The meaning of, and background to, the well-known expression "He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword.

Well-Known Expressions

He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword

Meaning:

Those who view war/violence as a solution to their problems will likely die a violent death

Background:

This proverb traces to the play The Death of Robert, Earl of Huntington by English dramatist Anthony Munday (1601).

Robert, Earl of Huntington is one of a number of people who historians think may have been the basis for the legendary character of Robin Hood.  The evidence for the Earl of Huntington being "Robin Hood" traces to references by the likes of Anthony Munday and to Thomas Gale (1697-1702) who left in his papers words that were supposed to have been from the grave of Robin Hood, and recorded his death as being in 1247. 

Hear undernead this (dis) laitl stean/Lais Robert Earl of Huntington (Huntingtun)/Nea arcir ver as hie sae geud/An pipl kauld im Robin Heud/Sick utlaws as hi an is men/vil England nivr si agen.
(Here underneath this little stone/Lies Robert Earl of Huntington/No archer was as he so good/And people called him Robin Hood/Such outlaws as he and his men/Will England never see again). 


A similar epitaph is published at the end of The True Tale of Robin Hood by Martin Parker (1632), which gives the date of death as 1198 (at the end of the reign of King Richard "The Lionheart")

Robert Earle of Huntington/Lies under this little stone./No archer was like him so good;/His wildnesse named him Robbin Hood./Full thirteene yeares, and something more,/These northerne parts he vexed sore./Such out-lawes as he and his men/May England never know agen.

Alphabetical list of expressions

Challenge yourself with BookBrowse Wordplays

Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  
Sign up, win books!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: A Man Called Ove
    A Man Called Ove
    by Fredrik Backman
    Reading A Man Called Ove was like having Christmas arrive early. Set in Sweden, this debut novel is ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Search
    by Geoff Dyer
    All hail the independent publisher! In May 2014, Graywolf Press brought two of long-revered British ...
  • Book Jacket
    Mrs. Hemingway
    by Naomi Wood
    Naomi Wood's latest novel, Mrs. Hemingway, is a fictionalized biography covering in turn writer...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The City
by Dean Koontz

Published Jul. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  19The Arsonist:
    Sue Miller
  2.  103Tomlinson Hill:
    Chris Tomlinson

All Discussions

Win this book!
Win The Angel of Losses

The Angel of Losses

"Family saga, mystery, and myth intersect in Feldman's debut novel." - Booklist

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

E C H A Silver L

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.