Robin Hood (spelled Robyn Hode in older sources) is a heroic outlaw in English folklore, and, according to legend, was also a highly skilled archer and swordsman. Although such behaviour was not part of his original character, since the beginning of the 19th century he has become known for "robbing from the rich and giving to the poor", assisted by a group of fellow outlaws known as his "Merry Men". Traditionally, Robin Hood and his men are depicted wearing Lincoln green clothes. According to some accounts, the legend has its roots in the activities of actual medieval outlaws, or the ballads or tales that circulated about them.
Robin Hood became a popular folk figure in the medieval period, and continues to be widely represented in modern literature, films and television. In the earliest sources Robin Hood is a yeoman, but later portrayals raise him to the level of an aristocrat wrongfully dispossessed of his lands and made into an outlaw by an unscrupulous sheriff.
- 1 Fact or Fiction?
- 2 Historical Robin Hoods
- 3 History of the legend
- 4 Locations associated with Robin Hood
- 5 Early references
- 6 References to Robin as Earl of Huntington
- 7 Ballads and tales
- 7.1 Ballads
- 7.2 May Day and fairs
- 7.3 Robin Hood and King Richard the Lionheart
- 7.4 New characters and new attributes for Robin
- 7.5 New concepts from the 18th century onwards
- 7.6 Other literary references
- 7.7 The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood
- 7.8 20th century onwards
- 7.9 Movies, animations, new concepts and other adaptations
- 8 List of traditional ballads
- 9 Popular culture
- 10 Main characters of the folklore
- 11 See also
- 12 References
- 13 Bibliography
- 14 External links
Fact or Fiction?
A historical Robin Hood
Many historians are convinced that Robin Hood was a real person, more or less accurately portrayed. Sir J.C. Holt (1989:55) argues for a "historical" Robin Hood placed in the 13th century. Alternatively, the origin of the legend is claimed by some historians to have stemmed from actual outlaws, or from tales of outlaws, such as Hereward the Wake, Eustace the Monk, Fulk FitzWarin and William Wallace.
A fictional Robin Hood
The Victorian folklorist Francis James Child declared that "Robin Hood is absolutely a creation of the ballad-muse" and this view has been neither proven or disproven. Another view is that Robin Hood's origins must be sought in folklore or mythology; The "mythological theory" dates back to 1584, when Reginald Scot identified Robin Hood with the Germanic goblin "Hudgin" or Hodekin and associated him with Robin Goodfellow. The 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica remarks that 'hood' was a common dialectical form of 'wood'; and that the outlaw's name has been given as "Robin Wood". There are indeed a number of references to Robin Hood as Robin Wood, or Whood, or Whod, from the 16th and 17th centuries. The earliest recorded example, in connection with May games in Somerset, dates from 1518.A. J. Pollard (2004) stressed the symbolical significance of the "perpetual springtime" of the ballads. Robin Hood has been claimed for the pagan witch-cult supposed by Margaret Murray to have existed in medieval Europe. Modern authors reject this line of argument as untenable. In rejecting Robin Hood's mythological origins historians note that whilst the outlaw often shows great skill in archery, swordplay and disguise, his feats are no more exaggerated than those characters in other ballads, such as Kinmont Willie, which were based on historical events. Dobson and Taylor in their survey of the legend, in which they reject the mythological theory, nevertheless regard it as "highly probable" that this French Robin's name and functions travelled to the English May Games where they fused with the Robin Hood legend.
Historical Robin Hoods
There are a number of theories that attempt to identify a historical Robin Hood. A difficulty with any such historical search is that "Robert" was in medieval England a very common given name, and "Robin" (or Robyn), especially in the 13th century, was its very common diminutive. The surname "Hood" (or Hude or Hode etc.) was fairly common because it referred either to a Hooder, who was a maker of hoods; or alternatively to somebody who wore a hood as a head-covering. Unsurprisingly, therefore, reference is made to a number of people called "Robert Hood" or "Robin Hood" in medieval records. Some of these individuals are even known to have fallen afoul of the law.
Robin Hood of Wakefield
One theory of origin was proposed by Joseph Hunter in 1852. Hunter identified the outlaw with a "Robyn Hode" recorded as employed by Edward II in 1323 during the king's progress through Lancashire. This Robyn Hode was identified with (one or more people called) Robert Hood living in Wakefield before and after that time. Comparing the available records with especially the Gest and also other ballads, Hunter developed a fairly detailed theory according to which Robin Hood was an adherent of the rebel Earl of Lancaster, defeated at the Battle of Boroughbridge in 1322. According to this theory, Robin Hood was pardoned and employed by the king in 1323. (The Gest does relate that Robin Hood was pardoned by "King Edward" and taken into his service.) The theory supplies Robin Hood with a wife, Matilda, thought to be the origin of Maid Marian, and Hunter also conjectured that the author of the Gest may have been the religious poet Richard Rolle (1290–1349), who lived in the village of Hampole in Barnsdale. Hunter's theory has long been recognised to have serious problems, one of the most serious being that "Robin Hood" and similar names were already used as nicknames for outlaws in the 13th century. Another is that there is no direct evidence that Hunter's Hood had ever been an outlaw or any kind of criminal or rebel at all; the theory is built on conjecture and coincidence of detail. Finally, recent research has shown that Hunter's Robyn Hood had been employed by the king at an earlier stage, thus casting doubt on this Robyn Hood's supposed earlier career as outlaw and rebel.
Robin Hood of York
The historian L. V. D. Owen in 1936 and more recently floated by J.C. Holt proposed that the original Robin Hood might be identified with an outlawed Robert Hood, or Hod, or Hobbehod, all apparently the same man, referred to in nine successive Yorkshire Pipe Rolls between 1226 and 1234. There is no evidence however that this Robert Hood, although an outlaw, was also a bandit.
The early ballads give a number of possible historical clues: notably, the Gest names the reigning king as being an unnamed "Edward", but unfortunately the ballads cannot be assumed to be reliable in such details. This is of little help as in addition to King Edward I who took the throne in 1272 with an Edward on the throne until the death of Edward III in 1377, there was also Edward the Elder (900–924), Edward the Martyr (975–978) and Edward the Confessor (1042–1066)
Robin Hood as an alias
It has long been suggested, notably by John Maddicott, that "Robin Hood" was a stock alias used by thieves. What appears to be the first known example of "Robin Hood" as stock name for an outlaw dates to 1262 in Berkshire, where the surname "Robehod" was applied to a man apparently because he had been outlawed. This could suggest two main possibilities: either that an early form of the Robin Hood legend was already well established in the mid-13th century; or alternatively that the name "Robin Hood" preceded the outlaw hero that we know; so that the "Robin Hood" of legend was so called because that was seen as an appropriate name for an outlaw.
Another theory identifies him with the historical outlaw Roger Godberd, who was a die-hard supporter of Simon de Montfort, which would place Robin Hood around the 1260s. There are certainly parallels between Godberd's career and that of Robin Hood as he appears in the Gest. John Maddicott has called Godberd "that prototype Robin Hood". Some problems with this theory are that there is no evidence that Godberd was ever known as Robin Hood and no sign in the early Robin Hood ballads of the specific concerns of de Montfort's revolt.
Robin Hood, the high-minded Saxon yeoman
The idea of Robin Hood as an Anglo-Saxon freedom fighter opposing oppressive Norman lords found popular appeal in the nineteenth century. The most notable contributions to the idea are Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe (1819) and Augustin Thierry's Histoire de la Conquête de l'Angleterre par les Normands, A History of the Conquest of England by the Normans (1825). Robin Hood appears as a character along with his "merry men" in Ivanhoe, a historical novel by Sir Walter Scott published in 1820, and set in 12th-century England. The character that Scott gave to Robin Hood in Ivanhoe helped shape the modern notion of this figure as a cheery noble outlaw. In the novel Robin is depicted as a follower of King Richard the Lionheart and helps him and Wilfred Ivanhoe to fight against the Knights Templar. It is in this work that the modern Robin Hood – "King of Outlaws and prince of good fellows!" - as Richard the Lionheart calls him – makes his debut!
