The Legend of Renaud of Montauban 10: Italian

The Italian family consists of the following versions:

I Cantari di Rinaldo da Montealbano. In ottava rima, from the late 1300’s. Crticial edition by Elio Melli in 1973 under the title I Cantari di Rinaldo da Monte Albano.

El Inamoramento de Rinaldo da Monte Albano. The aforesaid Cantari, with the story of Fierabras interpolated, a prologue dealing with the feud of Aymon and Ginamo of Baiona added, and many episodes lengthened. Also printed under the title of Rinaldo Innamorato, and in either case usually with a very long subtitle.

Prose Rinaldo. Probably by Andrea da Barberino, though this cannot be proved.

Rinaldo, by Torquato Tasso. In ottava rima. Translated into English couplets by John Hoole, whom Scott notoriously described as “a noble transmuter of gold into lead.” More recently translated into ottava rima by Max Wickert.

I CANTARI DI RINALDO DA MONTE ALBANO

The oldest and best version is in a MS known as palatino 364, of the Bib. Naz. di Firenze. There are three other versions, each of which expand the first section (up to the chessboard-murder) in their own unique ways. R: a manuscript fragment which ends just before the ambush of Buovo, Cod. Riccardiano 683. a: a printed edition without title or date, probably from 1479, British Museum, Printed Books G 11352. b: the first (surviving) printing of El Inamoramento de Rinaldo da Monte Albano, from which all other printings are descended. After the chessboard-murder these three versions all follow Pal closely, with the exception of b’s interpolation of Fierabras before the beginning of the war against Monte Albano. Since b is the ancestor of all other versions, they are known as the beta family. is most likely related to the prose version in the Laurenzian library.

 PALATINO 364

Charlemagne holds court at Paris, when Ginamo of Baiona tells Amone that he [Ginamo] has cuckolded him [Amone], and that all four of his [Amone’s] sons are actually Ginamo’s. Amone, furious, heads for Dordona, but Orlando, Astolfo, Ulivieri, and Namo send messengers ahead of him to warn the Duchess, who flees with her sons Alardo, Rinaldo, Guicciardo and Ricciardetto to Monte Ermino [Montherme]. Rinaldo swears to clear his mother’s name.

Amone is son of Bernardo of Chiaramonte, and his brothers are Girado of Ronsiglione, Milon d’Angrante [Orlando’s father], King Otto of England, [Astolfo’s father], Duodo of Antonia [Doon de Nanteuil?] and Buovo of Agrismonte. Buovo and his wife Smeragda were long childless, and so went on pilgrimage to Saint James. Smeragda became pregnant, and gave birth to twin boys. However, they were still in Spain at the time, and their train was attacked by King Avilante. Only Buovo and his wife escaped, and their children were left behind in the rout. King Avilante finds the one, adopts him and names him Viviano. The other is found by the Queen of Belfiore, who happens to be passing by some days later. She finds him “mal giacere” [lying ill: that is, alone], names him Malagigi, and teaches him magic. By his magic, he grows up to win Baiardo, whom he finds in a grotto with a hauberk, a helmet, and the sword Frusberta. He slays the deadly serpent that guards them, and claims them. Since, by his magic, he knows who his family are and the peril they are in, he takes leave of his foster-mother and pretends to be a merchant. He sells his cousins Baiardo, saying that no bastard can sit on this wonderful horse. Rinaldo, reassured by his mother, buys the beast, after which Malagigi reveals his identity and departs. The brethren ride to Paris with their train. Ginamo meets them on the way and claims to be their father, but they defy him, and battle is joined. The brethren slay Ginamo, who is carried to his castle, where his sons Ramondo and Beltramo mourn him. Although the Sons are reconciled with their father, Charles banishes them from Christendom for three years for killing Ginamo. As they leave, Gano secretly follows to ambush them. Luckily, Orlando is suspicious, and rides with his other cousins after them, finding them just after Gano’s men have leapt out of the bushes. Gano has concealed his insignia, but Rinaldo gives him an ugly cut through his helmet. Gano flees when Orlando arrives, still unknown. The Duchess returns to Dordona with Amone, and Rinaldo takes up residence in Monte Ermino, deciding to lay low instead of actually leaving. Gano returns to court, where he pretends he had a hunting accident. Orlando is suspicious, but can prove nothing.

