Article published in:Reinardus: Yearbook of the International Reynard Society
Edited by Richard Trachsler, Baudouin Van den Abeele and Paul Wackers
[Reinardus 25] 2013
► pp. 78–95
How the “cerf sanz tache” found its way into the Vulgate Cycle
The white stag that appears in the 13th-century Vulgate Cycle of Arthurian romances is a symbolically many-faceted being, which looks back on a long series of textual antecedents. One of its most noticeable traits is its christological nature and the interpretation of its spotless white color as a sign of spiritual purity. These Christianized characteristics of the animal likely developed under the influence of various hagiographic and historiographic sources (among others), where one encounters cervids with similar or analogous attributes. The present study examines some such examples of white stags, focusing on a corpus of texts relating the founding legend of the Norman abbey of Fécamp, and aims at shedding light on the gradual Christianization of the white stag on its evolutionary path into and through the Vulgate Cycle.
Published online: 21 July 2014