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

CRITICISM

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.

ORIGINS

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.

VARIANTS

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 furter canto of adventures. (In other copies, this episode is more logically placed just before Rinaldo’s departue 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.

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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 Count Claros

Count Claros of Montalban, allegedly the son of Rinaldo, features in a very complicated tradition of Hispanic ballads. There are, according to the late lamented Samuel Armistead, the foremost expert on Sephardic balladry, seven essential themes, which were combined in a variety of ways.

1: Conde Claros y el emperador [Count Claros and the Emperor]. Claros asks the Emperor for money, who offers him as much as he needs. Claros asks for the hand of the princess, Claraniña. The Emperor will not grant it, as he has promised her to Don Beltrán.

2: Conde Claros insomne [Sleepless Count Claros]. Claros cannot sleep for thinking of Claraniña. He has his servant dress him, and he goes to the palace to see her.

3: Conde Claros y la infanta [Count Claros and the Princess]. Claraniña compliments Claros on his strong body, good for fighting Moors. He answers that it’s also good for pleasing dames. The two make love. A hunter finds them under a rose boush and tells the king. The king kills the hunter and orders Claros arrested.

4: Conde Claros preso [Count Claros Arrested]. Claros is thrown in jail for seducing the princess. She runs to the scaffold just as he is about to lose his head, stops the execution, and asks the king to spare his life. He does so and they are wed.

5: Conde Claros degollado [Count Claros Beheaded]. The king finds Claros and the princess together and throws him in jail. The court sentences him to death, and is is done. The king cuts his heart out and serves it to his daughter on a plate. She dies of grief, and the lovers are buried in one tomb.

6: Conde Claros y la infanta huyen a Montalbán [Count Claros and the Princess Flee to Montalbán]. Claros sends the princess to Montalbán, and then tells the king that his daughter is pregnant but that he is going to marry her. The king calls for his arrest, but he rides for his life through Paris. Roldán and Oliveros pursue him, but let him get away. They then persuade the king to pardon Claros, who weds the princess.

7: Conde Claros fraile [Count Claros in Friar’s Garb]. Claros tells the king that his daughter is pregnant but that he intends to marry her. The king throws her in a dungeon with water up to her waist, and plans to burn her at the stake. She sends a letter by her page to Claros, who disguises himself as a friar to hear her confession at the stake. She confesses that Claros is the only man she has ever been with, and so Claros carries her off on his horse.

Four ballads of Count Claros were printed in the Siglo d’Oro, and they follow.

“Media noche era por filo,” Duran 362, Primavera 190. = Insomne + Infanta + Preso
Count Claros of Montalvan, Renaldo’s son, cannot sleep for love of the princess Claraniña. He finally tells her that he’s loved her seven years. They arrange a meeting in the garden, where they act as man and wife, but are surprised by a gardener, who refuses Claros’ offer of land and his sister’s hand in marriage if he keeps silent. The gardener tells Charlemagne, who kills him in a fit of rage, then arrests Claros. He summons his barons, and sentences Claros to death. Claros’ uncle the archbishop [unnamed] visits him in prison, to bring the sad news. Claros sends a message by the bishop’s page to Claraniña, who meets him at the scaffold. Claraniña falls down before her father and beseeches pardon, for the sake of Renaldo his father, who died in battle. She obtains it and marries Claros.

“A caza va el Emperador,” Primavera 191, Duran 364. = Emperador + Fraile
Charlemagne rides out hunting with Count Claros. Claros asks for Claraniña’s hand in marriage, since he has had her these six months. Charlemagne rides back to the city in a fury, throws his daughter in prison, and sentences her to be burnt. She writes a letter to Claros, who rides to the court like mad. He presents himself to Charlemagne disguised as a friar, and asks to hear her confession. Instead of so doing, however, he tries to kiss her, and the truth comes out. Claros tells Charles she is innocent, but a knight who loves her and is jealous of Claros accuses the supposed friar of lying. They duel. Charlemagne recognized Claros by the way he tighten his saddle straps. Claros kills the knight and then rides off with Claraniña.

