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folk hero or national hero is a type of hero, real, fictional, or mythological. The single salient characteristic which makes a character a folk hero is the imprinting of the name, personality and deeds of the character in the popular consciousness. This presence in the popular consciousness is evidenced by mention in folk songs, folk tales and other folklore. Folk heroes are also the subject of literature and some films.
Joan of Arc
depicted on horseback in an illustration from a 1505 manuscript. The martyr and saint Joan of Arc is a national hero in France and around the world.
Although some folk heroes are historical public figures, they generally are not. Because the lives of folk heroes are generally not based on historical documents, the characteristics and deeds of a folk hero are often exaggerated to mythic proportions.
The folk hero often begins life as a normal person, but is transformed into someone extraordinary by significant life events, often in response to social injustice, and sometimes in response to natural disasters.
One major category of folk hero is the defender of the common people against the oppression or corruption of the established power structure. Members of this category of folk hero often, but not necessarily, live
outside the law in some way.
Historically documented folk heroes [ edit ]
Alfred the Great - English king of Wessex
Johnny Appleseed – United States, he introduced the apple to large parts of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois
Arminius – Germany, was a chieftain of the Cheruski who defeated the Roman army at the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest
Dokubo-Asari - Nigeria, a political figure who currently fights against western oil companies in the Niger Delta
Billy the Kid – United States, a 19th-century American frontier outlaw and gunman
Black Hawk – Midwestern United States, a Sauk Indian warrior who resisted white settlement
Sitting Bull – shaman leader of the Hunkpapa Lakota
Bonnie and Clyde – United States, bank robbers who evaded retribution in the 1930s
Boudica - Great Britain, warrior queen who led an uprising against the Roman Empire in Britain
Daniel Boone – United States, an American pioneer in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
Brian Boru – Ireland, High King of Ireland who "drove the Danes out of Ireland" at the Battle of Clontarf.
John Brown – United States, attempted to lead a slave revolt in the south by raiding Harper's Ferry, helped spark the American Civil War.
Calamity Jane – United States, a tough Wild West woman
Lady of Ch'iao Kuo – China, warrior, politician, queen of the Hsien
Joseph Cinqué – West African man of the Mende tribe, leader of the Amistad slave rebellion.
Gajah Mada - Indonesia, Unify the Southeast Asian archipelago of Nusantara in the 13th century for Majapahit.
Gregorio Cortez – Mexican-American folk hero
Giuseppe Garibaldi – Italy, general, he personally commanded and fought in many military campaigns that led eventually to the formation of a unified Italy.
Davy Crockett – United States, an Indian-fighter and Congressman; died as a hero fighting in the Alamo
Nils Dacke – Sweden, leader of a 16th-century peasant revolt
Zerai Deres – Eritrea, Eritrean-born man lionized for his act of vengeance against the Italian Fascists in Rome during an imperial celebration
Anton Docher - United States, Roman Catholic missionary and defender of the native Americans in New Mexico, he fought for five years in the French colonial army
Pier Gerlofs Donia – Frisia, legendary giant warrior, freedom fighter and leader of the Arumer Zwarte Hoop
Ahmad Shah Durrani – The founder of the Afghan Durrani Empire
Engelbrekt Engelbrektsson – Sweden, rebel and temporary regent in the 15th century
Guy Fawkes – Roman Catholic restorationist from England who planned the Gunpowder Plot
Mike Fink – United States, the toughest boatman on the Mississippi River and a rival of Davy Crockett
José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia - First consul of Paraguay
Eppelein von Gailingen – Germany, robber baron
Geronimo – United States, Apache warrior, fought United States army for years defending his people and homeland
Lazar Hrebeljanovic – Serbian, ruler of Moravian Serbia, who fought and perished at the Battle of Kosovo, to which his name and life are inextricably tied.
Genghis Khan – Mongolian ruler of the Steppe during 13th century, founder of the Mongolian empire
Owain Glyndŵr - Wales, nobleman who led a rebellion against the Kingdom of England
Tomoe Gozen – Japan, female samurai warrior
Husein Gradaščević – Bosnia, called "Dragon of Bosnia", led the resistance of Bosnians and uprising for autonomy of Bosnia against the Ottoman Empire
Che Guevara – Argentine Marxist revolutionary, politician, author, physician, military theorist, and guerrilla leader.
