Robin Hood search for the Truth | Robin Hood Places | Hood surname statistics | Robin Hood of Wakefield | Robert Hood of Newton | The Pinder of Wakefield Marian | Friars | Loxley and 'Huntington' | Myriads of Robin Hoods | Ballads of Robin Hood | Kirklees | The Armytages of Kirklees | Little John | Roger De Doncaster | The Penurious Knyght | Our Comly King  | Shire Reeve | Priory of Kirklees | Wakefield Rolls | Saylis of the Geste- a new site | Robert III Butler of Skelbrooke | Barnsdale and the Geste | De Lacis of PontefractAlice De Laci and John of GauntBarnsdale Gallery | Stephen II Le Waleys a suspected compiler of the Geste
  ~ Alice De Laci to John of Gaunt~
     
Alice De Laci was the heiress of the honours of Pontefract and Clitheroe. Her betrothal in 1292 and marriage in 1294 ensured that these properties passed to her husband Thomas Plantagenet, who eventually became an earl in five counties, Lancaster, Leicester, Derby, Lincoln and Salisbury [Wiltshire]. This gave Thomas tremendous military power in the North, which he used to challenge Edward II. Alice was barely nine years of age in 1294 when her father, Henry De Laci, gave her away. In this short period of time Edward I made John II Balliol King of of Scotland who occupied the position from 1292 to1296, rather than ruling. John Balliol* married Isabel de Warrene, daughter of John the 7th earl of Warrene lord of  the manor of Wakefield  and Sandal Magna, Conisbrough and Lewes. As such Isabel 'ruled' with her vassal husband as Queen of Scotland.* John Balliol probably met his future wife whilst waiting at Sandal Castle to invade Scotland.

Henry de Laci became a close confidant of Edward I and in 1278 received the earldom of Lincoln and Lordship of the honour of Pontefract. In 1272 Edward I granted the right for Henry to hold a market at Almondbury on each Monday. Henry died on 5th February 1311 and was buried at Old St. Paul's, London.

 

                                                                                                      

                                                                                          Old St. Paul's 1314-1315 [Ann. Paul. p. 277.]

                                                                                        Henry de Laci
Created 3rd Earl of Lincoln in his line in 1257  [b 1249? d. 1311]. He commanded a division in the Welsh wars in 1276 and was joint Lieutenant of England whilst Edward I was in France [1279]. During 1296-8 he commanded the English army in France and in 1307 accompanied Edward I on his final campaign in Scotland. He was also present at Edward I's death. In 1310 he became one of the "Lord's Ordainers" which restricted Edward II's powers. Henry also acted as The Guardian of the Kingdom whilst Edward II was at war in Scotland. Henry De Lacy was Lord of Pontefract which included 'Barnsdale' and Blackburnshire until his death on the 5th February 1311, after which the lands came to Thomas Earl of Lancaster through his marriage to Alice De Laci..
Henry's residence in London was in Shoe Lane, Holborn, which runs into Fleet Street and the Temple area. Running west off Shoe Lane was a  'Robin Hood's Court' [now a lost name]. Further west lies Lincoln's Inn Courts, named after the 3rd earl and about 200 yards north west of Shoe lane is Leather Lane in North Holborn which has a 'Robin Hood Yard' coming off it.

Henry had two sons and two daughters, the first three children pre-deceased him. The only surviving child was his youngest daughter Alice. Alice inherited the de Laci estates and succeeded her mother as Countess of Lincoln on the 5th February 1311 having already entered into a marriage contract at the age of nine in 1294 with Thomas Plantagenet, later Earl of Lancaster, Leicester, Derby, Lincoln and Salisbury.
As a consequence of her marriage Alice also became Countess of Lancaster and Thomas inherited the de Laci estates.
Thomas was the grandson of Henry III and cousin to Edward II. His father, Edmund Crouchback, the first earl of Lancaster was thus brother to Edward I. 

                               


