Robin Hooda: who was the “noble robber” in real life

Noble Robber

Many poems, stories, and ballads have been written about the noble robber Robin Hooda. But was he a natural person, or just a beautiful legend? Historical disputes have been going on about this for a long time.

Who was the prototype for Robin Hooda?  

Probably the earliest source describing the deeds of this hero is “The Ballad of Robin Hooda,” written at the end of the XIV century. The proud, fearless robber from the Sherwood Forest robs the rich, helps the poor, punishes the evil and the greedy. Later, the name of Robin Hood begins to appear in other sources. For example, Jeffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales mentions “the hazel thickets where the jolly Robin walked.”

Modern researchers believe that several historical figures could be the prototypes of Robin Hood at once. So, in the registers of the population census for 1228 and 1230. the name of Robert Hood, nicknamed the Brownie, is found. According to sources, he came into conflict with the law. In addition, the emergence of the rebel movement led by Sir Robert Twing dates back to about the same time.

 However, no mention of Robert Fitzut has been found in the official archives. Robin Hood, however, skeptics point out that current records do not mention a rebellious nobleman named Robin Fitzut.

Who was the king of Robin Hood?

Aside from the timing issues of the Robin Hooda stories, various sources tell us about different kings. The first historian, Walter Bower, confidently placed Robin Hood in the 1265 revolt against King Henry III, led by Simon de Montfort, the king’s son-in-law. After his defeat during the Battle of Evesham, most of the rebels remained in the army and led a life similar to that described in the ballads about Robin Hood.

 Fictional stories

What is most evident in Robin Hood is the development of the legend. There is no mention of Marian, the hero’s girlfriend, in the early ballads. It first appears at the end of the 15th century, when folk songs and dances became popular on the May holidays. Huge baby John and Robin Hood at the very beginning, but Father Tuck appears in the last ballad when he plunges Robin into a stormy stream.

The real Robin Hooda is a simple yeoman. Later, he turns into a rebellious nobleman. There are so many conflicting additions to the legend of Robin Hood that it is unlikely that a real hero will ever be found. Most scholars nowadays agree that he is the type – the robber hero – described in ballads handed down from generation to generation since the 1300s.

Storytellers weave various conflicting stories and real people into their stories and turn it all into a story about a person who may never have existed. As one professor wrote, “Robin Hooda is the offspring of a muse,” the invention of unknown poets who wanted to glorify the common person who sought justice against the pressures of nobility and wealth. This is what praised him and made him the hero of ballads: He was an excellent robber and did a lot of Good to the poor And for this, the Lord spared his soul.

There is also a version that Robin Hooda was one of the warriors of King Richard the Lionheart. He ruled England in the last decade of the XII century. However, as mentioned earlier, the monarch rarely visited his state, spending time on foreign military campaigns. And the adventures of Robin Hood take place in England.  

Man in the Hood

Most researchers are still inclined to believe that Good is a nickname, not a surname. Hood (Hood), translated from English, means “hood.” This is a traditional item of clothing for all medieval robbers. By the way, this word could mean several headdresses at once: a hood, a cap, a hood, a cowl, a helmet – the main thing is that it protects the whole head. And the term also has a symbolic meaning: “hide.” Hence the expression “hoodlum” – “thug,” “bully” (after all, honest people do not need to cover their faces and heads if they are not warriors). Thus, Robin Hood was understood as a secretive person with hooligan manners. So, most likely, the image of Robin Hooda is collective. They are oppressed by the authorities and the rich. The poor dreamed of a national hero who would fight for justice, defending the rights of the most disadvantaged.

Robber’s Grave

Oddly enough, the mythical character has his own grave, next to which there is even a monument to Robin Hood. It is located near Kirkless Abbey in West Yorkshire. As legend has it, the sick Robin Hooda came to the monastery’s abbess, having heard that she was very knowledgeable in the medicinal craft. But she turned out to be loyal to the authorities pursuing the robber and decided, on the contrary, to hasten his death.  

Arrow of a Medieval Model

Meanwhile, researcher Richard Rutherford-Moore doubts that Robin Hooda could have been buried in this place. Having experimented with a bow and arrow of a medieval model, he concluded that an arrow fired from the gatehouse window could fly away from him at most 5 meters. And the archives testify that in the 18th century. In laying pipes, the remains of an unknown man were found near the notorious gatehouse. Maybe these were the bones of Robin Hood? But where they are now – no one knows. 

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