Article published in:Reinardus: Yearbook of the International Reynard Society
Edited by Richard Trachsler and Baudouin Van den Abeele
[Reinardus 32] 2020
► pp. 20–61
On the borders of humanity
Amazons, wild men, giants and wolf-girls in Thomas of Cantimpré’s Liber de natura rerum
The Liber de natura rerum is a thirteenth-century encyclopedia that reflects the naturalistic interests of its author, the Dominican friar Thomas of Cantimpré (ca.1200/ 01–ca.1270/ 72). Despite his realistic focus, Thomas was a man of his time and he introduced elements in his work that may seem bizarre to a modern reader. The purpose of this article is twofold. Firstly, it analyses how the Friar treats these different elements, whether they were widespread in thirteenth-century culture (e.g. Amazons, wild men, mermaids, etc.) or discussed for the first time by the Thomas himself (e.g. giants of Vienna, wolf-girl of Burgundy, etc.). Secondly, the paper highlights some very interesting and new aspects of Thomas’s work that shed light on his way of thinking and on his encyclopedia.
Published online: 14 April 2021