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The Cornish Pasty

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Robin Hood

1227 et seq.

The "pasty" ballad reference below was written in mid-15th Century
e.g. c. 1450 AD

From Wikipedia - Robin Hood: "From 1227 onwards the names 'Robinhood', 'Robehod' or 'Hobbehod' occur in the rolls of several English justices. The majority of these references date from the late thirteenth century: between 1261 and 1300 there are at least eight references to 'Rabunhod' in various regions across England, from Berkshire in the south to York in the north."

Also: "The term seems to be applied as a form of shorthand to any fugitive or outlaw. Even at this early stage, the name Robin Hood is used as that of an archetypal criminal. This usage continues throughout the medieval period. In a petition presented to Parliament in 1439, the name is again used to describe an itinerant felon. The petition cites one Piers Venables of Aston, Derbyshire, "who having no liflode, ne sufficeante of goodes, gadered and assembled unto him many misdoers, beynge of his clothynge, and, in manere of insurrection, wente into the wodes in that countrie, like as it hadde be Robyn Hude and his meyne."

Also, later: "Therefore, even in the earliest records, Robin is already largely fictional."



Wikipedia - List_of_the_Child_Ballads "contains all the 305 ballad types in Francis James Child's collection Popular English and Scottish Ballads, collected in the 19th century, colloquially known as the Child Ballads". These were compiled from 1882-1898 by Francis J. Child, Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory at Harvard University.

This list includes ballads 117-154 which all relate to Robin Hood.

Child's notes on ballad 119: Robin Hood and the Monk - "Assumed to be the oldest extant Robin Hood ballad, and a favorite of scholars. The action concerns Robin's journey to Nottingham to pay homage to the Virgin Mary, and his subsequent recognition by a monk and capture by the sheriff. It is then up to Little John and Much the miller's son to ambush the monk, carrying news of Robin's capture to the king, and to free Robin from jail. One of the longer and better Robin Hood ballads, if not surprisingly violent and vindictive towards the clergy. From a mid-15th century Cambridge manuscript."

"They filled in wyne and made hem glad,
Under the levys smale,
And yete pastes of venyson,        (= "and ate pasties of venison")
That gode was with ale."

We (KR) have searched all the ballads electronically (Edit-Find+"past") and find this as the only reference in the 40 ballads


Other literature

There are no doubt many books about Robin Hood and there are probably other "pasty" references that we are not aware of. We are satisfied that we have gone back as far as we can in the literature and that is sufficient for the purpose of "origins" of the pasty for this web site, however, as always, in the quest for the facts, if you know differently, please email me (KR)

One book that is online is: ROBIN HOOD by J. Walker McSpadden

This is published by The World Wide SchoolTM, Seattle, November 1997

CHAPTER IV - How Little John Entered the Sheriff's Service- "And he kicked open the buttery door without ceremony and brought to light a venison pasty and cold roast pheasant--goodly sights to a hungry man." ..... and .....

"The venison pasty soon disappeared, and the roast pheasant flew at as lively a rate as ever the bird itself had sped."

CHAPTER VII - How Robin Hood met Friar Tuck - "On his head was a knight's helmet, and in his hand was a no more warlike weapon than a huge pasty pie, with which he sat down by the water's edge." ..... and .....

"Robin Hood!" cried the good friar presently, holding his sides; "are you indeed that famous yeoman? Then I like you well; and had I known you earlier, would have both carried you across and shared my pasty pie with you."

CHAPTER XXII - How King Richard Came to Sherwood Forest - "There he made himself a cheerful blaze, and changed his dripping robe, and had sat himself down, with a sigh of satisfaction, before a tankard of hot mulled wine and a pasty, when suddenly a voice was heard on the outside, demanding admission." ..... and .....

"Then once again the priest sat him down to his pasty and mulled wine, right hopefully. He spoke his grace with some haste, and was surprised to hear his guest respond fittingly in the Latin tongue."  

Thus it seems that "pasty" was a word used in connection with "venison" a long time ago


Celtic spiral animation