Nouveaux apports des encyclopédies médiévales sur la connaissance de la faune exotique. Le cas de Thomas de Cantimpré
Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgique: Université catholique de Louvain, 2017; Series: Bilan et perspectives des études sur les encyclopédies médiévales. Orient-Occident, le ciel, l’homme, le verbe, l’animal
In the Middle Ages, knowledge of exotic foreign fauna (African and Indian) owed much to the transmission of ancient authors (Aristotle, Pliny, Solin) and the first Christian authors (Physiologus, Isidore of Seville, Fathers of the Church). However, we observe, particularly in the 13th century, the appearance of new knowledge in encyclopedias and other related natural history texts. This new knowledge owes little to ancient authorities and is the result of new contributions, linked to direct observation (menagerie animals) or vernacular knowledge (travelers, merchants, hunters, fishermen, sailors, etc.). This is particularly the case for little-known animals from Northern Europe, highlighting an exoticism coming from the cold, in the context of increased exchanges with the Scandinavian world. The presentation will attempt to highlight these contributions, particularly in the introduction of new species or new zoonyms into the inventory of the living world, but also in the additional information provided on ancient knowledge. Our investigation will mainly focus on Thomas de Cantimpré and Albert the Great, with additional information drawn from Barthélemy l’Anglais, Vincent de Beauvais and Alexander Neckam. We will try to highlight the fundamental contribution of Thomas de Cantimpré in this enrichment of the medieval exotic animal world, by comparing it with the approach of his contemporaries.
Last update September 27, 2023