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Robin Hood

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  • Robin Hood







    Robin Hoodis England's most famous outlaw, who robbed from the rich to give to the poor. In Robin Hood's long history, his story has appeared in many forms, from verse to film. His path to outlawry, friends and enemies has been just as diverse. I will first describe the parts of the Robin Hood legend that have remained constant throughout his entire 800 or more year history.




    Robin Hood was a Saxon noble, living near the castle of Nottingham. By various means he was forced into a life of banditry, using his cunning and skill-at-arms to relieve bishops, nobles, and servants of the king of gold and jewels levied from the oppressed peasants. Robin collected a band of supporters, his "Merry Men" around him, dressed in green. The members that never cease to appear are Robin himself, Maid Marian, Little John, and Friar Tuck. Along with being a middle-ages Communist, Robin spends his time fighting the cruel Sheriff of Nottingham, and, ultimately, King John, who had usurped the throne from the rightful King, Richard I.


    The story of Robin Hood is so well known that it scarcely needs to be reviewed, but don't worry, I'll do it anyway. The "facts ", at least one romantic version of them, are these. In the time of Richard the Lionheart a minor noble of Nottinghamshire, one Robin of Loxley, was outlawed for poaching deer. Now at that time the deer in a a royal forest belonged to the king, and killing one of the king's deer was therefore treason, and punishable by death.


    The Origins of the Merry Men
    There are two basic versions of how Robin Hood's Merry Men came to be. One has it that Robin Hood was outlawed, and fled to the greenwood where he met up with a band of outlaws that lived on the King's deer. Robin instilled values in them and turned them from an uncouth bunch of bandits into a sophisticated wealth redistribution machine.
    The more well-known version is that Robin Hood fled to the greenwood (with, perhaps, a friend or two such as Will Scarlett), where he slowly acquired his Merry Men, with members such as Little John and Friar Tuck joining after challenging Robin's youthful boasting.


    The End of the Merry Men
    Robin Hood's long-term aim in all his adventures is to replace the rightful king Richard I on the throne which had been usurped by his brother John. Therefore, most Robin Hood collections end happily, with Richard returning from imprisonment in triumph and the Merry Men receiving a royal welcome and a full pardon.



    Few stories go past this fairytale ending, but in at least one the fate of some of the individual characters is described until their (not always natural) deaths.
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