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Robin Hood and the Monk


1 somer. The season is said in lines 9-10 to be Whitsuntide in May. Whitsun usually falls in late May, by which time many wild flowers are in bloom (hence the name "White" Sunday). Although many commentators link Robin Hood plays and games with May Day, the earliest references make it clear that late May, and so early summer, is the time when Robin Hood rituals occurred (Knight, 1994, pp. 103-04). Although the reverdie or "regreening" theme is associated with spring as in the opening of the Canterbury Tales, that actually refers to late spring, when April is largely over: and poems other than the Robin Hood ballads celebrate early summer, like the lyric "Summer is ycumen in."

shawes. The early Robin Hood ballads locate the outlaws in the opening stanzas in a green forest context, as if this is the validating context for their action.

9 Whitson. Jamieson read "Whitsontyde" and Madden accepted Hartshorne's "Whitsontide" in his re-collation of the manuscript against Hartshorne's edition. Child agreed, but said the last four letters were "no longer legible." However, there is no sign in the manuscript, including under ultra-violet light, that they were ever present.

13 In the early ballads, Robin Hood's meyné or company consists of three named characters, Little John, Much the Miller's son, and William Scarlock or Scathelock (both names imply Will is good at effecting violent entry), plus a group of unnamed wight yemen, ranging in number from twelve to one hundred and forty. Little John is second in command, a major character in his own right.

14 The oath Be Hym that dyed on tre is both an asseveration and a line-filler, often used to provide one of the b rhymes in a four-line stanza rhyming abcb. For another example see line 126 and, with the same rhyme scheme, the Gest, lines 405, 439, 1227, 1363.

21 Ye. Dobson and Taylor emend the manuscript to yea, but ye is a possible form for a positive response, modern yes, and the emendation is unnecessary.

24 Matins is the first of the canonical hours of the day. It was originally sung soon after midnight, but "matins with lauds" came to be the office associated with daybreak, which is the sense here.

25 he. MS: h. The vowel has become invisible.

29 Much the Miller's son is one of Robin's three named companions in early ballads, where he is a more forceful and less youthful figure than in recent films. When Robin announces his intention to attend Mass in Nottingham, Much advises him to be cautious and to take twelve yeomen with him for protection - similar advice is given Robin by Little John in Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborne and by Will in Robin Hood's Fishing and The Death of Robin Hood. The hero's rash isolation appears to invite danger.

This line begins a six-line stanza, of the kind identified in this edition in Robin Hood and the Potter at lines 208 and 254, and elsewhere; see the discussion in the General Introduction, p. 7 and the note on lines 3141-44 below.

30 betyde. The last four letters are very hard to decipher, but this seems the most likely reading.

42 MS: lyne. Parallel usages indicate this refers to the forest trees, not the "line" of the forest; see line 92 where the spelling lynde makes it clearer that the reference is to trees, probably trees in general, not specifically the lime-trees indicated by the word.

51 The argument between Robin and Little John begins in line 37, when Robin orders John to carry his bow, and he refuses. The theme of internal strife which threatens the solidarity of the outlaw band also occurs in the Gest, where Little John becomes angry for no clear reason (line 442) and also in Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborne. Here John orders Robin to wait under a tree while he interrogates the mysterious stranger: Robin loses his temper and threatens John. They separate, Little John is captured, and eventually rescued by Robin, the reverse of events here.

61 MS: wille. Only the first w is now legible. Hartshorne and Madden, and Child, both read it as the grammatically correct wilt, but the space suggests four letters rather than three: thou wille could either be read as a very precise subjunctive or as a loose usage and is accepted here.

72 MS: knelyd. Child prints kneled, presumably a minor error.

75 When Robin goes to St Mary's church in Nottingham (the city church, very close to the market he visits as a potter), he is recognised by a gret-hedid monk, whom Robin has robbed of one hundred pounds. The scene is reminiscent of the episode in the Gest when Robin steals eight hundred pounds from a fat-heded monk (line 364), who is the cellarer of St Mary's Abbey, York.

