Holding Out for a Hero

When it comes to helping the poor, one of the most influential figures to surface is the folk hero, Robin Hood.  Most commonly known for “robbing from the rich to give to the needy”, this skilled outlaw has certainly made a claim to fame through the centuries, as the subject of numerous books, films, games,  etc.  From his appearance as clever and crafty fox to being a dancing man in tights, Robin Hood has taken various forms and characterizations.  And as with every figure of renown, his story is one worth exploring.

Robin Hood’s roots date back to woks of the late 13th century, in which the names “Robinhood”, “Robehod”, and “Robehod” appear in roles as English Justices.  The name was originally used in reference to a felon, as seen in a 1439 petition to Parliament, until the 15th century.  The first suggestions of Robin Hood as a literary tradition appeared in writings in the late 1300s and slowly started to spread.  In fact, William Shakespeare even references Robin Hood in his late 16th century play The Two Gentlemen of Verona.  Like any character of legend, Robin Hood’s characterization has morphed and additional characters and plots, as the story has been passed down through the generations.

Robin Hood Wide Belt:

Robin Hood Wide Leather Belt

Nearly all that’s known about the legend of Robin Hood is derived from surviving ballads and plays, and there have been many developments in the story since these early works.  In the ballads, Robin Hood and his merry men are described as yeoman, which is a social status a little higher than a peasant.  In the 16th century, however, Robin Hood’s status was elevated to the nobility class.  Early ballads do not give any back story on how Robin Hood became an outlaw and they did not include the characters of Maid Marian and Friar Tuck.  Another noteworthy observation in the early ballads is the naming of Edward as king and the story taking place during the 13th or 14th centuries, rather than the more popular view of the 12th century rule of King Richard the Lionheart.  In addition to ballads, other aspects of Robin Hood’s tales come from the “Robin Hood Games”, which were plays held during the May Games festivals in late medieval and early modern times.  It was during these events that Maid Marian and Friar Tuck entered the picture.

There is much speculation as to whether Robin Hood was a real person or merely a legend.  Some scholarly supporters believe that “Robin Hood” or “Robert Hood” was an actual name while others believe that it was a nickname to mask the identity of a bandit known in history.  Still, others claim that Robin Hood was a pseudonym which the ancient Lords of Wellow, Nottinghamshire went by.  There has been a fair amount of historical research and theory on the nature of Robin Hood, but findings still remain somewhat ambiguous and the world may never know if this outlaw really did exist or if he was merely a figure of folklore.

Robin Hood Suede Hood:

Robin Hood Suede Hood

Regardless of Robin Hood being fact or fiction, his legacy lives on and his charitable nature has made him a hero that people through the centuries have rooted for!  For those die hard Robin Hood supporters, be sure to check out our gear at: http://www.historicalclothingrealm.com

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