Bestiaire d’amour by Richard de Fourneval

Richard de Fournival, a cleric at Amiens, wrote the Bestiaire d’Amour in the middle thirteenth century. The text, a lover’s plea for an unattainable lady’s affection, is written in French prose, and it appropriates the allegorical tales of bestiaries — which typically illustrate Christian precepts — to support the lover’s own arguments about courtly love. A popular text, theBestiaire appears in nineteen manuscripts, most of which are elaborately illuminated. The two manuscripts listed below were copied in northern Italy between the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries and represent a unique Italian recension, which continues with additional tales and contains a conclusion different from Fournival’s original.

Representative Manuscripts

New York, Pierpont Morgan, MS M. 459. A full description of this manuscript is provided by the Pierpont Morgan Library.

Florence, Laurentian Library, Cod. Ashburnhamiani, Fondo Libri 50.


Jeanette Beer, trans., Master Richard’s Bestiary of Love and Response (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986). This translation does not include additional material from the Italian recension.

Secondary Literature

Beer, Jeanette, “Richard de Fournival’s Anonymous Lady: The Character of the Response to the Bestiaire d’amour,” Romance Philology 42:3 (Feb. 1989), 267-73.

Beer, Jeanette, “A Fourteenth-Century ‘Bestiaire d’Amour’,” Reinardus4 (1991), 19-26.

Biemans, Jos A.A.M. “Paleografische en codicologische bespiegelingen over handen en handschriften.” InManuscripten en miniaturen: Studies aangeboden aan Anne S. Korteweg bij haar afscheid van de Koninklijke Bibliotheek. Edited by Jos Biemans et al., 33-46. Zutphen:Walburg, 2007.

Bruckner, Matilda Tomaryn. “Fierce Lions, Clever Foxes, Diabolical Dragons: Animals Tell Tales in Medieval Arts and Letters.” In Secular/Sacred: 11th-16th-Century Works from the Boston Public Library and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Edited by Nancy Metzer, 19-42. Boston: University of Chicago Press, 2006.

Muratova, Xenia, “Un nouveau manuscript du Bestiaire d’amours de Richard de Fournival.” InBestiairesmédiévaux: Nouvelles perspectives sur les manuscrits et les traditions textuelles. Communications présentées au XVe Colloque de la Société Internationale Renardienne. Edited by Baudouin Van den Abeele, 265-81. Louvain-la-Neuve: Université Catholique de Louvain, 2005.

Summary by Michael Diaz de la Portilla.