Orlando, the renowned nephew of King Charlemagne and the mightiest paladin among his Twelve Peers. While Paris is under siege by the Saracens, he dreams an evil dream concerning his beloved Angelica, the beautiful princess of Cathay who has caused great dissension among Christian and pagan champions alike. Forsaking his knightly duties, he passes through the enemy lines and goes in search of the damsel. His quest takes him into many lands, and after many strange adventures he is driven mad by the distractions of love and jealousy. Throwing away his armor, he wanders naked and raving among savage beasts, so that all knights are filled with pity when they hear of his sad state. He recovers his sanity after Astolpho, an English knight, finds the wits of his deranged friend in a vial in the region of the moon. His mind restored, Orlando once more engages in valorous deeds and champions the Christian cause. One of his feats is the rescue of Rogero, a gallant Saracen knight now converted to Christianity, who has been cast away on a desert island.
Angelica, the princess of Cathay, who by her great beauty bewitches Orlando, Rinaldo, Ferrau, and Rogero, but in the end marries none of these paladins. Her true love is Medoro, a Saracen knight of lowly birth whom she nurses back to health after he has been wounded in battle. The cause of many misfortunes to others, she herself falls victim to an enchanter’s magic and is carried to the island of Ebuda, where she is about to be offered as a sacrifice to a giant orc when she is saved by Rogero, the Saracen knight who forgets his own loved Bradamant and falls under the spell of Angelica’s charms. To keep her from harm, Rogero gives her a magic ring, but faithless Angelica uses it to make herself invisible and flees from him. After she has saved the life of Medoro, she returns with him to Cathay.
Rinaldo (rih-NAHL-doh), one of King Charlemagne’s Twelve Peers, second only to Orlando in loyalty, bravery, and knightly honor. His chivalric adventures are wonderful and strange but not always related to his quest for Angelica, whom he finally disdains. On several occasions, he is called on to engage in single combat for the honor of the king. Rejoicing when he learns that Rogero has received Christian baptism, he promises the hand of his sister Bradamant to the Saracen hero. Later, he withstands the wishes of his parents and champions the right of Bradamant to marry her beloved.
Rogero (roh-ZHEH-roh), a noble Saracen knight in love with Bradamant, the sister of Rinaldo. He has many marvelous adventures, which include his rescue by Bradamant from the enchanted castle in which Atlantes, a magician, holds him prisoner; his ride on a flying hippogryph; his slaying of the giantess Eriphilia; his rescue of Angelica from the monstrous orc; his forgetting of Bradamant while he woos and loses Angelica; his victory over Mandricardo; his sojourn on a desert island; and his Christian baptism. He is finally restored to his beloved Bradamant. At the feast celebrating the wedding of the happy couple, envoys appear to make Rogero king of Bulgaria. Rogero and Bradamant, according to the poet, were the ancestors of the noble d’Este family of Ferrara.
Bradamant (BRA -dah-mahnt), a maiden knight, the sister of Rinaldo and later the wife of Rogero. In this version of the chivalric story, she is always the romantic heroine, fighting on the side of right, vanquishing evil knights, and rescuing the unfortunate....
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Her steadfastness in her love for Rogero, the Saracen champion, contrasts sharply with the fickleness of Angelica, while her prowess on the field of battle rivals that of the bravest knights, including her own Rogero, who wins her from his princely rival after defeating her in single combat. The story ends with an account of the happy wedding festivities of Bradamant and Rogero, now turned Christian.
Astolpho (ah-STOHL-foh), the English knight who restores Orlando’s wits. Also a rider on the flying hippogryph, he engages in marvelous adventures, among them a journey to the fabled land of Prester John and a trip to the region of the moon, where the senses of poets and others are stored. Astolpho finds there the vial containing Orlando’s lost wits and returns them to the hero, who regains his sanity after inhaling the contents of the vial.
Ferrau (fehr-RAW), a brave Saracen knight. Also under Angelica’s spell, he battles with Rinaldo, his rival. While the two men fight, Angelica runs away. Ferrau returns to Spain to help his king repel an invasion.
Sacripant (SA-krih-pant), the king of Circassia. When Angelica meets him in the forest, she begs him to protect a damsel in distress. They are overtaken by Rinaldo, who battles with Sacripant and splinters his shield. Angelica flees once more when she sees Sacripant overthrown.
Count Pinabel (PIH-nah-behl), a treacherous knight whom Bradamant encounters while she is searching for Rogero. Pinabel tells her that Rogero and other knights are the captives of Atlantes, a magician whose enchanted castle stands high in the Pyrenees. Later, he tries to kill Bradamant by pushing her into a deep cave.
