The Search for the Historical Robin Hood
My purpose here is to show some of the patterns and problems which arise
in the search for any historical person who comes
down to us predominately in legendary stories.
My main source for information on this page is:
Robin Hood, by J.C. Holt
Period of Oral Tradition
The real Robin Hood is thought to have lived at the end of the twelveth
century, but the oldest written manuscripts only date to the fifteenth century.
Later Addition of New Characters
Maid Marian doesn't show up in the legends before 1283
or Friar Tuck before 1417.
Recycled Stories About Other People
Adam Bell, another outlaw from the same period, appears in stories
that are essentially the same as some of Robin's. It is not clear if
they originally were about him or Robin.
Robin "robbed from the rich and gave to the poor" only after the 17th
century, originally he was just an outlaw.
Robin only became the "Earl of Huntingdon" in 1598, prior to that he was not
Physical Setting Changes
Sherwood forest? How about Barnesdale?
Local legends capitalized on the stories.
Other outlaws of the period gained credibility by claiming to be him.
(c) 2004 Thomas F. Swezey All rights reserved.