Robin Hood

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A legendary outlaw. The name is part of the designation of places and plants in every part of England. The facts behind the legend are uncertain. Robin Hood is referred to in Piers Plowman. As a historical character he appears in Wyntoun's The Orygynale Cronykil (c.1420), and is referred to as a ballad hero by Abbot Bower (d. 1449), Major, and Stow. The first detailed history, Lytell Geste of Robyn Hode (printed c.1500), locates him in south‐west Yorkshire; later writers place him in Sherwood and Plumpton Park (Cumberland), and finally make him earl of Huntingdon. Ritson says he was born at Locksley in Nottinghamshire about 1160, that his true name was Robert Fitz‐Ooth, and that he was commonly reputed to have been earl of Huntingdon. There is a pleasant account of the activities of his band in Drayton's Poly‐Olbion, song 26. According to Stow, there were about the year 1190 many robbers and outlaws, among whom were Robin Hood and Little John, who lived in the woods, robbing the rich, but killing only in self‐defence, allowing no woman to be molested, and sparing poor men's goods. He is the centre of a whole cycle of ballads, one of the best of which is Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborne printed in Percy's Reliques, and his legend shows affinity with Chaucer's ‘Cook's Tale of Gamelyn’ (see Gamelyn) and with the tales of other legendary outlaws such as Clym of the Clough and Adam Bell. Popular plays embodying the legend appear to have been developed out of the village May Day game, the king and queen of May giving place to Robin and Maid Marian. Works dealing with the same theme were written by Munday, Chettle, Tennyson, and others. The True Tale of Robbin Hood was published c.1632, Robin Hood's Garland in 1670, and a prose narrative in 1678. He figures in Scott's Ivanhoe as Locksley.

Subjects: Literature.

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