What have historians said about Robin Hood, who he was, and the social and political context in which the early tales emerged?
When Ritson first started his job as High Bailiff of the Liberty of the Savoy, no one really knew what the job entailed. So Ritson decided to research the subject.
The following lines were written by the antiquary Joseph Ritson (1752–1803) and were first printed in the Newcastle Miscellany in 1772, then later as a standalone tract.
‘The truth and nothing but the truth’—it’s a well-known phrase used in courts of law and most of us have heard it on TV dramas. But where did the phrase first come from?
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 the 18th century, a man could vote twice. He also expected to be paid expenses if he had to travel to vote. He also expected to be wined and dined by the
Joseph Ritson was a man of humble beginnings, a great scholar, a friend to the poor, and a radical, and his work had a profound influence on 19th- and 20th-century Robin Hood novels and films.
“A general spirit of discontent has long been increasing among the people: it has at last broken out among the lower class in London.”
Joseph Ritson stated that the poem was “a dull performance and scarcely merits the care of a modern impression.”
During the late-Victorian and Edwardian period many children’s books telling the story of Robin Hood were published, such as John B. Marsh’s Robin Hood (1865), Howard Pyle’s The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood (1883), Henry Gilbert’s Robin Hood and the Men of the Greenwood (1912), and Paul Creswick’s Robin Hood and his Adventures (1917). Stephanie Barczewski argues that Robin Hood in late Victorian children’s books is an anti-imperialist figure, and she bases this assertion largely upon the fact that Robin Hood children’s books are critical of Richard I’s foreign adventures. Yet the situation was more nuanced than that: many of the late Victorian Robin Hood children’s works that were published in the period projected Robin Hood and his fellow outlaws as men who lived up to the Public School Ethos, cultivating the virtues of athleticism, fair play, chivalry, and devotion to duty. Indeed, Edward Gilliatt’s novel In Lincoln Green (1898) is even set in a very ‘Victorianised’ medieval public school. Thus these works represented the ideal qualities that young men would need if they were to serve the country, and thus, as the proposed paper argues, were subtly imperialist.
An atheist, monarchy-hating, Robin Hood scholar.
In the 16th century there was an understanding among some thinkers that Christ may have died on a simple wooden stake or tree, rather than a two beam cross, and similarly the Geste of Robyn Hode makes reference to “Cryst that dyed on a tree”.
This is a copy of the paper I gave at the British Association for Romantic Studies International Conference, 19 – 19 July 2015.
“A Lytell Geste of Robyn Hode” (c.1450) is one of the earliest Robin Hood texts, and one of the most interesting.
Prince John is now one of the stock villains of movie and television adaptations of the Robin Hood legend, but this wasn’t always the case…
Medieval outlaws are arguably one of the first examples of organised crime in England. All organised crime gangs have certain codes of conduct which, to be counted as part of their respective gangs, they must adhere to. In this post I discuss the Outlaws Code laid down by Robin Hood in the Medieval ballads, and how and why such gangs of criminals enjoy the support of the people.
When you begin researching the original Robin Hood ballads, the names of a few late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century antiquarians become familiar to you. The likes of Thomas Percy, an Irish Bishop […]