Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index


Reynard the Fox, also known as Renard, Renart, Reinard, Reinecke, Reinhardus, and by many other spelling variations, is a trickster figure whose tale is told in a number of anthropomorphic fables from medieval Europe.

He seems to have originated in French folklore. The earliest extensive treatment of the character is the Old French Le Roman de Renart from around 1175, which sets the typical setting. Reynard has been summoned to the court of king Noble, or Leo, the Lion, to answer charges brought against him by Isengrim the Wolf. Other anthropomorphic animals appear to give testimony against him, which Reynard always proves false by one stratagem or another. The stories typically involve satire whose usual butts are the aristocracy and the clergy, making Reynard a peasant-hero character. Some of the tales feature Reynard's funeral, where his enemies gather to deliver maudlin elegies full of insincere piety, and which features Reynard's posthumous revenge.

In 1485 William Caxton printed The Historie of Reynart the Foxe, which was translated from a Flemish version of the fables. Goethe, also, dealt with Reynard in his fable Reinecke Fuchs. Most improbably at all, Reynard appears in the medieval Latin epic Ysengrimus, a long Latin mock-epic from around 1200 that collects a great store of Reynard's adventures.