Cantos XIV (Doralice), XXIII (Orlando), XXIV (Zerbino and Rodomonte), XXVI (Merlin’s Fountain), XXVII (Wins Doralice), XXX (Slain by Rogero)
King of Tartary, Son of Agrican, Lover of Doralice, Rival to Rodomonte, Slain by Rogero
Avenging Son Can’t Accept Reality and Dies After Taking Everyone’s Stuff.
Mandricardo is one of many characters to continue over from Orlando Innamorato. In that poem, his father Agrican lays siege to Albracca and is slain by Orlando. After losing his mind to wild slaughter in his grief, Mandricardo goes on a quest to find Orlando and avenge his father’s death. Along the way he comes to possess the arms of Hector of Troy–minus his fabled sword Durindana. He is cursed to swear an oath to wield no sword until such time as he can win Durindana…which is in the possession of none other than Orlando…by force.
At the siege of Paris, when he learns that two squadrons of knights are missing, he goes to investigate. He comes upon the carnage wrought by Orlando on Noritia and Alzirdo, then sets out more determined than ever to find the knight who did it. Along the way he encounters the entourage of Doralice, summoned to Agramant’s camp by her father Stordilane, the King of Granada, to marry Rodomonte. When the entourage forbids him to see the lady, he massacres them and makes himself Doralice’s honorable escort (much as Orlando had done for Angelica).
After this violent meeting an unlikely romance blooms between the two. Doralice gladly accompanies him on his wanderings over the countryside for ten days looking for the knight who slew the squadrons (ironically less concerned, at the time, with finding Orlando and Durindana). This causes him to miss the siege of Paris.
After ten days he chances upon Orlando shortly after he rescues Zerbino from execution. The two fight–by lance, then using lances as clubs, then with main force–for possession of Durindana. The fight ends prematurely when Mandricardo’s horse runs off with a broken saddle. He steals a new horse when Gabrina crosses his path.
By the time Mandricardo returns three days later, Orlando has gone completely furioso and abandoned his arms. Mandricardo takes Durindana and kills Zerbino when he tries to stop him. The arms of Hector are now complete (though he did not claim them from Orlando by force as his oath required).
And just in the nick of time, for Rodomonte, searching for his missing Doralice, has caught up to the pair and immediately engages in fierce duel. Fierce but futile, since both are invulnerable–one by Hector’s arms, the other by sorcery and the arms of Nimrod. The only fatality is a horse decapitated by an errant blow (!). The duel is interrupted by a messenger from Agramant who commands the knights return to help against Charlemagne’s counterattack. It is not clear if they obey him or rather Doralice, who begs them return to the fray to save her father. Mandricardo takes Orlando’s abandoned horse Brigliadoro and the group travels back toward Paris.
While returning to Agramant, they meet Marphisa out of her armor. Mandricardo thinks to win her by combat and give her to Rodomonte as a consolation for the loss of Doralice. He quickly defeats Vivian, Malagigi, Aldigier, and Richardetto and claims Marphisa as his own. She disabuses him of this notion by suiting up and leaping into battle for herself. Their duel seems destined for a stalemate when Rodomonte stops them, insisting that only he gets to fight Mandricardo (for Doralice) and that they need to get back to Agramant. Marphisa agrees to join them.
Rogero catches up to the group seeking his horse Frontino from Rodomonte. When Mandricardo sees that Rogero wears the ensign of Hector (white eagle azure field) he is deeply offended. The two had clashed once before during the quest for Hector’s arms and now renew their rivalry over the right to the ensign. Before their duel can commence both Marphisa and Rodomonte intervene and insist that they travel together to Agramant for the war effort against France. The four cobble together an agreement on the order in which they will fight each other to settle their many grievances but fighting breaks out again. In the chaos, Malagigi ensorcels Doralice’s horse and causes it to run off. Mandricardo and Rodomonte both break off to chase down their love, with Rogero and Marphisa following to settle matters.
Mandricardo and the others are led to the battle between Charlemagne and Agramant. Joining the battle, they quickly rout the Christian forces and drive them back to Paris. Agramant arranges a tournament near the city to settle the many feuds among his greatest knights. They draw lots to determine the sequence of battles, which have Mandricardo fighting first Rodomonte, then Rogero, and finally Marphisa. While gearing up for battle, King Gradasso of Sericane sees that Mandricardo has Durindana and challenges him for the right to wield it. Mandricardo recklessly summons Gradasso, Rogero, and Rodomonte to come fight him at the same time to settle all this, but others intervene and the fight is broken up.
After other feuds delay matters, Mandricardo finally takes the field against Rodomonte. Before the fight, one last appeal from Agramant brings to light that Doralice prefers Mandricardo. Rodomonte departs in anger never to fight for Agramant again.
The next day Mandricardo and Rogero face each other to win the right to Hector’s ensign. Doralice pleads with Mandricardo through the night not to battle Rogero, but just as he is relenting Rogero sounds the challenge. In an epic battle the two bring each other to death’s door with gruesome injuries, but in the end Rogero survives and Mandricardo dies.
Judgment: Wonderful villain. He’s a twisted mirror-version of Rogero who dies after violating his oath (he does not win Durindana by force). Interesting that he slays Zerbino, who dies from fulfilling an oath. He is a “large” character who seems to be more present in the poem than the six cantos he receives. His relationship with Doralice is perplexing–early Bad Boy romance?