wife, notwithstanding Madam Pernette’s careful watching
      (pp. 73-79)

      After having attended universities at home and abroad, a young man, born in Paris, returned to his city, where he was for a time without getting married, enjoying himself, having no lack of any kind of pleasure he wanted, and also women, although there aren’t many to be had in Paris, unfortunately! Having gotten acquainted with their tricks and subtleties in so many countries and having used them himself for his own benefit, he wasn’t too interested in getting married. He feared that accursed and common evil of being cuckolded, and if it hadn’t been for his desire to see...

    • Tale 17 Of the High Court lawyer who had his beard taken off tit for tat and the dinner he gave for his friends
      (pp. 79-81)

      A High Court lawyer, who was a run-of-the-mill fellow, was pleading a case before President Lizet,¹ who died not long ago as abbot of Saint-Victor’sprope muros; and because it was a case of some importance, he was arguing earnestly; in such cases, lawyers always feel that they cannot speak too expressly for the benefit of their clients and for their own glory. Therefore, he repeated by chance a point which had already been alleged, fearing perhaps that it hadn’t been caught by the court (which you needn’t doubt in Paris), and, in fact, the president was leaving to go...

    • Tale 18 Of Gillet the joiner and how he had his revenge on the greyhound that always came and ate his dinner
      (pp. 81-82)

      A joiner from Poitiers, named Gillet, worked to earn his living as best he could; although he had lost his wife, he still had a nine or ten-year old daughter whose service pleased him so that he had no other valet or chambermaid. Every Saturday he brought in the food he needed for the week, and early every morning he placed his little potful on the fire, and his daughter cooked it. And he was just as happy with his little fare as a richer man with his. Now it is commonly said that it’s not good to have a...

    • Tale 19 Of the cobbler Blondeau, who was never melancholy but twice in his life and how he took care of it, and his epitaph
      (pp. 82-84)

      In Paris on the Seine there are three boats; ¹ but there was also a cobbler, named Blondeau, who had a shop near the Cross of Trahoir² where he repaired shoes and earned his living happily. But he loved good wine above all and talked about it readily to people who came in; and if there was any at all in the whole district, he had to taste it, and he was delighted to have more, especially when it was good. All day long he sang and made the entire neighborhood happy. No one ever saw him sad but twice...

    • Tale 20 Of the three brothers who narrowly missed being hanged because of their Latin
      (pp. 84-85)

      Three brothers from a good family had lived in Paris for a long time, but they had wasted all their time gadding about, playing around and chasing women. It happened that their father sent for all three to come home, which surprised them very much because they didn’t know a single word of Latin; but they conspired to learn each a word for their need. To wit, the eldest learned to sayNos tres clerici; ¹ the second took his theme from money and learnedPro bursa et pecunia; ² the third, while passing by a church, overheard from the...

    • Tale 21 Of the young man who made the most of the fine Latin his parish priest had taught him
      (pp. 85-87)

      A rich farmer, who had supported his son for a few years in Paris, sent for him on the advice of his parish priest. When he arrived, the father, who was already old, was glad to see him and didn’t fail to send right away for the priest to come to dinner in order to show off his son to him. The priest came, saw the young man, and said to him, “Welcome home, my friend; I’m so pleased to see you. Now then, let’s have dinner, and then we’ll talk.” They dined very well. After dinner, the father said...

    • Tale 22 Of a priest who did not say anything but Jesus in his Gospel
      (pp. 87-89)

      In a parish in the diocese of Le Mans, called St. George’s, there was a priest who had once been married. When his wife died, he decided to become a priest in order to fulfill better his duty of praying to God for her and also to gain the money she had left in her will for the saying of masses in the parish church. And although he knew just enough Latin to get by, and not much at that, still he did like the others and managed to finish his masses as best he could. One fine feast day...

    • Tale 23 Of Master Peter Faifeu, who got boots which did not cost him anything, and the scoffers of La Flèche in Anjou
      (pp. 89-92)

      Not long ago there lived in the town of Angers a fine troublemaker named Master Peter Faifeu. He was a man full of wit and clever tricks who didn’t do any serious harm, except that sometimes he played Villon-like pranks, for

      As a clever man trying to possess

      The goods of others plus his own pile,

      And leave them completely penniless,

      Master Peter did it in fine style.

      In fact, he thought it was a good proverb which says that all goods are common property and that only the way of getting them is different. The truth is that he...

    • Tale 24 Of Master Arnaud, who took an Italian’s hackney to Lorraine and returned it nine months later
      (pp. 92-95)

      There was in Avignon a very sly fellow. I don’t know if Master Peter Faifeu and he had gone to the same school together; but the fact remains that one played as many good tricks as the other, and also they weren’t far apart in time. The one in this story was called Master Arnaud, and he used in Avignon the same means of getting boots as I’ve just talked about, and yet he wasn’t in the same hurry to leave as Master Peter. Anyway, one day he decided to take a trip to Lorraine, and he mentioned it to...

    • Tale 25 Of the counselor and his stableboy, who gave him back his old mule, passing it off as a young one
      (pp. 96-97)

      A counselor in the law courts had kept a mule for twenty-five years or so and among his servants he had a stableboy, named Didier, who had looked after this mule for ten or twelve years. After having served him for a rather long time, he asked him to be relieved of his duties, and with his kind consent he became a horse dealer. Nevertheless, he continued to frequent his master’s house, and he offered to serve him just as though he were still his servant. Some time later, the counselor noticed that his mule was getting old, and he...

    • Tale 26 Of the scoffers of La Flèche in Anjou and how they were tricked by Picquet with a lamprey
      (pp. 97-99)

      I spoke here earlier of the scoffers of La Flèche, who are said to have been such great mockers that no man ever went through there who wasn’t taunted. I don’t know if they still go in for that, but I can tell you that once upon a time a great lord attempted to pass through there without being mocked, and he thought he would get there so late and leave so early in the morning that there wouldn’t be anyone who could make fun of him. And, in fact, he so paced out his trip for his arrival that...

    • Tale 27 Of the skittish ass which was frightened whenever a man took off his cap and Saint-Chelaut and Croisé, who put on each other’s breeches
      (pp. 99-102)

      Many have heard the name of Sir René du Bellay, who died recently as bishop of Le Mans ¹ and who used to stay in his manor, studying things of nature, especially agriculture, herbs, and gardening. In his home at Tourvoye, he had a horse farm of brood mares and he took delight in having colts of good breeding. He had a house steward who took pains to keep up what he liked; one of his friends gave him an ass, which, by some great oddity, was so beautiful and so big that it was always taken for a mule,...

    • Tale 28 Of Provost Coquillaire, who had poor eyesight and was made to believe by doctors that he could see
      (pp. 102-104)

      In the same country of Maine there once was a magistrate of the Provost Marshal whose name was Coquillaire; he was a man who knew how to judge a case and who was well acquainted with magistrate Maillard’s ¹ ruse: one day, Maillard got his hands on a man who had committed more than enough felonies but who alleged that he was a priest, and so he let him cool off a while in prison; then, at a set hour, he had him brought before him and began to be friendly with him. “Really,” he said, “So-and-So,” and he called...

    • Tale 29 Of the tricks and memorable acts of a fox that belonged to the sheriff of Mayenne-la-Juhée
      (pp. 104-107)

      In the city of Mayenne-la-Juhée, in the low country of Maine, which is at the border of that good country of Cydnus, ¹ there was a sheriff who was a man of good cheer after the fashion of that country; he took delight in many tricks and had in his house a few tame animals, among which there was a fox he had raised from a cub, and, because his tail had been cut off, he was called Bobtail. This fox was crafty by nature; but he had gone even beyond nature by associating with men, and he had such...