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The Legend of Renaud of Montauban 3: Variants of the Quatre Fils

The summary given in this post is printed after D, the earliest manuscript of the Quatre Fils. However, most parts of the poem have at least two redactions, and the MSS switch from one redaction to the other with no apparent rhyme or reason, and no two parallel each other’s jumps exactly. D usually gives the oldest form, but it is not free of inconsistencies.

Many manuscripts, in their recapitulations, make reference to events or details that are not actually recounted in that particular manuscript, but are found in others. It is not always clear whether the reference is to an existing but omitted episode, or whether the episode was invented to explain the reference.

Beuves episode

A DIVISION OF THE MANUSCRIPTS ACCORDING TO THE ARDENNES EPISODES.

FIRST FAMILY: The enfances of Reynard are interspersed with the story of Beuve d’Aigremont, like so. First fragment: the dubbing of the Four Sons and their tilt at the quintaine. Second: Aymon and his sons flee Paris after the death of Lohier. Third: the quarrel at chess and its consequences, leading into the Ardennes War. DPAZMO

SECOND FAMILY: The second fragment is suppressed. The tilting at the quintaine is moved to just before the quarrel at chess. NC.

THIRD FAMILY: The first and third fragments are united and moved to the end of the Bueves episode. The second is still gone. LV. Hence in these, the entire war with Bueves is over before Renaud even appears on the scene.

For the Bueves d’Aigremont episode proper, OLNC (Italian) give the same redaction, in which Enguerrand is sent to Bueves and slain before Lohier. DPA (Caxton) give a different one. MZ formed their own version, still without Enguerrand. V is unique and lacks Enguerrand.

Aigremont

Aigremont is on the river Agremore [nonexistant] which flows into the Garonne, DPAMZ.

Aigremont is in Lombardy, and Bueves is killed in the plain of Souvigny [in Auvergne] on his way home, LNC.

The Italian Cantari claims that Agrismonte is reached from Paris by passing through Champagne and past Troyes, and that it stands on a mountain on the river Agremore, along which many merchant ships sail.

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Book I, Canto VII, Part 2

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

21
He would have been a captive, or a corpse,
But as I said, Alfrera reappeared,
Swinging his iron mace with deadly force
As through th’advancing Christian host he sheared.
Burgundian Gui he topples from his horse,
And good Duke Naimo of the hoary beard.
But Olivier, Dudon, and Charlemagne
All three at once against the giant came.

22
One charges from that side, and one from this.
Boldly and gallantly they urge their steeds.
He cannot turn his giraffe around. It is
By nature quite a lazy, sluggish beast.
He swings great strokes, but all of them just miss.
Charles and his companions dodge with ease.
Since nought he did availed him, he abated
His fight and fled to where Gradasso waited.

23
His flight the haughty lord Gradasso spies,
Who used to hold him in a high regard.
He turns to him in anger, and he cried:
“Ah, worthless coward, vile sack of lard!
Art thou not shamed, so cravenly to fly?
Art thou so great of limb and small of heart?
Go wait inside my tent, thou scorned of men,
And never let me see thee armed again!”

24
He ceases talking and he spurs his horse,
And with one thrust he overthrows Dudon.
And with what seems a more than human force
He floors Ricardo and King Salamon.
The men of Sericane behind him course.
Their dragon-hearted king deserves his throne.
His lance was iron bound, twenty feet long.
The world has never seen a man so strong.

25
Against Count Ganellone he collides,
Striking the falcon’s breast upon his shield.
He knocks him to the ground, his legs sprawled wide,
Then spies King Charlemagne across the field.
His lance in rest, with utmost speed he rides,
And with one blow, his seat the emperor yields.
But as Gradasso Baiard’s bridle clasped,
That destrier turned its croup, and lightning fast

26
With a loud neighing, he kicks out his heels,
And just below the knee gives such a clout
That though his greaves were of enchanted steel,
Yet they were dented in, while sparks flew out.
Worse pain than ever now Gradasso feels.
It runs all through him, so he turns about,
And leaves Baiardo, letting fall the rein;
The good beast swiftly back to Paris came.

27
Gradasso flees in anguish to his tent.
You all may guess what agony he’s in.
Straightaway for an agéd man he sent,
A master of the art of medicine.
He binds the wound with skill, and then presents
A potion brewed from herbs and roots to him,
Which, when Gradasso quaffs it all, it seems
As if his wound were nothing but a dream.

