Feasibility of Robin Hood’s story
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In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, antiquarians were especially invested in finding the sources of their national culture and heroes, and Robin proved to be of special interest to the English. They not only reviewed these early plays and poems for clues to the historical identity of the figure, but also scoured historical and legal records to find any information that may have led to a proof for his identity. Despite the efforts of authors like P. Valentine Harris, no verifiable Robin Hood emerged from the historical record. Today, most scholars accept Robin as a literary invention, based in part on other figures like Gamelyn and Fouke fitz Waryn, as well as real-life outlaws. Any search for the ideal Robin Hood, a dispossessed noble who robs from the rich to give to the poor, is doomed to failure. That Robin is a modern figure whose individual characteristics were added in different stages, which are roughly represented in this exhibit.



Chapter 3. Most known folklore stories and creatures

Dick Whittington and His Cat

Richard Whittington (c. 1354 or 1358 - 1423) - an English medieval merchant who became the prototype of the famous character of the English pantomime legends Dick Whittington.                                               Born into a noble family from Gloucestershire, he created a large textile store in London and became known as one of the leading brocade and velvet suppliers for the English nobility. He was three times Lord Mayor of London (in 1397–1399, 1406–1407 and 1419–1420), was a member of parliament and sheriff of London. During his life, he financed a number of government projects, such as drainage systems in poor areas of medieval London and the construction of hospital wards for single mothers. [20]                             On other side, Dick Whittington was a poor orphan boy located usually in some unnamed place. He heard a rumor about London’s street that “streets were paved with gold”. But after he arrived, he found himself very tired and hungry. He couldn’t find a better place to rest and fell asleep near the gate of the home of wealthy merchant called Fitzwarren. Then the merchant discover boy, he gave him a job in his house. After time pass, he bought a cat for a penny, earned by shining shoes. Boy had a trouble with rats and maces in Fitzwarrens’ garret. Cat helped him to get rid of that trouble. A few month later, Fitzwarren organized trade expendition. Dick’s cat was chosen to be sold for profit abroad. Then ship came to Barbary Coast, where Moorish king prushed the entire cargo for a bag of gold. But here was also a trouble with rats and maces. King was informed about the beast that can fight against rats. Dick’s cat was successfully passed this test. Moorish king paid ten times more for one cat then for the entire cargo.                                                        But the real Whittington, coming from the nobility, could hardly have been poor from birth, and there is also no evidence that he had a cat. The legend itself is probably connected with the Persian tale of a poor young man who became rich thanks to the sale of a cat, known in Europe from the 13th century.


A brownie (broonie) is a house spirit popular in England folklore. He usually come out at night and performs different house tasks and activities like keeping fire lit, clean up room and etc. The owners of the house needed to feed this fairy creature with a bowl of milk or sometimes with a cream [21]. But other offerings are fine too. Most of brownies can be easily offended and can leave house if they will feel bad there. Also, these creatures have a great sense of humor they will prank their owners usually lazy ones. Most of brownies are human sized creatures that always dressed in rags or either naked. If they smell dangerous they can easily disappear or turn into animal.                                        As we learn more about Brownie, we can make decision that similar creatures appears in Russian culture as well. The brownie-like creature in Russian called Domovoy [22]. It shares a lot with his foreign friend. The owners also need to feed up this creature, or it will become angry. Although they both share a lot of similarities, they also have huge differences. Unlike Russian brownie, England one can be freed by receiving gift in form of cloth. The first mention of this comes from Reginald Scot’s The Discoverie of Witchcraft (1584).                                                                               In nowadays brownie sometimes appears in pop culture. For example, a house-elf Dobby in the Harry Potter’s franchise. He shares a dozen similarities with brownies, because Harry Potter’s house-elves are based on the English folklore’s brownies. In actual film we can see a lot of things that brownies usually do.



Wild Hunt

The Wild Hunt is a folklore tail that usually appears in European folklore. The story describe a group of undead (or elve) hunters passing in wild pursuit. The leader of pursuit is usually name with association with some god like Odin or like historic figure Theodor the Great. The leader also can name in honor of some biblical figure like the Devil, Cain, and Gabriel.                            The name and concept was main developed by Jacob Grimm based on mythology of different countries mostly located all over Europe. Jacob published book Deutsche Mythologie. (1835) in which he described and popularized this event. He said in book that it seems that this myth was formed in pre-Christian Europe.                                                                         The account of the Wild Hunt’s appearance can be founded in the Peterborough Chronicle at the time of the appointment of Henry d'Angely in 1127. “Many men both saw and heard a great number of huntsmen hunting. The huntsmen were black, huge, and hideous, and rode on black horses and on black he-goats, and their hounds were jet black, with eyes like saucers, and horrible. This was seen in the very deer park of the town of Peterborough, and in all the woods that stretch from that same town to Stamford, and in the night the monks heard them sounding and winding their horns.[23]”                          In later accounts the Wild Hunt’s hunter presented as hosting of the fairies. The leader in England version is also varies, it can be King Arthur, Herne the Hunter, Gwydion, Herla, Sir Francis Drake.