    • Tale 30 Of Master John Pontalais and how he pulled a good one on the bathhouse barber who was a braggart
      (pp. 107-110)

      Nowadays, there are very few people who haven’t heard of Master John Pontalais, ¹ who is still vividly remembered, or of the jests, gibes and merry words he did and said, or of the good tricks he played, or how he put his hump against a cardinal’s showing him that two mountains can meet in spite of the common proverb. But why do I mention that one when he did a million better ones? But I can still tell one or two more. There was a bathhouse barber who was very conceited, and he was sure that there wasn’t a...

    • Tale 31 Of Mistress Cavernous, who lodged a gentleman roomily
      (pp. 110-112)

      Not too long ago there was a willing woman who was called Mistress Cavernous and who sometimes followed the Court when her husband was on duty. But most of the time she was in Paris, and she liked it there, especially as it is paradise for women, hell for mules, and purgatory for petitioners. One day when she happened to be at the door of the house where she stayed in Paris, a gentleman went by there, accompanied by a friend of his, and he said to him in a loud voice as they passed the lady, so that she...

    • Tale 32 Of the gentleman who had ridden post-haste and the rooster who could not tread the hens
      (pp. 112-113)

      A gentleman, who was a great lord, had been absent from his house for some time; so he took the time to go see his wife, who was young, beautiful and in good shape. And to be there sooner, he began to make haste some two days’ journey from his house, and he arrived late when his wife had already gone to bed. He got in next to her. She was immediately awake, very glad to have company, hoping that she’d get her little bit at the very least. But her joy was short-lived, for the husband was so weary...

    • Tale 33 Of the priest of Brou and the good tricks he played during his lifetime
      (pp. 113-114)

      The parish priest of Brou, who’s been called the priest of Brionne in many places, did so many memorable acts in his lifetime that whoever would like to write them down would create a legend greater than that of a Lancelot or of a Tristan. And there’s been so much talk about him that, when a priest has done something worthy of remembrance, it’s attributed to the priest of Brou. The people of Limoges have wanted to usurp that honor for their priest at Pierre-Buffière; but the priest of Brou won out by more votes, and I’ll relate here a...

    • Tale 34 Of the same priest, his chambermaid, the washing he did, and how he entertained his bishop, his horses, and his entire retinue
      (pp. 115-117)

      This same priest had a twenty-five year old chambermaid, who served him night and day, the poor wench! Because of this, he was frequently summoned before the ecclesiastical court and was fined for it; but for all that his bishop could not prevail over him. Once he forbade him to have maids who weren’t at least fifty years old. The priest got one who was twenty years old and another who was thirty. The bishop, when he saw that it was an errorpejor priore,¹ forbade him to have any at all; the priest was forced to obey, at...

    • Tale 35 Of the same priest and the carp he bought for his dinner
      (pp. 118-119)

      To get back to our priest of Brou, he was walking around his gardens one Sunday morning on a feast day when he saw a man carrying a beautiful carp. He remembered that the next day was a fast day, perhaps a Rogation day, and so he bargained for the carp and paid for it. And because he was alone, he took the carp and tied it to the aiguillette of his doublet and covered it with his cassock, and in this state he went to church, where his parishioners were waiting for him to say mass. When it came...

    • Tale 36 Of the same priest, who excommunicated everybody in the hole
      (pp. 119-120)

      One solemn feast Sunday and at sermon time, the priest of Brou ascended the pulpit, which was near a pillar, as they normally are, in order to preach to his parishioners. While he was preaching, the cleric from the rectory came to him and presented him some notes having to do with complaints according to the custom of announcing them on Sundays. The priest took these notes and put them in a hole which was in the pillar on purpose for such cases, that is, for the stashing of all the notes brought to him during the sermon. When he...

    • Tale 37 Of Teiran, who could not be seen above the pommel of the saddle when he was on his mule
      (pp. 120-121)

      In the city of Montpellier, there once was a young man who was called the prior of Teiran; he was a man of good family and rather well learned, but he had an awkward shape. He had a hump on his back and another on his stomach, and this gave him a poor carriage in the saddle and had so stunted his growth that he was no taller than a foot and a half. Wait, wait, I mean from the waist up. One day, he went to Toulouse from Montpellier accompanied by some of his friends from Montpellier; they stopped...

    • Tale 38 Of the theologian who condemned dancing, the lady who defended it, and the reasons put forth by both sides
      (pp. 121-123)

      In the city of Le Mans there once was a doctor of theology, named Mister d’Argentré, who had a doctoral prebend; he was a man of vast learning and upright conduct, but he wasn’t so scholarly that he wasn’t well acquainted with civility and social behavior, and this made him welcome among all good and honest company. One day, when he was having dinner with a group of leading citizens of the city, there was by chance dancing after dinner; after watching it for a time, he began to speak with a very good-looking lady, the sheriff of Sillé’s wife,...

    • Tale 39 Of the Scot and his wife, who carried on a little too expertly
      (pp. 123-124)

      A Scot, who had followed the Court for a while, aspired to a post as yeoman of the Guard; that’s as high as they wish to go when they begin to serve in France, and then they all consider themselves to be cousins of the king of Scotland. In order to reach this high rank, the Scot had performed a great number of services for which, among other favors, he obtained this one: he married a girl who was rather young and the lady-in-waiting of a very great lady. She was no sooner married than she remembered the commandments that...

    • Tale 40 Of the priest and the mason who confessed his sins to him
      (pp. 124-125)

      There was a village priest who was very proud of having seen a little more than his Cato.¹ In fact, he had readDe syntaxi² and hisFauste precor gelida.³ And because of that, he thought a great deal of himself and he bragged a lot and used words which were mouthfuls in order to have himself considered a great scholar. And even when he heard confession he used terms that astonished the poor people. One day, he was confessing a poor workman, and he asked him, “Now then, my friend, aren’t you ambitious?” The poor man said no because...

    • Tale 41 Of the gentleman who called out to his birds at night and the wagoner who whipped his horses
      (pp. 126-128)

      There’s a kind of people who have choleric or melancholic or flegmatic humors (it has to be one of these three because sanguine humor is always good, so they say); their vapors go up to their brains and make them fantastic, lunatic, erratic, fanatic, schismatic, and all the atics you could name, and there’s no cure, no matter what purgative you give them. Therefore, since I want to help these poor people and please their wives, relatives, friends, benefactors, and all those whom it may concern, I’m going to demonstrate here with a brief example which happened how they’re to...

    • Tale 42 Of the good widow who had a petition to submit and how she gave it to a plain counselor
      (pp. 128-129)

      A good widow had a suit in Paris, and she had gone to look after it; she worked very diligently at it although she hardly understood her case; but she trusted that the lords of the High Court would make allowances for her age, her widowhood, and her just cause. One morning, early before dawn, earlier than usual, she didn’t go into her garden to gather violets, but picked up her petition, which dealt with the matter of certain excesses which had been committed against her late husband. She went to the palace for the arrival of the lords and...

    • Tale 43 Of the young girl who did not want a particular husband because he had eaten up his first wife’s back
      (pp. 129-130)

      With regard to word ambiguity which lies in enunciation, the French have a rather soft pronunciation, so much so that one doesn’t hear the last letter of most of their words, and, therefore, words would very often be mistaken for one another were it not for the fact that they can be understood by the meaning of the other words which accompany them. There was in the city of Lyons a young girl, whom her relatives wanted to marry off to a man who had had another wife, who had died on him, with the help of God, a year...

