Chasing Bayardo and Duel with Ferrau I, Duel with Sacripant and duped to Paris II, Scotland IV, Rescues Dalinda and saves Genevra V and VI, Raising armies VIII, Comes to Paris with the aid of Silence XIV, Counter-attack against Agramant XVI, Kills Dardinello and breaks siege XVIII, Leaves to find Angelica XXVII, Returns to Paris with all his family XXX, Fights Guido and scatters Agramant’s army XXXI, Fights Gradasso XXXIII, Chosen as Champion XXXVIII, Fights Rogero XXXIX, Journeys east to find Gradasso XLII, Travels Italy to Lampedusa XLIII, Tries to arrange marriage of Rogero and Bradamante XLIV, Marriage conflict XLV, Finale XLVI
Son of Duke Aymon and Beatrice, Prince and Castellain of Mount Alban, Cousin of Orlando, Brother of Bradamante and Richardetto, Unrequited Lover of Angelica, Hero of the Siege of Paris, Champion of Charlemagne’s Army
Coat of Arms: ? Wields the magical sword Fusberta and rides the Alfana-bred Bayardo
Classical Types: Hector
TLDR: The Superknight Who Still Does His Duty
We first meet Rinaldo chasing through the woods looking for his lost horse, Bayardo. The intelligent horse leads him on to Angelica and duels with Ferrau and later Sacripant. A perverted sorcerer-hermit dupes Rinaldo into thinking Angelica has gone to Paris with Orlando, but when he arrives he finds only Charlemagne tapping his foot impatiently.
Charlemagne sends Rinaldo on a diplomatic mission to the British Isles to raise reinforcements for the war against Agramant. Surviving a brutal Channel storm he arrives on the Caledonian shore and guests at an old abbey. There he learns the tale of the king’s daughter, Genevra, awaiting a champion lest she be executed for fornication.
Horrified at the Scotch approach to punishing sexual misconduct, he sallies forth to fight as Genevra’s champion. On the way he rescues Dalinda from foul murder. Dalinda turns out to be the star witness who could exonerate Genevra from Duke Polinesso’s evil charges. While listening to Dalinda’s extremely long back story, Rinaldo rides to the castle at St. Andrews to save the day.
He’s a bit too late, as Ariodantes (identity still hidden) is battling his brother Lurcanio to save Genevra. Rinaldo interrupts the trial by combat to present Dalinda’s testimony to the king. To prove his honesty he faces the evil Polinesso in a trial by combat and kills him in a single blow.
While Scotland raises an army to aid Charlemagne, Rinaldo moves on to England where the Prince of Wales serves as regent (King Otho fights on the continent with Charlemagne). He also raises an army for Rinaldo to lead back to France. Rinaldo, along with the knights Zerbino, Ariodantes, and Lurcanio, leads a massive Isles host (see Canto X for the catalogue) to Paris. St. Michael the Archangel appoints Silence to aid him so that Agramant’s forces will not know of his arrival until too late.
At the darkest hour of the siege–Rodomonte pillaging inside, Agramant’s forces winning their way to the walls from without–Rinaldo leads a devastating counter-attack. He unhorses or kills several kings and great knights, rallies the Scots, saves Zerbino, and nearly succeeds in killing Agramant. After Lurcanio falls to King Dardinello, Rinaldo faces him in single combat on the field of battle (offended that Dardinello dares wear Orlando’s colors of red and white quarters). When Rinaldo kills him in a single blow, Agramant’s armies sound the retreat and regroup at their war camp.
After the battle Rinaldo resumes his search for Angelica, still believing that she has run off with Orlando. His long absence allows Agramant’s army a second chance to defeat Charlemagne, but eventually hearing tidings of the war and the trials of Bradamante he leads his family back into the fray.
On the way to Paris the children of Aymon encounter a black knight–sable, with silver bar–and joust to test his worth. Guido, their half-brother, unseats all but Rinaldo and fights even him to a draw. They unite as friends and allies and travel on to Paris together, where they team up with Gryphon and Aquilant. Flordelis fills him in on what has happened to Orlando and his arms.
