Cambridge: Cambridge UP. Encyclopedia of women in the Renaissance: Italy, France, and England. London: Routledge, New York: Washington Square Press, , pp. Works by Giovanni Boccaccio.
Authority control BNF : cbj data. Namespaces Article Talk. Views Read Edit View history. Only the prose Storie nerbonesi of Andrea da Barberino continued to keep alive knowledge of this protagonist and his clan. Indeed Rinaldo is an important figure in Il Morgante.
In these poems Rinaldo frequently seems to leave behind his characteristic past as rebellious baron par excellence, highwayman and robber chief when necessary, and, though still prone to amorous passions, to become increasingly the figure of the rational man, mature, sober, worldy-wise, the dependable military captain, the right-hand man of Charlemagne and his principal general, a striking contrast to the increasingly unstable and eventually insane Orlando: it is an impressive and even unexpected transformation.
Yet the original appeal of Rinaldo for an Italian public surely lay in his defiance of imperial authority, of the claims of an overlord, and in his less than heroic attitudes and behaviour on many occasions, his practical, pragmatic and entrepreneurial outlook which increasingly reflected Italian milieux. Caught between his inability to perceive the treacherous machinations of Gano against Rinaldo, Orlando and their relatives, on the one hand, and, on the other, his incapacity to control or restrain the rebelliousness of the lord of Montalbano, Charlemagne emerges, in particular in the poems in which Rinaldo is the protagonist, as weak, petulant and childish: one of the adjectives most characteristically applied to him is rimbambito.
Here too, as in the case of the Aspromonte narratives, there is no single, extant, early fourteenth-century Franco-Italian poem on the subject of Rinaldo.
The epic tradition of Charlemagne in Italy
Nevertheless the story of the Quatre Fils Aymon, and of Rinaldo in particular, was both well known and is attested through a variety of records. At the same time a comparison between individual episodes of the Rinaldo narrative as related in the Cantari and in the French accounts is revealing of the extent to which the narratives concerning Rinaldo have already, by the late fourteenth century, undergone substantial modifications. The combined influence of these two was to ensure not just the transmission of the tradition of Carolingian epic into the high Renaissance, but also its prominence and popularity at all levels of society and culture, in particular its appeal to an elite audience, and hence the involvement of major authors in the composition of poems in the genre.
As far as the incorporation of new material is concerned, while it is possible to establish certain broad tendencies, many of the modifications are particular to the individual writer and work. On the one hand, virtually all texts reveal the withering away of the obligations and structures of feudalism and crusade, and a change, often a decline, in the role of the Emperor. On the other hand, the extent to which a poem incorporates motifs from Arthurian romance, or attempts to locate itself within the milieu of humanism and the revival of classical culture may vary considerably.
In contrast, the adoption of the metre of ottava rima acts as a unifying factor for the genre, in which poets continually build on and react to the use of the ottava by predecessors and rivals, in a continual process of refinement which reaches its apogee, though in two quite distinct ways, in the poems of Ariosto and Tasso. Certainly cantari on Arthurian topics are recorded for the s, and may even in one or two cases be datable to the s. A major influence certainly can be ascribed to the cantari of Antonio Pucci.
Nor should one underestimate the appeal, again especially at this date for a Tuscan public, of a metre so well adapted to exploiting the particular characteristics of the Italian language, and indeed developing these further. Moreover ottava rima clearly had an appeal not just to cantastorie and their audiences in the piazza, but equally to more educated and cultivated readers and writers.
These, as we have noted, were already being composed before the end of the fourteenth century, as far as the Aspramonte and Cantari di Rinaldo are concerned, and almost certainly, though the evidence is lacking, in respect of the Spagna stories. What remains unclear is at what point narrative poems in ottava rima crossed the Apennines and displaced the long-standing northern tradition of compositions in Franco-Venetian laisses.
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Yet given the contacts between states, and, for example, the residence of Tuscan exiles in northern Italy, it seems plausible to posit knowledge of and interest in ottava rima narratives in northern Italy from the mid-fourteenth century. In this period the vernacular epic of Charlemagne abandons the cloak of anonymity of author becoming instead the proving ground for major writers and the supreme demonstration of their literary talents.
