Further Examples of the Fox in Medieval English Art

Kenneth Varty

in E. Rombauts, A. Welkenhuysen, G. Verbeke, ed., Aspects of the Medieval Animal Epic, Louvain: Leuven University Press, 1975, 251-256

"Since I completed and published my first comprehensive survey of the fox in medieval English art I have gathered quite a lot more material, some of which confirms and some of which modifies the conclusions I had then reached about the knowledge and influence of the French Roman de Renart in medieval England. In this paper I shall re-explore with you only two aspects of the subject. The first of these concerns the fox's "death" and "resurrection". ... The second aspect of the beast epic I want to go over again with you today concerns the fox's trial and the episodes which lead up to it, in particular those involving the three royal envoys - the bear, the cat and the badger who each, in turn, try to persuade the fox to appear before his king to answer the charges made against him by some of his peers. When I treated this subject in 1965 I thought I detected more than a trace of the French Roman de Renart in those five, justly famous, misericords in Bristol Cathedral 5. I am now convinced that I was wrong. Since 1965 I have rediscovered (or at least, I am fairly sure I have) the woodcuts which illustrated Wynkyn de Worde's lost edition of the Reynard story; woodcuts which can be dated ca. 1500 or earlier, and which could therefore have been known to the Bristol artist. It is largely this body of evidence which has caused me to change my mind about the role of the French beast epic at Bristol." - Varty

Language: English


Last update December 6, 2021