Melissa, a seer whom Bradamant finds in Merlin’s cave, into which Count Pinabel pushed her. Melissa foretells the noble house that will spring from the union of Bradamant and Rogero, and she tells the maiden knight that Rogero can be freed from the spell of the magician Atlantes only with the aid of a magic ring.
Brunello, a dwarf to whom Agramant, the king of Africa, has entrusted the magic ring used by Bradamant to free Rogero and his fellow knights from the spell cast on them by the magician Atlantes.
Atlantes (at-LAN-teez), the aged magician who puts Rogero under the magic spell from which Bradamant frees him. Atlantes is the owner of the flying hippogryph on which Rogero, after his release, is carried to the land of Alcina, a wicked sorceress.
Alcina (ahl-CHEE-nah), the evil sorceress under whose spell Rogero falls. He is saved by Melissa, a seer, who gives him a magic ring to protect him from Alcina’s power. Alcina also casts a spell on Astolpho, a brave English knight.
Agramant (A-grah-mant), the king of Africa and the enemy of king Charlemagne. When it is decided to end the siege of Paris by a battle of champions, Agramant chooses Rogero as the greatest of his knights. Rinaldo is the defender of the Christians. During the combat, Agramant treacherously breaks his oath and attacks the French forces. When the Saracens are routed, Rogero, who has promised to accept Christian baptism after the battle, remains with his defeated king, much to the distress of Bradamant, his beloved.
Rodomont (ROH-doh-mont), a fierce and vengeful Saracen warrior, the enemy of all Christians and a cause of dissension among the Saracens. After a quarrel with Mandricardo, prince of Tartary, Rodomont leaves King Agramant’s camp. He meets Isabella, princess of Galicia, who is grieving for the death of Zerbino, her beloved knight, whom Rodomont had slain. In a drunken frenzy, Rodomont kills Isabella. Overcome by remorse, he builds a bridge over the river near her tomb and there challenges all traveling knights to combat in honor of the dead princess. He is overcome by mad Orlando and by Bradamant. At the wedding feast of Rogero and Bradamant, Rodomont brashly appears to accuse the Saracen knight of apostasy. Rogero kills him.
Dardinello (dahr-dih-NEHL-loh), the king of Zumara, a Saracen leader killed when the Saracen besiegers of Paris are routed.
Cloridan (CLOHR-ih-dan) and
Medoro (meh-DOH-roh), brothers, brave young Saracen knights who, grieving for the death of their overlord, King Dardinello, kill many Christian knights to avenge their leader’s death. Cloridan is killed by a band of Scottish knights, and Medoro is left for dead on the field where Angelica finds him. She nurses him back to health in the nearby hut of a friendly herdsman.
Zerbino (zayr-BEE-noh), prince of Scotland, the leader of the knights who kill Cloridan. Zerbino is killed by fierce Rodomont.
Mandricardo (mahn-dree-KAHR-doh), prince of Tartary, with whom Rodomont quarrels over Doralice, a Spanish princess. Mandricardo is killed by Rogero following an argument over the Tartar’s right to wear the escutcheon of Hector, the Trojan hero.
Gradasso (grah-DAS-soh), a Saracen king killed in a battle between pagans and Christians.
Sobrino (soh-BREE-noh), a Saracen king who becomes a Christian after his defeat at Lipadusa.
Brandimart (bran-dih-mahrt), a Christian knight held prisoner by Rodomont. Defeated by Bradamant, the maiden knight, Rodomont promises to release him along with other Christian captives. Brandimart fights with Orlando, Oliver, and Bradamant against the Saracen kings at Lipadusa and is killed in the battle.
Flordelice (flohr-de-LEE-chay), the faithful wife of Brandimart.
Doralice (doh-rah-LEE-chay), the Spanish princess who causes a quarrel between Rodomont and Mandricardo.
Leo, the son of Constantine, the emperor of Greece. When the parents of Bradamant shut her away in a castle in an attempt to make her accept the noble young Greek as her husband, Rogero becomes jealous and decides to kill Leo. Captured while fighting with the Bulgarians against the Greeks, the young Saracen is imprisoned by Theodora, the emperor’s sister, in revenge for the death of her son, who was slain by Rogero. Leo, learning of Rogero’s plight, rescues him and hides him in his own house. Later, unaware of Rogero’s identity, he asks him to act as his champion, after Bradamant has declared that she will marry only a knight who can withstand her in combat. Rogero and Bradamant meet, and Rogero is the victor. Disconsolate because he has won the hand of his beloved for his benefactor, Rogero wanders off into the forest. There, Leo, having renounced his claim to Bradamant after hearing the story of the lovers’ trials, finds the young Saracen and returns him to his betrothed.
Theodora, the sister of Emperor Constantine of Greece. To avenge the death of her son, she imprisons the Saracen knight Rogero, his slayer.
Eriphilia (eh-rih-FEE-lee-ah), a female giant slain by Rogero.