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Robin Hood

is first mentioned by the Scottish historian Fordun, who died in 1386. According to Stow, he was an outlaw in the reign of Richard I. (twelfth century). He entertained one hundred tall men, all good archers, with the spoil he took, but “he suffered no woman to be oppressed, violated, or otherwise molested; poore men's goods he spared, abundantlie relieving them with that which by theft he got from abbeys and houses of rich carles.” He was an immense favourite with the common people, who have dubbed him an earl. Stukeley says he was Robert Fitzooth, Earl of Huntingdon. (See Robert.)

According to one tradition, Robin Hood and Little John were two heroes defeated with Simon de Montfort at the battle of Evesham, in 1265. Fuller, in his Worthies, considers him an historical character, but Thierry says he simply represents a class- viz. the remnant of the old Saxon race, which lived in perpetual defiance of the Norman oppressors from the time of Hereward.

Other examples of similar combinations are the Cumberland bandits, headed by Adam Bell, Clym of the Clough, and William of Cloudesley.

An old sporting magazine of December, 1808, says the true name of Robin Hood was Fitzooth, and Fitz being omitted leaves Ooth, and converting th into d it became “Ood.” He was grandson of Ralph Fitzooth, Earl of Kyme, a Norman, who came to England in the reign of William Rufus. His maternal grandfather was Gilbert de Gaunt, Earl of Lincoln, and his grandmother was Lady Roisia de Bere, sister to the Earl of Oxford. His father was under the guardianship of Robert, Earl of Oxford, who, by the king's order, gave him in marriage the third daughter of Lady Roisia. (Notes and Queries, May 21st, 1887.)

The traditions about Fulk Fitz-Warine, great-grandson of Warine of Metz, so greatly resemble those connected with “Robin Hood,” that some suppose them to be both one. Fitz-Warine quarrelled with John, and when John was king he banished Fulk, who became a bold forester. (See Notes and Queries, November 27th, 1886, pp. 421-424.)

Bow and arrow of Robin Hood.
The traditional bow and arrow of Robin Hood are religiously preserved at Kirklees Hall, Yorkshire, the seat of Sir George Armytage; and the site of his grave is pointed out in the park.

Death of Robin Hood.
He was bled to death treacherously by a nun, instigated to the foul deed by his kinsman, the prior of Kirklees, Yorkshire, near Halifax. Introduced by Sir Walter Scott in Ivanhoe.

Epitaph of Robin Hood.

Hear, underneath this latil stean.
Laiz Robert earl of Huntington;
Nea arcir ver az hie sae gend,
An pipl kauld him Robin Heud.
Sich utlaz az he an hiz men
VII England nivr si agen,

Obit. 24, Kalend Dikembris, 1247.

Notwithstanding this epitaph, it is generally thought that Robin Hood died in 1325, which would bring him into the reign of Edward II., not Richard I., according to Sir Walter Scott.

In the accounts of King Edward II.'s household is an item which states that “Robin Hood received his wages as king's valet, and a gratuity on leaving the service.” One of the ballads relates how Robin Hood took service under this king.

Many talk of Robin Hood who never shot with his bow.
Many brag of deeds in which they took no part. Many talk of Robin Hood, and wish their hearers to suppose they took part in his adventures, but they never put a shaft to one of his bows; nor could they have bent it even if they had tried.

To sell Robin Hood's pennyworth
is to sell things at half their value. As Robin Hood stole his wares, he sold them, under their intrinsic value, for just what he could get on the nonce.

Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborne.
Robin Hood and Little John, having had a tiff, part company; when Little John falls into the hands of the sheriff of Nottingham, who binds him to a tree. Meanwhile, Robin Hood meets with Guy of Gisborne, sworn to slay the “bold forrester.” The two bowmen struggle together, but Guy is slain, and Robin Hood rides till he comes to the tree where Little John is bound. The sheriff mistakes him for Guy of Gisborne, and gives him charge of the prisoner. Robin cuts the cord, hands Guy's bow to Little John, and the two soon put to flight the sheriff and his men. (Percy: Reliques, etc., series i.)

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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