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The latest TLS has a fascinating review by Diarmaid MacCulloch (of The War on Heresy: Faith and Power in Medieval Europe by R.I. Moore, which itself looks like a very fresh and interesting take on the Albigensian Crusade), in which I came across the following passage:

It took another hundred years after Norbert [of Xanten, c1080-1134]’s initiative for the Western Church to accept a version of wandering preachers, the orders of friars. That was only with very careful regulations and a good deal of stigmatizing for those who would not be reined in, so that many would-be friars ended up burned at the stake as heretics.

And I immediately thought of Friar Tuck in the Robin Hood legend, a story that would place him right at the start of this very dangerous period for his order.

Normally, Tuck is portrayed as overweight (it’s the name that does it) and as a symbol that Robin is one of the good guys because he has the Church on his side.

In the reality of late 12th century England, Tuck would not have been a symbol of Church approval, buy more likely a sign of radical thinking, an outcast more dangerous, perhaps, than Robin Hood himself. And because he might end up in the flames, he would have more to loose than any of the other outlaws.

It puts a rather different perspective on the story, doesn’t it?

6 thoughts on “Tuck

      1. We’re having a heat wave here in Chicago, and we lost power tonight. So I was out at a bar, and just came home.

        Is this a Calvino-inspired stretch of posting? “Tuck > you > ???”

        “Into > Bed????”


  1. This is really interesting, by the way! I will think of it the next time I watch The Adventures of Robin Hood, one of my all-time favorite films…

    1. Yeah, I’ve never really warmed to Tuck as a character in any of the versions I’ve seen (I first came across him in the 1950s TV series with Richard Greene as Robin). But this suddenly makes him rather interesting.

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