Robin Hood is a famous English hero of folk tales and ballads. Robin Hood was considered an unrivaled archer, and the authorities could not catch him.
Ballads about this hero were composed back in the XIV century. Based on them, many books about Robin Hood have already been written, many films have been shot. The hero appears now as a nobleman-avenger, now as a cheerful reveler, now as a hero-lover.
In fact, there are not many real facts about this character. It is all woven from myths. But some of them are still implausible. Even the legendary hero has his own historical truth. We will debunk the main misconceptions about Robin Hood.
Robin Hood was a real person. It must be admitted that this character is fictional. The career of an archetypal hero developed from the many popular wishes and disappointments of the common people of that era. Robin (or Robert) Hood (or Hod or Hude) was a nickname for petty criminals until the middle of the 13th century. It seems no coincidence that the name Robin is consonant with the word "robbing" (robbery). It is already modern writers who have formed the image of a noble robber, as real. There were people like Robin Hood. They trampled on unpopular state laws regarding forests. Those rules kept vast areas semi-wild, especially for the hunting of the king and his court. Such fugitives have always delighted oppressed peasants. But there was no such specific person who inspired his contemporaries to create poems about themselves. No one was born with the name Robin Hood or lived with him.
Robin Hood lived during the reign of Richard the Lionheart. Robin Hood is often called the enemy of the ambitious Prince John, who is trying to seize power during the absence of King Richard I the Lionheart, who was captured during the Crusade (ruled 1189-1199). But for the first time, the names of these three characters in the same context began to be mentioned by writers of the Tudor era in the 16th century. There is a mention (albeit not entirely convincing) of Robin Hood as one of the participants in the trial during the reign of Edward II (1307-1327). Much more plausible is the ballad that Robin Hood was a supporter of Simon de Montfort, who was killed in Evesham in 1265. It is safe to say that Robin Landless had become a popular character in folk mythology by the time William Langland wrote his Vision of Peter the Pahar in 1377. This historical document directly mentions the name of Robin Hood. It is unclear how this character was associated with Ranulf de Blondville, Earl of Chester, whose name follows immediately after the name of the robber. It is likely that they got into the phrase from different sources.
Robin Hood was a noble man who robbed the rich and gave money to the poor. This myth was invented by the Scottish historian John Major. He wrote in 1521 that Robin did not cause any harm to women, did not detain the goods of the poor, generously shared with them what he took from the rich. But ballads used to cover the character's activities more skeptically. The longest and probably the oldest story about Robin Hood is Robin Hood's Glorious Little Adventure. Presumably it was recorded in the years 1492-1510, but it is likely that much earlier, in the 1400s. There is a comment in this text that Robin did a lot of good things for the poor. But at the same time, he helps a knight in financial difficulties with money. In this work, as in other early ballads, there is no mention of the money that was given to the peasants, of the redistribution of goods between social strata. On the contrary, in the stories there is a story about how a robber mutilated an already defeated enemy and even killed a child. This makes you look differently at the personality of the legendary character.
Robin Hood was an impoverished nobleman, Earl of Huntington. Again, there is no real basis for the emergence of such a myth. Robin Hood, already in the first stories, is always a commoner, communicating with people of his class. Where did such a legend come from? John Leland wrote in 1530 that Robin Hood was a noble robber. Most likely, it was about his actions, but the image was now supplemented by a corresponding origin. And in 1569, the historian Richard Grafton claimed that in one old engraving he found evidence of the earl's dignity of Robin Hood. This explained his chivalry and masculinity. This idea was subsequently popularized by Anthony Munday in his 1598 plays The Fall of Robert, Earl of Huntington and The Death of Robert, Earl of Huntington. In this work, Count Robert, impoverished due to the intrigues of his uncle, began in the guise of a robber to fight for the truth, saving his bride Marian from the harassment of Prince John. And in 1632, Martin Parker's The True Story of Robin Hood appeared. It clearly states that the famous criminal, Earl Robert Huntington, in the common people called Robin Hood, died in 1198. But the real Earl of Huntington during this period was David of Scots, who died in 1219. After the death of his son John in 1237, this noble branch was interrupted. Only a century later, the title was granted to William de Clinton.
Robin married Maid Marian. The Virgin Marian has become an important part of the Robin Hood legend. However, few people know that initially she was the heroine of a separate series of ballads. Robin and the other robbers from the earliest traditions had no wives or families. The image of a woman appears only in Robin Hood's devotion to the Virgin Mary. Probably, the storytellers considered such worship irrelevant in the years following the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century. It is likely that Marian appeared in the Robin Hood legends around this time to provide an alternative feminine focus. And since there are positive characters, a man and a woman, then they must certainly get married.
