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New Medieval Books: Introducing the Medieval Fox

Introducing the Medieval Fox

By Paul Wackers

University of Wales Press
ISBN: 978-1-78683-988-6

A look into how medieval people viewed the fox, through religious writings, bestiaries, hunting manuals, and literature, most notably the stories revolving around the famous literary character Reynard the Fox.


The medieval stories about Reynard the fox are a new phenomenon in the literary history of Western Europe. The only type of animal story that we find in classical antiquity is the fable, to which the first section of this chapter is dedicated. The following three sections describe the development and richness of the medieval Reynard stories. Their development is sketched, first in general, then with special attention to Reynaerts histoire – the source of all the early modern fox stories in Western Europe. Then it is shown how the same plot can be used to produce a fable, a short story and a part of a larger whole and how it can be used to achieve different effects. And because this is not a book about literary history but about foxes, the last section describes how Reynard, his wife Hermeline and their sons are portrayed in the separate strands of the tradition.


Who is this book for?

The fourth book in a wonderful series on medieval animals, it offers a good overview of many topics associated with foxes in the Middle Ages. Roughly divided into three sections covering religion, ‘medieval scholarship’ and literature, those who have an interest in these areas will want to consult this book to better understand medieval views on animals. It also serves as a good way to introduce yourself to Reynard the Fox.

The author:

Paul Wackers is Professor Emeritus for Historical Dutch Literature to 1500, at the University of Utrecht. As the Honorary President of the International Reynard Society, few others can match his knowledge about foxes and the Middle Ages.


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