Short summary - Histoire comique de Francion - Charles Sorel

French literature summaries - 2021

Short summary - Histoire comique de Francion
Charles Sorel

Seeking the favors of Loreta, the young wife of the ruler of the castle, old man Valentin, Francion, having entered the castle under the guise of a pilgrim, plays a cruel joke with Valentin. That night, thanks to Francion, incredible events take place in the castle: Loreta has a good time with the thief, mistaking him for Francion, another thief hangs on a rope ladder all night, the fooled husband is tied to a tree, the servant Catherine turns out to be a man, and Francion himself breaks his head and barely does not sink in a tub of water. After this adventure, staying overnight in a village tavern, Francion meets with the old pimp Agatha, whom he, as it turns out, is well acquainted with, and a Burgundian nobleman. Agatha talks about the adventures of Loreta, and at the same time about her own, no less entertaining. Francion accepts the invitation of a courteous nobleman and, arriving at his rich castle, at the request of the owner, who was imbued with great sympathy for him, tells his story.
Francion is the son of a nobleman from Brittany, a noble and noble family, who faithfully served his sovereign on the battlefield, but did not receive any awards or honors. A considerable part of his already small fortune was shaken by the jib-judges in a protracted inheritance litigation. Francion grew up like a peasant boy, but already in childhood he showed "contempt for low deeds and stupid speeches." After hearing about universities and schools, he dreamed of getting there in order to “enjoy a pleasant company,” and his father sent him to a Paris school. He did not find any pleasant company there, in addition, the mentors pocketed most of the money for the maintenance, and the schoolchildren were fed "only in spite of themselves." Young Francion did not overburden himself with studies, but he was always "one of the most learned in the class", and even re-read a bunch of knightly novels. And how could one not prefer reading to that nonsense, which was stuffed with schoolchildren by ignorant educators, who in their entire life had not read anything but commentaries on classical authors. And the most learned of them, like the class teacher Francion Hortensius (who changed his name to Latin), were even worse. Hortensius, who considered himself one of the most outstanding minds, did not have a single thought of his own, could not pronounce a single phrase in good French, and even explained his love with the help of a set of ridiculous quotes specially learned for the occasion.
When Francion finished his basic course at the school of philosophy, his father took him home to Brittany and almost identified him on the legal side, forgetting his hatred of judges. But after the death of his father, Francion received permission to return to Paris and "study noble pursuits." Having settled in the university quarter, he began to take lessons from the "lute player, fencer and dancer", and devoted all his free time to reading and in a short time achieved considerable scholarship. His greatest misfortune was poverty, he dressed so badly that no one recognized him as a nobleman, so he did not even dare to wear swords and endured many insults every day. Even those who knew of his origins disdained to maintain an acquaintance with him. Having finally lost hope for life, which once dreamed of him, Francion would have fallen into an abyss of despair if he had not taken up poetry, although his first poems "gave a schoolboy spirit and did not shine with either gloss or sanity." Through a bookseller, he became acquainted with Parisian poets and their writings and found that there was not a single major talent among them. All of them were poor, because the craft of a poet does not bring money, and a rich man would not take a pen, and all were distinguished by absurdity, inconstancy and unbearable conceit. Francion, possessing a naturally sharp mind, quickly learned the rules of versification and even tried to break into court poets or enlist the patronage of a great nobleman, but nothing came of it. And then fortune turned to face Francion: his mother sent him a considerable amount of money. He immediately dressed like a courtier, and was finally able to introduce himself to the beautiful Diana, with whom he had long been in love. However, Diana preferred the empty dandy, the lute player Melibey to him, and Francion's love faded away. After her, he loved many more and chased all the beauties in a row, but he could not give his heart to any one, because he did not find a woman "worthy of perfect love."
Having got a luxurious dress, Francion made many acquaintances among young people and founded a company of "enemies of stupidity and ignorance" called "The Daring and the Generous." They arranged pranks, about which the whole of Paris spoke, and "struck the vice not only with the edge of tongues," but over time the young people settled down, the brotherhood disintegrated, and Francion turned to philosophical reflections on human nature and again began to think about finding someone - someone who would strengthen his position. But fate sent him not a swaggering patron, but rather a friend in the person of the wealthy noble Clerant, who had heard a lot about Francion's wit and who had long dreamed of meeting him. Clerant offered him "a decent reward," and Francion was finally able to show off in luxurious outfits on a magnificent horse. He took revenge on those who previously showed contempt for him, and his stick taught the upstarts that in order to be called a nobleman, one must "not allow anything base in their actions." Francion became the Chargé d'Affaires of Clerant, who, having fallen into favor, introduced Francion to the court. Francion earned the favor of the King and Prince Protogenes. And now a new hobby - Loretta - led him to Burgundy.
At this, Francion ends his story, and then it turns out that his owner is the same Remon who once stole money from him and about whom Francion spoke very unflatteringly. Remon exits, slamming the door in anger. Two days later, the butler informs Francion that, on the orders of Remont, he must die. He is dressed in antique clothes and brought to trial for an insult inflicted on Remon. The court decides to betray Francion into the hands of the most severe of the ladies, the door opens, and Loreta and Remont appear, who embraces Francion and assures him of eternal friendship. After that, the orgy begins, which lasts a whole week, while Loreta almost finds herself at the scene of the crime once again fooled by her husband.
And Francion sets out on a journey to find a woman whose portrait has struck his imagination. From her relative, Dorini, one of Remont's friends, Francion learns that Nais is an Italian, a widow, prefers French to Italians and is in love with a portrait of a young French nobleman, Floriander, and he has just died of a serious illness.
On the way, Francion, like a wandering knight, does good deeds and finally finds the beautiful Nais in a village famous for its healing waters. Despite the fact that he is not Floriander, he manages to win the favor of the beauty and deserve the hatred of her ardent Italian admirers, Valery and Ergast. All four, accompanied by magnificent retinues, travel to Italy, and Ergast and Valery, joining forces against a common enemy, lure Francion into a trap: he finds himself in the underground prison of the fortress, and the commandant is ordered to kill him. Ergast writes a fake letter to Nais on behalf of Francion, and she, having lost Francion, realizes how much she loved him.
But the commandant of the fortress lets Francion go free. In peasant dress, without servants and without money, Francion is hired to herd sheep in an Italian village. He plays the lute, writes poetry, enjoys true freedom and feels happier than ever before. Only "bouts of love fever" and the desire to see his beloved interfere with complete bliss, which, however, does not prevent Francion from enjoying the country girls. The peasants consider him a magician who knows with demons, because he heals the sick and mutters poetry. Francion administers court and deals with intricate cases, showing wisdom akin to Solomon's, he even sells his own prepared medicines. Finally, the valet Petronius finds him, and now Francion is already in Rome, again dressed as a nobleman, and also tells Remona and Dorini, who have arrived in Rome, about his new adventures. In Rome, Hortensius also turns out, who has not grown wiser since he was Francion's mentor. Everyone in Rome only talks about Francion and envies Nais. The wedding is already a settled matter, but here the rivals, Valery and Ergast, intervene again. Through their efforts, Francion is accused of simultaneously forging money and breaking a promise to marry a certain Emilia, whom Francion met on arrival in Rome and, in truth, had frivolous views of her, never ceasing to court Nais. Nais is offended by treason, she refuses Francion, but his friends reveal the conspiracy, Ergast and Valery confess everything, the court acquits Francion, and Nais forgives. Francion, mindful of the troubles that happened to him because of Emilia, decides to continue to love only one Nais. Marriage turns him into a man of "sedate and calm disposition," but he does not repent of the tricks he committed in his youth "in order to punish human vices."