Interlude (not part of Captain Cox’s List) — “Dane Hew Monk of Leicester”

While looking at the next item on Laneham’s  / Captain Cox’s list (“The Hy Way to the Spitl-House”), I went looking for a copy of the work in  William Carew Hazlitt’s “Remains of Early Popular Poetry  of England”  (1866, four volumes).     Before I located it, however (in Vol. 4), I found (in Volume 3) a copy of a work I hadn’t seen in its original form before.       This tale appears, in prose form, in Derek Brewer’s collection “Medieval Comic Tales” as “Dom Hugh of Leicester”,  but I thought I would have to request a digital facsimile of the copy in the Bodleian library in order to see the original rhymed couplets.     I corresponded with some very nice people there last year, but became flummoxed at the prospect of completing the request form properly.

Pedigree:    The copy in the Bodleian  is dated 1560-1584 (according to Brewer’s notes in his collection), printed by Scotsman John Allde (according to the colophon at the beginning).      This was / is believed to be the only surviving copy of  this version of a tale which has permutations in multiple countries over several centuries  (classified by the Aarne-Thompson folk tale classification system as “Type 1537–the corpse killed five times”).     The version of this tale type which appears in “1000 Nights and a Night” as “The Little Hunchback” is the first story I learned for solo performance in the SCA  8)

Synopsis:     Dom / Dane   Hugh / Hew is a lusty monk who is pining away after a certain tailor’s wife.      After arranging an assignation with the less-than-enthusiastic lady (who plots with her husband how to avoid Hew’s embraces and yet profit),     Hew is killed by (1)  the tailor,   (2)  the local Abbot (whose servant heard of Hew’s plans), (3)  the tailor again,    (4) some thieves, after the tailor switches Hew’s body (in a sack) for a sack of stolen bacon, and (5)  the Abbot’s servants, after Hew’s body is attached to a horse’s back with a lance, in a counterfeit of jousting.       One major difference from “The Little Hunchback”  is the regard in which the dead man is  held by all the locals.     The little hunchback is the favorite jester of the sultan and thus enjoys some affection along with his protected status.   Dane Hew  is universally regarded as a lusty wooer and thus a bad churchman,   while of sufficient standing that no one wants to be found having slain him.

Availability:     Internet Archive has a digital copy of  “Remains of Early Popular Poetry of England” , Volume III, here:


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