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Robyn Hod and the Shryff off Notyngham


I. Manuscript version

1 The final e in hode consists of a point.

2 MS: þ "thorn" with a superior letter u = thou.

3 ffayre. Orthographic double f = capital F.
lynde. The final e is a point.

6 grunte = graunte. As indicated by the horizontal line [not present in the hypertext edition], the medial a has been omitted.

14 MS: w with superior t = with.

17 MS: eld = Yeld.

18 Two vertical tears in the sheet disturb some of the letters in the last four lines.
The T of Tuck is missing, but easily reconstructed.

19 The m of come and the auxiliary verb be are missing. A later hand has added the missing letters.

20 The end of the word Now is missing, but it can be easily reconstructed from the same word in line 18. The second tear disturbs the initial letter of moste, and Greg's reconstruction is accepted (p. 121).

21 This line is damaged by two tears and a smudge. The last letter of the first word is easily determined by context. The fourth word is badly smudged, but the initial letters fa can just be discerned. The MED (vol. E-F, p. 413) lists faste anon as meaning "quickly, instantly, or immediately," so this is the likely reading. The second tear obscures the ending of one word and the beginning of another; we accept Greg's emendation: An[d la]te.

II. Reconstruction of the dramatic fragment

1 In line 15 Robin addresses the bounty-hunter as Syr Knyght. By contrast, in Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborne, the putative source, the antagonist is a wight yeoman (line 19).

3 golde and fee. In feudal law, a fee is "an estate in land, held on condition of homage and service to a superior lord" (OED). In Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborne (line 204), the sheriff offers Robin, disguised in Gisborne's horse-hides, a knights fee.

6 lynde. The linden tree (tilia europaea), but in ME poetry any kind of tree (OED). The presence of a tree indicates a forest setting.

5-10 The sequence of speakers and their actions in these lines is unclear. In lines 5-6 the knight challenges Robin to a shooting match, and in 7-8 Robin agrees to satisfy the knight's desire. If line 9 is assigned to the knight, then Robin would be the winner when he splits the bull's eye in line 10. However, if line 9 is a continuation of Robin's response, then line 10 should be assigned to the knight, who then would be the winner of the match. There is precedent for Robin losing a shooting match: in lines 47-50 of Robin Hood and the Monk, Robin loses the game of shete a peny to Little John. Robin also loses the shooting game of plucke buffet to King Richard in the Gest (lines 1609-12).

10 styke. A stick or wand stuck in the ground in front of the pryke or bull's-eye, see Adam Bell, lines 580-603.

13 exaltre = axle-tree. A beam of wood used as the axle of a cart (OED).

14 On wrestling, see note to line 548 of the Gest.

22 In Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborne (lines 167-70), Robin not only decapitates Guy but literally "defaces" him.

23 In Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborne, Guy is dressed in capull-hyde or horse hides, and Robin exchanges clothing with him after he kills him (lines 175-78).

24 in my hode his hede. This grotesque act may be related to the expression best ball in his hode in line 1454 of the Gest.

25 Based on parallels with Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborne, Little John and Will Scarlock are identified as the speakers.


