The Legend of Renaud of Montauban 11: Italian Variants and Origins


This poem’s vast popularity, which resulted in Rinaldo becomming the most famous knight of Charlemagne’s among the Italian people, is due, I think, to two related factors. The first is that the poem is, as far as a foreigner can judge, well-written. It moves along with scarcely a dull moment from beginning to end. The second is, that it is unabashedly on the side of the House of Clairmont. Gone are the moral dilemmas of the French poem, the conflicts between loyalty to country and loyalty to family, the question of whether it is right to obey one’s king when he is clearly in the wrong. The poem sometimes even crosses the border into protagonist-centered morality, as when Namo and Ogier have no qualms about sacrificing thousands of Christians in the vain hope of reconciling Charles and Rinaldo, or when Malagigi arranges the betrayal and slaughter of the Maganzans. Anything the House of Clairmont does is fair play, but anything the Maganzans do is foul treason. One can clearly see the difference between a poem written for the nobility of France serving kings of highly varying competence, and a poem written for the lower and middle classes of an Italy which had only recently advanced from deadly feuds within her cities to deadly feuds between her cities.


The poet relates the traditional episodes rather briefly, to make more room for his own inventions.

In much the same way as the Old French, where the traditional heart of the poem (the treason at Vaucoleurs and its aftermath) is the same across all MSS, whereas the later additions (Montessor and Tremoigne) were freely rewritten, so in the Italian the (by-then) traditional portions representing the Old French chanson are similar in all four of the oldest copies, while the new additions such as Rinaldo’s giant-killing spree are freely altered.

Two messengers are sent to Buovo d’Agrismonte, as in O. Afterwards, however, the account of the quarrel at chess and the rest of the story follow DPA.

Combats between fathers and sons are well-known in folklore. Odysseus is slain by his son. Cuchulain slays his. Rustan slays his. Arthur and Mordred slay each other. Hildebrand and his son recognize each other before either is slain. Amadis of Gaul was slain by Esplendian in the [lost] original book, but in Montalvo’s reworking they recognize each other in time.

The siege of Monte Soro is much abridged, but what it does keep follows the French closely, such as the slaying of one Ugo de Sant’ Omeri by Guicciardo.

Mambrino is simply a replacement for Begon. His brothers appear to be Italian inventions.

The siege of Monte Albano is much condensed from the French, and appears to take place over a few months, rather than years and years.

The corpse stops in Ceoigne, as in POA, the French prose, and Caxton.


In a: immediately after the slaying of the giant Constantino, the next adventure is that of the Amostante of Persia, wherein Rinaldo visits the Sultan before offering his services to the Almostante.

The Marte episode is also narrated differently. The four cousins have their own adventures while crossing the sea. When they finally arrive, Rinaldo and Ulivieri fight in a judicial duel for Queen Sibilia. At the feast after they win, the spies of Gano expose the identity of the four newcomers, and a battle breaks out. The eight Paladins are driven back to the Royal Palace, where the Queen confides to them the secret of her love, and shows them a secret exit. They are nonetheless pursued, Rinaldo cuts off Marte’s head, but Astolfo is captured. Rinaldo sends Baiard away, and the battle proceeds as usual. Only after this battle do the Four Sons visit the Holy Sepulcher, and when they return to France Orlando specifically reconciles them with Charles.

In the beta family: Two cantos are interpolated at the beginning of the poem. The first expands on the backstory between Amone and Ginamo, and the second is merely a description of the Paladins gathering at Charles’ court.

Later on, it is Ginamo’s brother Folco who meets the Sons and is slain by them. Rinaldo kills Ginamo in a judicial duel in Paris.

The Amostante’s daughter is named Constanza, not Fioretta.

The story of Fierabras is interpolated between the end of the war against Mambrino and the attempted pilgrimage of Ganelon to Compostella.

Rinaldo’s corpse, very sensibly, does not travel to Cogna but instead into Saint Peter’s Church in Cologne. A scroll proceeds from his mouth, on which his name and history are written. The news is taken to Charles, who comes with the Paladins to pay their respects. The lamentations of Aymonetto, Ivonetto, his brothers, Orlando, Astofo, etc. are related. Even Ganelon is given a stanza of (undoubtably hypocritical) mourning, regretful for all the times they quarrelled. Charles hangs the masons, and endows an abbey of monks.

The poem appears to end, but in some beta editions is added, without explanation, a whole further canto of adventures. (In other copies, this episode is more logically placed just before Rinaldo’s departure for Cologne) Ganelon tells Charles he really ought to hang that thief Rinaldo. Charles concurs, but asks how. Ganelon suggests inviting Rinaldo to court, and then hanging him. Charles agrees, and writes a letter, which he sends via Turpin. Rinaldo arrives at court, and after a feast, retires to his chamber in a tower. Ganelon, Charles, and a hundred goons come in the middle of the night to arrest him, having first distracted the Peers on some pretext or other. Rinaldo is imprisoned and sentenced to be hanged, much to the Peers’ grief. Malagise, on hearing the news, summons a demon, Macabello. The two disguise themselves as friars and fly to Paris, where they request to hear Rinaldo’s shrift. Charles lets them into the prison, where Macabello assumes the shape of Rinaldo and stays behind while Rinaldo dons friar’s garb and leaves with his cousin. The two of them go back to Charles and announce that Rinaldo is impenitent, and ought to be hanged at once. As the friars leave, Charles sends the Maganzans to bring Rinaldo out for execution – but he is gone! Charles rants and raves, and accuses Alda the Fair (here Orlando’s wife, not betrothed) of helping him escape. She knows nothing, but a fight has broken out in the palace between the Maganzans and everyone else, and the traitors die by the score. Some confusing trips of Rinaldo back and forth to Paris and Montalbano follow, in which he fights Maganzans and makes speeches to Charles. Ganelon, alas, survives, but after the treason of Roncesvalles he will be quartered by wild horses.

There were, of course, many other corruptions in the later printed editions, sometimes extending to whole cantos being omitted or shuffled around. The curious may find them all duly catalogued in Melli’s edition.


Notes to the Eighth Canto, Part 2

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto VIII, Stanzas 21-40 Notes

25. Merlon. The stones that stick up in a battlement.
Blood. Blood dries black, as Boiardo and his audience were well aware. The castle must do a lively business in executions.
29. Grifone. Not to be confused with Grifone son of Olivier or the various Grifones of House Maganza.

Back to Part 2

On to Part 3

Bevis of Hampton 5: The Italian Version, First Redaction

The legend of Bevis of Hampton is extant in three great families of redactions: the Anglo-Norman, the Continental French, and the Italian. The Italian family consists of the following versions.

