Shooter's Hill festivals
|Vicinity||Now Royal Borough of Greenwich, Southeast London; formerly Greenwich, Kent|
|Began||1 May 1515|
|Ended||1 May 1515|
|Events||Henry VIII and the queen, with many lords and ladies, ride to Shooter's Hill, meet with Robin Hood, Little John, Friar Tuck, Maid Marian, and 200 members of royal guard dressed as outlaws, who give archery exhibition, shooting arrows with whistle heads. 'Robin Hood' invites royals into an arbour, feasting them on venison and wine; visitors escorted back by Robin Hood and company, meeting en route Ladies May and Flora in chariot drawn by five horses, ridden by Lady Humidity, Lady Ver. Lady Vegetive, Lady Pleasant, and Sweet Odour, who salute king with songs. Maying witnessed by large crowd. In afternoon a horse race with royal and noble riders in green velvet and cloth of gold|
By Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2013-08-11. Revised by Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2017-12-18.
Henry VIII and his queen, Catherine of Aragon, accompanied by many lords and ladies, rode to Shooter's Hill, where they met with Robin Hood, Little John, Friar Tuck, and Maid Marian – impersonated respectively by Yay or Ghay, Thomas Wawen, Wynsberry, and Thomas Villiers – as well as two hundred members of the royal guard dressed as outlaws. The royal guards gave an archery exhibition, all 200 men shooting on cue, with arrows with whistle heads that produced a loud and impressive noise. 'Robin Hood' invited the royal couple into his arbour, feasting them on venison and wine. The royal and noble visitors were subsequently escorted back by Robin Hood and his company, being met en route by Ladies May and Flora in a rich chariot drawn by five horses, ridden by the ladies Humidite, Ver, Vegetive, Pleasant, and Sweet Odour – perhaps impersonated by the children of the chapel – who saluted the king with songs. Pasteboard giants were carried in procession on cars. This maying was witnessed by a large number of spectators. In the afternoon there was a horse race with the royal and noble riders dressed in cloth of gold and – appropriately on May Day – green velvet.
¶The court lieng at Gréenewich, the king and the quéene, accompanied with manie lords and ladies, road to the high ground of shooters hill to take the open aire; and as they passed by the waie, they espied a companieof [sic] tall yeomen, clothed all in gréene with gréene hoods, and bowes and arrowes, to the number of two hundred. Then one of them, which called himselfe Robin hood, came to the king, desiring him to sée his men shoot; and the king was content. Then he whisteled, and all the two hundred archers shot and losed at once; and then he whisteled againe, and they likewise shot againe; their arrowes whisteled by craft of the head, so that the noise was strange and great, and much pleased the king, the quéene, and all the companie. All these archers were of the kings gard, and had thus apparelled themselues to make solace to the king.
Then Robin hood desired the king and quéene to come into the greene wood, and to sée how the outlawes liued. The king demanded of the queene & hir ladies, if they durst aduenture to go into the wood with so manie outlawes. Then the quéene said, that if it pleased him she was content. Then the hornes blew, till they came to the wood vnder shooters hill, & there was an arbor made of boughes with a hall, and a great chamber; and an inner chamber verie well made and couered with floures & swéet hearbs, which the king much praised. Then said Robin hood; Sir, outlawes breakefasts is venison, and therefore you must be content with such fare as we vse. Then the king and quéene sat downe, and were serued with venison and wine by Robin hood and his men, to their great contentation.
Then the king departed and his companie, and Robin hood and his men them conducted; and as they [p. 837:] were returning, there met with them two ladies in a rich chariot drawen with fiue horsses, and euery horsse had his name on his head, and on euerie horsse sat a ladie with hir name written. On the first courser called Caude, sat Humidite, or Humide. On the second courser called Memcon road ladie Uer. On the third called Pheton sat ladie Uegetiue. On the fourth called Rimphon sat ladie Pleasant. On the fift called Lampace sat sweet Odour. And in the chaire sat ladie Maie, accompanied with ladie Flora, richlie apparelled, and they saluted the king with diuerse goodlie songs, and so brought him to Gréenewich. At this maieng was a great number of people to behold it to their great solace and comfort.
The same after noone, the king, the duke of Suffolke, the marquesse Dorset, and the earle of Essex, their bardes and bases of gréene veluet and cloth of gold, came into the field on great coursers, on whome waited diuerse gentlemen in silke of the same colour. On the other side entered sixtéene lords and gentlemen, all apparelled richlie after their deuises, and so valiantlie they ran their courses appointed: & after that, they ran volant one as fast as he might ouertake another, which was a goodlie sight to sée: and when all was doone they departed, and went to a goodlie banket. [...]
Lists and gazetteers
- Dobson, R.B., ed.; Taylor, J., ed. Rymes of Robyn Hood: an Introduction to the English Outlaw (London, 1976), p. 315.
- Lancashire, Ian, compil. Dramatic Texts and Records of Britain: a Chronological Topography to 1558 (Cambridge, 1984), No. 1385.
- Sussex, Lucy, compil. 'References to Robin Hood up to 1600', in: Knight, Stephen. Robin Hood: A Complete Study of the English Outlaw (Oxford, UK; Cambridge, Massachusetts: Blackwell, 1994), pp. 262-88,. p. 270.
- Wiles, David. The Early Plays of Robin Hood (Cambridge, 1981), Appendix I, p. 65.
- Stubbs, William, ed. Chronicles of the Reigns of Edward I. and Edward II. (Rolls Series, vol. 76, pts. 1 & 2) (London, 1882-83), pt. 1, pp. 157, 267.
Studies and criticism
- Nielsen, Henrik Thiil. The Literary Evidence of the Gest of Robin Hood and the Origins of the Outlaw Tradition (M.A. thesis, University of Copenhagen, 1990), pp. 77, 93.
- Holinshed, Raphael; [Wolfe, Reyner]; [Fleming, Abraham]; [Thynne, Francis]; [Stow, John]. The first and second volumes of Chronicles, comprising 1 The description and historie of England, 2 The description and historie of Ireland, 3 The description and historie of Scotland: first collected and published by Raphaell Holinshed, William Harrison, and others: now newlie augmented and continued (with manifold matters of singular note and worthie memorie) to the yeare 1586. by Iohn Hooker aliàs Vowell Gent. and others. With conuenient tables at the end of these volumes ([London], ), vol. VI, p. 805.