28
To battle he returns, sans pain or fear .
In fact, he’s even fiercer than before.
Against him gallops Marquis Olivier,
But with one blow he knocks him to the floor.
Avin, Avolio, Guido, Angelier,
Without a pause he overthrows all four
To tell it shortly, ev’ry Paladin
Was by Gradasso captured with great vim.

29
The Christian people turn about and flee;
Against the Saracens no more they fight.
The Frankish lords are in captivity.
The other rabble in distress take flight.
No Christian faces do the pagans see;
Captives or slain are all the valiant knights.
And of the rest, none than the next is bolder,
And all show to the Saracens their shoulders.

30
Now all of Paris hears the tidings dread
Of the defeat, and Karl’s captivity.
Ogier the Dane leaps up at once from bed,
Lamenting loudly, as a baron free.
He donned his arms, then to the gate he sped
On foot, not waiting even for his steed.
But he commanded it be harnessed straight,
And brought to meet him at the Paris gate.

31
When he arrived, he found the gate was down,
And from without he hears the woeful cry
Of all the baptized cruelly cut down.
The murd’rous porter at his ease there lies;
So that the Pagans enter not the town
He is content that his compatriots die.
The Dane him bids to open up the gate;
He clearly sees he can’t a minute wait.

32
The scowling porter, like a churl, informs
The Dane he has no wish to raise the gate,
And with proud boasts he blusters and he storms
That his appointed post he’ll ne’er forsake.
Ogieri lifts his axe, which so alarms
The porter, that he doesn’t hesitate
To run away in terror with a shout.
Ogieri opes the gate and rushes out.

33
Upon the bridge forth strides the gallant knight;
With axe in readiness he takes his stand.
Now is he fortunate to have keen sight,
For as in terror fled the Christian band,
Each of them wishing to be first in flight,
The swiftest Pagans mixed among them ran.
The mighty Dane perceives them where they go,
And with his axe he brings them all to woe.

34
The Pagan army ever closer sped.
Don Serpentino leads them their attack.
Upon the bridge, as swift as lightning, leapt
The Danish hero, brandishing his axe,
And brought it down on Serpentino’s head.
The sparks fly from his helm, which would have cracked
If Serpentino’s armor were not made
By magic art, secure from all such blades.

35
The Dane upon the Pagan army gazed.
Gradasso led, and mighty Ferragu.
So many enemies Ogieri faced,
He clearly saw that nothing could he do.
He called behind him that the bridge be raised.
There never was a knight so brave and true.
Alone against the Pagan host he fights,
And keeps them off the bridge in their despite.

36
Gradasso confidently ‘gainst him came,
Ordering all his vassals to step back.
Ogieri hears the gate shut with a clang,
And in a brave despair he lifts his axe.
Gradasso seizes it, to snap in twain,
Then lights down off his charger, and he grasps
The Dane, who’s stout and skilled in wrestling play,
But King Gradasso carries him away.

37
No knights were left to make an opposition,
As day gave was unto the dusky knight.
The priests lead all the people in processions,
With pure intent, and clad in garments white.
Open is ev’ry church, and ev’ry prison
With fear and terror they await the light.
None dare to rest, for once the gates are breached,
Destruction waits alike for all and each.

38
Astolfo with the others was set free;
No one remembered that he was alive;
For once he’d been thrown in captivity
A rumor went around that he had died.
His habit was to talk incessantly
And brag more proudly than I could describe.
He heard the news, and “Oh, alas!” he moaned,
“Of my arrest, Gradasso must have known!

39
“Had I not been thrown in a dungeon cell,
King Charlemagne would have no cause to moan.
But even now, I can make all things well,
I’ll take Gradasso pris’ner by my lone.
Soon as the dawning o’er th’horizon swells
I’ll arm myself and mount upon my roan.
You all, stand on the walls and watch me fight.
Woe to the infidel who tests my might!”

40
Meanwhile, joy possessed the pagan races.
They cheer their ruler and upon him fawn.
His glee unbounded written on his face is,
Dreaming of seizing Paris at the dawn.
He’s put Alfrera back in his good graces.
Now to review his prisoners he’s gone.
When he sees Charlemagne, he sits down, and
He takes his fellow monarch by the hand

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No notes for this Part.

Book I, Canto VII, Part 1

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

CANTO VII

ARGUMENT

Ogier retreats, the barons issue out,
Stoutly they fight, but all are caught at last.
Gradasso doth the Christian army rout,
But thanks t’Ogier, the Paris walls aren’t passed.
Astolfo, like a foolish, headstrong lout
Ruins the truce, and leaves King Charles aghast.
Astolfo and Gradass joust one on one,
And with that joust, so shall the war be done.

