Gest of Robyn Hode

From International Robin Hood Bibliography
Child 117
Title A Gest of Robyn Hode
Versions 1
Variants 7
Stanzas 456
Date c. 1500

By Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2013-08-07. Revised by Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2019-06-27.


Scholarly and literary collections





Studies and criticism

Sources and analogues

For general discussion of, and sources relating to, other outlaw traditions and tales, e.g. those of Hereward, Eustace the Monk, Fulk Fitz-Warin, Gamelyn, Adam Bell etc., see the Analogues section, where is also found matter relating to king and subject tales, exempla etc. Below is included only matter relating to specific incidents, motifs or section of the Gest.

Stanzas Matter Title Analogue
Fytte I
59-60 Impoverished knight deserted by former friends. How a Jew lent a Christian money. Impoverished merchant can find no friend willing to stand surety; they all ignore him.
65-66 Robin Hood accepts Virign Mary as surety. How a Jew lent a Christian money. Abraham accepts Virgin Mary as guarantor for money he lends Theodorus.
Fytte III
149:2 Name: Reynolde Grënelef. Marsk Stig (DgF 145). Ranne, Ranni, Ranil, Ranild. In real life Rane Jonsen or Rane Jonsen Rani (1254-94), chamberlain to King Erik V of Denmark.
154-204 Little John lures sheriff into Robin's hands with hunting prospects as bait. Marsk Stig (DgF 145 A). At suggestion of Ranne (Ranni, Ranil, Ranild) he and his master, king Erik [V of Denmark] go hunting en route to parliament. Entire retinue except Ranne are sent away. After a long chase, night falls and Ranne suggests they take shelter in a barn where he has arranged for assassins to enter and murder the king.
Fytte V
293:3 Name: Reynold [distinct from Little John]. Marsk Stig (DgF 145). Ranne, Ranni, Ranil, Ranild. In real life Rane Jonsen or Rane Jonsen Rani (1254-94), chamberlain to King Erik V of Denmark.
Fytte VII
368-73 King and retinue disguise as gray monks. Marsk Stig (DgF 145 F & G). Regicides don habits of grey monks [as disguise].


1432 - Anonymous - Wiltshire Parliamentary Return


Late 15th cent. - Anonymous - Untitled burlesque (3)

Robyn Hudde in bernsdale stode : he leynyd hym tyll a maple thystyll
then came owre lady and swete seynt Andrew : slepes thow
wakes thou Geffrey coke
a hundredth wynter the water was brawde J cannot tell you
how depe
He toke a gose neck in hys hond and ouer the water he went
Jack boy ys thy boo J broke; or hase anyman done the
wryugulde wrage
He toke a bend boo in hys hond : and set hym down by þe fyre
my dame began to spyn a threde : hyr nose stode all a
crokyd into the sowth
Who darbe so harde darde ; as to crack under the walles of dover[2]

1509 - Barclay, Alexander - Ship of Fools (1)

The holy Bybyll, grounde of trouth and of lawe
Is nowe of many abiect and nought set by
Nor godly scripture is nat worth an hawe
But talys ar louyd grounde of rybawdry
And many blynddyd ar so with theyr foly
That no scripture thynke they so true nor gode
As is a folysshe yest of Robyn hode.[3]

1509 - Barclay, Alexander - Ship of Fools (2)

And in the mornynge whan they come to the quere
The one begynneth a Fable or a hystory
The other lenyth theyr erys it to here
Takynge it in stede of the inuyntory
Some other maketh respons antym and memory
And all of fables and iestis of Robyn hode
Or other tryfyls that skantly ar so gode.[4]

1509 - Barclay, Alexander - Ship of Fools (3)

Holde me excusyd: for why my wyll is gode
Men to induce vnto vertue and goodnes
I wryte no iest ne tale of Robyn hode
Nor sawe no sparcles ne sede of vyciousnes
Wyse men loue vertue, wylde people wantones
It longeth nat to my scyence nor cunnynge
For Phylyp the Sparowe the (Dirige) to synge.[5]

