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Angelica is a princess in the epic poem Orlando innamorato by Matteo Maria Boiardo. She reappears in the saga's continuation, Orlando furioso by Ludovico Ariosto, and in various later works based on the two original Orlando pieces. The narratives are part of the Matter of France, a cycle of legendary history 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 the protective Argalia will only allow her to marry a man who can best him in a joust. When Argalia eventually falls to the Saracen knight Ferraù, Orlando and Rinaldo threaten to destroy each other over her. As the Saracens lay siege to Duke Naimon's estate, 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 epic unfinished, but the action was taken up in Orlando furioso. Angelica is continually sought throughout the world by Orlando, Rinaldo, and the best knights from various countries. She eventually finds herself naked and chained to a rock in the sea, offered as a sacrifice to a sea monster (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 ultimately falls in love with an ordinary Moor soldier Medoro and returns with him to Cathay; the lovesick Orlando requires the aid of his cousin Astolpho to recover his senses.
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