83-86 By reporting to the sheriff the presence of Robin Hood in the church, the monk has violated the ancient privilege of sanctuary. The betrayal is particularly heinous because Robin was attending mass when he was discovered. As the following excerpt makes clear, even felons were protected by sanctuary: "There are some felons who, when they are liable to arrest, flee to a church or some other sacred place, whence they must not be drawn or thrust forth, lest laymen who draw them forth incur sentence of excommunication or clergy who thrust them forth incur the taint of irregularity by their rash act. For it has been enacted that the English church shall have its rights and franchises unimpaired and also that the peace of the church and the land shall be preserved inviolate and that equal justice shall be dispensed to all men alike" (Henry Rothwell, ed., English Historical Documents 1189-1327 [New York: Oxford University Press, 1975] III, 567).

In describing Robin Hood to the sheriff, the monk uses the term kynggis felon "king's felon." In English law there were two types of legal proceedings or pleas: criminal and civil. Criminal offenses "appertain to the crown of the lord king," while civil charges "fall within the jurisdiction of the sheriffs of shires." Criminal charges included "tending to the death of the king, or the moving of a sedition against his person or his realm or in his army" and "a breach of the king's peace: homicide, arson, robbery, rape, falsifying . . . ." Civil actions were handled in shire courts and dealt with questions of status and dower, breach of fine, performance of homage, debts owed by lay persons, and the right of freehold and ownership (David C. Douglas and George W. Grenaway, eds., English Historical Documents 1042-1189 [London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1968] II, 462-63).

85 The phrase the kynggis felon indicates that Robin Hood has been proclaimed outlaw, and so can be be captured at will; the monk also has a personal grievance, see lines 77-78 and 171-74.

95 MS: schereff. Child prints "shereff," presumably in error.

103 too-hond. The first part of the word is very hard to read, but does seem much the same as the clearer too in line 142. Robin and his men often fight with swords; the bow was not a hand-to-hand weapon, and military archers usually carried a sword for close fighting.

107 MS: thorow at. Child emends to thorowout, but the original makes sense - Robin runs both through and at them, much as William of Clowdeslye does, see Adam Bell, line 142.

The last word in this line is hard to read; indeed there may not have been a word there at all. Hartshorne, Madden and Dobson, and Taylor leave then out; if, as seems likely, thorowout is trisyllabic, the meter does not require another word. Child printed then; the enigmatic marks could as easily be read as wel, but that would strain the sense improbably. On the assumption that a word did exist here, it seems best to accept Child's reading as being either correct or a probable emendation.

108 There is another word before For sothe. Hartshorne printed Then, and Madden apparently agreed. Dobson and Taylor (1976, p. 117) guess at As, but under ultra-violet light it appears to be Ffor. It can hardly mean Four, as a rhetorical correctio of Thryes in the previous line; this is a familiar, if weak, line, and presumably the second for must be an error.

112 The motif of the broken sword is a common theme in epic and heroic literature. In the Aeneid (Book XII, lines 969-82) Turnus's sword shatters on Aeneas's armor; in Prudentius's Psychomachia, Ira's sword breaks as she strikes the helmet of Patientia (v. 145); in Beowulf, the hero's sword Naegling, breaks in the fight with the dragon (line 2680); and in Malory's Le Morte Darthur, Balin's sword "burst in sunder" when it was struck by King Pellam's weapon. There is no sense here that Robin should be fighting with a bow rather than a sword: he and his fellow often fight with swords in the early ballads. The bow is seen primarily as a weapon for hunting or displaying skill.

119 This line is very hard to read. Child offers: Robin in the churche ran, which makes sense though as Dobson and Taylor note, it might be expected he would run out of the church (1976, p. 117). Madden thought it read Robyn in to the churche ran (he was correcting Hartshorne's error Robyns men). Under ultraviolet light the manuscript appears to read Robin in to . . . churche ran; the short word before churche does not begin with t but may start with h. It could be her, which might refer to Our Lady or perhaps the hem of the next line; the action may suggest he is seeking sanctuary. But the reading is very indistinct, and in any case what follows is absent.

