Orlando Furioso, Canto XLIV
We start with everyone in the hermit’s cell congratulating Ruggiero. When Rinaldo learns Ruggiero’s betrothed to his sister he’s delighted by the news. Unfortunately, Ariosto reveals the fact that their parents already pledged Bradamante’s hand to Leon, the Greek prince of Byzantium. Neither Rinaldo nor Bradamante’s knows about this yet, so Rinaldo has no reason not to be delighted.
I gotta hand it to Ariosto. He’s down to the last three cantos and he’s still going to introduce a love triangle.
Everybody goes back to France except Prester John who goes back to Africa. When he and his army get there all their magic boats and horses turn back into leaves and rocks. Astolfo flies back to France on the hippogriff, but releases it when he arrives there. This was part of his pledge to Saint John back in the Earthly paradise. His horn’s also lost its power. He reaches Marseilles just as everyone else is arriving. Charlemagne greets them all and there’s much rejoicing. The war’s over. The Christians have won. Everything is great, until Rinaldo mentions to his dad how happy he is to have Ruggiero as a brother-in-law. And that’s when the truth is revealed. Ruggiero’s practically a beggar. Bradamante can’t marry him. They’ve arranged her marriage to Prince Leon.
This triggers all sorts of trouble. Bradamante and Ruggiero get mopey and depressed, because of course they do. Rinaldo and Bradamante can’t disobey their parents. Still, Bradamamnte goes to Charlemagne and gets him to agree that no man may marry her unless they defeat her in battle. This angers her parents who drag Bradamamnte off to one of their fortresses. And this sends Ruggiero spiraling, and being the man of violence he is he figures the only way to solve this problem is to go to Greece and kill Prince Leon.
Leon and his dad are at the moment waging war on the Bulgars and doing all right. The Bulgars are nearly crushed, and would have been if not for Ruggiero showing up during the decisive battle. He rallies the Bulgars and sends the Greeks running. Unfortunately he can’t get his hands on either Prince Leon or his dad. But all his violence impresses Prince Leon, and the Prince falls in love with Ruggiero. Now that’s kinky! The Bulgars plan on giving their kingdom to Ruggiero, but he takes off after Leon before they can. They both take shelter in the same city. The ruler of it gets word to King Constantine, saying the mysterious knight who defeated his armies is here. The King wants the knight captured, and so…
Until next canto!
CANTO SCORE CARD
Knights: Ruggiero, Orlando, Astolfo, Oliver, Sobrino, Rinaldo, Marfisa, Bradamante, Prince Leon and his dad King Constantine, King Vatran of the Bulgars, Ungiardo (a vassal of Constantine’s)
Awful Parents: Aymon, Beatrice
Mages: Holy Hermit