By 1312 Gaveston, Edward II's favorite, had been executed on Thomas of Lancaster's lands. Gaveston had long been a thorn in Thomas's side after Thomas lost in a joust and Gaveston had derided him with the nick-names, 'The Fiddler', and 'The Churl'. No doubt these were a references to Thomas's perceived political abilities, his musical leanings and his Northern manners. In 1317, it was alleged by Thomas that his wife Alice had been abducted forcibly from her castle at Canford Magna near Wimborne, Dorset. This was carried out by the men of  John 8th Earl Warrene of Lewes, Sandal Magna and Conisbrough, probably with the connivance of Edward II. Alice had inherited Canford castle through her mother Margaret Longespee. The Warrene side of the arguement suggests she had been adulterous with Eubulo Le Strange, John De Warrene's squire, whom she eventually married. Secondly, before 10th November 1324, Alice was taken to earl Warrene's castle at Reigate in Surrey under the guard of Richard De St. Martin a retainer of Warrene. This gave rise to a private war between Warrene and Lancaster which appears to have continued for at least 25 years between barons in the honour of Ponterfract and those in Warrene's former manor of Wakefield, the so called 'Elland Feud'. John de Warrene surrendered Wakefield, his other northern manors and those in North Wales to Thomas earl of Lancaster in 1318. This gave Thomas even more influence in the North, particularly Yorkshire. Eventually, Edward II patched up earl Warrene's and Thomas's disagreements but this lasted no more than five years when Thomas was captured at Boroughbridge and executed. After the death of Eubolo in 1335, Alice married for a third time before 23rd March 1336 to Hugh De Freyne, baron Freyne [d.1336/7]. Alice died without issue from any of her marriages on the 2nd of October 1348 at her Castle of [Old] Bolingbroke, Lincolnshire and was buried at Barlings Abbey in the same county although Alison Weir incorrectly gives this as Birling, Kent.9[p77]
Differences of opinion also arose between Edward II and Thomas and these culminated in a rebellion in the north by Thomas. After his defeat at the Battle of Boroughbridge in 1322, Thomas was captured and taken to the great hall at Pontefract where he was tried and sentenced to death. Thomas was beheaded, as fitted a member of the royal line, at Pontefract, but  Edward II was already unpopular with noble and commoner alike and this led to Thomas being deified, some monks calling him a 'saint'.

The Two Henry's of the Honour of Pontefract
From what we have determined so far [see Skelbrooke], the earlier verses of the Geste appear to have been broadly compiled or completed somewhere between:
a) The start of Edward III's* reign [1327] when Stephen's father received his lands back, Stephen marrying in August of that year and
b) The appearance of Piers Plowman in 1377.
*who was under the influence of his mother Queen Isabella and her paramour,  Roger de Mortimer of Wigmore, who had been supported  by Stephen's father. under  Thomas Plantagenet, earl of Lancaster and importantly, lord of Pontefract.

This period lies within the lives of Henry Plantagenet the 3rd Earl of Lancaster, his son, Henry Plantagenet of Grosmont to Blanche daughter of Henry of Grosmont and her husband, John of Gaunt.

 Year
      Occurrence
~1302
Henry Plantagenet [later third Earl of Lancaster] came of age.
1323
Edward II on a progress of  the North.
1327
Edward III's reign begins

Marriage of Stephen II Le Waleys and Annora De Umfreville after his father receives back his lands and has a 2000 mark fine cancelled.
1330
Henry Plantagenet third Earl of Lancaster became blind. His son Henry of Grosmont replaced him at court.
The young King Edward captured his mother and lover at Nottingham Castle. Henry De Faucumberg is replaced as the sheriff of Notts. and Derbs.
~1332
Le Waleys family lose their lands which are given to Humphrey De Bohun.
1345
Effigy of Henry of Grosmont in the York Minster Choir When Henry the third earl of Lancaster died, Henry of Grosmont [above] succeeded to his father's estates at age 45.
1347
Death of Stephen II Le Waleys of Burghwallis
Marriage of  Robert De Swillington and Annora Le Waleys [24th Dec]
Birth of Blanche Plantagenet
1361
Henry of Grosmont Duke of Lancaster died.
1359
John of Gaunt married Blanche Plantagenet and gained the honour of Pontefract.
1369
Blanche died aged 29 from the Black Death, Geoffrey Chaucer wrote a poem in her honour.
1377
A small reference is made to the tales of Robin Hood in Wm. Langland's' Piers Plowman.
1387
Henry of Bolingbroke [later Henry IV] came of age.
1391
Sir Robert De Swillington died, steward to John of Gaunt at Pontefract Castle.
1399
John of Gaunt died.


A brief examination of at least two of these Plantagenet lives, lords of the honour of Pontefract, probably sets the background for the compiler of the Geste, who we suspect to be Stephen II Le Waleys of Burghwallis.

Henry Plantagenet, 3rd Earl of Lancaster and Earl of Leicester [b1281 d.1345]. Early in his career, Henry was summoned to parliament about the year1299 at which time he is described as being of the Lancaster estates, which included Pontefract. The following year saw him involved in the seige of Caerlaverock  After the Lancastrian rebellion was crushed in 1322, Henry became a figurehead for the rebels and for a time lived as a fugitive.8 p.108