    • Tale 44 Of a great lord’s bastard, who was letting himself be hanged unjustly and was angry that he was saved
      (pp. 130-132)

      There was a great lord’s bastard, or, at the least, putative son, who was only wise after a fashion, if that: he felt that everyone should honor him as much as if he were a prince because he was the bastard of such a noble house; furthermore, he thought that everyone was bound to know his rank, his birth, and his name; however, he didn’t give people an opportunity to recognize this, for more often than not he wandered about the countryside with a retinue of little worth and joined all sorts of company, good and bad; it was all...

    • Tale 45 Of Lord De Raschault, who went to draw wine, and how the spigot slipped into his pint
      (pp. 132-134)

      In the city of Poitiers, there was a good-hearted gentleman from a very wealthy family; he was a man fit for great undertakings, but he had a tremendous physical defect, his tongue; he couldn’t say three words without stuttering, and, besides, it took him an hour to utter them, and in the end he couldn’t make himself understood. And yet he tossed off very smartly the first word he said, like adamn itand ahang it, when he was in a temper, which is a sign that such a defect is but the result of a choleric humor,...

    • Tale 46 Of the tailor who stole from himself and the gray cloth that he returned to his crony the hosier
      (pp. 134-136)

      A tailor from the same city of Poitiers, named Lyons, was a good workman at his trade and he could very properly outfit a man and a woman and everybody, except that sometimes he’d cut out three quarters for the rear instead of two, or three sleeves in a cloak, but he only sewed on two. After all, men have only two arms; and he was so accustomed to pulling this sleight of hand that he couldn’t refrain from doing it in all kinds of cloth and in all colors. Indeed, when he cut out a garment for himself, he...

    • Tale 47 Of the abbot of Saint Ambrose, his monks, and other adventures of this abbot
      (pp. 136-138)

      Master Jacques Colin,¹ who died not long ago as abbot of Saint Ambrose, was a man of great learning with a good mind, as he amply demonstrated while he lived; he spoke knowledgeably about whatever the subject might be, and his wit was particularly keen; therefore, all his supporters together brought him into the favor of the late King Francis before whom he lectured a long time. They tell a great number of good stories about him and it would take a long time to relate them; but among all of them I’ll tell one or two which are delightful...

    • Tale 48 Of the man who dismissed the same abbot with a cocky remark
      (pp. 138-139)

      The same man I’ve been talking about was one of those about whom it is said that they were suckled by a wet-nurse with tough breasts, against which the nose is blunted and becomes flat; but it didn’t look bad on him because he was a thick-set man, very stocky, who, in fact, knew how to get around very well. Because of this, he exemplified what a lady said when she compared men to women. “We women,” she said, “aren’t prized very much, except for our beauty; and, for this reason, we have to keep ourselves up carefully and make...

    • Tale 49 Of Chichouan the drummer, who had his father-in-law summoned for not having died, and the sentence that the judge handed down
      (pp. 139-141)

      Not too long ago, in the city of Amboise, there was a drummer who was named Chichouan; he was a merry man and full of witty remarks, and because of this he was as welcome as his drum in every house. He married the daughter of an old man who lived in his own home within the city of Amboise: a man of good faith, with the integrity of the old days written all over him, he was quite content with not having any other children but this daughter. And because Chichouan had no other means but his drum, he...

    • Tale 50 Of the Gascon who gave his father a choice of eggs
      (pp. 141-142)

      A Gascon, who had been at war, had returned home to live with his father, who was already an old countryman and who was quite gentle; but his son was a scatterbrain and gave commands in the house as though he were the master. One Friday, at dinner, he said to his father: “Dad,” he said, “we have enough wine for you and for me although you don’t drink any.” He and his father had put three eggs to cook in the fire; the Gascon took one to cut into and drew another to his side and left only one...

    • Tale 51 Of the treasury clerk whose two dice fell from his writing desk in front of the king
      (pp. 142-143)

      King Louis XI was a prince of great deliberation and of like performance; among his other characteristics, he loved those who were subtle and answered promptly, and also, so they say, he never gave as a gift more than one hundred crowns at a time. One day, among others, when there were some letters to sign and no royal secretary was present, the king appointed a young treasury clerk who was there, for there was nothing more to it than that, and, upon opening his writing desk in order to sign, he dropped on the table two dice which were...

    • Tale 52 Of two arguments to make a woman hold her tongue
      (pp. 143-143)

      A young man, who was talking to a woman from Paris who boasted that she ruled the roost, said to her, “If I were your husband, I’d stop you from having your own way.” “You!” she said; “you’d have to put up with it just like the others.” “Indeed!” he said; “you can be sure that I know two arguments to get the better of a woman.” “Is that so?” she said. “And what are those two arguments?” The young man closed his hand and said, “There’s one of them,” then quickly closed his other hand: “And there’s the other.”...

    • Tale 53 The way to become rich
      (pp. 143-144)

      From small business beginnings, peddling needles, belts, and pins, a man had become so very rich that he bought his neighbors’ properties, and he was the talk of the region. Marveling about this, a gentleman who was travelling with him said to him, “Well, come now, So-and-So!” calling him by name, “what did you do to get as rich as you are?” “Sir,” he said, “I’ll tell you in two words: I worked hard and spent little.” There’s a good motto; but you still need bread and wine, for there are those who could break their necks without being any...

    • Tale 54 Of a lady from Orleans who loved a student who pretended to be a little dog at her door and how the big dog chased the little one away
      (pp. 144-145)

      A lady from Orleans, who was good and kind, albeit contrary, was married to a cloth merchant and had been pursued for a long time by a student, a handsome young man who danced gracefully, for there were at that time dancers from Orleans, flutists from Poitiers, bold fellows from Avignon, students from Toulouse. This student was named Clairet, and the woman, because she was kind and human, was finally seduced by means of the notes, remarks, and messages they addressed to each other, and she bestowed upon him love’s reward, which he enjoyed contentedly. Between them, they had little...

    • Tale 55 Of Vaudrey and the tricks he played
      (pp. 145-146)

      It wasn’t too long ago that the Lord of Vaudrey¹ was still living; he was very well known by princes and by nearly everyone because of the acts he did during his lifetime with great eccentricity, accompanied by such luck that no one, except him, would have dared to undertake them, and, as is commonly said, a wise man would have died a hundred times over. For instance, when he was in Beauce he wore out a magpie by riding after it so hard that it finally gave up. Another time he strangled a cat with his teeth, with both...

    • Tale 56 Of the gentleman who cut off a purse snatcher’s ear
      (pp. 146-147)

      In the church of Notre-Dame in Paris, a gentleman¹ in the crowd felt a thief cutting off the gold buttons on the sleeves of his robe, and, without seeming to take any notice, he drew his dagger and took the thief’s ear and cut it off on the spot; and showing it to him, he said: “Look, your ear isn’t lost, do you see it here? Give me back my buttons, and I’11 give it back to you.” It wouldn’t have been a bad bargain for him if he could have sewn his ear back on as the gentleman could...

    • Tale 57 Of the maid from Toulouse who no longer ate supper and the one who was on a diet
      (pp. 147-148)

      At harvest time, a maid from Toulouse was in one of her units in the fields, and she had as a neighbor another young lady from the same city; they supervised the making of their wine, and they saw each other often and sometimes ate together. But one of them had taken up the habit of not eating supper, and she said to her neighbor: “My dear, I’ve seen the time when I was almost always ill until I took up the habit of no longer eating supper and of having only a small snack in the evening.” “And what...

    • Tale 58 Of the monk who answered everything in rhymed monosyllables
      (pp. 148-148)

      A monk, travelling through the country, arrived at an inn at suppertime. The innkeeper had him sit with the others who had already begun, and the monk, in order to catch up with them, began to stuff himself greedily as though he hadn’t seen bread for three days. The wily fellow had stripped down to his doublet in order to give a better account of himself; when he saw this, one of the men at the table asked him many things, which didn’t please him because he was busy filling his paunch. But in order to lose as little time...

