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Robin Hood

Kate Chernova

Robin Hood is a legendary heroic outlaw originally depicted in English folklore and subsequently featured in literature and film. According to legend, he was a highly skilled archer and swordsman. In some versions of the legend he is depicted as being of noble birth, and having fought in the Crusades before returning to England to find his lands have been taken by the Sheriff. In other versions this is not the case and he is instead born into the yeoman class. Traditionally depicted dressed in Lincoln green, he is said to have robbed from the rich and given to the poor.

Robin Hood, legendary outlaw hero of a series of English ballads, some of which date from at least as early as the 14th century. Robin Hood was a rebel, and many of the most striking episodes in the tales about him show him and his companions robbing and killing representatives of authority and giving the gains to the poor. Their most frequent enemy was the Sheriff of Nottingham, a local agent of the central government (though internal evidence from the early ballads makes it clear that the action took place chiefly in south Yorkshire, not in Nottinghamshire). Other enemies included wealthy ecclesiastical landowners. Robin treated women, the poor, and people of humble status with courtesy. A good deal of the impetus for his revolt against authority stemmed from popular resentment over those laws of the forest that restricted hunting rights. The early ballads, especially, reveal the cruelty that was an inescapable part of medieval life.

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Many years ago, a man lived in the forests of England. He always carried his bow and arrows. He hunted deer and other animals. He had great skill with his weapons. He was poor, but many people respected him. The most beautiful woman in the kingdom loved him. He was a hero. But why? This man is a thief. He steals money from rich people. Then, he gives the money to poor people.

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Ballads appearing in 17th-century Percy Folio

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

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Mythology

Here is at present little or no scholarly support for the view that tales of Robin Hood have stemmed from mythology or folklore, from fairies or other mythological origins, any such associations being regarded as later development. It was once a popular view, however. The "mythological theory" dates back at least to 1584, when Reginald Scot identified Robin Hood with the Germanic goblin "Hudgin" or Hodekin and associated him with Robin Goodfellow. Maurice Keen provides a brief summary and useful critique of the evidence for the view Robin Hood had mythological origins. While the outlaw often shows great skill in archery, swordplay and disguise, his feats are no more exaggerated than those of characters in other ballads, such as Kinmont Willie, which were based on historical events.

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The Death of Robin Hood

Legend says that Robin Hood was wounded in a fight and fled to a convent. The head of the nuns there was his cousin, and he begged her for help. She made a cut so that blood could flow from his vein, a common medical practice of the time. Unknown to Robin, however, she was his enemy. She left him without tying up the vein, and he lay bleeding in a locked room. Severely weakened, he sounded three faint blasts on his horn. His friends in the forest heard his cry for help and came to the convent, but they were too late to save Robin. He shot one last arrow, and they buried him where it landed.

Over time, the image of Robin as a clever, lighthearted prankster gained strength. The tales in which he appeared as a highway robber and murderer were forgotten or rewritten.

Godberd was an outlaw. The authorities had forced him out of the kingdom. Historical records say that Godberd was an outlaw because he fought against the King of England, King Henry III. During that time, rebels were fighting to control the government. They did not want a king. Instead, they wanted to rule. They believed that King Henry the Third was not just - he was too powerful.

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Godberd was one of those rebels. He fought against the king in a great bloody battle. This made many people like him. They believed his fight against the king was good. And this is why some experts think Godberd was Robin Hood. However, the truth is unclear. The true Robin Hood may be someone else. And some experts do not think that there is a real Robin Hood!In the 15th century, ballads began to tell the story of Robin Hood. Ballads are stories set to music. Most people could not read in those times. So ballads were a popular way to hear stories. They were easy to remember and easy to listen to. People would sing stories of great heroes and frightening battles. More and more people heard about Robin Hood because of these ballads.

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These ballads about Robin Hood became a part of the culture in England. Every May, there is a holiday called May Day. May Day celebrates the season of Spring. And in the 15th century, it was very popular to celebrate Robin Hood on May Day. People wore green clothes to look like Robin Hood. They carried bows and arrows. They sang the ballads about him. They performed plays telling the story of Robin Hood.

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These May Day celebrations created a new and different Robin Hood. He is not the Robin Hood of the early ballads. Instead of being a farmer, he is a loyal friend of the king. Instead of being alone, he now has Maid Marian. And instead of fighting against the king, he fights for the king while the king is gone. This is the Robin Hood many people know now.

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But there is one part that did not change. Robin Hood is still a hero because he fights for the poor. He gets them the money that they need. He steals from rich people. Then he gives money to poor people. Robin Hood has become a symbol of justice for many people. He fights for justice for the poor - he wants all people to live well. And he wants to see equality between the poor and the rich. Many people think this is good.

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But most people also think stealing is wrong. Do you think people can do wrong and still be good? Do you think Robin Hood can steal and still be a hero?

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List of traditional ballads

Ballads dating back to the 15th century are the oldest existing form of the Robin Hood legends, although none of them were recorded at the time of the first allusions to him, and many are from 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 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 that 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

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Early ballads (i.e., surviving in 15th- or early-16th-century copies)

A Gest of Robyn Hode

Robin Hood and the Monk

Robin Hood and the Potter

Ballads appearing in 17th-century Percy Folio

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These May Day celebrations changed the stories. The stories became more like the stories we know now. For example, the plays added the character of Maid Marian. Maid Marian was a beautiful, wealthy woman. Writers added her to the plays to give Robin Hood a woman to love.These plays also changed when Robin lived. Originally, the stories were in the time of King Henry III. But the plays told the story in the time of King Richard. King Richard lived almost 100 years before King Henry. King Richard was called “The Lionheart” because he led many great battles. King Richard was a popular king, but he was frequently far away from England fighting battles. Robin Hood in these plays liked the king. He fought for the king while the king was away.

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Many people told the story of Robin Hood. But they all told the story in ways that were a little bit different. As a result, the story of Robin Hood began to change. It became difficult to know the true story. There was no way to know if he was even a real man. In the early ballads, Robin Hood is a great figure, always fighting for the poor. He fights against the Sheriff of Nottingham. The sheriff was like the police, a man who governed the area. But in these ballads, Robin Hood is a farmer, not a soldier like Godberd. And he does not steal from the rich.

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Many people around the world think they know the story of Robin Hood. A lot of people have seen the films of the story. But these are only the most recent versions. The Robin Hood story has changed a lot over the centuries. The true story of Robin Hood is much older and is very different.Stories about Robin Hood first appeared in the 13th century. The name often appears in court records from that time. The authorities tried many men named “Robin Hood” for different crimes. People do not know a lot about these men. But they do know that these men were criminals. Experts have investigated many of these men, to find out if any of them were Robin Hood.

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In 1440, a writer made a note about a man named “Robert Hood.” Some experts think that this man may be the real Robin Hood. The writer tells of Robert Hood and his friend Little John. They lived in Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire, England. A criminal named Roger Godberd was using the name “Robert Hood”. This false name hid his identity. Godberd was not a good man - he was a murderer. How, then, did the stories make him into a hero?

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Movies, animations, new concepts and other adaptations

Walt Disney's Robin Hood

Main articles: Robin Hood (1973 film) and Robin Hood (Disney character)

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 adapted some elements from Reynard into Robin Hood, thus making the title 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 that 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 1990s BBC sitcom Maid Marian and her Merry Men parodied the Moorish character with Barrington, a Rastafarian rapper played by Danny John-Jules.[71] 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 had 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.

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