Academics indicate that there are a number of verifiable historical clues that allude to the legend's Anglo-Saxon origins. In particular, The Coucher Book of Selby Abbey, a manuscript dating from the eleventh century, records that ‘a certain Prince of Thieves by the name of Swain, son of Sigge, constantly prowled around Yorkshire's woods with his band on perpetual raids’. The medieval chronicler speaks of how a 'cursed villain' in Swein's gang robbed Abbot Benedict of Selby. J. Green indicates that Hugh fitz Baldric, the late eleventh century Sheriff of Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire, held responsibility for bringing Swein-son-of-Sicga to justice. William E. Kapelle indicates that Hugh fitz Baldric needed to travel around Yorkshire in the company of a small army because of the threat that was posed to his safety by the region’s outlaws. Historians indicate that the deeds of Yorkshire's eleventh century outlaws, men such as Swein-son-of-Siccga, and their battles against the Sheriff of Nottingham, merged together to form the legend that is today universally known as The Adventures of Robin Hood.
History of the legend
The first clear reference to "rhymes of Robin Hood" is from Line 5396 of the late-14th-century poem Piers Plowman, but the earliest surviving copies of the narrative ballads that tell his story date to the 15th century, or the first decade of the 16th century. In these early accounts, Robin Hood's partisanship of the lower classes, his Marianism and associated special regard for women, his outstanding skill as an archer, his anti-clericalism, and his particular animosity towards the Sheriff of Nottingham are already clear. Little John, Much the Miller's Son and Will Scarlet (as Will "Scarlok" or "Scathelocke") all appear, although not yet Maid Marian or Friar Tuck. It is not certain what should be made of these latter two absences as it is known that Friar Tuck, for one, has been part of the legend since at least the later 15th century.
In popular culture, Robin Hood is typically seen as a contemporary and supporter of the late-12th-century king Richard the Lionheart, Robin being driven to outlawry during the misrule of Richard's brother John while Richard was away at the Third Crusade. This view first gained currency in the 16th century. It is not supported by the earliest ballads. The early compilation, A Gest of Robyn Hode, names the king as "Edward"; and while it does show Robin Hood accepting the King's pardon, he later repudiates it and returns to the greenwood.
The oldest surviving ballad, Robin Hood and the Monk, gives even less support to the picture of Robin Hood as a partisan of the true king. The setting of the early ballads is usually attributed by scholars to either the 13th century or the 14th, although it is recognised they are not necessarily historically consistent.
The early ballads are also quite clear on Robin Hood's social status: he is a yeoman. While the precise meaning of this term changed over time, including free retainers of an aristocrat and small landholders, it always referred to commoners. The essence of it in the present context was "neither a knight nor a peasant or 'husbonde' but something in between". Artisans (such as millers) were among those regarded as "yeomen" in the 14th century. From the 16th century on, there were attempts to elevate Robin Hood to the nobility and in two extremely influential plays Anthony Munday presented him at the very end of the 16th century as the Earl of Huntingdon, as he is still commonly presented in modern times.
As well as ballads, the legend was also transmitted by "Robin Hood games" or plays that were an important part of the late medieval and early modern May Day festivities. The first record of a Robin Hood game was in 1426 in Exeter, but the reference does not indicate how old or widespread this custom was at the time. The Robin Hood games are known to have flourished in the later 15th and 16th centuries. It is commonly stated as fact that Maid Marian and a jolly friar (at least partly identifiable with Friar Tuck) entered the legend through the May Games.
Locations associated with Robin Hood
The early ballads link Robin Hood to identifiable real places. In popular culture, Robin Hood and his band of "merry men" are portrayed as living in Sherwood Forest, in Nottinghamshire. Notably, the Lincoln Cathedral Manuscript, which is the first officially recorded Robin Hood song (dating from approximately 1420), makes an explicit reference to the outlaw which states that "Robyn hode in scherewode stod." In a similar fashion, a monk of Witham Priory (1460) suggested that the archer had ‘infested shirwode’. His chronicle entry reads,
‘Around this time, according to popular opinion, a certain outlaw named Robin Hood, with his accomplices, infested Sherwood and other law-abiding areas of England with continuous robberies’.
Nobody knows exactly what the monk’s source was, but the fact that he used the term "according to popular opinion" has led historians to conclude that his source may have been nothing more than simple word of mouth.
Specific sites in the county of Nottinghamshire that are directly linked to the Robin Hood legend include Robin Hood's Well, located near Newstead Abbey (within the boundaries of Sherwood Forest), the Church of St. Mary in the village of Edwinstowe and most famously of all, the Major Oak also located at the village of Edwinstowe. The Major Oak, which resides in the heart of Sherwood Forest, is popularly believed to have been used by the Merry Men as a hide-out. However, scientists have contradicted this claim by estimating that the tree is approximately eight hundred years old, which means that it would have only been an acorn at the time that Robin lived.
Nottinghamshire's claim to Robin Hood's heritage is disputed, with Yorkists staking a claim to the outlaw. In demonstrating Yorkshire's Robin Hood heritage, the historian J. C. Holt drew attention to the fact that although Sherwood Forest is mentioned in Robin Hood and the Monk, there is little information about the topography of the region, and thus suggested that Robin Hood was drawn to Nottinghamshire through his interactions with the city's sheriff. And, the linguist Lister Matheson has observed that the language of the Gest of Robyn Hode is written in a definite northern dialect, probably that of Yorkshire. In consequence, it seems probable that the Robin Hood legend actually originates from the county of Yorkshire. Robin Hood's Yorkshire origins are universally accepted by professional historians.
A tradition dating back at least to the end of the 16th century gives Robin Hood's birthplace as Loxley, Sheffield, in South YorkshireThe original Robin Hood ballads, which originate from the fifteenth century, set events in the medieval forest of Barnsdale. Barnsdale was a wooded area which covered an expanse of no more than thirty square miles, ranging six miles from north to south, with the River Went at Wentbridge near Pontefract forming its northern boundary and the villages of Skelbrooke and Hampole forming the southernmost region. From east to west the forest extended about five miles, from Askern on the east to Badsworth in the west. At the northern most edge of the forest of Barnsdale, in the heart of the Went Valley, resides the village of Wentbridge. Wentbridge is a village in the City of Wakefield district of West Yorkshire, England. It lies around 3 miles (5 km) southeast of its nearest township of size, Pontefract, close to the A1 road. During the medieval age Wentbridge was sometimes locally referred to by the name of Barnsdale because it was the predominant settlement in the forest. Wentbridge is mentioned in what may be the earliest Robin Hood ballad, entitled, Robin Hood and the Potter, which reads, "Y mete hem bot at Went breg,' syde Lyttyl John". And, whilst Wentbridge is not directly named in A Gest of Robyn Hode, the poem does appear to make a cryptic reference to the locality by depicting a poor knight explaining to Robin Hood that he ‘went at a bridge’ where there was wrestling'. A commemorative Blue Plaque has been placed on the bridge that crosses the River Went by Wakefield City Council.
The Gest makes a specific reference to the Saylis at Wentbridge. Credit is due to the nineteenth century antiquarian Joseph Hunter, who correctly identifed the site of the Saylis. From this location it was once possible to look out over the Went Valley and observe the traffic that passed along the Great North Road. The Saylis is recorded as having contributed towards the aid that was granted to Edward III in 1346-47 for the knighting of the Black Prince. An acre of landholding is listed within a glebe terrier of 1688 relating to Kirk Smeaton, which later came to be called ‘Sailes Close’. Professor Dobson and Mr Taylor indicate that such evidence of continuity makes it virtually certain that the Saylis that was so well known to Robin Hood is preserved today as ‘Sayles Plantation’. It is this location that provides a vital clue to Robin Hood’s Yorkshire heritage. One final locality in the forest of Barnsdale that is associated with Robin Hood is the village of Campsall.
The Church of Saint Mary Magdalene at Campsall
The historian John Paul Davis wrote of Robin's connection to the Church of Saint Mary Magdalene at Campsall. A Gest of Robyn Hode states that the outlaw built a chapel in Barnsdale that he dedicated to Mary Magdalene,
‘I made a chapel in Bernysdale, That seemly is to se, It is of Mary Magdaleyne, And thereto wolde I be’.