I. Manuscript Version

Transcribed from Cambridge, Trinity College MS R.2.64 (fragment), c. 1475
Syr sheryffe for thy sake   Robyn hode wull y take.
I wyll the gyffe golde and fee   This be heste þu holde me.
Robyn hode ffayre and fre   vndre this lynde shote we.
with the shote y wyll   Alle thy lustes to full fyll.
Have at the pryke.   And y cleue the styke.
late vs caste the stone   I grunte well be seynt Iohn.
late vs caste the exaltre   have a foote be fore the.
syr knyght ye haue a falle.   And I the Robyn qwyte shall
Owte on the I blowe myn horne.   hit ware better be vn borne.
lat vs fyght at ottraunce   he that fleth god gyfe hym myschaunce.
Now I haue the maystry here   off I smyte this sory swyre
This knyghtys clothis wolle I were   And in my hode his hede woll bere.
welle mete felowe myn   What herst þu of gode Robyn
Robin hode and his menye   wt the sheryffe takyn be.
sette on foote wt gode wyll   And the sheryffe wull we kyll
Be holde wele ffrere tuke   howe he dothe his bowe pluke
3eld yow syrs to the sheryffe.   Or elles shall yor bowes clyffe.
Now we be bownden alle in same   ffrere [T]uke þis is no game.
Co[m]e þu forth þu fals outlawe .   Þu shall [be] hangyde and y drawe.
Now allas what shall we doo   we [m]oste to the prysone goo
Opy[n] the yatis [faste] anon   An[d la]te theis thevys ynne gon
(see note)
  (see note)
(see note)
(see note)
  (see note)
  (see note)
(see note)
  (see note)
(see note)
(see note)

II. Reconstruction of the dramatic fragment in two scenes with designated speakers.

Scene One
             [The scene is set in the forest.]








Robin Hood


Robin Hood

Robin Hood


Robin Hood


Robin Hood


Robin Hood


Robin Hood

Robin Hood

Robin Hood   

Syr Sheryffe, for thy sake
Robyn Hode wull Y take.

I wyll the gyffe golde and fee
This beheste thou holde me.

         [The Sheriff exits, and Robin Hood enters.]

Robyn Hode, ffayre and fre,
Undre this lynde shote we.

With the shote Y wyll
Alle thy lustes to full-fyll.

Have at the pryke.

And Y cleve the styke.

         [They shoot at the target, and Robin wins.]

Late us caste the stone.

I graunte well, be Seynt John.

         [They throw stones.]

Late us caste the exaltre.

         [They toss the wooden axle.]

Have a foote before the.

         [They wrestle, and Robin throws the knight.]

Syr Knyght, ye have a falle.

And I the, Robyn, qwyte shall.

         [They wrestle again, and the Knight throws Robin.]

Owte on the, I blowe myn horne.

         [Robin blows his horn to summon help.]

Hit ware better be un-borne.

Lat us fyght at ottraunce.
He that fleth, God gyfe hym myschaunce.

         [They sword fight, and Robin wins.]

Now I have the maystry here,
Off I smyte this sory swyre.

         [Robin decapitates the knight.]

This knyghtys clothis wolle I were
And in my hode his hede woll bere.
(see note)

give you; (see note)

tree; (see note)


target or bull's eye

stick; (see note)


axle-tree; cart axle; (note)

Half a foot; (see note)

pay back

A curse on thee

to the death

neck; (see note)

(see note)
(see note)

             [Robin dresses in the knight's clothing, and places his head in his hood.]
Scene Two
             [Robin Hood is in prison with several of his men.]


Outlaw #1

Outlaw #2

Outlaw #1

Outlaw #2

Welle mete, felowe myn.
What herest thou of gode Robyn?

Robyn Hode and his menye
With the Sheryffe takyn be.

Sette on foote with gode wyll,
And the Sheryffe wull we kyll.

Beholde wele Frere Tuke
Howe he dothe his bowe pluke.
(see note) 
draw back the string 
             [Friar Tuck is presumably attacking the Sheriff single-handedly.]


Yeld yow, syrs, to the Sheryffe,
Or elles shall your bowes clyffe.

             [The three outlaws are captured, and taken to the prison gates.]

Outlaw #1?
Now we be bownden alle in same.
Frere Tuke, this is no game.

             [The Sheriff opens the gates and orders Robin Hood to come out.]



Outlaw #1?   


Come thou forth, thou fals outlawe.
Thou shall be hangyde and y-drawe.

Nowe allas, what shall we doo?
We moste to the prysone goo.

Opyn the gatis faste anon,
And late theis thevys ynne gon.

             [As the gates are opened, Robin and the other outlaws presumably attack the Sheriff and escape.]
Go to Robin Hood and the Friar and Robin Hood and the Potter: Introduction