The Legend of Ottaviano del Lione

The legend of Ottaviano del Lione, son of Fioravante, is to be found in the following verisons:

I Reali di Francia: an Italian compilation of Carolingian legends, by Andrea da Barberino. Book III is devoted to the adventures of Ottaviano. An abridged translation 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 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.


Gisberto of the Fierce Visage reigns in France, and his brother Ottaviano del Lione in Scondia. Ottaviano hears word that his father-in-law, Sultan Danebruno of Babylon [Cairo] is dead. He and his brother depart to claim his wife’s inheritance. Danebruno, it turns out, is not dead, though he is 150, and he leads his army against the Franks. Ottaviano kills him, and spends the next three years conquering the Orient. He besieges Babylon, but cannot take it for eighteen years. He goes to Jerusalem, meanwhile, and an angel tells him his line will do wonders for Christ. In this time, his wife Angaria gives birth to a son, named Bovetto . When Bovetto is fifteen and can bear arms, Ottaviano is poisoned by a woman who thought she was giving him a love philtre. After two more years, Bovetto takes Babyon [Cairo], upon which all the hosts of Pagandom unite to drive him out, and he retreats to Jerusalem, where he is besieged.

Gisberto, for his pride, is stricken with leprosy. He leaves his wife and son Michael in the care of the aging Riccieri, and wanders in Spain. Riccieri rescues Bovetto, who returns to Scondia to reign. Gisberto, after seven years in the woods, is cured, just in time to save Queen Sibilla of Articana from the besieging King Carianus of Lusintania [Portugal]. She converts and they are wed. King Libanorus leads an army to avenge his beheaded brother. The royal couple flee, but are betrayed at a castle near Saragossa. Luckily, the daughter of the castellan falls in love with Gisberto, and sends a message to Paris. An army arrives, led by the children of characters from Fioravante, and battle is joined outside the castle wherein Gisberto is held. In the heat of the fight, the castellan’s daughter releases Gisberto, who saves the day for the Christians. The castellan chooses execution over conversion, but his daughter Galiziana is baptized Diamia, and is wed to the squire who took the message.

Gisberto returns to his kingdom, and has peace for five years. But then, Alfideo of Milan, son of Durante, is attacked, and calls for aid. The fight is valiant, Bovetto distinguishes himself, but Gisberto is killed by a poisoned arrow. Alfideo, nonetheless, wins the war, and Gisberto’s son Michele is crowned.

Bovetto has a wife, Alibranda, daughter of Gulion of Bavaria. They have a son, Guido. Bovetto decides to conquer the English, who have overrun Britain and driven the Britons to Brittany. He does so, deciding to live in Antona [Southampton]. When Guido is sixteen, King Adramans of Frisia decides it is time to marry off his fifteen year old daughter Feliziana. He holds court, to which many come. She loves none of her suitors, however, but falls in love with Bovetto by report, notwithstanding religious differences. She sends a letter to him, and he comes and wins the tournament being held in Frisia. Her cousin walks in on the two of them kissing, and Bovetto kills him, and flees with Feliziana. Adramans pursues, and lays siege to London, before being defeated after a few months. Adramans disguises himself and wanders England, until he gains admittance before Bovetto, as a beggar, and stabs him to death. Bovetto kills him before he dies, and so Guido becomes king. Feliziana marries one of his noblemen.

Michael, not long after dies, leaving the Empire to his son Gostantino Agnolo. He has two sons, Lione and Pipino. Liking Pipino better, he leaves France to him. But at a feast one day, Rinieri of Maganza, who wanted to marry Feliziana, quarrels with Guido, who kills him. This is the origin of the feud between the Maganzans and Guido’s descendants, for Rinieri left two sons, Duodo and Alberigo. Guido lives long in exile, and, though his source does not says so, Andrea thinks this must be the reason he did not marry until his old age. Gostantino Agnolo dies, leaving the Empire to Lione, and France to Pipino. Pipino pardons the now over-sixty Guido, who marries Brandoria, daughter of King Ottone of Bordeaux.


Ottaviano makes war not in Egypt, but in Macedonia. He begot Bovetto by Argulia, who begot Guido d’Antono, who megot Buovo d’Antona, who begot the twins Guido and Sinibaldo, and King Guglielmo  of England. Guglielmo begot Bernard of Monchiere, and Duke Busone. Busone begot Girardo dalla Fratta, and Duke Mellone. Mellone begot Don Buoso and Don Chiaro. Girardo da Fratta begot Arnaldo of Berlanda, Rinieri of Gineva [father of Olivier and Alda], Mellone of Puglia, and Girardo of Vienna. This is the House of Monglane.

Bernardo of Monchiere begot Duodo of Nantoil [Doon de Nanteuil], Mellone [father of Orlando], Otto [father of Astolfo], Asmone of Dornona [Aymon], Buovo d’Agrismonte [father of Malagise and Viviano]. And Girardo da Rossiglione. Duodo begot Guarnieri di Nantoia, who begot Guido di Nantoia [Guy de Nanteuil]. Girardo da Rossiglione befot Anseigi il Bianco. This is the House of Chiaramonte.

Arnaldo da Berlanda begot Amerigo di Nerbona [Aymeri of Narbonne], who begot seven sons, [as this genealogy differs in nothing from the standard French version, we will omit it here, and give it in a future post dealing with William of Orange and his family].

Gisberto’s only adventure after his sojourn in the woods is killing a dragon en route to Paris. The war in Lombardy is not mentioned, and Bovetto’s conquest of England is disposed of in a sentence; it took fifteen years. Gisberto begot Agnolo Michele, who had no sons, so the kingdom passed to his seneschal’s son Pipino [Some MSS have Agnolo Michele begetting Pipino.]. Pipino begot three bastards: Lanfroi, Orderigi, and Berta, and one legitimate son, Charlemagne. Charlemagne begot King Aluigi the Pious, and Aluizia who married Elia [Elie of Saint-Giles] and bore him Aiolfo [Aiol].


This is a purely literary invention, either by Andrea or some other writer, to fill the gap between Floovant and Bevis. It is the dullest section of the Reali.

Let thus much suffice for Ottaviano, and let us now speak of his namesake the Emperor Octavian.

Or else, let us speak of his backstory, and his father Floovant.


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