Robin Hood and the Tanner is Child ballad 126. It is a late seventeenth-century English broadside ballad and one of several ballads about the medieval folk hero Robin Hood that form part of the Child ballad collection, which is one of the most comprehensive collections of traditional English ballads.
1 Synopsis 2 Historical and cultural significance 3 Library and archival holdings 4 Recordings 5 References
6 External links
Synopsis A tanner, or leather-maker, named Arthur a Bland, has been summoned by a squire in Nottingham-shire. One summer morning, the formidable Arthur, oaken pikestaff on shoulder, sets off through Sherwood Forest to see the red deer there. Along the way, he encounters Robin Hood, who accuses him of poaching. Arthur challenges Robin with his pikestaff ("For thy sword & thy bow I care not a straw" [2.6]) and curses at him ("If thou get a knock upon the bare scop, / thou canst as well sh[*]t[*] as shoot" [2.9-10]). Robin cautions him to speak more cleanly, but Arthur refuses, and so Robin intends to discipline him, but wants to fight with a staff of equal length. Arthur rudely challenges him again and Robin knocks him on the head hard enough to make the blood trickle down; when he recovers, Arthur strikes Robin with the same result. The sight of his own blood makes Robin "[rave] like a wild Boar" (3.16). The two men fight so energetically that they are like "two wild Boars in a chase" and "all the wood [rings] at every bang" (3.23, 29). After two hours, Robin calls a stop to the fighting and promises that Arthur is free to roam Sherwood Forest from now on. In return, Arthur promises that he will tan Robin's hide for free. Robin then reveals his identity and makes a further offer: that Arthur give up his trade and come to live with him, for pay, in Sherwood Forest. Arthur accepts and asks after Robin's side-kick, Little John, to whom he is related on his mother's side. Robin blows on his horn and Little John appears. Robin explains his combative stance by telling him that Arthur is certainly a tanner, as he has tanned his hide. At first not understanding that Robin approves of Arthur, Little John offers to have his "hide" "tanned," too: "[I]f such a feat he can do / If he be so stout, we will have a bout, / and he shall tan my hide too" (4.30-32). But Robin stops Little John by explaining Arthur's moral character and his relation to him. Little John then throws his pike aside and clasps Arthur around the neck, weeping for joy. The three men dance together around an oak-tree to celebrate their new identity as a band of three. In other variants, Arthur is not related to Little John. Historical and cultural significance This ballad is part of a group of ballads about Robin Hood that in turn, like many of the popular ballads collected by Francis James Child, were in their time considered a threat to the Protestant religion. Puritan writers, like Edward Dering writing in 1572, considered such tales "'childish follye'" and "'witless devices.'" Writing of the Robin Hood ballads after A Gest of Robyn Hode, their Victorian collector Francis Child claimed that variations on the "'Robin met with his match'" theme, such as this ballad, are "sometimes wearisome, sometimes sickening," and that "a considerable part of the Robin Hood poetry looks like char-work done for the petty press, and should be judged as such." Child had also called the Roxburghe and Pepys collections (in which some of these ballads are included) "'veritable dung-hills [...], in which only after a great deal of sickening grubbing, one finds a very moderate jewel.'" However, as folklorist and ethnomusicologist Mary Ellen Brown has pointed out, Child's denigration of the later Robin Hood ballads is evidence of an ideological view he shared with many other scholars of his time who wanted to exclude cheap printed ballads such as these from their pedigree of the oral tradition and early literature. Child and others were reluctant to include such broadsides in their collections because they thought they "regularized the text, rather than reflecting and/or participating in tradition, which fostered multiformity." On the other hand, the broadsides are significant in themselves as showing, as English jurist and legal scholar John Selden (1584–1654) puts it, "'how the wind sits. As take a straw and throw it up in the air; you shall see by that which way the wind is, which you shall not do by casting up a stone. More solid things do not show the complexion of the times so well as ballads and libels.'" Even though the broadsides are cultural ephemera, unlike weightier tomes, they are important because they are markers of contemporary "current events and popular trends." It has been speculated that in his time Robin Hood represented a figure of peasant revolt, but the English medieval historian J. C. Holt has argued that the tales developed among the gentry, that he is a yeoman rather than a peasant, and that the tales do not mention peasants' complaints, such as oppressive taxes. Moreover, he does not seem to rebel against societal standards but to uphold them by being munificent, devout, and affable. Other scholars have seen the literature around Robin Hood as reflecting the interests of the common people against feudalism. The latter interpretation supports Selden's view that popular ballads provide a valuable window onto the thoughts and feelings of the common people on topical matters: for the peasantry, Robin Hood may have been a redemptive figure. Library and archival holdings The English Broadside Ballad Archive at the University of California, Santa Barbara holds three seventeenth-century broadside ballad versions of this tale: one in the Euing collection at the Glasgow University Library (304), another in the Pepys collection at Magdalene College at the University of Cambridge (2.111), and another in the Crawford collection at the National Library of Scotland (665). Recordings Broadside Electric recorded a version of this ballad on their 1995 album Amplificata. An audio recording of this ballad is available online. An instrumental recording of this ballad by Richard Searles is available online. References
^ Watt (1993), pp. 39–40 ^ Watt (1993), pp. 39–40, quoting Edward Dering, A brief and necessary instruction (1572), sig.A2v. ^ Child (2003), p. 42 ^ Brown (2010), p. 67; Brown's italics ^ a b Brown (2010), p. 69 ^ a b Fumerton & Guerrini (2010), p. 1 ^ Holt (1898), pp. 37–38 ^ Holt (1898), p. 10 ^ Singman (1998), p. 46, and first chapter as a whole ^ "Ballad Archive Search - UCSB English Broadside Ballad Archive". Ebba.english.ucsb.edu. Retrieved 2015-05-31. ^ "EBBA ID: 31721 - UCSB English Broadside Ballad Archive". Ebba.english.ucsb.edu. Retrieved 2015-05-31. ^ "Richard Searles - Robin Hood and the Tanner". YouTube.com. 2010-06-19. Retrieved 2015-05-31.
