The Legend of the Lorrainers – Dutch Version

The Roman der Lorreinen is a Middle Dutch poem, c. 1275, surviving only in fragments. At one time, it likely ran to over 150,000 octosyllables, of which only 10,000 survive.

There are three books of this romance. The first is a close translation of Garin and Gerbert. In the second and third, the author gives his fancy free rein, weaving a tale across three continents that brings Ganelon, Marsilius, Baligant, Yon of Gascony, Agolant, and more into the feud between the Lorrainers and the Bordelais, culminating in the battle of Roncesvalles (sadly lost).

A: Five fragments, printed by Jonckbloet, titled Roman van Karel den Groote en zijn twaalf Pairs.

B: Five fragments, printed by Matthes, under the title Roman der Lorreine, nieuw ontdekte gedeelten, book 17 of Bibliotheek van Middelnederlansche Letterkunde.

C: Four fragments, printed by De Vries, under the title Nieuwe fragmenten van den Roman der Lorreinen, in Tijdschrift voor Nederlandsche Taal- en Letterkunde III.

D: One fragment, often printed under the name of Laidoen, for example by Kalff in Middelnederlansche epische fragmenten, part of Bibliotheek van middeln. letterk.

Fragments B I-III and C I are from a translation of Garin. Gerbert is utterly lost. The other surviving fragments are from Books II and III.

As the surviving fragments open, Gerbert, having died, left behind two sons: Yon and Garin. Yon has married the daughter of Aspraien, a pagan king [perhaps of Scythia] who invaded France. Hernault le Poitevin and Ludie have a son: Ganelon [here called Gelloen]. Pepin is dead, and Charlemagne sits on the throne of France, and his son Louis the Pious is of nubile age. Ganelon has slain Gerbert, to avenge his uncle Fromondin.

A I: Ganelon takes refuge in Cologne, now ruled by Gerin’s son Otto and his wife Helen. Ganelon tells him, falsely, that the Lorrainers have been defeated in war, and, truly, that Helen and Yon are paramours. Otto, enraged, commits Yon’s daughter Judith, who is staying at his court, to a brothel, in order to break off her intended marriage with Prince Louis. Fortunately, the brave knight Jean de Metz rescues her and takes her to Aix-le-Chapelle. Otto and Ganelon lay siege to Aix, but news comes that the Lorrainers have in fact won the war. Otto raises the siege, and Ganelon flees to his fief in Sweden [!], whence he marries off his daughter Irene to Emperor Leo of Constantinople.

Otto, meanwhile, still thinks his wife unfaithful, and at the advice of the traitor Conrad, sends her into exile in Norway. Garin comes up from the Midi to escort his niece Judith to Paris, where she weds Prince Louis. Yon and Otto are still angry at each other, so the Emperor summons them to his court at Aix. They finally agree that Conrad will gve Metz to Judith in compensation, if Yon will promise to never see Helen again. Yon reluctantly agrees, urged by Ogier the Dane and his other kinsmen. Yon and his son Richard leave France for their fief of Scythia. Learning that Ganelon’s daughter Irene is now Empress of Constantinople, they build the castle of Gardeterre on their border with the Empire, expecting war…

A II: Ganelon, while in exile in Heathenesse [Spain] had taken service with Desramés, and married his daughter, by whom he had two sons: Baligant and Marsilius. Ganelon, in the course of his adventures, has betrayed Agolant, who now invades Spain with his son Almont. The Spaniards ask for Charlemagne’s assistance, who arrives with the Peers. Single combats follow, then the miracle of the flowering spears. In battle the day after this miracle, Milon, Roland’s father, is slain. Charlemagne is on the brink of death, when Gerbert II, son of Garin II, saves him. The battle is inconclusive. The following day, Ganelon, currently home in Norway, offers his aid to Charlemagne, if Charles will forgive him his crimes. He also offers his help to Agolant, who indignantly refuses it, but retreats. Ganelon presents himself before Charlemagne and offers to be reconciled with the Lorrainers. Garin and Gerbert take council with Yon, and refuse Ganelon’s offer. Garin and Gerbert return to Gironville. Charles returns to France and gives his sister, Milon’s widow and Roland’s mother, to Ganelon in marriage.

Helen sends word to Yon, begging him to come to Norway and rescue her. He does so, but they get lost sailing back to Scythia, and land in the country of the Goths, which is near the Caucasus. There they found the village of Ays, and life in amorous bliss, having a son, Haestinc, and a daughter, Isolde.

Richard, Yon’s son, having been sent by his father to France, visits Garin at his castle of Medeborch. Garin informs him of Ganelon’s preferment, and sends him home to warn his father. Otto, having learned of his wife’s escape, sends his knight Paridaen to Scythia to find her. Richard returns home to find his father missing and unaccounted for. He assumes control, fortifies the country round about, and installs one Hugelin as his lieutenant. He then returns to France to inform Garin of what has occurred, and sets out to seek his father. Paridaen, having sought in vain for Helen, returns to Cologne, where Conrad advises Otto to avenge himself by making war on Garin and on Ogier the Dane. Otto sends Paridaen to tell Garin that he must hand Metz over to Otto or prepare for war. Garin refuses, and appeals to Charlemagne. Ogier, Garin, and Otto meet at court, and it is decided that there will be a trial by combat. Gerbert fights against Ganelon’s champion Gyoet of Cremona. Richard, having again returned to France, fights both Berengier and Pyroet, and kills the latter, after Charles has called a halt to the fight. When Charles tries to arrest him, Richard kills Ganelon’s kinsman Lancelin of Clermont, and flees to Bordeaux. The Lorrainers refuse to make peace unless Richard is fully pardoned…

Peace is nonetheless made, and Ganelon travels to the East, where he finds Helen and Yon. He deviously brings about a quarrel between them, causing Helen to secretly leave Ays and wander the world. Meanwhile, in France, Ganelon’s nephew Robert of Milan is at war with the Lorrainers again.

A III: Charlemagne sends Wernier van Graven and Reinout van den dorne wit [= Of the White Thorn = Reynard of Mountauban] with Roland to Robert’s camp, to verify a claim by one Rigaut…

A IV: The envoys find Richard, then go to Belves, where they find Robert’s envoy Gubelin, who takes them to Robert himself…

A V: Ganelon is back in France, and confers with Robert. He advises his nephew to make peace now and betray the Lorrainers when they aren’t expecting anything. They go to Paris, Ganelon leading a hundred Arabian destriers, which he offers to Charlemagne, who promptly forgives him and Robert everything. Ganelon tells him that Yon and Helen are in Gothland…

C II: The Lorrainers and Bordelais make peace. Robert will give his daughter Ogieve and his fief of Montferrat to Rigaud. Richard will wed the Damsel of the [Spanish] March…

C III: Queen Helen, in her wanderings, comes to Jerusalem where she is shriven of her adultery by the Patriarch. Besides Otto and Yon, she has slept with two other kings, by whom she has two sons: Sigfried [Segenfrijt] and Rollo. She enters a nunnery. Yon, distraught at her absence, departs Gothland, leaving his son Haestinc behind. He comes to Gardeterre, which is under attack by Empress Irene. Hugelin recognizes his king with joy, and the two send word to France for Richard to come help them, with as many allies as he can…

A battle is fought between the Greeks and the Scythians…

C IV: Yon is victorious, puts Irene’s brother Hardré to flight, and kills Emperor Leo. Irene becomes the regent for her young son Constantine. Needing an ally, she becomes the mistress of the King of Bulgaria, and bears him a son, Michael. Shortly afterwards, however, they quarrel and go to war, totally distracting Irene from her conflict with the Scythians.

