What happened to Crispin's father according to Asta?

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According to Asta, Crispin's father died in a plague. When she was alive, Asta chose not to reveal much about Crispin's father to Crispin. She would only say that the man died in what the people of Stromford called "The Great Mortality."

Because of their superstitious beliefs, the villagers believed...

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According to Asta, Crispin's father died in a plague. When she was alive, Asta chose not to reveal much about Crispin's father to Crispin. She would only say that the man died in what the people of Stromford called "The Great Mortality."

Because of their superstitious beliefs, the villagers believed that God sent the plague as a judgment for their sins. In the story, Father Quinel was on the verge of revealing Crispin's true paternal heritage to him when he was killed.

As the story progresses, we learn that Crispin never laid eyes on his father during his childhood years. In fact, his real father is Lord Furnival, a powerful man. Because Crispin was the product of an affair between Lord Furnival and Crispin's mother, the former refused to acknowledge Crispin as his son.

For much of the story, Crispin believed that his father died in the plague. When he finally discovers his true paternal heritage, Crispin is crushed. However, he begins to understand why his mother always spoke of his father with bitterness. Essentially, Lord Furnival abandoned both Asta (said to be Lord Douglas' youngest daughter) and Crispin once he discovered that Asta was pregnant. Because of his cruelty, Asta and Crispin lived in poverty for much of their lives.

Asta also lied to Crispin about his paternal heritage in order to protect him. Later in the story, we see the reason for Asta's reservations about telling Crispin the truth. After Lord Furnival's death, Lady Furnival orders the destruction of anyone who would dare make a claim to the Furnival fortune.

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Asta, Crispin's mother, has always told him that his father died from the plague. This was a common cause of death in the Middle Ages, so it's a plausible story, one that has the ring of truth to it. In fact, Crispin's father was supposed to have died in the Black Death, a massive outbreak of bubonic plague that decimated Europe in the fourteenth century, leaving millions of dead in its terrifying wake.

Crispin had also been led to believe that Asta is illiterate. Again, this is also a perfectly plausible story as only a very small number of people at that time could read or write. Yet neither of these stories are true, though both are related in one crucial respect. Crispin's lead cross bears the inscription "Crispin-Son of Furnival." Initially, he's unaware of this as he can't read or write. But Asta, as we see, can, and she also knows of the true identity of Crispin's father. So Crispin's little lead cross is his only remaining connection to his parents.

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