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Make We Merry More and Less: An Anthology of Medieval English Popular Literature
More info and resources at: https://doi.org/10.11647/obp.0170




Editor’s Preface


Chapter 1: Voices from the Past

A. Snatches and Snippets

i) ‘Merie sungen the muneches binnen Ely’
ii) A secular lullaby, ‘Wake wel, Annot’
iii) Fragments of a Dance song: ‘Atte wrastlinge’, ‘At the ston-castinges’
From a Worcester Cathedral MS
iv) ‘Ne saltou, levedi’
v) ‘Ich habbe ydon al myn youth’
vi) ‘Dore, go thou stille’
vii) A lament, quoted in a lawsuit: ‘Wela! qua sal thir hornes blau’
viii) From the Red Book of Ossory: ‘Alas! How shold y singe’
ix) ‘Whenne bloweth the brom’

B. Scenes and Events from Chronicles and Letters

x) ‘there arose suche a sprynggynge and welling op of waters’ [1336]
xi) The Plague of 1348
‘And in the xxiii yere of his regne, in the este parteys’
‘In this same yere [1352], and in the yere afore’
xii) A Storm [1364] ... and a Great Frost [1435]
xiii) A Lynching [1427]
xiv) An Affray against the Lombards [c. 1458]
xv) Religious Unrest at Evesham [1377]
xvi) A Heretic Venerated [1440]
‘The xix yeer of kyng Harri’
‘The Bishop of Salisbury murdered’ [1450]
xvii) A Portent [1440]
xviii) Roger Bolingbroke, Necromancer [1440]
Letters; Paston Letters
xix) News from a Wife [1448]
xx) Another Dispute [c. 1451]
xxi) Local News [1453]
xxii) A Wife’s Suggestions [c. 1459]
xxiii) A Husband in playful mood [1465]
xxiv) A Son’s Requests [1471]
xxv) A Valentine Letter [1477]

C. Popular Beliefs

xxvi) The Shipman’s Vision [1457]
xxvii) Ghostly Battles [1365]
from Walter Map
xxviii) A Wife Rescued
xxix) A Fairy Lover
xxx) Herla and his Troop
xxxi) ‘Whatt manere of ivell thou be’
xxxii) For the Nightmare
xxxii a) A charm for staunching blood
xxxiii) Prognostications: ‘Giff sanct Paullis day be fair and cleir’
xxxiv) ‘Woe to the Red Dragon’
xxxiv a) ‘Then schal Cadwaladre Conan calle’
xxxv) Prophecia Merlini
xxxvi) ‘When the cocke in the north hath bilde’

D. Popular Religion

xxxvii) ‘Moder of God, wich did lappe thy swete babe’
xxxviii) Prayer to a Guardian Angel
xxxix) from Richard de Caistre’s prayer
From The Book of Margery Kempe
xl) A Visionary Meditation
xli) A Pilgrim with a Crooked Back
xlii) A Visiting Priest Reads to Her
xliii) A Fire at Lynn
xliv) A Woman who was Out of her Mind
xlv) A Conversation with Christ
xlvi) Margery’s Own Tale

Chapter 2: Ballads

A. Medieval and Early Modern Ballads

i) Judas
ii) Saint Stephen and Herod
iii) The Battle of Otterburn

B. From PFMS

iv) Adam Bell, Clim of the Clough, and William of Cloudesly
v) A Gest of Robyn Hode
vi) Sir Aldingar
vii) Glasgerion

C. Some Later Ballads

viii) Fair Annie
ix) The Three Ravens
x) Thomas the Rhymer

Chapter 3: Romances

i) Havelok
ii) Sir Orfeo
iii) Emaré
iv) Octavian
v) Sir Gowther
vi) Chevelere Assigne
vii) The Turke and Gowin
viii) Sir Lambewell
ix) Thomas of Erceldoune

Chapter 4: Tales and Legends

A. Anecdotes and Tales in Chronicles

i) Siward
ii) Gunnhild

B. Moral Tales, Exempla

iii) The Cursed Dancers
iv) A Merry Poor Man
v) Alexander and the Pirate
vi) Envy in Little Girls
vii) A Lecherous Woman carried off to Hell
viii) The Weeping Puppy
ix) Pope Joan
x) An English Witch

