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Summary of Boccaccio's The Decameron: Day 2, Story 3

Giovanni Boccaccio's The Decameron quote: "Worthy ladies, if we examine closely the ways of Fortune, we will see that the more said about her ways, the more there remains to be said, and no one should be surprised at this fact, if he or she bears in mind that all those affairs which we foolishly call our own are in her hands, and as a result it is she who, according to her own secret judgment, endlessly moves and rearranges things from one place to another and then back again without discernible plan whatsoever."
Storyteller: Pampinea

In Florence, there used to live a man named Messer Tebaldo. He was one of the richest men in Florence. He had three sons: Lamberto, Tedaldo, and Agolante. Messer Tebaldo died before his eldest son, Lamberto, turned eighteen. The three sons were left as his rightful heirs.

The boys found themselves in control of a lot of money, and began to spend it frivolously. They employed many servants, and housed many horses, dogs, and birds. They entertained many guests, and sponsored tournaments. The boys were not able to sustain this lifestyle for long, and had to borrow money and sell off their possessions. They seemed to be unaware that they were partying themselves into the poor house.

One day, Lamberto called his brothers together and suggested that they sell of the rest of their remaining possessions, and leave Florence before it was too late. They all agreed, and left Florence. They traveled to England, and rented a small house in London. They lived as cheaply as possible. They began to lend out money at high interest rates, and within a few years they had acquired a large amount of money.

The brothers returned to Florence one at a time, and bought back most of their possessions. All the brothers got married. They sent their nephew Alessandro to England to handle their affairs. The boys began to spend more frivolously than they had previously, forgetting that it was not long ago that they were poor. They were able to maintain their lifestyles for a couple of years, because Alessandro had begun lending money to barons, and he made a good profit off of that.

The boys took for granted that they would have a steady income from England; so when war broke out between the King and one of his sons, they were unprepared for the consequences of their frivolity. Alessandro lost all of the barons due to the war, but he was hopeful that the war would end soon and everything would be restored. Things did not go back to the way they were, and the brothers borrowed and spent their way into the poor house again. They could not pay back the money that they had borrowed, so they were sent to prison until their debts had been paid in full.




Alessandro decided that he could no longer wait out the war in England, and decided to return to Italy. When he was leaving the city he saw a large group leaving as well, which consisted of an Abbot, two of the king's elderly knights, monks, and many servants. Alessandro knew the two knights, and they welcomed him. Alessandro asked them, who all the monks were. One of the knights replied that the young man leading the retinue was a relative of theirs that had just been elected Abbot, but since he was so young he could not formally take office. They were travelling to Italy to ask the Holy Father to appoint him to the office despite his age.

The Abbot caught sight of Alessandro and found him very pleasing. The Abbot questioned him about his life, and Alessandro very openly explained his predicament. The Abbot tried to console him, having found his manner of speaking very pleasing. He offered Alessandro hope that he would be restored to his previous position or perhaps an even higher one. The Abbot invited him to remain with the group on their journey to Tuscany.

The Abbot was captivated by Alessandro's appearance, and it gave him unusual feelings. One day, they arrived in a town that did not have many inns. The Abbot wished to stay there so Alessandro arranged with the innkeeper to put everyone up for the night. When everyone had eaten dinner and gone to bed, Alessandro asked the inn keeper where he was to sleep. The innkeeper told him that the only place her could sleep was in some grain chests that were in the Abbot's room. Alessandro was upset, he wished that he would have known all of this before, because he would have made the monks sleep on the grain chests and he would have slept where they were sleeping.

The Abbot overheard Alessandro's conversation with the innkeeper and was very excited to hear where Alessandro was going to be sleeping. He had lain in bed awake meditating over the feelings that were aroused within him when he looked at Alessandro.

When everything was quiet in the inn, the Abbot called Alessandro to come and lay beside him in bed. Alessandro got undressed and laid next to the Abbot. The Abbot put his hand on Alessandro's chest and began caressing him the way a woman would do to her lover. Alessandro was shocked at the Abbot's behavior, and the Abbot sensed that so he undid his shirt and put Alessandro's hand on his chest. Alessandro discovered that the Abbot had breasts, and instantly concluded that the Abbot was a woman. He wanted to kiss her, but the Abbot interrupted him by declaring that she had fallen in love with him, and if he didn't want to make her his wife then he would have to leave her bed immediately. She was a virgin, and wished to remain that way if Alessandro didn't want to marry her.

Alessandro didn't know much about her, but he could tell that she was beautiful, and he figured that she must be wealthy; so Alessandro agreed to marry her. The Abbot put a ring on his finger and made him promise to marry her. They spent the night together, fully enjoying each other's company. The next morning, Alessandro woke up early and left the room, so that no one would know that he had been there. They continued on their journey as they had before until they reached Rome.

They spent a few days in Rome before the Abbot, the two knights, and Alessandro went to see the Pope. The Abbot told the Pope that she wished to live an honest life, and she came there for the Pope's blessing of her marriage. She had come to Rome, in secret, because her father, the King of England, wanted her to marry the King of Scotland, who was a very old man. She continued by saying that on her journey, God sent her Alessandro, who may not be noble, but he had a nobleman's heart and manners. She told the Pope that she wanted to marry Alessandro, and would have no other. She asked the Pope to bless their union.

Everyone was astonished at the Abbot's speech. Alessandro was greatly surprised that she was the King's daughter, and he felt a certain joy when he thought about it. The two knights that had accompanied her were angry, and if they had not been in the presence of the Pope they might have harmed both the lady and Alessandro. The Pope decided to grant her request. He calmed the two knights, and then made arrangements for the two to lovers to be married.

The couple left Rome and went to Florence. Their marriage was greatly celebrated there. The lady had the three brothers released from prison, and paid off all of their debts. The couple took Agolante to Paris with them, where they were greatly received by the King. The two knights returned to England, and talked the King into forgiving his daughter. The lady and Alessandro returned to England, and they were received with a great celebration. The King knighted Alessandro, and gave him the title of Earl of Cornwall. Alessandro was able to reunite the King and his son, and the war ceased in England; Alessandro was greatly loved for this. Agolante collected all of the debts owed him, and returned to Florence an extremely rich man. It is said that Alessandro, with the help of his father-in-law, defeated the King of Scotland, and became the king of that land.




Sources

Boccaccio, Giovanni. The Decameron. Translated by Mark Musa and Peter Bondanella, Signet Classic, 1982.

Quote in Graphic at the top of the page can be found on page 85-6.


Published on July 25, 2014 by Sophia Brookshire © All Rights Reserved

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