1515 - Skelton, John - Magnificence

From International Robin Hood Bibliography
Date 1515–21
Author Skelton, John
Title Magnificence
Mentions Friar Tuck
John Skelton.

By Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2013-07-28. Revised by Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2021-01-07.


Fan. Ye, and there is suche a wache,
That no man can scape but they hym cache.
They bare me in hande that I was a spye;
And another bade put out myne eye;
Another wolde myne eye were blerde;
Another bade shave halfe my berde;
And boyes to the pylery gan me plucke,
And wolde have made me Freer Tucke,
To preche out of the pylery hole
Without an antetyme or a stole;
And some bade, 'Sere hym with a marke.'
To gete me fro them I had moche warke.
Magn. Mary, syr, ye were afrayde.
Fan. By my trouthe, had I not payde and prayde,
And made largesse, as I hyght
I had not been here with you this nyght.[1]

Source notes

Fan. is the character Fansy. Magn. is the character Magnificence. Scattergood notes that "Friar Tuck is mentioned in two early ballads of Robin Hood ([...] Child [...] Nos. 145, 147) and in two early fragmentary plays. But no incident such as that mentioned here when he preached 'out of the pylery hole' appears in them. He was, however, a character in May games [...] Perhaps such a pillory incident occurred in a May game."[2]

IRHB comments

Magnificence was probably written sometime in the period 1515-21. Paula Neuss in her excellently annotated edition compares Fancy's being hauled to the pillory to this passage from the play of Saint John the Evangelist:[3]

By our lady! I will no more go to Coventry,
For there knaves set me on the pillory.
And threw eggs at my head [p. 361:]
So sore that my nose did bleed
Of white wine gallons thirty.[4]

To the name 'Friar Tuck' she provides this very well-informed note:

The fat friar of the Robin Hood May games, with whom fools were traditionally associated [...] Fancy's loss of hair would suggest the Friar's tonsure, but the character may have occurred to Skelton because he had written of Robin Hood elsewhere. Barclay, scornfully comparing his skill to Skelton's lack of it, comments 'I wryte no Iest ne tale of Robyn hode [...] 'Skelton' himself plays the part of Friar Tuck in Munday's The Downfall and Death of Robert Earl of Huntingdon (1601).[5]




Also see