Robin Hood


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I prefer this tale of Robin Hood as Harbury is just up the road from me.

Robert Fitz Odo
The modern story is set in the reign of Richard Lionheart (1189-99), when Robin is also called 'Robin of Loxley'. Because of the northern connections in the ballads, historians always assumed this meant the Yorkshire Loxley. But there is another Loxley – in Warwickshire, near Stratford-upon-Avon. And here the trail leads us to the ancestor of one of the Norman invaders who came over with William the Conqueror.

In 1193, the lord of Loxley manor was Robert Fitz Odo (also known as Fitzooth), a descendent of Bishop Odo of Bayeux, the half-brother of William and the man who commissioned the Bayeux Tapestry. Because 'Fitz' indicated an illegitimate descendant, it was sometimes dropped, which would leave 'Robert Odo' – effectively another Robert Hood.

A 12th-century charter exists in which Robert Fitz Odo granted lands to the priory of Kenilworth. The Register of Arms of 1196 states that Fitz Odo was no longer a knight – but he wasn't dead. There's a record of a Robert Fitz Odo alive in nearby Harbury seven years later, in 1203, although he seems to have been stripped of his title. He became an outlaw, robbing people and generally causing trouble in the surrounding woodlands. He was finally given back his lands when Richard Lionheart returned from the Crusades. So to quite a degree he does match the Robin Hood of the modern legend.


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I think that in strictly hierarchical society, where a tiny elite has all the power and extensive parts of the population have practically nothing, stories about truly noble nobles rebelling against actually wicked nobles (and giving back the ill-gotten gains to the "people") have particularly good growth conditions.

Actual events may re-actualize previous stories, weave in new details and create personas that do not have any exact real parallells and live on as tales worth telling.

Story-telling as substitute-rebellion might defuse tensions and make life more bearable.

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