    • Tale 59 Of the law student and the apothecary who taught him medicine
      (pp. 148-151)

      A student, who had lived in Toulouse for a while, went to a small town near Cahors in Quercy named Saint Anthony in order to put his law books to use there; he hadn’t gained a great deal from them because he’d always stuck to the humanities, in which he was well versed; but since he’d decided to take up the law profession, he thought he shouldn’t go back ignorant and unable to handle himself as well as the others. As soon as he was in Saint Anthony, for in these little towns one is immediately seen and noticed, an...

    • Tale 60 Of Father John, who climbed on the smith thinking it was his wife
      (pp. 152-153)

      A smith, who lived in a village which was on the main road, had a fairly beautiful wife, at least in the eyes of a priest who lived very near him; he was called Father John, and he angled so that he reached an agreement with that young woman. In fact, he got on with her so well that, when the smith got up in order to work in his forge—and the priest knew it when he heard him hammering because it was the sign that the smith was there with his helper—, he didn’t fail to enter...

    • Tale 61 Of the sentence handed down by the Provost of Brittany, who had John Trubert and his son hanged
      (pp. 154-155)

      In the province of Brittany, there was a man, among others, who wasn’t worth much; his name was John Trubert, and he had committed several larcenies, for which he’d been captured frequently and had been flogged on one occasion and thrashed on another, which should have been enough for him to remember. Nevertheless, he was so attracted to it that he couldn’t reform; and he even began to teach the trade to his son, who was between fifteen and sixteen years old, and he took him along on his expeditions. There came a day when he and his son stole...

    • Tale 62 Of the young man who called himself Toinette in order to be received in a religious order of nuns and how he upset the glasses of the abbess who examined him
      (pp. 155-157)

      There was a young boy between seventeen and eighteen who got into a convent of nuns one feast day and saw four or five of them whom he thought very beautiful; in fact, there wasn’t one of them for whom he wouldn’t have gladly broken his fast, and they became so much a part of his imagination that he thought about them constantly. One day, when he was speaking about it to a good friend of his, the friend said to him: “You know what you should do? You’re a handsome fellow, dress yourself as a girl and present yourself...

    • Tale 63 Of the professor who fought a fishwife from the Petit Pont with fine insults
      (pp. 157-159)

      One day in Lent, a student went to the Petit Pont¹ and approached a fishwife to haggle over some cod; but, when she asked him for two liards, he offered only one, which angered the fishwife, and she insulted him saying, “Scram, scram, you jerk! Take your liard and shove it.” When the student saw himself berated to his face that way, he threatened to report it to his professor. “Go on, squirt!” she said, “go tell him, and just let me see you here again, the two of you!” The student didn’t fail to go straight to his professor,...

    • Tale 64 Of the youth from Paris who played the fool in order to enjoy a young widow, and how, wishing to make fun of him, she was put to even greater shame
      (pp. 160-163)

      A young man from Paris, who was lively, neat-looking, and from a good family, was in love with a very pretty widow, who was very happy to be loved; she constantly revealed new charms to those who gazed at her and she took pleasure in analyzing the hearts of young men. However, she paid attention only to those who appealed to her, and not necessarily the worthiest ones, and, above all, she knew how to lead on this young man I’m talking about to such an extent that she seemed to be willing to do everything for him. He spoke...

    • Tale 65 Of the schoolboy from Avignon and the old woman who chewed him out
      (pp. 163-164)

      There was in Avignon a bunch of schoolboys who where playing tennis outside the city walls; one of them, while making his play, failed to lob the ball straight and sent it into a garden. He found a way to jump over the wall to go get it. After he had jumped, he found in the garden an old woman who was planting cabbage and who immediately began to shout at him, “And what the devil are you doing here? You’re coming to steal my melons.” But the schoolboy didn’t heed her and kept on looking for his ball, saying...

    • Tale 66 Of a judge from Aigue-Mortes, a pasquinade, and the Lateran Council
      (pp. 164-166)

      In the city of Aigue-Mortes, there was a judge namedDe Alta domo,¹ whose brain was made of wax; in his court, he handed down very strange verdicts, and outside of his court he discoursed in the same manner. It happened one day that he got into an argument over a passage from the Bible with a sanctimonious soul who was pleased to have the judge talk nonsense. The controversy was over whether, of all the animals in the world today, there were two of each on Noah’s ark. One said that there were no mice and that they’re engendered...

    • Tale 67 Of the cavalrymen who were in the home of a village woman
      (pp. 166-166)

      In the days when soldiers lived off what they got from their countrymen—they also lived off what they got from the women—a troop of them went through a village, where they did no better than those in the proverb which says: “One lawyer in a line, one walnut tree in a vineyard, one pig in a wheat field, one mole in a meadow, and one sargent in a town is enough to ruin everything.” They pillaged, they ruined, they destroyed everything. There were two, or three, or four of them, I don’t know how many, in a woman’s...

    • Tale 68 Of Master Berthaud, who was made to believe he was dead
      (pp. 167-168)

      There once lived in the city of Rouen, I don’t know exactly when it was, a man who provided amusement for all and sundry—when one knew how to manage him, that goes without saying. He went through the streets dressed sometimes like a sailor, sometimes like a schoolmaster, sometimes like a plum picker, but always like a fool; and he was called Master Berthaud. Perhaps he was the one who counted twenty and eleven for thirty-one; he was as proud of that title of Master as a jackass with a new packsaddle; and if a man failed to call...

    • Tale 69 Of the man from Poitou who gives directions to travellers
      (pp. 168-170)

      There are many ways of practicing patience, like women who rebuke a valet who chatters, or who grumbles, or who doesn’t listen at all, and who brings you slippers when you asked for your sword or your bonnet instead of your belt, and puts a piece of green wood in the fire when you’re dying of cold so that you have to burn all the straw from the bed before it catches fire; or it can be a horse which picks up a nail or loses a shoe along the road, or which gets stung at every step, and the...

    • Tale 70 Of the man from Poitou and the officer who put his cart and oxen in the king’s hands
      (pp. 170-170)

      I’m not going to while away the time at this point telling you other tales about men from Poitou, which are undoubtedly very pleasant; but you’d have to know the dialect of the region in order to enjoy them, and, besides, the greatest charm of all lies in the pronunciation; but I can at least tell you one more while I’m at it. There was a man from Poitou who, because he hadn’t paid his taxes, had had his property seized by an officer, who, serving the writ as he’d been ordered, placed the poor man’s cart and oxen in...

    • Tale 71 Of another man from Poitou and his son Mike
      (pp. 170-171)

      There was a working man who was rather well off and who had taken his two sons to Poitiers to study at the university with the ignoramuses; they roomed with other fellows from Poitou near the Crowned Ox. The elder was named Michael and the other William. Their father housed them, took note of the place where they were staying, and he left them there. They were there for a rather long time without writing to him, and he was even happy to get news of them from friends and neighbors who sometimes went to Poitiers and through whom he...

    • Tale 72 Of the gentleman from Beauce and his dinner
      (pp. 171-172)

      One of the gentlemen from Beauce—they say that they’re two to a horse when they travel through the country,—had dined rather early and very lightly on a certain meat they prepare in that region with flour and a few egg yolks; but, frankly, I couldn’t tell you in detail how you make it: the fact remains that it’s a sort of stew, and I’ve heard it calledcaudelée.¹ This gentleman made his dinner out of it. But he ate it so diligently that he didn’t have time to lick his lips clean, and small morsels of thecaudelée...