1
Cruel and chaotic was the fight begun,
Outside of Paris, as I sang before.
Now does the Dane against Urnasso run,
And with Curtana through the heart him gores.
The pagan army’s routed and undone,
But King Urnasso’s thrice-accursed horse,
Strikes with its horn upon the Dane’s cuirass,
And doth through chainmail and through platemail pass.

2
Ogieri, wounded sore in places three,
Returned to Paris and a doctor found.
The Emperor, who all the battle sees,
Sends Salamone to the battle ground,
And Turpin after him, that ardent priest.
The drawbridge of Saint-Denis he lets down,
And thence sends Ganelon with all his force.
Ricardo by another route goes forth.

3
Out of a third go mighty Angelieri,
And strong Dudon, the soul of courtesy;
And from the Royal Gate comes Olivieri,
And mighty Guido, lord of Burgundy.
The wise duke Naimo, his sons Berlengieri,
Avol, Otton, Avin, each bold and free,
Some from one gate, some from another go,
To wreak upon the heathens pain and woe.

4
The Emperor, the fiercest soldier there,
Issues forth armed, and leads the last brigade,
The while to God he softly makes his prayer
That Paris might from fire and sack be saved.
Relics and crosses monks and mass-priests bear
In long processions, and devoutly prayed
To God and all His saints, that they preserve
King Charles and his barons strong of nerve.

5
And now there is a mighty sound of bells,
Of drums, and trumpets, and of battle-cries.
From ev’ry part advance the infidels,
And straight against them do the Christians ride.
There never was a battle half as fell,
Both sides are mixed together in the fight.
Don Olivieri ‘mongst the Paynim ranks
Seems like a stream that overflows its banks.

6
He rides against footmen and cavaliers,
And some he knocked to earth and some he slew
With Altachiara, filling hosts with fear,
More than a thousand other knights could do.
And not a single thrust his armor pierced.
Now Stracciaberra comes into his view,
That Black-skinned Indian, King of Lucinorca
Who had two tusks protruding like a porker.

7
The fight between these cavaliers was brief,
For Olivier brought Altachiara down,
Between the Indian’s eyes, then ‘twixt his teeth,
Splitting in two his ugly visage brown;
This done, his sharpened blade he did not sheath,
But wreaked destruction with it all around,
And while he wasted all of that brigade,
Emperor Charlemagne came to his aid.

8
That monarch’s sword was all awash in blood.
That day he rode to battle on Baiard;
None of the Saracens against him stood.
You never saw a king who fought so hard.
He sheathes his brand, and takes a lance of wood,
Because he’s challenged by the King Francard,
Francardo, ruler of Elissa’s land,
In India, who had a bow in hand.

9
The strange man, as he rides, shoots constantly.
He is coal-black; snow-white is his destrier.
Charlemagne interrupts him in his spree,
And all the way though him he drives his spear.
The body’s pierced and broke; the spirit flees.
Baiardo’s not yet tired, it appears.
The steed lay dead before him on the ground,
But he leapt o’er it with a single bound.

10
“Who is the man who dares to block my way?
Who stops me riding whereso I desire?”
So shouts King Charles, and within the fray
He passes through the Saracens like fire.
Cornuto, once Urnasso’s charger gay,
Races around, unrid by knight or squire.
With its horn down, it runs against Baiard,
But this steed’s courage is by no means marred.

11
Without King Charles prompting him, he starts
To turn around, and he kicks out his hooves,
And strikes Cornuto where his forelegs part.
He falls to ground, and never more he moves.
Oh, how King Charles laughs with all his heart!
Now does the battle grow more fierce, in sooth,
Because Alfrera leads a mighty corps
Of Saracens, all eager for the war.

12
Upon his giraffe the mighty giant fares,
Swinging his club and dealing dreadful harm.
Turpin of Rheims he lifts into the air
And then he tucks him underneath his arm
And fights as well as if he wasn’t there.
Oton and Berlengier, to their alarm,
He grabs, and ties them up, and then he brings
Them, trussed up like a faggot, to the king

13
And turns immediately back to the plain;
To seize and bind the others is his plan.
Marsilio comes, with all the folk of Spain,
And he himself is leader of the van.
Thoughts of surrender or of flight are vain.
Ev’ryone fights as stoutly as he can.
Olivier and the Paladins concur
To form a circle round their emperor.

