1370s, but the earliest surviving copies of the narrative ballads that tell his story date to the second half of 15th century, or the first decade of the 16th century. It is not certain what should be made of these latter two absences as it is known that Friar Tuck, for one, has been part of the legend since at least the later 15th century where he is mentioned in a Robin Hood the robin hood principle pdf script. This view first gained currency in the 16th century.
It is not supported by the earliest ballads. Robin Hood accepting the King’s pardon, he later repudiates it and returns to the greenwood. Robin Hood as a partisan of the true king. The setting of the early ballads is usually attributed by scholars to either the 13th century or the 14th, although it is recognised they are not necessarily historically consistent. While the precise meaning of this term changed over time, including free retainers of an aristocrat and small landholders, it always referred to commoners. The essence of it in the present context was ‘neither a knight nor a peasant or “husbonde” but something in between’.
As well as ballads, the legend was also transmitted by ‘Robin Hood games’ or plays that were an important part of the late medieval and early modern May Day festivities. The Robin Hood games are known to have flourished in the later 15th and 16th centuries. Nottingham setting to the bitter enmity between Robin and the local sheriff. Each of these three ballads survived in a single copy, so it is unclear how much of the medieval legend has survived, and what has survived may not be typical of the medieval legend. The story of Robin’s aid to the ‘poor knight’ that takes up much of the Gest may be an example. The character of Robin in these first texts is rougher edged than in his later incarnations. Robin Hood states his intention of giving money to the next traveller to come down the road if he happens to be poor.
Yf he be a por man. As it happens the next traveller is not poor, but it seems in context that Robin Hood is stating a general policy. That tilleth with his ploughe. That wol be a gode felawe. And dyde pore men moch god.
Within Robin Hood’s band, medieval forms of courtesy rather than modern ideals of equality are generally in evidence. Then my men be at myn. The political and social assumptions underlying the early Robin Hood ballads have long been controversial. He is not a peasant but a yeoman, and his tales make no mention of the complaints of the peasants, such as oppressive taxes. He appears not so much as a revolt against societal standards as an embodiment of them, being generous, pious, and courteous, opposed to stingy, worldly, and churlish foes. By the early 15th century at the latest, Robin Hood had become associated with May Day celebrations, with revellers dressing as Robin or as members of his band for the festivities.