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Incest and the Medieval Imagination$

Elizabeth Archibald

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780198112099

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198112099.001.0001

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(p.245) Appendix: Synopses of Flight from Incestuous Father Stories

(p.245) Appendix: Synopses of Flight from Incestuous Father Stories

Incest and the Medieval Imagination
Oxford University Press

This appendix includes the stories discussed in Chapter 4 (except the versions in the Vitae Duorum Offarum and La Manekine), arranged in approximately chronological order, with the editor of the text I have used; where one is printed as part of a larger narrative or collection, I give the title of the source text too. Full bibliographical details are given in the Bibliography, where they are listed by author or, if the text is anonymous, by title. For fuller descriptions and discussion of these texts (and of some other versions) see Roussel, Conter de geste, 73–140.

Thirteenth Century

Pierre de Saint-Aubert, Vita Sanctae Dympnae, in AASS [Latin prose, 1238–47]

A pagan Irish ruler and his wife are childless for many years. The queen secretly becomes a Christian, and gives birth to a daughter, baptized Dympna. When the queen dies, the king will only consider marrying someone just like her; no such woman can be found, so his counsellors advise him to marry Dympna. The king begins to desire her, but Dympna, a Christian, is horrified. She obtains forty days’ respite, and flees with Gereburnus, an elderly Christian convert, and also the court jester and his wife. They arrive in Antwerp and travel on to Gheel, where they live near an oratory of St Martin. The king tracks her down; he still wants to marry her, but she still refuses. The king himself beheads Dympna, and his men kill Gereburnus. They are buried side by side, and miracles are associated with the tomb.

Yde et Olive, ed. Schweigel in Esclarmonde (= Huon of Bordeaux cycle) [French verse, 13th cent.]

(See also the sixteenth-century version by Lord Berners, Ide and Olive. One synopsis is given for the two versions; English forms of names appear in parentheses.)

The widowed King Florens (Florence) of Aragon announces his intention of marrying the only woman who resembles his dead wife—his daughter Yde (Ide). She runs away in male clothing, lives as a soldier, and becomes the favourite of the Emperor of Rome, who insists that s/he marry his only (p.246) child Olive. The embarrassed Yde tells her secret to her bride, who is quite prepared to accept the situation; but a spy informs the emperor of Yde’s disguise. He threatens to burn Yde if a public bath reveals that she is a woman, but a voice from heaven warns him not to touch her: God will change her into a man as a reward for her virtue. Yde is transformed, and that night her son Croissant is conceived. A few days later the emperor dies. (In a late printed French text, and in the English version, Florens becomes ill from chagrin some years later, and is reconciled with Yde before he dies.)

Mai und Beaflor, ed. anon. [German verse, c.1260]

The widowed King of Rome falls in love with his daughter Beaflor. She flees by boat, helped by her tutor Roboal and his wife Benigna, and arrives in Mailand (Greece), where she marries the young Count Mai. When her son is born, his mother forges letters declaring that Beaflor is an adulteress and has borne a monster, and that she should be killed. Beaflor is set adrift with her baby and arrives back in Rome, where she lodges with the faithful servants who had helped her escape; she is afraid of her father. After eight years Mai is so miserable that his anxious people suggest a pilgrimage to Rome. He too lodges with Roboal, who promises to reunite him with Beaflor, and duly organizes a recognition scene at dinner. Meanwhile Beaflor’s contrite father confesses and abdicates; he becomes a hermit.

Jansen Enikel, Der König von Reussen, 26677–7356 in his Weltchronik, ed. Strauch [German verse, late 13th cent.]

(There is also a 15th-cent. prose version, ed. anon, in Mai und Beaflor.)

The widowed King of Russia gets the Pope’s permission to marry his daughter, but she refuses; she scratches her face till she is ‘like the devil’ and cuts her hair off. The furious king sets her adrift in a barrel with a special wedding dress. She arrives in Greece, where the king marries her. When her baby is born the hostile mother-in-law reports that it is a devil; the king orders mother and child to be returned to wherever they came from (there is no second forgery). They drift to Rome, where an old nobleman finds them and has the child baptized by the Pope. When the King of Greece discovers what has happened, he has his mother walled up, and comes to Rome for absolution for his sin of wrongly condemning his wife; the King of Russia, also contrite, arrives at the same time. The Pope hears their confessions, realizes who the mysterious woman is, and brings about a general reunion.

