The Heptameron, by Marguerite de Navarre


Fourteen MS. copies of the Heptameron are known to exist. Twelve of these are at the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, one is at the town library of Orleans, and one in the Vatican library. We also have some record of four other copies which were in private libraries at the end of the last century.

The twelve MSS. at the Bibliothèque Nationale are the following:—

  1. (No. 1511 in the catalogue). A folio volume bound in red morocco, bearing the Béthune arms. This MS. is on ruled paper, and only one leaf, the last, is missing.

  2. (No. 1512). A small folio, calf gilt, 350 leaves, from Colbert’s library. The handwriting is that of the middle of the sixteeenth century, and is the same throughout; the last page bearing the signature “Doulcet.” This supplied the text followed in the present translation.

  3. (No. 1513). A small folio, half-bound in red morocco, stamped with King Louis Philippe’s monogram. It contains only twenty-eight of the tales.

  4. (No. 1514). A large quarto, calf, from the De Mesmes library. Contains only thirty-four of the tales.

  5. (No. 1515). A small folio from Colbert’s library, bound in calf, in Groslier’s style. The text is complete, but there are numerous interlinear and marginal corrections and additions, in the same handwriting as MS. VII.

  6. (Nos. 1516 to 1519). Four quarto vols., red morocco, Béthune arms. The first prologue is deficient, as is also the last leaf of tale lxxi.

  7. (No. 1520). A folio vol., calf and red morocco, stamped with fleurs-de-lys and the monogram of Louis XVIII. This MS. on stout ruled paper, in a beautiful italic handwriting of the end of the sixteenth century, is complete. Unfortunately Queen Margaret’s phraseology has been considerably modified, though, on the other hand, the copyist has inserted a large number of different readings, as marginal notes, which render his work of great value. It is frequently quoted in the present translation.

  8. (No. 1523). A folio vol., calf, from the De La Marre library. The first two leaves are deficient, and the text ends with the fifth tale of Day IV.

  9. (No. 1522). A small folio, bound in parchment, from the De La Marre library. Only the tales of the first four days are complete, and on folio 259 begins a long poem called Les Prisons, the work probably of William Filandrier, whom Queen Margaret protected. On the first folio of the volume is the inscription, in sixteenth-century handwriting: Pour ma sour Marie Philander. The poem Les Prisons is quoted on pp. xxxviii.-ix. vol. i. of the present work. It concludes with an epitaph on Margaret, dated 1549.

  10. (No. 1524). A folio vol. from Colbert’s library, bound in red and yellow morocco, on which is painted, on a blue ground, a vine laden with grapes twining round the trunk of a tree. On either side and in gold letters is the device, Sin e doppo la morte (until and after death). Following the title-page, on which the work is called “The Decameron of the most high and most illustrious Princess, Madame Margaret of France,” is a curious preface signed “Adrian de Thou,” and dated “Paris, August 8, 1553.” This Adrian de Thou, Lord of Hierville and canon of Notre Dame de Paris, counsellor and clerk of the Paris Parliament, was the fourth son of Augustine de Thou and uncle to James Augustus de Thou, the historian. He died in October 1570. His MS. of the Heptameron, a most beautiful specimen of caligraphy, contains a long table of various readings and obscure passages; this was consulted in preparing the text for the present translation. The titles to the tales have also been borrowed from this MS.; they were composed by De Thou himself, and figure in no other MS. copy.

  11. (No. 1525). A small folio, calf, from Colbert’s library, very incomplete and badly written, but containing the Miroir de Jésu Crist crucifié, the last poem Queen Margaret composed (see ante, vol. i. p. lxxxvi.).

  12. (No. 2155). A small quarto, red morocco, from the library of Mazarin, whose escutcheon has been cut off. The text, which is complete and correct, excepting that a portion of the prologue has been accidentally transposed, is followed by an epitaph on the Queen. The handwriting throughout is that of the end of the sixteenth century.

The other MSS. of the Heptameron are the following:—

  1. (Orleans town library, No. 352). A folio vol. of 440 pp. It is doubtful whether this MS. is of the sixteenth or seventeenth century. It bears the title L’Heptaméron des Nouvelles, &c. There are numerous deficiencies in the text.

