“Robin Hood's Death”


Robin Hood, feeling ill, travels to (Kirkly-hall) to be blooded. The prioress sets out to bleed him to death. Only as he nears death does Robin realize what is happening; he calls to Little John. It is too late to save Robin; he arranges for his burial


This is considered by J. C. Holt (following Child and others), to be one of the five "basic" Robin Hood ballads. (For more details on chronology see the notes on "A Gest of Robyn Hode" [Child 117]). The earliest known copy (from the Percy folio) is very defective, but seems to be at least two centuries older than the manuscript.

This perhaps the most popular of the basic Robin Hood ballads (note that it is one of only eight Robin Hood pieces for which we have an authentic tune); fragments have been found in America as recently as the twentieth century.

Unlike most Robin Hood tunes, this has an unquestionably legitimate tune, from Davis. - RBW

Cross references


  • Art Thieme, "The Death of Robin Hood" (on Thieme02) (on Thieme06) [with introductory verses from other Robin Hood ballads]


  1. Child 120, "Robin Hood's Death" (2 texts)
  2. Bronson 120, "Robin Hood's Death" (1 version)
  3. Davis-Ballads 30, "Robin Hood's Death" (1 text, 1 tune entitled "The Death of Robin Hood") {Bronson's [#1]}
  4. Leach, pp. 349-352, "Robin Hood's Death" (1 text)
  5. Friedman, p. 345, "Robin Hood's Death" (1 text)
  6. OBB 125, "The Death of Robin Hood" (1 text)
  7. Niles 43, "Robin Hood's Death" (1 text, 1 tune)
  8. Gummere, pp. 90-93+322-323, "Robin Hood's Death" (1 text)
  9. Hodgart, p. 94, "Robin Hood's Death" (1 text)
  10. BBI, (no number; perhaps should be ZRN23?), "When Robin Hood and Little John"
  11. DT 120, ROBHDTH*
  12. Roud #3299
  13. BI, C120


Alternate titles: “Robber Hood's Death”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1786
Found in: US(MW,SE)