The first Franciscan friars, named after St. Francis of Assissi, arrived in England in 1224 during Henry III's time. Franciscan friars were itinerant and denied themselves worldly goods. If 'Friar Tuck' were a friar then he would not have been, as often stated, of Fountains Abbey as this establishment was manned by monks of the Cistercian order who became wealthy and lived within the cloistered walls
For the "Curtal Friar", Phillips and Keatman suggest that curtal refers to the cord around the friar's waist, they also state friars were called "tucked friars' as they could tuck their habits under this cord. This it is surmised gives us the popularised name Friar Tuck1. However the term curtal means ""to dock" in reference to the cutting of the hair in the form of a tonsure. So this myth at best remains muddled.
Local religious houses were at:
Black Friars (Dominicans) arrived in England at the same time as
Franciscans (Greyfriars) and both orders were well established
by the time of the Lancastrian Revolt. The Cistercians had arrived
earlier but quickly established themselves in large monasteries
(the residence of monks).
*Dominican or Black Friars in Yorkshire:
In early Robin Hood ballads the monks are referred to as 'black-headed
monks' from St. Mary's York, from which we would infer they were
Benedictine monks of this house.
Footnote: The term 'frere' in Latin is translated as 'brother' not friar, thus our supposedly Franciscan 'friar' is just as likely to be a 'brother' or monk of one of the orders above.
1. Phillips & Keatman. Robin Hood: The Man Behind The Myth.
Copyright © Tim Midgley 2000, links revised July 2023.
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