For a summary of the Italian version of Bevis of Hampton, see this post.
THE SECOND ITALIAN REDACTION
Distinguished by, among other things, omitting the horse race, and passing straight from the recovery of Hampton to the death of Buovo.
THE ITALIAN CHANSON
Survives in two fragments. Both are in rhymed decasyllables.
1: Buovo Udinese: Ms. Archivo Capitolare di Udine.
2: Buovo Laurenziano. Ms. Laurenziano Palatino 93.
Blondoia, the old Guidone’s young wife, laments her beauty, and sends her servant Ricciardo to Dodone de Maganza, telling Dodone the whole plot. Guidone is sent out to the hunt, and slain. Bovolin hides in the stables, where his tutor Sinibaldo finds him, and flees with him to San Simone, his castle. Ricciardo sees this, however, and tellls Dodone, who pursues him, and recoves Bovo, though Sinibaldo escapes. Dodone besieges San Simone, and dreams that Bovo will kill him. He sends his brother Albrigo to Blondoia, bidding her kill the boy. She sends him poisoned bread, but the maid warns him and helps him flee. Bovo gets lost trying to find San Simone, winds up on the seashore, and is taken by sailors who selll him to King Arminione of Armenia. For four years he serves there, until the king holds a tournament. King Marcobruno is favored to win, but Buovo “borrows” armor and a lance, overthrows Marcobrun and slips away. Drusiana alone recognizes him and kisses him against his will. But then, the Sultan of Sadonia and his giant son Lucafero arrive to conquere Drusiana. They capture Arminione and Marcabruno, and so Drusiana gives Bovo Chiraenza, the sword of Galassso [Galahad]; the magic horse Rondello; and a parting kiss, which is seen by Arminione’s brother Ugolino. Bovo saves the day, kills Lucafero, drives away the Sultan, and saves the kings. Drusiana wishes to marry him, but Ugolino has his servant impersonate the king (supposedly lying wounded in bed, in th dark) and send Bovo to Lucafero with a “kill-the-bearer” letter. Bovo’s sword is stolen from him on the road by a palmer. He nonetheless comes to Sadonia, is imprisoned, and has the king’s daughter Malgaria fall in love with him. She gives him good food, until a year and three months later when he escapes. Wandering about, he finds the thief, and recovers his sword. To save his life, the thief gives him a magic [?] herb which changes his complexion. In this disguise, he comes to Apolonia, where Drusiana has been wed to Marcabruno. He is recognized first by Rondello, then by Drusiana. The lovers drug Marcabruno and flee. They exchange love’s final gift by a fountain, shortly after which they are found by Pulicane, half-dog and half-man. He and Bovo fight, but are reconciled. The three come to the castle of Duke Orio, rebel to Marcabruno. Orio is taken prisoner, but is granted freedom on condition he betray his guests. They flee, however, thanks to Pulicane. In the woods, Drusiana has two sons, Guidone and Sinibaldo. As Bovo is looking for food, two lions attack his wife and Pulicane. Pulicane and the lions die, and Drusiana flees with the children. She finds a ship which carries her to Armenia. Bovo returns to find Pulicane’s dead body, and assumes Drusiana is dead. Wandering alone, he meets a troop of Sinibaldo’s knights, who are seeking him. He conceals his identity, but travels with them back to England, where the war is still going on. He kills Alberico, and is recognized by Sinibaldo’s wife, due to the mark on his shoulder. Bovo and Terigi, Sinibaldo’s son, disguise themselves as doctors to enter Antona, rally the citizens, and expel Dodone. Brandoia is set to do penance, and Dodone goes to Pepin for help. [Somewhat is lost here]. Bovo kills Dodone, and peace is made.
Bovo soon hears from Malgaria that her father is dead, and that King Passamonte of Hungary is besieging her. Bovo goes to Sadonia, kills Passamonte, wins the war, and marries Malgaria. Drusiana arrives at the wedding as a minstrel, however, with her sons, and reveals herself. Malgaria is wed to Terigi.
