Feared by the bad, loved by the good?
A freshly-discovered document highlighting negative attitudes towards Robin Hood has been deciphered by an academic at the University of St Andrews.
The previously unknown chronicle entry introduces never before seen facts about “a certain outlaw named Robin Hood”.
Rather than depicting the traditionally well-liked hero, the article suggests that Robin Hood and his merry men may not actually have been “loved by the good”.
Dr Julian Luxford from the University’s School of Art History found the reference to the legendary figure in an inscription from around 1460 which appears in an English manuscript owned by Eton College.
Dr Luxford, an expert in medieval manuscript studies, explained, “The new find contains a uniquely negative assessment of the outlaw, and provides rare evidence for monastic attitudes towards him.”
The pre-Reformation article is the only English chronicle entry to have been discovered which mentions Robin Hood. To date, just three Scottish medieval authors are thought to have set Robin in a chronological context.
Dr Luxford continued, “The new find places Robin Hood in Edward I’s reign, thus supporting the belief that his legend is of thirteenth century origin.”
A translation of the short inscription, which contains only 23 words in Latin, reads, “Around this time, according to popular opinion, a certain outlaw named Robin Hood, with his accomplices, infested Sherwood and other law-abiding areas of England with continuous robberies.”
Dr Luxford said, “While Little John is not mentioned here, Robin is assigned partners-in crime. And the inscription’s author does at least acknowledge that these men were active elsewhere in England.
“By mentioning Sherwood it buttresses the hitherto rather thin evidence for a medieval connection between Robin and the Nottinghamshire forest with which he has become so closely associated.”
The discovery has been written up as an article which will be published later this month in the Journal of Medieval History.
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Ref: Robin Hood 13/03/09
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