    • Tale 73 Of the priest who ate for lunch the entire allowance of the monks of Beaulieu
      (pp. 172-174)

      In the city of Le Mans there was a priest who was called Father John Melaine; he was an excessive eater, and he devoured the portions of at least nine or ten people in one meal. And his youth had been a rather happy one: indeed, up to the age of thirty or thirty-five, he always found people who took pleasure in feeding him, particularly those canons who fought over who would have John Melaine in order to have fun stuffing him. As a result, he sometimes went around for a week having dinner and supper here and there in...

    • Tale 74 Of Jehan Doingé, who changed his name on his father’s orders
      (pp. 174-176)

      In the great city of Paris there was a gentleman of note and quality, a man of great learning and judgment, who was called Mister Doingé;¹ but, since it does happen that learned men don’t readily produce the brightest children in the world (I believe it’s because they leave their minds in their studies when they go to bed with their wives), the one I’m talking about had a son who was already grown, named Jehan Doingé, and the thing in which he resembled his father the least was his mind. One day when his father was busy writing or...

    • Tale 75 Of Janin, who was newly wed
      (pp. 176-176)

      Janin wanted to get married too, and so he took a wife who played around and who didn’t make any secret of it because she didn’t want to do any harm to her husband’s good name. One day, one of Janin’s neighbors asked him some questions, and he gave him the answers in the form of a rather amusing farce. “Say, Janin, are you married?” And Janin replied: “Yes, indeed!” “That’s good,” the other said. “Not too good, really,” Janin said. “And why?” “She’s too unruly.” “That’s bad.” “Not too bad, really.” “And why?” “And why? She’s one of the...

    • Tale 76 Of the law student who wanted to practice lecturing and the speech he made at his first lecture
      (pp. 176-177)

      A law student in Poitiers had gained a fair amount from his law studies, and he didn’t know too much either; he didn’t have much confidence or means of explaining his knowledge. And because he was the son of a lawyer, his father, who had gone through it, told him to start lecturing so that he might improve his memory through practice. In order to obey his father’s wish, he decided to lecture at the law school in Poitiers. And, in order to give himself greater confidence, he went every day into a garden which was far from the house...

    • Tale 77 Of the good drunkard Janicot and his wife Janette
      (pp. 177-180)

      In Paris, where there are so many kinds of people, there was a tailor named Janicot, who was never avaricious, for all the money he earned was for drinking. He liked this trade so much and got so used to it that he had to give up tailoring because when he returned from the tavern and wanted to get back to work he missed the mark while threading his needle, just as newlyweds do; and he thought that one piece of thread was really two, and he’d just as soon sew a sleeve on the back as on the front:...

    • Tale 78 Of a gentleman who put his tongue in a young lady’s mouth while kissing her
      (pp. 180-182)

      In the city of Montpellier, a gentleman who had recently arrived there was at a party where there was dancing. Among the ladies who were in that gathering, there was a very lovely woman who was a widow and still young. I think they were dancing the Piedmontese dance, in which it’s a question of kissing each other. It happened that the gentleman paired off with this young widow. When the time came to kiss, he decided to do it as they do it in Italy where he’d been: so, when he kissed her, he put his tongue in her...

    • Tale 79 Of the pickpockets and the priest who had sold his wheat
      (pp. 182-183)

      There’s no trade in the world which requires greater skill than that of pickpockets because these fine people have to deal with men, women, gentlemen, lawyers, merchants, and priests, whom I should have mentioned first; in short, with all sorts of people, except perhaps with Franciscans, although there are some who still carry money, notwithstanding the Franciscan prohibition. But they keep it so well hidden that the poor pickpockets can’t get to it. With all the business they have with everyone mentioned above, the worst and most outrageous part of it all is that they rob you in your presence...

    • Tale 80 Of the same pickpockets and Provost La Voulte
      (pp. 184-185)

      You have to understand that the best decision the pickpockets made was to keep themselves well-dressed: after all, when they were poorly dressed, they wouldn’t have dared to go among people of importance, who are in places where they have the greatest business; or, if they were there, you had to stand on your guard against them because poorly dressed men, even if they are churchy people, are taken as spies everytime. It so happens that one day, when King Francis was at Blois, some of those fine merchants in question were there, and they were all dressed as gentlemen:...

    • Tale 81 Of the same ones again and the cutler whose purse was snatched
      (pp. 185-187)

      At Moulins, in Bourbonnais, there was a man who had the reputation of making the best knives in the whole province; attracted by this talk, one of these venerable pickpockets went to Moulins to look up this cutler in order to have a knife made, thinking that while touring that area he could pay for his trip on the highways as well as in the town. When he reached Moulins (and I’m not saying anything about what he did on the way), he went to see the cutler and said to him, “My friend, will you make me a knife...

    • Tale 82 Of the highway robber Cambaire and the answer he gave the High Court
      (pp. 187-188)

      In the judicial district of Toulouse there was a famous highway robber, who went by the name of Cambaire, and he’d formerly been in the king’s service and in charge of infantrymen, and he had acquired a reputation as a brave and bold captain; but he’d been discharged with some others when the wars were over, and out of resentment and necessity he had become a bandit in the mountains and surrounding areas. He did so well at this trade that he immediately became the most famous of his companions; the High Court had him so pursued that he was...

    • Tale 83 Of the worth of Monsieur Salzard
      (pp. 188-188)

      I want to tell you a good story about a worthy man whose name was Salzard. Do you know what kind of a man he was? First of all, he had a head like a butter pot, a face wrinkled like a scorched parchment, eyes as large as the eyes of an ox, a nose as watery, particularly in winter, as a fisherman’s pouch, and he always went around sticking up his snout like an ironmonger; his mouth was as twisted as I don’t know what, and he wore a cap dirty enough to grow a pot of cabbage, a...

    • Tale 84 Of two students who took the tailor’s scissors
      (pp. 189-190)

      In the University of Paris there were two young students who were fine rascals and always up to some mischief, especially when it came to removing things. They took books, belts, gloves; everything was suitable; they didn’t wait until things were lost to find them, and they just had to grab something, even if it were only to carry off shoes. Even when they were in your room, right in front of you, if they saw a pair of slippers under a corner of the bed, one of them neatly put them on over his shoes and left with everything....

    • Tale 85 Of the Franciscan who kept water near him at the table and did not drink any
      (pp. 190-190)

      There was a gentleman who usually invited to dinner and supper a Franciscan who preached the Lenten sermons in the parish; the Franciscan was a good friar and loved good wine. When he was at the table, he always wanted the ewer next to him, and yet he didn’t use it because he found the wine strong enough without water, drinkingsicut terra sine aqua; ¹ the gentleman kept noticing this, and he said to him one time, “Good Father, how come you always ask for water and don’t put any in your wine?” “Sir,” he said “why do you...

    • Tale 86 Of a lady who had the roosters tended apart from the hens
      (pp. 190-192)

      A lady from Bourbonnais had learned, through the teaching of a gentleman who knew what it was to live deliciously, that the meat of young roosters that hadn’t been castrated was as tender and even better than that of capons, provided they hadn’t experienced hens, and that making love with hens, as all males do with females, was what made the roosters become so tough: no doubt about it, it was a man of some experience who said that he who does it the least deceives his companion, that apprentices are masters at it, that its greatest practitioners end up...

    • Tale 87 Of the magpie and her chicks
      (pp. 192-192)

      That’s enough said about men and women: I want to tell you a story about birds. There was a magpie which led her little chicks through the fields in order to teach them how to live; but they acted foolishly and always wanted to return to the nest because they thought that their mother should always feed them; nevertheless, seeing that they were all ready to fly anywhere, she began little by little to let them eat all alone, instructing them as follows: “Children,” she said, “go into the fields; you’re big enough to look after yourselves; my mother left...