Nathan Hale – United States, a captain in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War
Simo Häyhä – A legendary Finnish sharpshooter in the Winter War with 505 confirmed kills
Wild Bill Hickok – United States, lawman, gunfighter, gambler, scout, Civil War soldier, stage coach driver, performer, abolitionist
Piet Hein – Netherlands, captured the Spanish treasure fleet
Hone Heke – Māori chief who chopped down British flagpole three times
Joe Hill – United States, union leader and songwriter wrongfully convicted of murder in 1915
Andreas Hofer – Austrian and particularly Tirolian hero who resisted the Bavarians and Napoleon
Ishikawa Goemon – Japan, bandit hero notorious for robbing the rich and giving to the poor, though some accounts suggest he may have kept much of his ill-gotten gains. Before being boiled in oil, he saved his infant son at the cost of his own life.
Jesse James – A Wild West outlaw who supposedly robbed from the rich and gave to the poor (in reality his crimes only profited himself and his gang).
Juraj Jánošík – Slovak outlaw living in the Tatra mountains, defending Carpathian peasants from the tyranny of Hungarian landlords
Casey Jones – United States, railroad engineer who remained in his locomotive and died in a collision while braking in order to save his passengers and sounding the whistle to warn the crew of the other train
Kaluaiko'olau – United States - Hawaiian who evaded deportation for leprosy by hiding in the Hawaiian rain forests [1 ]
Pemul wuy - Australia, an aboriginal resistance leader.
Ustym Karmaliuk – Ukrainian counterpart of Robin Hood, who led a peasant rebellion
Ned Kelly – Australia, Bush ranger and Leader of the 'Kelly Gang,' most famous for crafting bullet proof armor.
Martin Krpan – Slovene smuggler, strongman
Lam Sai-wing – China, martial artist and student of Wong Fei Hung
Ten Tigers of Canton – China, group of ten fighters in southern China
Lampião – outlaw, leader of a Cangaço band in Northeast Brazil
Abraham Lincoln – President of the United States during the Civil War
Francisco Solano López - President of Paraguay during the Paraguayan War
Ned Ludd – Britain, leader of the Luddites in the 1810s
Louis Mandrin - France, bandit of the 18th century liked by the population because he attacked the tax collectors
Prince Marko – Serbia and Bulgaria, a Macedonian prince during Ottoman rule, known for opposing the conquerors in his sovereign lands, and a source of many epic poems
Jack Mary Ann – a folk hero from the Wrexham area of north Wales whose fictionalised exploits continue to circulate in local folklore.
James Mckenzie – New Zealand, outlaw and inspiration to landless immigrants in early colonial New Zealand
Juan Moreira - Legendary Argentine outlaw, famed as a skillful knife fighter he is considered one of the most important figures in Argentine history
Maharana Pratap – India, a 16th-century Hindu ruler and Rajput hero
Miyamoto Musashi – Japan, a skilled swordsman, soldier, philosopher and author
Miloš Obilić – A Serbian knight from Zeta who killed the Ottoman ruler Sultan Murad I in the Battle of Kosovo, 1389
Redmond O'Hanlon – Irish, rapparee of the 17th century
Philippe Petit – Tightrope artist who walked between the two towers of the World Trade Center
Pazhassi Raja – India, fought against British Raj in south India (Kerala) with guerrilla war tactics
Louis Riel – Canada, founder of Manitoba, led two rebellions against the Dominion of Canada
Dorus Rijkers – the Netherlands, sailor and savior of over 500 men, women and children as the captain of a rescue-boat, in the late 19th century and the early 20th century
Mir Chakar Rind - Pakistan, a 15th-century Baloch chieftain and folklore hero found in the Hani and Sheh Mureed tale
José Rizal – Philippines, a critic of the Spanish Colonizers, was gun-fired by his executioners in Bagumbayan (now Rizal Park)
Rob Roy – Scotland, outlaw whose word was his bond
Juan Santamaría – Costa Rican national hero
Sarutobi Sasuke – Japan, incredibly acrobatic spy said to have been raised by monkeys and trained in the Ninja heartland of Iga and Koga provinces during the golden age of the Ninja.
Laura Secord – Canada, heroine of the War of 1812
Daniel Shays – An American farmer who led Shays' Rebellion in the late 18th century over debt and taxes
Skanderbeg – Albanian national hero who led the resistance of Albanian people against the Ottoman Empire
Soapy Smith – Infamous 19th-century Colorado and Alaska bad man.