BOVO IN OCTAVES – The Version printed in 1480
As above, with some changes, mostly to add comedy and drama. Jolly courtiers find the drugged Marcabruno in the morning, expecting to congratulate him on his recent wedding. Rondello takes part in the fight against Pelucane. There is more dialogue throughout. After the wedding of Malgaria and Terigi, Bovo and his family return to Hampton. [There is some suspicion that the original ended here, and that what follows was a later addition]. Bovo’s son Guidone has a son, Bernardo of Grismonte [Aigremont], who has seven sons: Ottone, father of Astolfo; Melone, father of Orlando; Amone, father of Rainaldo, Ricardo, Rizardetto, and Alaro [sic]; Dudone, father of Otone and Berlingeri; Ansuisi, father of Malgarise; Leon, [the one who becomes Pope]; and Girardo. Sinibaldo, Bovo’s other son, begets Guarmon [Garin of Monglan], who has four sons: Mira, father of Milior; Rainaldo, father of Merigo the fay [Aymeri of Narbonne]; Ghirardo; and Rainero, father of Olivero. When Bovo returns to Antona, he sends messengers to Tedrise [Terry] letting him know he made it home safe, and to Erminio, telling him of his daughter’s safety. Erminio dies, leaving Armenia to Guidone. It is in Armenia that Bernardo, here called Bovo, is born. Sinibaldo dies, and four years later Drusiana does, too. Bovo mourns but lives for another fifteen years. Rainaldo of Maganza, ancestor [father?] of Ganelon, however, orders his vassal Gualtier to kill Bovo. Gualtier goes to Maganza, worms his way into Bovo’s favor, and once his trust is thoroughly gained, on a Tuesday in May, stabs Bovo in the back while he’s praying in a church. The citizens seize him and imprison him, and young Sinibaldo, Guidone, and Tedrise besiege and sack Maganza. [Later reprintings give a longer description of the siege, but in a very bombastic style, certainly not by the original author.] The end.
A full account of the Russian versions would be impossible. The story exists in five major redactions, not counting the chapbooks, besides innumerable folktales and ballads, and has spread in folklore to several of Russia’s neighbors. The general plot is always the same, though, ending with the reunion of Bova and his family, and never including the horse-race or the death of Bova. Bova was so popular that he was often mentioned in the same breath as native Russian heroes like Ilya Muromets (though, as far as I know, there are no stories in which Bova meets the old bogatyrs). The English reader may consult Robert Steele’s Russian Garland for a fairly typical version, which we summarize below.
King Guidon of Anton marries Militrisa [from the Italian meretrice: whore] Kirbitovna, of Dimichtian, daughter of King Kirbit Versoulovich, although she loves Tsar Dadon. The maid Chernavka sets him Prince Bova free, and he pretends to the sailors that he is Anhusei, the son of a washerwoman. They come to Armenia, ruled by King Sensibri Andronovich. The princess Drushnevna drops a fork and makes Bova pick it up, and kisses him under the table, after which Bova sleeps three days. When he wakes up, he goes into the fields and makes a garland. Drushnevna asks him to give it to her, but he refuses and leaves the room, slamming the door so hard that a stone falls and knocks him out. Drushnevna cures him, after which he sleeps five days. While he sleeps, Marcobrun arrives and threatens to make war if he is not given Drushnevna. Sensibri agrees, and the knights hold a tournament. Bova awakens, and wishes to join in, but Drushnevna laughs and says he is too young to be a knight. So Bova goes to watch, riding a broom. When the knights laugh at him, he kills them all with it. Then he sleeps for nine nights. Meanwhile, the giant Tsar Lukoper arrives and demands Drushnevna, threatening war otherwise. In the ensuing war, he captures Sensibri and Marcobrun, and sends them to his father Saltan Saltanovich. Bova awakens, learns what has happened, and reveals his identity to Drushnevna. She gives him a mighty horse who has been locked behind twelve iron gates, and kisses him farewell. Orlop, the royal chamberlain, objects to this, so Bova knocks him down. He then kills Lukoper, scares Saltan away, and rescues the kings.
