Reynard the Fox
The introduction opines that the Reynard story descends from Roman times, from Aesop's 'Fable of the Sick Lion.' I had not read or heard that opinion before. Hastings' introduction also notes that the first complete translation of the Reynard stories into English was Caxton's from the Dutch in 1481. She bases this presentation on that version. The enjoyable illustrations are unmistakable Percy as I have come to know his style from various fable books. The story begins with a series of complaints to the lion king by various beleaguered animals in a group: the fox is a thief and a murderer. The various summonses to Reynard ensue, with the usual results. Tibert bites the priest on the hand when Tibert is trapped in the priest's barn. Malepardus is a very impressive medieval castle here! The dress of the various animals is medieval. King Lion calls Reynard to trial, and he is condemned to death. Just before his hanging, he mentions supposed riches that he has from supposedly stopping his rebellious father. King Lion is interested in the money and pardons him. Bruin and Isegrim are so outraged that they complain--and are soon thrown into jail for treason. At a major feast honoring Reynard--although in absentia--Laprell and Corbaut show up complaining of fresh outrages they have suffered from Reynard. King Lion turns again and prepares to lay seige to Malepardus. Grimbard runs to warn Reynard. Reynard first brings himself before the king and declares his innocence. Laprell and Corbaut are old enemies, he says, who have slandered him. He challenges any accuser to fight. Isegrim steps up. They prepare to meet in single combat. Reynard has himself clipped and oiled by his aunt, Ape Dame Rukenaw. Reynard tires out the larger Isegrim and finally hits him hard on the back of the neck. King Lion declares Reynard victorious and innocent. People turn quickly to congratulate Reynard. He gets home and resolves to better his life until his glance falls on two unwary edible travellers….