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Robin Hood and the Friar and Robin Hood and the Potter


21 Deus hic! The Friar's knowledge of Latin is questionable. The phrase is probably a corruption of Haec dicit Dominus Deus ("Thus saith the Lord God") from the Roman Missal. It's the same phrase that Chaucer's friar uses in the Summoner's Tale, line 1770, as the friar approaches the ailing Thomas (glossed in Benson's edition as "God be here!" as does our author). Mary A. Blackstone (p. 28) suggests that the actor's saying of hic could be accompanied by hiccups, an auditory pun and that the Friar makes the sign of the cross. In the early Elizabethan context, the Friar's speech and gesturing were familiar instances of anti-Catholic satire. The earliest citation for hicket, an early form of "hiccup," is dated 1544 in the Oxford English Dictionary.

22 This line has been partially cropped, but it is still legible.

34 MS: maister. Dobson and Taylor emend to maisters.

44 these dogges all three. See Introduction, above.

58 Robin's dislike of clergy is also evident in Robin Hood and the Monk, where he is betrayed by a gret-hedid munke, and in the Gest, where he orders Little John to bete and bynde bishops and archbishops.

63-64 Mary A. Blackstone (p. 31) detects the presence of a proverb in these lines, but the one she cites from Proverbs, Sentences, and Proverbial Phrases From English Writings Mainly Before 1500, Bartlett J. Whiting, ed. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1968), is not very close: Two Friars and a fox make three shrews (p. 214). The actual meaning of the proverb is: if you meet a friar or fox in the morning before you eat or drink, you will have bad luck the rest of the day. See Vincent S. Lean, Lean's Collectanea, Volume II, Part I (Bristol: J. W. Arrowsmith, 1903), p. 193.

72 See the Introduction for a discussion of the presence or absence of water in the original staging.

82 MS: donee. Dobson and Taylor emend to doon.

92 MS: an hundreth. Dobson and Taylor emend to a hundred.

98 Kendale grene. Fabric manufactured in Kendal, Westmorland.

105 Cut and Bause. These sound suspiciously like dogs' names (possibly those referred to in line 44), and while dogs might bring forth the clubs and staves of line 106, it is unlikely that they would fight with them! Cut and Bause, therefore, are probably the Friar's "men."

111 Dobson and Taylor (1989, p. 214, n. 1) identify the "lady free" with the Maid Marian of the May morris dances, but Stephen Knight (1994, p. 102) notes that the lady is not named in the play and Marian in the morris is never called "Maid."

114 To serve her for my sake. As the lines below make clear, the friar's "service" has unmistakable erotic meaning.

115-16 Mary A. Blackstone (p. 37) observes that huckle duckle is "a phrase of unclear meaning probably invented to rhyme with buckle and convey bawdy innuendo." According to the Oxford English Dictionary, huckle means "hip" or "hip-bone," and "the complete phrase may describe the extent of his physical excitement." For the possible use of a phallus, see Introduction.

119 MS: sheses. White's edition (c. 1590) has shetes, which we accept.

122 My lady and I wil daunce. This likely calls for a morris dance involving all the players; see Introduction.

123 Because the rhyme fyre / myre in lines 121-22 indicates a complete couplet, we have added the phrase for veri pure joye as a separate short line.

Following this line, and without a break in the text, is the speaker designation, Robyn Hode, as if the play Robin Hood and the Friar were continuing at this point. Line 124 clearly indicates -- Lysten to me my mery men all -- that we have the beginning of a second play, which editors call Robin Hood and the Friar. While Child and Dobson and Taylor separate the two plays, we have respected the authority, flawed as it is, of Copland's text.

124 Dobson and Taylor add me, and this is accepted.

126 The line, which is cropped at the top of the page, is supplied by Dobson and Taylor from Edward White's edition of c. 1590 (Oxford, Bodleian Library Art. Seld. Z.3).

144 MS: medle. Dobson and Taylor emend to medled.

145 MS: xx: twenty.

152 The line, which is at the top of the page, is partially cropped.

169 MS: noughty. Dobson and Taylor emend to naughty.

171 MS: saynt. Dobson and Taylor emend to seynt.

176 The line, which is at the top of the page, is partially cropped.

182 MS: penny. Dobson and Taylor have peny.

199 The line, which is at the top of the last page, is partially cropped. Dobson and Taylor supply the missing half line from the White edition, and this is accepted. Manly supplies "The rest is wanting" (p. 288).

Here beginnethe the Playe
of Robyn Hoode, verye
proper to be played
in Maye Games

             [Enter Robin Hood and his men.]




Robyn Hode

Lytell John

Now stand ye forth my mery men all,
And harke what I shall say;
Of an adventure I shal you tell,
The which befell this other day.
As I went by the hygh way,
With a stoute frere I met,
And a quarter staffe in his hande.
Lyghtely to me he lept,
And styll he bade me stande.
There were strypes two or three,
But I cannot tell who had the worse;
But well I wote the horeson lepte within me
And fro me he toke my purse.
Is there any of my mery men all
That to that frere wyll go,
And bryng him to me forth withall,
Whether he wyll or no?