Davis indicates that there is only one church dedicated to Mary Magdalene within what one might reasonably consider to have been the medieval forest of Barnsdale, and that is the church at Campsall. The church was built in the late eleventh century by Robert de Lacy, the 2nd Baron of Pontefract. Local legend suggests that Robin Hood and Maid Marion were married at the church.
The Abbey of Saint Mary at York
The backdrop of Saint Mary's Abbey at York plays a central role in the Gest as the poor knight who Robin aids owes money to the abbot.
Robin Hood's grave at Kirklees
At Kirklees priory in Yorkshire stands an alleged grave with a spurious inscription, which relates to Robin Hood. The fifteenth century ballads relate that before he died, Robin told Little John where to bury him. He shot an arrow from the Priory window, and where the arrow landed was to be the site of his grave. The Gest states that the Prioress was a relative of Robin's. Robin was ill and staying at the Priory where the Prioress was supposedly caring for him. However, she betrayed him, his health worsened, and he eventually died there. The inscription on the grave reads,
'Hear underneath dis laitl stean
Laz robert earl of Huntingtun
Ne’er arcir ver as hie sa geud
An pipl kauld im robin heud
Sick [such] utlawz as he an iz men
Vil england nivr si agen
Obiit 24 kal: Dekembris, 1247'.
The grave with the inscription is within sight of the ruins of the Kirklees Priory, behind the Three Nuns pub in Mirfield, West Yorkshire. Though local folklore suggests that Robin is buried in the grounds of Kirklees Priory, this theory has now largely been abandoned by professional historians.
All Saints church at Pontefract
A more recent theory proposes that Robin Hood died at Kirkby, Pontefract. Drayton’s Poly-Olbion Song 28 (67-70) composed in 1622 speaks of Robin Hood’s death and clearly states that the outlaw died at ‘Kirkby’. Acknowledging that Robin Hood operated in the Went Valley, located three miles to the southeast of the town of Pontefract, historians today indicate that the outlaw is buried at nearby Kirkby. The location is approximately three miles from the site of Robin’s robberies at the now famous Saylis. In the Anglo-Saxon period, Kirkby was home to All Saints Church. All Saints Church had a priory hospital attached to it. The Tudor historian Richard Grafton stated that the prioress who murdered Robin Hood buried the outlaw beside the road,
‘Where he had used to rob and spoyle those that passed that way…and the cause why she buryed him there was, for that common strangers and travailers, knowing and seeing him there buryed, might more safely and without feare take their journeys that way, which they durst not do in the life of the sayd outlaes’.
In a similar fashion, the Gest reads,
‘Cryst have mercy on his soule, That dyed on the rode! For he was a good outlawe, And dyde pore men moch god’.
All Saints Church at Kirkby, modern Pontefract, which was located approximately three miles from the site of Robin Hood’s robberies at the Saylis, accurately matches both Richard Grafton's and the Gest's description because a road ran directly from Wentbridge to the hospital at Kirkby.
Robin Hood place-name locations
Within close proximity of Wentbridge reside several notable landmarks which relate to Robin Hood. One such place-name location occurred in a cartulary deed of 1422 from Monkbretton Priory, which makes direct reference to a landmark named Robin Hood’s Stone which resided upon the eastern side of the Great North Road, a mile south of Barnsdale Bar. The historians Barry Dobson and John Taylor suggested that on the opposite side of the road once stood Robin Hood's Well, which has since been relocated six miles north-west of Doncaster, on the south-bound side of the Great North Road. Over the next three centuries, the name popped-up all over the place, such as at Robin Hood's Bay near Whitby Yorkshire, Robin Hood's Butts in Cumbria, and Robin Hood's Walk at Richmond Surrey. Robin Hood type place-names occurred particularly everywhere except Sherwood. The first place-name in Sherwood does not appear until the year 1700, demonstrating that Nottinghamshire jumped on the bandwagon at least four centuries after the event. The fact that the earliest Robin Hood type place-names originated in West Yorkshire is deemed to be historically significant because, generally, place-name evidence originates from the locality where legends begin. The overall picture from the surviving early ballads and other early references indicate that Robin Hood was based in the Barnsdale area of what is now South Yorkshire (which borders Nottinghamshire), and that he made occasional forays into Nottinghamshire.
The oldest references to Robin Hood are not historical records, or even ballads recounting his exploits, but hints and allusions found in various works. From 1228 onward, the names 'Robinhood', 'Robehod' or 'Robbehod' occur in the rolls of several English Justices. The majority of these references date from the late 13th century. Between 1261 and 1300, there are at least eight references to 'Rabunhod' in various regions across England, from Berkshire in the south to York in the north.
In a petition presented to Parliament in 1439, the name is used to describe an itinerant felon. The petition cites one Piers Venables of Aston, Derbyshire, "who having no liflode, ne sufficeante of goodes, gadered and assembled unto him many misdoers, beynge of his clothynge, and, in manere of insurrection, wente into the wodes in that countrie, like as it hadde be Robyn Hude and his meyne." The name was still used to describe sedition and treachery in 1605, when Guy Fawkes and his associates were branded "Robin Hoods" by Robert Cecil.
The first allusion to a literary tradition of Robin Hood tales occurs in William Langland's Piers Plowman (c. 1362–c. 1386) in which Sloth, the lazy priest, confesses: "I kan [know] not parfitly [perfectly] my Paternoster as the preest it singeth,/ But I kan rymes of Robyn Hood and Randolf Erl of Chestre."
The first mention of a quasi-historical Robin Hood is given in Andrew of Wyntoun's Orygynale Chronicle, written in about 1420. The following lines occur with little contextualisation under the year 1283:
- Lytil Jhon and Robyne Hude
- Wayth-men ware commendyd gude
- In Yngil-wode and Barnysdale
- Thai oysyd all this tyme thare trawale.
The next notice is a statement in the Scotichronicon, composed by John of Fordun between 1377 and 1384, and revised by Walter Bower in about 1440. Among Bower's many interpolations is a passage that directly refers to Robin. It is inserted after Fordun's account of the defeat of Simon de Montfort and the punishment of his adherents. Robin is represented as a fighter for de Montfort's cause. This was in fact true of the historical outlaw of Sherwood Forest Roger Godberd, whose points of similarity to the Robin Hood of the ballads have often been noted.
- Then [c. 1266] arose the famous murderer, Robert Hood, as well as Little John, together with their accomplices from among the disinherited, whom the foolish populace are so inordinately fond of celebrating both in tragedies and comedies, and about whom they are delighted to hear the jesters and minstrels sing above all other ballads.
The word translated here as "murderer" is the Latin siccarius (Eng: "knife-man" or "dagger-man"), from the Latin for "knife". Bower goes on to tell a story about Robin Hood in which he refuses to flee from his enemies while hearing Mass in the greenwood, and then gains a surprise victory over them, apparently as a reward for his piety.
- Around this time, according to popular opinion, a certain outlaw named Robin Hood, with his accomplices, infested Sherwood and other law-abiding areas of England with continuous robberies.
William Shakespeare makes reference to Robin Hood in his late-16th-century play The Two Gentlemen of Verona, one of his earliest. In it, the character Valentine is banished from Milan and driven out through the forest where he is approached by outlaws who, upon meeting him, desire him as their leader. They comment, "By the bare scalp of Robin Hood's fat friar, This fellow were a king for our wild faction!" Robin Hood is also mentioned in As You Like It. When asked about the exiled Duke Senior, the character of Charles says that he is "already in the forest of Arden, and a many merry men with him; and there they live like the old Robin Hood of England."
References to Robin as Earl of Huntington
- [Robin Hood's] death is stated by Ritson to have taken place on 18 November 1247, about the 87th year of his age; but according to the following inscription found among the papers of the Dean of York...the death occurred a month later. In this inscription, which bears evidence of high antiquity, Robin Hood is described as Earl of Huntington – his claim to which title has been as hotly contested as any disputed peerage upon record.
