King Estmere [Child 60]
DESCRIPTION: King Estmere, aided by his brother Adler Younge, seeks to wed the daughter of King Adland. He wins her troth; at threat of losing her to rival (heathen) king of Spain, he attends the wedding in guise of a harper, kills his rival, and wins the bride.
EARLIEST DATE: 1765 (Percy)
KEYWORDS: courting marriage disguise trick royalty
REFERENCES (5 citations):
Child 60, "King Estmere" (1 text)
Percy/Wheatley I, pp. 85-98, "King Estmere" (1 text)
OBB 41, "King Estmere" (1 text)
Gummere, pp. 270-279+358-359, "King Estmere" (1 text)
ADDITIONAL: Iona & Peter Opie, The Oxford Book of Narrative Verse, pp. 100-108, "King Estmere" (1 text)
NOTES [280 words]: This ballad does not exist in any proper copy. It was found in the Percy manuscript, but Percy himself tore it out (apparently to give to the printer or someone, but not until he had rewritten it in his pompous style; Nick Groom, The Making of Percy's Reliques, Oxford English Monographs, 1999, pp. 231, 46), and the pages have been lost. Thus the only reference is the text printed in the Reliques -- and, from Percy's comments and his patently false claim to have another copy, it seems clear that he touched that up somewhere. Nor do Percy's two editions agree entirely.
The Opies, R. M. Wilson: The Lost Literature of Medieval England, Philosophical Library, 1952, p. 131, and E. K. Chambers, English Literature at the Close of the Middle Ages, Oxford, 1945, 1947, p. 181, all note an item mentioned in The Complaint of Scotland (1549), "quhou the king of est mure land mareit the kyngis docher of vest mure land." Possibly the same story -- but who knows? It does seem to imply that "Estmere" is the "East Moor" -- i.e. the lands east of the West Moor, or Westmoreland. Which would be Northumberland or maybe Durham. Of course, neither Northumberland nor Durham had a King -- Northumbria had an Earl, until the county was upgraded to a Dukedom, and Durham was governed primarily by its bishop.
Unless one is prepared to go back to Anglo-Saxon times, anyway, and assume that King Estmere is the king of the nation of Northumbria (effectively destroyed around 850 C.E. by the Vikings). In which case Adland/Westmoor is the Kingdom of Strathclyde. But, of course, there was no nation of Spain back then; indeed, the Iberian Peninsula was still under Islamic rule.... - RBW
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