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A rich set of variations on the Carolingian epic and its themes runs from Pulci in the mid-fifteenth century to Tasso at the end of the sixteenth, and embraces writers of many and varied abilities, from Ariosto and Tasso as the supreme exponents, through Boiardo, Cieco, and Bernardo Tasso, to those whose enthusiasm for the genre far outstripped their poetic abilities. Out of the rich inheritance of the fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries —prose as well as verse, oral as well as written, Arthurian and classical as well as Carolingian, poets and writers drew according to their individual preferences, and created in their individual works their own recipe for Carolingian verse epic.
It would be impossible even in a much longer survey to analyse all of the poems which merit consideration, and I shall therefore concentrate here on four examples which, in addition to their literary merit, illustrate well the diversity present in the genre during the Italian Renaissance: the poems of Pulci, Boiardo, Cieco and Ariosto. Eventually Pulci does make good this promise, in the final three cantos of the Morgante. The bulk of his poem, however, does not deal with these matters.
Pulci is early on diverted from this aim by his sources, his Florentine environment, and his own interests and inclinations. Indeed when the Morgante first appeared it did not narrate the battle of Rencesvals at all, stopping short, at c. Only after a gap of several years, and through the encouragement of fellow writers, in particular Poliziano, did Pulci return to his material and finish the story in accordance with his original aim. Prior to this date, as the Spagna in rima demonstrates, poets had had no difficulty in carrying the narrative up to its definitive conclusion, even if the narrative took a long time, and many twists and turns to reach that point.
After Pulci, none of the major exponents in the genre narrates the battle of Rencesvals. Was it just too far away in time and place? Or is the solution rather that after Pulci warfare, in the form of the French invasions, came just too close to home for an Italian public? Certainly one should apply to this striking development the Dionisottian paradox. In this cantare, as was traditional by the mid-fifteenth century, elements of adventure, romance, the novella tradition, marvels and monsters predominate over the serious epic struggle, and Pulci follows this lead. At various points in the narrative Orlando, Rinaldo and Ulivieri all fall in love with Saracen princesses —but these are fleeting if passionate relationships and usually end badly for the lady.
Morgante dies, in a mock heroic incident, after being bitten by a crab XX, At times he reuses not just the material but words and phrases too, and yet the Morgante is a very different poem from the Orlando , marked by the inclinations of the author and the Florentine and especially Medici environment in which he was operating. In the s, when Pulci was writing his poem, he was already a close associate and member of the inner circle around Lorenzo, a participant in the youthful pastimes and interests, as well as the more intellectual pursuits of Lorenzo.
Pulci himself was not a sophisticated intellectual or leading humanist scholar, but he was deeply attracted to new ideas, especially to those which challenged the status quo. His fascination with pagan philosophies, magic and astrology surfaces in the Morgante through his mockery probably intended playfully rather than destructively of Christian doctrine and Christian practice, which is most apparent in two extensive passages entirely invented by Pulci: the encounter of Morgante with Margutte Morg. The dominant presence of the giant Morgante fighting by naturally unchivalrous means, and the down-to-earth practicality that he brings to the business of fighting are carnevalesque.
The effort to link the last five cantos into the preceding poem can be traced in stanzas at the end of XXIII and the beginning of XXIV, but the shift in tone cannot be hidden. Charlemagne had long been considered the second founder of Florence, endowing it afresh with a classical Roman or neo-Roman origin. It must be associated too with the classicizing culture in which Pulci is writing and the increasing drive within that culture to imitate and surpass classical literary models including epic.
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To these Pulci adds others, some of his own invention entirely, and some from other strands of the tradition —Rinaldo and Ricciardetto, Astolfo and Malagigi. Rinaldo, brought especially to Rencesvals as a result of the prophetic insights of Malagigi and his manipulation of devils, emerges finally as the hero of the battle.
The account of the battle is shot through with irony and contradictions, which circumscribe the sense of tragedy. The traditional behaviour of Orlando —his refusal to summon help by blowing his horn— is ironically exposed as pointless adherence to tradition, since in spite of his refusal, help arrives unsummoned in the form of Rinaldo as deus or perhaps diabolus ex machina.