  2. (Vatican library, No. 929; from the library of Queen Christina of Sweden). A folio vol., calf, 95 leaves, handwriting of the end of the sixteenth century. This only contains fifteen of the stories.

  3. (present possessor unknown). A folio vol., red morocco; text (ending with tale lxix. ) in sixteenth-century handwriting, with illuminated initial letters to each tale. Catalogue des livres de feue Mme. la Comtesse de Verrue, Paris, G. Martin, 1737.

  4. (possessor unknown). MS. supposed to be the original, a large folio, handwriting of the period, antique binding, containing the seventy-two tales. Catalogue des livres, &c., du cabinet de M. Filheul, &c., Paris, Chardin, 1779, pp. xxi. and 280.

  5. (possessor unknown). A folio vol., blue morocco, gilt. No. 1493 in the catalogue of the Bibliothèque de Simon Bernard, chez Barrois, Paris, 1734; and No. 213 in a Catalogue de manuscrits intéressants qui seront vendus . . . en la maison de M. Gueret, notaire, Paris, Debure fils jeune, 1776.

  6. (possessor unknown). A folio vol., blue morocco, gilt, stamped with the arms of France, from the Randon de Boisset library; the seventy-two tales complete, a very fine copy. Catalogue des livres de la bibliothèqzie de l’Abbé Rive, Marseilles, 1793. (This MS. should not be confounded with No. xvii. See L. J. Hubaud’s Dissertation sur les Contes de la Reine de Navarre, Marseilles, 1850.)

The following are the editions of Queen Margaret’s tales issued from the press from the sixteenth century to the present time. The list has been prepared with great care, and we believe it to be as complete a one as can be furnished; it includes several editions not mentioned in Brunet’s Manual:—

  1. Histoires des Amans Fortunez dédiées à très illustre princesse, Mme. Marguerite de Bourbon, etc., par Pierre Boaistuau, dit Launoy, Paris, 1558, 40. The authorisation to print and publish was accorded to Vincent Sertenas, and the work was issued by three different booksellers; some copies bearing the name of Gilles Robinot, others that of Jean Cavyller, and others that of Gilles Gilles.

    This, the first edition of the Queen’s work, contains only sixty-seven of the tales, which are not divided into days or printed in their proper sequence; the prologues, moreover, are deficient, and all the bold passages on religious and philosophical questions, &c, in the conversational matter following the stories, are suppressed.

  2. L’Heptaméron des Nouvelles de tris illustre et très excellente Princesse Marguerite de Valois, Royne de Navarre, &c., dédié à très illustre et très vertueuse Princesse Jeanne, Royne de Navarre, par Claude Gruget, parisien, Paris, Vincent Certena, or Jean Caveillier, 1559.

    This contains all the Queen’s tales excepting Nos. xi., xliv., and xlvi., which Gruget replaced by others, probably written by himself. The other stories are placed in their proper order, but none of the names and passages suppressed by Boaistuau are restored. The phraseology of the MSS., moreover, is still further modified and polished.

    The text adopted by Boaistuau and Gruget was followed, with a few additional modifications, in all the editions issued during the later years of the sixteenth century. Most of these are badly printed and contain numerous typographical errors:—

  3. L’Heptamêron des Nouvelles, &c. Reprint of Gruget’s edition, sold by Vincent Sertenas, Gilles Robinot & Gilles Gille, and printed by Benoist Prévost, Paris, 1560.

  4. L’Heptamêron des Nouvelles, &c., 1560, 16mo. (No bookseller’s or printer’s name appears in this edition. )

  5. L’Heptamêron, &c. (Gruget). Guill. Rouillé, Lyons, 1561, small 12mo; Gilles Gilles, Paris, 1561, 16mo.

  6. The same. Norment & Bruneau, and Gilles Gilles, Paris, 1567, 16mo.

  7. The same. Louys Cloquemin, Lyons, 1572, 16mo (reprinted in 1578 and 1581).

  8. The same. Michel de Roigny, Paris, 1574, 16mo (round letters).

  9. The same. Gab. Buon, Paris, 1581, 16mo.

  10. The same. Abel L’Angelier, Paris, 1581, 18mo.

  11. The same. Jean Osmont, Rouen, 1598, 578 pp., sin. 12mo (good type).

  12. The same. Romain Beauvais, Rouen, 1598, 589 pp. 12mo.

    In the seventeenth century the Heptameron was frequently reprinted, Gruget’s text, with a few changes, being still followed until 1698, when it occurred to some obscure literary man to put the tales into so-called beau langage. At the same time the title of Heptameron, devised by Gruget, was discarded (see post, No. XVI.).

