Short summary - Gerusalemme liberata
The Lord Almighty from his heavenly throne turned his all-seeing gaze to Syria, where the crusader army was encamped. For the sixth year the warriors of Christ fought in the East, many cities and kingdoms submitted to them, but the Holy City of Jerusalem was still a stronghold of the infidels. Reading in human hearts as in an open book, He saw that of the many glorious leaders, only the great Gottfried of Bouillon is fully worthy of leading the crusaders to the sacred feat of liberating the Holy Sepulcher. Archangel Gabriel brought this news to Gottfried, and he reverently accepted God's will.
When Gottfried called the leaders of the Franks and told that God had chosen him to be the head of them all, a murmur arose in the assembly, for many leaders were not inferior to Gottfried either in the nobility of the family or in exploits on the battlefield. But then Peter the Hermit raised his voice in support, and everyone to the last heeded the words of the inspirer and honored adviser to the soldiers, and the next morning the mighty army, in which
under the banner of Gottfried of Bouillon, the color of chivalry throughout Europe rallied, set out on a campaign. The East trembled.
And now the Crusaders have set up camp in Emmaus, in view of the Jerusalem walls. Here, the ambassadors of the king of Egypt appeared in their tents and offered to retreat from the Holy City for a rich ransom. Having heard a decisive refusal from Gottfried, one of them went home, while the second, the Circassian knight Argant, eager to quickly draw his sword against the enemies of the Prophet, galloped to Jerusalem.
Jerusalem at that time was ruled by King Aladin, a vassal of the Egyptian king and an evil oppressor of Christians. When the crusaders went on the attack, Aladin's army met them at the city walls, and a fierce battle ensued, in which non-Christians fell without number, but many brave knights also died. The crusaders suffered especially heavy damage from the mighty Argant and the great warrior maiden Clorinda, who arrived from Persia to help Aladin. The incomparable Tancred met Clorinda in battle and blew her helmet with a blow of a spear, but, seeing a beautiful face and golden braids, smitten with love, he lowered his sword.
The bravest and most beautiful of the knights of Europe, the son of Italy, Rinald, was already on the city wall when Gottfried gave the order to the army to return to the camp, for the time had not come for the fall of the Holy City.
Seeing that the stronghold of the enemies of the Lord almost fell, the king of the underworld summoned his countless servants - demons, furies, chimeras, pagan gods - and ordered all the dark power to fall on the crusaders. The servant of the devil, among others, was the magician Idraot, king of Damascus. He ordered his daughter Armida, who eclipsed the beauty of all the virgins of the East, to go to the camp of Gottfried and, using all the female art, bring discord into the ranks of the soldiers of Christ.
Armida appeared in the camp of the Franks, and none of them, except Gottfried and Tancred, could not resist the spell of her beauty. Calling herself the princess of Damascus, deprived of the throne by force and deceit, Armida begged the leader of the crusaders to give her a small detachment of selected knights in order to overthrow the usurper with them; in exchange, she promised Gottfried the alliance of Damascus and all kinds of help. In the end, Gottfried ordered ten brave men to be chosen by lot, but as soon as there was talk of who would lead the detachment, the leader of the Norwegians, Gernand, at the instigation of the demon, started a quarrel with Rinald and fell from his sword; the incomparable Rinald was forced into exile.
Disarmed by love, Armida led the knights not to Damascus, but to a gloomy castle that stood on the shores of the Dead Sea, in whose waters neither iron nor stone sinks. Within the walls of the castle, Armida revealed her true face, offering the captives either to renounce Christ and oppose the Franks, or to perish; only one of the knights, the despicable Rambald, chose life. She sent the rest in shackles and under reliable protection to the king of Egypt.
The crusaders, meanwhile, conducted a regular siege, surrounded Jerusalem with a rampart, built machines for the assault, and the inhabitants of the city strengthened the walls. Bored with idleness, the proud son of the Caucasus, Argant, went out into the field, ready to fight with anyone who would accept his challenge. The brave Otgon was the first to rush to Argant, but was soon defeated by the infidels,
Then it was Tancred's turn. Two heroes came together, as once Ajax and Hector at the walls of Ilion. The fierce battle lasted until the very night, without revealing the winner, and when the heralds interrupted the duel, the wounded fighters agreed at dawn to continue it.
Erminia, the daughter of the king of Antioch, watched the duel from the city walls with bated breath. Once she was a prisoner of Tancred, but the noble Tancred gave the princess freedom, Erminia unwanted, for she burned with irresistible love for her captor. Skillful in medicine, Erminia set out to penetrate the camp of the crusaders in order to heal the wounds of the knight. To do this, she cut off her marvelous hair and put on the armor of Clorinda, but on the outskirts of the camp she was found by the guards and rushed after her. Tancred, having imagined that something was a warrior dear to his heart, because of him endangered her life, and wanting to save her from her pursuers, also set off after Erminia. He did not catch up with her and, having gone astray, was lured by deceit into the enchanted castle of Armida, where he became her prisoner.