XXVII, This progressed much more slowly and was left unfinished, at just eight and a half cantos, when he died in I, i, 1. Though love had frequently figured within the tradition, and does so quite extensively in the Morgante , it had not hitherto been the primary subject and aim of a narrative in the Carolingian tradition. It is in fact curious that Boiardo, in wanting to narrate a story of love, should choose as the vehicle for that story the Carolingian epic and not the Breton romance, more especially since the latter was particularly popular at the Ferrarese court.
Frequently indeed the material of the narrative seems to dominate the poet, rather than the poet to be in command of his narrative; digressions, episodes, and even close repetitions of stories are all features of the Innamorato. In addition, and contributing to the sense of complexity, Boiardo is not content with just one theme of war and one of love and interweaving these. The Orlando Innamorato contains no fewer than four narratives of war, at least two of love, and a completely new theme, that of the founding of the dynasty of his patrons, the Este.
The first narrative, begun at the beginning of book I, is that of Gradasso, king of Sericana India. This owes much to the tradition of romances of Alexander the Great and the more fantastic tales of travellers to the East, from Herodotus onwards. I, i, 5. This is first presented as a campaign to overthrow Charlemagne by the Tartar king Galafrone, who intends to achieve this through magic, enchantment and fraud, for which purpose he has sent Angelica and her brother ostensibly to take part in the tournament in Paris I, i, ; This purpose is overturned when both Christian and pagan knights and kings, all infatuated with Angelica, arrive at Albraca in central Asia and take part, on one side or the other, in the siege of the city I, ix, At the end of book I, Boiardo, rather like Pulci, restrains his narrative verve, reminding himself, and his reader, of the need to concentrate on Charlemagne and the properly epic struggles of the Christian emperor against Saracen invaders I, xxix, The invasion of France by Agramante, which constitutes this third narrative of war, derives directly from the Aspromonte tales, since Agramante is the grandson of Agolante, and son of Troiano II, i, 14 and his motive in launching the invasion is the traditional one of vengeance for the death of his predecessors.
The Carolingian link is emphasised by reference to the history of Ruggiero da Risa, and by the reiteration II, i, by Sobrino of the previous victorious exploits of the paladins. Yet here too Boiardo is unable to dissociate himself from the twin influences of Breton romance and classical mythology. Through the mention of Ruggiero da Risa, Boiardo also provides the basis for his dynastic theme, whose literary origins lie rather in classical epic. Led by Mandricardo, son of Agricane king of Tartary, who has been killed by Orlando in book I, this unites the two motives of Gradasso and of Agramante, since it is both a campaign of vengeance for the death of his father, and a quest, for the arms and armour of Orlando III, i, The siege of Albraca is eventually simply abandoned II, xviii , while the other three war narratives are all still incomplete when the poem was left unfinished.
The modifications to the characters of the paladins, and especially of Orlando, consequent upon such an emphasis, constitute one of the chief innovations of the Innamorato. Though Orlando had frequently fallen in love in earlier poems, and indeed in Il Morgante , these had been fleeting passions, not a persistent and unchanging infatuation with one woman.
That Angelica is unworthy of such devotion is clear from the outset of the poem, where she is introduced as deceitful and manipulative O. I, i, I, i, , His strict application of the code of chivalry towards all women leads him into further ridicule and even danger in the encounter with Origille for example, O.
I, xxix. The Orlando of the Morgante is still able to make fun of lovers and tease Ulivieri, for example, for his infatuations. Thus Boiardo constructs that perennial literary topos, a love triangle of unrequited lovers which persists for much of the poem, giving rise to both humour and moments of tension, including a fierce duel between Rinaldo and Orlando O.
I, xxvi-xxvii. The increasing importance and interest shown to the figure of the virago in the Italian narrative poems constitutes another very significant development in the genre from the later fifteenth century on. It is a development that owes most to the recuperation of the ideals and aims of classical epic, of the Aeneid especially, and to the reappropriation and reuse of Greek mythology in all spheres of culture.
