The Real-Life Tale of Robert Fitz Odo: Robin Hood?

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In summary, the conversation discusses the origins of the Robin Hood legend, specifically the theory that he was based on Robert Fitz Odo, a descendant of Bishop Odo of Bayeux. Fitz Odo was a lord of Loxley in Warwickshire and was known for his rebellious and outlaw behavior, eventually regaining his lands when Richard Lionheart returned from the Crusades. The conversation also explores the idea that the story of Robin Hood served as a form of substitute rebellion in a hierarchical society where the majority of the population had little power.
  • #1
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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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  • #2
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.
  • #3

I cannot confirm or deny the existence of a real-life Robin Hood, as there is not enough concrete evidence to support his existence. However, this account of Robert Fitz Odo does provide an interesting insight into the origins of the legend. It is possible that the character of Robin Hood was inspired by a real person, such as Fitz Odo, who lived during the same time period and engaged in similar activities. It is also possible that the legend was a combination of several different people and events. Without more historical evidence, it is difficult to determine the true origins of the Robin Hood story. As scientists, we must rely on facts and evidence, and while this account is intriguing, it cannot be taken as definitive proof of a real-life Robin Hood.

Related to The Real-Life Tale of Robert Fitz Odo: Robin Hood?

1. Who was Robert Fitz Odo?

Robert Fitz Odo was a real-life person who lived during the 12th century in England. He was a wealthy landowner and sheriff of Nottinghamshire, known for his generosity and his love for hunting.

2. Was Robert Fitz Odo the real-life inspiration for Robin Hood?

There is no concrete evidence that Robert Fitz Odo directly inspired the legend of Robin Hood. However, it is believed that his reputation as a generous and skilled archer may have contributed to the creation of the Robin Hood legend.

3. What is the connection between Robert Fitz Odo and the Sheriff of Nottingham?

Robert Fitz Odo was the sheriff of Nottinghamshire, which included the town of Nottingham. This title was passed down to his descendants, and it is believed that the character of the Sheriff of Nottingham in the Robin Hood legend may have been based on this historical figure.

4. Did Robert Fitz Odo really take from the rich and give to the poor?

There is no evidence that Robert Fitz Odo took from the rich and gave to the poor. However, as a wealthy landowner, he was known for his generosity towards the less fortunate, which may have contributed to the legend of Robin Hood.

5. Are there any other historical figures that may have inspired the Robin Hood legend?

There are several other historical figures that have been suggested as possible inspirations for the Robin Hood legend, including Hereward the Wake and Fulk FitzWarin. However, there is no conclusive evidence to support any of these claims.