1513 - Barclay, Alexander - Fourth Eclogue

Yet would I gladly heare some mery fit
Of mayde Marion, or els of Robin hood;
Or Bentleyes ale which chafeth well the bloud,
Of perre of Norwich, or sauce of Wilberton,
Or buckishe Joly well-stuffed as a ton.[6]

1520 - Rastell, John - Four Elements

Hu. Now yf that Sensuall Appetyte cā fynd
Any good mynstrellℯ after hys mynd
Dowt not we shall haue good sport
yng. And so shall we haue for a suerte
But what shall we do now tell me
The meane whyle for our cōfort
Hu. Then let vs some lusty balet syng
yng. Nay syr by þe heuyn kyng,
For me thynkyth it seruyth for no thyng
All suche peuysh prykyeryd song.
Hu. Pes man pryksong may not be dispysyd
For ther with god is well plesyd
Honowryd praysyd & seruyd
Jn the churche oft tymes among
yng. Js god well pleasyd trowst thou therby
Nay nay for there is no reason why
For is it not as good to say playnly
Gyf me a spade
As Gyf me a spa ve va ve va ve vade
But yf thou wylt haue a song þt is good
J haue one of robyn hode
The best that euer was made
Hu. Then a feleshyp let vs here it
yng. But there is a bordon thou must bere it
Or ellys it wyll not be [sig. E8r:]
Hu. ¶Than begyn and care not for [page torn]
     ¶ Downe downe downe &c.
yng. Robyn hode in barnysdale stode
And lent hym tyl a mapyll thystyll
Thā cam our lady & swete saynt andrewe
Slepyst thou wakyst thou geffrey coke
¶ A.C. wynter the water was depe
J can not tell you how brode
He toke a gose nek in his hande
And over the water he went
¶ He start vp to a thystell top
And cut hym downe a holyn clobe
He stroke þe wren betwene the hornys
That fyre sprange out of the pyggℯ tayle
¶ Jak boy is thy bowe J broke
Or hath any mā done þe wryguldy wrage
He plukkyd muskyllys out of a wyllowe
And put them in to his sachell
¶ wylkyn was an archer good
And well coude handell a spade
He toke his bend bowe in his hand
And set hym downe by the fyre
¶ He toke with hym.lx.bowes and ten
A pese of befe a nother of baken
Of all the byrdes in mery englond
So merely pypys the mery botell[7]

1587 - Churchyard, Thomas - Worthiness of Wales

And though we count, but Robin Hood a Jest,
And old wiues tales, as tatling toyes appeare:
Yet Arthurs raigne, the world cannot denye,
Such proofe there is, the troth thereof to trye:
That who so speakes, against so graue a thing,
Shall blush to blot, the shame of such a King.[8]

1606 - Drayton, Michael - Sixt Eglog

What maist thou be that ould Winken de word,
that of all shepheards wert the man alone,
that once with laughter shook'st the shepheardes
with thyne own madnes lastly ouerthrown (boord
I think thou dotst in thy declining age.
Or for the loosnesse of thy youth art sory, [p. 69:]
and therefore vowed som solemn pilgrimage
to holy Hayles, or Patricks purgatory,
Come sit we down vnder this Hawthorn tree,
the morrows light shall lend vs day enough,
And let vs tel of Gawen, or Sir Guy.
Of Robin-hood, or of ould Clim a Clough,
Or els some Romant vnto vs areede,
By former shepheards taught thee in thy youth,
Of noble Lords and Ladies gentle deed
Or of thy Loue or of thy lasses trueth.

Shepheard no no, that world with me is past,
Merry was it when we those toys might tell
But tis not now as when thou sawst me last
A great mischance me since that time befel,
Elphin is dead, and in his graue is layde,
O to report it, how my hart it greueth,
Cruel that fate that so the time betrayd
And of our ioyes vntimely vs depriueth.[9]

Brief mention

Also see