Meanwhile, the Scythians’ messenger arrives in France, finds Richard at court, and tells all his news. Ganelon promises to make Irene see reason, but privately encourages her to continue the war against Scythia. Richard suspects as much, but takes no action – yet. Meanwhile, Agolant still seeks vengeance against Ganelon…

Yon for some reason returns to France, possibly. Other scholars place Fragment B IV immediately after C II…

B IV: Rigaud and Ogieve receive the land of Bayonne in fief from Yon and Garin. The latter two travel to Gascony, where Yon stays while Garin vists his daughter Erminjard in Narbonne, with her husband Aymeri and their seven sons, including William. He next goes to Medeborch, where he meets Alice [The Damsel of the March?] and her son Wanfreid.

Ganelon orders his sons Baligant and Marsilius to invade Spain, and Irene to invade Scythia, while Yon is in France. Yon, Garin, and Rigaud travel through France, meeting the elderly Bancelin in Belin. Bancelin, apparently none other than the uncle of Raoul of Cambrai, intends to become a monk at Saint Berin, but the poet foretells a tragic death for him. Yon and Richard entrust Belin, Gironville, and Monstesclavorijn to Pyroen, who, though a son of Ganelon, is faithful to the Lorrainers…

Richard, son of Yon, is slain in the war, thus ending Book Two.

B V: Duke Frederick of Denmark comes to Yon’s aid and routs the Greeks outside Gardeterre. Irene and her son Fromondin are in the city of Pharat. As the Greek, Scythian, and Danish armies manouver and countermanouver, Fromondin kills Frederick. Yon recovers his corpse and praises him for his attempt to avenge the death of Richard…

D: Two Bordelais counts, Pinabel and Laidoen, are leading a mule-train laden with gold when they are surprised and robbed by the Scythians. The two counts are left alone in the forest, and are separated. Pinabel finds his way back to camp, but Laidoen finds a nest of gryphons. An old gryphon bites his arm off and feeds it to its young. Laidoen binds up his wound as best he can and repents his wicked plots against Charlemagne and Yon as he wanders through the night. At sunrise, he meets an old hermit, named Serpio…

The third book was meant to carry the history down to the days of Emperor Frederick. Roland and Aude’s son, Ryoen, known only in this poem, likely played a large role.

Marsilius and Baligant, living in Africa, invade Spain with their uncle Synagon, Sultan of Arabia, at their father’s suggestion. Charles takes his army into Spain to repel them, leading to the Battle of Roncesvalles. Ganelon orchestrates this battle, hoping it will kill off the flower of the world’s chivalry and leave the way clear for him to become master of all. Empress Irene leads her Greek army to fight the Christians at Roncesvalles. When Charlemagne hears Roland’s horn, he is suspicious of Ganelon, but Ganelon points out that his (Ganelon’s) sons Hugo and Hendrick are with Roland, and his daughter Irene is coming with an army to help Charles. Turpin is with Charlemagne, not at the battle. Charlemagne is not convinced, and orders the army to return to Roncesvalles. Ganelon goes to Irene, and they plot how best to betray Charles. They decide that the Greeks will fall on Charlemagne from the rear, and after he is dead Irene will wed Baligant [!]. Irene’s captains prepare the banners of Africa, but the common Greek soldiers, seeing this and realizing what is about to happen, abandon her en masse and go over to Charlemagne, who thereby learns of the treason, foils it, and arrests Ganelon and Irene. Ganelon is hanged with fourteen of his companions. Irene pleads her innocence, but the Duke of Monbaes shows the court her to sons, whom she blinded to maintain her power, and tells how she killed her own husband. Irene is quartered and her accomplices hanged. [This paragraph is from the Dutch chapbook of Roncesvalles, which seems to have been based partially on Der Lorreinen.]

At least one scholar thinks that Frederick was an error for Ludovic [Louis] and that the story would actually have ended with Louis the Pious and William of Orange. At any rate, if the story was ever finished, the end is lost.

Origins and Influence

A pun on the name of Haestinc and the Old French hanste, ‘lance’ suggests a French source, though how much it was altered by the Dutchman will never be known.

French or Dutch, our author knew the Pseudo-Turpin, some version of the Song of Roland, Aspremont (the gryphons’ nest, and Girbert’s rescue of Charlemagne during the war against Agolant, are clearly inspired by this poem), and Aymeri of Narbonne. The throwing of Judith into a brothel is derived either from saints’ lives (Saint Agnes, most famously) or from Apollonius of Tyre.

Empress Judith appears in this poem as a paragon of chastity. In real life, she had a rather different reputation.

Queen Helen’s sons, Haestinc, Rollo, and Segenfrijt, seem to take their names from the Viking chiefs Hasting and Rollo, and the Danish Sigifrid.

Empress Irene is very loosly based on the historical Irene, who was wife of Emperor Leo IV (775-780) regent for their son Constantine VI (780-790), and finally Empress in her own right (797-802). The historical Irene was an ally of Charlemagne’s, and even considered marrying him. All these historical characters, our author likely found in the chroncicle of Sigebert of Gembloux.

The Dutch chapbooks of Roncesvalles claim that Marsilius and Baligant were bastard sons of Ganelon, a conception found nowhere else outside Der Lorreinen. They also feature Ganelon’s daughter Irene as Empress of Greece. The reconstruction of Book III above is based on them. Of necessity it is rather speculative, as one never knows quite how much of a chapbook is due to the imagination, or the idiocy, of its publisher.

Let thus much suffice for the history of the Lorrainers, and let us now turn to Bevis of Hampton, that was the illustrious forbear of the house of Clairmont.


Book I, Canto XIV, Part 1

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

Rinaldo kills the monster, but too late.
Angelica by moonlight slips away
To seek for succor, but is captured straight.
Meanwhile, in the garden of the fay
Orlando and the rest from their hard fate
Are rescued. Gallantly they make their way
Towards Albracca, where they see the camp,
But nothing can their ardent spirits damp.

You’ve heard already of the battle made
By Don Rinald, just risen from his bed,
And how the twisted monster threw the maid
Across his croup and with her swiftly fled.
You need not wonder if she felt afraid.
She trembled like a leaf, her face looked dead.
But still, as loudly as she could, she shouted
For aid from Don Rinaldo the redoubted.