Between March 1322 and November 1323 contrariants  from the Battle of Boroughbridge who had escaped are thought to have been hiding as outlaws throughout Yorkshire and particularly the Barnsdale area. Here they could make a dishonest living from the commercial and ecclesiastical traffic which moved north and south along one of England's major arterial roads. This traffic seems unabated, even today. Henry was Thomas's, the Earl of Lancaster's brother, but he had not been involved with the rebellion and thus succeeded to the confiscated lands, now regranted by Edward II. These lands included the manor of Wakefield, Sandal Castle, Conisbrough Castle and the honour of Pickering. By loyalty to the king's cause, or at least by retaining  neutrality,  he had been invested by 1324 as the earl of Leicester. As the reign of Edward II gradually unfolded, it was obvious that the barons were becoming displeased with their king. Because of the perceived unsavoury lifestyle of Edward II, the 'Lords Ordainers', a committee of twenty-one  , was established, led by Henry Plantagenet, earl of Lincoln. This committee drew up, by 1311, forty-one articles known as the Ordinances  to try to control the king. As a member of this committee Henry was one of the main forces behind the removal of Edward II from the throne. In 1327 after Edward II's abdication in favour of his son, Edward II was placed in the custody of Henry of Lancaster at Henry's castle of Kenilworth. Two months later, Mortimer fearing that Henry was planning to rebel, the king was moved to his final place of imprisonment in Berkeley Castle. Phillips and Keatman, without following it up, suggest that Henry earl of Leicester was a model for the ballad character Sir Richard at the Lee. This was because he was a noble surrounded by contrariants and was often described as 'a gentle and courteous knight' almost the same wording as is used in the Geste to descibe Sir Richard at the Lee.
In May of 1326, John de Warrene, Henry's neighbour in Yorkshire, who had previously held the manor of Wakefield , regained his lands from Edward II. Warrene was to lose his lands again under Edward III but again was regranted them in 1334. In 1326 Henry supported Queen Isabella, who had returned to England from France. Henry pursued and captured Edward at Neath, imprisonment and death followed at Berkeley Castle in September 1327. Isabella and Mortimer had Prince Edward installed as King Edward III, whereupon Henry now regained for his family the Lancaster estates. These estates included the Honour of Pontefract previously lost by his brother Thomas, Henry was then made guardian of the young Edward III. From 1324 until his death in 1345 Henry the 3rd earl occupied the title and position of Lord High Steward of England, serving both Edward II and Edward III although from about the year 1330 Henry became blind and was replaced at court by his son.

Henry Plantagenet of Grosmont [b.1300 d.1361] succeeded his father Henry the 3rd earl in 1345, inheriting the Honour of Pontefract amongst other lands. If his father had been busy, Henry of Grosmont was even more involved in the Scottish campaigns, French Wars and diplomacy with the King of Castile and Leon. In the year of his succession he was summoned on the 11th June to set out for Gascony [Gascogne] from Southampton with men-at-arms and archers. In 1337 he had been made Earl of Derby and by 1352 his valiant efforts in war had secured himself the heady title of Duke of Lancaster. Edward III had him installed as one of the first of twenty-six knights of the Garter at St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle. Henry of Grosmont died of the Great Plague or Pestilence on 24th March, 1361 which had appeared in England about 1348.

Henry of Grosmont produced two daughters, Maud and Blanche. The eldest, Maud, died without issue. The second, Blanche Plantagenet, married John of Gaunt (Ghent), earl of Richmond, duke of Lancaster [d. February 1399]. The poem, The Book of the Duchesse, written by Chaucer is believed to have been written for Blanche, John of Gaunt's first wife. Through Blanche, John's pedigree produced the Lancastrian line, whilst his two brothers led to the line of Yorkists both of which collided during the 'War of the Roses'. John's third wife, Katherine Swynford [nee Roet] was the sister to Philippa Roet who married Geoffrey Chaucer, the poet. It is believed that Chaucer was invited by John of Gaunt to Pontefract Castle on a number of occasions between 1396, the year of John's marriage to Katherine Swynford and John's death in 1399. If the legend of Robyn Hode of Barnsdale were already airborne then Chaucer's passage through Barnsdale would have been of consequence. See text file of John of Gaunt's descendants.
Blanche and John of Gaunt produced a son, Henry Bolingbroke, later Henry IV, (born 1366 at Bolingbroke in Lincolnshire) who inherited the de Laci estates. see William de Dronsfield, esquire to Lord Bolingbroke
Henry Bolingbroke deposed his cousin Richard II, son of Edward the Black Prince, and assumed the crown in 1399 as Henry IV, the first Lancastrian king. Richard II was imprisoned first at Pickering Castle and ostensibly murdered in Pontefract Castle by starvation, as with Edward II, no marks would be left on the body as evidence of  the motives behind his death..
Bolingbroke, later Henry IV, was the first king to be crowned using the English language.The great plague had decimated the priesthood and aristocrats did not have sufficient latin teachers for their children, English became the lingua franca by the end of the 1300's, spurred on by Chaucer's writings.

