Robin Hood and the Ranger [Child 131]
DESCRIPTION: Robin is stopped from killing a deer by a forester. They fight. Robin is bested and offers the other a place in his band. He blows his horn to summon his men, the forester joins them, and all celebrate.
EARLIEST DATE: 1777
KEYWORDS: Robinhood fight
FOUND IN: Britain(England(North))
REFERENCES (2 citations):
Child 131, "Robin Hood and the Ranger" (1 text)
Bronson 131, "Robin Hood and the Ranger" (2 versions)
NOTES: For background on the Robin Hood legend, see the notes on "A Gest of Robyn Hode" [Child 117].
There is a curiosity about this piece, since the title in the garlands is "Robin Hood and the Ranger," yet the song consistently calls Robin's opponent a "forester." The latter is much the older title; Charles R. Young, The Royal Forests of Medieval England, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1979, p. 163, notes that the office of ranger seems to have been instituted in the early fourteenth century, with the first clear and dated reference being from 1341. Thus if Robin meets a ranger, he cannot have been from the time of Richard I; he would have to be from the reign of Edward II or later, with Edward III the most likely king. But since the reference to a ranger is only in the title, which presumably was applied to the piece long after the history of rangers had been forgotten, it tells us nothing.
We do note that the office of ranger seems, from an early date, to have paid better than the office of forester (Young, p. 164). Thus a ranger would presumably be much less willing to join Robin's band than a forester.
Fully half the Robin Hood ballads in the Child collection (numbers (121 -- the earliest and most basic example of the type), 123, 124, 125, 126, 127, 128, 130, 131, 132, (133), (134), (135), (136), (137), (150)) share all or part of the theme of a stranger meeting and defeating Robin, and being invited to join his band. Most of these are late, but it makes one wonder if Robin ever won a battle. - RBW
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