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Robin's character

Outlaw

First and foremost he is known as an outlaw:

‘Robyn was a prude outlaw,
Whyles he walked on grounde'

‘Robin was a proud outlaw,
While he walked on the earth’

Free spirit of the forest - his place of refuge from the law was always Sherwood Forest. He is sometimes seen as a real person behind the Green Man, the spirit of life in the woodland.

‘Robyn dwelled in grene wode
Twenty yere and two’

‘Robin dwelt in the greenwood
Twenty-two years’

Robber - Robin was definitely an enemy of the law and the church.

‘ “He is a strong thefe”, said the monke,
“of hym herd I never good” ’

‘"He is a great thief", said the monk,
“I never heard any good of him"'

Rebel

 Robin was a thorn in the side of the establishment.

‘These bishoppes and these archbishoppes
Ye shall them bete and bynde’

‘These bishops and these archbishops
Your shall beat and bind’

Champion

 Robin was, and still is, on the side of the poor and oppressed.

‘For he was a good outlawe
And dyd pore men moch god’

‘For he was a good outlaw
And did poor men much good’

Great archer - Since the beginning of the tales, Robin's been known as the greatest archer ever. Although he could sometimes be beaten when fighting with a sword or a staff, he was always the best with a longbow.

'I was compted the best archere
That was in mery Englande’

‘I was counted the best archer
In merry England’

Yeoman

 Yeomen were not the farmers of the land we think of today, but a specific position in a very rigid social structure. Ranked just below that of knight, they could rarely expect to rise to the level of knight and become part of the great tradition of chivalry.

‘I shall tel you of a gode yeman
His name was Robin Hode’

‘I shall tell you of a good yeoman
His name was Robin Hood’

This must have led to some resentment against those above them. This explains a lot about Robin’s character which has shaped our modern legend, a man of rebellion against the establishment, especially the church with all their wealth and power. Incidentally, a yeoman did not fight with the sword - a knight's privilege - the longbow became their weapon of choice.

From the beginning Robin had the makings of a great hero, not a superhero, he is flesh and blood. He needs his band of friends to help him in his fight against his enemies.

The excerpts on this page are from The Little Gest of Robin Hood.

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