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About Me:I'm a graduate student studying International Criminal Law and first started writing for King's News almost 4 years ago! My hobbies include reading, travelling and charity work. I cover many categories but my favourite articles to write are about mysteries of the ancient world, interesting places to visit, the Italian language and animals!
You’ve no doubt all heard of Robin Hood, the archer living in Sherwood Forest with his band of merry men, stealing from the rich and giving to the poor, but just how close is that to reality? For years historians have argued whether Robin Hood really existed or not, and if he is a fabricated individual, where does the story come from?
There are several versions of the Robin Hood story, the most well known being that of Hollywood films depicting him as a handsome ranger dressed in green garments and armed with a bow and arrow. The first actual historical mention of Robin Hood was in 1377, and the British museum actually has a full manuscript account of his life which states his birth place as Loxley in Yorkshire in 1160. However another source notes Robin Hood as hailing from Wakefield not Loxley and taking part in Thomas of Lancaster’s rebellion in 1322 meaning he couldn’t have been born in 1160! Whilst these accounts differ, we can agree that he was at least born in the North of England and that he frequented Sherwood forest and Robin Hood’s Bay in Yorkshire.
A famous story which may be the reason for his ranger appearance in films depicts Robin and his friend Little John having an archery contest in Whitby, Yorkshire. They both fired an arrow from the top of the monastery and the fields they landed in were named after the two, further cementing Robin’s name in history. Given that people travelled far less in those days this might suggest Robin was indeed born in Loxley, supporting the source in the British Museum. Either way all sources seem to agree that Robin’s popularity grew due to his generosity to the poor and hatred not necessarily of the rich, but of the Sheriff and his men who enforced harsh laws through force and intimidation.
Another thing the sources agree on largely is Robin’s death. In his older age he fell ill and travelled with Little John to Kirklees Priory outside Huddersfield where his aunt was the prioress. She was persuaded however to murder Robin on the command of Sir Roger of Doncaster and though Robin blew his horn to call for aid, Little John arrived too late. Upon finding him near death Little John is said to have carried Robin to the window to use the last of his strength to fire an arrow, marking the spot of his grave. Though this sounds a little fanciful there is indeed a burial mound within archery range of the old priory so perhaps he is buried there after all! Either way it seems Robin Hood did exist, was skilled with a bow and did empathise with the poor. There’s no evidence to show that he stole from the rich and gave to the poor however and whilst popular, it seems much of his fame has come from Hollywood depictions in recent years based on writings after his death by people who never actually knew him.
With regards to Robin’s love interest Maid Marion, she is mentioned nowhere at all, and so it seems she was likely added for story purposes in the Hollywood adaptation of history. This is why myths are often more exciting than the truth, because you can add whatever details to the story you like!
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