This book places the songs of Renart le nouvel in the broader context of this late medieval romance. As argued here, Renart le nouvel was written in two different stages, its first book around 1260 and its second around 1300. The first book presents situations and animals that stand for key events and characters in 1250s Flanders, mostly pertaining to the famous quarrel of the Avesnes and Dampierre families. The second book ushers in a more apocalyptic mood that reflects the deteriorating political situation in Flanders in the final decades of the thirteenth century. The songs of Renart le nouvel give voice both to a mounting apocalyptic mood and to a related cynicism towards courtly love. As the embodiment of duplicity, Renart the fox sings an especially cynical song, one that is ultimately passed on to an animal that makes a brief appearance in our romance but is soon destined for fame: Fauvel the ass. In particular, the emerging genre of the motet expresses the duplicitous and satirical spirits of the fox and the ass.
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