Yes, mayster, I make God avowe,
To that frere wyll I go,
And bryng him to you,
Whether he wyl or no.


a thick pole


son of a whore

             [Exit Robin Hood and his men. Enter Friar Tuck with three dogs.]





Fryer Tucke

Deus hic! Deus hic! God be here!
Is not this a holy worde for a frere?
God save all this company!
But am not I a jolly fryer?
For I can shote both farre and nere,
And handle the sworde and buckler,
And this quarter staffe also.
If I mete with a gentylman or yeman,
I am not afrayde to loke hym upon,
Nor boldly with him to carpe;
If he speake any wordes to me,
He shall have strypes two or thre,
That shal make his body smarte.
But, maister, to shew you the matter
Wherfore and why I am come hither,
In fayth I wyl not spare,
I am come to seke a good yeman,
In Barnisdale men sai is his habitacion.
His name is Robyn Hode,
And if that he be better man than I,
His servaunt wyll I be, and serve him truely;
But if that I be better man than he,
By my truth my knave shall he be,
And lead these dogges all three.
God be here!; (see note)
(see note)

small round shield


blows with the staff

(see note)

male servant
(see note)

             [Enter Robin Hood seizing the friar by the throat.]

Robyn Hode

Fryer Tucke

Robyn Hode

Yelde the, fryer, in thy long cote.

I beshrew thy hart, knave, thou hurtest my throt.

I trowe, fryer, thou beginnest to dote:
Who made the so malapert and so bolde
To come into this forest here
Amonge my falowe dere?


believe; act foolishly

yellow-brown deer

             [Friar Tuck shakes off Robin Hood.]






Fryer Tucke

Robyn Hode

Fryer Tucke

Robyn Hode

Fryer Tucke

Robyn Hode

Fryer Tucke

Robyn Hode

Go louse the, ragged knave.
If thou make mani wordes,
I wil geve the on the eare,
Though I be but a poore fryer.
To seke Robyn Hode I am com here,
And to him my hart to breke.

Thou lousy frer, what wouldest thou with hym?
He never loved fryer nor none of freiers kyn.

Avaunt, ye ragged knave!
Or ye shall have on the skynne.

Of all the men in the morning thou art the worst,
To mete with the I have no lust;
For he that meteth a frere or a fox in the morning,
To spede ell that day he standeth in jeoperdy.
Therefore I had lever mete with the devil of hell,
Fryer, I tell the as I thinke,
Then mete with a fryer or a fox
In a mornyng, or I drynke.

Avaunt, thou ragged knave, this is but a mock!
If you make mani words, you shal have a knock.

Harke, frere, what I say here;
Over this water thou shalt me bere;
The brydge is borne away.

To say naye I wyll not;
To let the of thine oth it were great pitie and sin;
But upon a fryers backe and have even in.

Nay, have over.
delouse yourself


reveal my intentions

(see note)

Go away; base rogue
be hit

(see note)
To prosper badly

before I drink

Go away

(see note)

             [Robin Hood climbs on the Friar's back.]

Fryer Tucke

Now am I, frere, within, and, thou, Robin, without,
To lay the here I have no great doubt.

             [Friar Tuck throws Robin Hood.]


























Robyn Hode

Fryer Tucke

Robyn Hode

Fryer Tucke

Robyn Hode

Fryer Tucke

Robyn Hode

Fryer Tucke

Robyn Hode

Fryer Tucke

Robyn Hode

Fryer Tucke

Robyn Hode

Fryer Tucke

Robyn Hode

Fryer Tucke

Robyn Hode

Lytell John   

Robyn Hode

Lytell John


Robyn Hode


Robyn Hode


The Potter


The Potter

Robyn Hode

The Potter

Robyn Hode

The Potter

Robyn Hode

The Potter

Robyn Hode

Lyttell John

Now art thou, Robyn, without, and I, frere, within,
Lye ther, knave; chose whether thou wilte sinke or swym.

Why, thou lowsy frere, what hast thou doon?

Mary, set a knave over the shone.

Therfore thou abye.

Why, wylt thou fyght a plucke?

And God send me good lucke.

Than have a stroke for Fryer Tucke.

         [They fight.]

Holde thy hande, frere, and here me speke.

Saye on, ragged knave,
Me semeth ye begyn to swete.

In this forest I have a hounde,
I wyl not give him for an hundreth pound:
Geve me leve my horne to blowe,
That my hounde may knowe.

Blowe on, ragged knave, without any doubte,
Untyll bothe thyne eyes starte out.

         [Robin Hood blows his horn; his men enter.]

