Robin Hood — the real story of the guy from Sherwood ForestBy Pictolic https://pictolic.com/en/article/robin-hood-the-real-story-of-the-guy-from-sherwood-forest
A brave archer from Sherwood Forest named Robin Hood became an integral symbol of the English Middle Ages. Together with King Arthur and Richard the Lionheart, he is one of the three most famous characters. Films are made about him and books are written, festivals are dedicated to him and even monuments are erected. But what do we know about the noble robber not from legends, but from official sources?
One of the monuments to Robin Hood is located in the ancient city of Nottingham. It was in its vicinity, if you believe the legends, that a gang of daring robbers led by a virtuoso archer operated. At the same time, the monument was erected not to a mythical character, but to a real person, a historical person. But scientists are still debating whether such a person actually lived.
One of the scientific versions says that the stories about the noble robber from Sherwood Forest are echoes of ancient pagan cults of forest creatures. Supporters of this version make a strong argument. In the Celtic pantheon there was a forest god Pak, who did not part with a retinue of spirits not too loyal to people. He was also called Robin Goodfellow (Robin is a Nice Guy).
Many disagree with this option. They say that there is nothing mystical in the stories about Robin Hood that have come down to our time. That is, there is not a single fact proving the involvement of a robber with a bow in the category of deities. On the contrary, Robin himself and his companions are endowed with the most human qualities.
If the very existence of Robin Hood is in great doubt, then the date of the appearance of the first stories about him is determined quite accurately. The first mention that the common people sing ballads about a robber appeared in the 14th century. The medieval author William Langland wrote about Robin in one of his poems.
Robin Hood is shown in ballads, books and films as a contemporary of King Richard the Lionheart. But even if the robber existed, he lived exactly at another time and could not meet the king. The story of the acquaintance of the monarch and Robin Hood was invented in the middle of the 18th century, and in the 19th century it was made popular by the novelist Walter Scott.
The Scottish author did not care too much about the historical authenticity of his works. But the writer's great talent made his novels so convincing that the whole world is sure that Robin, like the king, lived in the 12th century. But the robber could operate in the Sherwood Woods at least 100 years after the death of Richard I.
In order to determine this, it is enough to recall the archery competitions in which Robin Hood invariably won. They appeared in England only in the 13th century, which is an accurate historical fact. This is also confirmed by the fact that Robin's associate, Monk Tuck, was a member of the Friar Order. It was an association of mendicant monks that appeared several decades after the death of Richard the Lionheart.
It turns out that if Robin Hood existed, then he lived in the period from about the middle of the 13th century to the end of the 14th. As for his personality, during this period there are many applicants who could become prototypes of this guy with a bow. Most often mention a certain Robert Hoad, a real person who lived in the 13th-14th centuries. Although his surname is pronounced a little differently from that of the robber, it is quite consonant.
Robert Hoad was born in 1290 in the family of a forester, near the town of Wakefield in the north of England. Like many other ordinary people of that time, the Houda family belonged to a feudal lord. It was Earl Warren, who in 1322 joined the Duke of Lancaster's rebellion against King Edward. Robert had no choice but to take part in the war with his master.
Soon the rebels were defeated and their leaders were executed. Ordinary participants of the rebellion were outlawed and deprived of all rights and property. In 1323, Robert Hoad's house was confiscated by the authorities and he, along with his wife Matilda and several children, found himself on the street.
But despite the defeat in his rights, Robert managed to enter the service of the king, and was listed in the guard for several years. A document has been preserved in which the treasurer decides to give Hoad 5 shillings on the occasion of dismissal from service. Nobody knows what Robert did after that. It is only known that Hoad died of natural causes in 1346.
The story of a former rebel who entered the service of the king is similar to the plot of one of the Robin Hood ballads. There, disguised as a knight-errant, King Edward II visits the robbers in Sherwood Forest, and then takes them into service. By the way, this may well be just a coincidence.
There was another person who could theoretically become the prototype of the robber. Robin Hod in 1226 is mentioned in the court documents of the City of York. It says that the fugitive criminal Robin is outlawed, and his property worth 32 shillings and 6 pence is confiscated to the royal treasury. Was this guy a robber from Sherwood Forest or was he guilty of something else?
Another version, the most beautiful, but also the least likely, speaks of the aristocratic origin of the robber. According to her, Robin Hood is Robert Fitzuth, Earl of Huntington. This nobleman was known for being a robber on the highways. In the Middle Ages, such behavior was not something strange for noble knights and even venerable abbots.
Fitzut is buried near Kirklees Abbey. This place is mentioned as the place of death and burial of Robin Hood. They say that once there was an inscription on the tombstone:
The inscription could be made out in the 19th century. Now it is completely erased and it is impossible to even approximately find out its contents. Many questions were raised by visitors to the grave that the epitaph was stamped in the language of the 17th and 18th centuries. In general, the name, occupation and place of death bring the earl and the guy from Sherwood Forest closer together. This is clearly not enough to draw any serious conclusions.
There is a possibility that there was no Robin Hood at all. Maybe in the old days there lived dashing and successful robbers in Sherwood Forest, who became the basis of a collective image. Perhaps some of them even helped the local peasants, giving rise to the legend of the defender of the poor and oppressed.