The Evolution and Popularity of Robin Hood in Literature and Film

TLDR The origins and portrayals of Robin Hood in literature, film, and children's stories are discussed, including the evolution of his character from a violent trickster to a nobleman persecuted by Prince John. The theories about the origins of Robin Hood, his association with ancient traditions of outlaws and heroes, and the controversy surrounding his death are also explored.

Timestamped Summary

00:00 The section discusses the popularity and various portrayals of Robin Hood in literature, film, and children's stories.
05:09 The oldest known ballad about Robin Hood, "Robin Hood and the Monk," features elements such as Robin Hood robbing from the rich, being in Nottingham, and the presence of the Sheriff of Nottingham, but also includes elements not commonly found in modern adaptations, such as Robin's devotion to the Virgin and the violent deaths of a monk and a little boy.
10:02 The early ballads and plays about Robin Hood depict him as a trickster and a violent figure, with stories of beheadings and mutilation, but they do not include the element of robbing from the rich to give to the poor.
14:51 The origins of Robin Hood are explored, including theories about his association with May Day rituals, his evolution from a yeoman to an aristocrat, and the suggestion that he became an outlaw after fighting with Simon de Montford against the armies of Henry III.
19:52 The idea that Robin Hood is a nobleman unjustly persecuted by Prince John becomes popular in later iterations of the legend, but early ballads portray him as a criminal without explanation for why he's in the forest.
24:37 The idea of a rivalry between Anglo-Saxons and Normans is introduced by Walter Scott and becomes an important part of the Robin Hood legend, despite not being historically accurate.
28:58 The success of Howard Pyle's children's book version of Robin Hood in the late 19th century explains why Hollywood later became interested in making Robin Hood films, and the adventures of Robin Hood TV series in Britain was written by Americans who had fled the US due to McCarthyism.
33:34 There are three theories about the origins of Robin Hood: he is entirely fictional, he was a real person, or he is a fusion of both; the earliest mention of Robin Hood as an outlaw hero is in the 1370s poem Piers Plowman, but there is evidence that the name Robin Hood was used as a generic name for outlaws even earlier.
38:32 The origins of the Robin Hood stories are rooted in ancient traditions of stories about outlaws and heroes, and Robin Hood is part of a larger European tradition of outlaws as heroes; the stories of Robin Hood and other outlaws start to take shape in English during the reign of Edward I, possibly as a way to emphasize Englishness and the role of the English language.
43:08 The theory is that Robin Hood is an outlaw because his Lord is the Virgin Mary, who is portrayed as a trickster and potentially dangerous in a socio-political sense, but this association is erased with the Reformation.
47:56 The story of Robin Hood's death, involving a wicked woman and his cousin bleeding him, is explored in Kai Roberts' book "Grave Concerns," which also delves into the controversy surrounding the stone that supposedly marks Robin Hood's grave and the belief that the prioresse of Kirkleys was a vampire.
52:27 The mystery of whether Raul Moat and other characters from history really existed remains unsolved, but the tradition of Robin Hood lives on.
Categories: History

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