14
In gilded arms he sits upon Baiard,
Covered from crest to spur with precious stones.
And Marquis Olivier his right side guards,
And at his other shoulder brave Dudon,
And Angelier, and worthy Don Riccard,
And good Duke Naimo, and Count Ganelon.
They from their line and gallop off to bring
Doom to the heathen Spaniards and their king.

15
Don Ferragu against the Marquis speeds,
And that stout pagan has the upper hand,
But not enough to knock him from his steed,
So they begin to fight with their good brands.
Don Angelieri and Spinella meet,
And Gano with Margante breaks a lance.
The Argalif with the Baviarn jousts,
And ev’ryone is fighting all about.

16
And while the mêlée and the tumult grow,
Grandonio meets Dudone in that place.
These two lay on each other mighty blows,
For each of them prefers to use his mace.
Each paladin confronts his chosen foe.
Marsil and Charlemagne are face to face,
And king Marsilio’s life would have been through
Had he not been relieved by Ferragu.

17
Forgetting Olivier, he leaves his fight,
Fearing lest his dear uncle should be slain.
But the Marquis, just like a valiant knight,
Rides to the aid of Emp’ror Charlemagne.
Now of these four, each is a man of might,
Each quick of limb, and each of battle fain.
On that day Charles more adroitly sparred
Than any other, for he rode Baiard.

18
Each a great baron, or a mighty king,
And each in love with honor and with glory;
Their shields they have forgotten, while they swing
Their swords with both their hands, in raging fury.
Meanwhile, the Chrisitans to the Spaniards bring
Defeat, and chase them in a routing gory.
Marsilio’s standard lay upon the ground;
This was the state of things Alfrera found.

19
The Spaniards fled as swiftly as they could,
Across the plain, and dared no longer dwell.
Neither Marsilio nor Grandonio stood
His ground, but joined in the retreating swell.
The Argalifa showed his legs were good,
And King Morgante, that false infidel.
Spinella back towards the camp has flown.
Don Ferraguto fights his foes alone.

20
Just like a lion he confronts their ranks,
Nor does he falter in the slightest manner.
Upon his armor now, Dudon the Frank,
Charles and Olivieri stoutly hammer.
He guards his front side now, and now his flank,
And strikes them back again with mighty clamor.
But since his army’d left him all alone,
These three ferocious soldiers wore him down.

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Notes

Notes to the Seventh Canto, Part 1

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

1. Curtana. Or Cortana, or Cortain, or Curtain. Ogier’s sword. The name means “Short”, and how he got this sword is told in Le Chevalerie Ogier le Danois.
3. Gui of Burgundy. Hero of Fierabras, and husband of the giant Fierabras’ sister Floripas.
15. The Bavarian. Naimo.

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On to Part 2

The Legend of Emperor Octavian

The legend of Octavian has only a marginal connection to the legend of Charlemagne, but it was the inspiration for the second part of Book II of the Reali di Francia, and one Irish version does set it in the reign of Charlemagne. All other versions are set in the reign of Dagobert. This story has no relation to Augustus Caesar.

The legend of Octavian is extant in three major redactions. Please note that I have given them this classification myself; it does not reflect scholarly usage.

THE FIRST REDACTION
Octavian. A French poem in octosyllables, mid to late 1200’s, ancestor of all other versions.

Octovion. The Northern English version. A poem in tail-rhyme. Can be found in EETS vol. 289, or in TEAMS Four Middle English Romances. c. 1350.

Sechrain Na Banimpire. Or “The Wanderings of the Empress”. Irish prose, flowery like most Irish translations. Englished by Carl Marstrander in “Sechrain Na Banimpire.” Ériu No. 5, 1911. [not freely available on the internet, due to a lack of copies of the journal in America and the idiotic length of copyright in Europe. Be comforted, however. You’re not missing much.]

Octovion. The Southern English version. A poem in six-line aaabab stanzas, with the b lines shorter than the a’s. [This is best known nowadays as Robert Burns’ signature stanza]. Can be found in Weber’s Metrical Romances. No modern edition for the general reader. c. 1350.

THE SECOND REDACTION

Florent et Lyon. French prose, first printed around 1500, but perhaps written earlier, the ancestor of the French chapbooks. No modern editions.

Kaiser Octavianus. A German chapbook, from 1545.

Hans Sach’s play, 1555.

Sebastian Wilde’s poem, 1566.