- Hear undernead dis laitl stean
- Lais Robert Earl of Huntingun
- Near arcir der as hie sa geud
- An pipl kauld im Robin Heud
- Sic utlaws as hi an is men
- Vil England nivr si agen.
- Obiit 24 Kal Dekembris 1247
- In Modern English:
- Here underneath this little stone
- Lies Robert Earl of Huntington
- Never archer there as he so good
- And people called him Robin Hood
- Such outlaws as him and his men
- Will England never see again
This inscription also appears on a grave in the grounds of Kirklees Priory near Kirklees Hall (see below).
Robert is largely fictional by this time. The Gale note is inaccurate. The medieval texts do not refer to him directly, but mediate their allusions through a body of accounts and reports: for Langland, Robin exists principally in "rimes", for Bower, "comedies and tragedies", while for Wyntoun he is "commendyd gude". Even in a legal context, where one would expect to find verifiable references to Robert, he is primarily a symbol, a generalised outlaw-figure rather than an individual. Consequently, in the medieval period itself, Robin Hood already belongs more to literature than to history. In fact, in an anonymous song called Woman of c. 1412, he is treated in precisely this manner – as a joke, a figure that the audience will instantly recognise as imaginary:
- He that made this songe full good,
- Came of the northe and the sothern blode,
- And somewhat kyne to Robert Hoad.
Some early Robin Hood stories appear to be unique, such as the story wherein Robin gives a knight, generally called Richard at the Lee, money to pay off his mortgage to an abbot, but this may merely indicate that no parallels have survived.
Ballads and tales
The earliest surviving text of a Robin Hood ballad is "Robin Hood and the Monk". This is preserved in Cambridge University manuscript Ff.5.48. It was written shortly after 1450. It contains many of the elements still associated with the legend, from the Nottingham setting to the bitter enmity between Robin and the local sheriff.
The first printed version is A Gest of Robyn Hode (c. 1475), a collection of separate stories which attempts to unite the episodes into a single continuous narrative. After this comes "Robin Hood and the Potter", contained in a manuscript of c. 1503. "The Potter" is markedly different in tone from "The Monk": whereas the earlier tale is "a thriller" the latter is more comic, its plot involving trickery and cunning rather than straightforward force. The difference between the two texts recalls Bower's claim that Robin-tales may be both 'comedies and tragedies'.
Other early texts are dramatic pieces such as the fragmentary Robyn Hod and the Shryff off Notyngham (c. 1472). These are particularly noteworthy as they show Robin's integration into May Day rituals towards the end of the Middle Ages; Robyn Hod and the Shryff off Notyngham, among other points of interest, contains the earliest reference to Friar Tuck.
The plots of neither "the Monk" nor "the Potter" are included in the Gest; and neither is the plot of "Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborne" which is probably at least as old as those two ballads although preserved in a more recent copy. Each of these three ballads survived in a single copy, so it is unclear how much of the medieval legend has survived, and what has survived may not be typical of the medieval legend. It has been argued that the fact that the surviving ballads were preserved in written form in itself makes it unlikely they were typical; in particular stories with an interest for the gentry were by this view more likely to be preserved. The story of Robin's aid to the "poor knight" that takes up much of the Gest may be an example.
The character of Robin in these first texts is rougher edged than in his later incarnations. In "Robin Hood and the Monk", for example, he is shown as quick tempered and violent, assaulting Little John for defeating him in an archery contest; in the same ballad Much the Miller's Son casually kills a "little page" in the course of rescuing Robin Hood from prison. No extant ballad actually shows Robin Hood "giving to the poor", although in a "A Gest of Robyn Hode" Robin does make a large loan to an unfortunate knight which he does not in the end require to be repaid; and later in the same ballad Robin Hood states his intention of giving money to the next traveller to come down the road if he happens to be poor.
- Of my good he shall haue some,
- Yf he be a por man.
As it happens the next traveller is not poor, but it seems in context that Robin Hood is stating a general policy. From the beginning Robin Hood is on the side of the poor; the Gest quotes Robin Hood as instructing his men that when they rob:
- loke ye do no husbonde harme
- That tilleth with his ploughe.
- No more ye shall no gode yeman
- That walketh by gren-wode shawe;
- Ne no knyght ne no squyer
- That wol be a gode felawe.
And in its final lines the Gest sums up:
- he was a good outlawe,
- And dyde pore men moch god.
Within Robin Hood's band medieval forms of courtesy rather than modern ideals of equality are generally in evidence. In the early ballads Robin's men usually kneel before him in strict obedience: in A Gest of Robyn Hode the king even observes that "His men are more at his byddynge/Then my men be at myn." Their social status, as yeomen, is shown by their weapons; they use swords rather than quarterstaffs. The only character to use a quarterstaff in the early ballads is the potter, and Robin Hood does not take to a staff until the 18th century Robin Hood and Little John.
The political and social assumptions underlying the early Robin Hood ballads have long been controversial. It has been influentially argued by J. C. Holt that the Robin Hood legend was cultivated in the households of the gentry, and that it would be mistaken to see in him a figure of peasant revolt. He is not a peasant but a yeoman, and his tales make no mention of the complaints of the peasants, such as oppressive taxes. He appears not so much as a revolt against societal standards as an embodiment of them, being generous, pious, and courteous, opposed to stingy, worldly, and churlish foes. Other scholars have by contrast stressed the subversive aspects of the legend, and see in the medieval Robin Hood ballads a plebeian literature hostile to the feudal order.
Although the term "Merry Men" belongs to a later period, the ballads do name several of Robin's companions. These include Will Scarlet (or Scathlock), Much the Miller's Son, and Little John – who was called "little" as a joke, as he was quite the opposite. Even though the band is regularly described as being over a hundred men, usually only three or four are specified. Some appear only once or twice in a ballad: Will Stutely in Robin Hood Rescuing Will Stutly and Robin Hood and Little John; David of Doncaster in Robin Hood and the Golden Arrow; Gilbert with the White Hand in A Gest of Robyn Hode; and Arthur a Bland in Robin Hood and the Tanner.
Printed versions of the Robin Hood ballads, generally based on the Gest, appear in the early 16th century, shortly after the introduction of printing in England. Later that century Robin is promoted to the level of nobleman: he is styled Earl of Huntingdon, Robert of Locksley, or Robert Fitz Ooth. In the early ballads, by contrast, he was a member of the yeoman classes, which included common freeholders possessing a small landed estate.
May Day and fairs
By the early 15th century at the latest, Robin Hood had become associated with May Day celebrations, with revellers dressing as Robin or as members of his band for the festivities. This was not common throughout England, but in some regions the custom lasted until Elizabethan times, and during the reign of Henry VIII, was briefly popular at court. Robin was often allocated the role of a May King, presiding over games and processions, but plays were also performed with the characters in the roles, sometimes performed at church ales, a means by which churches raised funds.
A complaint of 1492, brought to the Star Chamber, accuses men of acting riotously by coming to a fair as Robin Hood and his men; the accused defended themselves on the grounds that the practice was a long-standing custom to raise money for churches, and they had not acted riotously but peaceably.
It is from the association with the May Games that Robin's romantic attachment to Maid Marian (or Marion) apparently stems. A "Robin and Marion" figured in 13th-century French "pastourelles" (of which Jeu de Robin et Marion c. 1280 is a literary version) and presided over the French May festivities, "this Robin and Marion tended to preside, in the intervals of the attempted seduction of the latter by a series of knights, over a variety of rustic pastimes." In the Jeu de Robin and Marion, Robin and his companions have to rescue Marion from the clutches of a "lustful knight".The naming of Marian may have come from the French pastoral play of c. 1280, the Jeu de Robin et Marion, although this play is distinct from the English legends. Both Robin and Marian were certainly associated with May Day festivities in England (as was Friar Tuck), but these may have been originally two distinct types of performance – Alexander Barclay in his Ship of Fools, writing in c. 1500, refers to "some merry fytte of Maid Marian or else of Robin Hood" – but the characters were brought together. Marian did not immediately gain the unquestioned role; in Robin Hood's Birth, Breeding, Valor, and Marriage, his sweetheart is 'Clorinda the Queen of the Shepherdesses'. Clorinda survives in some later stories as an alias of Marian.