THE PASTONS MARRY INTO THE GAUNT AND EARL OF HUNTINGDON LINE
S
An examination of the descendants of John of Gaunt13 finds that his daughter, Elizabeth, by his first wife, Blanche Plantagenet of Lancaster, married John Holland, earl of Huntingdon and 1st Duke of Exeter. Their son John earl of Huntingdon and 2nd duke of Exeter married Anne Montague. Their daughter Anne Holland [b~1414] married John Neville [died 1461 at Towton] whose son Ralph Neville became the 3rd earl of Westmorland, he married Margaret Booth who produced a son, [Sir] Ralph Neville d.v.p of measles who married Mary Paston of Paston, Norfolk.
It has been mentioned earlier that Sir John Paston senior's letter to his younger son [According to J.C. Holt also to his brother William Paston] dated 16th April 1473, stated that John's servant had deserted him after he had kept him [in his household] for three years 'to pleye Seynt Jorge and Robyn Hod and the Shryff of Notyngham' and this servant  had then 'goon into Bernysdale'.15

                                   Letter from John Paston Senior to his son John Paston junior 1473
No mor, but I have ben and ame troblyd with myn over large and curteys delyng with my servants, and now with ther onkynd nesse; Plattyng, yowr men wolde thys daye byd me ffar well to to morrow at Dover, notwithstandyng Thryston yowr other man is ffrom me, and John Myryell, and W. Woode whyche promysed yow and Dawbeney, God have hys sowle, at Castre, that iff ye wolde take hym in to be ageyn with me, that then he wold never goo ffro me, and ther uppon I have kepyd hym thys iij. yer to pleye Seynt Jorge and Robyn Hod and the Shryff off Notyngham, and now when I wolde have good horse he is goon into Bernysdale, and I withowt a keeper.
        _______________________________________________________
       |                                                                                                                                |
 
 John Paston snr»==Margaret Mauteby                                                Sir William Paston====Anne Beaufort»
                                    |                                                                                                                        |    
descendant of John of Gaunt
       __________________________________                               _____________________________
       |                                            |                                 |                                |                                  |                                |
 
Sir John Paston »        John Paston             Margery==Richard   Mary===Ralph        Anne===Gilbert      Elizabeth=== Sir John
 
the elder , dsp              the younger. ***                         Calle                        Neville*                    Talbot                                Saville**

Key:

»    Died of the Plague, not married, produced an illegitimate daughter.
*    Descended from the Holland earls of Huntingdon
** Related to the Savile/Butler line of Skelbrooke, Barnsdale
*** Letter to Lord FitzWalter, he married Margery Bruce/Brews^
^     The surname Bruce occurs in Anthony Munday's plays

Sir John Paston Senior and his bailiff or estate manager, Richard Calle, were both arrested for suspected foul play in relation to the will of a John Falstaff. This brought these two into conflict with the sheriff of Norfolk, from whom Sir John wished to be released.

From above we note the determination of a Paston player to go to 'Bernysdale' which may indicate that this servant of the Paston's had left the Paston's without notice or could find another venue for his talents in the Savile lands of the honour of Pontefract or /additionally he wished to visit the countryside of the heroic characters he played in the primeval ballad "A Lytell Geste of Robyn Hode".The Paston's were patrons of  minstrels and balladeers, probably retaining them in their households, and were obviously familiar with the Robyn Hode ballads so far developed, albeit the letter above was written some one hundred and seventy years after Robert III Butler's death. Recent findings indicate that the copy of Robin Hood and the Potter in Cambridge University Library, another early ballad printed about 1520, belonged to John Paston's bailliff, Richard Calle. Calle had married Margery Paston a daughter of John Paston senior in 1469. A complex set of circumstances surrounds the family and its involvement as patrons to the arts of minstrelsy and balladry. We might ask here whether the playwright Anthony Munday garnered the idea of the 'Earl of Huntingdon' from the Hollands and 'Lord FitzWalter' from Robert Radcliffe, baron and Lord FitzWalter, 1st Earl of Sussex from such sources which were closely allied to the Pastons support for minstrelsy. Robert Radcliffe also married Margaret Stanley whose mother, Anne Hastings, was the sister to George Hastings, created 1st earl of Huntingdon in his line by Henry VIII. Radcliffe was a correspondent of the Paston's in the second half of the 1400's who later, in 1495, was beheaded by Henry VII .

THE ROYAL BLOODED PASTONS MARRY INTO THE SAVILES
In the Spring of 1452 Henry VI's wife Margaret of Anjou, who at the time was aged about 22 years, visited the Paston family at Norwich whilst on a progress of the country. Margaret's father was Rene the titular King of Sicily. Rene did not possess much landed property but he was widely known as "The King of the Troubadours". This suggests that Margaret, by association, would have had an interest in minstrelsy in England. After visiting the Paston's Margaret moved onto Wallingford, Essex where she met with Geoffrey Chaucer's wife, Alice.14
By the late 1400's  Elizabeth Paston of Paston, Norfolk, married Sir John Savile of Thornhill, Yorkshire. As Joseph Hunter remarked, "The most splendid marriage of any of the earlier Saviles, as the son [Henry] was thus a partaker of royal blood". Until now this connection between the Savile-Butler clan and the Paston's seems to have gone unnoticed by Robyn Hode researchers. The importance of this filial connection lies in the opportunity such a conduit offered for the spread of the Robyn Hode ballad[s] from Yorkshire into the English county of Norfolk. Elizabeth Paston's marriage to John Savile, sheriff of Yorkshire, thus brought royal blood to the Saviles. This descended from Edward III's son, John of Gaunt [Plantagenet], who had married thirdly Katherine Swynford, sister in law to Geoffrey Chaucer. From the Gaunt - Swynford union descended the Beaufort lines which were forfeited from the crown but produced Anne Beaufort who married William Paston, the father of the above Elizabeth Paston. The other Beaufort line was legitimised over King Richard III Plantagenet in 1485 at Bosworth Field by Henry Tudor [later the Henry VII of England]. With the Savile marriage would come family traditions of balladry and minstrelsy, their stories of  Margaret De Savile, the prioress of Kirklees, the Church at York and fanciful stories of their cousin, Robert III Butler of Skelbrooke.
Today Rouge Croix Pursuivant, Henry Bedingfield, retains the name Paston.

