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May 31, 2012

The Decameron Day 2 Story 8 by Giovanni Boccaccio- Summary

The Decameron Day 2 Story 8 by Giovanni Boccaccio- Summary

Storyteller: Elissa

The field through which we are wandering about today is very wide, and there is no one here who could not easily run not one but ten courses, so generously has Fortune stocked it with her wonders and afflictions; but since from among an infinite number of these I must choose to tell only one, I shall do so (pp. 149).

War broke out between France and Germany when the Germans acquired the Roman power from the French. The King of France and his son assembled a large army to fight the Germans. They appointed Gualtieri, the Count of Antwerp, as the Vicar General of France while they were gone. The count often consulted with the Queen and her daughter-in-law on official matters, because he respected the fact that his position of power was temporary and they were the real royals.

During this time the Count’s wife died, leaving him all alone with a son, Luigi aged nine, and a daughter, Violante aged seven. The daughter-in-law was very lonely with her husband gone, and fell madly in love with the count. One day, she threw herself at him and he rejected her. She was angry and began to mess-up her hair and tear open her dress, and she started to shriek “Help! Help! The Count of Antwerp is trying to rape me!” (152). The count, scared of what would happen, fled with his two children.

Once in England, he changed them into beggar clothes and warned his children never to reveal their true identities. He changed their names from Luigi to Perotto and Violante to Giannetta. They became beggars. One day, while begging in front of a church, the wife of the King of England’s Marshal saw them .she asked where they had come from, and the count told her that they were from Picardy. The lady was taken with Giannetta; her demeanor was that far above her station. The noblewoman offered to take Giannetta and raise her for the count. The count accepted her request, and even though he was sad to be parted from his daughter he knew that it was for the best. Next, the count and his son travelled to Wales, which was not easy because he was not accustomed to traveling by foot. Another of the King’s Marshals lived in Wales. The count and his son frequented the Marshal’s courtyard begging for arms. Perotto began to play with the other children, and often excelled at their games. The Marshal took notice of Perotto’s prowess, and offered to take Perotto in, which pleased the count very much.

The count then went to Ireland, which is where he remained for the next eighteen years living in poverty.

Giannetta turned out to be a beautiful girl with exceeding grace. The noblewoman’s son fell madly in love with her, but for fear that he would be reprimanded for loving someone so far below his station he said nothing. Keeping his feelings a secret made him very ill. No one knew why until a young doctor happened to be checking the young man’s pulse when Giannetta came into the room and his pulse immediately spiked. The doctor told his parents, who were very unhappy him loving Giannetta. The lady went to her son and convinced him to tell her the truth about his illness, which he did. She promised him that they could be together, but she had no intention of letting this happen. He recovered from his illness very quickly.

The nobleman jokingly asked Giannetta if she had a lover. Giannetta blushed and replied that she did not. The lady offered to give her one in the form of the noblewoman’s son. As far as the noblewoman was concerned Giannetta could be his lover, but no his wife. Giannetta refused saying that since she was poor the only inheritance that she had was her honor and she intended to protect it. The lady realized that she would not win, so she and her husband unhappily married her to their son.

Perotto turned out to be very handsome. He had no equal in any kind of tournament of arms. A deadly plague broke out there and many were died, including the Marshal and his family. The only the daughter of the Marshal survived. She and Perotto married and the King made him the Marshal.

The count missed his children very much and he was curious about how they had turned out, so he went to see them. He saw Perotto first and was very please, but decided not to reveal himself just yet. He then went to see Giannetta. He hung around her house as if a beggar until one day when her husband, Giachetto Lamiens invited him in. His grandchildren seemed to inherently flock to him as if he were their grandfather. He continued to keep his identity a secret. He was happy to see his daughter. She did not recognize him since he was now old, gray, thin, bearded, and sunburned. Giachetto saw how much his children love the count and since he denied his children nothing gave the count a job.

The King of France died and so did the truces with the Germans, so his son started to wage war against them. Perotto and Giachetto commanded large troops, while the Count worked as a groom for the troops. During this time, the new King’s wife was dying. She confessed all of her sins to the Archbishop of Rouen. She insisted on telling him and other worthy men what she had done to the Count of Antwerp. She wanted her husband to known of her treachery, so that the Count could be pardoned. She died. Word spread through the arm quickly. The count revealed himself to his son and Giachetto, and they both fell to his feet crying with joy. Perotto was happy to see his father again, and Giachetto was happy that his wife was actually of higher class than he thought, which would make his parents very happy. The count wanted Giachetto to receive the King’s reward, because he had not received a dowry for marrying his daughter. He did this. The King looked at the Count closely and recognized him. Everyone rejoiced. The King felt very ashamed of his actions as the count stood before him in his beggar’s clothes. He immediately gave him more noble clothes and restored everything that had been taken from him eighteen years ago. The count lived happily in Paris until the day he died.


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