The light-foot monster gallops on apace,
While the fair lady o’er his croup is spread.
Often he turns to her his ugly face,
And gripped her tightly as he onwards sped.
Rinaldo mounts his steed to give him chase,
And wishes that he had Baiard instead.
The beast already was so far away,
He thought no other horse would serve that day.

But when he held the bridle richly trimmed
Of the best horse which ever felt a spur,
He felt like he was carried by the wind.
Rides he or flies he? He is scarcely sure.
Nothing so fast has ever  hap’d to him.
All things before his eyes are but a blur.
Hills, mountains, valleys, plains, he looks on, just
Ere Rabicano leaves them in the dust.

And yet he hadn’t bent a blade of grass,
So lightly trod he wheresoe’er he’d gone,
And none could track the way that horse had passed,
Though sparkling dew had fallen with the dawn.
As thus he galloped on, unearthly fast,
Rinaldo came upon a river strong.
And as the one bank of the stream he nighed,
The centaur, wading though it, he espied.

The wicked monster did not wait a minute
When he arrived, but turning in the stream,
At once he threw the lovely lady in it,
And she was swept away along the bream.
Where she arrived, her ‘ventures nigh infinite,
I’ll tell you later on, but now it seems
The centaur, with this burden off his back
Is getting ready for Rinald’s attack.

Now in the stream begins a battle great,
With merciless assaults with strength and vim.
It’s true that Don Rinald has mail and plate,
And nought the centaur has except his skin,
But mighty is the monster, full of hate.
More tough than leather is the hide of him.
And the new horse of Montalbano’s lord
He almost matched for speed – within the ford.

The river came to Don Rinado’s knees,
The bed was treacherous and full of rocks.
The centaur swings his mighty mace with ease
But not for this is Don Rinaldo shocked.
He wields Fusberta skillfully and sees
Blood on it from the blade to pommel-block.
His shield is ruined by the mace’s blow,
But more than thirty times he’s pricked his foe.

The bloody monster fleeth to the shore.
Rinaldo follows as a brave knight ought.
He went a couple yards, or barely more
Before by Rabicano he was caught.
There in the field he lies, his life days o’er.
The Lord of Montalban now stands in thought.
He knows not where he is, or where to ride.
He’s lost the dame that should have been his guide.

Alone beside a forest vast he’s mired.
How large it was he had no way to tell.
His chance of finding passage through seems dire.
He thinks of turning back, his spirits quelled.
But so much do his heart and soul desire
To free the Count Orlando from his spell
That he resolves to carry on his quest,
Or else, in seeking, find eternal rest.

To Tramontana is his course now set,
Whither the lady was supposed to lead.
And on the way, beside a fountain met
A knight in armor, mounted on a steed,
But Turpin doesn’t tell what happened yet,
And rather turns to tell the noble deeds
Of Agricane, King of Tartary.
With Albracca’s ramparts trapped is he.

Though they have trapped him, ’tis his foes who quiver.
He wreaks destruction everywhere around.
The army of his foes to bits he shivers.
Albracca, you must know, was on strong ground,
On a tall rock, beside a mighty river,
The inner bank of which a rampart bounds.
With stone and water thus is feet the foot,
While at the peak the fortress proper’s put.

Above the river rose the towering walls,
Where turrets pleasure and defense afforded.
Orada was the mighty river called.
Summer or winter, it could not be forded.
The siege had made part of the rampart fall,
But the defenders hadn’t yet restored it,
Because the river was so swift and wide
They did not fear invasion from that side.

Now Agricane, as I’ve said before,
Was fighting bravely in the citadel;
King Sacripante and his men of war,
For all they tried, could not his spirit quell.
Their mighty feats, how nobly these two bore
Themselves, I do not need again to tell.
I left off, when a new brigade attacked
The valiant Agricane from the back.

The valiant king is not the least dismayed,
But turns around and roars his battle cry.
With both his hands he swings his bloody blade.
This ambush on the King of Tartary
A stout and battle-loving baron made:
The Turk Torindo, followed closely by
Many and many of his valiant Turks,
Not a man of them all his duty shirks.

The Tartar spurs Baiard into the Turks,
And splits and skewers them to left and right;
Now Sacripante, never known to shirk,
Follows his rival through the thickest fight.
Nor deer’s nor leopards’ limbs as swiftly work
As that Circassian kings, the truth to write.
King Agricane’s strength will not avail.
Against so many, even he must fail.

Thronged are the streets, the fight is far extended,
The men are packed so tight their mail can’t rattle.
The troops upon the walls have all descended,
And ev’ry man is rushing to the battle.
The wall is left with no one to defend it,
And those outside the walls, that massive rabble,
Some rushing though the gate, some climb the wall,
All crying: “Kill them, kill them, kill them all!”

They force back Sacripante, wounded sore,
And King Torindo back into the keep;
Angelica has entered long befroe,
And Trufaldino, who was first to creep.
All of his men have been destroyed by war;
Of the great death, no mortal words can speak.
Dead is Varano, and great Savaron,
King of the Medes, whose prowess oft had shone.

These two are slain as they defend the gate,
While the great battle rages on the plain.
Brunaldo likewise met a bitter fate.
By Radamanto’s hand has he been slain.
This Radamant sends to the next world straight
The bold Ungiano, beating out his brain.
A mighty phalanx he had led to war;
Not one of them will see their homes once more.

All of the city by its foes is ta’en;
Compassion never has been so well-founded.
Here and there the buildings are aflame,
The slaughter of the people was unbounded.
The keep alone above the strife remains,
On a high rock, by sturdy walls surrounded.
All of the city elsewhere is on fire,
And goes to ruin in a blazing pyre.

Angelica in desperation thinks
What she can do, caught in these dire straits.
Within the keep is neither food nor drink.
After a day, starvation for her waits.
If you had seen her cheek, so sweet and pink
All wet with tears, and heard her sad complaints,
Had you a lion’s or a dragon’s heart,
You would have filled with pity for her part.

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Book I, Canto XIII, Part 3

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto XIII, Stanzas 41-58

Polindo did not dare to speak a word,
Lest with himself he make his lady die;
What agony he in his wrath endured,
With Trufaldin untouchable, though nigh.
That king soon parchment and a pen procured,
And bade the lady to her brother write,
Claiming by Don Polindo she’d been seized,
While she was riding underneath the trees.

And that as prisn’r she was being kept
Beneath three henchmen’s not-too-watchful eyes;
But if he swiftly to the greenwood sped,
Then all the four of them he could surprise;
And she’ll explain why overnight she fled..
That she had motives good, he’ll realize,
When she explains it was part of a plan
To save his life from Trufaldino’s hands.

The lady answers she would gladly die
Ere she betrayed her brother and her kin.
Though threats and pleasant speech by turns he tries,
She will not lay a finger on the pen.
The king into a fit of fury flies,
“Bring on the tortures!” he calls to his men.
Glowing-hot pincers he procured with haste,
And touched the gentle damsel on her face.

