General Question

Nullo's avatar

Is there such a thing as a definitive account of the legend of Robin Hood?

Asked by Nullo (22009points) July 9th, 2011

So far, we have at least two books, three movies, two television shows, and any number of related works.

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6 Answers

marinelife's avatar

“Because the Robin Hood character is first attested in popular ballads, there is no “definitive” account of Robin Hood, no “original” story. It seems clear that many of the elements of the story that are popular today were comparatively late additions to the story. One of the oldest elements of the story is that Robin Hood was an “outlaw”, a criminal who had no choice but to live in the wilds of the forest. Some of the crimes that Robin commits are robbery, poaching on the king’s deer, and even murder. Yet he also displays great loyalty to the members of his outlaw band, risking his life to rescue them from the hands of the Sheriff. Robin is also famous for being a “trickster”, and he loves disguises.”


tedd's avatar

I had read that Robin Hood is believed to be based off of an actual person, but that in all likelihood the stories of his exploits were embellished and changed over the hundreds of years since he lived.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Here is another interesting link about how the legend Came about. The short answer is that no one has discovered a source. It appears that the best the researchers have done is to locate records of the story in printed material.

Robin and his fellows were a popular subject in early printed texts, with their low price and wide appeal, and it is in the early days of printing that he finally comes into his own as a literary figure. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, antiquarians were especially invested in finding the sources of their national culture and heroes, and Robin proved to be of special interest to the English. They not only reviewed these early plays and poems for clues to the historical identity of the figure, but also scoured historical and legal records to find any information that may have led to a proof for his identity. Despite the efforts of authors like P. Valentine Harris (see case 5), no verifiable Robin Hood emerged from the historical record. Today, most scholars accept Robin as a literary invention, based in part on other figures like Gamelyn and Fouke fitz Waryn, as well as real-life outlaws. Any search for the ideal Robin Hood, a dispossessed noble who robs from the rich to give to the poor, is doomed to failure. That Robin is a modern figure whose individual characteristics were added in different stages, which are roughly represented in this exhibit. Source

Lightlyseared's avatar

I heard a theory that the stories were made up as advertising for cloth merchants in the middle ages. All the earliest versions of the story spend an inordinate amount of time describing what everyone is wearing.

linguaphile's avatar

One of the earliest versions has Robin Hood portrayed as a heartless and bloody rogue who kilt 4 men with 4 arrows shot from one bow.. for fun. Not at all close to the saucy, impish, do-gooder fox personated by Disney.

Jeruba's avatar

@Nullo, I think there are many more than that. Here’s a starter list for movies.

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