Host: Would the real Robin Hood, outlaw of Sherwood Forest, Duke of Lockesley, please stand up? Psst, one of you should stand. Who’s the original?
(All three subjects stand.)
Host: Ha, ha! They’re still playing with us, folks. Okay, that’s swell. Now, two of you sit down and the genuine Robin Hood remain standing. Come on, now. We’re running out of air time.
Shout from audience: Let ’em shoot it out with arrows!
Blackthorn and Stone has written about the changing character of Robin Hood and how the original stories aren’t the most important thing about him. Was Robin an actual person who lived over 650 years ago? No, he appears to be have been a commonly beloved folk hero.
Interesting to note about the early Robin Hood-esque character is that Hereford’s noble status and inheritance problems don’t feature in the country pageant version of Robin Hood—however, they do turn up again in the Tudor period and have stuck with us ever since.
Did the Tudor era reinvent a Robin Hood for their purposes, or were they actually harkening back to the original conception of the rogue? Evidence for the interpretation of Robin Hood as an archetype, rather than a person, is found when looking at where the vast majority of Robin Hood pre-1600 source material comes from: plays and festivals.
Blackstone and Stone, “An Outlaw Hero for Every Age“