The Legend of Fiovo

UPDATED VERSION. The original version of this post contained numerous inaccuracies, which are now hopefully corrected.

The legend of Fiovo is to be found in the following versions:

Fioravante. Italian prose, 1315-1340.

Andrea da Barberino’s I Reali di Francia, Book I. Italian prose, c. 1400.

Flovents Saga, Icelandic prose.

Flovins rima. Faeroese ballad.


Fioravante is an Italian prose romance (1315-1340) which covers the same ground as Books I, II, and III of the Reali, with some differences. It seems to have been the base for the Reali, which is much longer and adds many more sub-plots.


Florence, Magliabechiana (Palch. II, cod. 28, Strozziano). A miscellany from the 1400s. Fioravante is the only Carolingian work.

Florence, Magliabechiana, Convventi soppressi da ordinare, Badia 30. 1400s.

Florence, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Med. Palat. 119. A miscellany compiled at various times. The Fioravante was finished November 11, 1472.

Paris, BnF, it., 1647.


Rajna, Pio. 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. Most of the work is analysis comes first, but the Fioravante is printed at the end.

Mattaini, Adelaide, ed. Romanzi dei Reali di Francia.

At a banquet, Gostantino’s [Constantine the Great’s] nephew Fiovo 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 with his kinsmen Otto and Gilfroy. Gostantino pursues, but Fiovo unhorses him, takes his horse Gioioso, and flees. Wandering in the woods, the three knights meet to a hermit, who feeds him and tells them to rescue King Fiorenzo of Paris from the Pagans. The hermit dies, and the three knights depart. They have a run-in with some Pagans, but escape, and shortly afterward they meet Ansuigi, son of King Filipo, who has just escaped from the paynims’ castle. Ansuigi is cousin to the three, and they greet him with joy and ride to Paris, where King Fiorenzo is besieged by King Salatres of Sansogna [Saxony]. Fiovo rides to the rescue. In the course of the war Salatre’s daughter Brandoria falls in love with him, and abandons her people for him. The Saracen general Corsablino also distinguishes himself. Fiovo sends Otto to Rome for aid. Before the Romans can muster, however, Salatres sends his son Dinasor to besiege that city. Fiovo manages to kill Salatres anyway, and marries Brandoria. Corsablino becomes a Christian. Fiorenzo and his daughter, however, wanted her to wed Fiovo, so they poison his food. Luckily, a dog eats it first, and Fiorenzo discovers all. He puts the king to death, taking his land and converting it. The princess is pardoned and married to Ansuigi, and they become the ancestors of the Maganzans. Fiovo conquers Scotland, Ireland, and “Brettagna,” which last he gives to Corsablino, who becomes the ancestor of Salamone. Meanwhile, Dinasor is still besieging Rome, as messengers inform Fiovo, who hurries to his uncle’s relief. He wins this war, thanks to a strong vilain who wields a massive club and captures the Pagan king. Since Dinasor refuses to convert, he is kept in prison until he dies. Fiovo returns home and has two sons: Fiorello and Fiorio. Fiorello marries Bianciadora, daughter of the king of Germany, and Fiorio marries the princess of Dardenna [Ardennes]. When Gostantino dies, Fiovo becomes Emperor of Rome, leaving France to Fiorello. Fioro inherits Dardenna when his father-in-law dies.


Andrea da Barberino (c. 1370-1432) was an Italian writer, of whom little is known beyond his works. He was the author of a cycle of retellings of the Carolingian legend: I Reali di Francia, Aspramonte, Storie Nerbonese, Ajolfo del Barbicone, Ugone d’Avernia, and Guerrino il Meschino. He was probably also the author of the works known as Prima Spagna and Seconda Spagna, or Ansuigi, as well as the Italian prose Rinaldo da Monte Albano. The prose Rambaldo has also been attributed to him, but in Gloria Allaire’s judgment, this is a mistake.

I Reali di Francia, [The Royal House of France] in six books. traces Charlemagne’s descent back to the days of Emperor Constantine.

Book I: Fiovo

Book II: Fioravante [Floovant]

Book III: Ottaviano dal Leone

Book IV: Bevis of Hampton

Book V: The Vengeance for Bevis

Book VI: Bertha Broadfoot, Mainet, and Enfances Roland.