The Italian family consists of the following versions.


Buovo d’Antona, in Franco-Italian assonanced decasyllables. Only surviving manusccript is part of the Geste Francor. Beginning lost, down to Bovo’s return to England and war with Do. Best edition is La Geste Francor, edited by Leslie Zarker Morgan. I refer you to Arlima for earlier editions.

I Reali di Francia: an Italian compilation of Carolingian legends, by Andrea da Barberino. Bevis’ story is in books IV and V. An abridged translation by Max Wickert can be found on his website, here.

Buovo d’Antona, in prose. Only a fragment survives as an independent work. Bib. Ricc. 1030. To be found in Pio Rajna’s “Frammenti di redazioni italiane del Buovo d’Antona. II. Avanzi di una versione tosca in prosa (continuaz. e fine) », Zeitschrift für romanische Philologie, 15, 1891, p. 47-87.” Runs from the beginning to Buovo’s rescue of Drusiana from Marcabruno.


Bovo d’Antona, in pure Italian rhymed decasyllables. Survives only in fragments. The largest fragment, the Laurenziano, is 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 Buovo is stuck in at the end. Runs from Brandoria’s message to Dodo of Maganza to Drusiana’s meeting with Malgaria.

The other, much shorter, fragments of the rhymed Bovo, known as the Udinese fragments, are currently lost, but were printed by Rajna in « Frammenti di redazioni italiane del Buovo d’Antona. I. Nuovi frammenti franco-italiani », Zeitschrift für romanische Philologie, 11, 1887, p. 153-184. Runs from Do of Magance’s conquest of Hampton to after Buovo’s fight with Marcabrun.

Buovo d’Antona di 1480, in ottava rima. The only edition is Daniela Delcorno Branca’s Buovo d’Antona. Cantari in ottava rima (1480).

Bova Karolovich. Or Bova Korolevich , meaning “Prince Bova”. The Russian versions, which reached that country near the end of the 1500’s. There are five major redactions of the manuscripts and of the chapbooks based on them, each one more Russianized than the last in style. From these the story passed into oral tradition and is found in several collections of Russian folktales and ballads, where one would never guess it was not a native production if one didn’t know. I have read that the story is also known in several of Russia’s neighbors, but I cannot find any details. A chapbook version was translated by Robert Steele in The Russian Garland. A shorter, folklore version is to be found in Russian Wondertales II. Tales of Magic and the Supernatural, an absurdly expensive book by Jack Haney which is Volume 4 of his series The Complete Russian Folktale.

THE THIRD ITALIAN REDACTION, being a combination of the Italian and the Third French.

Buovo Riccardiano. Fragments of ottava rima. Not printed, so far as I know.

Buovo d’Antona by Gherardo. Ottava rima, in three books, of which only the second survives. Also not printed.

THE FOURTH ITALIAN REDACTION, being a combination of the First and Second Redactions with details from French sources, and several new adventures.

Buovo Palatino. A MS fragment that appears to have been from a text similar to the following.

Buovo d’Antona di Guidone Palladino. Rezunto e Reviso. (Bevis of Hampton, son of the Paladin Guidone, abridged and revised) in Ottava Rima, as first printed in 1497. This was frequently reprinted and became the standard Italian version.

Bovo Boek, a Yiddish poem, in ottava rima, by Elia Levita, from the Italian. Published 1541, though written 1507. Translated into English prose in Early Yiddish Epic, by Jerold Frakes. An earlier translation by Jerry Christopher Smith, published under the title Elia Levita Bachur’s “Bovo-Buch”, is so inaccurate that it is more honestly described as a retelling.


Celinos y la Adultera. Also called La Caza de Celinos. A Spanish ballad, from some form of the Italian, these being the only ones where, as in the ballad, Brandoria sits at her mirror admiring herself. The titles mean “Celinos and the Adulteress” and “The hunt of Celinos”, respectively.


A Franco-Italian chanson, in assonanced decasyllables, found in one MS: Marc. Fr. XIII, containing Bovo d’Antona (Part 1), Bertha Broad-Foot, Bovo Part 2, Karleto, Berta e Milone, Enfances Ogier, Orlandino, Chevalerie Ogier, and Macario.

[The beginning is lost] Bovo has Clarença, which Druxiana gave him. Do de Magançe is besieging San Simon. Synibaldo’s wife recognizes Bovo. Now he and Terigi disguise themselves as physicians to enter Antona, where they make alliance with one Uberto de la Cros, and rouse the citizens. He sends Do off on a palfrey, who returns to Magançe. He locks his mother, Brandoia, in a small room where she can hear Mass said. The news of his victory runs to Sydonia, to Braidamont, who writes to Bovo, requesting him to come back and marry her. Meanwhile, Druxiana has been for seven years wandering as a minstrel with her sons Synibaldo and Guion, and has come to Armenia, where she does not reveal herself, but is taken into favor anyway, for her talent. Braidamont, despite the fact that Bovo killed her brother Luchafer, wishes to marry him, and sends a messenger, offering to convert. Bovo agrees to wed her, and travels to Sydonia, where Druxiana also comes and reveals herself in song. [Pulican was killed by lions, the song says]. Braidamont is married to Teris, and Bovo and his family return home to Hampton. Do, meanwhile, has persuaded King Pepin of France to send messengers to Hampton demanding the release of Brandoia. The messenger is Garner, son of Brandoia and Do. Bovo refuses, and threatens war.

[The story of Bertha Broad-foot follows. Bovo resumes afterward.]

Pepin, son of King Angelo, leads Aquilon of Bavaria, Bernardo of Clermon, Do of Magançe, his brother Albrigo, and others against Bovo, against the advice of all his non-Maganzan advisors. Bovo sends for aid to Teris, who comes. Negotiations fail, and fighting begins. Teris kills Albrigo, Bovo captures Aquilon and Bernardo. They are received hospitably in Hampton, while Bovo kills Do, and then captures Pepin. Bovo releases his prisoners on condition they send their sons, Names of Bavaria and little Charles, as hostages. They do so, the war is ended, and Bovo releases his hostage-children. Teris goes home to Sydonia, and there are seven years of peace. At that time, however, Bovo’s uncle, king Guielme of England invites him to his son Folcon’s wedding, to a daughter of an emir. The prince offers to buy Rundel [there is no race] but is refused, for Bovo is too fond of him, and remembers how Druxiana had fed him for three years while he languished in Syndonia. Folcon tries to steal Rundel, who kills him. The King wishes to hang the horse, but is content to send Bovo on pilgrimage to Jerusalem instead. Bovo leaves his wife, children, and city in the care of Synibaldo, and departs. As he is visiting the Holy Sepulchre, the Persian Corcher [Khosroes?] arrives to besiege it. Bovo succors the city and converts Corcher and all his people. Baldechin, however, the son of Corcher, will not convert, and Bovo slays him in a duel. He gets lost pursuing the fleeing Paynims, and comes to a cave wherein a dragon lives. He slays the dragon, and returns to Jerusalem. Once the four years of his exile are fulfilled, he returns to England, and tells his wife all the story.