120 There is a gap in the narrative here, between the bottom of the verso of one leaf and the top of the recto of the next; in the interim we would have been told how Robin is captured and how the outlaws hear of it (probably through a boy carrying the message). Evidently a single leaf has been lost, carrying probably 48 lines (24 to the page is the average in this poem). As the poem continues the scene has changed to Sherwood where news of this disaster has just arrived, and all but Little John are deeply upset.

141-42 "And I mete hym," seid Litul John
            "We will go but we too.

Child prints these two lines in reverse order (presumably an error) as if they are lines 2 and 3 of a damaged stanza (there is no gap in the MS). Dobson and Taylor accept this, and complete the stanza with some ingenuity:


Then spake Much the mylner son
"We will go but we too."
"And I mete hym," seid Litul John,
"I truste to wyrke hym woo."
(1976, p. 118)

Lucid as this might be, it is highly suppositious, and the two lines are still in the wrong order. In fact the two lines, if printed in their manuscript order, make good sense as the end of a six-line stanza, albeit one where the rhyme is weak (be, Mary, and too, though if the last were its variant form twey this would be a better, though still imperfect, rhyme). This sort of uneven stanza is by no means uncommon in this and other poems, and it seems better to leave the MS just as it is. The sense of the two lines is that John and the Monk will have a one-to-one encounter. See the similar usage in Robin Hood and the Potter, line 61: Togeder then went thes to yemen.

155 MS: my. Inserted above line by scribe.

165 This is a very short line: to fill it out Child adds callid Robin Hode. But the drama of the short line and the resultant multiple rhyme is rather effective and here has been retained; Hartshorne and Madden accepted it as such. Jamieson filled out with we wold feyn here.

171 MS: me. Inserted above line by scribe.

195 MS: so. Child emends to sore, but this is not needed: so can act as a general intensive in Middle as in Modern English.

197 MS: The. Child has This, perhaps an error rather than an unnecessary emendation.

198 can. Dobson and Taylor note that can has the force of gan, which they translate as began (1976, p. 118). But it is used here and elsewhere as a past auxiliary, parallel to did.

207 MS: hym. An error for the plural hem.

211 This line is missing in the text but is easily reconstructed as here, though Child leaves it blank; Hartshorne does not leave a gap, treating this as a three line stanza.

229 MS: theim. The i is very indistinct, but as it is a little clearer in the following line, it seems best to accept Child's reading of the MS here. Madden's collations correct Hartshorne to theim in line 229 but not in line 230.

245 Child inserts the before porter, but this is not necessary in the sometimes con-densed style of the ballads. Jamieson included the, so did Hartshorne, and Madden either accepted this as editing or did not notice it in his collation.

246 Prison conditions in the time of Edward II (1307-27) could be brutal. In an excerpt from the Life of Edward the Second, the Monk of Malmesbury describes the treatment meted out to one who would not plead: "The prisoner shall sit on the cold, bare floor, dressed only in the thinnest of shirts, and pressed with as great a weight of iron as his wretched body can bear. His food shall be a little rotten bread, and his drink cloudy and stinking water. The day on which he eats he shall not drink, and the day on which he has drunk he shall not taste bread. Only superhuman strength survives this punishment beyond the fifth or sixth day" (Harry Rothwell, ed.,English Historical Documents 1189-1327 [New York: Oxford University Press, 1975] III, 566-67).

249 MS: oure. Whereas Child prints the first possessive as oure and the second as our, it is clear that the second is also oure.

270 MS: the (first instance). It might seem more idiomatic if this were a plural possessive (took their way), but the way is a common idiom (see line 237 and, with slightly different reference, line 225). In any case the plural would be her, so this can hardly be a scribal shortening.

MS: gale. Child's jale may be an emendation, but he does not note the fact.

273 MS: the. This is the first of several readings taken here from the fragmentary b manuscript; Child merely reports them as variants to a, but in several cases they seem sharper and probably original and, unless apparently erroneous, will be preferred, as here.

