Tenth Story of the Tenth Day (Griselda and the Marquis of Saluzzo)

Tenth Story of the Tenth Day (Griselda and the Marquis of Saluzzo)



Tenth Story of the Tenth Day (Griselda and the Marquis of Saluzzo)

The narrative starts with a description of the renowned Marquis of Saluzzo, named Gualtierie, who has been overburdened by pleasures of the world such that he has neglected his duty to start and raise a family. The narrative is presumably set during the onset of the bubonic plague, which ravaged Europe and brought about the death of a third of the population at that time. Ten Florentines seeking escape from the plague are hurdled together and placed in a rural farm. They all agree amongst each other to tell ten stories as a means of entertaining themselves until it is deemed as safe to venture back into Florence.

            The narrative sought to highlight a number of literary issues such as steadfast loyalty, humility, and trust within marriages. The narrative is effective in highlighting the inimitable character of Griselda, who demonstrates an unprecedented level of patience, submissiveness, and sacrifice to save her marriage. Griselda’s marriage to the marquis has been described as similar in nature to the relation between man and God (Frazer, 2002).

At the start of the narration, Griselda is described as a virtuous woman who has endured extreme poverty, which has not exposed her to likerous-lust and illicit desires, as she had to toil to survive while living with her father. The narration notes that she sleeps on a hard bed and has to contend with eating herbs and drinking water to survive. She has spent a significant portion of her life taking care of her father with unprecedented diligence and obedience. Her experiences have contributed to her humble nature, as she does not seek pride and self-assertion (Frazer, 2002). When the marquis seeks Griselda’s hand in marriage, he provides her with a number of conditions such as unrelenting obedience, trust, and loyalty to him to which she obliges without any objections.

Griselda’s narrative is presented in a variety of collections from medieval accounts. Each account of the narrative adheres to a similar structure that is borrowed from Decameron’s version of the story (Salter, 1962). Gualtieri also referred to as the Marquis of Saluzzo, who spends much of his time in sports, hunting, and other leisure activities that he takes no account of the need to marry. He is pressured by his family, friends, and subjects to take a wife. He decides to court an exceptionally beautiful woman from a poor family in a neighboring village. Her low stature is contrasted to her beauty, which the protagonist finds bearable if he is to live with her as his wife (Frazer, 2002).

Gualtieri sought her hand in marriage to which she readily accepts. The marquis is unsure of her character, which prompts him to test her patience and loyalty. He devises a means of assessing her loyalty towards the marquis (Salter, 1962). The first test involves their first child, a beautiful baby girl, whereby the marquis informs Griselda that the child was deemed as unworthy by the subjects, which necessitated the need to put the child to death. She readily accepts the claim and surrenders her child to her husband to put it to death. Instead of killing the child, Gualtieri orders his subjects to take care of the child in a secret location.

In subsequent months, Griselda gives birth to a healthy son, with the marquis intent on carrying on with his test, berates her by insisting the second child is put to death. She yields to the marquis’ demands without any complaints, and he takes the child to a secret location. Despite having taken two children from his wife, the marquis is unsatisfied and he decides to denounce her in public, with his decision grounded on claims that he had been granted by the Pope with the permission to divorce his wife and marry a woman of his stature deserving marriage to a noble man such as the marquis (Frazer, 2002).

On the day that marquis was expected to take the hand of a new bride, he proceeded to invite Griselda to arrive at the palace for he considered her the best in preparing for a large group of guests and gatherings. Griselda obliged without any resistance and proceeded to her former home, albeit as a housekeeper ands servant to the marquis. She was now tasked with preparing the palace in anticipation of guests arriving for the wedding. Gualtieri had managed to prepare the daughter they had with Griselda and later secretly raised, whom he had dressed in bridal clothes. The narrative notes that she was extremely beautiful and dressed in expensive attire, which made her unrecognizable to her own mother, Griselda.

The marquis questioned Griselda over her thoughts of his new brought, with minimal knowledge that the presumed bride was no more than her daughter whom she thought was deceased on the marquis’ orders (Frazer, 2002). Griselda replied with guile upon being questioned by the marquis on her thoughts on the new bride taken by Gualtieri, to which she responded with few words that if her beauty and wisdom were similar, then she would make an excellent bride for her former husband.

At this point, the marquis recognized Griselda’s patience, sincerity, trustworthiness, and sincerity, as she harbored no jealousy despite having been shunned by the marquis at one time. The marquis revealed the tests that he had devised to assess her character and loyalty to the marquis and reunited her daughter with her mother. Griselda assumed her rightful role as wife to the marquis where she excelled and remained loyal to Gualtieri (Salter, 1962). Griselda manages to excel in her life as she is later glorified due to her unrelenting loyalty, faith, loyalty, and obedience towards the marquis. The narrative is compared by critics to man’s relationship with God or deity, whereby humanity should be steadfast in their loyalty, patience, humility and trust if they are to be elevated into success.


Frazer, M. (2002). The clerk’s tale. New York: Berkley Prime Crime.

Salter, E. (1962). Chaucer: The Knight’s Tale and the Clerk’s Tale. Woodbury, N.Y: Barron’s Educational Series, Inc.

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