Meanwhile, morning came and no one went out to meet Argant. The Circassian knight began to vilify the cowardice of the Franks, but not one of them dared to accept the challenge, until at last Raymond, the Toulouse count, rode forward. When the victory was already almost in the hands of Raymond, the king of darkness seduced the best Saracen archer to shoot an arrow at the knight and himself directed its flight. The arrow pierced into the joint of the armor, but the guardian angel saved Raymond from certain death.
Seeing how insidiously the laws of duel were violated, the crusaders rushed at the infidels. Their fury was so great that they almost crushed the enemy and broke into Jerusalem. But this day was not determined by the Lord for the capture of the Holy City, therefore He allowed the infernal army to come to the aid of the infidels and hold back the onslaught of Christians.
The dark forces did not abandon their plan to crush the Crusaders. Inspired by the fury Alecto, Sultan Soliman, with an army of nomadic Arabs, suddenly attacked the Frankish camp at night. And he would have won if the Lord had not sent the archangel Michael to deprive the infidels of the help of hell. The crusaders perked up, closed ranks, and then the knights, freed by Rinald from Armidian captivity, arrived quite in time. The Arabs fled, and the mighty Soliman also fled, in the battle he killed many Christian soldiers.
The day came, and Peter the Hermit blessed Gottfried to attack. After serving a prayer service, the crusaders, under the cover of siege engines, surrounded the walls of Jerusalem, the infidels fiercely resisted, Clorinda sowed death in the ranks of Christians with her arrows, one of which Gottfried himself was wounded in the leg. The angel of God healed the leader, and he again went out onto the battlefield, but the night darkness that fell forced him to give the order to retreat.
At night, Argant and Clorinda made a sortie to the camp of the Franks and set fire to the siege engines with a mixture prepared by the magician Ismen. As they retreated, pursued by the crusaders, the city's defenders slammed the gates shut in the darkness, not noticing that Clorinda had remained outside. Here Tancred entered into battle with her, but the warrior was in armor unfamiliar to him, and the knight recognized his beloved only by inflicting a mortal blow on her. Brought up in the Muslim faith, Clorinda knew, however, that her parents were the Christian rulers of Ethiopia and that, according to the will of her mother, she should have been baptized in infancy. Mortally wounded, she asked her killer to perform this sacrament over her and she gave up her spirit as a Christian.
So that the crusaders could not build new machines, Ismen let a host of demons into the only forest in the area. None of the knights dared to enter the enchanted thicket, with the exception of Tancred, but even he could not dispel the sinister spell of the magician.
Despondency reigned in the camp of the crusading host, when Gottfried in a dream revealed that only Rinald would overcome witchcraft and that only before him would the defenders of Jerusalem finally tremble. At one time, Armida vowed to take cruel revenge on Rinald, who recaptured the captured knights from her, but as soon as she saw him, she was inflamed with irresistible love. Her beauty also struck the young man to the very heart, and Armida was transported with her lover to the distant enchanted Happy Isles. It was to these islands that two knights went after Rinald: the Dane Karl and Ubald. With the help of a kind wizard, they managed to get across the ocean, the waters of which had previously been plied only by Ulysses. Having overcome many dangers and temptations, Gottfried's ambassadors found Rinald forgotten about everything in the midst of the joys of love. But as soon as Rinald saw the battle armor, he remembered his sacred duty and followed Charles and Ubald without hesitation. Enraged, Armida rushed to the camp of the king of Egypt, who, with an army recruited throughout the East, went to the aid of Aladin. Inspiring the eastern knights, Armida promised to become the wife of the one who would defeat Rinald in battle.
And now Gottfried gives the order for the last attack. In a bloody battle, the Christians crushed the infidels, of whom the most terrible - the invincible Argant - fell at the hands of Tancred. The crusaders entered the Holy City, and Aladin with the remnants of the army took refuge in the Tower of David, when clouds of dust rose on the horizon - then the Egyptian army went to Jerusalem.
And the battle began again, fierce, for the army of the infidels was strong. In one of the most difficult moments for Christians, Aladin led soldiers from the Tower of David to help her, but it was all in vain. With God's help, the crusaders took over, the non-Christs fled. The king of Egypt became a prisoner of Gottfried, but he let him go, not wanting to hear about a rich ransom, for he did not come to trade with the East, but to fight.
Having dispersed the army of the infidels, Gottfried and his companions entered the liberated city and, without even taking off their blood-stained armor, knelt before the Holy Sepulcher.