Roger Godberd

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Roger Godberd was a medieval outlaw who has been suggested as a possible historical basis for the legend of Robin Hood.[1]


Godberd served under Simon de Montfort, the 6th Earl of Leicester, as well as two other barons.

In 1265, Godberd was outlawed for fighting against King Henry III in the Battle of Evesham.[2] Nearly two centuries later, in about 1446, Walter Bower claimed that Robin Hood also became an outlaw as a result of this battle.

In October 1267, Godberd settled in Sherwood Forest. He lived there for four years defying the authorities. He could call upon a hundred men, but was eventually caught in 1272.

Reginald de Grey was the Sheriff of Nottingham at this time. Godberd was captured in the grounds of Rufford Abbey, and from there taken to Nottingham Castle, but managed to escape. A prominent local knight named Richard Foliot helped Godberd and his fellow fugitives, and protected them from the Sheriff.

In 1270, Foliot's Castle Fenwick was besieged by royal troops under the command of Reginald de Grey, who intended to capture Godberd and his companions, but the outlaws managed to flee before the Sheriff's arrival. In 1272, Foliot was accused for his protection of Godberd, and had to surrender Fenwick. This knight resembles the figure of Richard at the Lee in the ballads of the Robin Hood story.[3]

Godberd was eventually captured and sent to jail. He was kept in three different prisons over three years while awaiting his trial, which took place at the Tower of London and at which he was pardoned upon the return of Edward I from the Eighth Crusade. He returned to his farm, and lived there until his death.[4] However, according to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Godberd died in Newgate Prison in 1276.[3]

Further reading[edit]

  • "Robin Hood in Sherwood Stood: The Real Story" by Brian Benison (2015)


  1. ^ Maurice Hugh Keen The Outlaws of Medieval Legend, 1987, Routledge
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b Holt, J. C. "Hood, Robin". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 27 (online ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 928. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/13676.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  4. ^ Nottinghamshire legends: Robin Hood