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Top 5 Things You Didn't Know About Robin Hood

VO: Ashley Bowman WRITTEN BY: Marc Turner
Bows and arrows at the ready? Welcome to WatchMojo UK, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 5 things you didn’t know about Robin Hood. For this list, we’re looking at interesting and little-known facts about everyone’s favourite tights-wearing outlaw. Special thanks to our user WordToTheWes for submitting the idea on our interactive suggestion tool: WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 5 Things You Didn't Know About Robin Hood


Bows and arrows at the ready? Welcome to WatchMojo UK, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 5 things you didn’t know about Robin Hood.

For this list, we’re looking at interesting and little-known facts about everyone’s favourite tights-wearing outlaw.

#5: A 21st Century Revamp


Robin Hood’s story has been adapted over 60 times for the small and silver screen, with the latest retelling – titled simply “Robin Hood” – set for cinemas in November 2018. Starring Taron Egerton and Jamie Foxx, it is billed as a grittier version of the classic, with a PTSD-suffering hero and John-Wick levels of bow-and-arrow action. It also has elements of a superhero origin story, with Robin of Loxley featuring as the outlaw’s Bruce-Wayne style alter-ego. Although maybe Oliver Queen would make for a better comparison.

#4: Robin Hood May Not Have Existed at All


Robin Hood first appeared in poems believed to date back to the 1370s, but were these based on fact or fiction? The name “Robin Hood” was commonly used in medieval England and appears frequently in court records from the time. Alternatively, the moniker may simply have meant “Robber of the Woods”. If Robin Hood DID exist however, one theory is that his real identity was the Earl of Huntington. The Earl’s 12th-century grave in Yorkshire identifies him as both an outlaw and an archer without equal. Sound familiar?

#3: Robin Hood Was Originally Middle Class


Whilst modern-day adaptations portray Robin Hood as a nobleman, early ballads depicted him as a yeoman: neither an aristocrat nor a peasant, but something in between. It wasn’t until Tudor times that playwrights started ennobling the outlaw, and Robin Hood’s status as a revolutionary was also a later development. In early folklore, the so-called prince of thieves didn’t think peasants were being mistreated, and he certainly didn’t care about shaking up the social order. So much for stealing from the rich to give to the poor.

#2: There Wasn’t a Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood’s Time


Everyone knows that Robin Hood’s tormentor-in-chief was the Sheriff of Nottingham, yet that particular office wasn’t created until 1449 – around 80 years after the legend first cropped up. Instead, regional peacekeeping duties fell on the awkwardly–named “shire reeve” of Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and the Royal Forests – so we can understand why playwrights might have wanted a shorter title. Like the sheriff, Friar Tuck and Maid Marian were later additions to the Robin Hood story, too. Some have suggested that Marian may also have been a black woman, and early accounts link her closer (perhaps romantically) with the Friar than with Robin himself.

#1: The Merry Men Weren’t So Merry


Don’t be fooled by portrayals of Robin Hood’s followers as lovable rogues in tights. According to old stories, Robin Hood’s band may have been anywhere from five to 140 strong, but every one of those outlaws would have been a fierce, competent killer. In the ballad “Robin Hood and the Monk”, Much the Miller’s Son cold-bloodedly kills a young boy, while Robin Hood himself attacks Little John simply for defeating him in an archery contest – which also suggests Robin might not have been the all-conquering bowman we believed. Those details don’t always make it into the movies, though.
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