The romance of the road in Athelston and two late medieval Robin Hood ballads
in Roadworks
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This chapter argues that roads function as the material signifiers of deeply politicized relational networks in three Middle English romances: Athelston, the Gest of Robin Hood and Robin Hood and the Monk. Where Athelston uses roadrunning between jurisdictions to generate more inclusive conceptions of England as nation, the Robin Hood ballads manipulate roads effectively to highjack connective modes of normative nation-building and experiment briefly with much more fluid modes of nation as improvisation. Drawing on historical geographies of the southern and northern branches of the great Roman road known as Watling Street, ultimately, all three of these romances politicize road-running by asking whose roads are being travelled – are they common to all, networks between regions, extensions of civil sanctuary, or are they the king’s to protect and sequester?


Medieval Britain, medieval roads

Editors: Valerie Allen and Ruth Evans


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