Her appearances in the Innamorato are quite restricted. In introducing the dynastic theme Boiardo was principally influenced by the revival of classical culture, and the traditions of imitation and emulation which the re-reading of classical texts inspired. These tales were clearly popular, and were frequently printed up to and including during the later sixteenth century. Nevertheless it is not the case that all such narratives were the work of poor and anonymous cantastorie; several of the authors came from the educated and even courtly classes, and several were in receipt of some form of princely patronage.
Of this group of poems the most significant, and probably also the best in terms of its literary and stylistic qualities is Il Mambriano of Francesco Cieco da Ferrara. It was highly regarded by contemporary critics, who listed it alongside the poems of Pulci, Boiardo and Ariosto, and was probably drawn on by Tasso. That same sense of rivalry and emulation in the genre almost certainly influenced Cieco and his Gonzaga patrons.
Both Pulci and Boiardo had shown ways of breathing new life into the old stories, incorporating contemporary culture into their poems. Boiardo in particular had emphasized elements of classical epic the dynastic theme and Breton romance, but his experiment remained incomplete. The popularity of vernacular epic was emphasized, not only by the interest of princely patrons, but also by its commercial success in the market for printed books. The conflict between a literary tradition which portrayed the French as heroes, and reality, in which they were invaders and aggressors, produced an unavoidable crisis.
Boiardo had recognized defeat, some months before his death, unable to reconcile the two. A decade later, and in spite of continuing hostilities, Ariosto took up the story and made it his own, for a new patron and in changed circumstances. Between and , however, the fortunes of Carolingian epic hung in the balance. Cieco thus links, loosely but clearly, his principal theme to the narratives of Rinaldo and his family, which had become the most popular of the Carolingian narratives in Italy.
Mambriano invades France in order to avenge his relatives who have fallen in battle against Rinaldo. His first attempt at invasion is disastrous; after a shipwreck in which he loses his entire fleet, he is ensared on the island of Carandina, a figure of Circe. When she discards him in favour of Rinaldo, he is rescued by his countrymen, who inform him that his own kingdom has been usurped in his absence.
This somewhat buffoonish approach to invasion and warfare may be said to set the tone for all the subsequent campaigns of the poem. Mambriano retreats to his own, Middle Eastern, kingdom, pursued by Rinaldo and the forces of Charlemagne. In the battles that follow the two most significant forces are, on the pagan side, a group of giants with their unorthodox weapons, and on the Christian side, Malagigi the magician and conjuror of demons.
The campaigns end with the comprehensive defeat of Mambriano, who must pay tribute to Charlemagne, and the marriage of Mambriano and Carandina.
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In tandem with the campaigns of Mambriano and Rinaldo, Cieco narrates the campaigns of Orlando and Astolfo in north Africa, which culminate in the defeat of the Africans and the wholesale conversion of Utica to Christianity. This is, however, not the end of the story. At an early stage in the poem, Orlando has made a vow to go to Compostella. Now he is led to fulfil this vow, and on the way liberate the road to Compostella from various brigands and robber barons and usurpers. Much more significant are the innovations which Cieco makes, some of which are subsequently taken up by his immediate successor, Ariosto.
These innovations include the characterization of the female warrior, Bradamante, the characterization of Gano, the incorporation into the narrative of free-standing novelle, and the dramatic use of the opening stanzas of each canto as a privileged space for the poet. Boiardo had presented the figure of Bradamante, sister of Rinaldo, and indicated that she would be the progenitor of his patrons, the Este family, but her role in his poem is very restricted.
Rather she has a series of techniques and stratagems for avoiding any involvement, ranging from crude insults as against Mambriano, VI, to humorous tricks and mockery in the case of the elderly Pinamonte, XV, ; After a brief suggestion early in the poem that the virtuous pagan, Sinodoro, might fill this role, he seems to have abandoned the idea of a dynastic theme.
This playfulness with such an established tradition on the part of Cieco introduces a strikingly postmodern note into his poem, but it also leaves Gano in some senses still as the archmanipulator and alter ego of the poet: both Rinaldo whom Gano and his tricks benefit, and Mambriano who is defeated by them are the playthings of Gano and could, if circumstances changed, find their positions reversed.