278 MS b: throw to. A more dramatic reading from b; a just has to.

279 MS b: jayler. Where a repeats porter, b has a sharper variation.

280 MS b: toke. Fragment b has the past tense and narration, where a has the present tense take and, presumably, continues John's direct speech. There is little between them, and the repetition of toke in the next line might seem against b apart from its other qualities hereabouts, but there seems little reason to prefer a here.

284 MS b: ther with to kepe. The a reading with for to keepe seems clumsy against this b reading.

285 MS b: wallis were. The a reading walle was seems vaguer than b here.

300 MS: stye. This reading (only in a: b lacks these lines) makes a poor rhyme with lynde and to use the easily lost plural styne makes them closer.

305 MS b: ill. The b is metrically better than a's "evyll."

306 MS b: me. This is a better reading than a's Quyte the (though acquit yourself does make sense).

308 MS b: the. The a reading yow is less likely as the pronoun John would use at this point, both because they are friends and because they have been quarrelling; in the next line both texts use the.

309 MS b: the. This is metrically better than a's reading, which lacks the.

311 Here and in line 313 the b version has simply "Robyn," which seems better suited to this personal exchange, than the full name, as in a and printed by Child.

314 A word is crossed out before me; it appears to be and written again accidentally, but the d is not finished.

331 MS: oure cumly kyng. The phrase occurs six times in the Gest. See note to line 1412; he is identified there as Edward, but it is not clear which one of that name.

358 MS: alle. The manuscript appears to read this, not Child's all.

The scribe has written Amen at the end.









































































In somer, when the shawes be sheyne,
And leves be large and long,
Hit is full mery in feyre foreste
To here the foulys song,

To se the dere draw to the dale,
And leve the hilles hee,
And shadow hem in the leves grene,
Under the grene wode tre.

Hit befel on Whitson
Erly in a May mornyng,
The son up feyre can shyne,
And the briddis mery can syng.

"This is a mery mornyng," seid Litull John,
"Be Hym that dyed on tre;
A more mery man then I am one
Lyves not in Cristianté.

"Pluk up thi hert, my dere mayster,"
Litull John can sey,
"And thynk hit is a full fayre tyme
In a mornyng of May."

"Ye, on thyng greves me," seid Robyn,
"And does my hert mych woo:
That I may not no solem day
To mas nor matyns goo.

"Hit is a fourtnet and more," seid he,
"Syn I my Savyour see;
To day wil I to Notyngham," seid Robyn,
"With the myght of mylde Marye."

Than spake Moche, the mylner sun,
Ever more wel hym betyde!
"Take twelve of thi wyght yemen,
Well weppynd, be thi side.
Such on wolde thi selfe slon,
That twelve dar not abyde."

"Of all my mery men," seid Robyn,
"Be my feith I wil non have,
But Litull John shall beyre my bow,
Til that me list to drawe."

"Thou shall beyre thin own," seid Litull Jon,
"Maister, and I wyl beyre myne,
And we well shete a peny," seid Litull Jon,
Under the grene wode lyne."

"I wil not shete a peny," seyd Robyn Hode,
"In feith, Litull John, with the,
But ever for on as thou shetis," seide Robyn,
"In feith I holde the thre."

Thus shet thei forth, these yemen too,
Bothe at buske and brome,
Til Litull John wan of his maister
Five shillings to hose and shone.

A ferly strife fel them betwene,
As they went bi the wey;
Litull John seid he had won five shillings,
And Robyn Hode seid schortly nay.

With that Robyn Hode lyed Litul Jon,
And smote hym with his hande;
Litul Jon waxed wroth therwith,
And pulled out his bright bronde.

"Were thou not my maister," seid Litull John,
"Thou shuldis by hit ful sore;
Get the a man wher thou wille,
For thou getis me no more."

Then Robyn goes to Notyngham,
Hym selfe mornyng allone,
And Litull John to mery Scherwode,
The pathes he knew ilkone.