Bova sleeps another nine nights after the rescue, and Sensibri and Marcobrun ride out for a three-day hunting trip. While they are gone, Orlop gathers thirty men to kill Bova, but they are afraid, and one suggests that Orlop lie in bed, pretend to be the king, and send Bova to Saltan Saltanovich with a death-letter. Bova rides for two months, until he meets a pilgrim in the desert. The pilgrim drugs him, and steals his horse and sword. Ten days later, Bova wakes up, and continues his journey. Sensibri, upon reading the letter, has sixty of his knights sieze Bova and hang him. Once they get him out into the field, Bova rouses himself, kills them all, and flees. Tsar Saltan summons a hundred thousand knights, who are able to subdue Bova. As he is about to be hanged, Saltan’s daughter, Miliheria, begs for his life. She will try to convert him, and then they shall be wed. Saltan agrees, and Bova is put in prison with no food for five days. Miliheria comes to see him, but he will not convert, so she tells her father to kill him. The Tsar sends thirty knights to kill Bova, but Miliheria in her anger has heaped so much sand in front of the door that it will be easier to make a hole in the roof. Bova, luckily, finds a sword in prison, and kills them one by one as they enter. He does the same to a second thirty, then flees to the coast. Merchants take him on board, but Saltan arrives and orders them to hand him over. They hesitate, so Bova kills a few of them, and the rest take him away. Three months later, they come to the Sadonic kingdom, where Marcobrun is about to wed Drushnevna. Bova meets the pilgrim who robbed him. The pilgrim returns his goods, and also gives him three magic powders: one to look old, one to look young again, and one to cause sleep for nine days. Bova makes himself look old, and goes to the king’s castle as a beggar. It is illegal to mention Bova’s name in this country, and a cook beats Bova for so doing. Bova kills him, but the seneschal restores peace and sends him to the other beggars. He tells Drushnevna that he was in prison with Bova, who is somewhere near the kingdom. Drushnevna weeps, and tells Marcobrun it is because her father is dying. Meanwhile, Bova goes to the stables, where his steed is fastened with twelve chains. The horse breaks them, and shows affection to Bova. Drushnevna asks how this can be, and Bova reveals his identity. She does not believe him, so he makes himself young again. They drug Marcobrun and flee. After four days, they rest. Bova slays three hundred thousand men whom Marcobrun sent after them, so Marcobrun sends Polkan, who is a centaur who has been imprisoned for years and can leap seven versts (four and a half miles) at once. Bova defeats Polkan, and they swear brotherhood. The threesome come to the city of Kostel, ruled by Tsar Uril, which Marcobrun besieges. Marcobrun captures Uril and his sons, and releases him on condition he betray his guests. Uril’s wife refuses to consent to the treason, so Uril beats her. Polkan is listening, however, and kills him. Polkan and Bova rout the army and free Uril’s children. Marcobrun returns to the Sadonic kingdom, and swears that he, his children, and his grandchildren will never pursue Bova.
Bova, Polkan, and Drushnevna ride towards the city of Sumin, where Simbalda is. On the way, Drushnevna has two sons in a meadow: Litcharda and Simbalda. Sometime later, an army seny by Dadon and heading towards Armenia to slay Bova marches by. Bova leaves Polkan with Drushnevna and the children [they are staying in a tent in the meadow, still], while he slays the army. While he is doing so, Polkan is attacked by two lions, and all three die. Drushnevna looks out of the tent, sees the carnage, and thinks Bova is dead too, so she flees with her sons. They come to Tsar Saltan’s city, where she washes herself with the aging powder. Bova returns, thinks she is dead, and rides to Simin, where Simbalda and his son Tervis raise and army and march against Anton. Dadon has three hundred thousand men, but Bova challenges him to single combat and cleaves his skull. He sends his body to Queen Militrisa, while he weeps over his father’s grave and returns to Sumin. Unfortunately, Dadon is only mostly dead, and Militrisa sends far and wide for a doctor. Bova disguises himself with the aging powder, pretends to be a doctor, and beheads Dadon. He sends his head to Militrisa on a platter, washes himself with the youthful powder, and has Tervis nail her up in a barrel and roll her into the ocean. Bova reclaims his thorne, and sends to Saltan, asking for Miliheria’s hand in marriage. They consent, but Drushnevna hears of it. She has become a washerwoman, but she now walks with her two sons to Anton, arriving the same day. She washes herself with the youthful powder and sends her sons to present themselves before Bova. They tell their story, and there is much rejoicing. Bova has the taxes remitted for two months, and Milheria weds Tervis. Bova also sends Simbalda’s brother Ohen to conquer Armenia from Orlop, [who has apparently usurped it, though this was not mentioned before.] Orlop is slain, and Ohen is made king. Bova rules and reigns in Anton happily ever after.
A Folk-Tale Version Of Prince Bova
Very much shorter. Bova’s mother is a widow. It is her beloved’s idea to poison Bova. Bova’ mother chases him to the shore and the two of them both threaten the sailors [transferred from Saltan’s pursuit in the original]. Bova helps the merchants sell their goods, where he plays the gusli so well that everyone is transfixed. The ruler [unnamed] hires him to be his daughter’s page. They fall in love, he reveals his identity, and they are wed. Then his father-in-law gives him a horse kept behind twelve iron doors with twelve steel chain. Bova sets out on him to seek adventure. The guard at the gate is asleep, however, so Bova strikes him to wake him up. The guard is not happy, and drugs Bova. He then leaves him with a letter to visit such-and-such a Tsar, and a letter to the Tsar saying that Bova killed his son [this was not related earlier]. Bova wakes up, delivers the letter, and is thrown in jail. His daughter tries to convert him to the Latin faith [Roman Catholicism], but he refuses, so they attempt to hang him. He overcomes twelve guards and escapes. He returns to his palace after five long years, where his wife is giving food to beggars. He drinks the aging potion, reveals himself to his wife, and then turns himself young again. They live happily ever after.