The Heptameron, by Marguerite de Navarre


The Supposed Narrators of the Heptameron Tales.

In his introductory essay to this translation of the Heptameron, Mr. George Saintsbury has called attention to the researches of various commentators who have laboured to identify the supposed narrators of Queen Margaret’s tales. As it may be fairly assumed that the setting of the work is pure invention on the Queen’s part, the researches in question can scarcely serve any useful purpose. Still they appear to have had considerable attraction for several erudite editors, whose opinions, occasionally alluded to in our notes, we will here briefly summarise for the information of those whom the matter may interest:—

OISILLE, a widow lady of long experience, is supposed by Messrs. de Lincy, Lacroix, Génin, Frank, de Montaiglon and Miss Mary Robinson to be Louise of Savoy. In some MSS. the name is written Osyle, the anagram of Loyse, in which fashion Louise was spelt in old French. It may be pointed out, en passant, that Brantôme’s grandmother, the Sénéchale of Poitou, whose connection with the Heptameron is recorded, was also named Louise (see ante, vol. i. p. lxxxii.).

PARLAMENTE, wife of Hircan, is supposed by the same commentators to be Queen Margaret herself; this is assumed mainly because the views which Parlamente expresses on religion, philosophy, men and women, are generally in accord with those which the Queen is known to have professed.

HIRCAN, in M. de Lincy’s opinion, might be the Duke of Alençon, Margaret’s first husband. Messrs. Frank and Mont-aiglon, following M. Lacroix, prefer to identify him as Henry d’Albret, King of Navarre. They conjecture the name of Hircan to be derived from Ilanricus, a not uncommon fashion of spelling Henricus. It might, however, simply come from hircus, a he-goat, for Hircan is a man of gross, sensual tastes.

LONGARINE, a young widow, is supposed by M. de Lincy to be Blanche de Chastillon, née de Tournon (concerning whom see ante, vol. i. p. 84, n. 7, and p. 120 et seq.; vol. iv. p. 144, n. 2; and vol. v. p. 25, n. 2). M. Frank, however, thinks she is Aimée Motier de la Fayette, lady of Longray, widow of Francis de Silly, Bailiff of Caen, and gouvernante to Queen Margaret’s daughter, Jane of Navarre. Miss Robinson shares this opinion, but M. de Montaiglon thinks that Longarine would rather be Aimée Motier de la Fayette’s daughter Frances, married to Frederic d’Almenesches, of one of the branches of the house of Foix.

SIMONTAULT (occasionally Symontaut), a young knight, is thought by M. de Lincy to be Henry d’Albret, Margaret’s second husband, who was of an extremely amorous disposition, and much younger than herself. Messrs. Frank and de Montaiglon, however, fancy Simontault to have been Francis, Baron de Bourdeilles, father of Brantôme. It is admitted, however, that if this be the case, it is curious that Brantôme should not have alluded to it in any of his writings, whereas he does speak both of his mother and of his grandmother in connection with the Heptameron.

ENNASUITE (occasionally Ennasuitte or Ennasuicte, and in some MSS. Emarsuite), is supposed by Messrs. de Lincy, Frank, and de Montaiglon to be Anne de Vivonne, wife of Francis de Bourdeilles and mother of Brantôme (see ante, vol. iv. p. 144, n. 2). It is pointed out that the name may be transformed into the three words Anne et suite.

DAGOUCIN, a young gentleman, is thought by M. Frank to be Nicholas Dangu (see ante, vol. i. p. 20, n. 4, and p. 40, n. 3), who became Chancellor to the King of Navarre. M. Lacroix, however, fancies this personage to be a Count d’Agoust.

GEBURON, apparently an elderly man, would in M. Frank’s opinion be the Seigneur de Burye, a captain of the Italian wars to whom Brantôme (his cousin-german) alludes in his writings. The name of de Burye is also found in a list of the personages present at Queen Margaret’s funeral. M. de Montaiglon shares M. Frank’s views.

NOMERFIDE, so M. de Lincy suggests, may have been the famous Frances de Foix, Countess of Chateaubriand; but M. Frank opines that she is a Demoiselle de Fimarcon or Fiédmarcon (Lat. Feudimarco), who in 1525 married John de Montpczat, called “Captain Carbon,” one of the exquisites of the famous Field of the cloth of gold. Miss Robinson, however, fancies that Nomerfide is Isabel d’Albret, sister of Margaret’s second husband, and wife of René de Rohan.

SAFFREDENT, so M. de Lincy thinks, may be Admiral de Bonnivet; M. Frank suggests John de Montpezat; and Miss Robinson René de Rohan, who, after his father Peter de Rohan-Gié (husband of Rolandine, see ante, vol. iii., Tale XXI, notes 2 and 15), had been killed at Pavia, was for some years entrusted to Queen Margaret’s care. As Miss Robinson points out, Saffredent literally means greedy tooth or sweet tooth.

Those who may be desirous of studying and comparing these various attempts at identification, will find all the evidence and arguments of any value set forth in the writings of M. Frank, M. de Montaiglon and Miss Robinson, which are specified in the Bibliography annexed to this appendix. — Ed.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:57