Sunday, August 22, 2010

Was there a Robin Hood? Part.III

      Despite the effort historians have spent searching for the first historical Robin Hood, most agree that the legend has evolved so dramatically over the centuries that its original inspiration might very well be unrecognizable, even if discovered. Maid Marian, the story’s love interest, did not appear until the 16th century, nor did the earliest versions of the tale feature the portly Friar Tuck. In other versions of the story, Robin Hood is actually motivated less by righting injustices than by national pride, fighting for the Saxon people against the conquering Normans. Some scholars have even contended, with much controversy, that Robin Hood and his “merrie men” was actually member of a gay community forced to live outside the city, beyond the reach of the law and the Church.
What is not disputed is that the story of Robin Hood, the archetypal outlaw hero, took on the characteristics and details of many outlaw ballads, becoming a sort of literary stew of local lore and contemporary events. In fact, the story was so susceptible to adaptation and interpolation that in 1773, the lexicographer Samuel Johnson claimed that he could fabricated a Robin Hood legend that readers would swear they had known their entire life. Those who enjoyed the Robin Hood legend with its colorful cast of characters in pursuit of justice for the common man, didn’t mind if it had evolved through the centuries; they expected no less, for so powerful is the love of justice that heroes who champion it necessarily become larger, greater, and more entertaining than anything history could produce.

     Many other rebels, outlaws, and miscellaneous out casts have been suggested as the historical Robin Hood. Among them are Sir Robert Thwing, who lead a movement where he and devotees raided monasteries, stealing rain and distributing it to the poor; and Robert Fitzhooth, Claimant to earlof Huntington, who was born about 1160 and died in 1247. Fitzhooth is a more likely candidate, as some historical documents actually cite these particular dates for Robin Hood’s birth and death. But critics point out that more recent records do not mention a defiant nobleman bearing the Fitzhooth name.

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