The question above by Graham segues nicely into my own thoughts. Here is Graham's revision:
Robin was a heartless socialist, taking the wealth of the rich and redistributing it among the lazy poor. He also had scant regard for law and order, constantly undermining the statutes and the common law system prevalent under Medieval England.
I've long thought that the phrase "stole from the rich to give to the poor" was inaccurate. I'd say that he stole from the tax collectors to give back to the tax payers. Or perhaps that he stole back from those who stole in the first place, then he returned the stolen goods to the victims. In the modern telling, there were wealthy people from whom Robin Hood did not steal. Those wealthy people had earned their wealth and were entitled to it. But some wealthy people, e.g Prince John and the Sheriff of Nottingham, used their power to tax, i.e. to steal, from hard working peasants who were unable to protect themselves. Sbowers3 10:12, 29 September 2007 (EDT)
- Robin Hood is a perfect story of abuse of government upon the lowly. Robin took back the taxes collected from that government and gave it all back to the people to whom it rightfully belonged. The more one reads the stories or views the Errol Flynn picture, the less and less a Democratic theme it is. Karajou 14:22, 29 September 2007 (EDT)
I think we need to be very, very wary about thinking of Robin Hood in modern terms of "socialism", "conservative" etc. We also need to take care to differentiate between historical truth and Hollywood versions.
England between 1066 and the late fifteenth century was a feudal state. King John and the Sheriff of Nottingham's taxation was no different from that of King Richard the Lionheart, King William the Conqueror or any other king. Peasants owed lealty to their liege lord and were expected to lay down their very lives for him. They also paid tithes to the Church. They were very unlikely to have or use cash.
The legend of Robin Hood harks back to pre-Norman England, a smaller, freer nation. His rejection of feudal constraints alone was enough to make him a hero. The "robbing from the rich" idea came much, much later.
I edited in information about Joseph Ritson, the primary person responsible for transforming Robin Hood from an anti-tax crusader into a redistributionist. I hope that knowing when, where, and by whom this occurred will help lead to a more complete discussion.