King and subject tales
By Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2014-07-22. Revised by Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2018-11-25.
A Gest of Robyn Hode, fytte seven and part of fytte eight (sts. 354-432), details the meeting Robin Hood and "Edwarde, our comly kynge". The latter digsuises himself as an abbot and goes to the greenwood in order to meet with the outlaw. Reverberations of this scene can be found in many later accounts, including Walter Scott's Ivanhoe and many films. The author of the Gest – dare we suggest the poet John Skelton? – followed an old and tried recipe when he let the king don disguise for the occasion, for there are many earlier tales, from Britain and elsewhere, about the meeting of a incognito king and one of his subjects. Sometimes the king is in disguise, sometimes he is not, but the subject (initially) fails to recognize him.
Studies and criticism
- Clawson, W.H. The Gest of Robin Hood (University of Toronto Studies, Philological [& Literature] Series [Extra Volume, No. 2]). ([Toronto], 1909), pp. 102-120.
- Quarmby, Kevin A. The Disguised Ruler in Shakespeare and His Contemporaries (Farnham, Surrey, UK; Burlington, VA, 2012).
- Walsh, Elizabeth. 'The King in Disguise'. Folklore, vol. 86 (1975), pp. 3-24.
- Wright, Glenn. 'Churl's Courtesy: Rauf Coilyear and Its English Analogues', Neophilologus, vol. 85 (2001), pp. 647-662.
- Gest, st. 353:4.
- This is suggested by, inter alia, a satirical allusion to John Skelton and jests of Robin Hood in Alexander Barclay's English rendering of the Ship of Fools.