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Robin Hoods And The Forest Of Sherwood

Robin Hoods

Some are convinced: Robin Hoods was a real thief, so famous that even when he was alive, songs were written about him. In these ancient ballads, Robin is designated as a yeoman - a peasant who owns his land - which partly explains his popularity: far from being noble, he embodied, on the contrary, the struggle of the people against the feudal lords. Some local names of the area which was perhaps the theater of its exploits testify of the antiquity of this popularity: a small fishing village of Yorkshire bears the name of Robin Hoods' Bay; nearby are two small hills called the Robin Hoods' Butts.

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Robin and his legend

If Robin became an outlaw in 1322 after the failure of the Lancaster uprising, then he did not spend a year in the Sherwood Forest until the King granted him his pardon. The story of the Royal Forgiveness seems true - as is his appointment as a gentleman of the chamber. From there, it is not forbidden to imagine that the service of the king’s room had unforeseen requirements and very little of Robin’s taste - even if at that time, Edward was rather infatuated with Hugues the Despenser the young. Robin returned to his forest, and it was then that he began to forge his legend.

It is not known whether he really became the sworn enemy of the sheriff of Nottingham; it is certain that the sheriff, who was in charge of policing the region, could hardly tolerate a gang of poaching outlaws who were living in the king's forests. Yet, if he had really given himself the means, he would probably have overcome Robin - even though Hoods had the support of most farmers. Support rather understandable: thousands of hectares of forest, once communal property, were now reserved for royal hunts, even as the peasantry was starving.

There may be another explanation for the relative impunity of Robin Hood. During his stay at the court, he had certainly met the future Edward III. The latter was then a fourteen-year-old, exactly the age where a young boy can become infatuated with a famous outlaw. This is pure speculation, but that could explain why Robin was able to challenge the authorities for another twenty years.

Robin identified?

The Robert or Robin Hood (Robin was the diminutive of Robert in the Middle Ages) are not lacking in the medieval records. However in 1852, the historian Joseph Hunter announced to have fallen on a character likely to be at the origin of the legend. The man was named Robert, and he was the son of a certain Adam Hood, a ranger of the Earl of Surrey. Robert was born around 1280; On January 25, 1316, he and his wife Matilda paid two shillings for the right to cultivate a plot on the Earl's estate at Bickhill (or Bitch-hill) in Wakefield. The plot was about ten meters by four, and his annual rent was sixpence.

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Robin takes the maquis

After the failure of the Lancaster rebellion, his followers were outlawed and their property confiscated. The documents mention, among these seized property, "a five-room house" located in Bickhill. It could be the house of Robert Hood: proscribed, he would have taken refuge in the forest of Barnsdale (adjoining that of Sherwood), where he became a brigand.

He does not stay long. In 1323, the king went hunting in the forest of Knaresborough. He found rare game; the fault, he learned, was incumbent on Robin Wood. A forester suggested to Edouard to cross the transvestite forest as an abbot traveling in the company of monks. The outlaws intercepted the group, but Robin recognized the king; Seduced by the charm and good manners of the brigand, Edward forgave him and took him to his service, as chamberlain. The king returned to Westminster in February 1324; the books of accounts of his house attest to the month of April 1324 the payment of a month's wages to a certain "Robyn Hod".

According to an old medieval ballad, after a year at the service of the king, Robin obtained permission to return to Barnsdale for a week. But he never returned to the court; Having gathered his merry companions again, he lived in the forest for the next twenty-two years. If the song is true, he would’ve died in 1346, at more than sixty-five years of age.

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The circumstances of his death

Established powers always find a way to take their revenge. According to the manuscript Sloane kept in the British Museum, Robin, who became ill, went to find his cousin, the prioress of Kirklees, so that she administered a bleeding - a common remedy at the time. Evil took him because the pious nun, determined to avenge the numerous clerics stripped by her cousin, bled him to death.

Robin was buried on the grounds of the priory, near his enclosure. The Grafton's Chronicle (1562) mentions that he lay beneath an engraved stone. In 1665, Dr. Nathaniel Johnstone came to draw the grave; it also appears in engraving in Gough's Sepulchral Monuments of Great Britain, published in 1768. But it was destroyed in the early nineteenth century by workers who were building a railway line. Thus disappeared the last material trace of the real existence of Robin Hood. The tomb of the Prioress of Kirklees, Elizabeth Stainton, was still visible in the eighteenth century in the ruins of the priory. She was reminiscent of Robin's.

What gives the character of Robin Hoods all its historical significance is the fact that he lived at a time when peasants were more and more resistant to their condition. This discontent, which was expressed forcefully in John Ball's revolutionary preaching, exploded during the peasants' revolt of 1381, not long after Robin's figure appeared for the first time in a written work, the Piers. Plowman (Peter the Plowman) of the poet William Langland. The revolt of the peasants marks the end of the Middle Ages in England, but the ballads of Robin Hood were already showing a state of mind that announces the extinction of the medieval mentality.

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