chapter  2
17 Pages

Paladins and Captains: Chivalric Clichés and Political Persuasion in Early Modern Italian War Poems

This chapter investigates some of the texts that proliferated during the long and frantic age of 'horrendous wars' ushered into the Italian peninsula by the descent of Charles VIII of France in 1494. The Italian wars triggered an oral and written media boom whose most typical products were the dozens of poems that were sung in the streets and the piazzas by professional entertainers and narrators known variously as cantimbanchi, canterini, or cantastorie. Ippolito would be the dedicatee of a much more famous Ferrarese poem, the Orlando furioso by Ludovico Ariosto: a rather ungrateful dedicatee, indeed, to the point of labelling 'balderdash' the adventures of the paladins imagined by poor Ariosto. Literary scholars, in fact, tend to interpret cautiously the oral features of the chivalric texts as the fruits of simulation, as the outcome of an oral residue no longer directly linked to a living tradition of public performances.