The 16th Century Legend of Robin Hood

That Shakespeare Life

William Shakespeare refers to the legend of Robin Hood in his play, As You Like it with the old Duke exiled to the Forest of Arden with a group of Merry Men who “live like the old Robin Hood of England” (Act I, scene i). In his play, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Shakespeare again mentions the Robin Hood legend when an outlaw exclaims “By the bare scalp of Robin Hood’s fat friar.” The accompanying characters of the Robin Hood story find their place in Shakespeare’s plays, when in Henry IV Part I and Henry IV Part 2 Falstaff talks about Maid Marian and Falstaff’s companion Justice Silence sings a song about “And Robin Hood, Scarlet, and John.” What these references tell us is that the legend of Robin Hood was an active part of the history of William Shakespeare and the pop culture of the time period to whom he was writing. But the legend of Robin Hood is quite fluid throughout history with it being used as a symbol for good as well as a symbol for insurrection and a general debate about who he was, whether he was based on a real person, and whether he was a hero or a villain. Here today to tell us about the history of Robin Hood from Shakespeare’s lifetime is our guest and expert Robin Hood historian, Allen Wright.   Get bonus episodes on Patreon

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