Brown, Mary Ellen (2010). "Child's ballads and the broadside conundrum". In Patricia Fumerton, Anita Guerrini & Kris McAbee. Ballads and Broadsides in Britain, 1500–1800. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing Company. pp. 57–72. ISBN 978-0-7546-6248-8. CS1 maint: Uses editors parameter (link) Child, Francis James, ed. (2003) [1888–1889]. The English and Scottish Popular Ballads. 3. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications. Fumerton, Patricia; Guerrini, Anita (2010). "Introduction: straws in the wind". In Patricia Fumerton, Anita Guerrini & Kris McAbee. Ballads and Broadsides in Britain, 1500–1800. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing Company. pp. 1–9. ISBN 978-0-7546-6248-8. CS1 maint: Uses editors parameter (link) Holt, J. C. (1989). Robin Hood. Thames and Hudson. ISBN 0-500-27541-6. Singman, Jeffrey L. (1998). Robin Hood: The Shaping of the Legend. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 0-313-30101-8. Watt, Tessa (1993). Cheap Print and Popular Piety, 1550–1640. Cambridge Studies in Early Modern British History. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521458276.
Link to a facsimile sheet of an early modern version of this ballad at the English Broadside Ballad Archive at the University of California, Santa Barbara:  Robin Hood and the Tanner Robin Hood and the Tanner with commentary (a version in which Little John is not related to Arthur the tanner) Link to the website of The Robin Hood Project, a collection of webpages chronicling the development of Robin Hood from his medieval origins to modern depictions, at the Robbins Library at the University of Rochester: 
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Francis James Child
The Child Ballads
Alan-a-Dale Sir Aldingar Alison and Willie Allison Gross Andrew Lammie Archie o Cawfield Kinmont Willie Armstrong Auld Matrons Babylon The Baffled Knight The Bailiff's Daughter of Islington Barbara Allen The Battle of Otterburn The Beggar-Laddie Adam Bell The Bent Sae Brown Bessy Bell and Mary Gray Blancheflour and Jollyflorice The Bold Pedlar and Robin Hood Bonnie Annie The Bonnie Earl O' Moray Bonnie George Campbell Bonny Baby Livingston Bonny Bee Hom The Bonny Birdy The Bonny Hind The Bonnie House of Airlie The Bonny Lass of Anglesey Bonny Lizie Baillie The Boy and the Mantle Broom of the Cowdenknowes The Broomfield Hill Broughty Wa's Brown Adam The Brown Girl Brown Robin Brown Robyn's Confession Burd Ellen and Young Tamlane Burd Isabel and Earl Patrick Captain Ward and the Rainbow Captain Wedderburn's Courtship The Carnal and the Crane The Cherry-Tree Carol The Ballad of Chevy Chase Child Maurice Child Owlet Child Waters Christopher White Clerk Colvill Clerk Saunders The Clerk's Twa Sons o Owsenford The Crafty Farmer Crow and Pie The Cruel Brother The Cruel Mother The Daemon Lover The Death of Parcy Reed The Death of Queen Jane Dick o the Cow Dives and Lazarus The Dowie Dens o Yarrow Dugall Quin The Duke of Athole's Nurse The Duke of Gordon's Daughter Earl Brand Earl Crawford The Earl of Errol The Earl of Mar's Daughter Earl Rothes Edom o Gordon Edward The Elfin Knight Eppie Morrie Erlinton Fair Annie The Fair Flower of Northumberland Fair Janet Fair Margaret and Sweet William Fair Mary of Wallington The False Lover Won Back The Famous Flower of Serving-Men The Farmer's Curst Wife Fause Foodrage The Fause Knight Upon the Road The Friar in the Well The Gardener The Gay Goshawk Geordie The George Aloe and the Sweepstake A Gest of Robyn Hode Get Up and Bar the Door Gil Brenton Glasgerion Glasgow Peggie Glenlogie The Great Silkie of Sule Skerry