Robin Hood, Magna Carta, and the Forest Charter

by Stephan Kinsella on May 7, 2010

in Culture

I, for one, am sick of the Robin Hood myth and movies. Or I thought I was. On the latest episode of Mark Kermode’s BBC film review podcast, there’s a fascinating discussion with Russell Crowe and “Billy Bragg” about the upcoming Ridley Scott film Robin Hood, starring (and co-produced by) Crowe. The new movie is a departure from other versions, with Robin Hood involved in the Magna Carta and also the Forest Charter which, “In contrast to Magna Carta, it provided some real rights, privileges and protections for the common man against the abuses of the encroaching aristocracy.” One line I like from the Forest Charter: “Any archbishop, bishop, earl, or baron who crosses our forest may take one or two beasts by view of the forester, if he is present; if not, let a horn be blown so that this [hunting] may not appear to be carried on furtively.”

The discussion about this with Crowe and Bragg (9:00 to about 32:10 of the podcast) goes into how the Norman aristocracy unjustly invaded the land rights of the common people, which was redressed to some degree by the Forest Charter. Sounds interesting.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Todd S. May 8, 2010 at 10:27 am

I’ve always seen the Robin Hood legend as something of a misinterpretation. Or perhaps just misinterpreted given the prevailing social views of a particular era. Consider that when he “robbed from the rich to give to the poor”, who they are talking about. The “rich” of that time were the aristocracy (the government). Wealthy private individuals didn’t really exist – even mercantilism wasn’t around yet. In my mind he’s the forerunner to Rand’s Ragnar Danneskjold.

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Dust-Off May 8, 2010 at 11:09 am

I would prefer a Robin Hood that robs intellectual property from evildoers

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