[Here the story ends, and the MS moves on to Karleto]


This is the form in which the legend was known to Boiardo.

Guido d’Antona weds the daughter of King Ottone de Bordeaux, in Gascony, and begets Buovo within a year. He is named after Bovetto. His tutor, no relation to him, is Sinibaldo dall Rocca a San Simone [of Saint Simon’s Rock]. Sinibaldo’s wife is Luzia, his son Teris. Luzia suckles Buovo until he is seven years old(!), and sends him home to his father at ten. By then, his mother Brandoria is twenty-four, and very annoyed that her husband is old and feeble. She sits in front of the mirror and remembers how Guido had once killed Count Rinieri of Maganza, who left two sons: Duodo [Doon de Mayence] and Alberigo, who are now about thirty-five, and both unwed. She sends her servant Antonio “Gascon” to Duodo, who comes with eight thousand knights. Meanwhile, Brandoria pretends to be pregnant and to have a craving for wild boar. On August 1st, she persuades Guido to go to the hunt without his armor, so as to be quicker. Duodo kills Guido, and takes Antona after a slight battle. In the confusion, Buovo, aged eleven, hides into the stables, where Sinibaldo finds him. Duodo catches them as they try to escape, and Brandoria locks Buovo in a chamber. Duodo dreams that he is killed by a lion cub, and orders Buovo dead. Brandoria serves him poisoned bread, but the maid warns the lad, who refuses to eat it. She then sets him free, and he flees to Amusafol, on the coast. His mother tells Duodo he is dead. They have a son, Gailone, and Duodo lays siege to Sinibaldo in San Simone.

Buovo is taken about by sailors, and calls himself Agostino. He is sold, by his will, to King Erminione of Erminia [lesser Armenia, in Turkey today]. He serves and carves there for five years, until he speaks the language like a native. He tames Rondello, who has been chained for seven years. Drusiana begins to fall in love with him [she is fourteen, he sixteen], asks him to dance, kisses him under the table when he kneels to pick up the knife she dropped on purpose, and summons him to her bedroom, where he flees her seductions. A year passes, during which Buovo refuses to admit that he loves her. When Buovo is seventeen, King Erminione holds a tournament to find a husband for Drusiana. King Marcobruno of Polonia [not Poland] is favored to win, but Buovo “borrows” armor and a lance, and, riding Rondello, overthrows Marcobrun and slips away. Only Drusiana recognizes him. She summons him that evening, the first time they’ve spoke in a year.

Meanwhile, the King of Buldras has a son, Lucafero, who wishes to wed Drusiana. He arrives with fifty thousand soldiers just as the tourney ends. In the ensuing battle, Lucafero captures Erminione, his brother Ugolino, and Marcobrun. Drusiana arms and dubs Buovo, giving him a sword which used to be Sir Lancelot’s. Some English knights had brought it here. His shield bears the arms of his father Guido. They are engaged, and Buovo reveals his identity. He then kills Lucafero, and reveals his true identity to the king. After the celebrations, Ugolino walks in on Buovo and Drusiana kissing, and calls Drusiana a whore, whereupon Buovo beats him. Erminione decides to give Drusiana to Buovo, so Ugolino and Marcobrun make a plan. Ugolino lies in the king’s bed, and pretends to be the king, dictating to a scribe a “kill-the-bearer” letter for Buovo to take to Lucafero’s father. Buovo leaves Rondello behind, but takes his sword Chiarenza [Clarence]. He finds Sinella in Ischiavonia [Slavonia]. But, on the way, a thief drugs him and steals his horse and sword. Buovo does not break any idols on his arrival, but is still imprisoned. The king’s daughter, Margalia, hears his lament. There are no snakes or dragons in the dungeon, but she brings him out of it and hides him in a much more comfortable tower. For three years and four months she brings him food, trying to win his love, but in vain.

After two years, Erminione has decided Buovo probably is gone for good, and betroths Drusiana to Marcobrun. She agrees to marry him if Buovo does not return in one more year. She spends that year in his country, with where cousin Fiorigio, with Rondello, and with a slave named Pulicane, who is a dog from the waste down and a man from the waist up, talks like a man and runs like a dog. He was the son of a Christian lady of Cappadocia, who married the Turkish King of Liguria, on condition that he convert. Instead, he stripped her and threw her to his dog, whence Pulicane. Naturally, they keep him chained.

Buovo has been in Sinella for three years and four months. Since he won’t starve to death, they decide to kill him. He overcomes the two guards-turned-assassins and escapes. He persuades sailors to take him to Constantinople, and kills King Baldras’ nephew Alibrun, who had pursued him to the ship. They sail by Polonia, where Buovo hears the news of Drusiana. He stays there, meets the pilgrim who robbed him, and recovers Chiarenza. Two merchants give him food, but flee when he mentions Buovo’s name. A lady takes him to Drusiana’s palace, where he fights the cooks, kills the seneschal, and meets Fiorigi, who takes him to Rondello and Drusiana. Buovo, still in disguise, tells her that he met Buovo in prison, and that he is now married to Margalia. Drusiana weeps so loudly at this that Marcabruno comes in to ask what’s wrong, and is put off with an excuse about the palmer’s life-story being so sad. They hear Rondello neighing, and Buovo is able to tame him, whereupon Drusiana and Fiorigi [Boniface] recognize him. They escape that night, and ride for Montefeltrone, the castle of Duke Canoro, who hates King Marcabruno.