The maiden Marian was of noble blood. The personality of this girl raises many questions. Some historians are inclined to think that it was a beauty, patronized by Prince John. And she met Robin Hood only after falling into his ambush in the forest. However, there is another opinion. Some scholars believe that for the first time Marian appears not even in the English epic, but in French. That was the name of the shepherdess, the friend of the shepherd Robin. Only two hundred years later, the girl moved into the legend of a brave robber. Yes, and initially Marian was not highly moral; such a reputation appeared much later, under the influence of the chaste morality of the Victorian era.
Robin Hood was buried in Yorkshire, at the Kirklees monastery. His grave has survived there to this day. According to legends, Robin Hood went to Kirklis Monastery for treatment. The hero realized that his hand had weakened, and the arrows began to fly more and more frequently. The nuns were famous for their bloodletting skills. In those days, it was considered the best medicine. But the abbess, whether accidentally or deliberately, released too much blood to Robin Hood. Dying, he released the last arrow, bequeathed to bury himself in the place of its fall. But the Tudor-era writer Richard Grafton had a different version. He believed that the abbess buried Robin Hood on the side of the road. The book indicates that the hero rests where he robbed passers-by. The abbess of the monastery installed a large stone on his grave. It bore the names of Robin Hood and several other people. It is possible that a certain William Goldborough and Thomas were accomplices of the robber. And this was done so that travelers, seeing the grave of the famous robber, could safely continue on without fear of robbery. In 1665, local historian Nathaniel Johnson sketched this tomb. It appears in the form of a slab adorned with a six-pointed Lorraine cross. It is often found on English gravestones from the 13th-14th centuries. Even then, the inscriptions were barely legible. Robin Hood could indeed be buried with other people, but if the monument was erected immediately after his death, it is strange that no one mentioned this until 1540. The monastery itself passed into the possession of the Armitage family in the 16th century, after the church reform. In the 18th century, Sir Samuel Armitage decided to excavate the earth to a depth of a meter under the stone. The main fear was that the robbers had already visited the grave. However, it turned out that there was nothing to be afraid of - there were no robbers under the stone. It seems that the stone was moved here from another place, where the legendary Robin Hood is buried. The gravestone is now regularly attacked by souvenir hunters trying to chop off a piece from it. And many people believe that pieces of stone help to get rid of a toothache. Armitage subsequently enclosed the stone in a small brick fence surrounded by an iron rail. Their remains are visible today.
Some of Robin Hood's friends can be compared with celebrities of that era. Little John, Will Scarlett, and Mach, the Miller's son, accompany Robin Hood in early ballads. Later, other heroes appeared in the company - monk Tuk, Alan from the Valley, etc. The most famous of these is Little John. There are almost as many references about him in the documents as about Robin Hood himself. Little John has been said to be elusive, just like his friend. It is known that the grave of this robber is located in Derbyshire at the cemetery in Hathersej, which is interesting. The stones and railings on it are modern, but part of the early memorial still bears the weathered initials "L" and "I" (looking like "J"). James Shuttleworth, who owned the estate, excavated here in 1784. He found a very large femur with a length of 73 centimeters. It turned out that someone 2.4 meters high was buried in the grave! Soon, strange misfortunes began to happen to the owners of the estate. Then the watchman reburied the bone in an unknown place. Two settlements, Little Haggas Croft in Locksley, Yorkshire and Huttersage Village in Peak County, Derbyshire, claim to be the birthplace of Robin Hood and where Little John spent his final years. An alternative approach to the history of Robin Hood is based on an attempt to establish in the historical context his opponents. However, the ballads directly name only the Sheriff of Nottingham, the abbot of St Mary and York. Other characters are mentioned only by title. Specific names are not named, which could be attached to specific dates in history. This lack of accurate information is disappointing, but we must always remember that we are dealing with a folk epic and not with factual documents.
Robin Hood was an excellent archer. The ability to shoot accurately from a bow was the hallmark of Robin Hood. In some productions, he even won the competition, hitting not even an apple, but an arrowhead. In fact, at the time of the appearance of the legends about Robin Hood, the classic English longbows were just beginning to appear, they were very rare. Historical documents indicate that the robbers mastered this weapon in the middle of the 13th century. Then they began to hold competitions. If you believe that Robin Hood lived at the end of the XII century, then he could not have a bow.
Monk Tuck was an accomplice of Robin Hood. This monk is considered one of the heroes of the Sherwood Fox. Written evidence suggests that Brother Tuck was indeed a robber. But he only acted 200 miles from Sherwood Forest, moreover, 100 years after the supposed lifetime of Robin Hood. And this priest was not at all harmless and cheerful - he mercilessly ravaged and burned the hearths of his enemies. In subsequent legends, the names of the famous robbers began to be mentioned together, they became accomplices.
