After the Celts, the Romans and the Saxons, Britain was invaded by the Normans. The famous date 1066, the Battle of Hastings won by William the Conqueror, marked the beginning of a period of great changes and saw the successions on the political scene of remarkable figures like Thomas à Beckett, Richard I, his brother John Lackland. Richard I was always fighting (struggling, combattendo) abroad in the Crusades on the Holy Land and his brother John ruled (reigned, governava) in his place. It was a period of heavy taxation for the poor Saxons who had to give their lands to the new usurpers. King John, with the notorious Sheriff of Nottingham on his side, was one of the worst ruler Britain ever knew and ballads and stories found new subjects to deal with. Robin Hood is surely one of the most well known. Robin Hood (or Robert Locksley) was a skilled (very good, abile) archer (arcere) and swordsman (spadaccino), who robbed from the rich and gave the poor, assisted by a group of fellow outlaws (fuorilegge), the “Merry Men.” of Sherwood Forest. Traditionally Robin Hood and his men are depicted wearing Lincoln green clothes. Probably he was a commoner (persona commune) and the origin of the legend is rooted in the stories told by real outlaws, or from ballads. Later he was described as a dispossessed (privati delle proprie terre) nobleman made into an outlaw to defend the rights of the poor British population. Robin was a very popular folk figure starting in the medieval period and his fame is still alive thanks to novels , films, and television. Some examples: Robin and Marian shot in 1975 by Richard Lester; Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves a 1991 American adventure film directed by Kevin Reynolds; John Irvin’s Robin Hood appeared in 1991; in 1993 Mel Brooks directed and produced Robin Hood: Men in Tights; in 2010 was Ridley Scott’s turn with Robin Hood and Robin Hood: Ghosts of Sherwood, is an upcoming which will probably be shown in winter 2011.
Robin Hood: the legend
Painting: Robin Hood and his Merry Men Entertaining Richard the Lionheart in Sherwood Forest, by Daniel Maclise (1806-1870) One of the most famous versions of Robin Hood’s story starts in the period when Richard the Lionheart was at the crusades and a minor noble of Nottinghamshire, Robin of Loxley, was accused for poaching (hunting, cacciare di frodo) deer (cervi). In Norman times this “crime” was punished with death because the deer in a royal forest belonged to the king. So Robin goes to live in Sherwood Forest, and starts stealing (robbing, rubare)from rich travellers and distributing the plunder (bottino) among the poor of the area. While there other men join (si univano) him: Will Scarlet (or Scathlock), Much the Miller’s Son, and Little John – a very tall and big man. He also falls in love with a girl he already knew when he was at court: Maid Marian. The evil Sherriff of Nottingham tries every trick to capture him: he captures his friends, sends soldiers to burn the little villages where they live, organizes a tournament for the best archers of the reign. He does not succeed and when King Richard returns from the Crusades, Robin gets a full pardon (ottiene il perdono) and the restoration of his lands. Did Robin really exist? Possibly. By 1300 at least (per lo meno) 8 people were called Robinhood, and at least 5 of those were fugitives from the law. As in 1266 the Sherrif of Nottingham, William de Grey, was in active conflict with outlaws in Sherwood Forest, it is possible that a number of different outlaws escaped into the forest, and over time, the legend grew.