Andrea da Barberino, I Reali di Francia, edited by Giuseppe Vandelli and Giovanni Gambarin. Giuseppe Laterza & Figli: Bari, 1947. Berta’s story is in Book VI, Ch. 1-17.

English Translation:

Wickert, Max. The Royal House of France, and Related Medieval Romances. Internet only, 2009. Link here. Sadly abridged, but better than nothing.

Andrea (or his source) adds an introduction about Constantine and Sylvester, and many, many more wars of Fiovo’s.

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. Fiovo is the baptismal name of Constantine’s son (not his nephew), formerly known as Gostanzo. He flees the banquet alone, and is found at the hermitage by his cousin Sanguino and by one Giambarone. 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. Brandoria is still this Duke’s daughter, but now she is a warrior in her own right. She marries Fiovo and they have e has two sons, Fiorello, and Fiore. Three years later, King Nerino dies, and Fiovo becomes king. Seven years after this, the Duke dies, and Fiovo inherits Sansogna as well.

However, 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 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, especially 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 to 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.


Flovents Saga. Survives in nearly a dozen MSS, in two redactions, which fortunately differ not at all in plot. The saga was translated into Latin by Johannes Olaf in 1732.


Cederschiöld, Gustaf, ed. Magus Saga Jarls, Konra͠s Saga, Baerings Saga, Flovents Saga, Bevers Saga. 1884.

Olaf’s Latin can be found in Appendix 1 of Arsène Darmesteter’s De Floovante; vetustiore gallico poemate et de merovingo cyclo. 1877.

Flovent, sister’s son of Emperor Constantine the Great, spills wine on a noble at a feast, and kills him in the ensuing fight. He flees with his squires Otunus and Jofrierus, as Constantine pursues. Flovent overthrows him and steals his horse. The three fugitives meet a hermit, who has been told by angels to send them on to France, to aid and convert King Florent. They meet four pagan bandits on the road and kill three. Coming on, they stop at a castle, where they are recognized for Christians. They flee, slaying many. On the road again, they rescue Angsueis, the son of Constantine’s brother, from pagans, and all four go to Paris. At the siege, Flovent captures King Corsablinus. King Florent and his army make a sally, and raise the siege. The four newcomers refuse all reward, and ransom Corsablinus for much gold. The news travels to Salatres in Corbolium, father of Corduban and Marsibilia. They besiege Paris. Flovent kills Carduban, and the pagans flee. Salatres arrives with reinforcements. They also flee, but take Otunus prisoner. Marsibilia lets Otunus escape, on condition that he carry a token of her affection to Flovent. He does so. King Floret offers his daughter to Flovent, who stalls. He plans to lure the pagans into an ambush outside Corbolium. It is a success, and he takes Salatres prisoner. His two sons raise an army and march on Paris. They kill King Floret, but retreat. Flovant leads an army to Corbolium. Salatres surrenders the city, and gives Marsibilia to Flovent, with much land. Marsibilia is baptized and wed. Flovent returns to Paris, destroys the idols, and converts the people. Meanwhile, the Spaniards are attacking Rome. Flovent comes to the rescue, is reconciled with his uncle, and the Pope crowns him King of France. He reigns long, beloved by all.

Although it has absorbed some elements from Floovant, the saga is clearly based on Fiovo. It claims to have been translated from French by a certain Simon. If so, this is the only trace that the French Fiovo has left.


The Faeroese islands are home to one of the richest ballad traditions in Europe, and are some of the last places where the Charlemagne legend lives in popular tradition. The standard collection is known as the Corpus Carminorum Faeroensium. 

The Karlamagnusar kvæði is a collection of traditional Faeroese ballads, most of them ultimately based on Old Norse sagas, about Charlemagne and his Paladins. The exact ballads in the collection differ from copy to copy. Flovins Rima is found in three of them, but as I cannot read Faeroese, I must forego any analysis of this ballad here.


Corpus Carminum Faeroensium. 5, 106-II


As we will see, the original Fiovo is a mere duplication of Floovant. Andrea, or his source, turned it into a somewhat original story. 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 this suffice for Fiovo, and let us now speak of Floovant.

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