(p.247) Fourteenth Century

Jean Gobi, ‘The Daughter of the Count of Poitou’, ch. 180 in Scala coeli, ed. Polo de Beaulieu [Latin prose, 1325–30]

The Count of Poitou has a son and a daughter. The son goes to study in Bologna. When the count’s wife dies, he falls in love with his daughter. She flees, and later marries the son of the King of Aries. When she has a son, her mother-in-law forges letters saying that the baby has a dog’s head. She is taken to the forest to be killed, but the assassins spare her when the baby smiles at them, and order her to go far away. She arrives as a beggar in Bologna, where her brother is now bishop; a holy man sees her begging and asks the bishop to provide for her. Her husband searches for her, dressed as a beggar himself, and comes to Bologna. The bishop questions him and reunites him with his wife, who turns out to be the bishop’s sister.

Jean Maillart, Le Roman du Comte d’Anjou, ed. Roques [French verse, early 14th cent.]

The devil makes the widowed Count of Anjou fall in love with his own beautiful and talented daughter. She flees with her nurse; they take refuge with a poor woman in Orléans, and earn their living by marvellous embroidery. The count, horrified by his crime and by his daughter’s flight, soon dies. A young man sees and desires the heroine, so she and the nurse flee again and find work in the castle of Lorris, teaching embroidery to the lord’s daughters. The lord’s young and passionate overlord, the Count of Bourges, comes to visit, and marries the heroine. He is away when she gives birth; his aunt forges a letter announcing the birth of a monster, and a reply ordering mother and child to be killed. Disarmed by the baby’s smile, the assassins let the heroine go. Destitute and still recovering from childbirth, she makes her way to Estampes and on to Orleans, where the bishop is her uncle, and there finds refuge in the hospital. The count comes home and discovers the plot. Disguised as a vagabond, he searches for his wife among the poor and finds the trail to Orleans, where he is reunited with his wife whose identity is revealed through the bishop. The wicked countess is burned.

La Belle Hélène de Constantinople, ed. Roussel [French verse, mid-14th cent.]

(Also a prose version of 1448 by Jean Wauquelin, trans, de Crécy)

Antoine, Emperor of Constantinople, helps the Romans during a Saracen siege and is rewarded with the hand of the emperor’s daughter; she dies giving birth to their daughter Hélène. Antoine falls in love with his daughter; when the Pope again asks for help against the Saracens, Antoine asks (p.248) in return for permission to marry Hélène. The Pope agrees, reluctantly; he is very anxious when Antoine claims his reward, but a voice from heaven announces that Antoine will never be able to fulfil his impious desire. Antoine returns to Constantinople and tells Hélène that they will be married the next day She escapes by boat, arrives in Flanders, and lives in a convent. Alarmed by the local king’s interest in her, she sets off again in her boat, but is captured by pirates. The captain makes advances to her, but her prayers bring a storm in which all but she are drowned. She floats ashore on a plank near Newcastle in northern England and meets King Henry, who marries her, to the dismay of his mother.

Rome is attacked again: Antoine is away looking for his daughter, so the Pope asks for help from Henry, who agrees and entrusts his pregnant wife to the care of the Duke of Gloucester. In Rome Henry sees portraits of his wife which had been painted on the columns of the papal palace at Antoine’s orders; the Pope tells him the story. Hélène gives birth to twin sons; her mother-in-law forges a letter announcing the birth of two monsters, and a reply ordering the burning of the queen and her children. Instead the Duke of Gloucester cuts off one of her hands, attaches it to one of the twins, and exposes them all in a boat which arrives at an island called Constance. While Hélène is dozing a wolf carries off the baby with the hand, who is then raised by a hermit. A lion takes the other baby, and eventually the hermit finds it too: he names the twins Brae and Lion. Henry defeats the Saracens and returns to England. Antoine arrives in Bavaria, where he stops a pagan king from marrying his own daughter, and converts the country to Christianity. Henry discovers his mother’s treachery, and has her burned. The two kings meet in Boulogne, confer, and set out in search of Hélène.