THE RADCLIFFES MARRY INTO THE SAVILES
Isabel De Radcliffe of Radcliffe Tower, Radcliffe, Lancashire, daughter of  Sir John Radcliffe, had married into a branch of the Saviles of Elland and Thornhill when she married a John Savile [d.1405]. This branch of John Savile paralleled that of his brother, Henry Savile until the former line became extinct about 1412. This Radcliffe family had its own strong links to the honour of Pontefract with their lands lying within the De Laci lands of Blackburnshire. They also had strong connections with balladry, for the family tales found in the ballad "Lady Isabella's Tragedy" [c.f. the "Eland Tragedy"] tell of the dead John Radcliffe's second wife treating his brother's children poorly after they had been adopted by John. The ballad tells of Ellen Radcliffe being killed and baked in a pie by Isabella the wicked step-mother. This ensured that such tales were known and present in the subsequent Savile households. We know John Radcliffe of Radcliffe Tower was related to Robert Radcliffe, Lord FitzWalter for after John's nephew, also a John Radcliffe, died in 1513 the lands in Lancashire passed in 1518 to Robert Radcliffe, Lord FitzWalter. There were therefore islands of creativity for Munday to work upon here in the family traditions of the Saviles, Pastons and Radcliffes.
See pedigree for the Paston, Savile, Plantagenet-Beaufort, Radcliffe and Tudor lines.

Robyn Hode and the honour of Pontefract
In Northern England, we see the narrative of A Lytell Geste of Robyn Hode and the  legend of 'Robyn Hode' developing. We might consider that the young Alice de Laci  married  in 1294 would have been aware of the plight of the yeoman* Robert Butler a descendant of Hugh Pincerna, Butler to her grandfather, John De Laci at Pontefract Castle. Her similar age would make her impressionable and could have left an indelible mark on her psyche as the cruelty of his death became apparent. Under these circumstances would not an author be encouraged to write a play, such as the primeval  Geste, as a memorial to this cruel early death?*Yeomen came from landed families, if not landed they would have expectations, yeoman service was not menial [1, p123]

The Liberty of Leicester [Sussex] passed, upon the death of  Simon De Montfort earl of Leicester in 1265 to Edmund Crouchback [d.1296], earl of Lancaster and brother of Edward I, which then passed to Edmund's son, Thomas  who took homage from his tenants in 1297 gained the Liberty of his lands in 1296.1 [p 53] Thus in 1296 when Gilbert Robynhod was recorded as a tenant of Fletching in Sussex, the Liberty was held either by Thomas or by Thomas's father, Edmund Crouchback who died in that year. This may indicate that the earliest Robyn Hode 'ballad' or more strictly the narrative, was not only in the household of De Laci but also in the Plantagenet family branches. We might also speculate that the narrative was also in  the households of Edward I [d. 1307] and subsequently Edward II [d. 1327], III [d.1377] and John of Gaunt [d.1399]. This should not be too surprising given that John Montague, a courtesan during Edward III's dotage and the time of John of Gaunt, is believed by some to have written some of the early narratives [possibly 'Robin Hood and the Monk'. However this ballad was not printed until about 1450, well before Montague's time at court. John of Gaunt was no evader of the arts, for he kept literary company with Geoffrey Chaucer who was John's sister in law's husband. We might pose the question, was Gilbert Robynhod ['Gilbert of the white hand'?] a minstrel member of  Stephen I Le Waleys household, for another branch of the Le Waleys family is also found at Glynde Place, East Sussex in the 1200's.

Chaucer and the honour of Pontefract
There is a likely borrowing of Chaucer's taken from the a Robyn Hode proverb and used in his Troilus and Criseyde

        Robyn Hode Proverb            
       Troilus and Criseyde [~1382]
    And many talk of Robin Hood,
    And never shot his bow

        .....Such like folk, I guess,
   Defame love but nothing of him know;
  They talk, but never bent his bow.