In the morning, King Marcabruno is furious, summarily executes Fiorigi, and sends Pulicane to bring back Drusiana. Pulicane finds Buovo and Drusiana sleeping, Buovo and Pulicane fight, but Drusiana reconciles them, and they are received warmly at Montefeltrone. Marcabruno follows and lays siege. In a sally, Buovo kills Duke Sanguino, but Canoro is captured. After eight months have gone by, Marcabruno releases him, on promise that he will give his sons Lione and Lionido as hostages, and will betray Buovo. The duchess sends her sons as hostages, welcomes her husband, and is horrified at his proposal to betray their guests. He begins to beat her, and her cries alarm Pulicane, who comes, listens to their arguing long enough to learn about the treason (but not about the hostages), and then kills Canoro. He, Buovo, and Drusiana flee. They kill some commissariats of King Baldras of Sinolla’s on the way, for that king is on his way to help Marcabruno. The duchess surrenders the castle soon after. Meanwhile, Drusiana, in the middle of the forest, gives birth to twins: Guidone and Sinibaldo. They are hopelessly lost, however, and Buovo leaves to scout ahead for help. He finds a river and a merchant ship, who agree to wait for him for a day. While he was gone, however, Pulicane went out hunting, was badly mauled by lions, and Drusiana fled with the children for terror. Buovo returns to find a dying Pulicane, who does not know Drusiana is still alive. He baptizes the cynocephalus, and buries him when he dies shortly after. He then sadly returns to the merchants. Drusiana has gotten there first, however, and left with them, thinking Buovo dead. She comes to Armenia, but does not reveal herself to anyone.

Buovo, luckily, finds another ship, captained by Terigi of the Rock of San Simone, son of Sinibaldo. Terigi recognizes Buovo’s arms [red lion on blue field, with silver stripes], but Buovo conceals his identity, calling it a strange coincidence, and gives his name as Agostino. They return to the Rock, where one Riccardo of Conturbia becomes jealous of him, but is reconciled after losing in a tournament. Sinibaldo is still at war with Duodo of Magazna, lord of Antona, and after an inconclusive skirmish, they return to the Rock. Now Buovo’s nurse recognizes him, and to prove it, tells Sinibaldo to urge Buovo to bathe, and to look for the red cross on his shoulder. Buovo tries to conceal it, but at last reveals his identity. Now he and Terigi disguise themselves as physicians to enter Antona, where they make alliance with one Ruberto dalle Croce, rouse the citizens, and take Duodo, Alberigo, Brandoria, and Duodo and Brandoria’s son Galione prisoners. Buovo keeps his mother prisoner but lets the others go. They go straight to King Pepin of France, who goes to war against Buovo. In the war, Alberigo and Duodo are killed, and Pepin taken prisoner. Peace is made, Brandoria is executed, and Pepin grants Buovo and his descendants independence from every emperor and king. King William of England, Pepin, and Buovo next go to succor Princess Margaria, who is besieged by King Druano of Syria. Druano flees, and Buovo intends to wed Margaria. He announces far and wide that a tournament will be held at the wedding, and the news comes to Armenia, where Drusiana has been living for the last twelve years. Guidone and Sinibaldo do exceptionally well in the tournament, and then Drusiana reveals herself. Margaria marries Terigi. Buovo and family return to Antona, and Terigi takes his parents Sinibaldo and Aluizia to live in Schiavaonia with him.

King William of England sends for Buovo, and in London Buovo wins a race on Rondello. William’s son Fiore tries to buy Rondello, then to steal him, and is killed by his hooves. The King banishes Buovo, who leaves Antona in Drusiana’s hands, and leaves with his sons for Schiavonia, ruled now by Terigi and Margalia, who have a son, Sicurans. They go to war against Arpitras, the admiral of Dalmazia and Corvazia. In the war, Sinibaldo and Terigi are slain, but Ascilacca, Arpitras’ city, is taken, and the Admiral slain. Sixteen months later, King Arbaull of Hungary, successor to Buldras, makes war on the Christians now, and after a long war, the Christians are victorious. Sicurans is now king of Sinella and Hungary as well as Schiavonia. He grows up to beget King Filippo, Ughetto, and Manabello. Buovo stays in Sinella for fourteen years.

The King of Langle, a realm between England and Ireland, dies, leaving a daughter Orlandina, whom he wishes to marry Buovo’s son Guido. It is done. Erminione dies, leaving Armenia to Sinibaldo, son of Buovo. Buovo at last returns to Antona, and his third son, Guglielmo, is crowned King of England. Guido has a son named Chiaramonte, who dies at sixteen. A castle is named in his memory, and in this castle Guido has another son, Bernardo, and hence Bernardo descendents are called the House of Clairmont. Galione, now lord of Flanders, Maganza [Mayence], Pontiers, Bayonne, and more, has five sons. Riccardo, Guglielmo, Spinardo, Tolomeo, and Grifone the father of Ganelon. His wife is pregnant with Ghinamo of Baiona. Galione a church called Santo Salvadore, three miles from Antona, and favored by Drusiana and Buovo. Galione kills his half-brother while he is praying, and then flees to Babylon, where he converts to Islam and is honored richly by the Sultan. Drusiana swoons over Buovo’s body, but lives for another fifteen days. They are buried in one tomb.

Book I, Canto VI, Part 3

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto VI, Stanzas 41-60

King Galifron, the father of the lady
Is ancient. Peace at any cost he prizes.
No quarrel with the Prince of Tartars made he,
Who’s strong and bold, and vast his army’s size is.
His lovely daughter ‘gainst all reason bade he
To wed this man whom she so much despises.
Unto her father’s will she’ll ne’er submit.
She’d rather die than even think of it.

Unto Albracca did the lady fly,
A day’s ride past the borders of Cathay,
Which is a castle strongly fortified
Which can withstand a siege for many a day.
The courtly lady now is trapped inside,
Angelica, who through the world is famed;
For Heaven’s star that shines most brilliantly
Has lost its light, and is less fair than she.

The herald takes his leave and disappears.
Orlando gallops off with all his power.
He seems already to behold his dear
Angelica, and tread within her bower.
As thus in rev’ry rides the cavalier,
He sees a  mighty wall around a tower.
A pair of mountains was this fort between.
To reach them was a bridge across a stream.

Upon the bridge there stood a fair young maid,
Who held a crystal chalice in her hands.
When she espied the cavalier, she bade
Him stop, and with a gladsome countenance
And sweet voice said, “O baron, thou art stayed.
Thou canst ride on no further, nor advance
On foot. Thy strength and cunning may not serve.
The custom of this place thou must observe.

The custom is that ev’ry knight must drink
Out of this goblet ere he passes us.”
Of guile Count Orlando does not think;
He drains the brimming glass, but as he does,
Before he has the time to even blink,
He’s changed entirely from what he was.
He knows not whence, or how, or when he came,
Or whither he is bound, or his own name.

Angelica the beautiful is fled
Out of his mind. Extinguished is the flame
By which across the world he has been led.
He has forgotten Emp’ror Charlemagne.
All other thoughts are banished from his head.
Over his heart, this newcome lady reigns.
He does not seek for pleasance, but he stands
Obedient to what she shall command.