C. Local Legends

From Gervase of Tilbury
xi) Peak Cavern
xii) Laikibrais, St Simeon’s Horn and a mysterious Dog
xiii) Wandlebury Ring
xiv) A Mysterious Drinking Horn

D. More ‘free-standing’ Literary Examples

xv) Hereward
xvi) The Childe of Bristowe

E. Religious Tales and Saints’ Legends

xvii) Mary of Nemmegen
xviii) Saint George and the Dragon
xix) Saint Julian
xx) A Saintly Fool
xxi) The Virgin Mary saves a Thief

Chapter 5: Merry Tales

i) The Tale of the Basyn
ii) The King and the Hermit
iii) Rauf Coilyear
iv) The Freiris of Berwick
v) Kynd Kittok
vi) The Wright’s Chaste Wife
vii) Noodle Stories:
The Man who had a Goose
Penning the Cuckoo
Runaway Cheese
A Demonic Grasshopper
German Merry Tales:
viii) Howleglass would fly
ix) The Parson and the Bishop’s Lady
Early Sixteenth-Century Jests:
x) Wedded Men at the Gates of Heaven
xi) No Welshmen in Heaven

Chapter 6: Animal Tales

A. Man and Animal; Animals in histories, Cats and adages

i) The Fox
ii) The Cat
iii) Animals in Adages
iiia) Animal Proverbs

B. Fables, and Stories of Reynard

iv) Bozon’s The Goshawk and the Owl
Examples from Caxton
v) The Rat and the Frog
vi) The Eagle and the Fox
vii) The Lion and the Rat
viii) The Cat and the Rat
Fox Tales
ix) Tybert the Cat is tempted
x) The Fox and the Wolf in the Well
Foxes in Songs
xi) A Fox Carol
xii) The False Fox

C. Animals in Exempla or Moral Stories

xiii) Adulators rewarded, Truth Tellers condemned
xiv) The World’s Glory
xv) Saint Jerome’s Lion and the Ass
xvi) Silent Bribes: the Cow and the Ox
xvii) Swallows
xviii) Malevolent Mice
xix) A Mouse and a Cat
xx) Theft cannot be Hidden
xxi) Animals Know that Theft is Sinful

D. Further Literary examples

xxii) Bird on Briar
xxiii) Foweles in the Frith
xxiv) I have Twelve Oxen
Bird Debates
xxv) The Thrush and the Nightingale
xxvi) The Owl and the Nightingale
xxvii) The Hare’s Lament

Chapter 7: Proverbs and Riddles

A. Proverbs recorded in Manuscripts and Prints

i) Proverbs of Alfred
ii) From The Book of St Albans
iii) From Richard Hill’s book
iv) Miscellaneous Proverbs

B. Proverbs in Literary Texts

v) The Owl and the Nightingale

C. Proverbs in Verses, or Adages

vi) Balade attributed to Squire Halsham
vii) Keep Thy Tongue
Proverbs in Epitaphs
viii) ‘Farewell, my frendis! The tide abidith no man’
ix) Graunde Amour’s fictional epitaph
x) Adages as embodiments of ancient wisdom
xi) Solomon and Marcolfus

D. Riddles

xii) From the Demaundes Joyous
xiii) A Puzzle: ‘Water frosen’
xiv) An Ambiguous Riddle: ‘I have a hole above my knee’

E. Riddle Challenges

xv) The Devil and the Maid
xvi) King John and the Bishop

F. Poetic Uses of Enigma

xvii) ‘I have a yong suster’
xviii) ‘Byhalde merveylis: a mayde ys moder’
xix) ‘A God, and yet a man?’
xx) ‘Mirabile misterium’
xxi) ‘Erthe toc of erthe’
xxii) ‘In the vaile of restles mynd’

G. Enigma in Narrative

xxiii) The Corpus Christi Carol

Chapter 8: Satire

A. Snatches: Popular Satire in Action

i) ‘Maydenes of Engelande, sare may ye morne’
ii) ‘Now raygneth pride in price’
iii) Scottish Derision