The twins learn something of their history, and set out to find their mother, meeting on the way the Duke of Gloucester and the Archbishop of Tours; the latter baptizes them Brice and Martin. Hélène has been living in Nantes but moves to Tours, where her sons give her charity without recognizing her. Henry and Antoine meet the hermit, and conquer and convert the King of Bordeaux. Henry comes to Tours where Hélène recognizes him but is too frightened to speak. Henry and Antoine meet the twins and see the miraculously preserved hand, which leads to a recognition scene. The two kings, plus the King of Bordeaux, go on a crusade to Jerusalem and have adventures there. Hearing a rumour that they have been killed, Hélène becomes a beggar; she goes to Rome but does not reveal herself to her great-uncle the Pope, nor to the two kings when they return. The Saracens attack yet again: Hélène flees to Tours, leaving letters for her father and husband. Henry is captured in Flanders but freed by the twins; in Scotland Antoine and Brice are captured, then freed by a Saracen princess who falls in love with Brice, converts to Christianity, and marries him (their son becomes St Brice). The kings travel to Tours, and eventually (p.249) find the terrified Hélène; her hand is miraculously reattached through the agency of Martin, the future saint. All return to Rome, where the converted King of Bordeaux is made king; Henry and Hélène die and are buried in St Peter’s; Antoine abdicates in favour of Brice; Martin becomes Archbishop of Tours; the Duke of Gloucester becomes King of England.

Lion de Bourges, ed. Kibler et al. [French verse, mid-14th cent.]

(The Flight from Incest/Accused Queen episode begins at 27778; it is preceded by numerous martial adventures.)

Herpin, King of Cyprus, promises his dying wife not to marry again unless he finds a woman just like her. His barons urge him to remarry, but cannot find a suitable bride until they notice the resemblance between the Princess Joieuse and her dead mother; they tell the king to marry her (having already obtained the Pope’s permission). Herpin agrees: he is already in love with her. Joieuse cuts off her left hand and throws it into the river, where it is swallowed by a sturgeon; she explains to the king that now she no longer resembles her mother. Herpin orders that she be burned, but is persuaded by the barons to exile her by sea with the squire Thierry. They eventually arrive in Spain, where Joyeuse calls herself Tristouse. (Here the story turns to the adventures of Olivier, future husband of Joieuse, and of his brother Guillaume.) Olivier takes in Joieuse and Thierry; Joieuse explains that she lost her hand in a struggle with pirates. He has a golden hand made for her and marries her, over the objections of his foster-mother Béatris. He leaves her pregnant in order to help his brother. (Adventures of Olivier and his father Lion.)

Joieuse/Tristouse gives birth to twins, a boy and a girl. Béatris uses a clerk she has seduced to forge a message ordering the burning of the queen and her children. The king’s castellan spares them (he burns some animals instead) and exposes them again at sea. They arrive at Rome and are taken in by a rich senator and his wife; Joieuse/Tristouse tells them that during a pilgrimage robbers killed her husband and cut off her hand. (Further adventures of Lion and his sons. Olivier invites them back to Caffaut to meet his wife.) Olivier is baffled by the disappearance of his wife and the forged letter, but suspects Béatris. The treacherous clerk confesses; he is hanged and Béatris is locked in a tower. Olivier goes to Sicily with his father and brother; there he meets the King of Cyprus who talks about his wife’s death and his treatment of his daughter. Olivier realizes that this is his father-in-law. The two kings go to Rome and lodge in the house where Joieuse lives. She is too afraid of them to appear, but at dinner Olivier sees his son Herpin playing with her wedding ring, which he recognizes; this leads to a reunion. The cook finds Joieuse’s hand in a fish he is preparing, and the Pope is miraculously able to reattach it. Olivier and Joieuse return to Burgos, Herpin to Cyprus. (Further martial adventures of the male protagonists.)

(p.250) Comedia sine nomine (also known as Columpnarium), ed. Roy [Latin prose drama, late 14th cent.]

