The Early Ballads 2

Meanwhile, Robin has met Sir Guy who admits that he is hunting Robin Hood. The two decide to compete in an archery contest; at this point Guy is unaware of his competitors identity. Robin wins the competition and reveals his identity; this results in a long battle with the sword, however Robin eventually slays Sir Guy and beheads him. He sticks the head on the end of his bow and proceeds to cut Sir Guy’s face with a knife so he cannot be recognized. With his gristly prize, Robin returns to Barnsdale disguised with Sir Guy’s clothes of horsehide. He blows a horn to inform the sheriff that Robin Hood has been slain; however Sir Guy (Robin) tells the sheriff he does not want gold as a reward, but would rather kill Little John. The sheriff grants the request, but Robin cuts Little John’s bonds and together they put the sheriff and his men to flight. Little John kills the fleeing sheriff with an arrow to the heart.

Robin Hoode his Death

This ballad also formed part of the Percy folio; it is a rather grim tale, which has survived in fragments. Some parts are missing, and in its present form it may be only half the original story. It begins with Robin declaring that he will visit Church Lees (Kirklees) to have his blood let. Will Scarlett warns Robin not to go alone, as there is a ‘good yeoman’ at Church Lees who is sure to quarrel with him (the good yeoman is presumably Red Roger). Robin insists on going only with Little John, and when they arrive they are admitted by the prioress, who is Robin’s cousin. Robin is bled until he is near death, but realizing there is treachery within, he manages to rise and make his way to a window. He is then thrust through the side with a sword wielded by Red Roger, but Robin still has the strength to mortally wound his assailant and leaves him for the dogs to eat. Robin then asks Little John to help him receive the last sacraments, and at this point Little John asks for leave to burn down Church Lees. Robin does not allow this and he does not take revenge on the prioress. He instructs Little Jonh to carry him to his grave. Robin dies in a similar fashion in the closing verses of the Gest.