He rides his Brigliadoro through the gate,
That Count of Brava, rapt out of his wits,
And dismounts in a palace finely made,
And for astonishment he gapes at it.
On amber columns with fine gold inlaid
A large and finely-furnished loggia sits.
The floor was made of marble green and white;
The ceiling was with gold and azure dight.

A garden spread beneath the gallery,
Shaded by palms and cedars fresh and green,
And many other pleasant kinds of tree,
Beneath whose branches was a rich sward seen,
Where springtime flowers bloomed eternally.
A marble wall enclosed this pleasant scene,
Where from each herb and bush and tree and flower
A sweet scent wafted, filling all the bower.

The count stands marv’lling at the loggia’s three
Arcades, which have been richly decorated
By paintings which were wrought so skillfully
That Nature’s self looked not so real as they did.
As the Count looks on them amazedly,
He sees a noble hist’ry there related.
Ladies and cavaliers from days of old
Were painted with their names below, in gold.

They showed a damsel standing on a beach.
She looked so lifelike that you would have swore
That as you looked at her, you heard her speech.
She beckoned passing sailors to her shore,
But as they came, she turned them into beasts.
Their human shape away from them she tore.
Some became lions, others wolves or bears.
Boars’ or gryphons’ shapes do others wear.

A ship, arriving, could you painted see,
And a knight who was stepping off her decks,
Who with his handsome face and his sweet speech
Kindled the flames of love within her breast.
And she was shown in giving him the key
With which she locked the potion in a chest,
The potion by whose means the mighty dame
Turned into beasts all men who thither came.

There could be seen how she so much did glow
For that bold cavalier with such emotion,
That by her own enchantments she’s brought low.
He tricked her into drinking her own potion,
And thus transformed her to a milk-white doe,
And then that knight for whom she’d such devotion
(Circella was this hapless lady’s name)
Mounted his horse and rode to hunt the dame.

All of her history the walls relate,
How he pursued her, and restored her shape.
The painting was so rich and so ornate,
The gold lit all the garden, without jape.
The count, whose mind is in a mazed state,
Can do nought else than simply stare and gape,
But as he’s standing there, his wits without,
He hears within the park a mighty shout.

But ere I tell you how he ran toward
That noise, and why that clamor was begun,
Somewhat of King Gradasso I’ll record,
Who was all armored like a champion,
Beside the sea, upon the sandy shore,
Where all day he awaited Aymon’s son.
He thought that leaving early would be wrong.
The seashore was two thousand good leagues long.

But as the starry heavens he perceived,
And of his foe Rinaldo not a sign,
Then was he certain he has been deceived.
He hurried back towards the battle lines.
I’ll sing of Ricciardetto, sorely grieved,
For when he saw the day to eve decline,
And that his brother dear was not yet come,
He thought he must be dead or overcome.

Think of how dreadful must have been his grief!
But sorrow did not so possess his heart
To stop his summoning the Christian chiefs,
And bidding them make ready to depart.
That very night, as silent as a thief,
The army left, nor did the Pagan guards
Perceive them, for, prepared for all events,
Rinald had camped three leagues from Marsil’s tents.

Without a rest they hurry on their path,
Until they see once more the land of France.
Now turn we to Gradasso. In his wrath,
He bids his men at daybreak to advance.
Poor King Marsilio now much terror hath.
His champions are gone, his army scant.
Pris’ners are Ferragu and Serpentin.
The Christians fled, Rinaldo nowhere seen.

He went himself to where Gradasso sate,
And knelt before him, bowing low his head.
The outrage of the Christians he relates,
And how the glutton Don Rinald has fled.
He offers to give up his kingship straight,
And hold his lands from King Gradass instead.
With few words more, the terms of fee are fixed,
And the two armies are together mixed.

Grandonio comes from Barcellona town,
And swears an oath at King Marsil’s command,
That he will follow King Gradasso’s crown
Against King Charlemagne and all his land.
The king in secret vows he will burn down
All Paris to the ground, if to his hand
They do not give Baiardo, and he yearned
To see each bit of France it such wise burned.

Don Ricciardetto all the army brought
Back to the palace of King Charlemagne,
But of Rinaldo he could tell them nought
And from his silence a great outcry sprang.
Those of Maganza villainously sought
To have Rinaldo instantly proclaimed
A traitor, but the villains he defied,
And wished to prove by combat that they lied.

Keep Reading


Book I, Canto III, Part 2

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto III, Stanzas 21-40

Astolfo has collided with Raineri,
And knocked his from his seat with legs spread out.
His limbs he stretches, his lance lifts with nary
A fear, and starts to turn his horse about.
Anselmo rushes at the duke unwary,
With guile and teachery, his foe he clouts
Upon the side with his unyielding lance.
He makes it seem not ill intent, but chance.

Astolfo headlong fell upon the plain,
And to the heavens was upturned his face.
You need not wonder if he was in pain.
He pulled himself up to his feet apace,
And drew his sword in ire and disdain,
And, uttering curses against all the race
Of false Maganza and of Ganelon,
He smote upon the helmet Don Grifon,
Who’s saved from certain death by his steel crest.
Now could you see a mighty brawl commence.
Macario, Gan, and Ugolino pressed,
With swords on high, against the English prince.
But Naimo, Turpin, and Ricard addressed
Themselves to bring their friend aid and defense.
On either side the cavaliers join in.
King Charles plunges in amidst the din,

Giving great whacks and blows to all about.
He cracked the crowns of thirty men at least.
“Who is the traitor, who the rebel lout
Who dared to start a quarrel at my feast?”
He spurs into the middle of the bout.
At his approach, all the barons ceased
Their fighting. Some for shame bowed down their heads,
And some for terror of his anger fled.

He says to Gan: “What art thou fighting for?”
And to Astolfo he says: “Now explain
Thy conduct.” Then Grifone, bleeding sore,
Falls on his knees before King Charlemagne,
And with a shout that almost is a roar,
“Justice!” he cries, and thus makes his complaint,
“Justice, my lord, august and elevated,
In whose high presence I’m assassinated.

“Make inquiries of all men here, my lord,
For ev’ryone can tell you what was done.
If thou find I was first to draw my sword,
Or spoke a threat’ning word to anyone,
They call me liar, bind me with a cord,
And have be quartered ere the set of sun.
But if thou find the opposite is true,
Than let the ill return to whence it grew!”

