The Lost Rhymes of Robin Hood

There is no doubt amongst most scholars that there were earlier and ‘shorter’ tales of Robin Hood originally in existence. What we have are chance survivals. The Geste as we all know was a series of separate stories strung together, a pastiche. The author seems to have combined, often quite clumsily, ‘Robin Hood and the Knight,’ ‘Robin Hood, Little John and the Sheriff’: ‘Robin Hood and the King’; and 'Robin Hood’s Death.’ What went before we will probably never know.

But an interesting point was made by Dr Peter Coss (Holt.p.192) that the story of ‘Robin Hood and the Knight’ might have evolved from an earlier, independent story of a crusading knight or pilgrim, returning from the Holy Land. This once against highlights the thorny question of what is original in the surviving Robin Hood medieval ballads. Particularly when, as Maurice Keen points out
‘ many of the episodes can be shown to belong to a stock of popular legends, which do not attach to any one story or even to one cycle of stories in particular.’

One wonders what might have been on those manuscripts that Bishop Percy found being burnt in Humphrey Pitt's house at Shifnal, Shropshire, by the housemaid who was using them to light the fire!

But we live in hope. In about 1320 somebody wrote out an Anglo Norman poem in ordinary prose. It eventually found its way to the British Museum, but nobody read it because it had been carelessly labelled. It was ‘Fulk Le Fitz Waryn!


Please click on Robin Hood Ballads for more information.

1 comment:

Clement of the Glen said...

The Lost Rhymes of Robin Hood
Bishop Percy
Robin Hood Ballads