Robin Hood or Robin of Loxley is a folk hero from the Medieval period of England, specifically around the rule of Richard the Lionheart. He is as popular today as he was then.
While Richard was away on crusade, England was being ruled by his brother John. He was not a fair ruler and he taxed the people of England heavily with the poor becoming poorer still. Royal subjects and local leaders however gained much wealth, all at the expense of the poor.
One such leader was the Sheriff of Nottingham and he was to become the enemy of Robin Hood. Nottingham cared little for the starving poor and was more interested in increasing his own wealth and stature.
Robin Hood lived in Sherwood Forest, Nottingham with his followers, known as his ‘Merry Men’. These included; Will Scarlet, Friar Tuck, Little John, Much the Miller’s son and Alan-a-Dale. They were later joined by Maid Marian.
There are many versions of the Robin Hood story, but he is best remembered and portrayed in pictures as a skilled archer wearing the colour Lincoln green and fighting for the rights of the poor. He is known for ‘Robbing from the rich and giving to the poor’.
As nobles travelled through Sherwood Forest in their coaches, they were stopped by Robin Hood and his Merry Men and robbed of the wealth (money and jewellery). Robin would then pass this onto the poor or hold feasts for the starving to be fed.
John did not like the fact his nobles were being robbed as this would affect the wealth of the crown. To have an outlaw roaming Nottinghamshire without being caught, made him look bad and showed his misrule for what it was.
John wanted his chief supporter, Sir Guy of Gisbourne, a much more influential figure than the Sheriff of Nottingham, to marry the noble Maid Marian, but this decision would make Gisbourne an enemy of Robin Hood as well, as in Robin Hood stories, he himself wanted to marry Maid Marian, and in some stories he did.
Ballads of Robin Hood date back as far as the 14th Century and by the 15th Century he was also associated with May Day celebrations, with many people dressing up as Robin and his Merry Men during these celebrations.
Through the years there have been many story books written, and television series and films made about Robin Hood. It is a wonderful story of ‘good defeating bad’ and will continue to be enjoyed for many more centuries to come.