One of the England legends tells how King Herla had visited the Fairy King. He was warned not to step down his horse until the greyhound he carried jump down. Almost three centuries has passed during his visit to the Fairy King. The man of his who had stepped down instantly had turned into dust. He and his army are still riding on their horses.                                                         The myth about the Wild Hunt had modifier over the time to much more recent heroes and gods. Even in modern time there are many different source telling us about the Wild Hunt. Country song “Ghost Riders in the Sky” describes a story of cowboy chasing the Devil’s cattle. The Witcher book series by Andrzej Sapkowski and the Witcher game series by CD Project Red also feature The Wild Hunt. Director Alexandre Franchi in 2009 produced his own film describing the Wild Hunt.


An atmospheric strange light seen by wanderers described as Will-O-Wisp most of the times. The term "will-o'-the-wisp" comes from "wisp", a bundle of sticks or paper sometimes used as a torch, and the name "Will", thus meaning "Will of the torch". [24]                                                        Their unpredictable and mysterious appearance for a long time causes superstition and complicates their scientific research. Even in ancient times, marsh fires intimidated travelers; they are observed even in our time. There are beliefs that some lights, for some unknown reason, are disposed towards people rather aggressively or carry bad news, while others are even able to help in difficult times. Most often, stray lights burn at the height of a raised human hand, have a spherical shape or resemble a candle flame, for which they received another nickname - “a dead man's candle”. The color of this fire can be different, ranging from ghostly white, bluish or greenish and ending with a living flame, without the formation of smoke.                                           A peasant travelling home at dusk sees a bright light traveling along ahead of him. Looking closer, he sees that the light is a lantern held by a "dusky little figure", which he follows for several miles. All of a sudden he finds himself standing on the edge of a vast chasm with a roaring torrent of water rushing below him. At that precise moment the lantern-carrier leaps across the gap, lifts the light high over its head, lets out a malicious laugh and blows out the light, leaving the poor peasant a long way from home, standing in pitch darkness at the edge of a precipice.                                           The Russian have a similar thing called Bludyachiy Ogon'. It is beings in the form of lights, the embodiment of the souls of sinners. The appearance of stray lights can take the souls of unbaptized children, miscarriages, girls who died in the status of bride, hostage-dead [25]. It was generally believed that the lights were the only external signs of wandering souls, but there were also ideas that their carriers had a visible appearance, and the lights were only the most visible parts of it: shiny shirts, glowing heads, candles in their hands, lights on their breasts or hands, burning brooms. Sometimes it is mentioned that only the hand holding the candle was visible. The form and color of the fire are also described differently: blue lights, candle ends, large candles with human faces, and others. The Poles believed that the more sinful people had a darker soul.                                                                                           They appear more often in the cemetery, swamps, roads, meadows, fields, aisles, above the water. By time: at night, especially at midnight, from spring to autumn, and also on the night before Christmas, on Advent, on memorial days.                                                                                        Usually they force a person to wander, knock him out of the way, lure him into difficult places. Some believed that they should not be told about a meeting with them in order not to go to hell after death.                                    There are several hypotheses about the emergence of mysterious lights. This is the spontaneous combustion of gaseous phosphorous hydrogen produced by the decay of dead plant and animal organisms. or bioluminescence, for example, of honey agaric or fireflies. Newer versions of the explanation of the origin of marsh fires - radioactive fallout, light of highways, cellular towers, etc.               

Black dog

A Black dog - ghostly huge dog, characters of folklore of the British Isles. The black dog is predominantly a night ghost, as is often considered to be associated with the Devil, and a meeting with him is considered an omen of death. Usually, a black dog is described as being much larger than an ordinary dog ​​in size and with a large luminous bright red or fiery eyes (or one eye located in the center of the muzzle). They allegedly often appear in a thunderstorm, as well as at intersections, places where execution has ever taken place, and just on old roads.                                                          The origin of the image of a black dog is difficult to explain unequivocally. Most likely, this motive has penetrated into the British culture from Celtic or Germanic myths, but it is impossible to establish which ones. In many European mythologies, dogs were somehow connected with death (Garm, Cerberus, and others, moreover, they were all somehow presented as guardians of the underworld). It is possible that the black dog is a reflection of these mythological ideas.                                                                       Almost always black dogs are considered to be creatures malicious to humans. But some black dogs, however, such as the Gurt Dog in Somerset and the Black Dog of the Hanging Hills in Connecticut, are said to behave benevolently. [26]                                                                                       For centuries in the UK reported the observations of such creatures, but their real existence has not been proven.