Robin Hood and King Richard the Lionheart
In the 16th century, Robin Hood is given a specific historical setting. Up until this point there was little interest in exactly when Robin's adventures took place. The original ballads refer at various points to "King Edward", without stipulating whether this is Edward I, Edward II, or Edward III. Hood may thus have been active at any point between 1272 and 1377. However, during the 16th century the stories become fixed to the 1190s, the period in which King Richard was absent from the country, fighting in the crusades. This date is first proposed by John Mair in his Historia Majoris Britanniæ (1521), and gains popular acceptance by the end of the century.
Giving Robin an aristocratic title and female love interest (Maid Marian), and placing him in the historical context of the true king's absence, all represent moves to domesticate his legend and reconcile it to ruling powers. In this, his legend is similar to that of King Arthur, which morphed from a dangerous masculine story to a more comfortable, chivalrous romance under the troubadours serving Eleanor of Aquitaine. From the 16th century on, the legend of Robin Hood is often used to promote the hereditary ruling class, romance, and religious piety. The "criminal" element is retained to provide dramatic colour, rather than as a real challenge to convention.
New characters and new attributes for Robin
In 1598, Anthony Munday wrote a pair of plays on the Robin Hood legend, The Downfall and The Death of Robert Earl of Huntington (published 1601). The 17th century introduced the minstrel Alan-a-Dale. He first appeared in a 17th-century broadside ballad, and unlike many of the characters thus associated, managed to adhere to the legend. This is also the era in which the character of Robin became fixed as stealing from the rich to give to the poor.
New concepts from the 18th century onwards
In the 18th century, the stories began to develop a slightly more farcical vein. From this period there are a number of ballads in which Robin is severely "drubbed" by a succession of professionals including a tanner, a tinker and a ranger. In fact, the only character who does not get the better of Hood is the luckless Sheriff. Yet even in these ballads Robin is more than a mere simpleton: on the contrary, he often acts with great shrewdness. The tinker, setting out to capture Robin, only manages to fight with him after he has been cheated out of his money and the arrest warrant he is carrying. In Robin Hood's Golden Prize, Robin disguises himself as a friar and cheats two priests out of their cash. Even when Robin is defeated, he usually tricks his foe into letting him sound his horn, summoning the Merry Men to his aid. When his enemies do not fall for this ruse, he persuades them to drink with him instead.
Other literary references
The continued popularity of the Robin Hood tales is attested by a number of literary references. In As You Like It, the exiled duke and his men "live like the old Robin Hood of England", while Ben Jonson produced the (incomplete) masque The Sad Shepherd, or a Tale of Robin Hood as a satire on Puritanism. Somewhat later, the Romantic poet John Keats composed Robin Hood. To A Friend and Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote a play The Foresters, or Robin Hood and Maid Marian, which was presented with incidental music by Sir Arthur Sullivan in 1892. Later still, T. H. White featured Robin and his band in The Sword in the Stone – anachronistically, since the novel's chief theme is the childhood of King Arthur.
The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood
The Victorian era generated its own distinct versions of Robin Hood. The traditional tales were often adapted for children, most notably in Howard Pyle's The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, which influenced accounts of Robin Hood through the 20th century. These versions firmly stamp Robin as a staunch philanthropist, a man who takes from the rich to give to the poor. Nevertheless, the adventures are still more local than national in scope: while King Richard's participation in the Crusades is mentioned in passing, Robin takes no stand against Prince John, and plays no part in raising the ransom to free Richard. These developments are part of the 20th century Robin Hood myth.
The idea of Robin Hood as a high-minded Saxon fighting Norman lords also originates in the 19th century. The most notable contributions to this idea of Robin are Jacques Nicolas Augustin Thierry's Histoire de la Conquête de l'Angleterre par les Normands (1825) and Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe (1819). In this last work in particular, the modern Robin Hood – "King of Outlaws and prince of good fellows!" as Richard the Lionheart calls him – makes his debut.
20th century onwards
The 20th century grafted still further details on to the original legends. The 1938 film, The Adventures of Robin Hood, starring Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland, portrayed Robin as a hero on a national scale, leading the oppressed Saxons in revolt against their Norman overlords while Richard the Lionheart fought in the Crusades; this movie established itself so definitively that many studios resorted to movies about his son (invented for that purpose) rather than compete with the image of this one.
Movies, animations, new concepts and other adaptations
Walt Disney's Robin Hood
In the 1973 animated Disney film, Robin Hood, the title character is portrayed as an anthropomorphic fox voiced by Brian Bedford. Years before Robin Hood had even entered production, Disney had considered doing a project on Reynard the Fox. However, due to concerns that Reynard was unsuitable as a hero, animator Ken Anderson lifted many elements from Reynard into Robin Hood, thus making the titular character a fox.
Robin and Marian
The 1976 British-American film Robin and Marian, starring Sean Connery as Robin Hood and Audrey Hepburn as Maid Marian, portrays the figures in later years after Robin has returned from service with Richard the Lionheart in a foreign crusade and Marian has gone into seclusion in a nunnery. This is the first in popular culture to portray King Richard as less than perfect.
A Muslim among the Merry Men
Since the 1980s, it has become commonplace to include a Saracen (Muslim) among the Merry Men, a trend which began with the character Nasir in the 1984 ITV Robin of Sherwood television series. Later versions of the story have followed suit: the 1991 movie Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and 2006 BBC TV series Robin Hood each contain equivalents of Nasir, in the figures of Azeem and Djaq, respectively. The latest movie version, 2010's Robin Hood, did not include a Saracen character. The character Azeem in the 1991 movie Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves was originally called Nasir, until a crew member who worked on Robin of Sherwood pointed out that the Nasir Character was not part of the original legend and was created for the show Robin of Sherwood. The name was immediately changed to Azeem to avoid any potential copyright issues.
Robin Hood in France
Between 1963 and 1966, French television broadcast a medievalist series entitled Thierry La Fronde (Thierry the Sling). This successful series, which was also shown in Canada, Poland (Thierry Śmiałek), Australia (The King's Outlaw), and the Netherlands (Thierry de Slingeraar), transposes the English Robin Hood narrative into late medieval France during the Hundred Years' War.
Evolution of concepts
The Robin Hood legend has been subject to numerous shifts and mutations throughout its history. Robin himself has evolved from a yeoman bandit to a national hero of epic proportions, who not only supports the poor by taking from the rich, but heroically defends the throne of England itself from unworthy and venal claimants.
A record of the appearance of a "Robert de Lockesly" in court is found, dated 1245. As "Robert" and its diminutives were amongst the most common of names at the time, and also since it was usual for men to adopt the name of their hometown ("De Lockesly" means simply, "Of [or from] Lockesly"), the record could just as easily be referring to any man from the area named Robert. Although it cannot be proven whether or not this is the man himself, it is further believed by some that Robin had a brother called Thomas – an assertion with no documentary evidence whatsoever to support it in any of the stories, tales or ballads. If the Robert mentioned above was indeed Robin Hood, and if he did have a brother named Thomas, then consideration of the following reference may lend this theory a modicum of credence:
- 24) No. 389, f0- 78. Ascension Day, 29 H. III., Nic Meverill, with John Kantia, on the one part, and Henry de Leke. Henry released to Nicholas and John 5 m. rent, which he received from Nicolas and John and Robert de Lockesly for his life from the lands of Gellery, in consideration of receiving from each of them 2M (2 marks). only, the said Henry to live at table with one of them and to receive 2M. annually from the other. T., Sampson de Leke, Magister Peter Meverill, Roger de Lockesly, John de Leke, Robert fil Umfred, Rico de Newland, Richard Meverill. (25) No. 402, p. 80 b. Thomas de Lockesly bound himself that he would not sell his lands at Leke, which Nicolas Meveril had rendered to him, under a penalty of L40 (40 pounds).
