Stories of lovers deceived into believing each other false were common currency in northern Italy in the sixteenth century. Shakespeare's immediate source could have been one of the Novelle ("Tales") by Matteo Bandello of Mantua, dealing with the tribulations of Sir Timbreo and his betrothed Fenicia Lionata in Messina after King Piero's defeat of Charles of Anjou, perhaps through the translation into French by François de Belleforest. Another version featuring lovers Ariodante and Ginevra, with the servant Dalinda impersonating Ginevra on the balcony, appears in Book V of Orlando Furioso by Ludovico Ariosto, published in an English translation in 1591. The character of Benedick too has a counterpart in a commentary upon marriage in Orlando Furioso, but the witty wooing of Beatrice and Benedick is original.
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