Home > Myths > Robin Hood

Robin Hood

By: Chris Welsh - Updated: 17 Jan 2013 | comments*Discuss
Robin Hood Sheriff Of Nottingham Little

Ah Robin Hood; man who fought with quarterstaff and bow to defeat injustice and provide for the less fortunate. Or was it a murderer with a sword set out to exact vengeance on his personal enemies? Perhaps a little of both? Depending on how far back you go, you might be surprised to learn the origins of the Robin Hood myth.

The Robin Hood Myth

In medieval times a man named an outlaw lived in the forest, led a band of men loyal only to him, fought the established and corrupt law of the land, took dirty money away from the rich and redistributed it among the poor, and did it all with a smile on his face, a quip on his tongue, and a knack for always outsmarting the bad guys. This is the modern interpretation of the Robin Hood legend, one that always puts the notorious outlaw on the side of good as a philanthropist. In fact, “robs from the rich and gives to the poor” is so firmly ingrained with the concept of Robin Hood the name is seen as a compliment. Barry Greenstein, a professional poker player that donates all his tournament winnings (in the millions of dollars) to charity, has collected the nickname “The Robin Hood of Poker”, to illustrate the point.

Going back to the beginnings of the Robin Hood stories, however, one finds that he was not always depicted as a good guy, or even a nice guy. Like King Arthur and many other legends, what is considered canonical today is often discovered to be very different at the roots. There are, however, a number of elements that seem to crop up in any modern telling of the Robin Hood story. His band of Merry Men, though not always called by that name, always seem to number more than a hundred, although only a few are mentioned by name. Those few, Little John, Friar Tuck, Alan-a-Dale and William Scarlet, are most often present in any Robin Hood tale. His love for the Maid Marian was a latter addition but a popular one. His enmity with the Sheriff of Nottingham, his skill with a bow, and the fact that he was a wanted man living in the forest, are all fairly standard items of lore. An examination of the first stories, however, show that even these corner stones of myth were not always present.

The Origin of the Robin Hood Myth

Like King Arthur, the first mentions of Robin Hood appeared not in complete stories, but in mentions in other stories and even legal documents. In fact, the term “Robin Hood” was more frequently used than any mention of an individual person, almost as if the idea of an outlaw determined to fight law and order was universally accepted as “a” Robin Hood before “the” Robin Hood put in an appearance.

There are those who claim that the Robin Hood myth is based on a real person. Fulk FitzWarin, for example, was a Norman noble who lost his title and was forced into exile as an outlaw and the enemy of John of England; many of the Robin Hood stories seem to mirror this chain of events. Interestingly the earliest of stories do not, which suggests that the authors of the later tales of Robin found inspiration in the tale of FitzWarin.

Similarly one will notice that as time went on the tales of Robin Hood became more and more tame. Earliest mentions had Robin as a self interested outlaw, and no mention of giving to the poor was made. As time passed more noble elements were added to the story, including female interest (Maid Marian) and a loyalty to the King, absent though he was fighting the Crusades. Robin wasn’t the only figure to undergo retro-fitting; his enemy the sheriff was an adversary because it was his job to be in the early stories- in the latter he became a corrupt, bumbling, sometimes evil man.

Final Thoughts

Robin Hood’s story and myth has undergone a lot of transformation in the centuries it has been around. With the themes that have been infused into the tales- nobility, self sacrifice, philanthropy, fighting for the Greater Good, it is likely that the story of Robin the Hood will endure because and despite the tampering.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Candice27
    Re: Spilling Salt
    However I would like you to contact me and I need more explanation I need to understand more things and if it’s your desire to help Someone please…
    5 March 2020
  • Mom3
    Re: A Black Cat Crossing Your Path
    Came on my front porch to a black cat lying in a broken chair not afraid of me or my kids at all ....is this bad
    19 November 2019
  • God
    Re: The Number 13
    I died being the 13th guest at a supper and now I hope no one will think 13 is a good number and love to you all and I am so sorry for your loss lily.
    13 November 2019
  • mdg85
    Re: Do Birds Flying Into A Home Equate To Death?
    6 years ago, I was visiting my mon & grandma at my mom's house. While there, a bird flew into my mom's back…
    3 November 2019
  • Jlove
    Re: Do Birds Flying Into A Home Equate To Death?
    After work and picking up my daughter frm school we get home to a lil grey bird in the house just flying…
    1 November 2019
  • Patron saint of fool
    Re: Saluting Magpies
    The Parastrategist and a General theory of strategy The first parallel of corporate strategy is customer focus and is designed for…
    30 September 2019
  • Tootie
    Re: A Black Cat Crossing Your Path
    I had a black cat on my porch all last night sitting there was does that mean
    22 September 2019
  • Dolce
    Re: Do Birds Flying Into A Home Equate To Death?
    Two small birds flew inside my house this morning through roof openings, and flew out again when my son…
    31 August 2019
  • CatLady
    Re: Stonehenge
    As a little girl,I always loved the 'Standing Stones' They were so magic seeming, and every year when me and my family drove down to Cornwall on holiday,…
    7 August 2019
  • Capt'
    Re: Use a Match to Remove a Tick
    I haven't tried it yet, but I read that the removal with match method has nothing to do with burning the tick off. Instead, the…
    15 July 2019