Robin Hood is a famous English hero of folk tales and ballads. In the legends it was said that he and his friends robbed in the Sherwood forest, robbed the rich and gave money to the poor. Robin Hood was considered an unsurpassed archer, the authorities could not catch him.
Ballads about this hero were built up in the XIV century. Based on them already today, written a lot of books about Robin Hood, filmed a lot of films. The hero appears as a nobleman, an avenger, a merry reveler, a hero-lover.
In fact, there are few real facts about this character. He is all woven of myths. But some of them are still implausible. Even the legendary hero has his own historical truth. The main misconceptions about Robin Hood we will debunk.
Robin Hood was a real person.
It’s worth admitting that this character is fictitious. The career of the archetypal hero was formed from the numerous popular wishes and disappointments of the common people of that era. Robin (or Robert) Hood (or Hod, or Hude) was a nickname, which was awarded to small criminals until the middle of the XIII century. It seems no coincidence that the name of Robin is consonant with the word “robbing” (robbery). This is already the modern writers formed the image of a noble robber, as real. There were people like Robin Hood. They trampled upon unpopular state laws on forests. Those rules kept the vast areas semi-wild, especially for the hunting of the king and his court. Such fugitives have always admired oppressed peasants. But there was not such a specific person who inspired contemporaries to create poems about himself. No one was born with the name of Robin Hood and did not live 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 of the Lionhearted Crusade during the Crusade (ruled in 1189-1199). But for the first time the names of these three characters in one context began to be mentioned by writers of the Tudor period in the 16th century. There is a mention (albeit not quite convincing) of Robin Hood as one of the participants in the court under the rule of Edward II (1307-1327). There is a more plausible ballad about the fact that Robin Hood was a supporter of Simon de Montfort, who was killed in Evesham in 1265. One can say with confidence that Robin Landless became a popular character in folk mythology by the time William Langland wrote his “Vision of Peter the Plow” in 1377. In this historical document, the name of Robin Hood is directly mentioned. It is unclear how this character was associated with Ranulf de Blondville, the Earl of Chester, whose name follows immediately after the mention of the name of the robber. It is likely that they are in a phrase from different sources.
Robin Hood was a noble man, robbing the rich and giving money to the poor.
This myth was invented by the Scottish historian John Meijer. He wrote in 1521 that Robin did no harm to women, did not detain the goods of the poor, generously shared with them what he took from the rich. But before ballads illuminated the character’s activity is more skeptical. The longest, and probably the oldest story about Robin Hood, is “Robin Hood’s Little Glorious Adventure.” Presumably it was recorded in 1492-1510, but it is likely that much earlier, in the 1400’s. In this text there is a comment that Robin did a lot of good for the poor. But at the same time, he helps the knight with money in financial difficulties. In this work, as in other early ballads, there is no mention of the money that was given to the peasants, the redistribution of goods between the social strata. On the contrary, there is a story in the stories about how a robber mutilated an already defeated enemy and even killed a child. This leads to a different look at the personality of the legendary character.
Robin Hood was an impoverished nobleman, Count 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 the people of his class. Where did this 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 the corresponding origin. And in 1569 the historian Richard Grafton claimed that in one ancient engraving he found evidence of the Count’s worth of Robin Hood. This explained his chivalry and masculinity. This idea was later popularized by Anthony Mandey in his plays The Fall of Robert, Earl of Huntington and The Death of Robert, Earl of Huntington, written in 1598. In this work, impoverished because of the wiles of his uncle, Count Robert, in the guise of a robber, struggled for the truth, saving his fiancée Marian from the harassment of Prince John. And in 1632 appeared “The True Tale of Robin Hood” by Martin Parker. There it is unequivocally said that the well-known criminal, Count Robert Huntington, popularly named 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 given to William de Clinton.
Robin married the Virgin Mary.
Virgo Marian became an important part of the legend of Robin Hood. However, very few people know that initially she was the heroine of a separate series of ballads. Robin and other robbers from the very first legends had no wives or family. The image of a woman appears only in the devotion of Robin Hood to the Virgin Mary. Probably, the narrators considered such worship irrelevant in the years after the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century. It is likely that Marian therefore appeared in the legends of Robin Hood around this time to provide an alternative female focus. And since there are positive characters, a man and a woman, they must certainly marry.
Maid Marian was a noble blood.