The Smith of Kochel – Germany, a well-known national hero, especially in Bavaria
Spartacus – Thracean gladiator led the largest slave revolt against the Roman Republic
Tipu Sultan – Indian, a Muslim who fought and defeated the British in the Mysore wars
Ivan Susanin – Russian peasant who saved the tsar in the early 17th century's Time of Troubles
Tamanend – United States, an Indian chief who became the source of many folk legends during the American Revolutionary War
Yermak Timofeyevich – Russian Cossack leader who began the Russian conquest of Siberia
Joseph Trumpeldor – Israel, leader of the Jewish forces at Tel Hai
Nat Turner – Leader of Nat Turner's Rebellion (also known as the Southampton Insurrection), a slave rebellion that took place in Southampton County, Virginia in August 1831
Dick Turpin – England, highwayman
Vercingetorix - France, chief of the Arverni tribe, who united the Gauls in a revolt against Roman forces of Julius Caesar
Viriathus – Portugal, the leader of the freedom fighters of the confederated Iberian tribes who resisted colonial Rome
William Wallace – Scotland, knight who led a rebellion against England in the early 14th century
Wong Fei Hung – Chinese doctor, martial artist and revolutionary
Huo Yuanjia – Chinese martial artist
Jan Žižka – Czech knight, commander of Hussite armies in 15th century
Mohamed Bouazizi - Tunisian fruit vendor who immolated himself in protest of government mistreatment and sparked a successful revolution in that country and the Arab Spring
Yue Fei – China, general in the Jin–Song wars, his role in the war was exaggerated by later folk legends
Paul Revere - an American silversmith and a patriot in the American Revolution whose 'Midnight Ride' warned of the arrival of the British.
Samuel Steele - Canada, an mountie who bring peace to Canada West, and the Yukon for laws and order.
Big Joe Mufferaw- Canada, a larger than life French Canadian woodsman took his life as a lumberjack in Ottawa.
Prince Marko, Serbian king and ruler of Macedonia was traditional protector of Christian people during Ottoman rule of Balkans.
Joan of Arc- A peasant girl who led the French in the Hundred Years' War after she claimed saints told her it was God's will. Burned as a heretic she became a martyr, folk hero, and eventually a saint. She is now one of the patron saints of France.
Hekimoğlu Turkish folk hero who led a campaign against feudal lords.
Possibly apocryphal folk heroes [ edit ]
King Arthur - Legendary British warlord.
Cúchulainn - Ireland, folk legend and the pre-eminent hero of Ulaid in the Ulster Cycle
Fionn mac Cumhaill - Ireland, warrior, leader of the Fianna. Primary figure in the Oisin cycle.
Gerard Adriaan Heineken - Netherlands, making of the Heineken beer.
Till Eulenspiegel or Tijl Uilenspiegel - Germany and the Low Countries, trickster
Fong Sai-Yuk - China, martial arts folk hero
Grettir the Strong. Icelandic outlaw
Homer - Credited author of and The Iliad . The Odyssey
Hung Hei-Gun - China, martial arts folk hero
Nai Khanom Tom - Thailand, master of Muay Thai
Miloš Obilić, Serbian knight, assassin of Ottoman sultan Murad I
John Henry - United States, mighty steel-driving African-American
Robin Hood - England, outlaw usually associated with the motto "Steal from the rich, give to the poor"
Rummu Jüri - Estonia, outlaw who stole from the rich to give to the poor
Siegfried - Germany, the legendary dragon-slaying hero in Nibelungenlied
Hua Mulan - China, heroine who disguised herself as a man in order to join an army
Molly Pitcher - United States, heroine of the American Revolutionary War
William Tell - Switzerland, began the rebellion against the Austrians
Folk heroes known to be fictional [ edit ]
Beowulf - Scandinavia, legendary Geatish hero later turned king
Pecos Bill - United States, giant cowboy who "tamed the wild west"
Paul Bunyan - United States, giant lumberjack of the North Woods
Febold Feboldson - United States, farmer who could fight a drought
Martín Fierro - Argentina, hero of the eponymous poem by Jose Hernandez
Koba - Georgia, folk hero whose legend bears a resemblance to Robin Hood
Joe Magarac - United States, steelworker made of steel
Alfred Bulltop Stormalong - United States, immense sailor whose ship was so big it scraped the moon
陳真/Chen Zhen - China, Martial Artist who fought Japanese influence in Shanghai
See also [ edit ]
References [ edit ]