The Abbot of Cluny appears in Filostrato’s first tale (I, 7) and Elissa’s tenth (X, 2). In both cases, his character is based in a medieval belief that the Abbot of Cluny—a famously wealthy and culturally powerful monastery—was the richest monk in Europe. In Filostrato’s tale, his meals are lavish, while in Elissa’s, he ruins his stomach from overindulgence in food and wine. He thus represents the worldliness of many figures in the medieval church, who lived like grand lords rather than humble monks and priests, contributing to The Decameron’s anticlerical satire. His wealth, as well as his initial lack of generosity to Primas and hatred towards Ghino di Tacco, add him to the ongoing critique of clerical greed and sinfulness in The Decameron, yet in both cases he is persuaded to see the error of his ways.
Abbot of Cluny Character Timeline in The Decameron
The timeline below shows where the character Abbot of Cluny appears in The Decameron. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Day 1: Seventh Tale
Day 10: Second Tale
...begins to rob anyone who passes near his stronghold at Radicofani. During this time, the Abbot of Cluny —the richest monk in the world—visits the pope at Rome, “ruin[s] his stomach,” and is... (full context)
Day 10: Fourth Tale
Everyone agrees that Nathan was certainly more generous than King Alphonso and the Abbot of Cluny . Since the ground of basic generosity has been amply covered, Lauretta turns to tales... (full context)