  13. L’Heptaméron, &c., printed by Ch. Chappellein, Paris, 1607, 18mo.

  14. The same. Sur Pimprimé à Paris, J. Bessin (Holland), 1615, sm. l2mo (reprinted in 1698, 2. vols. 12mo).

  15. The same. David du Petit-Val, Rouen, 1625, 12mo.

  16. Contes et Nouvelles de Marguerite de Valois, Reine de Navarre, mis en beau langage. Gallet, Amsterdam, 1698, 2 vols, sm. 8vo. This edition is valued not for its beau langage, but for the copperplate engravings illustrating it. These are coarsely executed, and are attributed to Roman de Hooge, but do not bear his name. A reprint of the edition appeared at Amsterdam in 1700.

  17. The same. Gallet, Amsterdam, 1708, 2 vols. sm. 8vo. Virtually a reprint, but with several of the Roman de Hooge plates deficient, and replaced by others signed Harrewyn.

  18. The same. La Haye (Chartres), 1733, 2 vols. sm. 12mo.

  19. The same. Londres, 1744, 2 vols. 12mo.

  20. Heptaméron Français, ou les Nouvelles de Marguerite, Reine de Navarre; chez la Nouvelle Société Typographique, Berne, 1780-1, 3 vols. 8vo. On some copies the title is simply, Nouvelles de Marguerite, etc., Berne, 1781; on others Béat Louis Walthard is designated as the publisher.

    For this edition were executed the copperplate engravings, designed by Freudenberg and Dunker, which illustrate the present translation. It was at first intended to issue the work in parts, but after parts i. and ii. had been published (at 4 livres each) the project was abandoned. A few copies of these two parts are in existence; they bear the date 1778. Freudenberg began his designs in the previous year, and finished them in 1780.

    This edition is greatly prized for its illustrations; the text, however, largely modified by Jean Rodolphe de Sinner, is without value. The work was reissued at Paris in 1784 (8 vols, in 8vo, some copies 18mo), at Berne in 1792, and again in Paris in 1807 (8 vols. 18mo).

The following new editions of the Heptameron have appeared during the present century:—

  1. Contes et Nouvelles de Marguerite, &c. Dauthereau, Paris, 1828, 5 vols. 32mo. (Collection des romans français et étrangers.)

  2. L’Heptamêron, ou Histoire des Amants fortunés, &c, ancien texte publié par C. Gruget.., revu, corrigé et publié avec des notes, &c., par le bibliophile Jacob. Gosselin (Bibliothèque d’Élite), Paris, 1841, 12mo. In this edition the Bibliophile Jacob (M. P. Lacroix) but slightly modified Gruget’s text, and his annotation was comparatively insignificant. His work was reproduced in a volume of the Panthéon Littéraire: Les vieux Conteurs français, Paris, 1841, 1. 8vo. (double cols.).

  3. Heptaméron des Nouvelles de . . . Margtierile d’Angouléme . . . publiée sur les manuscrits par la Société des Bibliophiles Français (Le Roux de Lincy, editor), Paris, 1853-4, 3 vols. sm. 18mo.

    In this edition the real text of the tales was printed for the first time, M. de Lincy having carefully examined the best MSS. for this purpose. The present English translation is based upon his work. Copies of the “Bibliophiles Français” edition, which contains a portrait of the Queen, a facsimile of a miniature, and an engraving showing her arms and device, cannot be purchased, when in fair condition, for less than £6 in Paris.

  4. L’Heptaméron des Nouvelles, etc. . . . avec des notes et une notice par P. L. Jacob, Bibliophile (Paul Lacroix). Adolphe Delahays, Bibliothèque Gauloise, Paris, 1858, 18mo.

    In this edition M. Lacroix, following M. de Lincy’s example, went to the MSS. for his text, which he annotated with care and erudition. All his notes of any importance are reproduced in the present translation. The edition of 1858 was reprinted in 1875.

