Myth-Folklore Unit: The Heptameron of Margaret, Queen of Navarre

Overview. The author of the French story collection known as The Heptameron is Margaret, Queen of Navarre, who was the sister Francis I, the King of France. From the time that her brother assumed the throne in 1515, Margaret was one of the most powerful women in France, as well as being a great patron of literature. In 1545, she commissioned a French translation of Boccaccio's Decameron, and that book inspired her own storytelling experiment in which travelers must halt their journey because of a washed-out bridge; to amuse themselves while they wait for the bridge to be repaired, they each tell one story a day, just as in Boccaccio's Decameron. The book was unfinished when Margaret died in 1547, so it contains only 72 stories (hence the title, Heptameron = "Seven Days"), and you will read twelve of those stories here. Unlike the folktales in Boccaccio, Margaret's stories here are more like urban legends — Renaissance urban legends — because they are all supposedly true, involving the romantic scandals of persons who are known to the storytellers... or so they claim!

Language This is a modern English translation, and it should not pose difficulties in reading.

Story Length. This unit consists of single-page stories and stories that are two pages long.

Navigation. You will find the table of contents below, and you can also use this link to see the story posts displayed on a single page: The Heptameron.

  1. The Boatwoman and the Monks
  2. The Lady from Milan and Her Lover
  3. The Lady from Milan and Her Lover (cont.)
  4. A Villager, His Wife, and the Priest
  5. The Virgin with Child
  6. The Virgin with Child (cont.)
  7. The Monks and the Butcher
  8. The President of Grenoble's Revenge
  9. The President of Grenoble's Revenge (cont.)
  1. The Haunted House
  2. Brother and Brother-in-Law
  3. Brother and Brother-in-Law (cont.)
  4. The Spanish Widow
  5. The Woman and the Chanter
  6. The Woman and the Chanter (cont.)
  7. Secrets Revealed
  8. Woman on Her Death-Bed