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Facts about Robin Hood

Gaynor Borade
Robin Hood is a very popular folk hero. This legendary medieval outlaw with a heart of gold is believed to have lived in Sherwood Forest, England. The tales of his endeavors to rob from the rich and provide for the poor live on even today.
Robyn hode in Scherewode stod,
Hodud & hathud, hosut & schod.
Ffour and thuynti arrowus
he bar in hits hondus

These four lines make up the very first recorded rhyme on Robin Hood dating back to the early 15th century.
Everything that forms the legend of Robin Hood is documented in parts of a drama and these five of all the oldest ballads that have survived (what came later on, including Child Ballads 122 - 154, was derived from these six pieces with additions) -
» A Lytell Geste of Robyn Hode (Child Ballad 117)
» The Ballad of Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborne (Child Ballad 118)
» Robin Hood and the Monk (Child ballad 119)
» Robin Hood's Death (Child ballad 120)
» Robin Hood and the Potter (Child ballad 121)
The play goes by the name of "The Play of Robin Hood and the Sheriff" and was written around 1475. And now for all that makes Robin Hood the greatest outlaw of all time.
During the medieval times, the Lords and Knights used to offer the common man protection in return for their labor. The labor involved toiling day and night on the fields of the masters and living a hand-to-mouth existence.
Around this time, legend has it that an outlaw, Robin Hood or Robyn Hode (as spelt in the oldest manuscripts) and his friends made Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire their home.
Robin Hood was in love with a maid, Marian or Marion (who became a part of the lore only post 16th century when she participated in the May Games with Hood, she is mentioned in none of the early ballads on the man). This is probably the reason why the forest's proximity to the village was capitalized on by him.
It is only in Child Ballad 119 called "Robin Hood and the Monk" where the abode of Hood is named. Sherwood is mentioned in none of the other early ballads.

His Munificence Lives On...

» Legend has it that he led a band of fellow outlaws and together they were called the Merry or Merrie Men. Their notorious attempts to rob those with plenty, to provide justice to the poor, robbed villagers, have been highlighted in a number of stories and films.
He was known as 'tormentor of the evil Sheriff of Nottingham'. There has been little doubt that Robin Hood is a creation from a loose resemblance to a real person who lived in the medieval.
» The earliest reference to the Prince of Thieves dates back to the 14th Century (in William Langland's "Piers Plowman" in the year 1377). This indicates the possibility that if the legendary hero did exist, then it was possibly during the century prior to that. He has been referred to as Robert Hod and even Hobbehod.
» There has been a reference to a son of a forester Adam Hood called Robert Hood, in the 1850s. The record states that he was born in 1280. His wife's name on record is Matilda and they lived in Yorkshire. This revelation only makes the tale all the more exciting and real.
» One of the oldest tales of Robin Hood is believed to have been printed between 1492 and 1534 called "A Lyttell Geste of Robyn Hode" or "A Gest of Robyn Hode".
Here, only five of Hood's men have proper names. Also, it is in this ballad where he is believed to utter, "Or yf he be a pore man, Of my good he shall have some" for the first time. In none of the other old ballads is there any mention of his looting the wealthy with the intention of being benevolent towards the less fortunate.
» Research has also revealed that in 1261, one William de Fevre was declared as an outlaw and in time, he took on the nickname Robin Hood. In fact, the records reveal that the name 'Robin Hood' actually became generic for outlaws.
» Whether or not the legend is fact or fiction provokes deliberation even to this day.
To children and rebellious youth, Robin is a consistent source of inspiration and a history they so badly want to prove real. However, the historical evidence on this legendary character is pretty elusive. The limited and diverse claims on his true identity and the persistent search for definitive answers is what fuels the lamp of the legend to this day.
» The tales woven around Robin Hood tell of the age-old 'triumph of good over evil', but it is his rebellious nature that is most appealing to the world audience.
The fact that amidst the vigilance of the knights and feudal lords the relationship between Robin and Marian blossomed, he was able to pursue his lifestyle defying authority and the bonding between fellow outlaws, is what makes the tale so enigmatic.
» It would be apt to mention that Marian wasn't always the object of Hood's passions. In Child Ballad 149 called the "Robin Hood's Birth, Breeding, Valor, and Marriage", Clorinda, the Queen of the Shepherdesses is specifically mentioned to be the love of his life.
However, in some of the ballads that followed, Clorinda is expressed to be a name taken on temporarily by Marian, thus indicating that both of them are one and the same person.
» The legend of Robin Hood adds earthy hues to the otherwise surreal medieval imagery. His home of the magical forest and treetop dwellings counter, the exploitative imagery of castles, knights and court rolls.
» The popularity of this character can be best observed from the screen appearances of Douglas Fairbanks (Robin Hood, 1922), Errol Flynn (The Adventures of Robin Hood, 1938), Sean Connery (Robin and Marian, 1976), Kevin Costner (Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, 1991) and Russell Crowe (Robin Hood, 2010) playing the title role.
One should even catch the 1964 comedy "Robin and the 7 Hoods" based on the legends of the most famous English outlaw. Frank Sinatra played Robbo in the movie, based on Hood.
» The two famous Disney renditions are "The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men" (1952) and the animated "Robin Hood" (1972). Richard Todd and Brian Bedford played Robin in these movies respectively.
» The facts pointing to the possibility of Robin Hood being the product of vulpine medieval society, account for his defiance and rebelliousness against exploitation. Young men such as he, during the year, preferred to live as outlaws, rather than put up with intimidation.
» Richard Grafton's narrative says, post Robin Hood's demise, the prioresse of the same place (Kirklees) caused him to be buried by the highway-side, where he used to rob and spoyle those that passed that way. And upon his grave the sayde prioresse did lay a very fayre stone, wherein the names of Robert Hood, William of Goldesborough, and others were graven.
» Richard Grafton's narrative also claims that ... at eyther ende of the tombe (of Robin Hood) was erected a crosse of stone, which is to be seen there at this present. Thus, Robin Hood is best believed to have been buried at the Monastery of Kirklees, which happened to be seconded by John Leland in his writings called the "Collectanea".
The legend of Robin Hood revolves around the exploits of the outlaws to ensure that the commoner got the justice he deserved. However, whether or not the real Robin Hood, de facto, functioned from the greenwood still evokes controversy.