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Robin Hood's Rules: Gang-culture in Early Modern Outlaw-Tales?

Cartlidge, Neil

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This article discusses the extent to which ‘gang-culture’ can be seen as central to the social world imagined in English ballads featuring the outlaw Robin Hood. Focusing on two ballads from the mid-sixteenth century manuscript known as the ‘Forresters’ collection, it illustrates some of the ways in which such texts show themselves to be aware of some of the social dimensions of banditry: for example, in relation to Hobsbawm’s concept of ‘peasant outlaws’ and in relation to apparent anxieties about the phenomenon of forced marriage. However, it also emphasises that ballad-material is often distinctively shaped by the demands of (implied) performance, and that the role played by gangs in such texts directly reflects particular assumptions about the nature of their reception. In the end, the specific characteristics of Robin Hood’s gang is at least as much a product of literary dynamics as of social ones.

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Mar 16, 2016
Publication Date Mar 1, 2016
Deposit Date Apr 29, 2015
Publicly Available Date Mar 23, 2016
Journal Cultural Dynamics
Print ISSN 0921-3740
Electronic ISSN 1461-7048
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 28
Issue 1
Pages 13-26
Public URL


Accepted Journal Article (199 Kb)

Copyright Statement
Cartlidge, Neil (2016) 'Robin Hood’s rules : gang-culture in early-modern outlaw tales?', Cultural dynamics., 28 (1). pp. 13-26. Copyright © 2016 The Author(s). Reprinted by permission of SAGE Publications.

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