Robin Hood, an English outlaw, supposed to have lived at the end of the 12th and beginning of the 13th century The traditions concerning him are mostly embodied in the account given by Stow : "In this time (about the year 1190, in the reign of Richard I.) were many robbers and outlawes, among which Robin Hood and Little John, renowned theeves, continued in the woods, despoyling and robbing the goods of the rich. They killed none but such as would invade them, or by resistance for their own defence. The said Robert entertained an hundred tall men and good archers with such spoyls and thefts as ho got, upon whom 400 (were they never so strong) durst not give the onset. He suffered no woman to be oppressed, violated, or otherwise molested; poore men's goodes he spared, abundanthe relieving them with that which by theft he got from the abbeys and the houses of rich old carles; whom Maior (the historian) blameth for his rapine and theft, but of all the theeves he affirmeth him to be the prince, and the most gentle theefe." The researches of modern scholars, however, tend to make it a matter of doubt whether Robin Hood ever existed at all.
No contemporary writer makes any mention of him, the first allusion to him by any historical writer being in the Scotichronicon, which was written partly by Fordun, canon of Aberdeen, between 1377 and 1384, and partly by Bower, abbot of St. Columba, about 1450. He is next mentioned by Major, in his Historia Majoris Britannioe, written in the early part of the 16th century. His most famous associates were "Little John," his chaplain Friar Tuck, who is supposed to have been a real monk, and his paramour Marian; and Sherwood forest, in Nottinghamshire, was the theatre of most of his exploits. Robin Hood is said to have been bled to death by a nun, his cousin, to whom he repaired for advice on account of her skill in medicine, and died at the nunnery of Kirklees, Yorkshire. An apocryphal epitaph at that place styles him Robert, earl of Huntingdon, and gives "24 Kal. De-kembris" (perhaps Dec. 24), 1247, as the date of his death. The exploits of Robin Hood were a favorite subject of ballad poetry as early as the time of Edward III., although many of these ballads, at least in their present shape, are comparatively modern.
The "Lytel Geste of Robin Hood" was printed by Wynkin de Worde about 1495. A complete collection of the Robin Hood ballads, with "Historical Anecdotes," was published by Ritson (8vo, London, 1795), and enlarged by J. M. Gutch (2 vols. 8vo, 1847).
See Hood, Robin.