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Robin Hood was a popular folk hero of medieval England, and his tale is recited in many English ballads from that time. He was said to be an outlaw resident of Sherwood Forest near Nottingham, UK, in the 12th and early 13th Centuries. However, some other versions of the story place his existence as late as the 14th or 15th Century.
The story has continued to be a great favourite during the 20th Century and has been the subject of many books, plays, operettas and films. The much romanticised story always follows a similar pattern...
The Story of Robin Hood
King Richard I1 went to fight in the Crusades with the Knights Templar and left his kingdom in the hands of his younger brother, John. Prince John was corrupt and greedy. He raised taxes to unaffordable levels and conspired with his friend, the Sheriff of Nottingham, to rule the kingdom permanently, assuming that his brother would be killed in the Crusades.
Before long, a man appeared before the sheriff for poaching on the King's land. He was outlawed and retreated to a life in Sherwood Forest where he assumed the name of Robin Hood. He soon became friends with similarly fated individuals who became his followers, among them Little John, Will Scarlett and Friar Tuck. Robin was an exceptional archer and he and his 'Merry Men' set about tormenting and robbing the rich and the government, frequently holding up carts travelling through the forest carrying recently-collected taxes. Robin pitied the poor who were victims of Prince John's rule and gave all the money he stole back to these poverty-stricken locals.
Prince John became angry at Robin's doings and at the sheriff's failure to apprehend him. He had heard of Robin's growing love for his niece, Maid Marian, and also of his exceptional ability with a bow and arrow. Prince John organised an archery contest, the winner of which would receive the hand of his niece in marriage. Robin knew, of course, that if he attended he would be captured, and so he went to the competition disguised, where he competed and won. However, Prince John had known Robin would attend incognito and, at the moment of Robin's triumph, had him arrested.
Robin's men soon came to the rescue. The night before Robin was due to be hanged for high treason against the Crown, his band of Merry Men snuck past the dungeon guards to rescue him. They set the castle ablaze in a fierce attempt to release Robin. Once freed, Robin sought out the sheriff, fought him and killed him, while Prince John was left trapped in the burning towers. Upon King Richard's return, Robin Hood was knighted and was married to Maid Marian.
Fanciful yet elegant, and with many variations, it is uncertain whether or not the tale is based in fact. There are many doubts as to the existence of a real Robin Hood, but the tale is much loved and Robin Hood upholds the typical characteristics of English folk heroes. The story still continues to entertain to this day.