The Queen of Thrace dies after making her husband Eumolphus promise only to marry a woman who is her living image; no such woman can be found. Urged by his people to remarry, the king falls in love with his daughter Hermionides. Horrified, she flees with her nurse; they find refuge with Sophia in Phocis, where the local king, Orestes, falls in love with Hermionides and marries her. When she bears a son, the hostile queen mother Olicomesta forges letters announcing that the baby is an Ethiopian monster, and that mother and child are to be killed. A faithful seneschal exposes the baby in a splendid basket with money and jewels, and sends Hermionides into exile. The baby is found by a fisherman, who wants to adopt him, but first decides to consult the oracle of Apollo on Mount Parnassus. As he discusses this plan with a friend, he is overheard by Orestes and his counsellor Regulus, who are returning to Phocis because they are suspicious of the news that has reached them about the queen. The faithful seneschal is also suspicious, discovers the forgery of the letters, and tells the king. Meanwhile Hermionides, wandering on Parnassus, meets a shepherd who urges her to consult the oracle there. All the main characters make for the oracle. Hermionides meets the fisherman, hears his story, and manages to recover her baby. The nurse, Orestes, and the seneschal overhear their conversation, and so Orestes and his wife are reunited. News arrives that the queen mother has killed herself, and also that Eumolphus has died, leaving his kingdom to Hermionides.

La Istoria de la Fiyla del Rey d’Ungria, ed. Aramon i Serra [Catalan prose, mid-14th cent.]

The widowed King of Hungary is urged by his barons to marry; when they cannot find a woman who fits his specification of resemblance to his dead wife, they suggest his daughter. After initial reluctance, he is persuaded by the devil to marry her. The night before the wedding he tells her how much he admires her hands; she makes her servants cut them off. The furious king exposes her in a boat, and she arrives at Marseilles; there the Count of Provence falls in love with her and marries her secretly. They have a son who is notable for his charity to other children. After some years the count goes to Hungary to verify his wife’s story, and to announce that she is alive. He sends a letter home confirming her identity, but the messenger stops at the home of the count’s hostile mother, who forges the message that the countess is low-born and has been mutilated for theft and sent into exile; she and her son are now to be burned. The messenger tells the people the truth, but they are confused, and expose the countess and her son in a boat. They find lodging at a convent where the countess lives piously. Five years later, she feels a fervent wish to help the priest at Mass, and suddenly (p.251) sees two hands in front of her, which miraculously affix themselves to her stumps. Meantime the count has come home and discovered what has happened. He sets out to find his wife, and after seven years arrives at the abbey where she acts as porter. She looks like his wife, but he is baffled by the fact that she has hands. The miracle is explained to him; the couple is reunited, and four more children are born.

Miracle de la fille du roy de Hongrie, no. 19 in Miracles de Nostre Dame par personnages, ed. Paris and Robert [French verse drama, 1340–80] (Adaptation of Manekine, but with strong Marian emphasis and many variations on names, e.g. Bethequine for Manekine. See also in the same collection nos. 32, Du roy Thierry, and 37, De la fille d’un roy qui se parti d’avec son pere pour ce que il la vouloit espouser.)

The King of Hungary refuses to marry any woman who does not closely resemble his dead wife; no such woman can be found. He decides to marry his daughter and gets the Pope’s permission. His daughter, horrified, cuts off her hand. She is condemned to be burned, but her executioners expose her in a boat instead. She arrives in Scotland and marries the king, to the anger of his mother. When she gives birth, the mother-in-law forges a slanderous letter and then a cruel response. The heroine and her baby are exposed at sea; helped by the Virgin, they arrive at Rome and find refuge with a senator. The King of Scotland returns, discovers what has happened, and punishes his mother; then he goes to Rome to pray and to look for his wife. At the same time the King of Hungary decides to go to Rome to be absolved. There is a family reunion in the house of the senator, brought about by the child playing with the wedding ring. The missing hand is found in the river and miraculously reattached by the Pope.