Heartsick over what has happened to his cousin, Rinaldo unleashes his army of superknights on Agramant’s forces once again. Their night raid crushes the Muslim army and sends them flying in disarray down the Rhone until they reach Arles and the coast.
The only forces not put to flight are those of Gradasso, king of Sericane, who now wields Orlando’s sword Durindana. He challenges Rinaldo for the right to Bayardo (sired by his own super-horse, Alfana) and as a grudge match to finish a battle started in Orlando Innamorato. Rinaldo is at pains to set the record straight that he did not, in fact, flee their first duel long ago. They agree to battle for the horse and Durindana.
Their evenly-matched duel is interrupted when a giant bird attacks Bayardo. Gradasso rides off on Alfana to chase down the fleeing horse, leaving Rinaldo to wait at the field of battle. When Gradasso finds and recovers Bayardo, he breaks his oath to return to the duel and instead heads for Arles, abandons Agramant’s army, and makes preparations to return to Ind.
Bereft of horse, Rinaldo rejoins Charlemagne’s army at Arles for the final push against Agramant’s combined forces. When the two armies agree to settle the war with a trial by combat, Charlemagne selects Rinaldo to fight against Agramant’s champion, Rogero. They battle with axe and dagger, but Rinaldo easily overpowers Rogero who is consumed with guilt over fighting Bradamante’s brother. Realizing that he is about to lose the war and egged on by the sorcery of Melissa, Agramant violates the peace of the trial and war resumes.
As the Christian armies regather, Rinaldo finds himself tortured still by his love for Angelica. Malagigi tells him that Angelica has married Medoro and returned to Catay. Heartsick, Rinaldo obtains leave to travel east on the pretext of finding Gradasso and Bayardo, but always with a thought to obtaining Angelica. This causes him to miss the final trial on Lampedusa.
Traveling east, he is assaulted by a gorgon that makes him know fear for the first time. He tries to run but the creature will not be denied. Rinaldo is only saved by a mysterious knight who drives off the beast with lance and mace. After Rinaldo is led to drink from the magical fountain that ended Angelica’s love for him once long ago, the black knight reveals his name to be Disdain, sent to free Rinaldo from his unworthy chains. He then disappears, leaving Rinaldo to continue his avowed journey to find Gradasso and regain Bayardo.
The next leg of his journey is a series of conversations about love and fidelity. He comes to a magical palace where he learns a sad tale of infidelity. He proves himself the wiser and sails past Ferrara down toward Ravenna, conversing with a sailor. He criss-crosses Italy and sets sail for Lampedusa, only to arrive after the trial is over. He embraces the exhausted and grief-stricken Orlando and helps the weary Christian warriors bring the dead first to Biserta and then to Sicily.
After the burial of Brandimart and the mourning of Flordelis, Rinaldo and Orlando take wounded Olivier and Sobrino to an anonymous rocky isle off the Sicilian coast for supernatural healing. The hermit heals Olivier and baptizes Sobrino, upon which Rogero, baptized and instructed in the faith, comes out to meet them.
Rinaldo learns from the hermit that he and Rogero will be united as family and have a glorious heritage together. This leads him into conflict with his father over the marriage of Bradamante, whom Aymon has already promised to Leo of Constantinople. He recedes to the role of supportive spectator as Rogero and Bradamante act out the final drama leading up to their wedding, and stands in attendance as Rogero ends the poem in battle with Rodomonte.
Judgment: Rinaldo seems to be superior to Orlando in character, as he continues to do his duty for most of the poem despite his passion for Angelica. This changes at the end, where his love sickness prevents him from fighting on Lampedusa and indirectly leads to the death of Brandimart. The main character in the first few cantos, Rinaldo’s role becomes more episodic after his heroics at the siege of Paris. For many cantos Ariosto keeps him in the poem by referring to Bradamante and Richardetto as his siblings. The character most closely bound to the events of the war. Status of Bayardo unclear at the end of the poem?