Heroes, Outlaws and Other Folk Part V Robin Hood and Quantrill

Robin Hood

Robin Hood statue
Robin Hood statue | Source

Authors Note

This hub is an extension of the original "Heroes, Outlaws and Other Folk" which I realize was too crowded and long to read conveniently. As such I have moved some entries to this and other hubs.

Robin Hood’s Birth and Breeding

In Locksley, in Nottinghamshire,
In merry sweet Locksley town,
There bold Robin Hood he was born and was bred,
Bold Robin of famous renown

from Child ballad #149

More ballads and songs can be found on Mudcat Café
http://mudcat.org/threads.cfm

Robin Hood and Maid Marian

Source

Original Outlaw Hero:Robin Hood



The Child Ballads are a collection of 305 ballads from England and Scotland, and their American variants, collected by Francis James Child in the late nineteenth century.
From Wikipedia


Many stories on this hub are about characters sometimes considered to be Robin Hoods. But who was Robin Hood? Was he real? ; or was he myth?

From my own study and research of folklore and history is that there was a real person that had some of the characteristics of Robin Hood upon whom the myth was based. Possibly Robin Hood was a composite of many persons over the years.

Robin Hood was something of a product of the “media.” Remember that the Minstrels and their songs were a part of the media at the time. Possibly the only source of information available to an illiterate public.

There are hundreds of ballads about Robin Hood. The story was formed by the singers and their songs but the actual person, if such there was being lost to history.

Later, he was presented in books, plays and in our day in movies, Television and comics. An early literary reference to Robin Hood appeared in Ivanhoe, by Sir Walter Scott.

Years ago, when I first researched this topic, I was most struck by how the image of Robin Hood changed from one period to the next, according to the culture and politics of the times. Maid Marian, for example was something of a heroine in one period and portrayed as a whore in another.A fairly recent British TV series about Robin Hood empahsizes the conflict between the Normans and the Saxons.

In an odd sense, Robin Hood existed in folk ballads and folklore and continues to exist in a distorted fashion through other outlaws that capture the public imagination.
I tend to believe that heroes like Robin Hood are based at some point on real persons or characteristics of more than one person and gradually acquire characteristics that fit some cultural ideal.

Quantrill: No Hero

All routing and shouting and giving the yell
like so many demons just raised up from hell
The boys they were with powder and wine
and came to burn Lawrence just over the line

chorus from folksong “Quantrill”



William Clark Quantrell was born in 1837 and is best remembered for being the leader of a Confederate guerrilla band, or terrorist band as some would describe it, and the destruction of Lawrence, Kansas. In the process 150 men were killed.

He was born in Ohio but went to Kansas when he was about 20 years old. Subsequently, he was charged with several murders and accused of stealing horses. He escaped before being arrested. In 1865 he was mortally wounded on his way to Washington where he hoped to stir up trouble by assassination.

Quantrell was commissioned Captain in the Confederate army in August 1862. His raiders terrorized and pillaged Nebraska and any other Union area that appeared vulnerable. They raided both Missouri and Kansas towns, so it made them equal terrorists as one was Union and the other Confederate. After the war a number of his followers took off on their own but used much of what they learned from him. Among his followers were Frank and Jesse James.

There have been several songs about Quantrell and I'm sure he has shown up in books and movies. Since the Civil War spawned much bitterness on both sides some southerners might have felt he was just getting vengeance on the north, but I doubt many would consider him anything but a cutthroat killer now.

Oddly there is still a Robin Hood reference at the end of the song quoted above:

Oh, Quantill’s a fighter, a bold hearted boy,
A brave man or woman he’ll never annoy.
He’d take from the wealthy and give to the poor
For brave men there’s never a bolt to his door.

© 2010 Don A. Hoglund

More by this Author


Comments 14 comments

Tom Whitworth profile image

Tom Whitworth 6 years ago from Moundsville, WV

dahoglund,

The tendancy of people to glamorize outlaws is apparent in history. Bonnie and Clyde along with Dillinger come to mind.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Tom

It's a subject I got into doing a research paper back in college. The theme as I recall was why the English glamorized outlaws. I think I was given Dick Turpin to research but that got me back to Robin Hood and forward to Jesse James. Thanks for reading this and commenting.


creativeone59 profile image

creativeone59 6 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

Thank you dahoglund, for the story of Robin Hood, I enjoyed reading it. Thank you for sharing it. Godspeed. creativeone59


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Thanks for commenting. I'm glad it si something you find enjoyable.


billyaustindillon profile image

billyaustindillon 6 years ago

This has been a fascinating series - Robin Hood has certainly been glamorized - so many movies. Though men in tights would have to be the strangest one - was kind of funny.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Thanks for reading this and giving your feedback. Robin Hood has had several hundred years to be glamorized.More importantly though is that he has been reinterpreted with every age.


satomko profile image

satomko 6 years ago from Macon, GA

Robin Hood continues to have echoes in contemporary media such as in the HBO series The Wire where the character Omar is an outlaw who robs drug dealers and is glamorized by his his community for his actions.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

I haven't seen that series but it makes a certain sense plot wise. Thanks for your observation and comment.


Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 6 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

I read Ivanhoe at college and wasn't terribly impressed by it but my attention sparked up when Robin appeared.

You are right when you say Robin Hood as we now know him is a product of the media. Certainly in the 19th Century there was a great galloping desire to find a past hero everyone could admire. In previous centuries I have a feeling he was used to color history the way certain people in power wanted it to be colored.

In medieval times you are right when you say that most people were illiterate and therefore ballads had their place in providing most people with a taste of the times in which they lived.

People nowadays feel comfortable in having Robin in Sherwood forest as an outlaw with the sheriff of Nottingham on his tail and the evil Prince John as a sinister figure in the background.

Was Prince John really evil or did he get bad press from the clergy after becoming king? His brother King Richard had been a great warrior king who managed to leave his kingdom stony broke because of the crusades.

John came to power and he needed revenue so he came up with the idea of taxing the bishops and Abbots in his kingdom. This had never been done before and the pope was outraged. John was excommunicated and had to go on bended knee in order to have the excommunication lifted and he had to promise never again to try to impose taxes upon the Church.

What I am saying is that the clergy, the Church did a lot of the writing back then and they would have been happier with a king on crusade rather than a king bent on getting money out of their coffers.

King Richard never spent more than six months in England in his entire life and when he was in England he required an interpreter in order to speak with the common people.

The idea that Richard will come back to England and put things right is most likely all fiction pushed by the Church in their writings and certainly they would have applauded songs that made Richard out to be good and john bad.

Nice read dahoglund.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Thanks for the comment and the added historical view.It has been a long time since I did my original research on this subject, but one thing I became aware of was how the legend was rewritten with the views of the times and the media.

During a later period Robin Hood was presented on stage and maid Marion was presented as a less than ideal example of womanhood.

Not too long ago BBC had a Robin Hood series that portrayed the characters in more "politically correct" images. Maid Marion was sort of a vigilante wearing a disguise in her spare time. They added a female Muslim character.

To me it is what makes folklore so interesting.


Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 6 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

Yes folklore can be interesting and made for the times.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Thanks for your feedback.


wilbury4 profile image

wilbury4 6 years ago from England I think?

Robbing from the rich and giving to the poor.. Maybe he was an early protester?

If the Minstrels were the media of the day, then their lyrics must have been News. If News is fact, then he must have existed??


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Thanks for the comment. Why should it be any more fact than some of today's news?

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