Ystoria Regis Franchorum et Filie in qua Adulterium Comitere Voluit, ed. Suchier [Latin prose, 1370]

The King of France propositions his own daughter. Eventually she yields, but asks for four days’ respite and flees, briefly disguised as a man. In a neighbouring town she learns embroidery. The local count marries her, to the horror of his mother who lives in a convent. While the count is away the countess has twin boys. The count’s enthusiastic response to the news in a letter is changed by his mother to cruel threats. Alarmed, the young countess flees with her babies; she arrives by boat in Rome, where she works as an embroiderer. A cardinal oversees the education of the twins. The count comes to Rome for a great feast given by the Pope, and stays with his old friend the cardinal. The countess happens to see him; she sends for her sons, and goes to the cardinal’s house to greet her husband and explain her flight. The count learns of his mother’s trick and has her (p.252) burned. When the King of England dies, one twin inherits his throne, while the other succeeds his father as count.

Novella della figlia del re di Dacia, ed. Wesselofsky [Italian prose, probably 14th cent., though the manuscript is 15th cent.]

The story is presented as a miracle performed by Pope Benedict (1012–24). The devil makes the widowed King of Dacia fall in love with his daughter Elisa. One day when she kisses him innocently, he kisses her back and makes her touch him intimately. When he propositions her, she puts him off and prays to Christ and the Virgin. Acting on instructions imparted in a vision, she cuts off the hand with which she touched her father and buries it, telling him that it happened in her sleep as divine justice. Her nurse helps her to flee secretly and they arrive in Rome, where a kind widow takes them in. Apardo, Duke of Austria, marries her, to his mother’s displeasure; her hand is miraculously restored during the blessing of the marriage.

When their child is born the hostile mother-in-law forges letters reporting that it is a monster with multiple heads and limbs, and condemning the young mother to death. A poor woman is burnt instead of Elisa, who sends her child to be fostered in secret and herself returns to the widow at Rome, where she becomes nurse to the child of Count Marco. On their way to his home in Germany, they pass through Apardo’s lands; Elisa collects her son, and the two children are raised together. Apardo goes to Rome and visits the widow in his search for Elisa. By chance he comes to Marco’s city; he and Elisa recognize each other at a feast. When their stories are told, messengers are sent to Elisa’s father. He repents, writes to them, is reunited with them, and makes them his heirs. He goes to do penance at Rome, and dies.

Emaré, ed. Rickert [English verse, c.1400]

The Emperor Artus’ wife dies young, leaving a beautiful daughter, Emare. The Emperor of Sicily comes to visit and gives Artus a splendid cloth embroidered in each corner by the daughter of a heathen emir with images of pairs of lovers. At a feast soon afterwards Artus falls in love with his own daughter and decides to marry her; the Pope’s permission is obtained. Artus has a robe made for Emare from the cloth, and tells her his intentions; she is horrified. Furious, he exposes her with the robe in a boat, though he soon repents and tries in vain to find her. Emare arrives in Galys (Wales) and is found by the king’s steward. When the king sees her in her beautiful dress he falls in love with her and marries her, although his mother declares the stranger a fiend.

Emaré gives birth to a son, Sagramour; the mother-in-law substitutes news of the birth of a devil with three animal heads, and forges a response (p.253) ordering the queen and her child to be exposed at sea. They arrive at Rome, and find refuge with a rich merchant. When the king hears what has happened he wants to burn his mother, but is persuaded to exile her. After seven years he goes to Rome to do penance for his wife’s presumed drowning, and lodges in the house where Emare lives. Emaré sends Sagramour to serve his father; the king is charmed and wants to raise him. Emaré tells Sagramour to bring the king to her, and they are reunited. Then Artus arrives to do penance too. Emaré asks her husband to introduce her to Artus, and instructs Sagramour to bring the old emperor to her. There is a further reunion; later Sagramour succeeds his grandfather.