The personality of this girl raises many questions. Some historians tend to think that it was a beautiful woman, guarded by Prince John. And she met Robin Hood, only getting 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 cowherd boy, the friend of the shepherd Robin. Only two hundred years later the girl moved to the legend of a brave robber. Nor was Marian originally a highly moral person, she had such a reputation much later, under the influence of a chaste morality of the Victorian era.
Robin Hood was buried in Yorkshire, in the Kirklis Monastery.
His grave has survived there until now. According to the legends, Robin Hood went to the Kirklis monastery for treatment. The hero realized that his hand was weakened, and the arrows began to fly more and more often past the target. Nuns were famous for their ability to bleed. In those days it was considered the best medicine. But the abbess accidentally, or intentionally, released Robin Hood too much blood. Dying, he released the last arrow, bequeathing to bury himself in the place of her fall. But the writer of the Tudor era Richard Grafton had another version. He believed that the abbess had buried Robin Hood at the side of the road. The book states that the hero rests where he robbed those passing by. On his grave the abbess of the monastery established a large stone. On it were inscribed the names of Robin Hood and several others. Perhaps some 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 go further without fear of robbery. In 1665, local historian Nathaniel Johnson sketched this grave. It appears in the form of a plate decorated with a six-pointed Lorraine cross. It is often found on English tombstones of the 13th-14th centuries. The inscriptions were already barely legible at that time.Robin Hood could indeed be buried with other people, but if the monument was installed immediately after his death, it is strange that no one mentioned it until 1540. The monastery itself became the property of the Armitage family in the 16th century, after the church reform. In the XVIII century, Sir Samuel Armitage decided to dig the ground to a depth of one meter under the stone. The main fear was that the grave had already been visited by robbers. However, it turned out that there was nothing to be afraid of – there were no robber bodies under the stone. It seems that the stone was moved here from another place, where the legendary Robin Hood is buried. Now the tombstone is regularly attacked by hunters for souvenirs, who are trying to sever a piece from it. And many believe that parts of the stone help to get rid of toothache. Armitage subsequently imprisoned the stone in a small brick fence, surrounded by iron railings. Their remains are still visible today.
Some of Robin Hood’s friends can be compared to the celebrities of that era.
Little John, Will Scarlett and Mach, son of Miller, accompany Robin Hood in the early ballads. Later, other heroes appeared in the company – monk Tuk, Alan from the Valley, etc. The most famous of them is Little John. Mention of him in the documents is almost as much as about the very Robin Hood. It was said that Little John is elusive, like his friend. It is known that the grave of this robber is in the county of Derbyshire in the cemetery in Hathersje, which is interesting. The stones and rails on it are modern, but on the part of the early memorial there are still discernible weathered initials “L” and “I” (looking like “J”). James Shuttleworth, who owned the estate, built excavations here in 1784. They found a very large femur, 73 centimeters long. It turned out that someone was buried in the grave at a height of 2.4 meters! Soon strange misfortunes began to occur with the owners of the estate. Then the watchman reburied the bone in an unknown place. Two settlements, at Little Haggas Croft in Loxley, Yorkshire and Hatteredge village in Peak County, Derbyshire, claim their right to be called the homeland of Robin Hood and the place where Little John spent his last years. An alternative approach to the history of Robin Hood is based on an attempt to establish in the historical context of his opponents. However, the ballads are directly called only the sheriff of Nottingham, the abbot of the church of St. Mary and York. Other characters are mentioned only by title. There are no specific names that can be tied to specific dates in history. This lack of accurate information is disappointing, but we must always remember that we are dealing with the people’s epic, and not with the documents that set out the facts.
Robin Hood was an excellent archer.
Ability to accurately shoot from the bow was distinguished by Robin Hood. In some productions, he even won the competition, falling not even in the apple, but in the arrowhead. In fact, at the time of the appearance of the legends of Robin Hood, the classic English large bows just started to appear, they were a rarity. The historical documents indicate that the robbers mastered this weapon in the middle of the XIII century. Then they began to hold competitions. If you believe that Robin Hood lived at the end of the 12th century, he could not have a bow.
Monk Tuk was an accomplice of Robin Hood.