P.V. Harris [3, p20] cites Ritson who noted that the 'Saynt Charyte' of the Geste is also found in Chaucer's Somnour's Tale :

        Geste of Robyn Hode           
             The Somnour's Tale
 "Lat me go," than sayd the sherif,
 "For saynt charite,
 And I woll be thy best frende
 That ever yet had ye.
'
      In charitree y-thanked be our lord.
     Now Thomas , help, for seinte Charitee

A Somnor or Summoner was one who summond miscreants before an ecclesiastical court. The Sumnor in this case was operating in Holderness.

Like Hunter's Robyn Hode, the valetti of King Edward II's chamber, Chaucer in 1367, was described as a yeoman or  valetti* of King Edward III's chamber, before he achieved the status of 'squire' or an armigerous 'gentleman'. Geoffrey first served as a page in the household of Elizabeth de Burgh, Countess of Ulster, later becoming a Valet of the King's Chamber3 [p.88]  * 'Dilectus vallectus noster' [our beloved yeoman or Franklin]
In his Prologue to the Canterbury Tales Chaucer described the knight's yeoman :

         The Knight's yeoman, valetti or Franklin.
And he was clad in coat and hood of green;yeoman
a sheaf of peacock arrows bright and keen
Under his belt he bore full thriftily;
Well could he dress his tackle yeomanly:
His arrows drooped nought with feathers low, and in his hand he bore a mighty bow.
A not-heed* had he, with a brown visage.
Of woodcraft well could he all the usage.
Upon his arm he bore a gay bracer,
And by his side a sword and buckler,
And on that other side a gay dagger,
Harnessed well, and sharp as point of spear;
A Christopher on his breast of silver sheen.
A horn he bore, the baldric was of green;
A forester was he, soothly as I guess.

*cropped head
The modified woodcut above was used by Richard Pynson for Chaucer's yeoman, Canterbury Tales, 1491, and also in the Chepman and Myllar Prints for their version of the Geste, 1508.


Spanish Connections
Liquorice
In the 1300's, the monks at St. John's Priory, Pontefract were cultivating the root of a Mediterranean plant, liquorice. Liquorice is found as a native plant of Spain. It was John of Gaunt who may have returned with the herb to England in the1360's. Chaucer knew of this plant, probably from his visit[s] to Pontefract for he mentions liquorice in his poems as being used to sweeten the breath.

Prologue to the tale of Sir Topas :
There sprange herbes great and small,
The liquorice and the setewall,*
And many a clove-gilofre,
And nutemeg to put in ale,
Whether it be moist+ or stale,
Or for to lay in coffer.
*valerian, + new.

They fetch'd him first the sweete wine,
And mead eke in a maseline,*
And royal spicery; of maple wood 
Of ginger-bread that was full fine,
And liquorice and eke cumin,
With sugar that is trie.+
*drinking-bowl  + refined


The Miller's Tale:
And he himself was sweet as is the root
Of liquorice, or any setewall.
His Almagest, and bookes great and small,
His astrolabe, belonging to his art,
His augrim stones, layed fair apart
On shelves couched at his bedde's head,
His press y-cover'd with a falding red.
And all above there lay a gay psalt'ry
On which he made at nightes melody,
So sweetely, that all the chamber rang:
And Angelus ad virginem he sang.
And after that he sung the kinge's note;
Full often blessed was his merry throat.
And thus this sweete clerk his time spent
After his friendes finding and his rent.

But first he chewed grains and liquorice he,
To smelle sweet, ere he had combed his hair.
Under his tongue a true lovebare,
For thereby thought he to be gracious.

Alone, withouten any company,
Full fetisly y-dight* with herbes swoot,
And he himself was sweet as is the root
of liquorice, or any setewall.
*neatly decorated

The liquorice industry in Pontefract still continues its activity today with the production of 'Pomfret cakes' using extract from Spain, probably the best hard liquoice ever made [Barrett's].
For the 'Merrie England' of  the 1300's some have also attributed the introduction of  Morris* [Moorish or Morisco] dancing into England to John of Gaunt. John had a strong association with Spanish Aquitane from 1366 when he went to join his elder brother Edward 'The Black Prince" fighting in northern Spain. During this time he was married to his second wife, Constance [Constanza] of Castile and Leon. Constance's sister, Isabella married John's younger brother, Edmund de Langley who by 1385 was created Duke of York by Richard II. Edmund held thev manor of Wakefield with Sandal Castle, Wark in Northumberland and Fotheringay Castle.*A dance performed in ostentatious costumes, usually representing characters from the Robin Hood tradition such as Maid Marion and Friar Tuck.