    • Tale 88 Of an abbot’s monkey and an Italian who undertook to make him talk
      (pp. 193-195)

      An abbot had a monkey who was marvelously well bred: besides his capers and the funny faces he made, he knew people by their features; he recognized good and wise people by their beards, clothes, countenances, and he made much of them; but he could have picked out a page from a hundred others even if he’d been dressed as a girl: he simply recognized him by his page-ness as soon as he entered the room although he’d never seen him before. When some matter was being discussed, he listened with discernment, as if he’d understood the speakers, and he...

    • Tale 89 Of the monkey who drank the medicine
      (pp. 195-196)

      I don’t know if it was this same monkey we were just talking about, but it’s all the same; if not he, it was another. At all events, this monkey’s master became ill with a very high fever, and he called the doctors; they prescribed right off an enema and bleeding in the usual fashion, then some syrups for four mornings and at the same time some medicine which the apothecary brought him early in the morning on the appointed day. But when he found his patient asleep, he decided not to awaken him, particularly since he hadn’t rested for...

    • Tale 90 Of a husband’s invention to avenge himself on his wife
      (pp. 197-200)

      Many people have been of the opinion that when a woman deceives her husband he should blame her rather than the one who had access, and they say that whoever wants to put an end to a disorder must remove the cause, according to the Italian proverb,Morta la bestia, morto il veneno,¹ and that men only do what women invite them to do and they don’t readily get involved where they haven’t been attracted by the lure of eyes or words, or by some other advances. As for me, if I thought I’d please women by defending them on...

    • Author’s sonnet to his readers
      (pp. 201-202)
  5. PART TWO (Tales attributed to Des Périers)
    • Tale 91 Of the rendezvous that Father Itace, pastor of Baignolet, arranged with a good-looking turnip vendor, and what came of it
      (pp. 205-207)

      Although Father Itace, pastor of Baignolet, was a very upright man and a doctor of theology, he was also a man,ergo, by means of pertinent arguments, a natural one,ergohe loved natural women like any other man; and so one day he saw a beautiful turnip vendor who was ready and willing to do just about anything, and he spoke to her a bit while passing by, asking her if business was good and if her turnips were good and fresh, for he loved turnip soup a great deal; at this juncture, he pointed out his Johnny to...

    • Tale 92 Of the ways to collect money in a hurry that a joker gave his king
      (pp. 207-208)

      Since Triboulet was well thought of in the best companies and his foolishness has a place in this book, it seemed a good idea to give him as a companion one of the best fed jokers in the king’s court; and, because he saw that the king was perplexed as to how to raise money to finance his wars, he showed him two ways (which few others would have thought of). He said: “Sire, one is to make your office an alternating one, as you’ve frequently done with others in your kingdom. If you do this, you’ll be able to...

    • Tale 93 Of a thief who wanted to steal his neighbor’s cow
      (pp. 208-209)

      A certain habitual thief, who wanted to steal his neighbor’s cow, got up early one morning before daylight, entered the cow’s stable, and led it away, pretending to run after it. When he heard the noise, the neighbor awoke and put his head out the window: “Neighbor (the thief said), come help me catch my cow; it’s gotten into your yard because your gate wasn’t properly closed.” After the neighbor had helped him do this, he persuaded him to go to market with him (of course, had he stayed home, he would have noticed the theft). On the way, as...

    • Tale 94 Of a poor villager who found the donkey he had lost through an enema that a doctor had given him
      (pp. 209-210)

      In the province of Bourbonnais (where those beautiful ears grow), ¹ there once was a very famous doctor who had the habit of giving his patients only one kind of medicine, enemas, and luckily he brought about several fine cures; and, as a result, he was so esteemed that there wasn’t a mother’s child who didn’t go to him when he was ill. It so happened that a poor villager had lost his ass in the fields, and he was very worried about it; and, as he went around looking for this ass, he met on the road an old...

    • Tale 95 Of a superstitious doctor who did not want to make merry with his wife except when it rained and the wife’s good fortune after his death
      (pp. 210-211)

      In the city of Paris it recently happened that a doctor was so superstitious that he even relied on the occult; it was his astrological belief that to make merry and have fun with his wife in dry weather was very unfavorable for him, and so he completely abstained; and, besides, when the weather was damp, he observed the course of the moon, which hardly pleased his wife; she often begged him for sport, and, because she needed it, she endeavored to make him do it; but she rarely won, and, as his only answer, he gave her to understand...

    • Tale 96 Of a jolly Dutch fellow who made a shoemaker, who had made buskins for him, run after him
      (pp. 211-212)

      It won’t be out of place here to tell about the skill of a jolly fellow who was walking around in a rather large city in Holland; he went into a shoemaker’s shop, and the owner asked him if there was anything that appealed to him. And because he’d seen him glance at some buskins which were hanging there, he asked him if he wanted to have a pair. When he answered and said yes, he selected for him the ones which seemed to suit his legs best, and he put them on him. When he had them, he also...

    • Tale 97 Of the student who leafed through all his books in order to find the meaning of brush, to brush, box, gallows box, etc.
      (pp. 212-213)

      The naughty wordbox, very well known and extolled in peacetime France, had once upon a time frustrated a young student because he couldn’t interpret it for those who asked him (although he’d asked the clerics in his village a thousand times); but the word was all Greek to them. Even more irritated than before, the student combedCalepinus auctus et recognitus, Cornucopiae, andCatholicon magnum et parvum¹ from end to end; but it was all for naught because it wasn’t there. Nevertheless, after he’d mulled it over in his head a good while, he remembered that some ten years...

    • Tale 98 Of Triboulet, King Francis I’s fool, and his foolish acts
      (pp. 213-214)

      The late King Francis I (God rest his soul!) was a very virtuous and magnanimous prince who took care of a poor idiot in order to be frequently amused by him (after his work on the affairs of the kingdom of France), and he happily had him go before him when he travelled along the road. One day while Triboulet was in front of the king, constantly chatting and showing off his nonsense, his horse let out six or eight farts, and this angered Triboulet no end; and so he immediately got off his horse, put the saddle on his...

    • Tale 99 Of two plaintiffs who were properly plucked by their lawyers
      (pp. 214-215)

      While eating his cabbages, a farmer, who was always about his business, took it into his head that one of his neighbors was doing him wrong; he took him to court, and, on the advice of some of his friends, he chose a lawyer, whom he asked to handle his case, and he accepted. Two hours later, the other party appeared; he was a wealthy man, and he also asked him to be his lawyer in this same case, and he accepted it too. When the day that the case was to be pleaded drew near, the farmer went to...

    • Tale 100 Of the merry remarks of the man who was being led to the Montfaucon gallows
      (pp. 215-216)

      A real good-for-nothing, who on his own merits had been sent up a ladder backwards in order to come down a rope (as jolly fellows say), stood there preaching marvelously. During his sermon, the hangman, who was getting his equipment ready, passed his hand under and around the preacher’s neck so many times that he finally looked at him and said, “Hey! chief, my friend, don’t pass your hand there anymore: I’m more ticklish around the neck than you think. You’ll make me laugh, and then what will people say? That I’m a bad Christian and that I make fun...

    • Tale 101 Of the wish made by a certain advisor to King Francis I
      (pp. 216-217)

      One advisor to King Francis I was a man whose wit was naturally fertile with jokes; one day when a group was talking to the king about the means he should choose to resist the emperor, who was coming with mighty forces they said, he heard one person wish the king so many good Gascons, another so many mercenaries, the rest expressing some other fine wish. He said, “Sire, since it’s a matter of wishing, I too, if you’d like, will make my wish; but I’ll wish for something which won’t cost you anything, whereas what they’re wishing for would...