“A misa va el Emperador,” Primavera 192. = Emperador + Insomne + Montalbán
The Emperor [unnamed] goes to Mass on St. John’s Day with Count Claros. Claros complains that the Moors have taken his castle of Montalban, which the king gave him. He threatens to turn Moor himself if the king does not succor him. The king promises him arms, and summons Oliveros, Montesinos, Roldan, Urgel [Ogier], and Merian to help him. Claros now asks for the king’s daughter in marriage, but he says she is promised to Don Beltran. Claros returns to his home, but cannot sleep that night for love of the princess. He calls his servants to dress him in fancy clothes, and he goes to the princess, and bids her flee to Montalban. He then goes to the king and explains that the princess is with child and that he is going to marry her. The king calls for his blood, but Claros flees through the streets of Paris. Oliveros and Roldan follow him, but he persuades them to let him go free. They return to the court and stall Don Beltran and the king. They persuade the king to pardon Claros, and the lovers are married.

“Durmiendo está el conde Claros,” by Antonio Pansac. Duran 363. = Insomne + Degollado
Count Claros cannot sleep for love of the princess, so he dresses in finery and goes to woo the princess [unnamed], and wins her favors without blessing from the altar. The king [unnamed] finds them, and has the count executed, and presents his heart to the princess on a golden plate. She dies of grief, and the king lays them both in one tomb.

 

Segment 1, Emperador, is still sung by the Sephardic Jews in Morocco as a prologue to Insomne. In Aragon, it is a prelude to Fraile. In different versions, the hero (Claros, Niño, Flores, Vélez) laments that his uncle the emperor’s gift to him of Montalvan has not made him rich, or simply that he has lost his money. Once he is confident that the emperor approves of him, he asks for Claraniña. Occasionally, among the Eastern Sephardim, Emperador stands alone. An uncle and nephew race their horses, then the nephew asks his uncle for Claraniña/Blancaniña as his wife. The uncle reminds him that he didn’t want her when he first offered her, and says she is now betrothed to the Count of Livorno. But, since the nephew is a strong knight, he could, hypothetically, win her back. The nephew says that his weapons are in pawn, so the uncle gives him money and fine cloths. He rides through the city streets, slowly when there are people, quickly when there are none. The women ask him why is trying to destroy their city, but he answers he is only looking for Claraniña. Most versions end here, but some make him rescue her from a tall tower where she is dining with her husband the Count.

Segment 2, Insomne, is sung in Morocco with Emperador, as we have said. In Castille, it is a prologue to Infanta + Fraile. In Portugal and Catalonia, it introduces Infanta + Preso. Armistead mentions that it is sung in Asturias, but does not say with what. Different versions expand or contract the description of the Count’s lavish and expensive clothing. In Morocco, at the end of Emperador, the emperor announces that Claros and Claraniña’s betrothed, the Count of Montalban, will duel for her hand the next day. After a sleepless night, Claros is armed (in a very long, elaborate description of his clothing) and rides through the streets, making sparks fly. The denouements vary widely. Claros wins the duel, or he stops outside Claraniña’s window to ask whom she loves best. She says “Count Albar,” and he faints. Luckily, she was only jesting, and she weds Claros the next day. Or, she really does love Count Albar better, and marries him. Or, after she makes her jest, Claros drops dead or rides away in madness. Claraniña, repentant too late, jumps from the window.

Segment 3, Infanta¸is sung with Fraile in Morocco and Castille, with Insomne and Preso in Catalonia, and with Insomne, Preso, and/or Fraile in Portugal. It also survives in fragments among the Gypsies of Andalusia. When it stands on its own or begins the ballad, it usually begins with a description of the princess leaving the palace, or coming home from the baths, though sometimes they simply meet in the garden. Various versions tone up or down how explicit the love-making is, and how willing the princess is. Usually the lovers try to bribe the hunter (sometimes a page, or squire, etc.) to keep silent, offering money, or the princess’ cousin in marriage. In Portugal, the hunter’s rejection of the bribes is because he was in love with Claraniña. The hunter’s execution is sometimes explained as being because he has brought dishonor on the king by telling his story in public.

Segment 4, Preso, is sung alone in León, and as a sequel to (Insomne +) Infanta in Asturias, Portugal, Brazil, Catalonia, and Argentina. Generally shorter than “Media noche era por filo”, but as far as I know changing the plot only by dropping such incidents as the prison visit, if at all. Two sections of Preso, from “Media noche era por filo” were extracted, expanded, and became popular songs in their own right. One, Pésame de vos, el conde, attributed Juan del Encina, expands the dialogue between Count Claros and the archbishop in prison. Another, Más envidia he de vos, conde, expands the dialogue between Claros and the bishop’s page. Both dwell on the idea that love does not deserve to be punished by death.