Bull  Baiting

There is a high probability that John of Gaunt introduced bull running to Tutbury. This version required minstrels to chase the bull across the nearby river Dove. The idea seems rooted in the primeval bull fights or even the bull runs of Pamplona [St. Fermin]. We know that the San Fermin Festival was already in existence for it is mentioned in the 1200's and 1300's as being run on 10th October each year. Pamplona lay in Navarre to the east of the Castillian territory of John's wife, Constance of Castile. The Spanish Constance lived part of her life at Tutbury and for a while kept her court here.
John of Gaunt established a Court of Minstrels at Tutbury in Staffordshire in 1381.[11,12] Such a location will cause the Robyn Hode researcher to recall that the Tutbury area is another claimant for the legendary hero. According to Beryl Platts, Ranulf De Blondeville, earl of Chester was given Robert FitzOdo's lands in Warwickshire whilst Ranulf held Tutbury and Chartley Castles in Staffordshire near the manor of Loxley [Park]. Platts suggested that Robert FitzOdo [Eudo] held land at Hilderstone in Staffordshire in 1138 or 1166 and later aquired Loxley in Staffordshire. Not far away is the town of Huntington, perhaps after its name-sake in Huntingdonshire from its proximity to good hunting land, in this case, Cannock Chase then a forest. It was Ranulf who rebuilt and held Chartley castle and occupied Tutbury Castle in Staffordshire. Between these two fortresses lay a manor called Loxley in the county of Staffordshire. Later the De Ferrers family, earls of Derby, held Tutbury. According to one local oral tradition and ballad, Robin Hood married Clorinda, a sheperdess at Tutbury. This ballad by the King of the Fiddlers, described how Robin met Clorinda, Queen of the Shepherds, in Needwood Forest and travelled to Tutbury where they were soon wed. It is likely that this ballad actually sprang from a May Day celebration perhaps as early as John of Gaunt's time. The Tutbury Minstrel Court had an elected 'King of the Fiddlers' [King of the Minstrels] who held court and presided over the craft guilds in the five counties of the Midlands [Notts., Derbs., Staffs., Leics. and Northants.].
In 1266, the honour of Tutbury had been forfeited by Robert De Ferrers 6th Earl of Derby to Edmund Crouchback Plantagenet, the second son of Henry III and brother to Edward I. Robert De Ferrers had been unable to raise £50,000 in silver to recover his lands and title and was outlawed shortly after 1264. Robert's son, Thomas, by Alice De Leak [Leke] became Lord of Loxley, Staffordshire. It is often stated that Tutbury then passed through to Edmund's great grand-daughter Blanche Plantagenet [d.1329] who as we have shown above, married John of Gaunt. John encouraged the court of the ageing Edward III to become a breeding ground for romantic ballads including those of Robin Hood. However, what the histories rarely point out is that there was an interim period of twenty-six years, glossed over.
This period in question occurs when Thomas the 2nd earl of  Lancaster held the honour of Tutbury from the time his father Edmund 1st earl of Lancaster died in 1296 until Thomas's untimely execution in 1322 at Pontefract. Thomas was a royal family embarrassment for he turned upon the main royal line [Edward II]. But his family connexion did not save him and he paid the ultimate price. This terminating branch line of the royal Plantagenets is often overlooked or ignored by royal historians for it seemingly produced no further consequences.
The De Ferrers had held the office of escheators for Tutbury and this office passed on the marriage of Isabel De Ferrers of Warton, Staffordshire to Nicholas Agard of Tutbury, who also now held the earldom of Derby. The earldom of Derby  was finally absorbed into the Crown by right of the earls & dukes of Lancaster. The office was carried through to Dorothy Agard who was married, in 1647, to John Stanhope of Elvaston, Derbyshire. John became the escheator for Tutbury which carried as its symbol, a hunting horn.

Morris Dancing

John of Gaunt returned to England in 1396 with a troupe of Moorish dancers from Spain and it is thought that their dances were combined with the English Fool's Dance to produce the Morris Dance. After his marriage to Constance of Castile, the red lion and the three ostrich feathers on John's coat of arms were worn by the Morris dancers and Robin Hood in the May Day celebrations.
Others think Morris dancing was introduced even earlier by the Spanish, Eleanor of Castile, Queen to Edward I. The dances were certainly common in the 1300's when they accompanied village merry-making. The Moors are cast as men with blackened faces [using burnt Spanish cork] and the Morris dancers represented King Charlemagne's men fighting the Islamic Moors who penetrated into Spain, from Morocco, in the 700's :

                                   Moorish Dancing
"The dance varies from village to village, each town doing their own unique rendition of the dance with little in common between them save for a similarity in costumes and props. In some villages, it's an exhibition only with only a handful of dancers. In other villages, it's participatory with literally hundreds of dancers joining in.
Traditional costumes include men dressed in white with colorful ribbons on their shoulders and bells on their legs and arms to emphasize the movement of their limbs with the ringing. They would dance with swords and pantomine a battle against men whose faces were blackened with burnt cork, lending some credence to the theory that the dance originally commemorated Charlemagne's battles against the Spanish Moors. Some dancers wore wire frameworks around their waist, decorated to suggest horses. The children's toy hobby-horse of a wooden horse head on the end of stick were patterned after this traditional morris costume."
       

