Category: medieval studies

Review: Alexander Kaufman’s “Jack Cade Rebellion of 1450: A Sourcebook” (2019)

What emerges from Alexander Kaufman’s collection is the image of a socially diverse rebellion which included yeomen, esquires, gentlemen, land labourers, and even constables. For the first time, all the major historiographical, legal, and literary sources relating to Jack Cade’s Rebellion can be found in one easily accessible, extremely well-researched volume. This book, compiled by Kaufman—who is already a well-established expert on the topic—is likely to become and remain the standard work on the events of 1450 in the years to come. It will be indispensable for scholars, students, and even general readers wishing to learn more about that turbulent year in English history.

Stephen Basdeo’s “Robin Hood” Radio Segment

Most authors promise themselves they’ll never look at reviews of their book, but we can never help maybe sneakily wondering if our ‘average star’ count on Amazon has gone up or whether a feature has been done on your book on the local radio (and let me tell you, Goodreads reviewers are the harshest taskmasters). But I was lucky enough to have my Robin Hood book featured on an Australian radio station

A Never-Before-Seen Poem by Robert Southey, written in 1791 | Stephen Basdeo and Mark Truesdale

The summer of 1791 was an unusually wet one. The young schoolboy, and future Poet Laureate, Robert Southey, therefore had a lot of time on his hands. It was probably the weather that induced him to stay inside longer than usual and write a romance entitled “Harold; or, The Castle of Morford” (Bodleian MS Misc. Eng. e.21. Summary Catalogue 31777).

Revolting Women

It wasn’t only men who had all the fun during the Peasants’ Revolt: Joan Smith was ‘the leader of a great band of rebellious evil-doers from Kent’. Who were these rebellious women in the Peasants’ Revolt?

The Last Dying Speech and Confession of Jack Straw

“We would have killed the king and driven out of the land all possessioners, bishops, monks, canons, and rectors of churches. We would have created kings, Walter Tyler in Kent and one each in other counties, and appointed them and we would have set fire to four parts of the city and burnt it down and divided all the precious goods found there amongst ourselves.”

The Critical Reception of Mrs. Brown of Falkland’s Robin Hood Ballads

Paper Presented to the Women’s History Network Conference, Leeds Trinity University, 16-17 September 2016.

Abstract: The earliest ballads of Robin Hood such as A Gest of Robyn Hode (c.1450) and Robin Hood and the Potter (c.1450) give no clue as to the manner of Robin Hood’s birth. This was still the case when Joseph Ritson published his influential ballad anthology entitled Robin Hood: A Collection of All the Ancient Poems, Songs, and Ballads (1795). Five years after Ritson, however, Robert Jamieson published Popular Ballads and Songs, from Tradition, Manuscripts, and Scarce Editions (1806). In that collection two new never-before-seen Robin Hood ballads appeared entitled The Birth of Robin Hood and The Wedding of Robin Hood and Little John. Jamieson had transcribed the ballads from Anna Gordon Brown of Falkland, Scotland. Although twentieth-century Robin Hood critics have derided Mrs. Brown’s ballads as being of little merit compared to earlier material, Mrs. Brown enjoyed a ‘literary afterlife’ in the tradition as Goody – the old woman who recites Robin Hood stories to dinner guests – in the first ever Robin Hood novel entitled Robin Hood: A Tale of the Olden Time (1819). The proposed paper, therefore, is intended to fit into the panel ‘Women Collectors and Collected Women’.

Curteous Outlaws and Elizabethan Rogues: The 16th-Century Context of “A Gest of Robyn Hode”

Crime historians often pay little regard to medieval outlaw literature, but my paper aims to use the history of crime in the early modern period to add a new context to their study. The ballad A Lytell Geste of Robyn Hode was first printed in the early sixteenth century. Around the same time also we see other outlaw ballads printed such as Adam Bell, Clim of the Clough, and William of Cloudesly (c.1530). My paper explores one reason why the figure of the outlaw hero became popular in print during the sixteenth century. Could it be that the idealisation of the outlaw occurred during the sixteenth century because another, more sinister criminal figure was also emerging in print: the ‘rogue’? Whilst outlaws such as Robin Hood were ‘curteyse’ and ‘dyde pore men moch god’, the figure of the rogue was more menacing. The word ‘rogue’ was first coined in 1561. Unlike the relatively good greenwood outlaw who lived apart from mainstream society, however, rogues were part of it, describing somebody who would rob, cheat, and swindle people indiscriminately, all the while effecting the disguise of a law-abiding citizen. Thus there was a need for people to believe in a good outlaw, because real-life offenders were ultimately more menacing. Hence the proposed paper explores the dichotomy between outlaws and rogues in print, in the process highlighting how changes in the nature of crime in the early modern period might have affected medieval outlaw myths.