Whan Robyn came to Notyngham,
Sertenly withouten layn,
He prayed to God and myld Mary
To bryng hym out save agayn.

He gos in to Seynt Mary chirch,
And knelyd down before the rode;
Alle that ever were the church within
Beheld wel Robyn Hode.

Beside hym stod a gret-hedid munke,
I pray to God woo he be!
Ful sone he knew gode Robyn,
As sone as he hym se.

Out at the durre he ran,
Ful sone and anon;
Alle the gatis of Notyngham
He made to be sparred everychon.

"Rise up," he seid, "thou prowde schereff,
Buske the and make the bowne;
I have spyed the kynggis felon,
For sothe he is in this town.

"I have spyed the false felon,
As he stondis at his masse;
Hit is long of the," seide the munke,
"And ever he fro us passe.

"This traytur name is Robyn Hode,
Under the grene wode lynde;
He robbyt me onys of a hundred pound,
Hit shalle never out of my mynde."

Up then rose this prowde schereff,
And radly made hym yare;
Many was the moder son
To the kyrk with hym can fare.

In at the durres thei throly thrast,
With staves ful gode wone;
"Alas, alas!" seid Robyn Hode,
"Now mysse I Litull John."

But Robyn toke out a too-hond sworde,
That hangit down be his kne;
Ther as the schereff and his men stode thyckust
Thedurwarde wolde he.

Thryes thorow at them he ran then,
For sothe as I yow sey,
And woundyt mony a moder son,
And twelve he slew that day.

His sworde upon the schireff hed
Sertanly he brake in too;
"The smyth that the made," seid Robyn,
"I pray to God wyrke hym woo!

"For now am I weppynlesse," seid Robyn,
"Alasse! agayn my wyll;
But if I may fle these traytors fro,
I wot thei wil me kyll."

Robyn in to her churche ran,
Thro out hem everilkon,

Sum fel in swonyng as thei were dede,
And lay stil as any stone;
Non of theym were in her mynde
But only Litull Jon.

"Let be your rule," seid Litull Jon,
"For His luf that dyed on tre,
Ye that shulde be dughty men;
Het is gret shame to se.

"Oure maister has bene hard bystode
And yet scapyd away;
Pluk up your hertis, and leve this mone,
And harkyn what I shal say.

"He has servyd Oure Lady many a day,
And yet wil, securly;
Therfor I trust in hir specialy
No wyckud deth shal he dye.

"Therfor be glad," seid Litul John,
"And let this mournyng be;
And I shal be the munkis gyde,
With the myght of mylde Mary,
And I mete hym," seid Litul John
"We will go but we too.

"Loke that ye kepe wel owre tristil-tre,
Under the levys smale,
And spare non of this venyson,
That gose in thys vale."

Forthe then went these yemen too,
Litul John and Moche on fere,
And lokid on Moch emys hows;
The hye way lay full nere.

Litul John stode at a wyndow in the mornyng,
And lokid forth at a stage;
He was war wher the munke came ridyng,
And with hym a litul page.

"Be my feith," seid Litul John to Moch,
"I can the tel tithyngus gode;
I se wher the munke cumys rydyng,
I know hym be his wyde hode."

They went in to the way, these yemen bothe,
As curtes men and hende;
Thei spyrred tithyngus at the munke,
As they hade bene his frende.

"Fro whens come ye?" seid Litull Jon,
"Tel us tithyngus, I yow pray,
Of a false owtlay,
Was takyn yisterday.

"He robbyt me and my felowes bothe
Of twenti marke in serten;
If that false owtlay be takyn,
For sothe we wolde be fayn."

"So did he me," seid the munke,
Of a hundred pound and more;
I layde furst hande hym apon,
Ye may thonke me therfore."

"I pray God thanke you," seid Litull John,
"And we wil when we may;
We wil go with you, with your leve,
And bryng yow on your way.

"For Robyn Hode hase many a wilde felow,
I tell you in certen;
If thei wist ye rode this way,
In feith ye shulde be slayn."

