The English folk tales about Robin Hood, a popular figure who robbed the rich to give to the poor along with his merry men have entertained and inspired many throughout the ages, but was this character actually based on a real, historical person?
A common Name
Although many do think that Robin Hood's legend is partly based on a real, historical person, nobody knows for sure which of the many stories ring most true. “Robert” was a very common name in medieval name in England, as was its diminutive “Robin” or “Robyn.” “Hood” was just as common, people who manufactured hoods often went by this surname, as well as those who wore hooded clothes all the time. To further complicate things, “hood” was also a common dialectal pronunciation of “wood” and there are indeed a couple of references to a “Robin Wood” in old English literature, along with a whole bunch of Robin, Robyn and Robert Hoods.
Several theories exist to who Robin Hood might have been:
- The Earl of Huntingdon, according to a 1632 ballad by Martin Parker
- Robin of Loxly (1245) who was outlawed for killing his stephfather, according to Roger Dodsworth.
- Robin Hood of Wakefield. A rebel Earl of Lancaster who ended up working for King Edward as a bodyguard in 1323 and was recorded in the court roll as “Robyn Hode”
- Robert Hod of York, 1226 who became an outlaw after his goods were confiscated. He owed money to St. Peter's and was also called “Hobbehod.”
- Roger Godberd, who played a significant role in the Montfort revolt in the 1260s
- Just an alias that thieves used.
- An Anglo-Saxon freedom fighter that opposed the oppression of the Norman Lords, originally known as Swain, the son of Sigge that raided the Yorkshire woods with his band during the eleventh century.
- A character derived from a mythological character, the Germanic goblin “Hodekin”