Saturday, August 21, 2010

Was there a Robin Hood? Part.II

     One of the greatest difficulties in dating the hero is the contradictory historical references within the legends; various suggestions within the ballads place him in the reign of four separate English Kings, from Richard the Lion heart to Edward II. The monarch with the strongest link to Robin Hood is Richard, who ruled in the late 12th century and was opposed by his brother and eventual successor King John. But Robin has also been linked to a 1265 revolt against King Henry III, led by his brother-in- law Simon de Montfort. According to the early historian Walter Bower, after the rebellion against Henry, “the famous robber Robin Hood…rose to prominence among those who had been disinherited and banished on account of the revolt.”   However, modern historians have pointed out that the longbow, which features so prominently in many of the Robin Hood legends, was not in general use at the time of King Henry III, casting doubt on Bower’s claim.

      The candidate with the most plausible claim to Robin’s identity is a tenant of Wakefield, Yorkshire, in the early 14th century, who was probably involved in an uprising against the Earl if Lancaster in 1322. The 1320 Manor Rolls of the town list a Robert Hood who had been charged with breaking “forest laws,” resisting the lord of the manor, and negligence in fighting against the Scots. There is also some indication that Hood’s home was confiscated because of this dereliction of duty, which might account for his move to the forest. The Wakefield Robin would place the story in the reign of King Edward Ii, and indeed, there is a record of the king taking into his service one “Robert Hood” as a court valet.

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