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December 21, 2015

The Decameron Day 5 Story 5 by Giovanni Boccaccio- Summary

The Decameron Day 5 Story 5 by Giovanni Boccaccio- Summary

Storyteller: Neifile

In the city of Fano, there lived two Lombards: Guidotto da Cremona and Giacomin da Pavia. They had spent the majority of their youth as soldiers together, so they were as close as brothers. On Guidotto's death bed he left Giacomin his ten-year-old daughter and all of his world possessions. Giacomin loved the girl like she was his own daughter. The city of Faenza had, until recently, been at war; so now that the city had stabilized Giacomin decided that he and the girl would move there.

Over the years, the girl became very beautiful and was revered for both her virtuosity and her manners. As her beauty grew, so did the number of her admirers. The two young men that were the most taken by her were Giannole di Severino and Minghino di Mingole; they were both very handsome and from good families. These two young men became so enraptured by her that they both hated and were jealous of each other. They both asked their parents for permission to marry the young girl, who was by this time fifteen-years-old, and were refused; so they both set out to take what they wanted by force.

Giacomin employed two servants in his home: a woman, and a man named Crivello. Giannole became friends with Crivello, and after sometime had passed he begged Crivello to help him with the girl. Crivello told him that the best he could do was to let him into the room where the girl was, while Giacomin was out of the house. Giannole agreed to the plan. Minghino sought the help of Giacomin's serving woman and had succeeded in sending the young woman letters. The serving woman also agreed to let Minghino come over some evening when Giacomin was out of the house.

One night, Crivello persuaded Giacomin to go out to dinner with one of his friends. Crivello told Giannole to wait for the signal and then come into the house. The woman servant found out that Giacomin was going to be out for the evening and told Minghino to wait for her signal before he came over. Neither servants nor the young men knew about each other's plans; however, both were suspicious of each other, so they each had armed men with them so that they could carry off the girl without a problem. Once Giacomin had left, the servants tried repeatedly to get rid of each other. Crivello realized that he was not going to get rid of her, but decided to signal Giannole anyway. Giannole came in with two armed men and tried to carry off the girl. The girl and the woman servant began screaming at the top of their lungs, which prompted Minghino and his men to rush into the house. When Minghino saw what was happening, they began to fight each other. The neighbors heard the uproar and came rushing over with torches and weapons, helping Minghino fight Giannole. Finally, Minghino was able to get the girl away from Giannole. The podesta guards came and arrested Giannole, Minghino, and Crivello. Giacomin came home and found out what had happened; he was relieved to find out that the girl had had no part in this, but he decided that it would be best if he married her off as soon as he could.

The next morning, the families of the young men went to Giacomin's home to beg him to ignore the boy's transgressions, and to offer any amends that he saw fit. Giacomin explained to them that they had wronged one of their own since the girl was originally from Faenza, and not Cremona or Pavia like everyone had thought, so he would do as they saw fit. They were all very surprised and asked him how he came to be her father and how he knew that she was from Faenza. He told them that when the city was captured by Emperor Frederick and the city was being plundered, he and his comrades went into an abandoned house where they found a two-year-old girl amongst all of the treasures that had been left behind. When Guidotto started to climb the stairs the young girl cried out "Father" to him, which melted his heart; he took the girl and all the items from the house with him to Fano. On his deathbed, Guidotto left everything, including the girl, to Giacomin with the understanding that when it was time he would marry her off with all of Guidotto's possessions as her dowry.

Among the group listening to Giacomin's story, there was a Guiglielmino da Medicina, who knew exactly which house Giacomin was talking about; the owner of the house, Bernabuccio, was also amongst the group, so Guiglielmino went up to Bernabuccio and asked him if he understood what all this meant. Bernabuccio replied yes; he had lost a two-year-old daughter around that time. Guiglielmino implored him to think if she had had some sort of birthmark or any other distinguishing mark that he could use to identify her as his daughter. He thought hard about it and remembered that he had had an abscess lanced around her left ear, which had left a scar that looked like a tiny cross. Bernabuccio asked Giacomin to see the young girl, which he assented to; when he examined her ear he discovered the cross and began weeping and embracing the protesting girl. Bernabuccio told them that she had been forgotten by her mother during the haste to get out of the house, and they had assumed that she had been burned to death. Upon hearing his story, the girl realized he was telling the truth and hugged him back. Bernabuccio sent for her mother and the rest of their family; all were overjoyed to see her, and took her home with them. Giacomin was happy about this outcome.

Later on, the podesta came to sort out the mess from the previous night, he was told the story of everything that had happened the night before and the developments that had occurred that day. He decided that since Giannole was the girl's blood brother that he would ignore his crimes. He also decided that the girl, whose name was Agnesa, would marry Minghino. He also released everyone else that had helped the young men the previous night. Minghino was extremely happy. They were married and lived in peace forever after.


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