Most of us have heard of Robin Hood, a legend amongst English folklore. He is most well-known as a hero “that stole from the rich and gave to the poor”, accompanied by his group of Merry Men. The tale states that he lived in Sherwood Forest with his group of brethren, and he would often times attack the rich aristocrats of society who abused the poor. He would steal jewelry and other expensive items and hand them out to the less fortunate. He was seen as a saint and hero by the poor who he helped. There have been countless movies, television series, and books written about this man, but how accurate are they when it comes to English history?
The fact is there really wasn’t one man named Robin Hood that lived in the English country side of Sherwood Forest. There may have been several men with his personality and characteristics during that time period, however. One of the earliest was Robert Hod, an English gentleman who was a fugitive in the early 1200s). It’s interesting to note that these men often shared one thing in common, they were known as fugitives and petty thieves. The story we know of Robin Hood does focus on him stealing from the rich, but it appears to be for a noble cause. Either way, what Robin Hood does in his tales is illegal and breaking the law. He could have easily been killed for such crimes.
The early legends depict Robin Hood as a simple yeoman that went towards a life of crime because his disgust for the rich nobles. He despised the power they held over the less fortunate, and refused to be ruled by such power hungry people. Later the legends depict Robin as an aristocrat, and one of the men who stood up for the poor.
Finding historical evidence of the real Robin Hood is a hard thing to come by. There have been several references to a man in which the legend may have been born. The legend in which we know today is a combination of a number of historical sources. Some evidence points that “Robin Hood” was alive and doing his deeds in the 1190s. He had become a known and famous outlaw by 1225, and was deceased by 1247. It didn’t take long for him to become folklore legend. This puts Robin in the time period of the rule of King John.
By the time the story of Robin Hood had spread the English countryside, many fugitives and outlaws began going by a similar name. They were paying homage to the hero by using a similar title. This causes some confusion when trying to find information about the original “Robin Hood”. Since 1250, many men had displayed a similarity to the original legend.
Whoever Robin Hood was, he had a profound impact on history and English folklore. He was a man the poor could rally behind and treat as a saint. When times were harsh, they had a man they could look up to and admire. His tale is an endearing legend of right conquering wrong that will continue to be told for years to come.