He tears into her cheek with red-hot steel.
She weeps not, speaks not, not an inch recoils;
Her blush alone betrays the pain she feels.
In agony, Polindo’s blood nigh boils.
He can do nought at all; his senses reel.
But to his lady, now as ever, loyal,
His noble spirit can endure no more.
For grief he falleth dead upon the floor.

The little book relateth all these things,
Though in far better words than my poor skill;
Rinaldo seemed to hear their voices ring,
And hear the lovers speak of love their fill,
And see their faces in that suffering.
Polindo grievéd not that he was killed,
But all for Albarosa was his woe,
And hers for him, they loved each other say.

As Don Rinaldo read the woeful tale,
Time and again his eyes were filled with tears;
His face was racked with grief and oft turned pale
With pity for these lovers’ woes and fears.
Again he swears that he will never fail
To venge King Trufaldino’s cru’lty fierce
And then this cavalier pursues his course
On Rabicano (such was named the horse).

Upon the same, Rinaldo rides with glee,
With him the lady on their journey swept.
Till, then the twilight gathered gloomily,
The two of them down from the saddle stepped.
Rinaldo slumbered underneath a tree,
And not far off from him the lady slept.
The spell of Merlin’s fountain so much sways
The Paladin, he’s lost his wonted ways.

A lovely lady sleepeth him beside,
And the bold baron simply doesn’t care.
The time has been when all the ocean wide
Would not have turned him from his course a hair.
A wall, a mountain he would have destroyed
To be united to a dame so fair.
But now to slumber only is he bent;
I cannot say if she was quite content.

The air already started growing bright,
Though not yet had the sun his head upraised.
With many stars the heavens yet were dight.
Amidst the boughs the birds sang joyous lays.
Though not yet day, it was no longer night.
The damsel on the bold Rinaldo gazed,
For though the rosy-fingered dawn was creeping
The baron still upon the grass was sleeping.

For he was at the age when youth is fairest,
Strong, and limber, with a lovely face,
Straight-limbed, and muscular from chest to bare wrist,
A handsome beard was growing on apace.
The damsel watches him with pleasure rarest.
She almost dies of pleasure in that place;
And in beholding him takes such delight,
She lists to nothing, heeds no other sight.

The lady nigh was from her senses rapt,
Watching that knight sleep on the forest floor,
But in that wild and dismal forest happed
To live a centaur, horrible and coarse.
You never saw a monster so unapt,
Because it had the body of a horse,
Up to its shoulders, but thereat began
The chest and head and members of a man.

This monster lived for nothing but the chase.
Through all that massive wasteland did he rove.
He bore three darts, a shield, and one large mace,
And went a-hunting over field and grove.
Today a mighty lion he embraced;
The half-dead beast within his arms he hove.
The lion roared, and made an awful sound,
Which made the damsel swiftly turn around.

And all at once the savage beast beheld
The beauty of the damsel, and he thought
That if Rinaldo he could only kill,
Then ’twixt him and the lady would stand naught.
The damsel cries aloud both sharp and shrill,
“O King of Heaven, help before I’m caught!”
Her shouting woke Rinaldo from his sleep,
To see a centaur right before him leap.

Rinaldo starteth up and grabs his shield,
Though by the giant it’s been sorely mangled.
The centaur, with his hatred unconcealed,
Throws down the lion which he erst had strangled.
Rinaldo chased the brute across the field,
Which galloped of a ways, then turned and jangled
Its darts, then lifted one and let it fly;
Rinaldo watches with unblinking eye

As the dart missed him by a decent breadth.
Another dart at him the centaur sped.
His helmet saves Rinald from certain death,
For this one glances off his armored head.
The last is thrown no better than the rest,
But still the centaur’s hopes are far from fled.
He lifts his massive wooden club amain
And gallops angrily across the plain,

With such velocity and rapid speed,
Rinaldo starts to think he’s up a crick.
He realizes all his skill he’ll need.
The monster reaches him and strikes so quick,
He has no time to mount his late-won steed.
It runs him round so fast he’s nearly sick.
To stand against the pine he is not slack,
So that the might trunk will guard his back.

That hideous and odd mis-shapen man
Is leaping, darting in with speed intense,
But the good prince, who has Fusbert in hand
Keeps him at bay, till slightly he relents.
The centaur sees he’ll have to change his plan,
Since Don Rinaldo makes such good defense.
He turns his head and sees the lady bright,
Who for pure terror had gone wholly white.

Immediately Rinaldo he forsakes.
Across his back he slings the damosel,
Whose face turns icy and whose body shakes.
The fate in store for her she knows too well.
This canto’s long enough. No more I’ll make,
Until next time, when I’ll the story tell
Of this fair dame, and, as I said before
Of Sacripant and Agrican once more.

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Notes to the Thirteenth Canto, Part 3

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto XIII, Stanzas 41-58 Notes

57: Prince. Rinaldo is married to Clarice, sister of King Ivone of Gascony, but here the title is a mere courtesy.


The Legend of Renaud of Montauban 11: Origins of the Legend

Aymon’s Brothers

Bueves d’Aigremont was apparently invented for this chanson. No historical basis, nor is he known earlier. His wife is called Lanfusa in Boiardo, though this is usually the name of Ferraguto’s mother. The Italian Cantari di Rinaldo calls her Smeragda [Emerald]. Girart of Rousillon is based on Count Girart II of Paris, who also inspired Girart of Vienne and Girart of Eufrate. Doon of Nanteuil was known before the Quatre Fils, but was not historical, and does not seem to have been linked with Aymon before this poem.


There are several Aigremonts in France. The most likely contenders are:

Aigremont, on the far side of Troyes from Paris, and not too far from Roussillon.

Aigremont, in the Haute-Marne.

Aigremont, in the Yonne.

Aigremont, on the Meuse, in Belgium.

However, all the foregoing are small hamlets, and Aigremont in the poem is a rich city, on the sea, apparently near Lombardy.

Aymon of Dordonne and his wife

There was a King Aimo of Saragossa in the Middle Ages, but he was a Muslim who probably never saw France. Louis the Pious appointed another Aimo to be governor of Albi. A Duke Haimo is mentioned as living under Clodovech II (r. 639-657), but he had only one son, who predeceased him. A Count Haymo was alive in 863, of whom nothing is known.

The wife of Aymon and the mother of the Four Sons is named Aye in most manuscripts of the Quatre Fils, (DPNCLMV) though usually simply referred to as “la duchesse.” O consistently and A occasionally call her Hermanjart, though this name is probably taken from the wife of Aymeri of Narbonne. ZM call her Marguerite, in which they are followed by Caxton. In the Orlando Innamorato and Furioso she is called Beatrice and made to be the sister of Ogier the Dane’s wife Ermelline. The Dutch poem and its descendants call the duchess Aya and make her the sister of Charlemagne and daughter of Pepin. This relationship is alluded to in passing in some of the manuscripts of Les Quatre Fils, (DP, for example) though no emphasis is placed on it. In reality, Charlemagne had several half-sisters, of whom almost nothing is known, but his only full sister, the only one with whom he had any sort of relationship, was Gisela, who entered the nunnery of Chelle in her youth and as far as we know died a virgin.

