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Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 February 2013
Bodley 264's provenance largely remains a mystery. We do not know for whom it was made or even where it was during the first seventy years or so after its completion. This study therefore begins not with the patron and court for which Bodley 264 was produced, but with another, imaginary audience by which Alexander the Great's legend was also greatly appreciated. In the Roman de Renart le Contrefait, Renart the fox visits King Noble the lion's court and, between exchanges with the sovereign and interventions by other animals, recounts the history of the world. Ostensibly about the many forms that renardise has taken throughout time, the Roman de Renart le Contrefait is equally about the essential relationship between historiography, performance, and noble identity in the late Middle Ages. Renart's recitation of history not only fills the text itself (over 41,000 lines of verse and sixty folios of prose), but monopolizes discourse within the court setting of the frame narrative. The dialogue and actions of characters in the narrative present are far outweighed by the dicta et facta memorabilia recounted by Renart. Within this court dominated by the chronicler fox, history is more real — more of a presence — than the present in which it is heard.