Segments 5 and 6 have not survived in oral tradition, if they were ever a part of it.

Segment 7, Fraile, is by far the most popular, sung in Morocco, Castile, Portugal, Catalonia, the Canaries, the Azores, Madeira and Brazil. Very rarely, it stands alone, and begins with the king asking his three daughters which one of them is pregnant, before sentencing the guilty one to burn. She then sends for a page to take the message, etc. Slightly less rarely, it is preceeded by Insomne + Infanta. Most commonly, however, it begins with verses taken from other ballads known as Aliarda y el alabancioso (also called Alabanza) and Infanta parida. This version is known as Lisarda, (the name generally given to the Princess). The hero has his way with the heroine, despite her protests (Alabanza). The next day, he boasts that he has slept with the most beautiful woman in the world. The king says that woman is his daughter (Parida). Then he has her imprisoned, she sends a message, etc. Still other versions run Insomne + Infanta + Alabanza + Parida + Fraile.

In “A caza va el Emperador”, the king throws his daughter in the waist-deep cold water to cause an abortion. This horrid detail was surpressed in all popular traditions, most of which tone down her imprisonment even further. The page (pajecito) who takes the message sometimes becomes a bird (pajarito), and from this, probably, an angel. Sometimes the hero’s mother suggests the friar disguise. His ride to the rescue covers a fortnight’s journey in a week. He usually speaks to his horse to encourage it, and sometimes the horse replies with advce to get him stronger shoes. In traditional versions, there is no duel, only the attempt to kiss her and the confession. They mount and ride away immediately from the scaffold, without waiting for the king’s pardon.

Some add ringing conclusions: the hero slays seven guards; the princess says that she will never hear the bells of her city again; the hero shouts that the king will never see them again. In others, the princess returns after seven years to rebuke her family for trying to burn her, or she sends her son or her twin children to do the same. In still other versions, the princess does not realize that the friar is her lover. Once they are safely away, he asks her why she weeps, and she tells him she would rather burn than be a friar’s mistress, whereupon he reveals himself.

Claraniña sometimes becomes Claralinda, or has her name changed completely, often to Galanzuca or Lizarda, but there are many other names for her. Sometimes she is given a brother named Rondale, i.e. Roland. Claros is sometimes replaced with Oliveros del Mar, or with Carlos Magnos. Other times he is simply known as Count of Montalban, or as Count Alvar. Due to the frequent changes of names, there are some localities where, for example, Infanta + Fraile and Emperador + Insomne are both sung, without any realization that they used to be connected.

Compare Fraile with Lady Maisry (Child 65), the German The King of Mailand, and the Hungarian The Dishonored Maiden.

Notes to the Seventh Canto, Part 4

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto VII, Stanzas 61-72 Notes

61. Boiardo actually writes that Oliver will be the cook and Ogier the carver [the servant who carves meat at table and serves it to the lords]. I have switched them for the sake of the meter.
68. Clasp his hands. Oaths of fealty were sworn by having the vassal kneel before his lord and clasp his hands together, while the lord stood and put his own hands around his vassal’s. The modern western posture of prayer arose from this custom, as a sign of offering fealty to God.

Back to Part 4

On to Canto VIII

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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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

Book I, Canto II, Part 3

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto II, Part 3, Stanzas 41-68, Notes

41
Astolf advances, eager for the fray,
Bearing the lance he found beneath the pine.
Three golden pards his crimson shield displays,
And he sits in his saddle, strong and fine.
But unexpected danger comes his way;
His charger stumbles and he sprawls supine.
Astolfo’s knocked unconscious at that point,
And his right foot is pulled out of its joint.

42
At this mischance, the crowd lets out a groan,
And Serpentino utters maledictions,
Lamenting that his prowess was not shown.
(But certainly this was a false prediction)
They bear the senseless duke back to his home,
Where carefully they tend to his afflictions.
They bring his senses back, and then his foot,
Is set and wrapped, and in good order put.

43
Though Serpentin has shown such awesome might,
No whit afraid is Don Ogier the Dane.
So fast he gallops that it seems like flight,
Or like the wind that sweeps across the main.
Upon his shield for emblem hath this knight
A chevron argent on an azure plain.
A basilisk was sculpted on the helm
Of this great champion of the Danish realm.