As thei went talking be the way,
The munke and Litull John,
John toke the munkis horse be the hede,
Ful sone and anon.

Johne toke the munkis horse be the hed,
For sothe as I yow say;
So did Much the litull page,
For he shulde not scape away.

Be the golett of the hode
John pulled the munke down;
John was nothyng of hym agast,
He lete hym falle on his crown.

Litull John was so agrevyd,
And drew owt his swerde in hye;
The munke saw he shulde be ded,
Lowd mercy can he crye.

"He was my maister," seid Litull John,
"That thou hase browght in bale;
Shalle thou never cum at oure kyng,
For to telle hym tale."

John smote of the munkis hed,
No longer wolde he dwell;
So did Moch the litull page,
For ferd lest he wolde tell.

Ther thei beryed hem bothe,
In nouther mosse nor lyng,
And Litull John and Much in fere
Bare the letturs to oure kyng.

Litull John cam in unto the kyng
He knelid down upon his kne:
"God yow save, my lege lorde,
Jhesus yow save and se!

"God yow save, my lege kyng!"
To speke John was full bolde;
He gaf hym the letturs in his hand,
The kyng did hit unfold.

The kyng red the letturs anon,
And seid, "So mot I the,
Ther was never yoman in mery Inglond
I longut so sore to se.

"Wher is the munke that these shuld have brought?"
Oure kyng can say.
"Be my trouth," seid Litull John,
"He dyed after the way."

The kyng gaf Moch and Litul Jon
Twenti pound in sertan,
And made theim yemen of the crown,
And bade theim go agayn.

He gaf John the seel in hand,
The scheref for to bere,
To bryng Robyn hym to,
And no man do hym dere.

John toke his leve at oure kyng,
The sothe as I yow say;
The next way to Notyngham
To take he yede the way.

Whan John came to Notyngham
The gatis were sparred ychon;
John callid up the porter,
He answerid sone anon.

"What is the cause," seid Litul Jon,
"Thou sparris the gates so fast?"
"Because of Robyn Hode," seid porter,
"In depe prison is cast.

"John and Moch and Wyll Scathlok,
For sothe as I yow say,
Thei slew oure men upon oure wallis,
And sawten us every day."

Litull John spyrred after the schereff,
And sone he hym fonde;
He oppyned the kyngus privé seell,
And gaf hym in his honde.

Whan the scheref saw the kyngus seell,
He did of his hode anon:
"Wher is the munke that bare the letturs?"
He seid to Litull John.

"He is so fayn of hym," seid Litul John,
"For sothe as I yow say,
He has made hym abot of Westmynster,
A lorde of that abbay."

The scheref made John gode chere,
And gaf hym wyne of the best;
At nyght thei went to her bedde,
And every man to his rest.

When the scheref was on slepe,
Dronken of wyne and ale,
Litul John and Moch for sothe
Toke the way unto the gale.

Litul John callid up the jayler,
And bade hym rise anon;
He seyd Robyn Hode had brokyn the prison,
And out of hit was gon.

The porter rose anon sertan,
As sone as he herd John calle;
Litul John was redy with a swerd,
And bare hym throw to the walle.

"Now wil I be jayler," seid Litul John,
And toke the keyes in honde;
He toke the way to Robyn Hode,
And sone he hym unbonde.

He gaf hym a gode swerd in his hond,
His hed ther with to kepe,
And ther as the wallis were lowyst
Anon down can thei lepe.

Be that the cok began to crow,
The day began to spryng;
The scheref fond the jaylier ded,
The comyn bell made he ryng.

He made a crye thoroout al the town,
Wheder he be yoman or knave,
That cowthe bryng hym Robyn Hode,
His warison he shuld have.

"For I dar never," seid the scheref,
"Cum before oure kyng;
For if I do, I wot serten
For sothe he wil me heng."

The scheref made to seke Notyngham,
Bothe be strete and styne,
And Robyn was in mery Scherwode,
As light as lef on lynde.