It is again, however, equally likely that Nicolas, John, Robert and Thomas were simply members of a family which came from the area.
The Sheriff of Nottingham also had jurisdiction in Derbyshire that was known as the "Shire of the Deer", and this is where the Royal Forest of the Peak is found, which roughly corresponds to today's Peak District National Park. The Royal Forest included Bakewell, Tideswell, Castleton, Ladybower and the Derwent Valley near Loxley. The Sheriff of Nottingham possessed property near Loxley, amongst other places both far and wide including Hazlebadge Hall, Peveril Castle and Haddon Hall. Mercia, to which Nottingham belonged, came to within three miles of Sheffield City Centre. But before the Law of the Normans was the Law of the Danes, The Danelaw had a similar boundary to that of Mercia but had a population of Free Peasantry which were known to have resisted the Norman occupation. Many outlaws could have been created by the refusal to recognise Norman Forest Law. The supposed grave of Little John can be found in Hathersage, also in the Peak District.
Further indications of the legend's connection with West Yorkshire (and particularly Calderdale) are noted in the fact that there are pubs called the Robin Hood in both nearby Brighouse and at Cragg Vale; higher up in the Pennines beyond Halifax, where Robin Hood Rocks can also be found. Robin Hood Hill is near Outwood, West Yorkshire, not far from Lofthouse. There is a village in West Yorkshire called Robin Hood, on the A61 between Leeds and Wakefield and close to Rothwell and Lofthouse. Considering these references to Robin Hood, it is not surprising that the people of both South and West Yorkshire lay some claim to Robin Hood, who, if he existed, could easily have roamed between Nottingham, Lincoln, Doncaster and right into West Yorkshire.
There are also modern theories that Robin Hood was in fact Welsh, and was called Rybyn Hod. In fact, the Welsh city of Swansea has in recent years been known as "Hodsville" in reference to the mythical figure. Sites around Swansea that lend credence to this theory include Rybyn Hod's Hatshop, Rybyn Hod's Stoop, Rybyn Hod's Wad (a thicket of trees located off Rifleman's Row) and Rybyn Hod's Fortress, which according to local legend was on the site of the current Morriston Tabernacle.
A British Army Territorial (reserves) battalion formed in Nottingham in 1859 was known as The Robin Hood Battalion through various reorganisations until the "Robin Hood" name finally disappeared in 1992. With the 1881 Childers Reforms that linked regular and reserve units into regimental families, the Robin Hood Battalion became part of The Sherwood Foresters (Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment).
List of traditional ballads
Ballads are the oldest existing form of the Robin Hood legends, although none of them are recorded at the time of the first allusions to him, and many are much later. They share many common features, often opening with praise of the greenwood and relying heavily on disguise as a plot device, but include a wide variation in tone and plot. The ballads below are sorted into three groups, very roughly according to date of first known free-standing copy. Ballads whose first recorded version appears (usually incomplete) in the Percy Folio may appear in later versions and may be much older than the mid-17th century when the Folio was compiled. Any ballad may be older than the oldest copy which happens to survive, or descended from a lost older ballad. For example, the plot of Robin Hood's Death, found in the Percy Folio, is summarised in the 15th-century A Gest of Robyn Hode, and it also appears in an 18th-century version.
Early ballads (i.e., surviving in 15th- or early-16th-century copies)
Ballads appearing in 17th-century Percy Folio
NB. The first two ballads listed here (the "Death" and "Gisborne"), although preserved in 17th century copies, are generally agreed to preserve the substance of late medieval ballads. The third (the "Curtal Friar") and the fourth (the "Butcher"), also probably have late medieval origins.
- Robin Hood's Death
- Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborne
- Robin Hood and the Curtal Friar
- Robin Hood and the Butcher
- Robin Hood Rescuing Will Stutly
- Robin Hood Rescuing Three Squires
- The Jolly Pinder of Wakefield
- Robin Hood and Queen Katherine
- A True Tale of Robin Hood
- Robin Hood and the Bishop
- Robin Hood and the Bishop of Hereford
- Robin Hood and the Golden Arrow
- Robin Hood and the Prince of Aragon
- Robin Hood and the Ranger
- Robin Hood and the Scotchman
- Robin Hood and the Tanner
- Robin Hood and the Tinker
- Robin Hood and the Valiant Knight
- Robin Hood Newly Revived
- Robin Hood's Birth, Breeding, Valor, and Marriage
- Robin Hood's Chase
- Robin Hood's Delight
- Robin Hood's Golden Prize
- Robin Hood's Progress to Nottingham
- The Bold Pedlar and Robin Hood
- The King's Disguise, and Friendship with Robin Hood
- The Noble Fisherman
Some ballads, such as Erlinton, feature Robin Hood in some variants, where the folk hero appears to be added to a ballad pre-existing him and in which he does not fit very well. He was added to one variant of Rose Red and the White Lily, apparently on no more connection than that one hero of the other variants is named "Brown Robin." Francis James Child indeed retitled Child ballad 102; though it was titled The Birth of Robin Hood, its clear lack of connection with the Robin Hood cycle (and connection with other, unrelated ballads) led him to title it Willie and Earl Richard's Daughter in his collection.
Main characters of the folklore
- Robin Hood (a.k.a. Robin of Loxley or Locksley)
- The band of "Merry Men"
- Maid Marian
- King Richard the Lionheart
- Prince John
- Sir Guy of Gisbourne
- The Sheriff of Nottingham
- William Tell
- Tadas Blinda
- Eustace Folville
- Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd
- Juraj Jánošík
- Iancu Jianu
- Rummu Jüri
- Ustym Karmaliuk
- Ned Kelly
- Im Kkeokjeong
- Nezumi Kozō
- Redmond O'Hanlon
- Redistribution of wealth
- Robin Hood tax
- Chucho el Roto
- Kobus van der Schlossen
- Trysting Tree
- William de Wendenal
- Mike the Knight
- J. C. Holt, Robin Hood, Thames and Hudson, 1989, pp. 184–185.
- "Robin Hood: Development of a Popular Hero." From The Robin Hood Project at the University of Rochester. Retrieved 22 November 2008.
- "Merry-man" has referred to the follower of an outlaw since at least the late 14th century. See Online Etymology Dictionary
- The Child Ballads 117 "A Gest of Robyn Hode" (c 1450) "Whan they were clothed in Lincoln Green "
- Holt, p. 62.
- Knight, Robin Hood: a mythic biography pp. 142–143
- Dobson & Taylor, p. 33.
- Dobson & Taylor, p. ix
- A number of such theories are mentioned at 1911 Britannica article on "Robin Hood" at LoveToKnow Robin Hood.
- Reginald Scot "Discourse upon divels and spirits" Chapter 21, quoted in Charles P. G. Scott "The Devil and His Imps: An Etymological Investigation" page 129 Transactions of the American Philological Association (1869–1896) Vol. 26, (1895), pp. 79–146 Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press jstor.org
- Dobson & Taylor, p. 12, 39n, and chapter on place-names.
- 2004, Imagining Robin Hood: The Late-Medieval Stories in Historical Context, Routledge ISBN 0-415-22308-3.
- Robert Graves English and Scottish Ballads. London: William Heinemann, 1957; New York: Macmillan, 1957. See, in particular, Graves' notes to his reconstruction of Robin Hood's Death.
- Dobson & Taylor, p. 63, also quoting Francis Child to the same effect
- Holt, p. 57.
- Dobson & Taylor, p. 42.
- Oxford Dictionary of Christian Names, EG Withycombe, 1950.
- Joseph Hunter, The Great Hero of the Ancient Minstrelsy of England: Robin Hood, his period, real character etc, Investigated and perhaps Ascertained, JR Smith, 1852. Quoted in the Gentlemans Magazine "The Discovery of the Veritable Robin Hood" 1854 p. 160f. Online at Google digitized books.
- Dobson & Taylor, introduction.
- Hunter, Joseph, "Robin Hood", in Robin Hood: An Anthology of Scholarship and Criticism, ed. by Stephen Knight (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 1999) pp.187-196. Holt, pp. 75–76, summarised in Dobson & Taylor, p. xvii.
