The Real Robin Hood

Topics: Robin Hood, Merry Men, Maid Marian Pages: 2 (564 words) Published: April 27, 2013
700 years have passed since he ‘robbed the rich and gave to the poor’, stood alone against a tyrannical monarchy and shouldered the blame for his people. The legend that is Robin Hood has endured the test of time and continues to fascinate pop culture today. Additions to the tale through oral tradition have exaggerated his escapades and muddied the truth, which begs the question: Who was the real Robin Hood? From a historical standpoint there have been three distinct types of Robin Hoods. In the earliest form he had no female companion: his is a man’s world demonstrated by the late medieval ballads and his first reference in literature (William Langland’s allegorical poem Piers the Plowman in 1377). The second form arose in the sixteenth century where he had a Maid Marian, just as unlawful as he. The last, the Americanized product of Hollywood we find today. “The identity of the man matters less than the persistence of the legend” Although the stories behind the three may differ, his resistance against oppression is consistent throughout. Sir Robert of Locksley, or “Robin of the Hood”, was said to be a violent yeoman wrongfully dispossessed of his land and made into an outlaw by an unscrupulous sheriff. Pop culture portrays Robin and his band of “merry men” (A ‘merry crew’ meaning, at the time, and outlaw’s gang) in Lincoln green clothes taking to Sherwood Forest, in Nottinghamshire, where much of the action in the early ballads takes place. “Robyn Hode in scherwode stod” Famous for being one of the first recorded Robin Hood rhymes, mislead scholars. Other ballads and text strongly suggest he was based in Barnsdale, near South Yorkshire, obscuring his relation to the Sheriff of Nottingham. Throughout Robin’s existence, writers, performers and filmmakers have shaped his personality to resonate with their respective audiences. In 14th century England, where agrarian discontent had begun to chip away at the feudal system, he appears as an anti-establishment rebel...
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