Roman de Renart (Reynard cycle) is the most famous set of animal stories produced in the Middle Ages. It is not one story but a collection of 26 chapters composed by several clerks and minstrels around the end of the 12th century and the beginning of the 13th. It was inspired by the Fables of the ancient Greek writer, Aesop, and by a mock epic poem in Latin by Nivardus, written in Ghent in around 1150, called Ysengrimus. Under the guise of the endless war between Reynard the Fox and Ysengrimus the Wolf, the work illustrates the animal nature of man and offers a critique of the errant ways of the feudal world. This highly illustrated manuscript, created in the first half of the 14th century, is a rare manuscript copy of the cycle. Naive-style miniatures celebrate the exploits of the fox, most cunning of animals. They also illustrate such stories as the funeral of Lady Coppée, the chicken (f. 4r); Reynard’s departure for the Crusades (f. 12v); the attack on the castle of Maupertuis, the hero’s lair, by Tibert the Cat, Noble the Lion, Tardif the Snail, and Ysengrimus the Wolf while Reynard and his children have a carefree dinner (f. 14v); and the rape of Hersent, the wife of Ysengrimus (f. 16r).
Title in Original Language
Roman de Renart
Type of Item
Parchment, 157 pages in two columns; 27.8 x 19.5 centimeters. Several small paintings. Red Moroccan leather binding
Last updated: March 27, 2015