In the Oxford Roland, Hamon [=Aymon] of Galice and Rembalt lead the Flemings and Frisians against Baligant. The Karlamagnussaga’s First Branch, doubtless based on a lost French source, tells how these two met and became sworn friends. Aymon marries Aye, the daugher of the Count of Laon and widow of the wicked Varner of Pierrepont, whom Rembalt had slain in a duel. In the Dutch Renout, Aymon the father of the Four Sons holds Pierrepont as well as Dordonne, and his wife Aye is the daughter of Charlemagne. [There are several Pierreponts, but this is the one in Aisne]. Is there a connection here? We will never know for sure. Continue reading


Book I, Canto XIII, Part 2

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

At last he lays himself upon the ground,
Sprawled out and motionless, and dead he seemed.
The bird immediately hurried down
Like one who such a trap has never seen,
And with his talons clutched Rinaldo round.
The nerves of Don Rinaldo are so keen
That he no sooner felt the monster’s claws,
He swung his sword around without a pause.

Where the wing joined the body Rinald pressed,
And muscle, nerve, and bone Fusberta rent;
The wing fell off, upon the ground to rest,
But not yet did the savage beast relent.
With both its foreclaws it attacked his breast,
Cuirass and plate and mail were all to-shent;
So fierce with one and th’other claw he tore,
The knight was sure his life would soon be o’er.

But still for victory the baron tries;
Now in the chest he strikes it, now the flanks,
And strikes so much, at last he makes it die.
Rinaldo stands once more upon his shanks.
Great peril he’s escaped, it is no lie.
To God he humbly offers praise and thanks;
And then he bids the lady ride him to,
For all the pains and danger now are through.

But Don Rinaldo had beheld the place
Wherein was kept the magic, wind-born horse.
If to its end this path he could not trace,
Then all his life ’twould fill him with remorse.
’Neath the cliff’s horrible and jagged face
The gallant champion boldly set his course.
A hundred steps he did not take before
He found a massive, carven marble door.

With fine enamel was the door o’erspread,
And pearls and em’ralds set there in such wise
Of such a door you never heard or read.
No work e’er known was of so great a price.
Laid behind crystal was a lady, dead,
And golden letters round her were incised:
“Swear to avenge me, thou who passest by,
Or else a death unknightly mayst thou die.

“But he who sweareth to avenge my wrong,
And slay the man by whom I was betrayed,
To him the magic destrier shall belong,
Which leaves the wind behind, so fast its gait.”
Rinaldo doesn’t hesitate for long,
But knelt at once. His vow to God he made,
That if his life and all his strength remain,
He will avenge the wrongly-slaughtered dame.

And then he entered in and saw the steed,
Kept by no stall-door, but by chains of gold.
All things were there a rider e’er could need,
Its coverlet fell down in silken folds.
The horse was black as an obsidian bead,
Save a white spot upon his forehead bold,
And one white patch, close by his tail, forsooth,
And his right foreleg, just above the hoof.

No horse surpasseth him in all the lands.
The great Baiardo is his only peer,
Who still is sung throughout the whole of France.
Baiard is stronger, smarter, without fear,
But swiftest doth this Rabican advance.
Slung stones and darts o’ertake not this destrier.
Nor birds in flight, nor arrows from a bow,
Nor any other thing can faster go.

Rinald is rapt out of this world for bliss,
That such a lofty quest fell to his lot.
But to the chain attached a small book is,
Writ not with sable ink, but crimson blood.
All the sad story is contained in this,
The woeful tale, for all to read who would,
Of the dead lady lying in the door,
How she untimely died; by whom; wherefore.

The book related how King Trufaldin,
The false and wicked ruler of Baghdad,
To neighbor had a Count, in battle keen,
Ardent and frank, and virtues all he had;
So highly praised he was, he long had been
Wholly despisèd by this monarch bad.
Don Orisello was this baron  named,
As Montefalcon was his castle famed.

Don Orisello had a sister fair,
Who of all women was the crown and flower.
He face and body’s comeliness were rare.
If grace, and loveliness, and virtue’s power
Reached not their peak in her, they did nowhere.
She loved a knight was stalwart in the stour,
Of noble blood, and courteous and kind;
A better baron could you nowhere find.

The sun, who views the whole world at a glance,
Saw not on earth a pair of truer lovers,
More virtuous, more fair, more blessed by chance.
One will they had; one gentle love them covered.
From day to day their happy love advanced.
Now Trufaldin loved making war on others,
But Montefalcone could he never siege,
For it was strong and safe beyond belief.

Upon a massive, awe-inspiring rock,
(The path a mile long from base to height)
The walls were built, as if the world to mock;
Nor was this all that gave the castle might.
A great, vast, steep, and treach’rous moat there blocked
The way, and ringed the hill on ev’ry side.
Every path which to the castle ran
Had three watchtowers and a barbican.

The caution to his castle dedicated
Was worthy Orisello, for he feared
King Trufaldino and by him was hated.
Often with siegers he the fortress neared,
And ev’ry time he shamefully retreated.
This foul monarch at all goodness jeered,
But then he chanced to meet a knight who loved
Count Orisello’s sister, life above.

Polindo was the worthy baron hight,
And Albarosa hight the lady fair.
Joy she had, much as any human might
So much she was beloved, such love she bare.
Now on a day, this loving errant-knight
Seeking adventure, did at random fare,
Roving through lands and men of ev’ry sort,
At last he came to Trufaldino’s court.

King Trufaldino was a wicked traitor,
But ev’ry mood he perfectly could feign;
To Don Polindo no one could show greater
Favor, or speak so courteously amain.
Would he make war? He’ll be a co-invader.
Is he in Love? He’ll help him win his dame.
What variegated wonders Love can do!
Love fears all things; believes in all things, too!

Who, other than Polindo, would believe
This wicked, foul, breaker of his faith,
Who had so many knights ere this deceived?
The knight heeds not the words that any saith,
But gratefully the offers he received,
And thinks his lady love at last he hath.
He feels her lips already on his cheek.
Of nought else can he think; he scarce can speak.

After the lady has been asked in vain
To leave the gate ajar and let him in,
She swears to meet Polindo on the plain
One quiet night and run away with him.
Thereto she plights her troth, and he again
Pledges that he will serve her ev’ry whim,
If she will come and be his weded wife,
To live in joy together all their life.

All is arranged; prepared the fatal night.
Now Trufaldin had graciously bestowed
On Don Polind a fort for his delight,
A day from Montefalcon by the road.
Hither there came, without the least respite
The knight and lady, who with true love glowed.
With mirth and laughter sat they down to eat,
When Trufaldino burst on their retreat.

