Cattitude from the Middle Ages
Tybalt the Cat is a fictional character from a popular series of medieval fables. He comes from a time when cats were considered to be witches’ familiars, but oddly, his character is not necessarily evil and is not associated with witches. Tybalt is a little bit more of a Puss In Boots sort of character. The other animals of the kingdom consider him to be wise, but he gets himself into a fair amount of trouble too.
Reynard the Fox (the main character of the series of fables) on the other hand is a bit of an anti-hero. Each story seems to be rooting for him, but he gets his way through lies and manipulation. Tybalt the Cat is a very close friend of Reynard’s family and tends to be very sympathetic to Reynard. However, even Tybalt is not immune to Reynard’s treachery.
The oldest book of Reynard the Fox fables in existence today was written between 1301 and 1400 AD. It is held by the National Library of France and can be viewed in it’s entirety online. The stories may have begun more than 200 years before that manuscript. These fables, written mostly by monks, were heavily influenced by Aesop. Over time they began to be used as a way to criticize the wrongs that existed in society.
Even though you may have never heard of Tybalt the Cat, he has had quite an impact on literature. Many famous writers were influenced by the Reynard the Fox fables. Geoffrey Chaucer used the characters is his story The Nun’s Priests’ Tale. Tybalt the Cat is the namesake of Shakespeare’s character, Tybalt, from his play Romeo and Juliet. Even the Brothers Grimm took note of these tales and studied them closely.
To learn more about Tybalt the Cat, please read my post Tybalt: Prince of Cats.
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