The Man Who Believed He Was King of France: A True Medieval Tale by Tommaso di Carpegna Falconieri (Translated by William McCuaig) - review by Ann Wroe

Ann Wroe

Delirium Regens

The Man Who Believed He Was King of France: A True Medieval Tale


University of Chicago Press 220pp £13

Early in October 1354 Giannino di Guccio, a merchant of Siena, was told that he was the lost heir to the kingdom of France. He had been switched soon after birth by his wet nurse and then taken away. The man who told him this was Cola di Rienzo, the governor of Rome, who then knelt and kissed his foot. This was more than enough to turn the head of an ordinary middle-aged dealer in wine and wool, with a wife and children at home. He accepted the fantasy. From that point Giannino, equipped with a borrowed seal and false attestations, surrounded by conniving Jewish merchants and false friars, took his campaign on the road. 

As Jean I, the descendant of Hugh Capet (who, ironically, was often said to have been a butcher), Giannino would have had a better claim than either Edward III or Jean II, who were then struggling for the throne of France. He would also carry, as the heir to Louis

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