Academic journal article Medium Aevum

The Songs and Travels of a Tudor Minstrel: Richard Sheale of Tamworth

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

The Songs and Travels of a Tudor Minstrel: Richard Sheale of Tamworth

Article excerpt

Andrew Taylor, The Songs and Travels of a Tudor Minstrel: Richard Sheale of Tamworth (York: York Medieval Press, in association with Boydell and Brewer, 2012). xvi + 203 pp. ISBN 978-1-903153-39-0. £60.00.

Bodleian MS Ashmole 48, best known for its inclusion of 'The Hunting of the Cheviot', has long been acknowledged as a 'minstrel manuscript'. In this book, Andrew Taylor adds depth and colour to that description, giving us the most complete account of the volume itself and its probable owner that is ever likely to be produced. He suggests that it was assembled around 15 5 6-8 by Richard Sheale, a minstrel from Tamworth who was patronized by Edward Stanley, 3rd Earl of Derby, a member of the family whose exploits are recorded in various of the miscellany's poems. Sheale's name appears at the end of five of the poems it contains; one, the 'Hunting' itself, certainly pre-dates him, but Taylor accepts the other four ascriptions, and adds two more. One is the socalled 'Stanley Poem', implausibly ascribed in the nineteenth century to Thomas Stanley, Bishop of Sodor and Man; the other is a set of skeltonics that Taylor entides 'Within the North Country', which names the English lords who were assembled at Berwick in 15 5 8. Not the least interesting element of the book is the identification of some of its contents not as copies of printed broadside ballads, as had been assumed, but as sources of ballads printed later. Sheale, in other words, extended his travels not only from Tamworth and the Stanley country as far as Berwick, but to London too, where he was able to supply the ballad printers with new copy. …

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