This article examines the teaching and reception of British medieval history in Guyana. It takes an interdisciplinary approach by conducting textual analysis of Guyanese school textbooks to determine precisely what aspects of British medieval history were taught, which included events such as the Norman Conquest (1066), King Stephen’s reign, as well as medieval folk talks such as Dick Whittington, Robin Hood, and Old King Cole.
All of the newspapers which covered the event paid significant attention to the panel on Robin Hood, which, if it happened to a Robin Hood conference today, would be a significant publicity coup.
“He unites the exactness of the [medieval] chronicles, the majestic grandeur of history, and the all-compelling interest of romance.”
The following poem, written by “J.A.” and titled “Robin Hood’s Grave” appeared in the Newcastle Magazine in November 1827. It has been transcribed by Stephen Basdeo.
What have historians said about Robin Hood, who he was, and the social and political context in which the early tales emerged?
The following poem was written by George W.M. Reynolds and originally appeared in his novel Alfred: The Adventures of a French Gentleman (1838), which was originally serialised in the Monthly Magazine. The poem is about the deeds of a knight errant in medieval Palestine during the crusades.
Selfish, haughty and arrogant…and can merit nothing but the severest censure. All his actions, when closely scrutinized, fill us with the most unequivocal contempt.
His memory, unrelieved by one noble trait, one magnanimous action, or one pure sentiment, comes down to us in chronicles, lay and secular, as one violent and tyrannical. A perfidious friend, an encroaching neighbour, a heartless and ungenerous relation.
Legend has it that Ragnar composed his “Death Song” as he lay in the pit of snakes waiting to die, the sentence upon him having been passed by the Anglo-Saxon Northumbrian King Aelle. Stephen Basdeo examines the publication of this ancient song.
Humans have always expressed a ‘fear of the end’ in literary and artistic terms. The first apocalypse stories in Western culture came to us from the Bible, with Noah’s Flood giving us the archetypal ‘last man’ or ‘small group of survivors’ motif that has persisted in many retellings of the end times.
Bad Will Scarlet and the Good Sheriff: “Robin Hood: A Tale of the Olden Time” (1819) | Stephen Basdeo
Few Romanticists are aware of the two-volume historical romance Robin Hood: A Tale of the Olden Time, published in Edinburgh in July 1819. A cynic might say that our anonymous author had initially written a generic inheritance drama but decided late in the game, for marketing purposes, to change it into a Robin Hood novel.
“Ah!” said the bookseller, after a pause; “nothing now succeeds unless it’s in the comic line. We have comic Latin grammars, and comic Greek grammars; indeed, I don’t know but what English grammar, too, is a comedy altogether. All our tragedies are made into comedies by the way they are performed; and no work sells without comic illustrations to it. I have brought out several new comic works, which have been very successful. For instance, The Comic Wealth of Nations; The Comic Parliamentary Speeches; The Comic Report of the Poor-Law Commissioners, with an Appendix containing the Comic Dietary Scale; and the Comic Distresses of the Industrious Population. I even propose to bring out a Comic Whole Duty of Man. All these books sell well: they do admirably for the nurseries of the children of the aristocracy. In fact they are as good as manuals and text-books.”
The “Glorious Trio” first appeared in Leno’s collection titled Drury Lane Lyrics and Other Poems (1867). It celebrates three of England’s greatest medieval heroes: Robin Hood, Wat Tyler, Hereward the Wake.
Almost all western societies hold in reverence two “anonymous” figures: the worker and “the unknown soldier.” Ernst Jünger would have us venerate a third figure: The Forest Rebel. The Forest Rebel has been present in nearly every society and is a symbol of resistance to tyranny.
In 1817 the press, politicians, and the public had Robert Southey in their sights; a play, written nearly 2 decades previously and containing “problematic” ideas, was unearthed. A media storm ensued. But instead of pandering to the media mob Southey refused to apologise and, what is more, called out his critics’ hypocrisy.
It would have fallen to the lot of a poorly paid Victorian governess to practice playing Robin Hood with children in the nursery.
Although Wat Tyler’s rebellion failed, the story was retold in plays, poetry, novels, and the rebels’ names were used as aliases in protests through the ages—this post looks at the first every play written about the events of the Peasants’ Revolt.
Adam Bell, Clim of the Clough, and William of Cloudesley were outlaws who were as famous as Robin Hood. Now they’re entirely forgotten!
“The story had been amended [by the tramps] … just as children amend the stories of Samson and Robin Hood … It was oral tradition lingering on, like a faint echo from the Middle Ages.”
Historians and literary critics previously assumed that Joseph Ritson (1752-1803) had no knowledge of a 15th-century poem of “Robin Hood and the Monk”. They are quite wrong.
In 1832, the publisher Charles Knight had a bright idea: every Saturday he would publish a new magazine which whose aim was to educate working-class readers about their world. It would not contain news, and would therefore be exempt from the Stamp Tax (the much-hated “tax on knowledge”), meaning that its retail price would be very low at only 1d.
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.
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
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).