The legend of Robin Hood has its origins in the murky history of England after the Norman Conquest, but the first written examples of Robin Hood ballads don’t appear until the mid-1400s. In this episode, we examine the earliest references to the legend, and we explore the oldest surviving ballads that tell the story of the legendary outlaw. We also look at evidence of the Great Vowel Shift in these early ballads.
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Hi. Another cracking episode. Like most Brits of my generation I was brought up with the TV series “The Adventures of Robin Hood” in the late fifties which was written incidentally by exiled Hollywood scriptwriters who’d fallen foul of the McCarthy trials.
As you may guess the city of Nottingham and Sherwood Forest make great tourist play of the legends. An interesting twist is that the Under Sheriff of Yorkshire, where the northern Barnsdale Forest lies, who prosecuted an outlaw named Robert Hode was later promoted to Sheriff of Nottingham.
As a long-time “folkie” I’ve been very aware of the ballads of Robin Hood and have read them both in modern and late medieval English but it was very interesting to read your observations about them being some of the earliest examples of the Great Vowel Shift.
I was also very interested in your comments about the links between the Robin Hood and Hereward the Wake legends. Both had the Anglo-Saxons as the “goodies” and the Normans as the “baddies”. Also the other Barnsdale Forest is in Rutland which is not far from the Isle of Ely which is where the Hereward legends are largely set.
Keep safe and keep sane.
Just wondering if you think that the comely king Edward could be one of edwards pre-conquest? Another excellent episode, Kevin. Thanks
None of my research suggested a connection to the Anglo-Saxon kings. I guess there are too many Norman and post-Conquest features in the stories to link back to the Anglo-Saxons.
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Hobby horse – how interesting. In Czech, we dropped the ‘hobby’ part and call a pastime ‘a little horse’ – (koníček in Czech)
How is this related to the term hobby hawk. Is it a small hawk or one used in a pastime?
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