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1563 - Foxe, John - Actes and Monuments (1)

Allusion
Date 1563
Author Foxe, John
Title Actes and Monuments
Mentions Tales of Robin Hood
John Foxe, unknown painter / National Portrait Gallery; Wikipedia (public domain).

By Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2017-02-15. Revised by Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2017-05-08. Based on information from Robert Lynley.

Allusion

This Ethelwolf [Æthelwulf, king of Wessex 839–58] had especially about him two bishops, whose counsel he was most ruled by, Swithin, bishop of Winchester, and Adelstan, bishop of Sherborne. Of the which two, the one was more skilful in temporal and civil affairs touching the king's wars, and filling of his coffers, and other furniture for the king. The other, who was Swithin, was of a contrary sort, wholly disposed and inclined to spiritual meditation, and to minister spiritual counsel to the king ; who had been schoolmaster to the king before. Wherein appeared one good condition of this king's nature, among his other virtues, not only in following the precepts and advertisements of his old schoolmaster, but also in that he, like a kind and thankful pupil, did so reverence his bringer-up, and old schoolmaster (as he called him), that he ceased not, till he made him bishop of Winchester, by the consecration of Celnoch, then archbishop of Canterbury. But as concerning the miracles which are read in the church of Winchester, of this Swithin, them I leave to be read together with the Iliads of Homer, or the tales of Robin Hood.[1]

Source notes

Note in right margin at beginning of passage: "Swithin, bishop of Winchester."
Note in right margin at end of passage: "Monkish miracles feigned of Swithin."

IRHB comments

This allusion is indicative of an attitude to Robin Hood literature similar to that which found expression in the proverb Tales of Robin Hood are good enough for fools. The Actes and Monuments are popularly known as Foxe's Book of Martyrs.

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Notes

  1. Foxe, John; Townsend, George, introd.; Cattley, Stephen Reed, ed. The Acts and Monuments of John Foxe: A New and Complete Edition (London, 1837-41), vol. II, p. 9.