O wayward Fortune, fickle and untrue,
Who never wished happiness to last!
Below the ground a tunnel had been hewn
Which from without into the fortress passed.
And Trudaldino well this faucebray knew;
All gifts he gave turned to his gain at last.
While thus the lovers dined and of love spoke,
King Trufaldin them seized without one stroke.

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Book I, Canto XIII, Part 1

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


Rinaldo, to obtain a magic steed,
Fights with two gryphons and a giant great.
He learns the tale of Albarose sweet,
How she and her beloved were betrayed
And slain by Trufaldino. He is fleet
To swear an oath to venge the hapless maid.
As they ride onward underneath the trees,
A centaur comes and kidnaps Fiordelis.

I told you earlier how those two heard
A cry that could have made the brave despair.
No fear nor panic in Rinaldo stirred.
He leapt to ground and left the palfrey there
With the fair maiden, sweet as singing bird,
Whose face was white with anguish and with care.
Rinald advances with an air defiant,
And finds the reason for this is a giant

Who stood a sentinel, as it appeared,
Before a darkling and enormous cave.
His face was horrible, his visage fierce,
To terrify the bravest of the brave.
But braver still than they, our cavalier
Who never has known fear in all his days,
Now moves against him with his sword in hand;
But not a muscle moved the giant grand.

His right hand he an iron club held stiff in.
From head to foot he was enclosed in mail.
On either side of him there lay a gryphon,
Bound to the rocks by chains too thick to fail,
But lest his presence be a hieroglyph in
Your eyes, his purpose here I will unveil.
This giant here was set to guard, you see, a
Horse, which erst belonged to Argalía.

By strange enchantment was this horse begot,
Because, of fire and of purest ashes,
A mare was magic’ly to being brought,
A thing that with the course of Nature clashes.
And then the wind this mare with child got,
And this the horse, of all the fastest,
Which ate no grass and fed upon no hay,
But lived on air alone from day to day.

Back to this cave the charger had returned,
As soon as Ferraguto set him free.
Here he was born, for here he ever yearned,
Here all his happy foalhood days spent he,
Till Argalía, who had magic learned,
Compelled him hence, to serve him faithfully,
Long as he loved, and once the knight was dead,
The horse in but a day to his home sped.

The giant then his sentry post regained,
The ugly, cruel, strong, and pertinacious,
And with him kept two gryphons tightly chained,
Each with sharp talons, horrid and rapacious.
These chains were wrought, as I should have explained,
So he could quickly loose those beasts hellacious.
Each of these gryphons was so strong in flight,
That though the air they could transport a knight.

Rinaldo with caution to the battle stepped,
Deliberate footsteps and a searching eye,
But do not think that fear upon him crept,
Because his paces are so far from spry.
The loft giant who the passage kept
Could clearly see a valiant knight drew nigh.
Not that he cared, for he had slain already
A thousand comers, be they weak or steady.

And all around the field were spread the white
Bones of the men the giant fierce had slain.
And now began the hard and eager fight:
Each seeks a vantage point upon the plain.
And furious blows they deal to left and right:
Neither to smile or to laugh will deign,
For each knows, true as there’s a sun i’th’ sky,
That one or th’other on this day will die.

The good Rinaldo was the first to strike,
And smites the mighty giant on the head.
But that brute’s helm was stronger than a dyke,
And not a whit was he discomfortéd.
Now his hot wrath and surqidry up-spike,
Just like a storm descends his club of lead;
Rinaldo takes the blow upon his shield,
Which splinters; pieces fly across the field.

But this was all the damage that was done;
Rinaldo pays him back a mighty blow
Which was a cruel and a mortal one,
Between his ribs, nigh to his heart it goes,
But scarcely had this wound to bleed begun
Rinald struck, on the other flank, his foe.
The armor strong no more intact remains,
Fusbert cuts through his entrails to his reins.

At this the giant was astonished quite;
Clearly he could perceive his death at hand.
From his two wounds his pain is infinite.
Upon his feet the brute can scarcely stand.
So he resolveth, out of hellish spite
That Don Rinald will leave the living land.
He staggers back, and ere his body stiffens,
The chains he loosens to release the gryphons.

The first one clutched the giant in his talons
And sailed away with him into the air,
And vanished from the dame’s sight and the gallants.
The other moves against Rinaldo there,
Hoping, perhaps, to knock him off his balance,
Ruffles his feathers, and to strike prepares.
His wings outspread, and ev’ry talon shows.
Rinaldo with Fusberta swings a blow

The bold Rinaldo’s aim was stout and true:
Both the beast’s foreclaws at a blow he mauls.
A searing pain the ugly bird shot through;
Shrieking, it fled, and came back not at all
When lo! A mighty noise from in the blue:
The other gryphon lets the giant fall.
I don’t think that he can survive this leap:
The gryphon dropped him from four thousand feet.

With a great rushing noise, he downward sped.
Rinaldo sees him falling from the sky;
It seems the brute is headed for his head.
If not exactly there, he’ll land nearby.
He sees that very shortly he’ll be dead,
Nor does he know what tactics he can try;
Whether he runs, or he stays where he’s at,
The giant’s massive corpse will squash him flat.

Still closer to the ground it makes its way;
Straight at Rinaldo, seemingly, it’s bound,
Before it lands, less than a foot away.
His head was shattered when it hit the ground,
And made a greater noise than words could say,
And shook the plain for nigh a mile around.
Rinaldo scarcely has the time to sigh,
Before, God help him! other perils nigh.

For th’other gryphon his way downwards took,
Wings folded back, with such a rush he comes,
The air re-echoed and the heavens shook,
And he concealed the splendor of the sun,
Shadowing ev’rywhere the knight might look.
A beast so great as this was never none.
Turpin affirms it for a certain thing
That fifteen feet outspread was either wing.

Rinaldo firmly for the bird awaits
But very little time does he spend waiting,
Ere like a lightning bolt accelerates
The gryphon, not a whit its speed abating.
Rinaldo his revenge anticipates,
And smites the monster without hesitating:
Beneath its throat he digs a nasty ditch,
Through which the red blood flows without a hitch.

But not enough he struck it death to bring.
He could not break the ribs or pierce the lungs.
The brute mounts to the sky, then folds its wings,
And downward with a piercing shriek it plunged.
The ugly brute Rinaldo’s helmet dings,
The crest and circlet from the top it wrung,
But could not break the helm itself because
The magic helmet of Mambrino ’twas.

The bird now flies aloft and now dives back;
Rinaldo does not know and cannot guess
Which is the weakest point he should attack.
The damsel watches with such great distress
She thought for fear she would her life soon lack.
Not for herself did she her prayers address
To God above, but only for the knight.
Her own self then she had forgotten quite.

The day was vanquished by the dismal night,
And yet the battle ’twixt the two raged on.
One thing alone now caused Rinaldo fright.
He might not see which way the beast had gone;
He knows that swiftly he must end the fight.
To this he bends his members, ev’ry one;
His only hope to keep himself from dying
Is to prevent that vicious bird from flying.