In conclusion we can see how English folklore has developed. It went through a long way of constant changes and improvements. Many authors have contributed to the development of folklore. For example, stories about King Arthur showed us how the image of the hero changed over time. The Round Table and other important attributes of history appeared only after some time. We could track which trends followed the stories and how they changed in cause of them. All this makes it clear that folklore is a complex and constantly evolving system of knowledge.                                                                However, it is worth noting that English folklore often consists of borrowing from other cultures. For example, the Wild Hunt initially appears in the Scandinavian mythology and only then was adapted to the mythology of England. Such interactions enrich the English folklore making it more diverse and complex. There are also similarities between Russian and English folk. Things like brownies have similarities in both cultures. And despite the many similarities, each such element reflects its own culture, emphasizing the values important to it.                                                                      Developing, folklore became part of the pop culture. An example of this are, for example, the popular comics about Robin Hood, a lot of movies and stories about King Arthur, mentions of various mythical creatures in fantastic stories such as house-elves (brownie) in Harry Potter.                                At the present time, most folklore events have their own scientific explanations. For example, as stated above, archeologists questioned the existence of King Arthur. The same as Robin Hood most likely has always been just a fairy tale about forest outlaw. But despite this, these stories do not lose their relevance and demand in English culture. After all, the images of these heroes represent the entire culture of their nation. And the vitality of these stories proves this.                                                                           Perhaps folklore and not a reliable source of information, it is quite broadly showing the views of society. It is impossible to imagine a country without its folklore. After all, folklore is no less important than the history.

In this work we managed to answer several question about English folklore:

‒ How much of King Arthur’ story was changed over the time and how it became popular;

‒ How much of Robin Hood’s story was changed over the time and how it became popular;

‒ Trends of rewriting;

‒ England folklore in pop culture;



Literature Sources

1. Geoffrey of Monmouth: The History of the Kings of Britain, 1989 ‒ p.64

2. Padel, O. J.: Arthur in Medieval Welsh Literature, 2000, ‒ pp. 24-25

3. Charles-Edwards, Thomas M. : "The Arthur of History", 1991 ‒ p. 15

4. Lacy, Norris J.: The New Arthurian Encyclopedia, 1996 ‒ p. 88

5. Ulrich von Zatzikhoven : Lanzelet, Translated by Thomas Kerth, 2005 ‒ p. 294

6. Field, P. J. C.: The Life and Times of Sir Thomas Malory, 1993 ‒ p. 32

7. Carley, J. P.: "Polydore Vergil and John Leland on King Arthur: The Battle of the Books, 1984, pp.86–100.

8. Staines, D.: Tennyson, Alfred Lord, 1996, pp. 446–449,

9. Taylor, Beverly: The Return of King Arthur: British and American Arthurian Literature Since 1800, 1983, p.101

10. Lagorio, V. M.: "Bradley, Marion Zimmer", in Lacy, Norris J., The New Arthurian Encyclopedia, 1996, p. 57

11. Dobson, R. B., and J. Taylor. Rymes of Robyn Hood: An Introduction to the English Outlaw, 1976, pp. 3-7

12. Gable, J. Harris. Bibliography of Robin Hood, 1939, p. 52

13. Drayton, Michael: The Poly-Olbion: a chorographicall description of Great Britain, 1622, p.120,

14. Thompson E.P. The Making of the English Working Class. ‒ NY: Vintage Books, 1966. ‒ p.976

15. Knight, Stephen: Robin Hood: A Complete Study of the English Outlaw, 1994, p.99

16. Knight, Stephen. Robin Hood: A Mythic Biography, 2003, p.24

17. Hahn, Thomas: Robin Hood in Popular Culture: Violence, Transgression, and Justice, 2000, pp. 55-62


Internet Sources

18. Archaeologist Claims that King Arthur Was Not a Real Person But a Fictional “Celtic Superhero” [Electronic Source] // https://www.ancient-origins.net/: information reference site. URL: https://www.ancient-origins.net/news-history-archaeology/archaeologist-claims-king-arthur-was-not-real-person-fictional-celtic-021652 (Date of application: 8.12.18).

19.Robin Hood: Development of a Popular Hero [Electronic Source] // https://www.library.rochester.edu//URL:https://www.library.rochester.edu/robbins/robin-hood-chandler#intro(Date of application: 15.12.18).

20. Dick Whittington and His Cat, [Electronic Source] // https://en.wikipedia.org/, URL: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dick_Whittington_and_His_Cat (Date of application: 17.12.18).

21. Brownie (folklore), [Electronic Source] //  http://myfhology.info//, URL: http://myfhology.info/monsters/domovoy.html (Date of application: 17.12.18).

22.Домовой,[Electronic Source]// https://en.wikipedia.org/,     URL: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brownie_(folklore)   (Date of application: 17.12.18).      

23.Wild Hunt, [Electronic Source] // https://en.wikipedia.org/, URL: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wild_Hunt (Date of application: 16.12.18).                

24. Will-o'-the-wisp, [Electronic Source] // https://en.wikipedia.org/, URL: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Will-o%27-the-wisp (Date of application: 17.12.18)   

25. Блуждающие огоньки, [Electronic Source] // https://www.bestiary.us/,URL: https://www.bestiary.us/bluzhdajushhie-ogonki/ru (Date of application: 17.12.18).

26. Black dog (ghost), [Electronic Source] // https://en.wikipedia.org/, URL: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Black_dog_(ghost) (Date of application: 17.12.18).



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