Danish chapbook, oldest surviving from 1597, probably first printed earlier.

A Polish version from the 1600’s.

The Russian translation, made from the Polish around 1670. No edition, to my knowledge.

Komediya Olundina, or Caesar Otto. A play based on the above by Princess Natalya Alexeyevna, sister of Peter the Great. Included in I. A. Shlyapkin’s Tsarevna Natalya Alekseyevna I teatr yevo vremeni.

A Very Edifying and Touching Tale of an Empress and Her Two Sons and a Lioness. A shorter Russian chapbook version, with no proper names. Published in P. N. Rybnikov’s Pesni, volume 3.

Another play based on that, which was part of the standard repertoire in the schools during Peter the Great’s reign. To be found in S. A. Shcheglova’s Neizvestnaya drama Petrovsky epokhi o tsaritse i l’vitse. In the journal Trudy komissii po drevnerusskoy literature, 1932, I, pp.153-229.

Naturally, none of the Russian works have been translated into English.

Dutch chapbook, oldest surviving from 1621, probably first printed earlier.

Icelandic chapbook, oldest surviving from 1733, probably first printed earlier.

The French prose and its descendents [German, Danish, Dutch, Icelandic, Polish, Russian] are distinguished by renaming the younger Octavian “Lion”, and adding an episode where he wins a tournament and therefore marries the daughter of the King of Spain. They also make Florence become King of England.

THE LONG REDACTION

Florent and Octavian. A chanson de geste in rhymed alexandrines. Some claim it is the original, but much more likely it is an expansion of the octosyllabic version. c. 1356.

Othovyan. A prose adaptation of the long version and of Le Bone Florence de Rome. Circa 1450. Never printed.

 

OCTAVIAN IN OCTOSYLLABLES

Emperor Octavian of Rome, after fifteen years of childlessness, begets twins on his wife, the daughter of King Dagobert of France. His mother says twins are a sign of adultery. The emperor denies it, but his mother slips a page boy into the empress’ bed and shows him to Octavian. As the empress has a prophetic nightmare, Octavian beheads the boy, and when she wakes up, he banishes her. As she rests by a spring, her children are stolen, one  by an ape and one by a lioness. The one stolen by the ape is rescued by a knight, captured by robbers, and bought by a merchant of Paris named Clement, who names him Florent and raises him as his own. The one stolen by the lioness is recovered by his mother, who journeys with him and the lioness [for lions have no power to harm chaste women of royal blood] to Jerusalem, where she is treated kindly by the king. Her son, Octavian, is dubbed a knight when he comes of age.

Florent, meanwhile, due to his high birth, has no talent for business, and wastes all his money on horses, hounds and hawks, much to his foster father’s displeasure. After some humorous scenes, a Sultan attacks Paris, bringing his giant Aragonour and his daughter Marsibelle with him. Emperor Octavian rides to succor King Dagobert. Aragonour promises Marsibelle the head of King Dagobert. Armed in a rusty suit of armor he found in Clement’s attic, Florent kills the giant, and presents his head to Marsibelle, and proceeds to carry her off, but is obliged to leave her when he is ambushed by pagans, much to the princess’ regret. He returns to Paris, and she with her maid Olive, plans to see him again. Clement and Florent are presented to Dagobert and Octavian, and Florent is dubbed. Much humor is made about Clement’s practical, thrifty, behavior at the extravagant court feast.

Florent volunteers to be a messenger, in order to see Marsibelle again. At the Sultan’s tent, however, he is recognized, and must fight his way home. He does, however, receive Marsibelle’s sleeve, and wears it in the next battle. Later, he sneaks into her garden, and she tells him to steal her father’s unicorn. Clement, disguised as a Saracen, accomplishes this. Nonetheless, the Saracens capture Florent, Dagobert, and Octavian in the next battle.

This news comes to Jerusalem, whence the young Octavian, his mother, and the lioness set out with an army. He saves the captives, and all recognize each other. Marsibelle converts and marries Florent, Octavian’s mother is sentenced to boil in brass, but stabs herself instead, and everyone else lives happily ever after.

 ENGLISH OCTOVIAN

Octavian’s seven-year barrenness is cured not by coincidence, but by prayer to Our Lady and by endowing a monastery. Octavian throws the page boy’s head at the queen to wake her up. In the Northern version, he refrains from sentencing her until he has invited her father, [who is not Dagobert, here, but the king of Calabria] to court and asked him what adulteresses deserve. He answers that they deserve to be burnt, and Octavian sentences the queen accordingly, only commuting her sentence to banishment when she is already tied to the stake. The queen, living in Jerusalem, is taken into King Amauri’s household, instead of merely being known to him. In the Southern version, Clement is a butcher, not a merchant.

