Angelica (character)  

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The Birth of Venus (detail), a 1486 painting by Sandro Botticelli
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The Birth of Venus (detail), a 1486 painting by Sandro Botticelli

Angelica is a character in the epic poem Orlando innamorato by Matteo Maria Boiardo, its continuation, Orlando furioso by Ludovico Ariosto, and various later works based on these. All are part of the Matter of France, a cycle of stories based on the adventures of Charlemagne and his paladins.

In Orlando Innamorato, Angelica is introduced as the daughter of the king of Cathay, or India (though Cathay in the Medieval mind was more often China). She comes to Charlemagne's court with her brother Argalia. All the knights are smitten with her, especially the cousins Orlando (Roland) and Rinaldo (Renaud), but Argalia will only allow her to marry a man who can best him in a joust. He falls to the Saracen knight Ferrau, and Orlando and Rinaldo begin to threaten to destroy each other over her. The Saracens lay siege to Duke Naimon's estate, and Charlemagne promises Angelica's hand to whichever cousin fights best for him. The battle is lost, however, and the characters go on to further adventure. Rinaldo and Angelica drink from magic fountains twice, each time leaving one madly in love and the other indifferent, while Orlando loses his wits to his passion.

Boiardo left his poem unfinished, but the action was taken up in Orlando Furioso. Angelica is sought throughout the world by Orlando, Rinaldo, and the best knights from various countries, and eventually winds up chained to a rock naked by the monstrous Orc in a situation identical to the perils of Andromeda. She is rescued by the African knight Ruggiero, who gives her a ring of invisibility. Later, pursued by the maddened Orlando, she uses the ring and vanishes. She falls in love with the African prince Medoro and returns with him to Cathay, and the lovesick Orlando requires the aid of his cousin Astolpho to recover his senses.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Angelica (character)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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