44
The trumpets sound, and those two knights ride out
With lance in rest, so fast it was a wonder.
All day there had not been a blow so stout
As this, which sounded like a clap of thunder.
The Dane Ogieri, with a mighty clout
Makes Serpentino’s stirrups split asunder
And knocks him back across his horse’s croup;
He lies in dust, his haughty pride must stoop.

45
Now strong Ogieri takes the vanquished’s place,
And stridently within the ring defends him.
Flushed red with shame is Balugante’s face.
His dear son’s overthrow so much offends him,
But soon he finds himself in like disgrace,
Because the Dane along the earth distends him.
And now advances the young Isolier,
The bold and court’eous heathen cavalier.

46
This knight was cousin unto Ferragu.
On his green shield he bears three moons of gold.
He spurs his horse; his lance aims straight and true,
And he collides against that baron bold.
The mighty Dane strikes him a blow to rue,
And sweeps him off his horse and knocks him cold.
‘Tis hard to tell if he is still alive.
He lays insensible for hours five.

47
Then Don Gualtiero, lord of Monleon,
Is by Ogieri laid upon the field.
A dragon, emblem of this hero, shone
In burnished crimson on his golden shield.
“Oh, Christians, – cries Ogier in woeful tone –
Why should we arms against each other wield?
Do you not hear the Pagans’ jeers and mocks
When to ourselves we give such dreadful knocks.

48
Spinella d’Altamonte was the name
Of a stout Saracen who sought renown
By jousting at the court of Charlemagne.
On his blue shield he bore a golden crown.
Ogieri sends him sprawling on the plain.
Now Matalista on the Dane bears down.
He’s brother to the lovely Fiordespin.
In battle he is ardent, fierce, and keen.

49
Upon his helm, a dragon is his crest,
His shield in halves of gold and brown is split.
Shortly upon the earth he takes his rest,
Of steed and saddle he’s completely quit.
That dog, Grandonio, issues forward next.
God help Ogier! He has great need of it.
In all the world you could not find so strong
A pagan, though you searched forever long.

50
This king was seven foot (it is no fable),
He rode the largest horse that could be found.
He held before him a great shield of sable
Which bore a golden image of Mahound.
There was no Christian who thought himself able
To stand against that mighty felon hound.
Gan of Pontiers, soon as he saw his height,
Quietly slipped away from field and fight.

51
Macario of Lusana does likewise,
Rainer with Pinabello disappears;
Falcone after his companions hies,
And till he’s gone, it seems a thousand years.
Though ev’ry other man of Mayence flies,
Grifon stands firm among King Charles’ Peers.
For fear of shame, or through his bravery,
Or else, he didn’t see his kinsmen flee.

52
But turn we to that heathen hound atrocious
Who rides as swiftly as the tempest blast.
His lance with which he means to strike his foes, is
So large, a ship could use it as a mast.
Nor was his charger any less ferocious.
It raised great clouds of dust wherev’r it passed,
And split the stones, and caused the earth to shake,
And all the crowd for very terror quake.

53
With such great wrath against the Dane he comes,
And strikes so hard that he destroys his shield.
Both horse and rider to the blow succumb,
And lie in dust. Ogieri’s senses reel.
The aging Naimo to his nephew runs,
And picks him up, and bears him from the field.
And fetched him doctors for his arm and chest.
Though for a month in bed he had to rest.

54
A mighty shout goes up on ev’ry side,
And loudest then the Saracens are heard.
Now King Grandonio holds the ring with pride,
But for all this, the Peers are undeterred.
Turpin of Rheims against the giant rides,
And clashes with him, and lands in the dirt.
He felt such pain when from his hose he flew,
The priest was certain that his life was through.

55
Astolfo had returned unto the square,
Upon a palfrey, gentle, white, and pretty.
No weapons, save his belted sword, he bears,
And sits amidst the dames of Paris city.
He speaks to them with pleasant words and fair,
For he was courteous and very witty.
But while he’s chatting with them, see Grifon,
By King Grandonio now is overthrown.

56
This knight was of the lineage of Mayence.
On his blue shield he bore a falcon white.
The King Grandonio cries with arrogance,
“O Christians, are you all too tired to fight?
Are your shields heavy? Have you all got splints?”
Now comes forth Guido, a most courteous knight,
Lord of Borgogna, and a he bears a lion
Sable on gold; Grandonio sends him flying.

