Gesta Romanorum Vol. II (1871)/Of Riches

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Gesta Romanorum Vol. II  (1871) 
Anonymous, translated by Charles Swan
Of Riches



A king issued a proclamation, that whosoever would come to him should obtain all they asked. The noble and the rich, desired dukedoms, or counties, or knighthood; and some, treasures of silver and gold. But whatsoever they desired they had. Then came the poor and the simple and solicited a like boon. "Ye come tardily," said the king, "the noble and the rich have already been, and have carried away all I possess." This reply troubled them exceedingly; and the king, moved by their concern, said, "My friends, though I have given away all my temporal possessions, I have still the sovereign power; for no one required this. I appoint ye, therefore, to be their judges and masters." When this came to the ears of the rich, they were extremely disturbed, and said to the king, "My lord, we are greatly troubled at your appointing these poor wretches our rulers; it were better for us to die, than admit such servitude." "Sirs," answered the king, "I do you no wrong[1]: whatever you asked I gave; insomuch that nothing remains to me but the supreme power. Nevertheless, I will give you counsel. Whosoever of you has enough to support life, let him bestow the superfluity upon these poor people. They will then live honestly and comfortably, and upon these conditions I will resume the sovereignty and keep it, while you avoid the servitude ye apprehend." And thus it was done.


My beloved, the king is God; the herald is a preacher; the rich, &c. are the men of this world, and the poor are the poor in spirit.

  1. We are here reminded of our Lord's parable of the labourers in the vineyard; in fact, it is clearly the prototype of this tale.