So wroth Astolfo is, his reason flies,
And of King Charlemagne he takes no heed,
But, “Villain, false and treacherous – he cries –
Thou worthy flower of a wicked seed!
I’ll tear thy heart out of thy breast alive
Before I leave this place, and I shall feed –”
Grifone interrupts him, “Have no fear.
I’ll fight with thee soon as we’re gone from here.

“But here I keep my anger within bounds,
For to our king such reverence I bear.”
Astolfo keeps on talking, “Felon hound,
Thou thief and ribald, what will thou not dare?”
King Charlemagne for anger glared and frowned,
And said, “Astolfo, by Our Lord I swear,
More court’ously thou shalt make thine appeal,
Or thou’lt have time enough to cool thy heels.”

Astolfo of his words takes no account.
So wroth was he, I doubt he even heard.
Like one who’s truly wronged, his anger mounts,
He speaks more villany with ev’ry word.
Behold Anselmo, the malicious count,
By his ill chance, towards King Charles spurred.
Astolfo saw this, and could not restrain him
From rushing forward with his sword to brain him.

And certainly he would have struck him dead,
If he had not been stopped by Charlemagne.
The men heap blame on Don Astolfo’s head,
And Charles bids them tie him up amain.
Now quickly to the palace was he led,
And in the dungeon given ball and chain,
Where of his folly he received the flower,
And languished there for many a weary hour.

But he is happier in his new abode
Than are those other three enamored knights
Whom love for fair Angelica so goads
They have no respite, nor by day nor night.
Each of the three, along a diff’rent road
To Arden Forest has pursued her flight.
Rinaldo reached it first, thanks to the speed
Incredible of Baiard his good steed.

Once in the woods, the lover looks around,
Searching and wondering which way to go.
A shady grove of little trees he found,
‘Round which a clear and sparkling streamlet flowed.
Thinking the lady might perhaps be bound
For such a joyous shelter, in he rode.
Therein he saw a pleasant fountain stand,
Which never had been built by human hands.

The fountain that was to his eyes displayed
Was wrought of alabaster pure and white.
With gold so richly was the stone inlaid,
It bathed the trees and flowers in gentle light.
Merlin it was who had the fountain made,
So Don Tristano, that redoubted knight,
Should drink its water and the Queen forsake,
Ere they should die for one another’s sake.

But poor Tristano, by his sad mischance,
Ne’er came upon that fountain fresh and clear.
Though oftentimes he sojourned in fair France
And through the forest hunted boar and deer.
But still the fountain has such strange puissance,
That whatsoever loving cavalier
Drinks of its waters, all his love abates,
And her he once adored now wholly hates.

The sun was high up and the day was hot.
Much heat and thirst Rinaldo had endured,
Before he stumbled on that pleasant spot
And by the smoothly running waters lured,
Off of his noble steed Baiard he got.
Of thirst and love alike he’s promptly cured,
For as the waters he imbibed, no part
Was left unchanged of his enamored heart.

Alongside those is vanished all his will
In quest of such a silly thing to fare.
No longer does his inmost being thrill
Rememb’ring her he thought beyond compare.
Such is the power of that wondrous rill,
Not only was his heart of love swept bare,
But changed completely, so that he abhorred
The sweet Angelica he once adored.

Out of the forest with contented mind,
Returns that warrior without a fear.
And on his way, a little stream he finds
Of living water, crystalline and clear.
Nature had decked its banks with ev’ry kind
Of flower which in springtime sweet appears.
And to give shade, she’d placed beside the stream
A beech, an olive, and an evergreen.

This was the Stream of Love, which was not wrought
By wise old Merlin, or by magic art,
But of its nature made the soul distraught,
And filled with frenzy and with love the heart.
Many a knight in error had been caught
By drinking of its water, but no part
Rinaldo had therein, for he had erst,
In drinking at the fountain, quenched his thirst.

When the proud knight came to that pleasant burn
He thought for rest it seemed a goodly place.
He loosed the bridle of Baiard, and turned
Him loose within the field, his fill to graze.
He laid him down to rest, all unconcerned,
Beside the river banks, beneath the shade.
The baron slumbered and was unaware
When somebody perceived him lying there.

Angelica, once she had turned and fled
From that great fight wherein those two knights vied,
Came to the river, and by thirst was led
To drink. She walks now by her palfrey’s side.
Now will she fell as she has ne’er felt yet,
For Love desired to rebuke her pride.
She saw Rinald among the flowers sleeping;
At once her heart for fear and joy was leaping.

Keep reading


Book I, Canto III, Part 1

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto III, Stanzas 1-20



The fierce Grandonio is o’erthrown at last.
Maganzans give Astolfo cause to rue.
They have him into Charles’ dungeon cast.
Rinaldo’s cured; Angelica’s imbued
With love, but her beloved flees her fast.
Don Argalía fights with Ferragu.
The victor makes a promise to the dying,
And soon with Count Orlando is he vying.

My lords, remember when I sang before,
Astolfo to the Saracen so fell
Was saying, “Scoundrel, thou shalt boast no more,
Unless thou wish to make thy boasts in Hell,
Of all the mighty barons thou hast floored.
Know, once I conquer thee, I’ll make thee dwell
Within a galley. Thou hast so much strength,
Thou’lt have an oar unto thyself, I think!”

The King Grandonio, though he knows full well
To give insults, knows not how to receive.
For wrath and anger so much doth he swell
That not so much are swollen stormy seas
When racked by mighty winds and stormclouds fell,
The bravest captain falls upon his knees.
The king such anger has, all uncontrolled,
His teeth he gnashes and his eyes he rolls,

And flares his nostrils like an angry snake,
And with a curse, Astolfo he defied,
Then turns around, his starting place to take,
And lays his mighty lance in rest, and rides,
With which he’s certain that he’ll shortly break
Clean through him, and come out the other side,
Or stretch him lifeless out upon the plain,
Or knock him from his saddle, split in twain.

See where that Pagan in his fury starts!
And Don Astolfo swift against him sped.
His face was pale, and fear consumed his heart,
He knew he shortly would be shamed, or dead.
The cavaliers towards each other dart
At breakneck speed – now are they fairly met –
Grandonio falls! No words of mine could tell
How loud his armor rattled when he fell.

So great a cry goes up at his defeat,
It seemed the earth would split and heaven fall.
Ev’ryone seated rises to his feet,
And all men shout, the mighty and the small.
And each one presses forth to better see’t.
The Saracens are overwhelmed and galled.
King Charles, when the Pagan he espies
Rolling in dust, cannot believe his eyes.

