For over a century and a half scholars have debated whether or not the legend of Robin Hood was based on an actual outlaw and, if so, when and where he lived. This survey begins by tracing the development of the legend, and contemporary views about it, between the thirteenth and early twenty-first centuries, taking account both of new interpretative literature on the subject and fresh discoveries from the author’s own research in the early records of the English royal administration and common law. It then gives a detailed account of the places that came to be associated with the legend, and of evidence illustrating the importance of the outlaw’s name in the development of English surnames.
The concluding chapters deal with the administration of criminal law in medieval England, and the evidence that points to the possible origins of the legend in the activities of a notorious Yorkshire criminal, tracked down and beheaded in the county in 1225. 298pp