Robin Hood operated in Nottinghamshire Sherwood Forest. This statement is usually not objectionable. However, the mention of Sherwood did not appear in ballads immediately, the earliest - in the middle of the 15th century. It seems that there is nothing wrong with that, just before the fact simply escaped the narrator. Only in the collection of ballads about Robin Hood, published in 1489, his activities are associated with a completely different county, Yorkshire. It is not located in the center of England, but in the north. It is worth mentioning that the Yorkshire Great North Road, on which, according to this version, and Robin Hood operated, really had a bad reputation due to the numerous robberies of travelers.
Robin Hood is the real name of the robber. It's right to say - Robin Hood. In English spelling, the surname is spelled as Hood, not Good. The literal correct translation of the hero's name is Robin Hood, not Robin the Good. There are doubts about the name of the robber. The phrase "Rob in Hood" literally means "robber in the hood". It is unclear whether the name Robin appeared from this phrase, or whether the word itself is from the name of the robber.
Robin Hood's associates wore green robes. The robbers' green robes are often mentioned in legends. One of the early legends tells how the king specially dressed his people in green, ordering them to walk around Nottingham and impersonate the forest brothers. However, the townspeople not only did not welcome the "robbers", but in anger drove them away. This, incidentally, speaks volumes about how the people "loved" Robin Hood. If he really fought for justice and was popular, then why did the people in green hurriedly flee from the townspeople? This is how the legend of the robbers' green robes found its life.
The Sheriff of Nottingham was a notorious villain. From legends, novels and films, it is known that the main enemy of Robin Hood is the Sheriff of Nottingham. This servant of the law headed the foresters, guards, was friends with the church and the nobility. The unscrupulous sheriff had unlimited sweetness in these places. But he could not do anything with Robin Hood - on his side was ingenuity, accuracy and common people. It should be understood that in medieval England the sheriff was an official who fought criminals. This position appeared in the X-XI centuries. Under the Normans, the country was divided into districts, each of which had its own sheriff. Interestingly, they did not always coincide with the counties. So the Sheriff of Nottingham also looked after the neighboring county of Derbyshire. In the legends about Robin Hood, his main enemy is the sheriff, never called by name. Among the prototypes are the names of William de Brewer, Roger de Lacy and William de Vendenal. The Sheriff of Nottingham existed, but it is not clear who he was during the years of Robin Hood. In early legends, the sheriff was simply an enemy of the "forest lads" by the nature of his service, fighting all the robbers. But later this character was overgrown with details, becoming a real negative hero. He oppresses the poor, appropriates foreign lands, introduces new taxes and generally abuses his position. And in some stories, the sheriff even harasses Lady Marian and, with the help of intrigue, tries to become king of England. True, the ballads make fun of the sheriff. He is portrayed as a cowardly fool who is trying to do the job of catching Robin Hood with someone else's hands.
Sir Guy Gisborne was a real noble character and an enemy of Robin Hood. Sir Guy Gisborne's behavior is very different from that of the Sheriff. The knight in the legends appears as a brave and brave warrior who is good at sword and bow. One of the legends tells how Guy Gisborne volunteered to end Robin Hood for a reward, but in the end he himself fell at the hands of a noble robber. Not all stories portray this knight as a noble character. In some places he is called a cruel bloodthirsty killer who easily breaks the law in order to achieve his goals.In some ballads, Guy Gisborne solicits the maiden Marian, and in some places he even acts as her fiancé. The appearance of the hero is also unusual - he wears not an ordinary cloak, but the skin of a horse. But such a historical character did not exist at all. It is believed that Sir Guy Gisborne was once the hero of a separate legend, which later merged with the story of Robin Hood.
Robin Hood was a hero lover. Among the friends of the brave robber, only one female name is called - the virgin Marian. And Stephen Knight, professor of English literature at Cardiff University, put forward an original idea. He believes Robin Hood and his friends were a gay bunch! In confirmation of this bold idea, the scientist cites very unambiguous parts of the ballads. Yes, and in the original stories about Robin Hood's girlfriend nothing was said at all, but the names of close friends - Little John or Will Scarlett - were unnaturally often mentioned. And this point of view is shared by Cambridge professor Barry Dobson. He interprets the relationship between Robin Hood and Little John as highly controversial. LGBT rights activists immediately took up this theory. There are even voices for the story of Robin Hood's gay sex to be told to children at school. In any case, with the reputation of a hero-lover with a robber, everything is far from clear.