57
He throws to earth the mighty Angelier,
Who bore a dragon with a woman’s face.
Avin, Avol, Otton, and Berlinzer,
One after th’other tumble in disgrace.
Their shields with checkered blue and gold shone clear,
Four sable eagles on their helms were placed.
For these four were the sons, I understand,
Of Naimo, Duke of the Bavarian land.

58
Don Ugo of Marseilles is thrown and killed
By this Grandon, he hits the ground so hard.
The more he jousts, the more he shows his skill.
He knocks down Riccardetto and Alard,
And mocks King Charles with a right good will,
Calling the Christians vile, faint of heart.
The court stands still, in mourning and in fear,
But see, advancing, Marquis Olivier!

59
It seemed as if the heavens would be torn
For each man cheered and laughed as he rode by.
The marquis comes, adorned in shining arms.
King Charles greets him with his panoply.
The trumpets blow; each herald sounds his horn,
And great and small alike send up the cry:
“Long life to Olivier! Long live Vienne!”
And King Grandonio laughed and armed him then.

60
The knights charged at each other with more hate
And with more vigor than my tongue could tell.
The crowd looks on, and in suspense they wait,
To see the outcome of this battle fell.
No word was spoken. Ev’ry man doth bate
His breath, and seems as if beneath a spell.
And now they meet! Don Olivier’s puissance
Pierces the Pagan’s shield with his good lance.

61
That shield was fashioned of nine plates of steel,
And Marquis Olivier has pierced them all.
He breaks the hauberk, and Grandonio feels
The iron wounding him; it stings like gall,
But he, the pitiless, with his mast deals
A blow to Olivier that makes him fall,
And that fierce giant struck him with such force,
He landed twenty feet beyond his horse.

62
Every man was certain he was dead,
Because his helmet had been cracked in two.
The Christians sorrowfully hang their heads,
Thinking his spirit from his body flew.
Stunned was King Charles, heavy tears he shed,
And cried in anguish, “Baron stout and true,
O flower of my court, my Peer, my son!
Can God be silent when such things are done?”

63
Grandonio now such arrogance displays
As dwarfs the pride he showed until this time.
He cries, while savage joy lights up his face,
“O Paladins, besotted with your wine,
Back to your taverns, lily-livered race;
This game is harder than your cards, you’ll find!
You Paladins are full of martial spirit,
And boast and threat – when no one else can hear it!”

64
When Charles hears his court held in despite,
And King Grandonio’s overbearing boasts,
His heart throbs, and his face for wrath turns white.
He glares with flaming eyes at all his host.
“Where are my vassals? Where my stalwart knights?
Why have they left me when I need them most?
Where’s Ganellone? Has Rinald turned dastard?
And where’s Orlando, that dammed treach’rous bastard?

65
Thou whoreson scoundrel, renegade thrice-damned,
If ev’r again I see thee, may I die
If I don’t stringthee up with mine own hands!”
This and much else the Emp’ror Charles cries.
Astolfo, hearing him, slips from the stands,
And rides back to his house, which stood close by,
And promptly arms himself and rushes back,
In shining armor, ready to attack.

66
No foolish hope that baron’s breast inspired
That he would best that Pagan in the ring.
With pure and good intentions he desired
Only to do his duty by his King.
He bore him proudly, in fine arms attired,
And seemed to be a paragon of strength,
But ev’ryone who recognized him groaned.
“God send us better help than him!” they moaned.

67
With reverence, he bends his head down low,
Before King Charles and salutes him. “Sire,
Yon braggart knight I mean to overthrow.
I understand that such is thy desire.”
Charles, scarce caring says to him, “Then, go!
And God go with thee!” But the king, in ire,
Says to his men, soon as the prince can’t hear,
“And from this crowning shame, God keep us clear.”

68
Astolfo boasts that he will cast that knight
Within the galleys, chained unto an oar.
The giant’s anger reaches such a height,
He has such wrath that no one e’er had more.
In my next canto, lordings, I’ll recite,
With the permission of th’Almighty Lord
A tale most marvelous of fights more dread
Than any you have ever heard or read.