    • Tale 102 Of the student who fell in love with his landlady and how their love turned out
      (pp. 217-219)

      In the days when people wore shoes with long pointed toes, put pots on the table, and hid in order to lend money,¹ the faithfulness of women towards men was inviolable, and it was no more permissible for men to cheat on their virtuous wives, whether by day or night. Thus, the custom was reciprocally observed, and one could only marvel and wonder in praise of them; therefore, jealousy didn’t exist, except for that which is caused by illicit love and from which cuckolds die. Because of this marvelous confidence, all the married couples, and those to be married, slept...

    • Tale 103 Of the priest who got angry in his pulpit because his colleagues did not carry out their obligation to preach to their parishioners as he did
      (pp. 219-220)

      A priest somewhere or other was rather well known because of his funny remarks and his incompetence for the responsibility entrusted to him. One day, while preaching to his parishioners, he began to swear, by golly, against the Lutherans of his day and, wanting to prove that they were worse than the devil, he said, “The devil would run as soon as I made the sign of the cross to him; but if I made the sign of the cross to a Lutheran, God! he’d grab me by the throat and strangle me. Therefore, I advise you, my dear parishioners,...

    • Tale 104 Of a knavish trick that an Italian skillfully played on a Frenchman in Venice
      (pp. 220-221)

      It happened in the Sturgeon Inn in Venice that a Frenchman who had recently arrived was warned by an Italian, who was also staying there, that in his country it wasn’t safe for people who had money to show that they had it; and, moreover, he told him that when he had some crowns to weigh or a sum to count out not to do as he usually did, but to shut himself up in his room. The Frenchman took this advice as having been given sincerely and thanked him very much for it and immediately made his acquaintance. As...

    • Tale 105 Of an Irishman’s merry adventures and ways for making a living in every country
      (pp. 221-222)

      An Irishman, who was a rather witty man, decided to learn the ways of foreign countries and their speech habits; although he travelled in several countries and kept his money hidden in the soles of his shoes, nevertheless, he didn’t miss a meal because he really knew how to get along in all countries; and, since he didn’t care about the honors of this world, he didn’t worry over any wrongs which might be done to him, and, instead of spending his time in litigation, he preferred to follow the custom of the Myconians, a poor and starving people, who,...

    • Tale 106 Of the means a doctor used in order to be paid by a sick abbot he had attended
      (pp. 222-223)

      A doctor, who was highly praised by many for his good reputation and learning, was sent for by an abbot to treat him in his illness, and he accepted willingly; he performed his duty so well that in a few days he had gotten him back on his feet. Now, he realized that the abbot (in the grips of his illness) promised him the moon and stars, but, when he began to get better, he didn’t look kindly upon him and made no mention of satisfying him for his troubles, and he doubted very much that he’d ever receive any...

    • Tale 107 Of the apprentice thief who was hanged for having talked too much
      (pp. 223-224)

      An apprentice thief entered a house by way of the roof in order to see if he might not have some good luck; he was discovered by the people who were inside because of the noise he made on entering; this was the reason that all the neighbors around gathered to see what it was all about; but, when the thief saw that everyone shoved his way in to look for him, he went down some back stairs he’d noticed and took his place in the crowd of people who were going in to look for him, and by this...

    • Tale 108 Of the man who let himself be hanged under the pretense of devotion
      (pp. 224-225)

      A certain magistrate somewhere wanted to save the life of a thief who’d fallen into his hands for the purpose of sharing in the booty (as they, in fact, had agreed); then again, he realized that he’d be reprimanded and there’d be much grumbling if justice weren’t done and, moreover, he’d be in great danger and so he devised this means: he had a poor man arrested, and he told him that he’d been looking for him for a long time and that he was the one who had done such and such a thing. This man didn’t fail to...

    • Tale 109 Of a priest who used only the authority of his horse to confound those who deny purgatory
      (pp. 225-226)

      A priest, who wanted to show what a keen and lively mind he had (although he hadn’t been exposed to learning for very long), used only the authority of his horse to confound those who deny purgatory, whereas others (to do this) have ordinarily used and still use the authority of so many good and learned scholars. So, speaking about Lutherans, who didn’t believe that there was a purgatory, this good fellow said, “I’m going to tell you a tale which will show you how very wrong they are to deny purgatory. I’m the son of the late Mr. d’E...

    • Tale 110 Of the juggler who bet a duke from Ferrara that in his city there were more doctors than other people, and how he was paid for his wager
      (pp. 226-227)

      One day, a delightful juggler, who was very welcome among fine Italian families, called on Nicholas, marquis of Ferrara, a valiant and very merry prince; to test this good fellow, he asked him laughingly which trade and profession he thought was practiced by the greatest number of people in the city of Ferrara. The juggler, who knew the marquis’s disposition, decided to lure some of his money his way under the guise of a wager, and, in answer to what he’d been asked, he said, “Ah! Who doubts that in this city the number of doctors isn’t greater than that...

    • Tale 111 Of the capers pulled by two fellow thieves who have since been hanged and strangled
      (pp. 227-229)

      A fine rascal, who was a native of the city of Issoudun in Berry and who had commited an indefinite number of thefts and had often been threatened, was finally condemned to be hanged and strangled; but, just as he was being taken out to be hanged, it happened that a lord passed by, and through him he obtained the king’s pardon, and all for having spouted a few words of dog Latin which, although they weren’t understood, gave the impression that he was a man for hire; and, in fact, once he got his pardon, the king sent him...

    • Tale 112 Of a gentleman who whipped two grey friars for the fun of it
      (pp. 229-230)

      A gentleman from Savoy, who practiced his thievery in and around his home, had a particular quirk: although he was a bandit of greater repute than anyone else in the trade, nevertheless, he was most often satisfied to share with the people he robbed when they gave up promptly without waiting for him to get angry. But, on the contrary, what they held against him most at the time was that he really had it in for monks and nuns, and he amused himself by playing on them many tricks which were (as the proverb goes) fit for a king,...

    • Tale 113 Of the priest from Onzain, near Amboise, who was persuaded by his landlady to have himself castrated
      (pp. 230-231)

      A priest from Onzain, near Amboise, was persuaded by his landlady (with whom he was carrying on) to pretend to do away, so she said, with all of her husband’s suspicions; he agreed to have himself castrated (more discreetly referred to as emasculated) and put himself in the hands of a man by the name of Peter des Serpents, a native of Vil-Antrois in Berry, and this princely priest sent for all his relatives and friends; and, after he’d told them that he had never dared let them know his condition but that he was finally reduced to such a...

    • Tale 114 Of a trick a young woman from Orleans used in order to lure into her net a young student she liked
      (pp. 231-232)

      A young woman from Orleans, who saw no way of letting a young student know that she liked him more than anybody else, used the good nature of her father confessor in order to attain her goal, which was to lure him into her net. She went to the church where the young student usually went, and, pretending to be distressed, she told (under the pretext of confession) the priest that there was a young student who was constantly after her dishonor by exposing them both to grave danger; he happened to be in the same place (fortuitously), but not...

    • Tale 115 The way to make women shut up and dance when they start nagging
      (pp. 232-232)

      A rather quiet and sedate man married a woman who was such a bitch that, although he ran the house and did the cooking, he couldn’t get away from constantly having her torment and nag him, even at the table with company, and, no matter how much he warned or sweet-talked her, she didn’t heed him, even though she was usually fondled with a stick. The husband was very astonished at this, and he decided to use another means: every time she took a notion to annoy and nag him he’d start to play a flute he had and which...

