The Legend of Fiovo

The legend of Fiovo, ancestor of Charlemagne and most of the Paladins, is to be found in the following versions:

I Reali di Francia: an Italian compilation of Carolingian legends, by Andrea da Barberino. Books I and II are devoted to the adventures of Fiovo and Fioravante. An abridged translation of the Reali by Max Wickert can be found on his website, here.

Fioravante: an Italian prose romance which covers the same ground as Books I, II, and III of the Reali, with some differences. Between 1315 and 1340. To be found in Rajna’s misleadingly titled work I reali di Francia. [Volume I:] Ricerche intorno ai reali di Francia, seguite dal libro delle storie di Fioravante e dal cantare di Bovo d’Antona. An analysis comes first, and the Fioravante is stuck in at the end. Also can be found in Romanzi dei Reali di Francia, edited by Adelaide Mattaini.


Emperor Gostantino [Constantine] a pagan, persecutes Pope Sylvester. He is then stricken with leprosy, but refuses his doctors’ advice to cure it with the blood of children. This is pleasing to God, who sends Saints Peter and Paul to tell the Emperor that Sylvester can cure him. Sylvester comes out of hiding to baptize and cure Gostantino. Rome converts to Christianity. At a banquet, Gostantino’s son Gostanzo, who has changed his name to Fiovo in baptism, spills wine on his distant cousin Saleone, who strikes him. Fiovo goes and cries in his bedroom. Giambarone, of the line of Scipio, finds him there and bids him seek revenge. Fiovo stabs Saleone to death and flees. Gostantino pursues, but Fiovo unhorses him, takes his horse, and continues his flight. Wandering in the woods, he comes to a hermit, who feeds him. Giambarone and Sanguino, a cousin of Fiovo’s, find him there. The hermit turns out to be Sansone, the brother of Emperor Lucino who married Gostantino’s sister Gostanza, and of Lucina, who married Gostantino. [Costo and Gostantino II, Fiovo’s brothers, are by another wife]. An angel presents the banner Oro e fiamma, [the Oriflamme] to Sansone and announces that whoever wields this standard will have the victory, so long as it is never used against Christians. The four knights now leave and come to Milan, where they defeat and convert the pagan Artilla and his army. Artilla is baptized Durante.

This is after the days of King Arthur [!], and the English have conquered Britain and driven the Britons to Brittany. Outside of Rome, Brittany, and a few colonies in Armenia and India, all the world is Pagan. The four knights come to Provence, where they fight for King Nerino against his brother the Duke of Sansogna [Saxony?]. Thanks to the Oriflamme, they win. Fiovo marries Brandoria, the Duke’s daughter and a warrior in her own right. He has two sons, Fiorello, and Fiore. The third year King Nerino dies, and Fiovo becomes king. Seven years after this, the Duke dies, and Fiovo inherits both territories.

One of his barons, Gilfroy the Strong, secedes to join King Fiorenzo of France, the last of the line of the Trojan Franco, who came to this country after the Trojan War. After a battle, in which Brandoria distinguishes herself, Fiorenzo is killed, ending the Trojan line. Fiovo takes Paris, converts the French, and becomes king. Sanguino marries Fiorenzo’s daughter Soriana. Giambarone sends to Rome for his wife and his son Riccieri, who becomes the first Paladin of France. Soriana incites Sanguino to try to kill Fiovo, but the plot is discovered, Sanguino killed, and Soriana banished. She wanders to the Jura Mountains, where she gives birth to a boy, Sanguino, and a girl, Maganza. Sanguino grows up to marry one Rosana, and has two sons, Aldoigi and Manfredi, and is eventually reconciled to Fiovo.

Meanwhile, Fiovo, having heard someone criticize King Arthur for not converting any lands to Christianity, decides to convert Dardenna [Arden?]. With his allies, he invades the lower Rhinelands, ruled by King Asiradon of Dardenna, and conquers them after much fighting. They convert, Fiovo is crowned king, and his younger son Fiore marries Asiradon’s daughter Florinda, and their children are Lione, Lionello, and Uliana.