 IRISH OCTAVIAN

From the Northern English. King Charlemagne replaces Dagobert, and Roland, Oliver, Ogier, Naymes, Gui of Burgundy, and Denis [probably Saint Denis, but here king of Norway!] at first refuse to fight the Sultan’s giant, and afterwards are captured by the Sultan alongside Plurens [Florent]. Plurens marries the Sultan’s daughter Felicita, and Octavian marries Charlemagne’s daughter.

 FLORENT ET LYON

The French prose and its descendents [German, Danish, Dutch, Icelandic, Polish, Russian] are distinguished by renaming the younger Octavian “Lion”, and adding an episode where he wins a tournament and therefore marries the daughter of the King of Spain. They also make Florence become King of England. I will pass over this redaction, because it has nothing to do with Charlemagne, only noting that by the time the story reached Russia, the emperor was named Otto, and the empress Olunda.

FLORENT ET OCTAVIEN IN ALEXANDRINES

The story is set in the year 240, under Dagobert, the fourth king of his line, who founded the Abbey of Saint Denis. Emperor Octavian, long childless, goes to help him fight the Wandres [Vandals?] and returns to find his wife Florimonde has given birth to twins, and been accused of adultery, despite the red crosses on their shoulders [a sign of royal blood]. The story continues as the short version, only changing a few names (the sultan is Acarius, the giant Fernagu), until the younger Octavian is sixteen, at which time the Sultan of Damascus demands the hand of Esclarmonde, daughter of King Amauri of Jerusalem. Octavian and his lion defeat the sultan, and the lad wins the love of Esclarmonde. Traitors wrongfully tell the king that he has deflowered her, and so Amauri sends Octavian to the Sultan with a Bellerophon-letter. The Sultan decides to keep him imprisoned instead of killing him, and marches on Jerusalem. Amauri surrenders Esclarmonde, who discovers the situation, pretends that she sent the letter, and asks for the favor of killing Octavian herself, immediately. The sultan sends her with a jailer to the dungeon, but she kills him and frees her lover. The two flee with the lion. They sail from Acre to Rome, still under siege by Acarius, who has captured the Emperor and Florent. Octavian’s traitorous minister Couart is mulling how best to surrender, when Dagobert arrives, and saves the day with the young Octavian and the lion’s help. The youth exposes his grandmother as a fraud, and defeats Couart, her lover, in a trial by combat. Couart is hanged, but the young Octavian manages to get his grandmother’s sentence reduced from burning to perpetual imprisonment.
Acarius retreats, but still has Florent and Octavian senior in captivity. Octavian junior follows him to Babylon, stopping en route to save Amauri from the Sultan of Damascus. Amauri is mortally wounded in the battle, but pardons Octavian and bequeaths him his daughter and his kingdom. Octavian leads his new kingdom to war against Babylon, but on the way he learns of Margalie, Marsebille’s sister, who is locked in Castel-Geant, where only minstrels are allowed to visit. Dressed as a minstrel, he goes to her, who fortunately has fallen in love with him by report. Her uncle, King Malaquin, catches the happy couple, and a fight ensues which ends with Octavian and his lady’s maid holding a tower against his garrison. The maid shows him a secret passage, and he slips away to defeat Acarius, and thereby win Margalie’s hand in marriage.
One month later, as they reign in Babylon [Mesopotamian Babylon, for once; not Cairo], Clement, his son Clodoan, Esclarmonde and Marsebille arrive. The awkwardness is resolved by wedding Florentto Marsebille, and Clodoan to Esclarmonde, and giving this last couple the throne of Babylon. Clement receives Jerusalem, and the brothers and their wives go home to Italy.
King Morgan of Tartary lays siege to Babylon. Esclarmonde kills her husband by treason, and sends to young Octavian for aid. He arrives, and she steals his seal to send a forged letter to Marsebille, luring her onto a ship bound for the Levant. Esclarmonde’s goons are about to throw her overboard, when she is saved by prayer. She meets King Corsabrun of Rochebrune’s ship, who is bringing aid to Morgan. He drowns her persecutors, and brings her to Rochebrune, where he leaves her as governor while he makes war. Octavian thinks his wife is dead, thanks to Esclarmonde. King Cladius of Tarse abandons Corsabrun after a quarrel at chess, and joins Octavian, converting to Christianity. They two go to Jerusalem for help from Clement. They rest at Rochebrun, where the lion recognizes Marsebille and refuses to leave her, much to Octavian’s bafflement. On his way back from Jerusalem with thirty thousand soldiers, he besieges Rochebrun to get his lion back, and all is explained. They go to Babylon, rout the Tartars, burn Esclarmonde at the stake, and Octavian is again Sultan.
Florent returns from a trip to Paris to find a note from Marsebille, saying she has taken their son Othonet to Babylon to see her family. But really, traitors told her he was dead, then, when she wanted to sail home, threw her and her son overboard. She is rescued by merchants of Palerne and Aumarie, who take her to be a slave in Palerme and him to be a slave in Aumarie. The traitors try to kill Florent in his bedroom, who jumps out the window, escapes, rallies his faithful men, and kills them. He then goes to Babylon, but is caught be Saracen pirates, who sell him to the King of Palerne. He is comforted by Princess Police. Meanwhile, Corsaut of Aumaries, a giant, defies the King of Palerne, but Florent kills him. Corsaut’s men, though, seize him and sell him to the King of Aumarie, where he meets Marsebille. The two escape and flee to Rome. Othonent, meanwhile, is being raised by the Saracen King of Palerne as his own son, under the name of Aceré. At sixteen, he is dubbed, conquers Aumarie, and learns he is adopted, which gladdens him, as he can now wed Police. He leads his army to Rome, is captured by Florent, who recognizes him. When his fellow Saracens refuse to follow his example in conversion, he is obliged to rout them. Police is the only one who converts. Marsebille dies soon after, and Florent goes to end his days in Babylon with Octavian, leaving Othon as king of Rome. He was the father of La Bonne Florence, whose story is announced to follow in all manuscripts, but only does so in one verse MS, and all the prose ones.

