Legends in Films

Missgien's Malta Experience

Guy Forsyth Band

Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves

The Movie
The movie starts in Jerusalem, where Robin is held prisoner by the Turks. He escapes together with Azeem, which now owes him his life and is determined to stay with Robin until he has returned the favour.
They leave for England, where they find Robin's father killed and his castle set to ruins. His lands are taken over by the Sheriff of Nottingham. He saves a young lad -who has killed a deer- from the Sherrif's men and next he goes to visit Marian.
Later, in Sherwood Forest, he meets a band of outlaws who have been driven from their homes by the Sherrif's taxes. After a stick-to-stick fight with Little John, he becomes their leader with a strong vote of distrust from Will Scarlett, who is -as we found out later- his halfbrother. He manages to pull the 'merry men' together to strike back at the Sheriff.
A lot of adventures follow and in the end the Sheriff has his mind set to marrying Marian, which, of course, does not suite Robin. He succeeds in rescueing her together with Azeem, who saves his life during the battle: Azeem has paid his debt and is free to return home.
Later, in Sherwood they have their own little wedding where, to their surprise, King Richard visits them and gives the bride away. Of course, he also pardons Robin.

The Legend
The Romantic Hero
One of the romantic heroes of the Middle Ages was the outlaw Robin Hood of England. Whether he was a living man or only a legend is uncertain. Old ballads relate that Robin Hood and his followers roamed the green depths of Sherwood Forest, near Nottingham, in the center of England. There they lived a carefree life, passing the time with hunting the king's deer, and robbing the rich. They shared their spoils with the poor and never injured women or children.
Robin Hood probably became an outlaw by killing a deer on a wager. Then he had slain one of the king's foresters who threatened his life. A price was set on Robin's head, and he went into hiding. Soon there gathered about him other bold men who had been outlawed or deprived of their inheritances. One day, when Robin was about to cross a narrow bridge, a stranger seven feet tall blocked the way. The two men fought with quarterstaves (long, stout sticks), and Robin Hood was knocked into the stream. As soon as he could scramble out of the water and catch his breath, Robin Hood praised this stranger and asked him to join his band. Thus Little John, so called because of his great size, became Robin Hood's right-hand man.
Will Scarlet also fought his way into the band. Others whose names often occur in the ballads are Will Stutely; Much, or Midge, a miller's son; and the romantic minstrel Alan-a-Dale. Robin Hood's chaplain and confessor was the fat and jovial Friar Tuck.
In later ballads Robin's sweetheart, Maid Marian, was introduced. When Robin Hood was outlawed, she dressed as a page and went to seek him in Sherwood Forest. At last they met. Both were disguised, and neither recognized the other. They fought until Robin, admiring her skill, invited Marian to join his band. Then she recognized his voice.

The Sherrif of Nottingham
Robin Hood's greatest enemy was the sheriff of Nottingham. The sheriff tried by force and trickery to bring the outlaw to justice. He was always outwitted. He even announced a shooting match, feeling sure that Robin Hood would appear to show his skill as an archer. The outlaw did appear, but in disguise. He won the prize, a golden arrow, which was handed to him by the sheriff himself. Not until Robin was once more safe in Sherwood Forest did the sheriff learn how he had been deceived.
Although Robin Hood lived on the king's deer, the ballads say that the outlaw "loved no man in the world so much as his king." According to one tale King Richard the Lion-Hearted went in disguise to Sherwood Forest and, having tested Robin Hood's loyalty, granted him a royal pardon.

Real person of myth
The Robin Hood legends may have grown up about some actual victim of the harsh forest laws of old England. Robin Hood is said to have lived from 1160 to 1247. Some accounts state that he was created earl of Huntingdon by Richard the Lion-Hearted. Most of the legends say that Robin Hood died at Kirklees Priory, in Yorkshire. Near the ruins of this priory is a grave supposed to be Robin's.
The epitaph (with the spelling modernized) reads:

Here underneath this little stone
Lies Robert, Earl of Huntingdon.
Ne'er archer was as he so good
And people called him Robin Hood.
Such outlaws as he and his men
Will England never see again.

So, this is a statement that Robin died in 1247. Some believe the inscription, which is in 18th-century lettering, is a copy from an earlier and genuine stone. Most scholars, however, doubt this. An argument against the hero's existence is the fact that he is mentioned by no historian of the time during which he is supposed to have lived. The events referred to in the stories could not all have occurred in his lifetime.

Robin Hood probably was a mythical character, first introduced into England in connection with the May-Day celebrations. The earliest record of a "Robin" associated with such festivities is in the rustic plays given at Whitsuntide in France in the 13th century. The hero was called Robin des Bois (Robin of the Woods). An old English spelling of "wood" was whode, which could easily have become hode, or hood. At any rate, in the 15th century and later the May-Day celebrations in England were called "Robin Hood's Festivals." Garlands of flowers, a Maypole, morris dances, archery contests, and bonfires were features of the celebrations. Robin Hood was king of May, and Maid Marian was his queen.

Robin Hood Candidates
We all know there is very little known about the 'real Robin Hood'. Did he ever exsist? Is he a compilation of several incidents and/or figures in medieval England? Are there a number of Robin Hood Candidates? Who's to tell? Alan W. Wright has a great homepage about Robin Hood, called: Robin Hood - Bold Outlaw of Barnsdale and Sherwood. I took some of his Robin Hood Candidates and pasted them here. You can read more about them at Alan's site. Here's a short version:

  • One of the earliest surviving ballads is A Gest of Robyn Hode. In the Gest, a "comely" king named Edward is travelling around the country. He meets Robin Hood, pardons him, and Robin goes to work in his court. 15 months later, Robin goes broke, gets bored, and returns to his outlaw life.
  • The most promising of the early real Robin Hoods was discovered by L.V.D. Owen in 1936. The Yorkshire assize roles for 1225-1226 mention that "Robert Hod, fugitive" had chattels worth 32s. 6d. (s is for shilling, d is for pence.) The same outlaw turns up in entries for later years, once under the nickname Hobbehod.
  • An anonymous manuscript (called the Sloane manuscript) from 1600 says Robin Hood was born in Locksley. This was probably meant to be the real village of Loxley in Yorkshire, although many later writers have moved "Locksley" to Nottinghamshire where most modern Robin Hood stories are set. But in J. R. Planché's 1864 paper, "A Ramble with Robin Hood", the spotlight was turned on another Loxley, a village in Warwickshire (not far from Shakespeare's home of Stratford-upon-Avon). One of the fictional names for Robin Hood is Robert Fitzooth. And in the reign of Henry II and Richard I, a knight named Robert Fitz Odo lived in Loxley, Warwickshire.
  • In the earliest tellings of the Robin Hood legend, the outlaw hero is a yeoman (roughly speaking, a member of the middle class). But with time the Robin Hood of legend moved up in the world. By the mid-1500s, he was said to be an earl. And in 1599, Anthony Munday wrote two plays that made Robin Hood the outlawed Earl of Huntingdon (or Huntington as Munday spelled it). No one is quite sure why Munday picked the earldom of Huntingdon for Robin Hood. Perhaps he just thought the "Hunting" part of the name seemed appropriate. Maybe it was propaganda for an earl which had lived earlier in the 16th century.

misc indexMove on to Rob Roy