chapter  6
18 Pages

Political Ideology in the Early Stories of Robin Hood

ByA.J. Pollard

This chapter concentrates on the political ideology carried by the earliest surviving written versions of the stories of Robin Hood from c.1450, especially the 'Gest of Robyn Hode'. The political and social meaning of Robin Hood stories has been the subject of intense debate. In a seminal article published in 1958, Rodney Hilton argues that Robin Hood was conceived as a free peasant representing peasant ideology for a peasant audience. Rodney Hilton argued that Robin Hood was conceived as a free peasant representing peasant ideology for a peasant audience. The Robin Hood and his men of the stories are familiar with the workings of royal government. Mark Ormrod demonstrates they engage through the normal channels with the crown. The Robin Hood who is true to himself is deeply distrustful of the exercise of power, and of people in power. Robin Hood, the archetypal social bandit, is a social revolutionary envisaging an idealisation of anarchy as an alternative to monarchy.