Part II of Book I of the Reali di Francia

Saracens attack Rome, among them King Misperio, who is father of Balante of Balda, of Galerano of Scondia, and of Asiradon of Dardenna. After a siege of a year, Gostantino decides to summon Fiovo. Fiovo and his men ride to the rescue. In a long series of battles, the hermit Sansone is killed, Riccieri is dubbed and distinguishes himself, Fiovo is captured and rescued by Riccieri, and at last truce is made for three months. Danebruno, the soldan of Babylon [Cairo], sends for reinforcements. His ambassador to the kingdom of the recently deceased King Gloriardo gives a description of the 22-year-old Riccieri which causes the deceased’s 14-year-old daughter, Princess Fegra Albana, to fall madly in love with him. She sends him a love letter. Riccieri, equally smitten, goes to Barbary, and the two meet each other’s expectations. He returns to Rome, as secretly as he came. Her brother, King Achirro of Barbary, holds a tournament to marry her off to the winner. Riccieri returns in disguise, wins, but is exposed for a Christian and thrown in prison. Danebruno, having gathered his forces, departs for Italy [this has been an eventful three months!]. Fegra Albana, left alone, releases Riccieri, who returns to Pisa and conquers and converts its king, Folicardo. The two head for Rome, meeting with Fiorello and Fiore on the way. At Rome, in many more long battles, Fiovo kills Achirro, and at last Danebruno retreats to Pagandom. Fiovo remains in Rome with Gostantino, Fiorello is crowned King of France, and Fiore stays king of Dardenna. Riccieri is made duke of Sansogna, and Sanguinio and Maganza are pardoned and restored.

But Danebruno invades Barbary and besieges Fegra Albana and her widowed mother in Tunis. She sends for Riccieri, who comes in disguise and leads the army to victory. After the battle, he makes peace between Danebruno and Barbary, and Fegra Albana’s cousin Filoter is crowned King. Riccieri travels to Egypt to see the Sultan, whence a false report of his death travels back to Tunis, and Fegra Albana kills herself for grief. Riccieri returns to Tunis, is welcomed notwithstanding, and after a year leaves with Filoter and an army, and come to Paris, which for some reason they attack. In the battle, Filoter is killed, and Riccieri rejoins the Christians. The Pagans are routed and flee. Riccieri never marries, for love of Fegra Albana.


In this version, the introduction with Constantine and Sylvester is omitted. Fiovo, the emperor’s nephew, kills Saleone immediately at the banquet, with a too-strong blow. Sansone is unnamed, and unrelated to Fiovo, and dies at the hermitage. The prince’s three companions are Otto and Gilfroy, who left Rome with him, and Ansuigi, who finds him at the hermitage. The four depart, are nearly captured by Pagans, escape, and come to Paris, where King Fiorenzo is besieged by King Salatres of Sansogna. Fiovo rides to the rescue, kills Salatres, and saves the day. The war over, he marries Salatres’ daughter Brandoia, to the grief of Fiorenzo and his daughter. They plot to poison Fiovo, who discovers it, and puts the king to death, taking his land and converting it. The princess is pardoned, married to Ansuigi, and becomes the ancestor of the Maganzans. There is no war against Dardenna; Fiore weds its princess peacefully. Meanwhile, King Salatres’ son has been besieging Rome, to keep the Emperor from aiding Fiovo. Fiovo rescues Rome, thanks to a strong peasant who wields a massive club and captures the enemy king. Fiovo becomes emperor, leaving France to Fiorello. Riccieri and his adventures are omitted.


This legend is almost certainly a mere duplication of Floovant, which will be the subject of a future post. As Constantine and Sylvester have no real connection to the Carolingian legend, we will content ourselves with referring our readers to the Catholic Encyclopedia. The origin of the House of Maganza, given here, is probably a literary invention, as are the later wars of Fiovo, and the adventures of Riccieri. Andrea, or someone else, invented them to fill in the gaps at the beginning of the legend of Charlemagne.

Let thus much suffice for Fiovo, and let us now speak of his son Floovant.


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