Here be a sorte of ragged knaves come in,
Clothed all in Kendale grene,
And to the they take their way nowe.

Peradventure they do so.

I gave the leve to blowe at thy wyll;
Now give me leve to whistell my fyll.

Whystell, frere, evyl mote thou fare!
Untyll bothe thyne eyes starte.

         [The Friar whistles.]

Now Cut and Bause!
Breng forth the clubbes and staves,
And downe with those ragged knaves.

         [They all fight.]

How sayest thou, frere, wylt thou be my man,
To do me the best servyse thou can?
Thou shalt have both golde and fee.
And also here is a lady free:

         [Enter the Lady.]

I wyll geve her unto the,
And her chapplayn I the make
To serve her for my sake.

Here is an huckle duckle,
An inch above the buckle.
She is a trul of trust,
To serve a frier at his lust,
A prycker, a prauncer, a terer of shetes,
A wagger of ballockes when other men slepes.
Go home, ye knaves, and lay crabbes in the fyre,
For my lady and I wil daunce in the myre,
For veri pure joye.

         [A dance.]

* * * * * * * * * *

Lysten to me my mery men all
And harke what I shall say
Of an adventure I shall you tell
That befell this othere daye.
With a proude potter I met;
And a rose garlande on his head,
The floures of it shone marvaylous freshe.
This seven yere and more he hath used this waye,
Yet was he never so curteyse a potter
As one peny passage to paye.
Is there any of my mery men all
That dare be so bolde
To make the potter paie passage either silver or golde?

Not I, master, for twenty pound redy tolde.
For there is not among us al one
That dare medle with that potter man for man.
I felt his handes not long agone,
But I had lever have ben here by the.
Therfore I knowe what he is;
Mete hem when ye wil or mete him whan ye shal
He is as propre a man as ever you medle withal.

I wil lai with the, Litel John, twenti pound so read,
If I wyth that potter mete
I wil make him pay passage, maugré his head.

I consente therto, so eate I bread;
If he pay passage, maugré his head,
Twenti pound shall ye have of me for your mede.

         [Robin's men leave. Enter Jack the potter's boy.]

Out alas that ever I sawe this day!
For I am clene out of my waye
From Notygham towne.
If I hye me not the faster,
Or I come there the market wel be done.

Let me se, are the pottes hole and sounde?

         [Robin throws a pot to the ground.]

Yea, meister, but they will not breake the ground.

I wil them breke for the cuckold thi maister's sake;
And if they will breake the grounde,
Thou shalt have thre pence for a pound.

         [Robin breaks more pots.]

Out alas! What have ye done?
If my maister come, he will breke your crown.

         [The potter enters.]

Why, thou horeson, art thou here yet?
Thou shouldest have bene at market.

I met with Robin Hode, a good yeman;
He hath broken my pottes,
And called you kuckolde by your name.

Thou mayst be a gentylman, so God me save,
But thou semest a noughty knave.
Thou callest me cuckolde by my name,
And I swere by God and Saynt John,
Wyfe had I never none:
This cannot I denye.
But if thou be a good felowe,
I wil sel mi horse, mi harneis, pottes and paniers to,
Thou shalt have the one halfe, and I wil have the other.
If thou be not so content,
Thou shalt have stripes, if thou were my brother.

Harke, potter, what I shall say;
This seven yere and more thou hast used this way,
Yet were thou never curteous to me
As one penny passage to paye.

Why should I paye passage to thee?

For I am Robyn Hode, chiefe governoure
Under the grene woode tree.

This seven yere have I used this way up and downe,
Yet payed I passage to no man;
Nor now I wyl not beginne, to do the worst thou can.

Passage shalt thou pai, here under the grene wode tre,
Or els thou shalt leve a wedded with me.

If thou be a good felowe, as men do the call,
Laye awaye thy bowe,
And take thy sword and buckeler in thy hande,
And se what shall befall.

Lyttle John, where art thou?

Here, mayster, I make God avowe.
I told you, mayster, so God me save,
That you should fynde the potter a knave.
Holde your buckeler [fast in your hand],
And I wyll styfly by you stande,
Ready for to fyghte;
Be the knave never so stoute,
I shall rappe him on the snoute,
And put hym to flyghte.

         [A fight follows, and the text ends.]

Thus endeth the play of Robyn Hode

(see note)

put a fool in your shoes

shall suffer the consequences

bout with clubs

It seems to me

(see note)


(see note)




(see note)

(see note)

(see note)

(see note)

trollop or prostitute

A rider; a tearer of sheets; (see note)
iron trivets
soft mud; (see note)
(see note)

(see note)

(see note)



good; (see note)

bet; red; (see note)

against his will


(see note)



naughty; (see note)

(see note)

(see note)

(see note)


(see note)

         Imprinted at London upon the Crane wharf by Wyllyam Copland
Go to Introduction to the Munday Plays