Robin Hood and Queen Katherine [Child 145]
DESCRIPTION: The king proposes a wager with Queen Katherine, his archers against any she may choose. She sends for Robin and his men, giving them false names. They win and are revealed but the king has promised not to be angry with any in the queen's party.
EARLIEST DATE: 1663 (garland); a song that was likely this one was entered into the Stationer's Register in 1656, and a broadside probably printed by 1655
KEYWORDS: Robinhood contest trick royalty
REFERENCES (6 citations):
Child 145, "Robin Hood and Queen Katherine" (3 texts)
Bronson 145, (extensive) comments only
Leach, pp. 413-417, "Robin Hood and Queen Katherine" (1 text)
BBI, RZN10, "Gold tane from the Kings harbengers"
ADDITIONAL: Stephen Knight, editor (with a manuscript description by Hilton Kelliher), _Robin Hood: The Forresters Manuscript_ (British Library Additional MS 71158), D. S. Brewer, 1998, pp. 53-61, "Robin Hood and Queen Catherin" (1 text, much longer than the printed versions known to Child)
Stephen Knight and Thomas Ohlgren, editors, _Robin Hood and Other Oudlaw Tales_, TEAMS (Consortium for the Teaching of the Middle Ages), Medieval Institute Publications, Western Michigan University, 2000, pp. 563-580, "Robin Hood and Queen Catherin" (1 text, based primarily on the Forresters manuscript)
cf. "Robin Hood's Chase [Child 146]"
NOTES: According to Knight/Ohlgren, this must have been in existence by 1655, because one of the Wood broadsides (Child's B.a) was printed by Grove, who ceased operations in that year. Given the uncertainty about most such dates, I decided to leave the other possible dates in the "Earliest Date" field.
There is no historical "Queen Katherine"; the wife of King Stephen (reigned 1135-1154) was Matilda; the wife of Henry II (1154-1189, the first king usually associated with Robin Hood) was Eleanor of Aquitaine; Richard I (1189-1199) married Berengeria of Navarre; John (1199-1216) has as his primary wife Isabella of Angouleme; Henry III (1216-1272) married Eleanor of Provence; Edward I (1272-1307) married first Eleanor of Castile and then Margaret. Edward II married Isabella of France. Edward III married Philippa of Hainault. The first English Queen Catherine/Katherine was Catherine of Valois, daughter of Charles VI of France, who married Henry V of England in 1420 -- impossibly late for a historical Robin Hood, although she does precede the earliest known copies of the Robin Hood ballads. Nor was there a Scottish Queen Katherine
Leach speculates that one of Henry VIII's wives (either Catherine of Aragon or Katherine Howard) is meant! This involves a major difficulty, pointed out in Nigel Cawthorne, A Brief History of Robin Hood: The True History Behind the Legend, Running Press, 2010, p. 187: This ballad involves Friar Tuck, and while both Catherines were Catholic, friars would not have been popular in the reign of Henry VIII (especially in the time of Katherine Howard, after the dissolution of the monasteries. In any case, how can we possibly have a Robin Hood alive after the reformation?) Nonetheless, Knight/Ohlgren, p. 563, also think Catherine of Aragon is meant, because she was the one Queen Catherine who played an active role in English government -- and there are records of Henry VIII playing at Robin Hood.
I would have to say that Henry V seems genuinely more likely -- he of course was deeply involved in recruiting archers, and because his wife was not only foreign but a daughter of Henry's long-time enemy, she might well have been willing to show him up.
The sequel to this story is told in Child 146, "Robin Hood's Chase."
Most versions of the ballad are rather incoherent; it is possible that the broadside prints have been shortened. Stephen Knight, editor (with a manuscript description by Hilton Kelliher), Robin Hood: The Forresters Manuscript (British Library Additional MS 71158), D. S. Brewer, 1998, pp. 52-53, observes that the version in the Forresters Manuscript is about a dozen stanzas longer than most of the others (about a 20% increase in length), and that it resolves many of the inconsistencies.
For background on the Robin Hood legend, including a possible connection between this song and the story of Queen Isabella, the wife of Edward II, see the notes on "A Gest of Robyn Hode" [Child 117]. - RBW
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