Easy Lit Notes website uses cookies to ensure that you get the best possible experience while you are visiting our site. We use cookies to help analyze our web traffic and to monetize our website. For More Info, please visit our Cookie Policy.

July 28, 2014

The Decameron Day 1 Story 5 by Giovanni Boccaccio- Summary

The Decameron Day 1 Story 5 by Giovanni Boccaccio- Summary

Storyteller: Fiametta

It pleases me that with out stores we have begun to show how powerful the force of witty and ready retorts may be, and also how it is a sign of great intelligence in men always to seek the love a woman from a better family than their own, and how in women, too, it is a mark of greatest discernment to know how to protect themselves from the loving attention of a man of greater station - so, lovely ladies, I have in mind to show you, in the story that it is my turn to tell, how a noble woman with her actions and words protected herself from such a man and sent him packing (pp. 50).

The Marquis of Montferrato was a Standardbearer of the Church. He had gone on crusades overseas with a Christian army. King Philip the One-Eyed, decided that he was going to go on the very same crusade as the Marquis. Montferrato's fellow knights said that he was a very worthy and virtuous man. They also said that his wife was very beautiful and as worthy and virtuous as her husband.

After hearing what the knights had said about Montferrato's wife, he immediately fell in love with her. He decided that he was going to travel overland to the port of Genoa; so that he would have an excuse to visit the Marchioness. He hoped that since her husband was away, he would be able to seduce her. He sent his troops ahead of him and with a small group of nobleman traveled to the Marquis land. When they were almost there he sent word to the lady that she should expect them.

The Marchioness sent word back that she was pleased to have his company. After she had said this, she began thinking to herself-why would the King want to come and visit me while my husband is away? To which, she concluded, that he must have heard about her beauty. Even though she suspected evil thoughts on the part of the King, she still readied her court for his arrival. She had the few remaining eminent gentleman see to all the appropriate arrangements, except for the banquet. The Marchioness personally took care of all the arrangements for the banquet, even personally collecting chickens from the countryside. She took the chickens to the cook and told him to use only the chickens she gave him for the preparation of the various dishes.

When the King arrived at her court, he immediately thought that she was even more beautiful and virtuous than he was led to believe, which only increased his desire for her. At the banquet they were seated together. He was very pleased with the banquet and enjoyed being able to gaze upon the Marchioness. He began to wonder why all the dishes were prepared with chicken, especially since this part of the country had lots of different types of game, and he had given her plenty of time to prepare a hunt before his arrival.

The King turned to her and said: "Madam, are there only hens and no cocks born in this part of the country?" (52).

The Marchioness knowing exactly what he meant replied: "No, my lord, but though they may differ in dress and rank, the women here are the same as they are elsewhere" (52).

The King understood exactly what her virtuous words meant and decided that it would be best to leave for Genoa immediately after the banquet, which he did.


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