Robin Hood and the Prince of Aragon [Child 129]

DESCRIPTION: Aragon has encircled London, demanding its princess, unless three champions defeat him and his two giants. Robin Hood, Little John, and Robin's nephew Will Scadlock do so, gaining pardon. Will gains the princess and is reunited with his father.
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1749
KEYWORDS: Robinhood fight royalty pardon
FOUND IN: Canada(Mar)
REFERENCES (4 citations):
Child 129, "Robin Hood and the Prince of Aragon" (1 text)
Bronson 129, "Robin Hood and the Prince of Aragon" (1 version)
BarryEckstormSmyth pp. 233-240, "Robin Hood and the Prince of Aragon" (1 text, 1 tune, which even the editors admit is full of absurdities and whose verses Bronson calls "rather deplorable") {Bronson's [#1]}
BBI, RZN18, "Now Robin Hood, Will Scadlock, and little John"

Roud #3983
NOTES: For background on the Robin Hood legend, see the notes on "A Gest of Robyn Hode" [Child 117].
This is an instance where oral tradition didn't do anything for a ballad; Child calls his text vapid, and the New Brunswick version from J. P. A. Nesbitt (found in Barry/Eckstorm/Smyth) could almost be held up as an example of "when ballads go bad."
It is probably obvious that there isn't a hint of history in this ballad; the attacker in the ballad is a Turk, but Aragon was a Christian state, centered around Barcelona. The Aragonese could not have have hoped to attack England until after the union with Spain.
The whole business might have been suggested by the bad blood between Spain and England over the marriage of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon -- but that of course didn't end in invasion.
Oh, plus there was no earldom of "Maxfield" in the Robin Hood era.
There are any number of other anachronisms and absurdities in the ballad, but it's really not worth the effort to document them.
Personally, I suspect that name "Aragon" is an error of hearing for "Ottoman." This would explain how the prince can be an infidel. (True, Spain had been for a time held by Moslems, but it wasn't called Aragon then!). But what can we have but scorn for a balladeer who heard the name "Ottoman" and confused it with "Aragon"? Obviously there is no truth in the thing. Especially since the Ottoman Empire did not conquer Constantinople until 1453, well after Robin Hood's latest possible date, and although the Ottomans eventually threatened Christian Western Europe, they were no threat to the west until after Byzantium fell. - RBW
Last updated in version 2.5
File: C129

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