The Grey Cock Gude Wallace Guy of Gisbourne The Raggle Taggle Gypsy Battle of Harlaw The Heir of Linne Hind Etin Hind Horn Hobie Noble Hughie Graham James Hatley Jamie Douglas Jellon Grame Jock o' the Side Jock the Leg and the Merry Merchant John Dory John of Hazelgreen Johnie Cock Johnie Scot Johnnie Armstrong The Jolly Beggar The Jolly Pinder of Wakefield Judas Katharine Jaffray The Keach i the Creel Kemp Owyne Kempy Kay King Arthur and King Cornwall King Edward the Fourth and a Tanner of Tamworth King Estmere King Henry King Henry Fifth's Conquest of France King John and the Bishop The King's Disguise, and Friendship with Robin Hood The King's Dochter Lady Jean Lang Johnny More The Kitchie-Boy The Knight and the Shepherd's Daughter The Knight's Ghost The Knoxville Girl The Lads of Wamphray Lady Alice Lady Diamond Lady Elspat Lady Isabel Lady Isabel and the Elf Knight Lady Maisry The Laily Worm and the Machrel of the Sea The Laird o Drum The Laird o Logie Lamkin The Lass of Roch Royal Leesome Brand Sir Lionel Little John a Begging Lizie Lindsay Lizie Wan The Lochmaben Harper Lord Ingram and Chiel Wyet Lord Lovel Lord Maxwell's Last Goodnight The Lord of Lorn and the False Steward Lord Randall Lord Saltoun and Auchanachie Lord Thomas and Fair Annet Lord Thomas and Lady Margaret Lord Thomas Stuart Lord William The Maid and the Palmer The Maid Freed from the Gallows The Marriage of Sir Gawain Mary Hamilton Matty Groves The Mermaid The Mother's Malison The New-Slain Knight The Noble Fisherman Northumberland Betrayed By Douglas Old Robin of Portingale Sir Orfeo Percy Folio Prince Heathen Prince Robert Proud Lady Margaret Queen Elanor's Confession The Queen of Elfan's Nourice The Queen of Scotland The Rantin Laddie Redesdale and Wise William Richie Story Riddles Wisely Expounded Robin Hood and Allan-a-Dale Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborne Robin Hood and Little John Robin Hood and Maid Marian Robin Hood and Queen Katherine Robin Hood and the Beggar Robin Hood and the Bishop Robin Hood and the Bishop of Hereford Robin Hood and the Butcher Robin Hood and the Curtal Friar Robin Hood and the Golden Arrow Robin Hood and the Monk Robin Hood and the Pedlars Robin Hood and the Potter Robin Hood and the Prince of Aragon Robin Hood and the Ranger Robin Hood and the Scotchman Robin Hood and the Shepherd Robin Hood and the Tanner Robin Hood and the Tinker Robin Hood and the Valiant Knight Robin Hood Newly Revived Robin Hood Rescuing Three Squires Robin Hood Rescuing Will Stutly Robin Hood's Birth, Breeding, Valor, and Marriage Robin Hood's Chase Robin Hood's Death Robin Hood's Delight Robin Hood's Golden Prize Robin Hood's Progress to Nottingham Robyn and Gandeleyn The Rose of England Rose the Red and White Lily Saint Stephen and Herod Sheath and Knife Sir Cawline Sir James the Rose Sir Patrick Spens The Suffolk Miracle The Sweet Trinity Sweet William's Ghost Tam Lin Thomas o Yonderdale Thomas the Rhymer The Three Ravens Tom Potts A True Tale of Robin Hood The Twa Brothers The Twa Magicians The Twa Sisters The Unquiet Grave Walter Lesly The Wee Wee Man The West Country Damosel's Complaint The White Fisher The Whummil Bore The Wife of Usher's Well The Wife Wrapt in Wether's Skin Will Stewart and John Willie and Earl Richard's Daughter Willie and Lady Maisry Willie o Douglas Dale Willie o Winsbury Willie's Fatal Visit Willie's Lady Willie's Lyke-Wake The Wylie Wife of the Hie Toun Hie Young Andrew Young Beichan Young Benjie The Young Earl of Essex's Victory over the Emperor of Germany Young Hunting Young Johnstone Young Peggy Young Ronald Young Waters
List of the Child Ball