Robin of Locksley

A hero that has passed the test of time saw the light of day in England around the third Crusade. Many believe him to have existed, maybe with a different name or not.

One thing remains the same; Robin Hood is to this day one of the most recognizable folktales ever to have been told.

Retelling of a Legend

Born in a noble and beloved family, Robin is believed to have been an only child who grew up to fight in the crusades alongside his king. 

When he finally comes home to England, what he finds is a land filled with sadness belonging now to the one who will ultimately become his nemesis, Sheriff of Nottingham.

Robin Hood Memorial 01

Throughout many retellings of the story, Robin of Locksley stays loyal to King Richard and fights the Sheriff who is relentlessly helping Prince John to take the place of his brother while away on the crusades in Jerusalem by marrying Maid Marian who is, in fact, Robin’s hidden love.

In all versions of the tale, Robin of Locksley is known to have keen sight and be the best archer among all and an impressive sword fighter who steals from the greed of the rich people to give back to the poor. Outlawed by the Sheriff and Prince, Robin Hood allies himself with those who will them help him fight injustice, known as the Merry Men.

Church_of_Fontevraud_Abbey_Richard_I_effigy

Robin of Locksley becomes the champion of the dwellers of England who believes in him and supports him not only for his gestures but his loyalty to King Richard.

His name has been passed down from century to century, and the earliest known ballads and tests go back to the Late Middle Ages bringing us back to the fifteenth hundreds.

History & Folklore

Over the last six hundred years, Robin of Locksley now known as Robin Hood has seen his story being told and retold through literature, songs, poems, movies, and series.

He has been a source of inspiration for many writers and even a muse to many artists. As of today, it is believed that Robin Hood might be the most famous tale from England’s folklore.

RH - Robin and Marian

However, the truth behind the folklore is still to this day hard to prove. Historically there is no solid proof of a Robin of Locksley who existed.

However, that has not stopped historians, admirers and curious people to make research on the subject and find many names similar to the Locksley and some dating back to the twelve hundreds.

One plausible theory including that Robin Hood was a term used by outlaws of the time to hide their identity and not be recognized by authorities. Many historians and folklorists backed this possibility.

Ballads & Texts

The earliest mention of Robin Hood is mentioned in the poem, Piers Plowman. Although more of a reference to the character, the poem dates back to the year 1370 and pieces are missing.

The second earliest ballad revolving around Robin Hood is called Robin Hood and the Monk dating back to the fifteenth century. The text is preserved at Cambridge University and consists of the legend that we have come to know, from his status to his animosity regarding the Sheriff of Nottingham.

RH - Sheriff of Nottingham

At the time, Friar Tuck and Maid Marian had not made their entry yet despite his life being quite clear and intentions as well. His attraction to women and beliefs are well written, but two of the characters that reveal to be quite crucial in later versions of the folktale was not yet introduced.

Many different texts and ballads have been written about the mysterious Robin of Locksley. However, quite a few details remained the same. In every depiction of the character, Robin of Locksley is a nobleman, his father being the owner of a plot of land and a castle.

The story always revolves around the enemy Robin has found in the local sheriff. Also, he is quite an archer and has sword fight skills to him as well.

Notwithstanding, his loyalty to King Richard changes from texts to ballads. In some, the king is called Edward, while in others he shows to be against the ruling of both John and Richard.

Robin Hood and Maid Marian from 17th Century
Robin Hood and Maid Marian from 17th Century

Despite the king being away on the third crusade of the time, Robin Hood lives a life of an outlaw along with followers, and when given a pardon by the king, he chooses to go back to Greenwood.

The information concerning his disloyalty to the king is shown in texts dating back to the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Historians and scholars recognize those ballads as being part of the Robin Hood studies but prove to be inconsistent with history at the time.

Robin Hood Today

 

The character of Robin Hood is still debated to this day to have been real or not, his life embellished and romanticized to give people hope.

We all need a hero, it doesn’t matter the time, or the place and Robin Hood was one that inspired many. His courage and bravery at facing adversity in times of war along with a King that isn’t present to comfort his people.

Piers Plowman Drolleries
Piers Plowman Drolleries

Robin Hood was part of fairs, May Day, celebrated in games. Robin Hood even had plays written in his name and while some scripts were furtherly dramatic others were plentifully comedic to the character that he was.

Then, as time changed and evolved, more literature published with his name became available to the public, movies, and series.

I believe it is safe to say that Robin Hood is a timeless classic hero that will forever be here to stay. After all, we love a good folktale that leaves us wondering if it was more facts and legend in the end.

The OCD Elf,
Alexa Wayne


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