A TRUE TALE OF ROBIN HOOD is
Child ballad 154, featuring Robin Hood
and, indeed, presents a full account of his life, from before his
becoming an outlaw, to his death. It describes him as the Earl of
Huntington, which is a fairly late development in the ballads. It
definitively places him in Richard the Lionhearted 's reign.
This ballad was written by the prominent 17th century broadside
Martin Parker , in about 1630, by his own account from
reliable historical sources but more probably from the abundant
literary and ballad sources then available. This account includes the
unusual details that
Robin Hood was given to castrating monks and that
he operated in Lancashire as well as Yorkshire. Unlike many of the
17th century broadsides it stresses the tradition that Robin Hood
actively aided the poor.
Robin Hood lives well as the Earl of Huntington, but is brought to
penury by his spending and the enmity of the abbot of St. Mary's. He
is outlawed, and his band lives by robbing, particularly the rich
clergy, but they aid the poor. He catches the abbot, who then went to
the king. The king offers a reward, but his men are either out-fought,
or won over by Robin's courtesy. King Richard goes to Nottingham.
Robin begs a pardon by letter, and the king is agreeable. Before he
gets it, however, Robin takes a fever. He trusts a friar to bleed him
(a common medical practice of the day), and the friar bleeds him to
death. King Richard thinks the friar treacherous, and Robin foolish to
have trusted him.