Florante at Laura
("Florante and Laura") by Francisco Baltazar
(also known as Balagtas) is one of the masterpieces of Philippine literature
. "Florante at Laura
" is an abbreviation of the actual title which is: "Pinagdaanang Buhay Nina Florante at Laura sa Kahariang Albanya: Kinuha sa Madlang Cuadro historico o pinturang nagsasabi sa mga nangyari nang unang panahon sa imperyo ng Gresya, at tinula ng isang matuwain sa bersong Tagalog.
" ("The Life of Florante and Laura in the Kingdom of Albania: culled from historical accounts and paintings which describe what occurred in ancient times in the empire of Greece, and penned by someone who enjoys Tagalog verse
"). The story was written during Balagatas' imprisonment. His book is dedicated to Maria Asuncion Rivera, his sweetheart whom he nicknamed "M. A. R.". Maria Asuncion Rivera was later married to Balagtas' rival, Mariano Capule. It was Capule who made false charges against Balagtas.
The story is about the struggle and love of Duke Florante and Princess Laura of Albania during the warring period between the Albanians and Muslims.
In the Albanian forest
The story begins deep within a dark, gloomy forest. Florante, a duke of the Kingdom of Albania
is tied to a tree, lamenting the loss of his father, Duke Briseo. He is driven mad by the thought that his beloved, Princess Laura, has fallen into the arms of his enemy, Count Adolfo, son of Count Sileno. Nearby, two starving lions keep watch and try to attack Florante. He is saved, just in time, by Aladin, a Muslim
prince who happens to be at the forest at the same time. Weak and bewildered, Florante faints.
The merciful soldier nurses Florante to health. Upon recovery, Florante is initially taken aback by Aladdin as he considers as an enemy due to his Islamic faith. After a few explanations are made, however, Florante is grateful & begins to tell his story.
The son of a princess and a royal adviser, Florante grew up in happiness, showered with love. He liked to play games when he was six, and was almost killed by a vulture
that tried to snatch a gem on his chest. He was saved by his cousin Menalipo, an archer from Epirus
At the early age of 11, his parents, Duke Briseo and Princess Floresca, sent him to Athens, Greece to study under Antenor, a renowned teacher. There, he met Adolfo, a fellow countryman, the brightest student in their school. After 6 years of study, Florante surpassed Adolfo's capabilities, talents and intelligence, gaining popularity and recognition. Adolfo took this very personally.
While acting during a school play, Adolfo attempted to kill Florante. Fortunately, Florante’s friend, Menandro, was quick enough to intervene. Adolfo headed home to Albania after his failed attempt. One year later, Florante received a letter from his father, announcing the death of his mother.
Though filled with grief, Florante waited two months before he returned home. Menandro, unwilling to be separated from him, accompanied him on his journey. Upon his arrival to Albania, an emissary of the kingdom of Croton requested his assistance in the incoming war against the Persians. Florante had not the will to refuse, for the King of Crotone was his grandfather.
During his stay in Albania, Florante was invited to the king's palace. There, he was stunned by the sight of Laura, the daughter of King Linseo, ruler of Albania.
Coming to the aid of Crotone, Florante fought with the Persian general, Osmalik for 5 hours, finally slaying him in the end. He stayed in Crotone for 5 months before returning to Albania to see Laura. He was surprised by the to the people of the Albania sight of a Persian flag waving atop the kingdom. He recaptured the palace and saved his father, the king, and Adolfo. He also saved Laura from being beheaded from the hands of an Emir. He was declared “Defender of Albania” for his bravery, deepening Adolfo’s envy and hatred.
Florante protected the kingdom, once more, from the Turkish forces, under general Miramolin, an acclaimed conqueror. This took place in Aetolia, where he later received a letter from his father. The letter summoned him back to Albania. He left his troops in the care of his friend, Menandro. Upon returning, he was ambushed by 30,000 soldiers and under Adolfo’s orders and was imprisoned for 18 days. There, he learned of the tragic fate of his father and the king. Under Adolfo’s hands, they were beheaded. Florante was then exiled into the forest and tied to the tree.
