There can be no doubt about
Sherlock Holmes or Indiana Jones. They are definitely
invented characters. But Robin Hood: fact or fiction?
That question has many answers.
It depends a bit on what you mean by a
"real person". If we mean: "Was there a man called Robin Hood, who did
all the things we can read about?", then the answer is no
. But if we mean:
"Was there a man who lived in the Middle Ages, and is remembered in the
legends of Robin Hood", then the answer is yes
of Robin Hood is a very old one; and it is certainly based on reality.
to one story
, Robin was really an Anglo-Saxon nobleman,
perhaps called Robin of Huntingdon, or Robin Fitz-Ooth, and he was a
against England's Norman rulers.
After William the Conqueror conquered
England in 1066, England was ruled by Norman kings and Norman barons.
Most of the ordinary Anglo Saxon people accepted their new masters; but
didn't. They became outlaws
enemies of the Norman barons and the people who worked for them.
In modern language, we could perhaps
call this Robin a "resistance fighter" - though some people might call
him a "terrorist". The legend tells us that he took money from the
rich, and gave it to the poor. In fact, he probably took money from the
Normans (who were relatively rich), and gave it to poor Anglo Saxons.
This is why he soon became a legendary hero among Anglo Saxons.
Other stories claim
that Robin was
not an Anglo Saxon nobleman, but a common fugitive
; they say
that his real name was "Robert Hod", and that he only fought against
his personal enemies, in particular the Sheriff of Nottingham, not
against the Normans.
Many old stories said that Robin lived
in Yorkshire. However, later stories had him living in Sherwood Forest,
near Nottingham; and today, Robin's name is definitely attached to the
city of Nottingham, and to Sherwood Forest.
Finally, what about the "merry men" that
we meet in today's stories and films? Friar
John and the others? And what about the beautiful "Maid
It appears that these secondary
characters have no historic base.
Nevertheless, at least one real person
was the inspiration
for the stories of Robin Hood; and that person must have had friends.
Perhaps there was a big man called John, and a fat friar too. Perhaps
there was even a beautiful young lady called Marion. Let's imagine
these people really existed - because in truth, they probably did,
somewhere, at some time.
In Nottingham, Robin is now a very
popular character. Visitors to the city can learn all about him at the "Tales
of Robin Hood"
exhibition, where Robin and his adventures are brought to life; and in
Sherwood Forest, "the Major Oak", a massive old tree, is said to be
Maybe Robin never lived at all in the
past; but too bad! His spirit is certainly alive today.
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Have pupils, working in pairs, imagine an interview between a modern
journalist and the ghost of Robin Hood. Use information from
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Revised 20. Originally published in Freeway, the Intermediate level
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