The Virtuous Lady With Two Husbands

By Monseigneur.

_Of a noble knight of Flanders, who was married to a beautiful and noble

lady. He was for many years a prisoner in Turkey, during which time his

good and loving wife was, by the importunities of her friends, induced

to marry another knight. Soon after she had remarried, she heard that

her husband had returned from Turkey, whereupon she allowed herself to

die of grief, because she had contr
cted a fresh marriage._

It is not only known to all those of the city of Ghent--where the

incident that I am about to relate happened not long ago--but to all

those of Flanders, and many others, that at the battle fought between

the King of Hungary and Duke Jehan (whom may God absolve) on one side,

and the Grand Turk and all his Turks on the other, (*) that many noble

knights and esquires--French, Flemish, German, and Picardians--were

taken prisoners, of whom some were put to death in the presence of the

said Great Turk, others were imprisoned for life, and others condemned

to slavery, amongst which last was a noble knight of the said country of

Flanders, named Clayz Utenhoven.

(*) The battle of Nicopolis (28th September, 1396) when

Sigismond, King of Hungary, and Jean-sans-Peur, son of the

Duke of Burgundy, who had recruited a large army for the

purpose of raising the siege of Constantinople, were met and

overthrown by the Sultan, Bajazet I.

For many years he endured this slavery, which was no light task but an

intolerable martyrdom to him, considering the luxuries upon which he had

been nourished, and the condition in which he had lived.

Now you must know that he had formerly married at Ghent a beautiful and

virtuous lady, who loved him and held him dear with all her heart, and

who daily prayed to God that shortly she might see him again if he were

still alive; and that if he were dead, He would of His grace pardon his

sins, and include him in the number of those glorious martyrs, who to

repel the infidel, and that the holy Catholic faith might be exalted,

had given up their mortal lives.

This good lady, who was rich, beautiful, virtuous, and possessed of many

noble friends, was continually pressed and assailed by her friends to

remarry; they declaring and affirming that her husband was dead, and

that if he were alive he would have returned like the others; or if he

were a prisoner, she would have received notice to prepare his ransom.

But whatever reasons were adduced, this virtuous lady could not be

persuaded to marry again, but excused herself as well as she was able.

These excuses served her little or nothing, for her relatives and

friends so pressed her that she was obliged to obey. But God knows

that it was with no small regret, and after she had been for nine

years deprived of the presence of her good and loyal husband, whom she

believed to be long since dead, as did most or all who knew him; but

God, who guards and preserves his servants and champions, had otherwise

ordered it, for he still lived and performed his arduous labours as a


To return to our story. This virtuous lady was married to another

knight, and lived with him for half a year, without hearing anything

further about her first husband.

By the will of God, however, this good and true knight, Messire Clays,

who was still in Turkey, when his wife married again, and there working

as a slave, was, by means of some Christian gentlemen and merchants,

delivered, and returned in their galley.

As he was on his return, he met and found in passing through various

places, many of his acquaintance, who were overjoyed at his delivery,

for in truth he was a most valiant man, of great renown and many

virtues; and so the most joyful rumour of his much wished-for

deliverance spread into France, Artois, and Picardy, where his virtues

were not less known than they were in Flanders, of which country he was

a native. And from these countries it soon reached Flanders, and came

to the ears of his beauteous and virtuous lady and spouse, who was

astounded thereat, and her feelings so overcame her as to deprive her of

her senses.

"Ah," she said, as soon as she could speak, "my heart was never willing

to do that which my relations and friends forced me to do. Alas! what

will my most loving lord and husband say? I have not kept faith with him

as I should, but--like a frail, frivolous, and weak-minded woman,--have

given to another part and portion of that of which he alone should

be lord and master! I cannot, and dare not await his coming. I am

not worthy that he should look at me, or that I should be seen in his

company," and with these words her most chaste, virtuous, and loving

heart failed her, and she fell fainting.

She was carried and laid upon a bed, and her senses returned to her, but

from that time it was not in the power of man or woman to make her eat

or sleep, and thus she continued three days, weeping continually, and

in the greatest grief of mind that ever woman was. During which time she

confessed and did all that a good Christian should, and implored pardon

of all, and most especially of her husband.

Soon afterwards she died, which was a great misfortune; and it need not

be told what grief fell upon the said lord, her husband, when he heard

the news. His sorrow was such that he was in great danger of dying as

his most loving wife had done; but God, who had saved him from many

other great perils, preserved him also from this.