After months of wandering in the forest, the Persian
, Aladin shares that he is also in a similar circumstance.
Sultan Ali-Adab accused his own son, Aladin, of leaving his troops and allowing his conquered enemy to be recaptured. He arranged for his son to be beheaded. Flerida, very much in love with Aladdin, begged the Sultan not to kill, but merely exile his son. In return, Flerida agreed to marry the Sultan, who was very taken with her.
Reunion and Peace
Aladdin’s speech is interrupted when they hear voices. A woman narrates her escape from a kingdom and a marriage. She speaks of her search for her beloved, a search which lasted 6 years. She shares that while deep in the forest, she heard cries for help. Finding a lady about to be raped by a man, she uses her bow and arrow to kill him. The woman introduces herself as Flerida.
The lady saved by Flerida is revealed to be Laura, who begins to tell her story. While her love was away at war, Count Adolfo gained the popularity of the people, having lied to them and turned them against the king. Count Adolfo then rose to the throne, forcing Laura to be his queen. An army under Menandro, Florante's childhood friend, was able to overthrow Adolfo from power. Adolfo, seeing all was lost, fled into the woods, taking Laura as hostage.
After hearing all this, Florante and Aladdin reunite with their loved ones. Florante and Laura returned to Albania, and became king and queen. Aladin and Flerida returned to Persia, where Aladdin became the new sultan as his father committed suicide. The two kingdoms lived in harmony and peace.
- Florante - Duke of Albania and the main protagonist of the novel.
- Laura - Daughter of King Linceo of Albania. She is the love interest of Florante and is later married to him.
- Count Adolfo - Rival of Florante and the antagonist of the novel. His jealousy and envy on Florante sparked his rebellion against the king. He was also responsible for the imprisonment of Florante. He was killed by Flerida as he attempted to rape Laura in his escape against the forces loyal to the king.
- Aladdin/Aladin - Son of Sultan Ali-Adab of Persia. He saved Florante from being eaten by lions in the forest. Later, he got married to his love, Flerida.
- Flerida - Aladin's fiance. She asked Sultan Ali-Adab to spare Aladdin's life on the condition that she will be Ali-Adab's wife. She later escaped and killed Count Adolfo as he attempted to rape Laura.
- Duke Briseo - Father of Florante and a nobleman of Albania. He was killed, along with King Linseo, by Count Adolfo during his usurpation of power.
- Princess Floresca - Mother of Florante and the Princess of Crotone. She died while Florante was studying in Athens.
- King Linceo - King of Albania and the father of Laura. He was killed by Count Adolfo during his usurpation of power.
- Sultan Ali-Adab - Sultan of Persia and the father of Aladdin. He sentenced his son to be executed because of his cowardice in the battlefield. In exchange for Aladdin's life, Flerida promised her marriage to the Sultan. After her escape, the Sultan committed suicide.
- Count Sileno - Father of Adolfo.
- Menalipo - Cousin of Florante. He saved Florante from vultures when they were younger.
- Menandro - Friend and confidant of Florante. They first met in Athens and Menandro saved Florante from Adolfo's attempt at murdering him. He and Florante both shared military expedition. He also led the overthrow of Count Adolfo and restored peace in Albania.
- Antenor - Professor of Florante, Menandro, and Adolfo in Athens
- General Osmalik - A general of Persia. He was killed by Florante during a military expedition.
- General Miramolin - General of the Ottoman Empire. He was responsible for the invasion of Albania in order to bring the kingdom into Islamic control.
- Emir - One of the commanding officer who sacked Albania together with Aladdin during the ongoing campaign of Florante and Menandro in Crotone. He nearly slay Laura for it's refusal to love him but was defeated.