Since La Bonne Florence’s story originated separately, was only attached to Octavian in a late version, continued to circulate independently afterwards, and has nothing to do with Charlemagne, it will be treated of in a later post, if at all.

So let us leave thus subject, and treat of King Rother.

Book I, Canto III, Part 2

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

21
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.

22
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,
23
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,

24
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.

25
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.

26
“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!”

27
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.

28
“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.”

29
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.

30
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.

31
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.

32
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.

33
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.

34
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.

35
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.

36
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.

37
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.

38
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.

39
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.

40
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

Notes

Notes to the First Canto, Part 3

The Orlando Innamorato in English Translation, Book I, Canto I, Part 3, Notes

51. Merlin appears to have been among the last wizards to have an innate knowledge of magic. Malagise, like Roger Bacon and Albertus Magnus, had to learn it. Toledo in Spain was allegedly home to a secret school of magic, at which some works claim Malagise studied. Other notable alumni of the Black School include Michael Scot and Soemunder the Wise. For the distinction between the innate magic of Merlin and the book-learned magic of Malagise, see C. S. Lewis’ English Literature in the Sixteenth Century. For Michael Scot, see The Lay of the Last Minstrel. For Soemundur, see any good book of Icelandic folklore.

52. Cathay. Old China, including neither Manchuria nor Tibet.

55/56. The natural tendency of Italian to use more syllables than English sometimes makes it best to condense two stanzas into one.

58. Dudon. Second son of Ogier the Dane, and younger brother of Baldwin (Baldovino). Prefers to fight with a club. Usually a minor character, although there was a now-lost romance that focused on his exploits.
Belengieri and Ottone. Sons of Duke Naimo of Bavaria. Traditional minor characters. This is not the Ottone who is Astolfo’s father and king of England.

60. Astolfo. Cousin of Orlando and Rinaldo. Son of King Ottone of England. He may make a cameo in the Oxford Song of Roland as Duke Austorje of Valence on the Rhone. An Astolfo also appears in the Venice 4 version of that poem, where he replaces Otho [Ottone in Boiardo, of Avin, Avolio, Ottone, and Beringier]. In the Chateroux/Venice 7 version, he is already the son of Otes. He also cameos in Turpin, under the name Estultus, count of Langres. His first major role is in the poem of Aspremont, under the name of Estouf. “De Langres” was corrupted into “D’Angles”, i.e. “Of England”. His personality is traditional; it’s oldest surviving appearance is in Aspremont, but it stuck with him ever after.

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