The importance of Charlemagne or Charles the Great to the European nobility should not be underestimated. Under this Emperor of the Western Holy Roman Empire and as King of the Franks, Charlemagne, amongst other achievements,  stemmed the flow of  Muslim expansion into Europe. He did this by campaigning in Spain and establishing a military zone or frontier between Muslim Spain and Frankish Gaul. In time, a reconquest was undertaken spreading south from Leon and Castile into Al-Andalus.10 The re-taking of the Iberian peninsula was not achieved until 1492, this event and  the marriage of  Philip and Isabella completely overshadowed another event, Christopher Columbus's discovery of  America, which, because it did not show immediate lucrative rewards, was dismissed as a rather interesting distraction.

Reconquest
                            Reconquest of Spain in the 900's
Castile
                             Spain in the middle 1100's

Morris dancing often accompanied the May Games and the gentry went a-Maying whilst the peasants cavorted around the village maypoles.7 During the reign of  Elizabeth, stories of Robin Hood  were very popular, the characters, Robin Hood, Maid Marian, Little John and Friar Tuck would become involved with the Morris dancing. The traditional fool's costume was often seen, as well as multiple dancers portraying a dragon which would often be ritually slaughtered by the dancers.

Minstrels
Regarding the families of Warrene, De Laci and Thomas Plantagenet, J.C. Holt [p.113] expresses "All these hadBagpipe Player from the Luttrell Psalter 1320-40 minstrels in their households in 1306". Whitsuntide1306 was significant for it was the year that Edward I invested his son Prince Edward [later Edward II] as a knight. Prince Edward fom his infancy had been made the first non-Welsh Prince of Wales. This title is held today by Prince Charles. As with Charles's investiture as the Prince of Wales, Prince Edward's investiture as a knight was a grand occasion attended by many nobles and minstrels alike. Some of the minstrels were harpists, fiddlers, acrobats fencers, heralds and messengers. Many minstrels were part of the household of the attending nobles, being liveried, and were often identified by their master's name. Thomas of Lancaster had his vielle player and two trumpeters, Alice his wife brought her harpist and waferer. John, 8th earl Warrene had Geoffrey his harpist and Countess Warrene [Joan de Bar, relative of Prince Edward] also brought her own harpist. Adam of Clitheroe, King Edward I's harpist was also present.1[p 111-112]
                                                                
                                                      Images of minstrels from the Queen Mary's Psalter early 1300's

Harpist
                    A 'harperer' or harpist
                                                                         
Minstrels
         Lute or guitar and vielle players
                                                              

Minstrels
                 Early bagpipe and drum
                                                                                                 

                        There is informed speculation and there is................

Sources/References :
  1. Holt, J.C. Robin Hood.Thames and Hudson, 1982.
  2. Bellamy, John. Robin Hood an Historical Enquiry. Indiana Press. 1985.
  3. Harris, P. Valentine. The Truth About Robin Hood. London, 1951.
  4. Chambers E.K., Sir. English Literature at the Close of the Middle Ages. 1945
  5. Hunter, Joseph. Great Hero of the Ancient Minstrelsy of England, Robin Hood, 1852.
  6. Dobson, R.B.  and Taylor, J. Rymes of Robyn Hood. University of Pittsburgh Press. 1976.
  7. Alexander, Marc. A Companion to the Folklaw, Myths and Customs of Britain. Sutton Publishing, 2002.
  8. Phillips, G. & Keatman, M. Robin Hood The Man Behind the Myth. Michael O'Mara Books Ltd. 1995.
  9. Weir Alison. Britain's Royal Families : The Complete Genealogy. Pimlico. 2002.
10. Livermore, Harold. A History of Spain. George Allen & Unwin. 1958.
11. Young, History of British Music, 1967.
12.  Dommett, Roy. What was Morris?, The [Morris Ring] Circular, Feb 1994, 23, p 3.
13. Elton G.R. England Under the Tudors. Methuen, London, 1963.
14. Weir, Alison. The Wars of the Roses. Jonathan Cape, London. 1995, p169.
15. Butler, Lawrence. Sandal Castle Wakefield. Wakefield Historical Publications, 1991.

Link:
Pip Wilson's Tutbury Pages

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© Copyright Tim Midgley 2006 revised 8th August 2012.


Robin Hood search for the Truth | Robin Hood Places | Hood surname statistics | Robin Hood of Wakefield | Robert Hood of Newton | The Pinder of Wakefield Marian | Friars | Loxley and 'Huntington' | Myriads of Robin Hoods | Ballads of Robin Hood | Kirklees | The Armytages of Kirklees | Little John | Roger De Doncaster | The Penurious Knyght | Our Comly King  | Shire Reeve | Priory of Kirklees | Wakefield Rolls | Saylis of the Geste- a new site | Robert III Butler of Skelbrooke | Barnsdale and the Geste | De Lacis of PontefractAlice De Laci and John of GauntBarnsdale Gallery | Stephen II Le Waleys a suspected compiler of the Geste