- Crook, David "The Sheriff of Nottingham and Robin Hood: The Genesis of the Legend?" In Peter R. Coss, S. D. Lloyd, ed Thirteenth Century England University of Newcastle – 1999.
- E372/70, rot. 1d, 12 lines from bottom.
- Dobson & Taylor, p. xvii.
- Dobson & Taylor, introduction page 13, criticising Joseph Hunter's "quite remarkable belief in the historical accuracy of the Gest."
- Dobson & Taylor, pp. xxi–xxii.
- D. Crook English Historical Review XCIX (1984) pp. 530–34; discussed in Dobson & Taylor, pp. xxi–xxii.
- See BBC website, accessed 19 August 2008 on the Godberd theory. The real Robin Hood.
- J. R. Maddicott, "Edward the First and the Lessons of Baronial Reform" in Coss and Loyd ed, Thirteenth century England:1 Proceedings of the Newcastle Upon Tyne Conference 1985, Boydell and Brewer, p. 2.
- Allen W. Wright, "Wolfshead through the Ages Revolutions and Romanticism"
- Historia Selebiensis Monasterii, ed. by Janet Burton and Lynda Lockyer (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2013) Chapter 17 p.45. For the topographical significance of Yorkshire see locations associated with Robin Hood' above)
- Green, Judith A., English Sheriffs to 1154, Public Records Handbook No. 24 (London: HMSO, 1990), pp.67 & 89
- William E., The Norman Conquest of the North: The Region and Its Transformation, 1000-1135 (London: Croom Helm, 1979)
- La' Chance, A., "The Origins and Development of Robin Hood". Thierry, Augustine, History of the Norman Conquest of England by the Normans, Vol. 1 (London: George Bell, 1891)
- A Gest of Robin Hood stanzas 10–15, stanza 292 (archery) 117A: The Gest of Robyn Hode. Retrieved 15 April 2008.
- Dobson & Taylor, p. 203. Friar Tuck is mentioned in the play fragment Robyn Hod and the Shryff off Notyngham dated to c. 1475.
- Dobson & Taylor, pp. 5, 16.
- Dobson & Taylor, pp. 14–16.
- Dobson & Taylor, p. 34.
- Dobson & Taylor, pp. 34–35.
- Dobson & Taylor, pp. 33, 44, 220–223.
- Singmam, 1998, Robin Hood; The Shaping of the Legend p. 62.
- Dobson & Taylor, p. 41. "It was here [the May Games] that he encountered and assimilated into his own legend the jolly friar and Maid Marian, almost invariably among the performers in the 16th century morris dance." Dobson and Taylor have suggested that theories on the origin of Friar Tuck often founder on a failure to recognise that "he was the product of the fusion between two very different friars", a "bellicose outlaw", and the May Games figure.
- Thomas H. Ohlgren, Robin Hood: The Early Poems, 1465-1560, Texts, Contexts and Ideology (Newark: The University of Delaware Press, 2007) p.18.
- Luxford, Julian. "An English Chronicle entry on Robin Hood", Journal of Medieval History, 35 (2009) pp.70-76.
- Edwinstowe Parish Council. "Edwinstowe". Retrieved 2 August 2009.
- Holt, Robin Hood pp.90-91.
- Matheson, Lister, ‘The Dialects and Language of Selected Robin Hood Poems’, in Robin Hood: The Early Poems, 1465-1560 Texts, Contexts and Ideology ed. by Thomas Ohlgren (Delaware: University of Delaware Press, 2007 pp.189-210).
- Bellamy, John, Robin Hood: An Historical Enquiry (London: Croom Helm, 1985). Bradbury, Jim, Robin Hood (Stroud: Amberley Publishing: 2010). Dobson, R. B., ‘The Genesis of a Popular Hero’ in Robin Hood in Popular Culture: Violence, Transgression and Justice, ed. by Thomas Hahn (Woodbridge: D.S. Brewer, 2000) pp.61-77. Keen, Maurice, The Outlaws of Medieval Legend, 2nd edn (London and Henley: Routledge and Kegan Paul; Toronto and Buffalo: University of Toronto Press, 1977). Maddicot, J.R., Simon De Montfort (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994)
- Bradbury, p.180
- Dr Eric Houlder, PontArch Archaeological Society.
- The Gest, Stanza 135 p.88
- Joseph Hunter, ‘The Great Hero of the Ancient Minstrelsy of England’, Critical and Historical Tracts, 4 (1852) 15-16 (pp.15-16).
- Borthowick Institute of Historical Research, St Anthony’s Hall, York: R.III. F I xlvi b; R. III. F.16 xlvi (Kirk Smeaton Glebe Terriers of 7 June 1688 and 10 June 1857).
- Dobson, Dobson and Taylor, p.22.
- Davis, John Paul, Robin Hood: The Unknown Templar (London: Peter Owen Publishers, 2009)
- The Gest, Stanza 440 p.111.
- English Heritage, ‘List Entry Summary Church of St. Mary Magdalene Campsall’ English Heritage.org.uk (2012) http://list.englishheritage.org.uk/resultsingle.aspx?uid=1151464>. Heritage Inspired, ‘Campsall Saint Mary Magdalene’ Heritage Inspired.org. uk (2013) <http://www.heritageinspiredbyorg.uk/partner?partner_ID=97 >
- David Hepworth, ‘A Grave Tale’, in Robin Hood: Medieval and Post-Medieval, ed. by Helen Phillips (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2005) pp.91-112 (p.94.)
- Grafton, Richard, A Chronicle at Large (London: 1569) p.84 in Early English Books Online
- The Gest, Stanza 456 p.112.
- La' Chance, A, The Origins and Development of Robin Hood. Kapelle, William E., The Norman Conquest of the North: The Region and Its Transformation, 1000-1135 (London: Croom Helm, 1979)
- Monkbretton Priory, Abstracts of the Chartularies of the Priory of Monkbretton, Vol. LXVI, ed. by J. W. Walker (Leeds: The Yorkshire Archaeological Society, 1924) p.105.
- Dobson and Taylor, p.18
- Dobson and Taylor, p.22
- Dobson & Taylor, p. 18: "On balance therefore these 15th-century references to the Robin Hood legend seem to suggest that during the later Middle Ages the outlaw hero was more closely related to Barnsdale than Sherwood."
- Rot. Parl. v. 16.
- "V.396 in Schmidt's ed". Hti.umich.edu. Retrieved 12 March 2010.
- Dobson & Taylor, p. 5
- J. R. Maddicott, "Sir Edward the First and the Lessons of Baronial Reform" in Coss and Loyd ed, Thirteenth century England:1 Proceedings of the Newcastle Upon Tyne Conference 1985, Boydell and Brewer, p. 2
- Maurice Hugh Keen The Outlaws of Medieval England, 1987, Routledge
- Passage quoted and commented on in Stephen Knights, Robin Hood; A Mythic Biography, Cornell University Press, 2003, p. 5
- Luxford, Julian M. (2009). "An English chronicle entry on Robin Hood". Journal of Medieval History 35 (1): 70–76. doi:10.1016/j.jmedhist.2009.01.002.
- Act IV, Scene 1, line 36–7
- The Annotated Edition of the English Poets – Early ballads (London, 1856, p. 70)
- Wright, p. 104
- Women from The Wright's Chaste Wife, by Adam of Cobsam at Project Gutenberg
- Holt, pp. 74–75.
- "Robin Hood and the Monk". Lib.rochester.edu. Retrieved 12 March 2010.
- Introduction accompanying Knight and Ohlgren's 1997 ed.
- Ohlgren, Thomas, Robin Hood: The Early Poems, 1465–1560, (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2007), From Script to Print: Robin Hood and the Early Printers, pp. 97–134
- "Robin Hood and the Potter". Lib.rochester.edu. Retrieved 12 March 2010.
- "Robyn Hod and the Shryff off Notyngham". Lib.rochester.edu. Retrieved 12 March 2010.
