11. The Many Candidates Claimed to be the Origins of the Fictional Robin Hood
Because his first and last name were so common at the time, it is not easy for historians to identify just which real-life medieval criminals named Robin Hood, or some variation thereof, might have inspired the legend of the fictional outlaw. That explains, at least in part, why so many candidates have been proposed over the years. The earliest mentioned one is a Robert Hod of York, who became an outlaw after his goods, worth 32 shillings, were confiscated by the authorities to settle a debt owed to a local church. Other candidates for the fictional character include the brothers Robert and John Deyville, who fought in the Second Barons’ War (1264 – 1267).
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Their side lost, and with their cause defeated, the Deyvilles holed up in the woods as outlaws, until the records show that John, at least, was pardoned. However, the likeliest candidate seems to be Roger Godberd, another figure who ended up on the losing side of the Second Barons’ War and became an outlaw. He operated from Sherwood Forest, defied the Sheriff of Nottingham for years, was captured and taken to Nottingham Castle, but managed to escape. He was eventually recaptured and held in the Tower of London, until he was pardoned by King Edward I when he returned from the Crusades. That record led many historians to label Godberd as “the prototype” of the fictional Robin Hood.