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Book I, Canto XII, Part 5

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto XII, Stanzas 81-90

The porter, when he hears the tidings grave,
At once admits the leech into the hall
(This worthy servant kept the gate always
And chose who left and who could come to call)
And to Prasildo now he goes and says
The message that the doctor gave him all.
He listlessly agrees to parley with him,
And bids his man into the room admit him.

The old leech says to him: “My dear signor,
Forever have I loved thy house and thee;
But now much fear have I, and I deplore
That thou hast been deceived with cruelty,
Because now love, and jealousy, and scorn
And womankind’s eternal treachery,
Which is as common as a feathered bird
To bring thee ruin, all have now concurred.

“And this I say to thee, for just today
Tisbina’s servant asked me if I sold
Slow-acting poison, and I told her yea,
Though, just before I’d heard thy story told,
Of how thou hadst returned, to her dismay.
And the whole case I plainly saw unfold.
I bring the news to thee: be on thy guard,
Forsake her utterly, though it be hard.

“But have no fear of poison, for today
I did not give her any such, of course.
So fear thou not, her drink will not thee slay.
Thou wilt but sleep for hours three or four.
Thus all her wicked plans are kept at bay,
And would of all such I could blunt the force!
I tell the truth, for in this wretched city,
Hundreds are cruel for each one that shows pity.”

When Don Prasildo by this understands,
The reason why he seems about to die,
Like as, when rain comes down upon the land,
Roses and violets shut their buds and hide,
But after, when the sun with gentle hand
Touches them, blossoms ope and blooms revive,
Such was Prasildo at the tidings glad.
His face lit up again, and joy he had.

For very joy the old man he embraced,
And then he ran to seek Tisbina’s homw,
And found Irold despairing in that place,
And all the news to him at once made known.
Now only think about his joy so great!
Her, her whose life is dearer than his own,
He wished to yield Prasildo utterly,
To pay him fully for his courtesy.

Prasildo doesn’t make a great protest,
For scarce can he reject what he desires;
And well the soul of each one is at rest,
Knowing that courtesy could go no higher,
Iroldo’s suit henceforth no more he pressed,
And in few words, he ’nounces he’ll retire,
And leave Prasildo to the lady bright;
He parted Babylon that selfsame night.

He wished to take his way from Babylon,
And never more return there all his life.
Lest he regret too much Tisbina gone,
Lest facing mem’ry be too great a strife.
Often he feels his grievous martyrdom,
And thinks a hasty death would make him blithe,
But while he knew that for a broken heart
There is no cure – save to at once depart.

For ev’ry woman soft and yielding is,
As is her body, so is eke her mind,
Like to the ocean’s waves are they in this:
They keep no heat when Phoebus no more shines.
All are the same as was Tisbin, ywis,
Who wouldn’t for an instant hold the line,
But at the first assault the fort surrendered,
And hand and heart to fair Prasildo rendered.”

The damsel only just her tale had ended,
When from a dangerous and dusky wood,
They heard a cry that all the welkin rended,
The damsel paled and like a statue stood,
While he his arm to comfort her extended.
This canto’s far too long for its own good,
But if its length is overmuch for you,
Then take a break when you are halfway through.

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Book I, Canto XII, Part 1

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


Dame Fiordelisa tells Rinald a tale,
Their tedious journey somewhat to beguile,
Of how Prasild of Babylon was pale
With love for fair Tisbina, who by guile
Bade him within Medusa’s garden’s rail
Fetch her a branch. He traveled many a mile,
Ere he returned to please his lady fair,
Who tried to kill herself in her despair.

I sung already of the battle drear
Were all day long the noise of battle roared
‘Twixt Sacripante, he who knows not fear,
And Agrican, that free and lofty lord,
But no more bitterness will strike your eat,
And a sweet tale of love I shall record,
If it will please you, lords, to call to mind
Where Don Rinaldo we had left last time.

The damsel lightly off her palfrey came,
And offers to the cavalier her seat.
Rinaldo answers her, “Thou dost me shame
To think that I could do so ill a deed.”
With speedy words then answered him the dame
That she can’t let him travel on his feet.
At last (for too-long tales make listeners droop)
He swings to saddle, and she takes the croup.

At first, the lady felt a little fear
For virtue’s sake, whih she was cautious of,
But all day long she rode, and didn’t hear
Rinaldo speak a single word of love.
Till somewhat reassured, she makes good cheer
And says to him, “O knight all knights above,
Now through a mighty forest must we wend
A hundred leagues across from end to end.

“And so that not so long will seem the way,
Through this oppressive and deserted wood,
I’d like to tell a story, if I may,
Which I think thou wilt like. It’s very good.
If ever th’art in Babylon some day,
Ask anyone, they’ll tell thee how it stood.
For a true story, not a fable, I’ll tell,
And all folk in that city know it well.

“There was a cavalier, Iroldo hight,
And a fair lady who was called Tisbin.
Such love for him possessed this lady bright
As Tristan had from fair Isold the Queen.
And in return he loved her with such might,
That always, from the dusk to morn’s first beam,
And from dawn’s birth to when the daylight died,
He thinks of her alone and naught beside.

“There was a knight, who dwelt nearby these two,
Reckoned of Babylon the finest knight.
This was the common talk, and it was true,
For he was full of courtesy and might.
His many riches which he had, he’d strew
Lavishly, so to keep his honor bright.
Pleasant at feasts and dreadful in the fight,
A courtly lover and an honest knight.

This worthy knight, (Prasildo was his name)
Was once invited, to his sore mishap,
Into a garden, where the knights and dames,
Tisbin among them, played a game. One sat
Amidst them, as the mistress of the game,
And one knight hid his head within her lap,
Then she would point to one to tap his hand,
And he must guess who thus obeyed the command.

Prasildo stood awhile and watched the fun,
Until Tisbina signalled him to hit.
He tapped the palm of the blind, kneeling one,
Who quickly guessed him, and now he was It.
Face in her lap, he felt such fire run
Through all his veins, and felt his heart so lit,
His only thought is how to answer wrong,
For no time in her lap can seem too long.

After the game is over and the feast,
The flame that’s burning in his heart won’t quail.
But all that day its violence increased.
At night, more sharp and bitter pains assail.
He cannot fathom why his face has ceased
To bear its wonted glow and turned so pale,
And why he cannot find repose in sleep.
He finds no place where he his rest can keep.

His pillow seems to him to be so hard,
That he would gladly change it for a stone.
The lively sorrow grows within his heart,
From which all other thoughts away have flown.
Sighs without number from his lips depart.
What grief he had, is but to lovers known.
For I can not describe, and no one can,
What love is like to an unloving man.

His hunting horses and his hunting hounds
Which he once raised and raced devotedly,
No longer with them is he ever found.
Now he delights in jolly company.
To feasts and parties is he always bound.
Verses he writes and gives them melody.
He often jousts and enters tournaments,
With great destriers and rich apparellments.

