True Tale of Robin Hood, A [Child 154]
DESCRIPTION: The Earl of Huntington, incomparable archer, consumes his wealth and is outlawed due to indebtedness to an abbot. Renamed Robin Hood, he is cruel to clergy and kind to the poor. Several adventures and his death by bloodletting are recounted.
AUTHOR: Martin Parker
EARLIEST DATE: 1632 (Stationer's Register entry, which in this case we can be sure applies to this ballad)
KEYWORDS: Robinhood poverty outlaw clergy death
1198 - ninth year of Richard I, which the cover of the broadsheet reports as Robin's death date
REFERENCES (3 citations):
Child 154, "A True Tale of Robin Hood" (1 text)
ADDITIONAL: R. B. Dobson and J. Taylor, _Rymes of Robyn Hood: An Introduction to the English Outlaw_, University of Pittsburg Press, 1976, pp. 188-190, "A True Tale of Robin Hood" (1 excerpt, consisting of stanzas 1-5 and 104-120 plus postscript)
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. 602-625, "A True Tale of Robin Hood" (1 text, based primarily on the Bodleian broadside of c. 1632)
NOTES [316 words]: For background on the Robin Hood legend, see the notes on "A Gest of Robyn Hode" [Child 117].
Child would later write that made "The Tale of Robin Hood" (which is presumably this) "an appendix and not given it a number" (Brown, p. 125).
The Martin Parker who wrote this also, somewhat later, wrote "When the King Enjoys His Own Again" (1643). The latter was a better piece, but that's only because this is both banal in content and dreadful in form. Parker also wrote about King Arthur and Saint George, no doubt with equal (lack of) insight. It is ironic that his tale provides a great mass of circumstantial detail -- but circumstantial detail based on late sources or pure imagination.
The publisher's blurb on this promises "Truth purged from falsehood." I suppose that's true: Parker took every old, valuable, true element of the Robin Hood legend, and purged it, leaving all the falsehood to be read by gullible buyers. (Dobson/Taylor, p. 187, suggest that the "True Tale" contains allusions to lost Robin Hood tales. This is possible, but I see no reason to believe the material they are considering to be anything other than Parker's own creations. It seems nearly certain, e.g., that the anti-clericalism of the "True Tale" -- which is even more extreme than, say, that in the "Gest" -- reflects the Protestantism of Parker's time, not something he took from his sources. Note, for instance, that he is bled to death by a friar, not -- as in the "Gest" and "Robin Hood's Death" [Child 120] by the Prioress of Kirklees.)
Parker is thought to have been born around 1600 and died around 1656, with A History of that renowned Christian Worthy, King Arthur apparently being posthumous (NewCentury, p. 852).
Those interested in Parker should probably see the article "Martin Parker, Ballad-Monger," by H. E. Rollins, published in Modern Philology XVI, 1919 (citation from Dobson/Taylor). - RBW
Last updated in version 3.2
- Brown: Mary Ellen Brown, Child's Unfinished Masterpiece: The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, University of Illinois Press, 2011
- Dobson/Taylor: R. B. Dobson and J. Taylor, Rymes of Robyn Hood: An Introduction to the English Outlaw, University of Pittsburg Press, 1976
- NewCentury: Clarence L. Barnhart with William D. Haley, editors, The New Century Handbook of English Literature, revised edition, Meredith Publishing, 1967
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