Fifteenth Century

Hans von Bühel (der Büheler), Die Königstochter von Frankreich, ed. Merzdorf [German verse, 1401]

The widowed King of France decides to marry his daughter, though the Pope refuses him permission. She flees in horror to England, and lives at first with peasants, looking after animals. She becomes known for her expert embroidery. In London the royal marshal and his wife take her in, and the king marries her. He is away fighting when their son is born; the mother-in-law forges two letters accusing her of sorcery and of bearing a monster, and ordering her to be burned. The marshal burns a cow and a calf instead, and exposes her again with her baby in her boat. She arrives in Rome, and finds refuge with a rich citizen. The child becomes the Pope’s favourite. When the king finds out what has happened, he burns his mother. The Kings of France and England arrive in Rome to do penance. The boy serves them; when the mother is summoned, the King of England and his marshal both recognize her. The King of France makes a public confession which leads to a further reunion. The reunited couple go to Paris and then to London. On the death of the King of France the princess inherits the throne. Her husband and son are away at war when she dies; another king takes over France. Her husband fights for his son’s rights, winning Calais and other towns: the poet comments that this was the beginning of the Hundred Years War.

De Alixandre, Roy de Hongrie, qui voulut espouser sa fille, ed. Langlois [French prose, mid-15th cent.]

The widowed King of Hungary falls in love with his 15-year-old daughter Fleurie, and passes a law that Hungarian kings can marry their daughters. She discovers that her father especially loves her hands, so she makes a servant cut them off and sends them to him. The furious king wants to burn her, but his counsellors persuade him to expose her and her maid at sea. They arrive at Marseilles, where Count Varron of Provence marries (p.254) Fleurie, to his mother’s displeasure. Leaving her pregnant, Varron goes to Hungary to check the story she has told him about her identity and troubles. The king, now ashamed, confirms it all.

The count’s mother forges a letter announcing that Fleurie has born a monster with no hands and a dog’s muzzle, and then also the reply that mother and baby are to be exposed at sea. They find refuge in a convent. When Varron returns and discovers the truth from his mother, he condemns her to a shameful death and swears to search till he finds his wife. After long and vain journeys he is returning by sea when he hears the convent bells and stops there. When Fleurie tries to help the priest at Mass, God is pleased and restores her hands. Her son plays at his father’s feet and the count, charmed, wonders who his mother can be. When the abbess explains about their handless guest, the count is reunited with his wife and son, and takes them back to Provence. The old King of Hungary hands over his throne to them and retires into religious life.

Bartolomeo Fazio, De origine inter Gallos et Britannos belli historia, ed. Camusat, repr. Roy [Latin, c.1470]

The King of Britain promises his dying wife that he will only marry a woman who is her equal; when no suitable bride can be found, the devil prompts him to desire his own daughter. She is horrified at his proposal to marry her, but pretending to give in, she asks him to obtain the Pope’s permission; before the messengers return with forged papal letters (as instructed by the king), she escapes with the help of her uncle, John Duke of Lancaster. She takes refuge under a pseudonym in a convent in Vienne, where the Dauphin sees her and marries her, to his mother’s fury. When the King of France dies the Dauphin goes to Paris, leaving his pregnant wife behind. The queen mother sends forged letters to the king announcing that the queen has committed adultery and other shameful acts; she also forges his reply ordering that the young queen be killed, but the guards send her and her infant son secretly to Rome, where she lodges in another convent and becomes wet-nurse to the empress’ new baby. The new King of France returns to Vienne; suspecting a plot by his mother, he besieges her city and orders her death.

Some years later he feels contrite, and is persuaded to go to Rome to seek absolution. He is graciously received by the emperor and the Pope, and absolved by the latter. At an imperial feast the king is especially charmed by his own unrecognized son, and asks the emperor to give him the youth. The emperor consults the boy’s mother, who reveals her secret; the King of France is reunited with his wife and son. The King of Britain has recently died without a male heir, leaving his kingdom to his daughter if she is still alive. The Duke of Lancaster makes public the circumstances of her flight; when uncle and niece meet by chance, the King of France discovers (p.255) his wife’s parentage. Another son is born to the happy couple. The King of France leaves France to his older son and Britain to the younger; but to show the unity of the two kingdoms, he orders that every Christmas the King of Britain and his sons shall serve wine to the king of France at a public banquet. This custom is continued for many generations, but eventually the British abandon it. The French king, offended, declares war (the Hundred Years War).