    • Tale 116 Of the man who offered to serve as interpreter for the ambassadors of the king of England, how he carried it out, and how he was disgraced
      (pp. 233-233)

      A gentleman, who was rather well known because of the great honors he held in France, did indeed show that he had some knowledge in his head (but no more than was absolutely necessary): when he read the letter that the king of England, Henry VIII, had written to King Francis I and saw that it contained among other things,Mitto tibi duodecim molossos, that is to say, “I am sending you a dozen mastiffs,” he interpreted it as, “I am sending you a dozen mules.” And, sure of this interpretation, he and another lord went to see the king...

    • Tale 117 Of the small talk that a priest carried on with the late king of France, Henry II
      (pp. 233-234)

      A certain priest, who was delivering a sermon to his parishioners, heard several small children shouting, which kept him from saying and explaining what he had in mind, and this made him angry; he remembered that some other children went through the city singing dirty songs, and so he said, “A bunch of little sons-of-bitches go around singing that songI’m Going to Bang You!etc. I wish I were their father: God knows how I’d bang them!” He was just as funny on another occasion when he spoke to King Henry II, who had summoned him to amuse him:...

    • Tale 118 Of the man who loaned money on his own collateral and how he was made to look ridiculous
      (pp. 234-235)

      A fine rascal had invited to dinner two of his friends whom he’d run into in town and, when he returned, he saw that the coldest thing in his house was the fireplace and that there wasn’t a single crown in his purse. He immediately decided upon this expedient in order to keep his promise to those he’d invited. He went to the house of a certain fellow he knew, and, in the absence of the cook, he took a copper pot that had meat cooking in it, put it under his cloak, and took it home. When he got...

    • Tale 119 Of the trick that a young boy used to drive out several monks who lodged in an inn
      (pp. 235-236)

      In the diocese of Anjou, there was a good woman who was a widow and innkeeper and who, out of piety, was in the habit of lodging grey friars and treating them as best she could. One of her sons was unhappy about this because they depended a great deal on his mother’s charity, and, since there was no hope for compensation, he decided to drive them out. It so happened that, three or four days later, two grey friars went there for lodging, and the son didn’t show any ill will for fear of offending his mother. But, when...

    • Tale 120 Of the thief who was seen rummaging in the pouch of the late cardinal of Lorraine and how he escaped
      (pp. 236-237)

      It happened in the days of King Francis I that a thief, dressed as a gentleman, was rummaging in the pouch of the late cardinal of Lorraine when he was noticed by the king, who was at mass opposite the cardinal. The thief realized he’d been seen and he began to motion to the king that he not say a word and he’d see something funny. The king was delighted that something funny was being concocted for him, and he let him go on; a little while later he went to speak to the cardinal and gave him reason to...

    • Tale 121 Of the means an Italian gentleman used in order to avoid fighting a duel and the comparison that a man from Picardy made between Frenchmen and Italians
      (pp. 237-238)

      An Italian gentleman realized that he couldn’t honestly avoid a duel that he’d agreed to with one of his own kind without coming up with an irrefutable reason, and so he accepted it; but, having later regretted it, he advanced no other reason (when the time for the duel came) except to tell his enemy that he was ready to fight and was anxiously awaiting him, and he said, “You’re desperate; I’m not; and yet, I’ll take care not to fight you.” It’s quite true that someone might say that you cannot judge everyone on the basis of one example...

    • Tale 122 Of the man who paid his innkeeper with songs
      (pp. 238-238)

      A man who was travelling through the country got hungry and went into a tavern, where he glutted himself so well for dinner that he could easily wait for supper, provided it came very soon. Now, when his host, the tavern keeper, was making the rounds of his tables, he asked him to pay for what he’d had and to make room for others; he explained to him that he had no money, but that, if it was agreeable to him, he’d pay him so well in songs that he’d be satisfied. The tavern keeper was very surprised at this...

    • Tale 123 Of the suit a mother-in-law brought against her son-in-law for not having deflowered her daughter on their wedding night
      (pp. 239-240)

      In the province of Limousin, a young girl about eighteen years old and a fine country boy who was very well hung were married. Now, it happened that the young man, on their very first night, set about consummating his marriage, and in order to gratify his tender bride, he first gave her his organ to handle so as to make her want to help him do his business. But, when the poor girl held it and saw how big it was, she steadfastly refused to let her husband put it in her box for fear he might hurt her;...

    • Tale 124 How a Scot was cured of a stomach ailment with the means his landlady gave him
      (pp. 240-241)

      Not long ago, a Scot, who had already served in the guard of the king of France and who had, in his youth, obtained a little learning, realized that the king favored learned persons; and so, since he saw that he could go about studying while he was out of the service and unemployed, he chose to lodge with a widow, and he stayed there for some time. He had trouble making himself understood and one day when he wasn’t feeling very well (he sought his landlady’s advice because she understood him), he said to her, “Madam, my pudding hurts...

    • Tale 125 Of the epitaphs of Aretino, called the divine, and his friend Magdalene
      (pp. 241-242)

      Aretino, not the One and Only,¹ but the one who usurped the appellation of the Divine, also gave himself the arrogant title ofscourge of princesbecause he was completely given over to excoriation. And so, as the well-known proverb goes, he spared neither king nor thing, and he wrote in a preface to one of his Italian comedies that the very Christian King Francis I had sent him a gold chain in the shape of tongues in order to gag him so that he wouldn’t write about him the way he had about several other lords. Likewise, in one...

    • Tale 126 Of the speech that a young man set out to make when he was installed as a counselor and how he was rebuffed
      (pp. 242-244)

      A young man, who had been sent to universities to learn common law and how to use it in due course at his father’s will and pleasure, was rather nicely and pleasantly treated there. Because he basked in his comforts and delights, it chanced that he forgot all about his law codes and digests in order to impress on his brain the idea of a sweetheart, and, feeding on such a thought, he converted his studies into the reading of Petrarch and other such famous prodigals. In the meantime, his father died. When they were told, the relatives and friends...

    • Tale 127 Of an elderly knight who got his wife’s fantasies out of her head with a blood letting, and how previously he had been unable to restrain her from playing overly wild and lusty tricks on him
      (pp. 245-248)

      It’s a great asset in marriage to know one another’s imperfections and to find remedies to avoid the many quarrels and disputes which normally occur in most households, as in the case of a very fine knight from Tuscany; after having spent the flower of his youth in the feat of arms as well as in hunting and studying, he decided rather late to enter the bonds of matrimony, but he finally did with a young and beautiful maiden whom he treated very kindly in all things except when it came to making love at which he was rather poor...

    • Tale 128 Of two Sienese youths who were in love with two Spanish ladies, one of whom exposed himself to danger in order to favor his friend’s enjoyment and how this resulted in great satisfaction and pleasure for him
      (pp. 248-250)

      In Siena, there were two young men from very fine families, and, because they were neighbors and grew up together and were in the same business, there was a very great and intimate friendship between them. One day, they decided to take a trip to Spain for business reasons. After they’d been in Spain, in Valencia, for some time, they fell head over heels in love with two Spanish ladies who were married to noble knights of that country. One of the Sienese was named Lucio and the other Alessio. Lucio was more astute in his love for the lady...

    • Tale 129 Of a young girl nicknamed Ass Hide and how she got married with the help of little ants
      (pp. 250-252)

      In an Italian town, there was a merchant who, when he saw that he was reasonably rich, decided to retire and spend the rest of his life enjoying his wife and children, and for this reason he withdrew to a small farm he had in the country. Now, because he was a man of considerable good cheer who loved a witty conversation, many fine persons visited him, and among others a gentleman from an old family, who was his neighbor and who wanted to join several pieces of the merchant’s land to his; he made him believe that he very...

  6. SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 253-256)
  7. INDEX
    (pp. 257-263)