Then bespake gode Litull John,
To Robyn Hode can he say,
"I have done the a gode turne for an ill,
Quit me whan thou may.

"I have done the a gode turne," seid Litull John,
"For sothe as I the say;
I have brought the under the grene-wode lyne;
Fare wel, and have gode day."

"Nay, be my trouth," seid Robyn,
"So shall hit never be;
I make the maister," seid Robyn,
"Of alle my men and me."

"Nay, be my trouth," seid Litull John,
"So shalle hit never be;
But lat me be a felow," seid Litull John,
"No noder kepe I be."

Thus John gate Robyn Hod out of prison,
Sertan withoutyn layn;
Whan his men saw hym hol and sounde,
For sothe they were full fayne.

They filled in wyne and made hem glad,
Under the levys smale,
And yete pastes of venyson,
That gode was with ale.

Than worde came to oure kyng
How Robyn Hode was gon,
And how the scheref of Notyngham
Durst never loke hym upon.

Then bespake oure cumly kyng,
In an angur hye:
"Litull John hase begyled the schereff,
In faith so hase he me.

"Litul John has begyled us bothe,
And that full wel I se;
Or ellis the schereff of Notyngham
Hye hongut shulde he be.

"I made hem yemen of the crowne,
And gaf hem fee with my hond;
I gaf hem grith," seid oure kyng,
"Thorowout all mery Inglond.

"I gaf theym grith," then seid oure kyng;
"I say, so mot I the,
For sothe soch a yeman as he is on
In all Inglond ar not thre.

"He is trew to his maister," seid oure kyng;
"I sey, be swete Seynt John,
He lovys better Robyn Hode
Then he dose us ychon.

"Robyn Hode is ever bond to hym,
Bothe in strete and stalle;
Speke no more of this mater," seid oure kyng,
"But John has begyled us alle."

Thus endys the talkyng of the munke
And Robyn Hode I wysse;
God, that is ever a crowned kyng,
Bryng us alle to His blisse!
woods are bright; (see note)

hear; birds'

shelter themselves

(see note)


(see note)
By Christ; cross; (see note)

one; (see note)

Mass nor Matins; (see note)

It's been a fortnight; (see note)
Since I've been to Mass

Virgin Mary

miller's son; (see note)
May good happen to him!; (see note)
strong yeomen
Well armed
He who would kill you
Would not dare face those twelve

Until I choose to shoot

shoot arrows for a penny wager
linden trees; (see note)

I bet you three pennies (for one)

bush and shrub

for socks and shoes

great argument; (see note)


called Little John a liar
grew angry

pay for it sorely
(see note)


every one

Certainly; lie


Cross; (see note)

large-headed; (see note)

At once

(see note)
Hurry yourself; yourself ready
(see note)

It's your fault
If; escapes

linden trees

(see note)
quickly made himself ready

church; did go

doors they strenuously pressed
with plenty of staves

two-handed sword; (see note)


Thrice through; (see note)
Truly; (see note)

sheriff's head
two; (see note)
thee (the sword)



their (see note)
each one; (see note)


kept their heads

Christ's love

hearts; lament
listen to


take care of the monk

If; (see note)

trysting or meeting tree

Much's uncle's house

from an upper room

(see note)
tell you good tidings

Like courteous and gracious men
asked news

(see note)


(see note)


At once




(see note)
in haste
(see note)
(see note)


struck off


buried; (see note)
neither bog nor heath

(see note)

watch over


So may I thrive



(see note)



all barred

at once

(see note)
(see note)

(see note)


king's privy seal

He took off his hood

[The king] is so pleased with him


jail; (see note)

(see note)

stabbed; (see note)

(see note)
(see note)

protect; (see note)
(see note)

town bell



I know for certain

alleys; (see note)

carefree; tree

(see note)
Repay; (see note)

(see note)
(see note)

(see note)

(see note)

Nothing else do I care to be



ate pasties

handsome; (see note)

High hanged


so may I prosper

Than; each of us


to be sure

(see note)


Go to Robin Hood and the Potter: Introduction