- Singman, Jeffrey L. Robin Hood: The Shaping of the Legend Published 1998, Greenwood Publishing Group, p. 51 ISBN 0-313-30101-8
- Robin Hood and the Monk. From Child's edition of the ballad, online at Sacred Texts, 119A: Robin Hood and the Monk Stanza 16:
- Then Robyn goes to Notyngham,
- Hym selfe mornyng allone,
- And Litull John to mery Scherwode,
- The pathes he knew ilkone.
- Holt, p. 11
- Child Ballads 117A:210, ie A Gest of Robyn Hode stanza 210
- 117A: The Gest of Robyn Hode stanzas 13–14 A Gest of Robyn Hode
- Holt, p. 36
- Holt, pp. 37–38
- Holt, p. 10
- Singman, Jeffrey L Robin Hood: The Shaping of the Legend, 1998, Greenwood Publishing Group, p. 46, and first chapter as a whole. ISBN 0-313-30101-8
- Jeffrey Richards, Swordsmen of the Screen: From Douglas Fairbanks to Michael York, p. 190, Routledge & Kegan Paul, Lond, Henly and Boston, 1988
- Allen W. Wright, "A Beginner's Guide to Robin Hood"
- Holt, p. 159
- Hutton, 1997, pp. 270–1
- Hutton, 1996, p. 32
- Hutton, 1996, p. 31
- Holt, pp. 148–9
- Maurice Keen The Outlaws of Medieval England Appendix 1, 1987, Routledge, ISBN 0-7102-1203-8.
- Holt, p. 165
- Holt, p. 37
- Holt, p. 170
- The Times (London), 11 July 1999
- Holt, p. 184
- "Johnson's "The Sad Shepherd"". Lib.rochester.edu. Retrieved 12 March 2010.
- "Keats' "Robin Hood. To a friend"". Lib.rochester.edu. Retrieved 12 March 2010.
- "Tennyson's "The Foresters"". Lib.rochester.edu. Retrieved 12 March 2010.
- W.R. Irwin, The Game of the Impossible, p. 151, University of Illinois Press, Urbana Chicago London, 1976
- Egan, Pierce the Younger (1846). Robin Hood and Little John or The Merry Men of Sherwood Forest. Pub. George Peirce. London.
- Allen W. Wright, "Wolfshead through the Ages Films and Fantasy"
- See Richard Utz, "Robin Hood, Frenched," in: Medieval Afterlives in Popular Culture, ed. by Gail Ashton and Daniel T. Kline (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012): 145–58.
- "Big It Up Bulletin-May issue". .le.ac.uk. 29 April 2007. Retrieved 12 March 2010.
- "According to Ancient Custom: Research on the possible Origins and Purpose of Thynghowe Sherwood Forest". Issuu.com. 9 March 2012. Retrieved 23 March 2012.
- Holt, pp. 34–35
- Dobson and Taylor, Appendix 1
- Dobson and Taylor, p. 133
- Dobson & Taylor, see introduction to each individual ballad.
- Child, v. 1, p. 178
- Child, v. 2, p. 416
- Child, v. 2, p. 412
- Baldwin, David (2010). Robin Hood: The English Outlaw Unmasked. Amberley Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84868-378-5.
- Barry, Edward (1832). Sur les vicissitudes et les transformations du cycle populaire de Robin Hood. Rignoux.
- Blamires, David (1998). Robin Hood: A Hero for All Times. J. Rylands Univ. Lib. of Manchester. ISBN 0-86373-136-8.
- Child, Francis James (1997). The English and Scottish Popular Ballads 1–5. Dover Publications. ISBN 978-0-486-43150-5.
- Coghlan, Ronan (2003). The Robin Hood Companion. Xiphos Books. ISBN 0-9544936-0-5.
- Deitweiler, Laurie, Coleman, Diane (2004). Robin Hood Comprehension Guide. Veritas Pr Inc. ISBN 1-930710-77-1.
- Dixon-Kennedy, Mike (2006). The Robin Hood Handbook. Sutton Publishing. ISBN 0-7509-3977-X.
- Dobson, R. B.; Taylor, John (1977). The Rymes of Robin Hood: An Introduction to the English Outlaw. Sutton Publishing. ISBN 0-7509-1661-3.
- Doel, Fran, Doel, Geoff (2000). Robin Hood: Outlaw and Greenwood Myth. Tempus Publishing Ltd. ISBN 0-7524-1479-8.
- Green, Barbara (2001). Secrets of the Grave. Palmyra Press. ISBN 0-9540164-0-8.
- Hahn, Thomas (2000). Robin Hood in Popular Culture: Violence, Transgression and Justice. D.S. Brewer. ISBN 0-85991-564-6.
- Harris, P. V. (1978). Truth About Robin Hood. Linney. ISBN 0-900525-16-9.
- Hilton, R.H., The Origins of Robin Hood, Past and Present, No. 14. (Nov. 1958), pp. 30–44. Available online at JSTOR.
- Holt, J. C. (1982). Robin Hood. Thames & Hudson. ISBN 0-500-27541-6.
- Holt, J.C. (1989). "Robin Hood," Perspectives on culture and society, vol. 2, 127–144
- Hutton, Ronald (1997). The Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-288045-4.
- Hutton, Ronald (1996). The Rise and Fall of Merry England: The Ritual Year 1400–1700. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-285327-9.
- Knight, Stephen Thomas (1994). Robin Hood: A Complete Study of the English Outlaw. Blackwell Publishers. ISBN 0-631-19486-X.
- Knight, Stephen Thomas (2003). Robin Hood: A Mythic Biography. Cornell University Press. ISBN 0-8014-3885-3.
- Phillips, Helen (2005). Robin Hood: Medieval and Post-medieval. Four Courts Press. ISBN 1-85182-931-8.
- Pollard, A. J. (2004). Imagining Robin Hood: The Late Medieval Stories in Historical Context. Routledge, an imprint of Taylor & Francis Books Ltd. ISBN 0-415-22308-3.
- Potter, Lewis (1998). Playing Robin Hood: The Legend as Performance in Five Centuries. University of Delaware Press. ISBN 0-87413-663-6.
- Pringle, Patrick (1991). Stand and Deliver: Highway Men from Robin Hood to Dick Turpin. Dorset Press. ISBN 0-88029-698-4.
- Ritson, Joseph (1832). Robin Hood: A Collection of All the Ancient Poems, Songs, and Ballads, Now Extant Relative to That Celebrated English Outlaw: To Which are Prefixed Historical Anecdotes of His Life. William Pickering. ISBN 1-4212-6209-6.
- Rutherford-Moore, Richard (1999). The Legend of Robin Hood. Capall Bann Publishing. ISBN 1-86163-069-7.
- Rutherford-Moore, Richard (2002). Robin Hood: On the Outlaw Trail. Capall Bann Publishing. ISBN 1-86163-177-4.
- Vahimagi, Tise (1994). British Television: An Illustrated Guide. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-818336-4.
- Wright, Thomas (1847). Songs and Carols, now first imprinted. Percy Society.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Robin Hood.|
- Robin Hood on In Our Time at the BBC. (listen now)
- Robin Hood the Facts and the Fiction, has a lot of information on Robin Hood, ballads, medieval records, place names, analysis on the legend etc.
- BBC History: Robin Hood and his Historical Context
- Home of the World Wide Robin Hood Society in Sherwood, Nottingham, England
- Archaeology and History of Medieval Sherwood Forest
- Robin Hood, Friend of Liberty – Ludwig von Mises Institute
- Robin Hood: Bold Outlaw of Barnsdale and Sherwood, contains ballads, information on the development of the legend, and interviews with scholars and authors.
- Ben Turner's Robin Hood site one of the first on the web
- The Robin Hood Project at the University of Rochester – Houses a large collection of Robin Hood text and art
- "Robin Hood – the greatest of English myths" on BBC Radio 4's In Our Time featuring Stephen Knight, Thomas Hahn and Dr Juliette Wood
- Robin Hood – from Internet Archive, Project Gutenberg and Google Books (scanned books original editions color illustrated)
- Nottingham Caves Survey
- "Robin Hood". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). 1911.
- "Robin Hood". Collier's New Encyclopedia. 1921.