Tedaldo appears to be an old form of Teobaldo, the Italian form of Theobald, an Ancient Germanic name meaning “bold people.” There are two Tedaldos in The Decameron, featuring in the third story of the second day and the seventh story of the third day. The Tedaldo in the latter story is the one I’m choosing to focus on, since he does so much more than the other Tedaldo.
Tedaldo degli Elisei of Florence has a lover, Madonna Ermellina, the wife of Aldobrandido Palermini. Their happiness comes to an unexplained halt one day, when, out of the blue, Ermellina argues with him and cuts off the affair. Tedaldo is very depressed for awhile, but when it becomes clear the affair is really over, he secretly moves to Ancona and assumes the name Filippo di San Lodeccio. In just a few years, he becomes a prosperous merchant.
Tedaldo is eventually seized by a strong desire to see Ermellina again, and so goes to Florence disguised as a pilgrim. He’s shocked to see all four of his brothers dressed in black, and discovers a man believed to be himself was recently murdered. Aldobrandido is awaiting the death penalty for the crime, which was supposedly committed after Aldobrandido discovered Tedaldo’s affair with Ermellina. Telaldo succeeds in discovering who the real criminals are, and frees Aldobrandido from Death. In so doing, he more than convinces Aldobrandido there’s no affair, though Tedaldo continues to enjoy himself with Ermellina. While Aldobrandido is still in jail, Tedaldo learns Ermellina spurned him because some friar excoriated her when she confessed her adultery.
Teudelinga is the Italian form of Theudelinda, which in turn is the Old Germanic form of Dietlinde and derived from the elements “people” (theud) and “tender/soft” (linde). Queen Theudelinda was a real person, the wife of King Agilulf of the Lombards and the daughter of Duke Garibald I of Bavaria. She lived from circa 570–628 CE.
In The Decameron, she features in the second story of the third day, one of my all-time favourites. One of King Agilulf’s grooms falls in love with Queen Teudelinga, and reaches the point where he feels he either must commit suicide for the sake of love, or risk Death by lying with the Queen. Never does he ever betray his burning lust, even during all the times they have close contact while riding.
This groom may be of low birth, but he’s tall, handsome, and intelligent. Thus, he’s able to figure out how to get away with impersonating the King by frequently hiding in one of the great halls of the palace. He observes how King Agilulf dresses and acts when he goes to the Queen’s bedchamber. After he finally realises his dream, he reluctantly takes his leave so he won’t tempt Fate too much.
Soon afterwards, as luck would have it, the King arrives at the Queen’s bedchamber, and she’s very much surprised to see him back so soon. Taking courage from his amiable mood, she asks what kind of novelty this is. The King immediately realises, based on what she says, that she’s been tricked by a man of similar appearance and build. However, being a very wise man, he says nothing. Instead, he goes to the servants’ quarters and feels everyone’s heartbeat. Once he finds the guilty party, he shears a lock of the groom’s hair. After the King leaves, the groom shears all the others. In the morning, it’s impossible to find the guilty party, so the King lets them off with a cryptic warning. He’s determined not to acquire great shame at the expense of trivial revenge by airing such personal business. The groom never tempts Fate again.