HERE ENDETH THE SECOND CANTO

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Notes

Notes to the Second Canto, Part 3

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto II, Part 1, Stanzas 41-60, Notes

43. Chevron. A broad, inverted, V-shape on a shield.
Argent. Literally silver. The heraldic term for white.
Azure. The heraldic term for blue.
Plain. Properly called the field, changed here for sake of rhyme.
Basilisk. A mythical snake, about a foot long, with a white crown-shaped spot on its head, whence its name (Greek for “Little king”). Allegedly so poisonous that the mere look of it eye could kill a man, and that stabbing it with a lance would be fatal to the knight, as the venom traveled through the wood. However, it could be killed by weasels, or by the crowing of a rooster, or by seeing itself in a mirror. Frequently confused with the cockatrice, which is a monster with similar powers and weaknesses, but looks like a rooster with dragons’ wings and a snake’s tail. The creatures were allegedly spawned from chicken’s eggs either laid by roosters, or hatched by toads.
46. Isolieri. Traditional minor character.
47. Gualtiero of Monleon. Or Walter of Montleon. A Christian, and traditional minor character. May or may not be the same as the Walter Hum of the Song of Roland.
48. Spinella of Altamone.
Matalista. No more is known of him than what is given here.
Fiordespina. Will feature much later in the poem.
49. Grandonio. Traditional minor character. Appears in the Song of Roland as Grandonie, where he is killed by Orlando at Roncesvalles.
50. Images of Mahomet are, of course, forbidden by the Koran. Though the prohibition was not always as strictly enforced as it is today, it is doubtful any Saracen ever bore a picture of the camel-driver on his shield.
51. Macario and Grifone. These names are given to Maganzans and other Carolingian villains so frequently that it is impossible to tell which are meant to be the same characters. One Grifone is father of Ganelon. Another Grifone is son of Olivier, and twin brother of Aquilante.
According to two romances, the French La Reine Sibille and the Italian Macaire, Macaire kills a man by treason, and is later killed by the dead man’s faithful dog in a trial by combat. The legend was later transferred to the reign of Charles V. The later version goes by the name of “The Dog of Montargis”, and can be found in Andrew Lang’s The Animal Story Book.
Ranier and Falcone. Very minor traditional characters.
Pinabello. This is the Pinabel who is killed in trial by combat at the end of the Song of Roland. Ariosto, who did not know the Song, kills Pinabello off in the Furioso, well before Roncesvalles.
56. Guido of Borgogna. Traditional minor character.
57. Avin, Avolio, Ottone, and Berlengier. The four sons of Duke Naimo of Bavaria. They are mere names, and always mentioned together. They seem to be derived from the Song of Roland’s Yvon, Yvor, Otho, and Berengier, who are not related to each other, but are merely four of the Twelve Peers, and who all die at Roncesvalles.
58. Ugo of Marseilles. Boiardo’s invention.
Ricciardetto and Alardo. Two brothers of Rinaldo, and with him and Guicciardo, the Four Sons of Aymon. Their sister is Bradamante. Ricciardetto is also known as Richard [Ricardo]. Since he is the youngest brother, he was known as “Little Richard” or “Richardet”. Some commentators on the Carolingian legend wrongly call Ricardo and Ricciardetto two separate characters.
Olivier. Oliver of Vienne [a town in France, not Vienna, Austria], boon companion of Orlando, and brother of Alda, Orlando’s betrothed. His kinship varies from romance to romance, but he is usually a distant cousin of Orlando. The story of how he and Orlando became friends can be found in Girart of Vienne, in Heroes of the French Epic, translated by Michael Newth.
62. My son. Figuratively speaking.
63. Muslims are, of course, forbidden to drink wine. Cards are an anachronism; they were invented in China in the ninth century, but did not reach Europe until the fourteenth.
68. Galleys. The galleys of Greece and Rome were manned by freemen. The practice of condemning criminals to row ships was begun in Christian countries (mostly France) in the mid 1500’s, and somewhat sooner in Islam. The practice began to die out in the late 1700’s, in Christendom first, and in Islam only with the conquest of the Barbary Corsairs by France.
Giant. Grandonio. He is only seven feet or so. It should be noted that a giant’s intelligence usually bears an inverse relation to his height. Charlemagne, Ferragu, and Grandonio are almost ordinary (as knights go). The eighteen foot Margutte is a clever rogue, the twenty-four foot Morgante is honest and loyal, but rather simple, and the thirty foot giants who form Angelica’s retinue are never clearly shown to be sentient.

On to Canto III

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