And if he had some courtesy before,
Now by a hundred times ‘tis multiplied.
For ev’ry virtue always grows the more,
Which finds itself with faithful love allied.
I’ve never known a man who virtue bore,
Which didn’t blossom, having Love for guide.
But this Prasildo, he who loved so greatly,
Grew still more courtly, courteous, and stately.

He found himself a faithful advocate,
Who was among Tisbina’s dearest friends,
Who ev’ry evening of Prasildo prates.
Nor did she think the first rebuff the end,
But all for naught. Tisbina wasn’t swayed.
To oaths and prayers would she never bend.
But still the lady didn’t cease attempting;
She knew full well a change is always tempting.

She often wheedles her, “O lady fair,
Does not hear opportunity now knock.
When thou hast such a lover, past compare,
Who thinks none fairer under Heaven walks
Than thou? Although thou art of beauty rare,
Yet swift time at thy fading beauty mocks.
Take the delight, and while th’art young, be merry,
Or when th’art old, thou wilt forever tarry.

Youth with beauty and with pleasure glows,
The young with merriment and glee should go,
For in an instant all its fairness goes,
As when the morning sun dissolves the snow,
Or in one day the bright vermillion rose
Loses its scent and color, even so
Youth flies away, and none can him retain.
No one can hold him, for he has no rein.

Often these words and similar ones she wields
Against Tisbina, but she fights in vain.
But, when the violets sprouted in the fields,
And all the earth was gladdened by the rain,
And winter’s ice to solar radiance yields,
The lofty knight was sunk so deep in pain,
And had been brought to such a woeful state,
For death and death alone he hopes and waits.

No longer does he celebrate and feast.
He’s pained by pleasure and his eyes are bleary.
His chalky pallor ev’ry day increased.
He stayed away from happy men and cheery.
He knew of naught by which he would be pleased,
Except to swiftly leave this world so dreary.
He often went alone into the forest,
There to lament when agony was sorest.

He did this often, till one morning came
Iroldo riding out, on game intent.
Beside him was Tisbina, lovely dame.
They heard a voice that through the branches went,
With sighs and sobs the broken voice complained.
Prasild so sweetly did his love lament,
And with such gentle words he made his moan
He could wake pity in the very stones.

“Hear me, ye flowers and ye woods,” he said,
“For she, ah, cruel she! Her ears are closed.
Hear what misfortunes fall upon my head!
And thou, O sun, that only now arose,
And ye, bright stars, thou moon of gentle tread,
Hear only once the story of my woes;
For these my final words are. Soon will I,
A most cruel death for my belovéd die.

“With such extremities I am content,
Because my live contains nought else but bad,
Since heaven such a cruel soul hath sent
To one who such a gracious virtue had,
She would be joyous if my life were shent,
So I shall kill myself to make her glad.
There is no other thing I more delight in
Than to make her sweet face a little brighten.”

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Book I, Canto XI, Part 3

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto XI, Stanzas 41-53

Redoubted Sacripante leads the rest,
And doesn’t seem to hold his life too dear,
For he no armor had upon his chest.
You’d think the ending of his life was near,
But his agility is of the best,
As is his strength, and so he has no fear.
Nothing protects him but a copper shield,
But still, his sword with deadly skill he wields.

Sometimes a rock he throws, sometimes a dart,
And now he fights his foes with spear in hand,
Now he stands with his shield, a ways apart,
And strikes his enemies with his good brand.
So well he fights that Agricane starts
To think this battle may not go as planned.
His vigor and his prowess are in vain.
By now, three hundred of his men are slain.

Although his strength and efforts he redoubles,
And darts and arrows on his foe he rains,
King Sacripante gives him still more trouble,
And the Circassians new courage gain.
His plume is gone, his crest broke like a bubble.
Less than a quarter of his shield remains.
Rocks strike his head and make his helm resound;
All up and down his body wounds are found.

As when, force by an angry crowd of men,
A raging lion’s driven to the wood
But scorns to seem a coward even then,
He often turns his head, as if he would
Come back to fight, and swings his tail, and when
He roars, he stands like mighty kings have stood,
Even so Agricane, forced to flight,
Shows courage more than many do in fight.

At ev’ry thirty steps he turns around,
And breathes defiance, fronts his foes with scorn,
But far too many of them press him round,
All through the city, and his hope’s forlorn.
Rushing from ev’ry side new folk are found;
Behold a fresh battalion there is born.
With newfound heart and vigor they attack,
Pressing close up to Agricane’s back.

But even so, they can’t alarm the king,
Who strikes among them, dealing woe and ruin.
Footmen and cavaliers to earth he flings,
In desperation growling like a bruin.
Now shall I leave him, as his sword he swings,
I wish to sing about Rinaldo’s doings,
Who recently has left the Cruel Rock,
And now along the seashore takes a walk.

My lords, remember how I told before
How on a woeful damosel he came,
Who seemed to wish for death, such grief she bore.
The baron courteously hailed the dame,
And begged her, but whatever love she bore,
And by whatever can her love most claim,
And by the God of Heaven and by Mahound,
To tell him why she was in sorrow drowned.

With weeping answers him the dame forlorn,
“All thou art fain to know I will thee tell.
Oh, God! Why couldn’t I have ne’er been born,
Or died in bliss, before to woe I fell?
I’ve searched this land, and will search many more,
But have no even found a hope of help.
For I must find, to save me from this plight,
One who can fight alone against nine knights.”

“Rinaldo answers, “I care not to boast,
That I could fight with two, much less with nine,
But thy sad speech and plight me slay almost.
Such pity stir they in this heart of mine,
That I will fight for thee against a host
To prove what I can do for thee and thine.
Take heart, for I’ll be ever at thy side,
Till in thy cause I’ve conquered or I’ve died.”

She said, “God bless thee for thy fair design!
And for the noble goal thou hast in aim.
But half unknown to thee’s this task of thine.
When thou know’st all, thou’lt leave me as I came,
For Count Orland is among the nine.
Thou hast perhaps, heard somewhat of his fame.
The others also all are men of might.
Thou wilt not go with honor from this fight.

When Don Rinaldo hears the damosel
And hears his cousin Count Orlando’s name,
At once he gently asks if she will tell
All that she’s heard of Count Orlando’s fame.
The lady tells him all that her befell:
The stream that robs all mem’ry from the brain,
And all things else she tells of as they happed,
And how Orlando with the rest was trapped.

When he hears ev’rything the lady says,
And how she parted was from Brandimart,
Rinald immediately boldly prays
That with all speed she’ll guide him to those parts,
And swears and promises upon his faith
To use his utmost strength and utmost art,
Whether in fighting, or in feigning love,
To save them all from her they’re pris’ners of.

The lady sees the baron resolute,
And of his person ev’ry limb was strong,
As if all noble deeds were his pursuit,
And he who gave him knighthood did no wrong.
But though this canto’s short, here stops my lute,
Because the next one will be very long,
Wherein I’ll tell a pleasant tale in rhyme
The damsel told to him to pass the time.

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