Robin Hood

The Lionheart Myth

The idea that Robin Hood lived during the reign of Richard the Lionheart was first put forward in 1521 by the Scottish philosopher and chronicler, John Major, in his epic work Historia Majoris Britanniae. Major estimated the time as being around 1193-94, although he did not attempt to portray Robin Hood as an ally of Richard the Lionheart or being in opposition to Prince John.

In 1569, another chronicler, Richard Grafton, supported Major’s period and also claimed that Robin Hood was an earl who was outlawed for being unable to pay his debts. Grafton’s work was taken further toward the end of the century by the playwright Anthony Munday who portrayed Robin as Robert Earl of Huntingdon (spelt Huntington at the time), who was disinherited of his position by Prince John. Firm acceptance of Robin Hood as the Earl of Huntingdon is provided in a ballad entitled A True Tale of Robin Hood written by Martin Parker in 1632. The ballad was composed a short time after an overview of Robin Hood’s life was recorded in an anonymously written document called the Sloane Life stating Robin Hood as having been born in 1160 in a town called Locksley.