Page images
PDF
EPUB

Trouveur now extant on the subject; older than the lost Norman-French poems of this cyclus, however, they can scarcely be.

For instance, our own monarch, Richard Caur-deLion, in a Sirvente, which must have been written between 1169 and 1199, has an allusion to the story

“E vos juoastes ot moi,
E men portastes tiel foi
Com Naengris a Reinaert."

Gavaudan, who wrote about 1195, Peire de Bussinac, who according to Raynouard flourished before the end of the twelfth century, and many other celebrated writers among the Provençals, allude to it.

In Spain and Italy the history of Reynard seems to have been but little known; while, on the other hand, the story is shown to have been highly popular in Flanders at the beginning of the thirteenth century. Subsequently to 1229, but before 1250, a canon of Liege, when relating the victory of his countrymen over Duke Henry of Brabant, says, “ Dux autem, (Brabantinus) suorum videns interitum, fugit od ipsum comitem (Farrandum, Flandrensem), quærens inducias et veniam de commisso. Super cujus palliata hypocrisi Flandrenses indignati proceres, 'Eya', inquiunt, 'Rainardus factus est monachus.'

Shortly before this, in 1204 and 1206, occurred

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

* Whose work forms properly the third book of the “ Vita S. Odiliæ Leodiensis,” printed in the second volume of Chapeaville.

[ocr errors]

another event recorded in the history of Flanders, which shows how widely spread was Reynard's reputation at that time. Mathilda, the widowed countess, was at open war with a party of her subjects. The adherents of Mathilda assumed the name of Isangriner (isangrini); those who were opposed to them being designated Blaufusser (Blavotini). Such is the statement of a contemporary, Rigordus, in his history De Gestis Philippi Augusti,* and his testimony is confirmed by Guilermus Brito, and the later evidence of Philip Mouskes, who was bishop of Tournai from 1274 to 1282, and says in his Rhyming Chronicle,

“Et grant douaire tint vers Ipre
En cele tiere des Isengrins,

Qui haoient les Blavotins.” Jacob Meyer, in his Chronicon Flandriæ, mentions the circumstance, and explains the allusion to the wolf in the name of the Isangriner, but is unable to do the same for that of the Blavoter. Grimm, however (and the circumstance of its being the name of the opposite faction, calls for some such explanation), assumes that the epithet is connected with the history of the fox, who, as he shows very clearly, was sometimes designated by the coaxing names of Blaufuss (Bluefoot) and Schwarzfuss (Blackfoot).

* Duchesne, v. 54. † See some curious illustrations of this, and other instances of the Flemish custom of giving emblematic names to their different factions, in an article on Belgian Literature and Reynard the Fox,” in the twentieth number of the British and Foreign Review.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

s v. But the earliest testimony to the existence of popular stories in which the fox and the wolf exhibit those peculiar traits by which they are characterized in the Reynardine fables, afforded by the Abbot Guibert de Nogent in his Autobiography. It proves them to have been as familiar to the natives of Picardy at the commencement of the twelfth century, as the passages we have quoted above shew them to have been to the Flemings a century later. Guibert, or Wibert, a native of Beauvais, was elected Abbot of the Monastery of Nogent, near Coucy, in 1104, and died in 1124. He wrote three books, De Vita sua, which were published among his collected works at Paris, by Lucas d'Achery, in 1651; and in book 3, cap. 8, p. 507, he relates the murder, in 1112, of Gualdricus, or Waldricus, Bishop of Laon, in Picardy, who had made himself hated by his crimes and offences. The insurgents sought everywhere for the bishop, who had concealed himself at their approach; at last they examined the cellar, “cum itaque per singula eum vasa disquirerent, iste (Teudegaldus, the chief of the murderers) pro fronte tonnulæ illius in

qua

latebat homo, substitit, et retuso obice scisitabatur ingeminando · Quis esset ?' Cumque vix eo fustigante gelida jam ora movisset, Captivus, inquit. --Solebat autem episcopus eum Isengrimum irridendo vocare, propter lupinam scilicet speciem: sic enim aliqui solent appellare lupos. Ait ergo scelestus ad præsulem, Hiccine est dominus Isengrinus repositus? Renulfus igitur, quamvis peccator, christus (i. e. unctus) tamen Domini, de

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

vasculo capillis detrahitur.” In this remarkable passage, obscure as it is towards the conclusion, in which we should probably read Renardus instead of Renulfus, we see that in 1112 this fable was so well known, that the name of Isengrim was satirically applied to a wild-looking man, and moreover that every one of the common people understood the allusion. From hence we may reasonably infer that in the North of France this characteristic fable was then one generation old at least; that it might, in short, date its rise from the middle of the eleventh century.

$ vi. We have thus historical testimony to the fact of the story being current at the commencement of the twelfth century. The names of the chief actors afford philological evidence of its existence in still earlier times. We will not follow Grimm through the eight-and-twenty pages occupied by his chapter upon the Thiernamen (names of the animals); but we have long felt that the very name of the fox in the French romances upon the subject, served to prove, not only that those romances were not of French origin (for, had they been so, the old French appellative of the fox, Goupil, and not the Teutonic Reinard, would have obtained as the name of the hero), but that the German writers had reason on their side when they claimed the credit of this favourite narrative for their countrymen. We shall content ourselves with extracting one passage from Grimm, important for the etymological grounds which it affords for supposing that

stories of the Fox and Wolf were known to the Franks as early as the fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries.

After showing that the names applied to the several animals, far from being vague and unmeaning, were originally strictly significant, Grimm proceeds to specify the several classes into which these epithets were capable of being divided, and then to make those observations on the name of the fox, which form the passage which follows.

Renart, Reinhart, in its earlier form Reginhart, still earlier Raginohard, Ragnohard, is a proper name of frequent occurrence in documents of the seventh, eighth, and ninth centuries, the meaning of which has long ceased to be thoroughly understood. Smaragd, a Benedictine monk of Lorraine, who, about 816, or still earlier, completed a Donatus which has never been printed, explains Reinhart by 'nitidum consilium,' erroneously taking rain for hreni (purus, nitidus). But how did he come by consilium,' which can in no wise exist in hart? Is it through transposition in rât ? Has he confounded with it the somewhere-acquired proper meaning of the first word? It appears so; for ragin, regin, is without doubt silium' in the Gothic language throughout.* In the later dialects, the word began to disappear, and to exist only in combination. Probably the Frankish has preserved it longer, for the well-known raginboron were—the before the tribunal giving counsel, the ad

6

con

* Philem. 14, ragineis, consiliarius, senator. Mark xv. 43 ; Rom. xi. 34.

« PreviousContinue »