  5. L’Heptaméron, &c. Gamier frères, Paris, n.d., 1 vol. 18mo. This was long the “popular” edition in France. The text, which is considerably modernised, is of no value.

  6. Les sept Journées de la Reine de Navarre, suivies de la huitième. Paris, Librairie des Bibliophiles (Jouaust), 1872, 4 vols. l6mo.

    In this edition Gruget’s text is followed; the notes, &c, are by M. Lacroix. The work is prized for its illustrations (a portrait and eight etchings) by Leopold Flameng. It was originally issued in eight parts. The value of the copies varies according to the paper on which they are printed. Those on India or Whatman paper, with a duplicate set of the engravings, command high prices. The text has been reissued by the same firm in two cr. 8vo vols, under the title of L’Heptaméron des contes, etc.

  7. L’Heptaméron des Nouvelles, &c, preface, notes, &c, by Benjamin Pifteau, in the Nouvelle Collection Jannet, Alphonse Lemerre, Paris, 1875, 2 vols. l6mo.

    This, undoubtedly the best of all the cheap editions, has been reprinted by Marpon & Flammarion, Paris, n.d. The text is from the MSS.; the notes are mainly abbreviated from those of MM. de Lincy and Lacroix. M. Pifteau supplies an introduction and glossary.

  8. L’Heptaméron, &c., publié avec Introduction, Notes et Glossaire par Félix Frank. Liseux, Paris, 1879, 3 vols. 12mo.

    This, from the literary point of view, is one of the most important of modern editions. The text is not taken from the same MS. as was followed by M. de Lincy. The tales are preceded by a lengthy introduction, in which the editor discusses Queen Margaret’s work and seeks to identify the supposed narrators of her tales. He has frequently been quoted in the notes to this translation.

  9. L’Heptaméron, &c, avec notes, variantes et glossaire par F. Dillaye et notice par A. France. A. Lemerre, Paris, 1879.

    A handy edition based on the MSS. The notes embody the substance of M. de Lincy’s and M. Lacroix’s researches with additional particulars supplied by M. Dillaye, who has been quoted in the course of the present work.

  10. L’Heptaméron, &c., publié stir les manuscrits avec les notes de MM. Le Poux de Lincy et Anatole de Montaiglon. Auguste Eudes, Paris, 1880, 8 vols. 1. 8vo and 4 vols. cr. 8vo.

    The edition in 8 vols, (two copies of which on parchment were issued at £44 each; and twelve on Japanese paper at £20 each) is illustrated with the Freudenberg plates; that in 4 vols, contains the text only. The text is the same as that of No. XXIII.; but with additional notes, prefatory matter, &c. The copyright attaching to this edition was acquired for the present work, in which all M. de Montaiglon’s important notes are reproduced.

Among the English translations of the Heptameron are the following:—

Heptameron, or the History of the Fortunate Lovers, translated by R. Codrington, London, 1654, 12mo. (Dedicated to Thomas Stanley, the translator of Anacreon and editor of Æschylus, and based on Boaistuau’s defective text.)

The Heptameron of Margaret, Queen of Navarre, nota first translated from the original text, by Walter K. Kelly. Bohn (extra volume), London, 1855. This has been several times reprinted. The translation is a very free rendering of M. de Lincy’s text; many passages are deficient.

The Heptameron, &c., translated from the original French by Arthur Machen. Privately printed (G. Redway), London, 1886, 1 vol. 1. 8vo. A scholarly translation, not annotated; illustrated with the etchings by Flameng (see ante, edition xxv.).

The Fortunate Lovers, twenty-seven novels of the Queen of Navarre, translated by Arthur Machen, edited with notes and introduction by A. Mary F. Robinson. G. Redway, London, 1887, 8vo. Etched frontispiece by G. P. Jacomb Hood. This only contains such of the tales as the lady-editor considered unobjectionable. In her introduction she sketches the life of Queen Margaret and discusses the identity of the supposed narrators of the tales. Some of the notes are original, but the majority are based upon the researches of French commentators. — Ed.

This web edition published by:

The University of Adelaide Library
University of Adelaide
South Australia 5005

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