B. The Wickedness of the World

iv) Now the Bisson Leads the Blind
v) Where is Truth?
vi) Abuses of the Age
vii) Sir Penny is a Bold Knight
viii) London Lickpenny

C. Particular Abuses and Wicked Deeds

ix) A Good Medicine for Sore Eyes
x) These Friars
xi) Thou that Sellest the Word of God

D. Against Particular Groups or Individuals

xii) Against the Rebellious Scots [1296]
xiii) A Scottish song against Edward I when he besieged Berwick
xiv) Black Agnes at the siege of Dunbar [1388]
xv) The Execution of Sir Simon Fraser
xvi) Revenge for Bannockburn
xvii) The Fall of Suffolk [1450]

E. Parody and Burlesque

xviii) The Land of Cokaygne
xix) The Tournament of Tottenham

Chapter 9: Songs

Snatches of Oral Songs
i) ‘Bon jowre, bon jowre a vous!’
ii) ‘Of every kune tre’
iii) ‘Al nist by the rose, rose’
iv) ‘Mayden in the mor lay’
v) ‘Ich am of Irlaunde’
vi) ‘Me thingkit thou art so lovely’
vii) ‘Westron wynde when wyll thow blow?’
viii) ‘Sing, cuccu nu! Sing cuccu!’
Christmas and New Year
ix) ‘Make we mery both more and lasse’
x) The Boar’s Head
xi) The Holly and the Ivy
xii) ‘What cher? Gud cher!’
Merriment throughout the Year
xiii) God speed the Plough
xiv) ‘We ben chapmen light of fote’
Drinking Songs
xv) ‘How, butler, how! Bevis a towt!’
xvi) ‘Bryng us in good ale’
Amorous Encounters; Men and Women
xvii) ‘Hey, noyney! I wyll love our Ser John’
xviii) ‘How, hey! It is non les’
xix) ‘Hogyn cam to bowers dore’
xx) ‘Say me, viit in the brom’
Miscellaneous Songs
xxi) ‘I have a gentil cok’
xxii) ‘I have a newe gardyn’
Nonsense Verse
xxiii) ‘Whan netilles in winter bere rosis rede’
xxiv) ‘Hay, hey, I wyll have the whetston and I may’
Religious Songs
xxv) ‘Nou goth sonne under wod’
xxvi) ‘Adam lay ibowndyn’
xxvii) ‘Levedie, I thonke the’
xxviii) ‘Can I not syng but ‘hoy’ ’
xxix) ‘Lullay, myn lykyng’
xxx) ‘Mery hyt ys in May morning’

Chapter 10: Drama

i) The Killing of Abel The Entrance of Cain (Wakefield/Towneley)
ii) Noah and his Wife A Flyting (Wakefield/Towneley)
iii) Herod (Coventry)
iv) The Trial of Joseph and Mary (N-Town)
v) The Play of the Sacrament (Croxton)
vi) Wyt and Science
vii) Youth
viii) Robin Hood and the Sheriff of Nottingham
ix) Robin Hood and the Friar


Afterlife, containing additions to some but not all the preceding chapters

1. (corresponding to ch. 1, Voices from the Past)

i) The Lykewake Dirge
ii) A Prophecy (from Thomas Rymour)

2. (for ch. 2, Ballads)

iii) Sir Patrick Spens
iv) Tam Lin
v) The Cherry-Tree Carol
vi) Brown Robyn’s Confession
vii) Hugh of Lincoln
viii) Robin Hood and the Curtal Friar

3. (for ch. 3, Romance)

ix) How Bevis slew a dreadful Dragon

4. (for ch. 5, Merry Tales)

x) Dr Johnson imitates a Kangaroo

5. (for ch. 9, Songs)

xi) ‘Down in yon forest there stands a hall’
xii) ‘The heron flew east, the heron flew west’
xiii) The Seven Virgins

6. (for ch. 10, Drama)

xiv) The Oxfordshire Saint George Play


Primary Texts
Secondary Texts