East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

The outlaws of Sherwood Forest are online


I was doing some preliminary research and warm-up for my next writing project, and as I was looking for online resources, I stumbled on the University of Rochester’s Robbins Library Digital Projects page, which features a number of online collections of texts and materials about – among others – the Crusades, the Matter of Britain, and, to my great pleasure, Robin Hood.

The website features Robin Hood: Development of a Popular Hero, a learned essay by John H. Chandler, that gives an in-depth look at how the British (for all their love of law and order) ended up cherishing a brigand, an excellent starting point.
From there, we can go on and peruse the huge selection of texts and images, and learn more than we ever wanted on Robin and his Merry Companions.

This is the sort of thing that I dreamed about when, as a child, I spent long hours browsing our Encyclopedia to find bits and pieces about the subjects I loved the most.
And when it happens – as it happened this morning – that someone comes up with the usual trite “ah, the good old times, before the internet made us all stupid…” I tend to get medieval, so to speak.

So, on we go, browsing and taking notes.
And no, my next project has nothing to do with Robin and Sherwood, but that’s something we will discuss in another moment.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

2 thoughts on “The outlaws of Sherwood Forest are online

  1. Hey, I love Robin Hood and the outlaws of Sherwood Forest. But they’ve certainly had a lot of incarnations and new interpretations with changing fashions and mores, like King Arthur. The original tales and ballads had Robin as a brawling roughneck commoner. They also had his usual haunt being Barnesdale Forest in southern Yorkshire, not Sherwood.

    Before long the Norman rulers took him over and made him an outlaw knight who ended being ennobled by Richard the Lionheart – raised to Earl of Huntingdon, no less, though I believe that title belonged to the Scottish king’s brother.

    Also, if Robin and his men were Saxons standing for the downtrodden against the Norman rulers, it’s funny how they all have Norman names. Robin is a diminutive of Robert, as Norman as you can get. There was a John, two Williams (Will Scarlet and Will Stutely) and Alan-a-Dale. If they’d been twelfth-century Saxons I’d expect them to have names like Leofric and Dunstan.

    Recent movies about Robin have been too politically correct for me, also, though I did like “Robin and Marian” with Connery and Hepburn (Audrey) a few decades back. Robert Shaw was excellent as the Sheriff of Nottingham. But “Robin and Marian” was hardly politically correct. And it depicted Richard the Lionheart, correctly, as a bloodthirsty swine.

    Me, I’m still enamoured of the out-and-out romantic fantasy of the old Flynn-de Havilland “Adventures of Robin Hood.” And does anybody except me remember the old British black-and-white comics with small pages, two panels to a page, which not only had Robin Hood but adaptations, wildly sanitised, of Captain Kidd and Billy the Kid and such?


    • I grew up with Robin Hood movies, and the Flynn Robin Hood is still a favorite, even if my all time fave Robin Hood movie is Robin & Marian. And I liked very much the 1980s British Series Robin of Sherwood, with its punk attitude and pagan vibes.
      And I still think it’s hard to decide between Robert Shaw and Basil Rathbone as a first class bad guy.


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