Rappresentazione di Santa Uliva, ed. d’Ancona [a play with musical interludes preserved in a printed text of 1568 but based on a 15th-cent. Italian poem]

The Emperor Giuliano promises his dying wife only to marry a woman as noble and gracious as her. His daughter Uliva alone fits this description: he plans to ask the Pope for permission to marry her. When he informs Uliva, praising her hands in particular, she is horrified. With a prayer to the Virgin, she cuts off her hands and has them taken to her father. He is furious, and dispatches her to Brittany with two assassins. The assassins pity her and leave her in a wood, where she is found by the king’s huntsmen. Both king and queen think her charming, and make her nurse to their baby son. A baron in love with her pulls at her arm so that she drops the baby, who is killed. She is again exposed in a wood. The Virgin appears to her and restores her hands. She finds refuge in a nearby monastery, but the priest feels so tempted by her that he hides a supposedly stolen chalice in her cell. The nuns decide to expose her at sea in a chest. She is found by two Castilian sailors and taken to the royal court, where the king marries her; his furious mother retires to a convent.

While the king is away at war, the queen mother forges letters announcing that Uliva’s new baby is neither man nor beast, and that she is to be burned. The merciful Viceroy decides to burn a wooden image and to expose Uliva and the baby at sea. Uliva arrives near Rome and is taken in by two old women. Meanwhile the King of Castile comes home, is horrified by the news, and burns his mother’s convent. Twelve years later he decides to confess to the bishop, who orders him to Rome to be absolved by the Pope. Uliva tells her son who the king is and asks him to make contact with his father; the boy is anxious to reunite his parents. The next day Uliva herself comes to court and identifies herself to her father and husband, reproaching them for their cruelty. The emperor acknowledges his grandson as his heir. The king and Uliva are married a second time; the Pope absolves and blesses the king. The king and queen go home and distribute rewards and alms. An angel tells the audience to learn from the example of this ‘santa piena di prudenzia’ (saint full of wisdom).

(p.256) Gutierre Diez de Games, El VictorialCrónica de Don Pero Niño, ch. 57, ed. de Mata Carriazo [Spanish, c.1435]

The widowed Duke of Guienne falls in love with his daughter, who greatly resembles her dead mother (a French princess). When the duke kisses her hands, she tells a servant to cut them off. Her father wants to kill her, but his counsellors persuade him to put her in a ship with some provisions and set her adrift, with her hands in a basin of blood. The Virgin appears to her in a dream, and in response to her prayers her hands are healed and the wind blows. She meets the English fleet under the command of the king’s brother, who marries her. When her father dies, they claim the dukedom, which her father has left to the King of France. This is why there is still a war between France and England.

La Istoria de la Filla de l’Emperador Contasti, ed. Suchier [Catalan, 15th cent.]

Contasti [Constantine], Emperor of Rome, promises his dying wife to marry only a woman as beautiful as her who can also wear her glove. His barons urge him to marry again and produce a male heir; no sufficiently beautiful woman can be found except his 12-year-old daughter, so they suggest her. The glove fits her perfectly; after long resistance she agrees to marry him, but only on condition that they do not have sexual relations. The king finds this unbearable; he threatens to die if she does not give in. She still refuses to sin with him, so he orders servants to take her to a desert and kill her. They pity her and put her on a ship on its way to Spain. She refuses to tell the captain who she is or why she is there, and is put ashore at Cadiz, where she is adopted by a rich childless couple. The King of Spain marries her; when she gives birth, his hostile mother forges letters saying that her baby is black as a Saracen, and that mother and child are to be burned. A kind seneschal puts her on a boat to Rome, where the emperor notices her when he is distributing alms. Meanwhile the King of Spain has learned the truth and burned his mother. He falls ill and promises to go to Rome for absolution if he recovers. At Rome he tells his story to the emperor, and is overheard by the heroine. She sends her son to him with her wedding ring, and all are reunited.

Sixteenth Century

Lord Berners, Ide and Olive, ed. Lee [English prose version of Yde et Olive, c.1515]

See the plot summary for Yde et Olive (13th cent.).