This monk is considered one of the heroes of the Sherwood Fox. Written testimonies say that Brother Took was indeed a robber. It only operated 200 miles from the Sherwood Forest, in addition, 100 years after the supposed time of Robin Hood’s life. And this priest was not at all harmless and cheerful – he ruthlessly ruined and burned the fires of his enemies. In subsequent legends, the names of the famous bandits began to be mentioned together, they became accomplices.
Robin Hood acted in the Sherwood Forest of Nottinghamshire County.
This statement usually does not raise any objections. However, the mention of Sherwood appeared in ballads far from immediately, the earliest – in the middle of the XV century.It seems that there is nothing terrible in this, just before the fact simply eluded the narrator. But only in a collection of ballads about Robin Hood, released in 1489, his activities are connected with another county, Yorkshire. He is not in the center of England, but in the north. It is worth mentioning that the Yorkshire Great Northern Road, which according to this version was operated by Robin Hood, really had a bad reputation because of the numerous robberies of travelers.
Robin Hood is the real name of a robber.
Correct to say – Robin Hood. In English spelling, the name is written as Hood, not Good. The literal correct translation of the hero’s name is Robin the Hood, not Robin the Good. There are doubts about the name of the robber. The phrase “Rob in Hood” literally means “robber in a hood”. It is not clear, whether the name of Robin appeared from this phrase, or even the word itself on behalf of the robber.
Robin Hood’s companions wore green clothes.
About robes of green color from robbers are often mentioned in legends. One of the early tales tells how the king specifically changed his people into green colors, ordering them to walk through Nottingham and impersonate the forest brothers. However, the townspeople not only did not greet the “robbers”, but in anger drove them away. This, by the way, eloquently speaks about how people “loved” Robin Hood. If he really fought for justice and enjoyed popularity, then why did people in green run away from the townspeople hastily? So the legend of the robes’ green robes found their life.
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 minister of law headed foresters, guards, was friends with the church and the nobility. The unscrupulous sheriff had unlimited sweetness in these places. That’s only with Robin Hood, he could not do anything – on the side of that was savvy, accuracy and a simple people. It is worthwhile to understand that in the medieval England, the sheriff was an official who fought with criminals. This post appeared in the X-XI centuries. Under the Normans, the country was divided into districts, each with its own sheriff. It is interesting that they did not always coincide with the counties. So Sheriff of Nottingham looked after the neighboring county of Derbyshire. In the tales of Robin Hood, his main enemy is the sheriff, never called by his first name. Among the prototypes are the names of William de Brewer, Roger de Lacy and William de Wendenal. Sheriff of Nottingham existed, but it is unclear who they were during the years of Robin Hood. In the early tales, the sheriff was simply the enemy of the “forest brotherhood” by the nature of his service, fighting all the robbers. But later this character grew in 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 solicits Lady Marian and, through intrigue, tries to become the king of England. True, ballads deride the sheriff. He is exposed by a cowardly fool who is trying to do work to catch Robin Hood by someone else’s hands.
Sir Guy Gisborne was a real noble character and an enemy of Robin Hood.
The behavior of Sir Guy Gisborne is quite different than that of the sheriff. Knight in the legends appears as a brave and brave warrior, who knows sword and bow well. One of the legends tells how Guy Gisborne volunteered for the award to end Robin Hood, but in the end he fell by the hands of a noble robber. Not in all the stories this knight appears as a noble character. Here and there he is called a cruel, bloodthirsty killer who easily crosses the law to achieve his goals. In some ballads, Guy Gisborne asks the Virgin Marian, and in some places he even acts as her fiancé. Unusual and the appearance of the hero – he wears not an ordinary raincoat, but the skin of a horse. But there was no such historical character 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 is only one female name – the Virgin Mary. And Professor of English literature at the University of Cardiff Stephen Knight in general put forward an original thought. He believes that Robin Hood and his friends were a gay company! In confirmation of this bold thought, the scientist quotes very unambiguous parts of the ballads. And in the original stories about the girlfriend of Robin Hood, nothing was said at all, but the names of close friends – Little John or Will Scarlett – were often unnaturally mentioned. And this view is shared by Professor Cambridge Barry Dobson. He interprets the relationship between Robin Hood and Little John, as very ambiguous. The fighters for the rights of sexual minorities immediately picked up this theory. There are even voices for the story of the unconventional sexual orientation of Robin Hood to tell the children at school. In any case, the reputation of the hero-lover in the robber is all far from ambiguous.