When the great giant tumbled from his horse,
Because he’d landed heav’ly on his right,
The wound within his chest he’d got before,
When he had clashed with the Viennese knight,
Gives such pain to this king of Afric’s shore,
He lies still on the earth, half-dead and white.
With blood forth spurting, so that, sooth to say,
It seems just like a water fountain’s spray.

Some said Astolfo for this mighty blow,
Should have the prize, but other folk averred
It was pure chance that wrought this overthrow.
Some “yes”, some “no”, each spoke as he preferred.
They bear forth from the field, in pain and woe,
The King Grandonio, who, as I have heard,
Much later killed Astolf in battle’s strife,
But shortly after, he too lost his life.

Astolfo takes his place within the ring
And scarce believes he stands as victor there.
None of the Pagans dares to try to fling
Him from his horse, save for a valiant pair
Of stalwart warriors, and sons of kings:
Gisarte dark, and Pilïasi fair.
Gisarte’s father’s conquered with his sword
All of Arabia, and been crowned lord.

But that of Pilïasi holds in fee
The whole of Russia and some lands beyond
The mountains, reaching into Tartary,
So that his lands are bounded by the Don.
But now I wish to keep my story brief.
These two alone of Saracens came on
Against Astolfo, and, to tell it quickly,
He knocked them to the ground like they were sickly.

A squire comes to Ganelon and tells
The news of King Grandonio’s strange defeat.
At first, he scarce believes that infidel
Was by Astolfo tumbled from his seat.
But then he thinks, and he believes it well
That some unlooked-for chance hath wrought this feat,
And that proud giant’s fall must be a fluke,
And can’t be from the prowess of the duke.

And then he thinks that he will surely win
The foremost honor of the tournament.
With pomp and finery he enters in
The lists. T’impress the crowd is his intent.
Eleven counts, the flower of his kin,
He brought to ride behind him as he went
Before  King Charles, and with haughty words,
He made excuses for what had occurred.

Whether King Charlemagne believed this liar
I cannot say, but he bestowed good cheer.
Then Gano asked Astolfo by a squire
If he’d agree to combat with the spear,
Since none among the Pagans so desired,
And he (Count Gano) was so stout, ‘twas clear
He ought to demonstrate his chivalry
By knocking down the knights of less degree.

Astolf, who never thinks before he speaks,
Unto the herald says: “To Gano tell,
When he’s around, nobody needs to seek
For heathens, for he’s worse than infidels,
That foe of God, oppressor of the weak,
That traitor, heretic, and spawn of Hell.
Go tell that swine I hope to see him hung,
And fear him as I would a sack of dung.

When Gano hears himself held in despite,
He sends no answer, but his wrath burns hot,
And furi’usly he charges at that knight
And calls aloud to him, “Thou glutton! Sot!
Thou’lt cease thy boasting once thou feel’st my might!”
He thought he’d knock him down, for this was not
The first time they had jousted, and each time
Before, he’d laid him on the ground supine.

But things fall elsewise than we think they will,
And Gano on the soil takes his place.
Macario charges to avenge this ill,
And joins in shame the leader of his race.
“How can God suffer that this imbecile –
Says Pinabello – “should bring such disgrace
On House Maganza?” Then he lays his lance
In rest, and spurs his charger to advance.

But he was overthrown just like the rest.
You need not wonder if Astolf felt grand.
He shouts aloud to them, “O race unblest!
I’ll knock you one and all upon the sand.”
The Count Smiriglio, lance in hand, forth pressed.
Astolfo fells him with a blow so grand
They have to bear him, senseless, from the ring.
O how Count Ganelon was sorrowing!

Falcone says, when he beholds him swoon,
“Can Fortune to such malice be inclined?
Can Heaven have permitted this buffoon
To overthrow us all and make us pine?”
An evil plots wakes in his head, and soon
He secretly pulls out a rope to bind
Himself unto his saddle, then he calls
Astolf to combat, thinking he can’t fall.

He gallops forward, hoping him to mangle.
Thanks to the rope, he isn’t overthrown,
But such a blow he takes, his limbs all dangle,
He scarce can sit upright, his life nigh flown.
Ev’ryone sees him, hopelessly entangled,
And thus his subterfuge to all is known.
The crowd, enraged and in a fury, cried,
“See how the traitor to his horse was tied!”

The field he exits, covered with men’s spite,
Their hoots and jeers add to his misery.
Count Gano agonizes at the sight.
Astolfo calls aloud right valiantly:
“Come at me, if you’re itching for a fight,
And if you’re tied, it’s all the same to me.
Madmen like you should not be running round
The countryside, but with a rope be bound.”

Anselmo della Ripa, count perfidious,
Decides upon a most malicious plan.
T’avenge his kinsmen’s shame by means insidious.
“I’ll smite him soon as he has felled his man,
Before he’s ready, with a blow dispiteous.”
Rainieri, count of Altafoglia, ran
Ahead. Anselmo, lance in rest, awaited
A chance to overthrow the man he hated.

Keep reading


Notes to the Third Canto, Part 1

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation. Book I, Canto III, Stanzas 1-20 notes

7. According to Pulci, Astolfo is killed at the battle of Roncesvalles by one King Balsamin (XXVII: 17). According to the same author, Grandonio kills Sansonetto, and is then killed by Orlando. In the Oxford manuscript of The Song of Roland, Grandoine kills, among others, Duke Austorje of Valence on the Rhone. This name is given as Austoine in the Venice 4 manuscript, and may be the same as our Astolfo, though Duke Austorje has no personality and is introduced in the same line he is slain. In the Chateroux/Venice 7 version, Estolz de Langres is the son of Odon [Boiardo’s King Ottone of Great Britain], and is given a bragging speech before the battle, though no more so than anyone else’s. He kills the Almanzor [a role Samson takes in Oxford and Venice 4] and is slain by Grandonie, who also slays Antoine d’Avignon, who holds Valence and La Roche. Otho does not appear. In the Paris manuscript, Estoult replaces Otho for the slaying of the Almanzor and in some lists of the Peers, but Otho is also present and slays some Saracens. Estoult dies offstage. In Cambridge, Grandonie slays Antoine, of whom nothing is stated. Estoult is not otherwise present. In Lyon, Estouz again slays the Almanzor. Grandonie slays Anselme d’Avignon, who holds Valence and the rock thereby.
8. Gisarte and Pilïasi. Boiardo’s inventions.
16. Smirigilio. Minor character, whether or not invented by Boiardo I cannot say.
20. Anselmo della Ripa. Anselmo of the Clifftop. A minor Maganzan. I do not know whether he is traditional.
Rainieri. Another minor Maganzan. Again, his origin is unknown to me.

Back to Part 1

On to Part 2

Book I, Canto I, Part 1





While King Gradasso plots to conquer France,
Charles, unawares, is putting on a feast,
At which Angelica has evil plans
To kidnap all his knights and take them East.
First Malagise falls into her hands,
And then Astolfo by the dame is seized,
But Ferraguto, headstrong and extreme,
Upsets completely her malicious scheme.

Come, gentle lords and knights and gather round,
To hear a novel and delightful thing.
Pay close attention and make not a sound
And hearken to the history I sing
Of mighty deeds and enterprise renowned
Of wondrous feats and high adventuring
Done by Orlando when he felt Love’s pain
When Charles the Great as emperor did reign.

“Orlando in Love.” My lords, be not astounded
To hear that title, for if truth be known,
The man whose strength and prowess were unbounded
By love was overcome and overthrown.
Not strength of arms, nor soul in reason grounded,
Nor shield, nor mail, nor sword of sharpest hone,
Nor any other thing may men defend,
But Love shall take and bind them in the end.

This tale is scarce, and very few have read it,
Because Don Turpin, once the tale was written,
Thinking, perhaps, that it would being discredit
Upon the Count, to tell how he was smitten
By Love, who said when no one else had said it,
That by his might Orlando had been beaten,
Hid the true story of the Count away,
Which I have found, and tell you all today.

Turpin begins his chronicle veracious
Stating past India reigned a potentate
Whose fiefs and territories were so spacious,
His lands so fertile and his wealth so great,
And he himself so mighty and pugnacious,
That he thought none in all the world his mate.
This worthy admiral Gradasso hight,
Who had a dragon’s heart and giant’s height.

But great lords have an all-too-common habit:
They see the wealth which other people own
And straight consumes them a desire to nab it
And make it to belong to them alone,
And in their greed they cook up plans to grab it,
From which all trace of common sense hath flown.
So this strong Pagan had but one desire:
Baiard and Durindana to acquire.

He sent through his dominions far and nigh,
Calling his lords to gather on a day,
For well he knew he could not simply buy
The horse and sword: too valuable were they.
Their owners asked a price which was so high
That even kings would find it hard to pay.
So he determined to go into France
And simply take them through his great puissance.

One hundred fifty thousand men of might
He chose from all his warriors who there banded.
Not that he wished to use them in the fight.
He hoped to gain his triumph single-handed
Against King Charlemagne and all the knights
Of every land wherein the Cross was planted,
And he himself would conquer and subdue
Ev’ry last country which the son doth view.

But let us leave them sailing on the main,
Until they’ve made their way across the sea,
And rather turn to France, to Charlemagne,
Who also summoned all his barony.
His dukes, marquis, and counts before him came
With all the flow’r of Christian chivalry.
For Charles had proclaimed both far and wide
He’d hold a tournament at Whitsuntide.

To Charles’ court came all the Paladins
To do him honor and enjoy the feast.
Men came from ev’rywhere. The Paris inns
Were full to bursting; still the crowds increased.
And with the Christians mingled Saracens,
For Charles had proclaimed a solemn peace,
And ev’ry knight his solemn oath had made
To be no traitor and no renegade.

A host of brave and worthy cavaliers
Had come from Spain with all their retinue:
The King Grandonio, like a serpent fierce;
Lowering like a griffin, Ferragu;
And Serpentin and his friend Isolier;
King Balugante, father-in-law  to
King Charles, with far more knights than I could state,
The jousts and tourneys eagerly await.

The city rang through all its streets and courses
With sounds of drums, of trumpets, and of bells.
Had you been there, you would have seen the forces
Decked in their best array. I must not dwell
On all the finery of men and horses.
They bore more gold and jewels than I could tell.
To please the king, and make each other jealous,
Each knight for his apparellings was zealous.

The day had come when Charles had decreed
The joustings and the tourney should commence,
But first he summoned one and all to feed
In his own hall, with great magnificence.
All of the cavaliers of either creed
Came to do Charles fitting reverence,
And when the number of them was completed,
Twenty-two thousand thirty there were seated.

King Charles sat upon a throne of gold,
With joyous face, among his paladins,
At his round table, whence he might behold
All things. Near him the noblest Saracens
Sat not on benches, but on carpets lolled
Like dogs, for this their custom long has been,
To lie on carpets when they wish to dine.
To try the Frankish custom they decline.

On either side of him, in order fitting,
Were ranged the tables, says the history.
At the first table all the kings were sitting.
King Desiderio, who ruled Lombardy;
And King Ottone, sovereign lord of Britain,
And Salamon the wise of Brittany.
According to their rank, on either hand,
Sat the crowned kings of ev’ry Christian land.

Marquis and dukes the second table grace;
The third is for the counts and simple knights.
Men of Maganza have a special place,
And Ganelon is on the emperor’s right.
Rinaldo’s eyes with wrath and fury blaze,
Because these traitors, to do him despite,
Mock at his poverty, and put on airs
Because his clothes are not as fine as theirs.

Although his anger is by no means spent,
He masks it with a joyous countenance,
While to himself he thinks, “O hateful men,
Tomorrow in the lists you’ll feel my lance.
We’ll see who sits aloft in triumph then,
Accursed family, and scourge of France!
If my heart fails me not, I shall, I trust,
Make ev’ry one of you roll in the dust.”

King Balugante eyes Rinaldo then,
And guessing somewhat of his inner thought,
By his interpreter a message sends
To ask the knight if honor can be bought
At Charles’ court, or only worthy men
Obtain it, for he wishes to be taught
The Christians’ customs, that he might dispense
To ev’ry man a fitting recompense.

Rinaldo smiled, and raised up his head,
And to the messenger said, “Tell the king
That if by our example he’d be led,
And be at one with us in reckoning,
Gluttons at table and our whores in bed
Win praise from us above all other things.
But let him wait until he sees us fight,
And then he’ll know whom he ought to requite.”

But while these two their conversation hold,
The trumpets ring out, and the feast begins.
The servers enter, bearing plates of gold,
Heaped with fine viands, while the cups from brim
To base were wrought with carvings manifold.
Which Charlemagne sent as a gift from him
To ev’ry baron, and the like largesse
He showed to ev’ry man of high prowess.

With gabs and boasts, and many merry jests,
With mirth and revelry the hall resounds
King Charles looks, and joy swells in his breast,
Seeing kings, dukes, and knights of such renown.
He thinks the Pagans will be sorely pressed
In jousts, like dust before the breezes blown.
But just then, there occurred a wondrous thing,
Which stunned alike the barons and the king.

Keep reading